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posted Apr 20, 2017, 7:48 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 20, 2017, 7:48 AM ]

Risen Christ calls all to follow him on path to life, pope says

Jesus is the risen shepherd who takes upon his shoulders "our brothers and sisters crushed by evil in all its varied forms," Pope Francis said before giving his solemn Easter blessing.

With tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square April 16, the pope called on Christians to be instruments of Christ's outreach to refugees and migrants, victims of war and exploitation, famine and loneliness.

For the 30th year in a row, Dutch farmers and florists blanketed the area around the altar with grass and 35,000 flowers and plants: lilies, roses, tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, birch and linden.


The pope's celebration of Easter got underway the night before in a packed St. Peter's Basilica.

The Easter Vigil began with the lighting of the fire and Easter candle in the atrium of the basilica. Walking behind the Easter candle and carrying a candle of his own, Pope Francis entered the basilica in darkness. The basilica was gently illuminated only by candlelight and the low light emanating from cellphones capturing the solemn procession.

The bells of St. Peter's pealed in the night, the sound echoing through nearby Roman streets, announcing the joy of the Resurrection.During the vigil, Pope Francis baptized 11 people: five women and six men from Spain, Czech Republic, Italy, the United States, Albania, Malta, Malaysia and China.

One by one, the catechumens approached the pope who asked them if they wished to receive baptism. After responding, "Yes, I do," they lowered their heads as the pope poured water over their foreheads.


Consistory announced to approve Fatima children’s canonization

Pope Francis will hold an ordinary public consistory on April 20, where the cardinals of the Church are expected to pave the way for the canonization of the Fatima visionaries.

There are five causes of canonization waiting for approval by the cardinals. Most prominent is the cause of Francesco and Jacinto Marto, two of the shepherd children who witnessed the 1917 Marian apparitions at Fatima.

The cardinals’ approval at the consistory is the final step in the process leading up to canonization. Pope Francis has already given approval for the causes to move forward. Following the consistory, canonization dates will be set.

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Syrian nun: U.S. bombing is a step back

Two weeks after the U.S. State Department honored her as a Woman of Courage, a Salesian sister from Syria told reporters President Donald Trump's decision to bomb a Syrian air base is another step back from peace.

"I always hope for peace," said Salesian Sister Carolin Tahhan Fachakh, who runs a nursery school in Damascus, Syria, and received the International Woman of Courage Award award from first lady Melania Trump March 29 in Washington.

"Everything ends," she told reporters in Rome April 11. The war will end, too, she added. "Every time we say there is hope for peace and let's move forward, something happens to set us back. The situation is ugly now," Sister Carolin said, referring to Trump's decision to bomb government military installations.


Indian appointed consulter at Vatican Communications Secretariat

Pope Francis has appointed 13 new consulters, including an Indian, for the Vatican`s Secretariat for Social Communications. Father Peter Gonsalves of Mumbai Salesian Province is currently the dean of the Faculty of Social Communication Sciences (FSC) at Universita Pontificia Salesiana (UPS) Rome. The consulters were appointed on April 12. The Salesian Rector Major appointed Father Gonsalves the FSC dean on September 24, 2015. He is the first non-European to hold that post in FSC, which was established in 1988.

Born in Mumbai, India in 1958, Fr Gonsalves became a Salesian in 1977 and was ordained priest on December 19, 1987.

He holds the titles of Master of Philosophy and ‎Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pune and a Bachelor of Theology from Kristu Jyoti College in Bangalore. He received his doctorate in Social Communication at the Salesian Pontifical ‎University in 2007. In the previous years, he had also obtained a diploma in Counseling from Xavier`s ‎Institute, Mumbai, and a diploma in Media Education from British Film Institute - Open University, ‎London.


Laundry for the Poor and Homeless

“Pope Francis’ Laundry” went into operation on Monday, April 10, 2017. It is a free service for the poor and homeless to wash, dry and iron their clothes and blankets, reported a statement by the Office of Papal Charities.

The initiative came to be following the invitation of the Holy Father to give “concrete” experience of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. He wrote in the Apostolic Letter Misericordia et miseria, at the conclusion of the Jubilee: “The desire for closeness to Christ requires us to draw near to our brothers and sisters, for nothing is more pleasing to the Father than a true sign of mercy. By its very nature, mercy becomes visible and tangible in specific acts.”

The Papal Almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski noted: “Here then is a concrete sign wanted by the Office of Papal Charities: a place and a service to give concrete form to charity to restore dignity to so many people who are our brothers and sisters and who are called, with us, to build a city we can trust.”

The laundry is located inside the Community Sant’Egidio’s “People of Peace Center,” at the old hospital complex of San Gallicano, Via San Gallicano 25, in Rome.