African crowds impress Pope Francis
Pope Francis arrives for a meeting with youths at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 27.
All: Paul Haring/cns
Young people cheer before Pope Francis' arrival for a meeting with them at the Kololo airstrip in Kampala, Uganda Nov. 28.
Pope Francis told reporters he is well aware that God is a god of surprises, but he had not been prepared for what a surprise his first visit to Africa would be. Obviously tired, but equally content, Pope Francis told reporters he prayed in a mosque in Bangui, Central African Republic, and rode around a Muslim neighborhood with the imam seated with him in the popemobile. Both were spontaneous initiatives of the pope Nov. 30, his last day in Africa. Returning to Rome from Bangui later that day, the pope said "The crowds, the joy, the ability to celebrate even with an empty stomach" were impressions he would take home with him after his six-day trip to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic. After two years of civil war, the pope told reporters, the people of the Central African Republic want "peace, reconciliation and forgiveness. For years, they lived as brothers and sisters," the pope said, and local Catholic, Muslim and evangelical Christian leaders are doing their best to help their people return to that situation of peace, coexistence and mutual respect.
The pope encouraged Ugandan Christians to draw inspiration from the 19th-century Ugandan Martyrs. He carried with him graphic images of the horrors the 45 Anglican and Catholic martyrs endured. The pope celebrated a Mass outside the Catholic shrine to the martyrs.
Witnessing to what is true, good and beautiful — even if that witness is motivated by different faiths — brings people together and strengthens a nation, Pope Francis said. Arriving in Uganda from Kenya Nov. 27, Pope Francis was greeted by a number of dance troupes playing drums as well as traditional horns and stringed instruments.
The wealth of residents of the poorest neighborhoods ringing big cities around the world will never be quoted on the stock exchange, even though their wealth gives life and joy to millions of people, Pope Francis said. The pope began his day Nov. 27 in Nairobi's Kangemi neighborhood, usually referred to as a slum, with no drinking water, electricity, sewage system or regular garbage collection.
Respect, unity and service are the foundations of a strong family, a solid democracy and a healthy response to the gift of faith — any faith, Pope Francis told the people of Kenya. Meeting ecumenical and interreligious leaders, celebrating a large outdoor Mass and greeting priests, religious and seminarians in Nairobi Nov. 26, Pope Francis insisted faith means serving one's fellow human beings.
Pope Francis arrived in Kenya Nov. 25 urging tolerance and respect among people of different religions and different ethnic groups.
LEVITTOWN, Pa. — A California state judge's ruling that a now-divorced couple's five frozen embryos must be destroyed is an example of doing something that technology allows without considering all its aspects, according to medical ethicists. Christopher White, director of research and education for the California-based Center for Bioethics and Culture, called the dispute a "tragic case" illustrating "the plight of these frozen embryos." Estimates of the number of embryos in frozen storage range from "hundreds of thousands" to several million worldwide.
MARYKNOLL, N.Y. — Thirty-five years after they were murdered in El Salvador, four American churchwomen were remembered in their own eerily prescient and profoundly moving words. Colleagues and successors of the women gathered Dec. 2 for a vespers service at the headquarters of the Maryknoll Sisters. On Dec. 2, 1980, Salvadoran National Guardsman abducted, raped and murdered Maryknoll Sisters Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel and Cleveland lay missionary Jean Donovan. They were among 75,000 people who died in El Salvador during a decade of violent conflict.
30,000 Americans at WYD
BALTIMORE — The American contingent to World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, in July is expected to top 30,000 pilgrims. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, in a Nov. 17 presentation during the U.S. bishops' fall general assembly in Baltimore, stated that the U.S. delegation of young people is expected to be the largest outside of North America.
Mother Angelica ill
HANCEVILLE, Ala. — Mother Angelica, who spearheaded the founding of the Eternal Word Television Network, has been placed on a feeding tube as she continues to battle lingering effects of two strokes she suffered 14 years ago. A spokesman for her order, the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration at Our Lady of Angels Monastery in Hanceville, said the 92-year-old nun is doing as well as can be expected for someone her age who remains partially paralyzed.
WASHINGTON — Maureen Orth, a special correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine who has written about music icons, world leaders and Hollywood celebrities, tackled a completely different subject for National Geographic magazine: the Virgin Mary. For the magazine's December cover story, "Mary the most powerful woman in the world," Orth visited several countries and interviewed dozens of people with strong devotional ties to Mary — including from those who claim to have seen her, those who believe her intercession has healed them and those seeking her spiritual guidance and intercession.
BRESCIA, Italy — Italian State Police in Brescia, working with their counterparts in Kosovo, announced Dec. 1 that they had taken action against four Kosovars they believed to be terrorist risks and who, police said, made threats on social media against Pope Francis.
Prayers for N. Korea
SEOUL, South Korea — To mark the 70th anniversary of the division of Korea and the Year of Mercy, the Archdiocese of Seoul launched a prayer movement, "North Korean Church in My Heart." Seoul Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, who serves as apostolic administrator of Pyongyang, North Korea, said the people there "have always been in my prayers."
Priest found dead
MEXICO CITY — A Mexican priest has been found dead in the state of Puebla with possible signs of torture, four days after disappearing under mysterious circumstances. The body of Father Erasto Pliego de Jesus was found with burns and head injuries Nov. 16 along a rural road in the municipality of Nopalucan, some 110 miles southeast of Mexico City, state judicial authorities said.
— Catholic News Service
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