Pope to consecrate Russia, Ukraine to Mary
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis will consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary during a penitential prayer service in St. Peter’s Basilica on March 25, the Vatican said. On the same day, the Vatican said, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, will carry out a similar consecration at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal. According to the Vatican’s translation of the messages of Fatima, when Mary appeared to the three shepherd children in Fatima in 1917, she told them, “God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.” Warning of “war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father,” Mary told the children, “to prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart.” The Eastern- and Latin-rite Catholic bishops of Ukraine had been asking Pope Francis for the consecration. Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych, head of the Eastern-rite Ukrainian Catholic Church, said March 16, “Ukrainian Catholics have been asking for this act since the beginning of Russian aggression in 2014 (in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine) as urgently needed to avoid the worsening of the war and the dangers coming from Russia.”
Top USCCB committee says Russia’s ‘unprovoked war on Ukraine’ must end now
WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNS) – The Administrative Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on March 16 called for “the immediate cessation of Russia’s armed aggression and unprovoked war on Ukraine. We are witnessing an unprecedented threat to world peace,” it said in a statement. “This possibility of global warfare is compounded by the unthinkable consequences that would result from the potential use of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.” The committee, led by Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez as USCCB president, joined its plea with that of Pope Francis, who said on March 13: “In the name of God, listen to the cry of those who suffer, and put an end to the bombings and the attacks!” “Similar appeals have been raised throughout the Orthodox Christian world and indeed by many Russians themselves,” it said, noting the war “has already exacted a staggering toll – thousands dead and an exodus of 3 million refugees – with no end in sight.” The Administrative Committee, which met in Washington on March 15 and 16, operates as the USCCB’s board of directors. In addition to Archbishop Gomez, its membership is made up of the USCCB’s other officers, chairmen of its standing committees, as well as a representative from each episcopal region of the United States.
Cardinal Czerny meets refugees in Slovakia, Ukraine
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Continuing the mission entrusted to him by Pope Francis, Cardinal Michael Czerny visited Slovakia and a Ukrainian border town to convey the pope’s closeness to victims of Russia’s war against Ukraine. After meeting with refugees at the Hungarian-Ukrainian border in early March, Cardinal Czerny visited the eastern Slovak city of Košice on March 16 and met with Eastern- and Latin-rite Catholic bishops before traveling to the border village of Vyšné Nemecké with Archbishop Cyril Vasil of Košice, Vatican News reported. The next day, the cardinal crossed the border into Ukraine, visiting a seminary in Uzhhorod, where students from other seminaries in Kyiv, Vinnytsia and Mukachevo, as well as several missionary families from the Neocatechumenal Way, were staying. In a video posted on March 17 on the Twitter page of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, Cardinal Czerny told the priests and seminarians he was happy to visit and “bring you greetings directly from the Holy Father.” Pope Francis, he said, “wants you to know that he is with you. He is counting on you to bring Christ in these terrible conditions.”
British Parliament rejects amendment to allow assisted suicide
MANCHESTER, England (CNS) – The British Parliament threw out an attempt to legalize assisted suicide in England and Wales. Amendment 170 to the Health and Social Care Bill would have forced the British government to introduce assisted suicide legislation in the near future. But members of the House of Lords, Britain’s second political chamber, rejected the amendment, 179-145, following a March 16 debate. The defeat of the amendment represents the 12th time in 25 years that the British Parliament has dismissed an attempt to legalize assisted suicide, which is punishable under the 1961 Suicide Act by up to 14 years in jail. Danny Kruger, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Dying Well, which opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide, said: “The House of Lords has now unequivocally rejected the latest attempt to shoehorn radical assisted suicide laws on to the statute book. Given that supporters of assisted suicide have said that the House of Lords is more supportive than the (House of) Commons, this is ample evidence that assisted suicide enjoys neither momentum nor support,” Kruger said in a March 16 statement posted on the group’s website.
Higher prices for food, gas squeeze food banks, pantries and clients
DETROIT, MI (CNS) – A trip to the grocery store is giving shoppers sticker shock over staples such as a gallon of milk. Imagine the pocketbook pain of buying 250,000 gallons. Southeast Michigan food aid ministries, including food banks and parish-based pantries, are “absolutely” feeling the pinch of inflation as food prices rise at their fastest pace in nearly 40 years, according to those who spoke to Detroit Catholic, the archdiocesan news outlet. Granted, most aren’t shopping at the local supermarket, but the impact of rising prices is there. “Inflation is definitely having an effect in terms of our costs,” said Stacy Averill, vice president of community giving and public relations for Detroit-based Gleaners Community Food Bank. “Two of our largest costs as an organization are food and staffing. From the food perspective, we are definitely seeing substantial increases in the cost of items that we purchase and make available through our distribution.” The U.S. consumer price index, which measures the impact of inflation across a range of categories, rose 7.9% in February, the steepest one-month gain since 1982. Food prices, which are among the most volatile commodities, rose an average of 3.9% in 2021. So far, ministries such as Gleaners have been able to keep pace with demand for assistance, which remains high two years into the COVID-19 pandemic. As one of the largest food banks in Metro Detroit, Gleaners purchases food in bulk to distribute to more than 660 soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters and schools. Most of the food it distributes is given away free or at a low service fee.
Priest threatened in southern Mexico in area of increasing violence
MEXICO CITY (CNS) – A priest involved with social and environmental causes in southern Mexico was threatened by gangs, the latest in a wave of increasing violence gripping the communities served by the Diocese of San Cristobal de Las Casas. Father Matías Rodríguez Jiménez was threatened by five individuals on motorcycles, who cut off the priest as he was driving to Chicomuselo, where he is parish priest, according to March 17 statements from the Catholic organization Pueblo Creyente (Chiapas Support Committee) and a collective of social and religious organizations. The individuals struck the priest’s vehicle and warned: “We know who you are and what you do. Be careful.” The statements added that Father Rodríguez said he had been spied on at his parish, including in his residence, since becoming pastor in Chicomuselo in 2020. St. Peter and St. Paul Parish has a history of priests being involved in local issues, such as opposition to a Canadian-owned mine. Father Rodríguez also had confronted the issue of illegal alcohol sales, a problem in some Chiapas communities. A priest with knowledge of the area said the region has been rife with a violence between rival drug cartels. “The situation concerns us because the life and integrity of our priest … is at risk,” said Pueblo Creyente, which was founded by the late Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia, a champion of human rights in largely Indigenous Chiapas.
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