Des Moines, Iowa, Sep 24, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver has said that modern Syrian Catholics killed for their faith offer a “model of courage that we need to emulate.”
“The natural consequence of their belief in Jesus and his Church was for them to give public witness to it, even if it meant death,” Archbishop Aquila said Sept. 21 in an address to the knights and ladies of the northern lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
A Catholic lay institution that assists the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and supports Christians in the Holy Land, the order was holding its annual meeting in Des Moines.
The Syrian civil war, which has been ongoing for more than two years, is a source of particular concern for Christians in the Holy Land.
It is being fought by rebels including both secularists and Islamists, who are trying to topple the government of Bashar al-Assad. More than 100,000 people have died in the war, and there are an estimated two million Syrian refugees in nearby countries, most of them in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.
Additionally, more than four million Syrians are believed to have been internally displaced by the war.
Archbishop Aquila explained that Christians recently martyred in Syria were willing to die for their faith “because it was not just something they felt was right at the moment; it was integral to their identity and they believed it was the Truth.”
The archbishop recounted the Sept. 7 attack on the Syrian town of Ma'loula, when Islamist rebels affiliated with al-Qaeda and al Nusra Front entered houses in the town and reportedly began to deface any sacred images they discovered in homes.
In one house of three Greek Catholic men and one woman, the rebels “demanded that everyone present convert to Islam or face death.”
“Sarkis el Zakhm, the grandson, responded: ‘I am a Christian and if you want to kill me because I am a Christian, do it.’ Sarkis, together with the two other men in the house, was killed in cold blood,” Archbishop Aquila said. “Somehow, the woman was only injured and miraculously survived.”
The archbishop said that Benedict XVI had called for the current Year of Faith because faith is no longer a guaranteed part of society.
He wondered whether society can understand the “sacrifice” Sarkis made.
“Does our culture honor courageous faith like his?” he asked. “Western society finds any faith-rooted sacrifice like his almost incomprehensible because our culture is so focused on self-promotion and self-satisfaction.”
Murdered Catholics, he said, “offer their lives as Jesus offered his on the Cross – all for love of Jesus and in faithful witness to him and the Church.”
Archbishop Aquila noted that Benedict XVI had stressed the importance of evangelization in the Year of Faith.
Faith “makes us fruitful, because it expands our hearts in hope and enables us to bear life-giving witness,” the former Pope had said in his apostolic letter “Porta Fidei.”
Pope Francis has also emphasized that faith is “a gift not reserved for a few but offered with generosity.”
“It is a gift that one cannot keep to oneself, but it is to be shared. If we want to keep it only to ourselves, we will become isolated, sterile and sick Christians,” he said in his message for 2013 World Mission Sunday.
Denver's archbishop said the Year of Faith is a time of “grace and renewal” that must lead Catholics to “courageously” share their joy and faith. He said Catholics should take inspiration from “the example of our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted and giving their lives for the faith.”
Washington D.C., Sep 24, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Media narratives about Pope Francis have led to a misunderstanding of his interview with Jesuit magazines, as well as a false perceived contrast between him and his predecessor, according to Carl Anderson.
“The media’s narrative of Francis is something else. We are told he is a progressive, taking the Catholic Church in a profoundly new direction – uninterested in Church teaching on moral issues,” reflected Anderson, the head of the Knights of Columbus, in a Sept. 22 essay in National Review Online.
“Benedict, we are told, is conservative, doctrinaire, and old-fashioned — focused on moral issues. Neither narrative is true, because each leaves out half of the story.”
Pope Francis' comments in his 12,000-word interview that the proclamation of God’s “saving love” should come before “moral and religious imperatives,” and that Catholics should not insist “only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods” were treated in the media as though “the Church was suddenly charting a new course,” Anderson said.
He noted that in 2006, Benedict XVI similarly replied to a question about why he had not addressed same-sex marriage, abortion or contraception in a speech. He said, “Catholicism isn’t a collection of prohibitions; it’s a positive opinion.”
Benedict XVI also denounced violence against homosexual persons and encouraged compassion and mercy towards women who had had abortions. These statement “garnered little media attention,” however.
“It didn’t fit the narrative, so it wasn’t widely reported.”
Anderson rejected claims that the interview shows that Pope Francis is “uninterested in Church teaching on moral issues” or that he is diverging with Benedict XVI.
He noted that Pope Francis has praised the work of pro-life groups; on Sept. 20, he told a gathering of Catholic doctors that the right to life is “fundamental.”
Pope Francis has also urged the Knights of Columbus to “bear witness to the authentic nature of marriage and the family, the sanctity and inviolable dignity of human life, and the beauty and truth of human sexuality.”
After criticizing the supposed contrast between Roman Pontiffs portrayed in mainstream media, Anderson went on to affirm with the Popes that “Catholic teaching on moral issues isn’t the totality of the Church’s message. It never has been.”
“And our popes, bishops, priests, and laity have always spent far more time on charity, prayer, and pastoral outreach than on public policy issues. If the public doesn’t know that, it’s because the media prefer to cover controversies.”
Anderson said that Pope Francis’ interview touched on many subjects, but many media outlets are focusing too much on the small sections on abortion and contraception.
“Ironically, this coverage comes after the Pope said in that same interview that the Church has a broader focus. It is increasingly apparent that it is the media, more often than Catholics themselves, who place a disproportionate focus on Church teaching about sexuality and abortion.”
Anderson cited the Pope’s comparison of the Church to “a field hospital after battle” where the Church must help the seriously injured person and “heal his wounds.”
He said the Pope has presented a “stark and dramatic assessment of our cultural situation” and has proposed in response “a bold, self-sacrificing personal witness.”
Anderson said there is a danger that media coverage “narrowly focuses on social issues.” He noted that news coverage neglects the massive charitable and volunteer work of the Knights of Columbus, but focuses on its minor funding of some social issues advocacy.
This kind of coverage “warps public perceptions and misleads” and could have severe consequences, he warned.
“Wrongly portrayed as singularly focused on a narrow set of issues, believers run the risk of being misunderstood and marginalized.”
“If the media truly want to embrace Pope Francis’ message, they can begin by heeding his call not to focus too narrowly on just one or two issues in their coverage of faith.”
Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sep 24, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A group which aims to foster a missionary spirit among children celebrated the 25th anniversary of its establishment in the Archdiocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka, with a Mass said Sept. 7.
The Mass was held at St. Joseph's College, a primary and secondary school located in the Sri Lankan capital.
“It’s an important event that coincides with the Year of Faith, which impresses upon us the importance of rediscovering our faith mission, in our life and our diocese,” Father Sunil De Silva, parish priest of St. Mary’s in Colombo's Bambalapitiya neighborhood, told CNA Sept. 18.
While the Holy Childhood Society had been in Sri Lanka for over 60 years, it was Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, presently the Archbishop of Colombo, who first introduced it to the diocese when he was a priest there, in 1988.
In his speech, Cardinal Ranjith invited the children to be the “torchbearers of faith… to be the little lamps of faith in the world.”
Thousands of children participated in the Mass, which was concelebrated by two of Colombo's auxiliary bishops, Maxwell Silva and Lionel Fernando, as well as the archdiocese's Holy Childhood Society director, Fr. Kithsiri Thirimanne, and the organization's national director, Fr. Reginald Saparamadu.
Bishop Silva, addressing the children in his homily, said that “as the children of the Holy Childhood Society, you have been commissioned with a special mission of learning the Word of God deeply, living what you learn, and sharing it and bearing witness to the Word in all of life's circumstances.”
“It is for this purpose that God has called you and commissioned you. If you continue to bear witness to your Christian life and God's love in your own way and capacity, surely you will make a difference in the world."
The Holy Childhood Society was founded in 1843 by Bishop Charles Forbin-Janson of Nancy, in France, to awaken in every Catholic child a strong sense of commitment to Christ and a zeal for the spread of the Good News everywhere by deepening one’s faith, living it faithfully, and sharing it joyfully.
Today it functions in many dioceses, under the Pontifical Mission Societies office of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
The group helps educators to rouse in children a universal missionary conscience; to move them to share their faith and material means, especially with the children of the neediest dioceses; and promotes missionary vocations.
“It assists the Catholic children in Sri Lanka towards a deeper and stronger experience of their faith, through a spiritual communion with Christ, and awakens a stronger sense of mission in them, enabling them to proclaim their faith boldly and authentically,” Fr. Sunil said.
Sri Lanka is a primarily Buddhist country; six percent of the population is Catholic. Most Sri Lankan Christians are found on the western coast of the island, where Colombo is located. In the Colombo archdiocese, roughly 12 percent of the population is Catholic.
Vatican City, Sep 24, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In honor of the upcoming World Migration Day, Pope Francis said that the improvement of society demands the end of common prejudices against migrants and refugees.
“In considering the situation of migrants and refugees, I would point to yet another element in building a better world, namely, the elimination of prejudices and presuppositions in the approach to migration.”
The message of Pope Francis was read aloud during a Sept. 24 press conference in honor of World Migration Day, which will take place on Jan. 19, 2014.
In his address, the Pope emphasized the need to build a better world through “efforts to provide dignified living conditions for everyone, at finding just responses to the needs of individuals and families, and at ensuring that God's gift of creation is respected, safeguarded and cultivated.”
“Our hearts do desire something 'more.' Beyond greater knowledge or possessions, they want to “be” more,” he said. “Development cannot be reduced to economic growth alone, often attained without a thought for the poor and the vulnerable.”
The pontiff noted the importance of fighting the “scandal of poverty,” warning that “Violence, exploitation, discrimination, marginalization, restrictive approaches to fundamental freedoms, whether of individuals or of groups,” are some of the chief elements of poverty which need to be overcome.
Amid the necessity for cooperation among societies in order to create peace, justice and security, Pope Francis spoke of the importance of deconstructing common stereotypes which are held against many who flee their homelands.
“Not infrequently, the arrival of migrants, displaced persons, asylum seekers and refugees gives rise to suspicion and hostility,” he said.
“There is a fear that society will become less secure, that identity and culture will be lost, that competition for jobs will become stiffer and even that criminal activity will increase.”
It is those in the field of “communication media,” he said, who have the greatest responsibility “to break down stereotypes and to offer correct information in reporting the errors of a few as well as the honesty, rectitude and goodness of the majority.”
The Pope likened the migrant to the image of the Holy Family, who also left their home and faced rejection in a foreign land, saying that “threatened by Herod’s lust for power, they were forced to take flight and seek refuge in Egypt.”
“But the maternal heart of Mary and the compassionate heart of Joseph, the Protector of the Holy Family, never doubted that God would always be with them. Through their intercession, may that same firm certainty dwell in the heart of every migrant and refugee.”
The Church, he recalled, who is called to follow Christ’s commandment to “go and make disciples of all nations,” is also called to embrace and proclaim the gospel to all peoples, because “the face of each person bears the mark of the face of Christ.”
“Here we find the deepest foundation of the dignity of the human person, which must always be respected and safeguarded.”
It is being created in God’s image and likeness that grounds personal dignity, said the pontiff, rather than external circumstances such as productivity, social class, ethnic or religious belonging, or “the criteria of efficiency.”
“Every human being is a child of God! He or she bears the image of Christ! We ourselves need to see, and then to enable others to see, that migrants and refugees do not only represent a problem to be solved, but are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved.”
The situation of the migrant, urged the Pope, is for us “an occasion that Providence gives us to help build a more just society, a more perfect democracy, a more united country, a more fraternal world and a more open and evangelical Christian community.”
The Holy Father also expressed that the reality of migrants poses the possibility and opportunity for evangelization and for “the growth of a new humanity.”
Pope Francis ended his message speaking directly to migrants themselves, encouraging them to “Never lose the hope that you too are facing a more secure future, that on your journey you will encounter an outstretched hand, and that you can experience fraternal solidarity and the warmth of friendship.”
Vatican City, Sep 24, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
During his daily homily, Pope Francis gave special emphasis to the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, saying that it is not magical act, but an encounter with the living God.
Pope Francis delivered his Sept. 24 homily to those who gathered in the Vatican’s guest house, Santa Marta, for a private liturgy.
The Holy Father drew his reflections from the morning’s reading from the passage in psalms, “We will go with joy to the House of the Lord,” saying to those gathered that the Sacrament of the Eucharist is not a “magic rite,” but rather an encounter with Jesus, who is our constant companion in life.
Throughout the history of God’s people, the Pope said, there have been many “beautiful moments which bring joy,” but also moments “of pain, martyrdom and sin.”
However, the Pope noted that “God, who has no History because He is eternal, desired to make History by walking alongside His people.”
“He decided to become one of us, and as one of us, to walk with us through Jesus.”
Pope Francis stressed that this act not only shows us the greatness of God, but also his humility, saying that when his people strayed from him “in sin and idolatry,” he did not abandon them, but “He was there” waiting for their return.
Jesus shows us the same humility, said the Pope, in that “he walks with the People of God, walks with the sinners; walks also with the arrogant,” adding that Jesus did much to “help these arrogant hearts of the Pharisees.”
The Church, stressed the pontiff, can rejoice in the humility of God which accompanies us as “We go with joy to the House of the Lord.”
“We go with joy because He accompanies us, He is with us…and the Lord Jesus, even in our personal lives, accompanies us with the Sacraments. The Sacrament is not a magic rite: it is an encounter with Jesus Christ; we encounter the Lord – it is He who is beside us and accompanies us.”
Newark, N.J., Sep 24, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis today appointed Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda, who had been serving as Bishop of Gaylord, in northern Michigan, as Coadjutor Archbishop of Newark.
As coadjutor, Archbishop Hebda “possesses the right of succession” in the Archdiocese of Newark, according to canon law. This means he will be automatically appointed Archbishop of Newark upon the retirement of the incumbent, Archbishop John J. Myers, who is now 72.
“Today’s news that the Holy Father has named me the Coadjutor Archbishop of Newark brings with it the sadness of having to leave the Diocese of Gaylord,” Archbishop Hebda wrote in a Sept. 24 letter to the people of the Diocese of Gaylord.
“I have come to consider this local Church my home and will find it difficult to leave so many faith-filled parishes, schools and friends. Anything that I know about being a bishop I learned from you – and for that I will be always thankful.”
In his farewell to the Gaylord diocese, Archbishop Hebda added that he is “confident” that Pope Francis “will soon bless the Diocese of Gaylord with precisely the Shepherd that you need.”
“As I take up my responsibilities in Newark, I would ask that you occasionally remember to pray that I might joyfully serve the Lord in that radically different setting. You can be sure that you will always be remembered in mine.”
Archbishop Hebda was born in Pittsburgh in 1959, and studied international affairs at Harvard and received a law degree from Columbia University in 1983. He practiced law briefly, before entering seminary for the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
He attended Saint Paul Seminary in Pittsburgh and then the North American College in Rome, and was ordained a priest in 1989. The following year he completed a licentiate in canon law.
As a priest of the Pittsburgh diocese, Archbishop Hebda served in several parishes, in campus ministry, and in the tribunal. In 1996, he was appointed to work at the Holy See for the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, which interprets canon law; he served there until his 2009 appointment as Bishop of Gaylord.
Other appointments made today by Pope Francis are: Bishop Raúl Martín to the Diocese of Santa Rosa, in Argentina; Bishop Pietro Fragnelli to the Diocese of Trapani, in Italy. Also, the presidents and secretaries of the Pontifical Councils for the Laity and of Justice and Peace were confirmed in their positions.
Vatican City, Sep 24, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - According to Vatican observers, a Pope Francis “revolution” in the Roman Curia began Sept. 21, when a series of appointments and confirmations at the curia's top ranks changed the face of the Pope’s collaboration team.
Pope Francis on Saturday confirmed the heads of the Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith and for the Evangelization of Peoples. In addition, he appointed Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, until now prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, as head of the Apostolic Penitentiary; Archbishop Beniamino Stella as prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy; and Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.
These last appointments can be seen as a clear signal that the influence of diplomats in the Vatican is strong again, Gianfranco Svidercoschi, former vice-director of the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, told CNA.
In a conversation on Sept. 20, Svidercoschi said that Archbishop Stella “was a diplomat in South America, as were many of those whom Pope Francis has recently appointed. This would seem to seal a sort of 'alliance' between Pope Francis and the 'gang of diplomats'.”
Svidercoschi also notes that Archbishop “Stella and Baldisseri have been Papal ambassadors in South America, as was the appointed Secretary of State, (Archbishop) Pietro Parolin.”
This would lead us to think that “being in touch with ‘far Churches’ is one of the most important requirements to take an important post in Pope Francis’ curia,” he added.
While Archbishop Stella takes the reigns for the discipline of clergy, Archbishop Baldisseri will be tasked with governing the synods of bishops, perhaps giving them greater decision-making power.
In a recent interview that Pope Francis granted to 16 Jesuit-run magazines in the world, he underlined that “the consistories (of cardinals), the synods (of bishops) are, for example, important places to make real and active this consultation. We must, however, give them a less rigid form. I do not want token consultations, but real consultations.”
Svidercoschi concluded that “such important tasks have been entrusted to diplomats, and this would lead me to think that the old diplomatic establishment is again managing the control room of the Church.”
Reports are also emerging that new appointments are soon to come. The prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, may soon be appointed Archbishop of Madrid, replacing Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela, who has already served two years past the mandatory retirement age of 77.
It is possible that Archbishop Piero Marini, who was once master of ceremonies for Blessed John Paul II and who is now president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, could succeed Cardinal Cañizares at the Congregation for Divine Worship.
And according to a source who spoke to CNA Sept. 21 and asked for anonymity, a potential earthquake is awaited at the top of the Secretariat of State.
At the end of this week, the “permanent council” of Italian bishops’ conference may confirm the appointment of Bishop Mariano Crociata, Bishop emeritus of Noto and general secretary of the Italian bishops' conference, as head of the country's Military Ordinariate, the source said.
The new secretary of the Italian bishops' conference may be Archbishop Arrigo Miglio of Cagliari, who would be succeeded by Archbishop Giovanni Becciu, a deputy at the state secretariat.
The source told CNA that “a vacancy at the number two post at the State Secretariat would open a new race inside the Vatican.”
No doubt the post “will go to a skilled diplomat” he said, “since Pope Francis is seemingly going toward a reform of the State Secretariat that would make it a sort of clearing-house of diplomacy, leaving the general affairs to the Prefecture of the Papal Household.”
Washington D.C., Sep 24, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The new head of a Catholic communications training group says he hopes to help the faithful present the complex truths of the Gospel in understandable ways amid a sometimes hostile modern world.
“I'm very excited to begin my work at Catholic Voices USA,” said Scot Landry, new executive director of the organization.
“Catholic Voices offers communication tools and approaches that allow lay people to confidently share Catholic teaching on hot-button issues in a concise and compassionate manner,” he told CNA on Sept. 24.
“Given the speed of communications today and the shorter articles and attention spans common in new media, these tools for communicating a few key points about a topic can help readers and listeners grasp our main messages.”
“There are many issues today that Catholics want to speak out about in a persuasive manner, such as the growing threats to religious liberty, care for immigrants and all the vulnerable, and many others,” Landry explained. “These issues are complex, yet the Catholic Voices approach can help present the main messages in a way that others can understand our respect our point of view.”
Modeled after its British counterpart, Catholic Voices USA trains lay people to present Catholicism in a positive way, countering misrepresentations and making the case for the Catholic Church in the public square, through debates, media interviews and informal discussions with friends.
Before coming to Catholic Voices, Landry was the president of iCatholic Media and secretary for media at the Archdiocese of Boston. Prior to his work with the archdiocese, the Harvard graduate worked in marketing, brand management, consulting and executive positions at companies including Procter and Gamble, Parthenon Consulting, and Eze Castle Software.
He explained that participants in the Catholic Voices USA program love their faith and want to share it accurately with people, while discussing it with those who disagree or are misinformed.
Landry said that the organization’s 10 principles of civil communications on contentious issues have been well-received and have already helped him in sharing his faith more effectively.
“I hope that I can share these methods with other Catholics who are willing to accept this sacred responsibility of proposing our faith’s way of life to those around us,” he said.
Kathryn Jean Lopez, director at Catholic Voices USA, called Landry's experience in communications and management a “game-changer” for the organization.
“Scot’s leadership promises to grow CVUSA to meet evangelical needs throughout the country,” she commented, adding that this is “an exciting time for Catholic Voices USA.”
Landry has been praised by Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who said that “Scot exemplifies the dedicated Catholic layman, husband, and father.”
“His incredible energy and fine intellect have been a great gift and we know that he will continue to make an impact in the Church,” the cardinal added in his Aug. 30 blog post.
“There is so much polarization in the country, and we need a way of being able to witness to our faith in such a way that it can be heard by secular society,” Cardinal O’Malley explained. “I believe that Catholic Voices has developed a paradigm to do that. This is a great contribution to the life of the Church and I know Scot will make huge strides there.”
Washington D.C., Sep 24, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A deadly terrorist attack at a shopping mall in the capital of Kenya has drawn prayers and condolences from across the country and around the world.
Auxiliary Bishop David Kamau of Nairobi, speaking for the Kenyan bishops’ conference, condemned “the unwarranted attacks on the helpless people and residents of Kenya.”
“As a nation we share in the trauma of our brothers and sisters who have lost their close relatives and their loved ones during the Westgate attack,” he said in a statement, according to the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development, a member of the Caritas International.
“We are in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who have been injured in this terrible tragedy and pray that the Almighty God grants them a quick recovery,” the bishop said.
On Sept. 21, more than a dozen gunmen entered Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The militants reportedly allowed some Muslim shoppers to leave the mall before opening fire on remaining people in the shopping center and then taking hostages.
The next four days were marked by explosions and gunfire as government forces struggled to gain control.
Current reports indicate that more than 60 people have died at least 175 are injured, with hundreds more being evacuated unharmed from the shopping center. Part of the building has reportedly collapsed and more than 50 are still missing, according to the Kenya Red Cross.
The militant Islamist group Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attacks through its Twitter account. The terrorist group, which has links to al-Qaeda, is based on Somalia, where it is seeking to create an Islamic state.
Al-Shabaab said the attack was an act of retribution for Kenya’s military involvement in Somalia, where it has been working with other countries – including the U.S. – in fighting Islamist terrorist groups.
Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta announced on Tuesday morning that security forces had “defeated our attackers,” ending the multiple-day siege.
Noting that the nation’s “losses are immense,” he declared three days of national mourning.
“Our attackers wished to destroy the essential character of our society,” he said, according to CNN. “They failed. Kenya endured. Kenya endures.”
Five terrorists were killed in the fighting and 11 other suspects are in custody, Kenyatta said, promising that authorities will work to investigate the attack and ensure “full accountability” for the perpetrators.
Neither Kenyatta nor U.S. officials could confirm early reports that a British woman and two or three Americans were among the attackers, although investigations into the nationalities of the culprits will continue. Al-Shabaab is known to have recruited in Western countries.
Countries throughout Africa and around the world, including the United States, have pledged support for the Kenyan people and government.
“We are providing all the cooperation that we can,” said U.S. President Barack Obama in a Sept. 23 press conference, vowing that his government would “stand against” such “senseless violence” and continue to work on “dismantling” terrorist organizations.
U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry echoed the president’s statements, stressing that the United States will “stand ready to help in any way we can.”
The Kenyan bishops thanked the people for their ongoing support of the victims.
“The donation of blood and other charitable acts; the sacrifices of those working in health services; all who have volunteered in any way to save the lives of our brothers and sisters in danger; let us keep the spirit as we continue to pray for each other,” they said.