|Famous exorcist says Pope's simple prayer cast out demon
Rome, Italy, May 24 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Rome’s most well known exorcist says Pope Francis performed an exorcism in St. Peter’s Square last Sunday and that the man was possessed because of Mexico’s abortion law.
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VATICAN CITY, May 24 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Pope Francis counseled the Italian bishops to avoid becoming lukewarm by remaining vigilant in their love for God, as he reflected on Jesus asking Peter if he loved him.
“The question is addressed to me and to each one of you, to all of us,” the Pope told them on May 23, as they listened to his meditation on John 21 inside Saint Peter’s Basilica.
“If we avoid reacting too hastily and superficially, it encourages us to look within, to enter into ourselves,” he stated.
The pontiff warned that a “lack of vigilance … makes the pastor lukewarm” and he “runs the risk, like the Apostle Peter, of denying the Lord, even if he is present to us and speaks in his name.”
“He becomes distracted, forgetful and even impatient,” the Pope said.
A careless priest can become seduced by “the prospect of a career, the lure of money, and compromises with the spirit of the world,” he added.
The lack of attentiveness “makes him lazy, turning him into a functionary, a cleric worried more about himself, about organizations and structures, than about the true good of the People of God,” he told the bishops.
The Italian bishops were gathered in Rome to hold their 65th general assembly. Their meeting culminated in a Thursday evening prayer service that included a Liturgy of the Word, a reflection from Pope Francis, and a solemn profession of faith that he led.
The ceremony began with Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, delivering opening remarks and offering his thanks to the Pope.
After the Liturgy of the Word, Pope Francis offered a brief meditation on the Bible passages that were read, including John 21, where Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him.
Turning to Jesus response to Peter – “feed my sheep” – Pope Francis said that being pastors means “walking in front of the flock, freed from the burdens that hinder a healthy apostolic swiftness, and without hesitation in leading, to make our voice recognizable both to those who have embraced the faith, but also to those who are not of this fold.”
And it also means to be “capable of listening to the silent story of the suffering and bearing up the steps of those who are afraid of not succeeding,” the Holy Father reflected.
He said that they should do this “to raise up, to reassure, and inspire hope” and encouraged them to share their faith with “the humble” and particularly with priests, whom he called “our sons and our brothers.”
“A special place is reserved for our priests,” advised the Pope. “Especially for them, our hearts, our hands, and our doors remain open at all times.”
“They are the first faithful we bishops have, our priests,” he added. “Let us love them, let us love them from the heart!”
The bishops and Pope Francis closed their encounter by making a solemn profession of faith in front of St. Peter’s tomb.
“The profession of faith that we now renew together is not a formal act, but is a renewal of our response to the ‘follow me’ with which the Gospel of John concludes,” the pontiff said.
“Allow your own life to unfold according to the project of God, committing your whole self to the Lord Jesus,” he remarked.
According to Pope Francis, the consequence of loving the Lord is “giving absolutely everything, even one’s very life.”
“This is what must distinguish our pastoral ministry, it is the litmus test that shows how profoundly we have embraced the gift received in response to the call of Jesus, and how we are joined to the people and the communities that have been entrusted to us,” he said.
ROME, ITALY, May 24 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Rome’s most well known exorcist says Pope Francis performed an exorcism in St. Peter’s Square last Sunday and that the man was possessed because of Mexico’s abortion law.
“The Pope, in good faith, got close to him and performed an exorcism on him in the form of a liberation prayer, not like the classical exorcism that one does with a book,” said Father Gabriele Amorth in a May 22 evening interview with CNA.
“He is really a soul of God, which the Lord is using to criticize Mexico for legalizing abortion,” he said.
According to Fr. Amorth, he himself performed an exorcism for over an hour on the Mexican man before the Pope prayed over him later that same day in St. Peter's Square.
“I’m well informed about that young man; a good, golden, young man, he appears younger than what he is,” said Fr. Amorth. “He is 43 years-old (and) married with children.”
“I saw John Paul II do this same prayer three times,” he said. “Pope Francis laid his hands on him, prayed, and that’s it. It is enough.”
Fr. Amorth, aged 88, has performed over 70,000 exorcisms during the past 27 years. The number is high because carrying out an exorcism can require multiple sessions and each time the rite is administered it is counted as one instance.
After the interview with CNA, he made comments May 22 at Rome’s Lepanto Foundation, a Catholic book organization where he was invited to speak on his two latest books: “The last exorcist, my battle against Satan” and “The sign of the exorcist, my latest battles against Satan.”
“You must have noticed that in his 10 short speeches, this Pope has always mentioned 'his excellency,' the devil,” he said during the evening meeting, which had a dramatic feel to it because of the subject matter and the pouring rain and thunder outside.
“What did he do last Sunday?” asked the exorcist. “When Mass finished, as he normally does, with his simplicity, he walked over to greet a few sick, and a Mexican priest pointed out to him a young man possessed by the devil.”
He noted that the Pope “did not hide himself in this liberation prayer that he did on this young man at the Square.”
“Jesus did exorcisms on the street, in homes, wherever,” said Fr. Amorth. “I’ve had to change 23 places in Rome to be able to do exorcisms.”
“I would like for everyone to attend exorcisms,” he added. “I’ve seen many priests that, after having seen one, did not doubt anymore about the existence of Satan. One has to see it.”
Fr. Amorth said people no longer believe in the devil now and there is a shortage of exorcists.
“Today there are no more exorcists because of the bishops,” he charged. “I’ve been saying for 27 years that when a bishop doesn’t provide, he commits a mortal sin.”
“But not all bishops are in the state of mortal sin, shucks that would be a lot of bishops,” he joked.
Fr. Amorth stated that everyone has the power to cast out devils if they have enough faith in Jesus Christ, and that these abilities are “gifts of the Holy Spirit.”
“But if one truly has this gift he keeps it hidden and is humble about it,” he pointed out.
VATICAN CITY, May 23 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Pope Francis reflected May 23 on Jesus Christ's exhortation to be “salt of the earth,” warning that Christians who do not live their faith become “flavorless salt” and are fit to be museum pieces.
The pontiff said that God gives Christians the “salt” of faith, hope and charity. This salt should not be hoarded “because if the salt is preserved in a bottle it does not do anything: it is good for nothing.”
“We can show the salt: this is my salt – and how lovely it is! This is the salt that I received in Baptism, this is what I received in Confirmation, this is what I received in catechesis,” he said. “But look: museum-piece Christians! A salt without flavor, a salt that does nothing.”
The Pope’s comments came in his homily during morning Mass at the chapel of St. Martha's residence in the Vatican, Vatican Radio reports. The day’s gospel reading, from the Gospel of Mark’s ninth chapter, contains Jesus’ question to his disciples: “if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor?”
Pope Francis said that faith preached with this salt helps others receive it according to their own individual circumstances, as when it is used judiciously on food.
“Each with his own peculiarities receives the salt and becomes better,” he added. “The Christian originality is not a uniformity! It takes each one as he is, with his own personality, with his own characteristics, his culture – and leaves him with that, because it is a treasure.”
He said this “salt” also gives something more. “It gives flavor!” he said. “This Christian originality is so beautiful.”
He said those who want everything to be salted in the same way risk a situation where a cook throws in too much salt.
“One tastes only salt and not the meal,” he said. The Christian originality is this: each as he is, with the gifts the Lord has given him.”
He urged Christians to “get out there with the message, to get out there with this richness that we have in salt, and give it to others.”
The Pope said Christians may give this salt both in service to others and in service to God. The “salt” of faith also keeps its flavor through preaching, prayer and adoration.
“With the worship of the Lord I go beyond myself to the Lord, and with the proclamation of the Gospel I go out of myself to give the message,” he said.
He repeatedly encouraged Christians to share their faith.
“Salt makes sense when you (use) it in order to make things more tasty,” he said. “The salt that we have received is to be given out, to be given away, to spice things up. Otherwise, it becomes bland and useless.”
He said Christians should pray that God not let them become “Christians with flavorless salt that stays closed in the bottle.”
WASHINGTON D.C., May 24 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Scholar Mary Eberstadt says most theories of secularization do not take into account the role of the family in religious practice, noting how its demise is critically linked to an increasingly secular West.
“The reasons commonly offered for secularization don’t hold up when you scrutinize them,” Eberstadt, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., told CNA May 23.
“This means that modern secular sociology has gotten a pretty big thing wrong, and it’s gotten it wrong because it’s ignored the role of the family and what motivates people to go to church.”
She noted that “the conventional story line” often assumes secularization is a natural effect of a variety of forces such as modernization, the industrial revolution, education, and material wealth.
While these forces are important, Eberstadt conceded, none of them, by themselves can explain the secularization of Western society.
She pointed to examples made in her recent book, “How the West Really Lost God,” which notes that despite the predictions of many proponents and scholars of secularizations, religion is more prominent among the educated and wealthy. This seemingly disproves, she noted, those who claim religion is mere superstition or comfort for the struggling.
Her book – released April 24 by Templeton Press – also shows how following the industrial revolution, these two groups have been able to maintain the ability to retain family ties in ways that those who are less educated and facing financial misfortunes have not been able to.
“When we see secularization, we’re seeing something other than the fact that people got richer or the fact that people got more educated,” Eberstadt emphasized.
Instead, she aims to “forth an alternative theory:” that the “family has been a hidden and critical player all along” in both the success and decline of religious observance.
“In times of family decline, you see a religious decline; in times of family prosperity you see religious prosperity,” Eberstadt said of her research, adding that “the fracturing of the modern family and the atomization of the modern family have a lot to do with the secularization of society.”
To those wishing to reverse the trends of secularization, she emphasized “the first thing we need to do is understand what exactly is going on,” she said
“It’s not a hopeless situation,” Eberstadt stressed, adding that secularization is not an inevitable effect of modernization, as many claim.
She suggested that those wishing to challenge the trend of declining religious observance look at “what makes it easier to have families,” noting in particular ways of supporting young families in times of need, such as “pro-bono marital counseling,” and increased child support within communities.
Eberstadt also stressed that “religious believers benefit society,” and that attempts to marginalize and stigmatize religious practice are “shortsighted.
“People who have a creed that tells them to take care of poor and sick people are more likely to do that,” Eberstadt said, noting sociological trends such as a “charity gap” between religious and nonreligious persons, as well as “very little private donation” in irreligious countries.
“Religious practice helps everybody in the public,” she stated. “These are people who are actually giving back in the public square a meaningful way.”
DENVER, COLO., May 24 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver has called for the repeal of the death penalty following the Colorado governor’s grant of a temporary reprieve to a death row inmate convicted of four murders.
“My support for the death penalty’s repeal is rooted in my respect for the dignity of all human life,” the archbishop said May 22.
“Every human being has a fundamental right to life. It is wrong to take life needlessly, either through execution, or abortion, or criminal acts of violence.”
“Humanity is at its best when it protects and defends human life from the time of conception until natural death. Let us continue to work for peace in our families, our communities, and in our state,” he added.
Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday chose to delay Nathan Dunlap’s execution three months before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection.
He said in an executive order that Colorado’s capital punishment system is “not flawless.” Hickenlooper noted that death sentences are not handed down “fairly,” citing a judge who said the punishment is the result of “happenstance” like a district attorney’s decision, the jurisdiction of the trial, and possibly the race or economic circumstances of the defendant.
“Colorado’s system of capital punishment is imperfect and inherently inequitable,” the governor said after announcing the order. “Such a level of punishment really does demand perfection.”
Although the governor refrained from granting full clemency to Dunlap, he said it is “highly unlikely” he will reconsider the death penalty for his case, the Denver Post reports.
Dunlap was convicted of killing four employees, including several teenagers, at an Aurora, Colo. Chuck E. Cheese’s pizza parlor in 1993. He was 19 at the time and a former employee of the restaurant. He shot and seriously wounded a fifth employee before stealing about $1,500.
His attorneys have argued that Dunlap was a victim of continual abuse as a youth and suffers from bipolar disorder. They said he was in the middle of a manic episode when the killings took place.
Many relatives of the victims responded to the temporary reprieve with anger and disappointment.
“The knife that's been in my back...was just twisted by the governor,” Bob Crowell, whose 19-year-old daughter Sylvia was among the slain, told the Denver Post after a conference call between the governor and victims’ families.
Archbishop Aquila voiced his support for the victims and their families.
“My heart goes out most to the families of the victims of Dunlap’s heinous crime,” he said. “I pray that they will find closure to the violence that was committed to their loved ones and to them. Few of us will ever experience that type of violence.”
However, he said Gov. Hickenlooper was right to emphasize that execution is “a matter which should be considered thoughtfully by all Coloradans.”
“Coloradans should work together to end the practice of punitive killing – for the sake of justice, and the sake of human dignity,” he said.
“When will Americans open their eyes to recognize that violence only begets violence? We who stood for the life of Nathan Dunlap should work together to end violence undertaken in our state, in the womb, and in our hearts,” the archbishop added.
WASHINGTON D.C., May 23 (CNA) .- The Boy Scouts of America has voted in favor of a resolution that lifts the ban on openly gay members but will not allow gay adult troop leaders.
During its annual meeting in Grapevine, Texas, some 1,400 Boy Scouts delegates voted on whether or not the groups should lift its ban on openly homosexual youth members.
The resolution, which allows gay youth members, was passed with an over 60 percent majority of votes.
In a May 22 op-ed for USA Today, Boy Scouts of America President Wayne Perry said the resolution to lift the ban on openly gay scouts “reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and that any sexual conduct, heterosexual or homosexual, is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.”
The resolution, he explained, will not allow “the use of the organization to promote or advance any social or political positions or agendas.”
The announcement of the resolution follows several months of policy review after the Boy Scouts lost funding from high-profile donors such as UPS, Merck and Intel over the old rules, which barred openly gay members. In 2000, the Supreme Court upheld this policy as a constitutional expression of free speech.
The organization decided to delay a vote on the issue back in February, citing the complexity of the issue and need for dialogue and review.
The new resolution, which will go into effect Jan. 2014, will continue to prevent gay adults from serving as troop leaders.
The resolution affects only the national policy and allows each local unit to set its own guidelines, allowing “the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address the issue.”
Many pro-family groups, including Concerned Women for America, Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute and Family Research Council, had urged the scouts to continue their old policy, arguing that it helps to protect scouts from sexual abuse and aligns with the group’s founding morals.
WASHINGTON D.C., May 23 (CNA/EWTN News) .- The U.S. bishops welcomed a U.S. Senate committee's passage of a major immigration bill as an “important step,” urging the full senate to consider the bill as soon as possible.
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chair of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Migration, lauded the Senate Judiciary Committee’s passage of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.
The committee approved the legislation May 21 by a vote of 13-5.
“I applaud Chairman Patrick Leahy and the committee members for their efforts and strong bipartisan cooperation,” the archbishop said May 23.
He urged the senate to amend the bill to widen “the path to citizenship” and maximize the number of people who can “come out of the shadows.”
“To leave a large population behind would defeat the purpose of the bill, which is to bring persons into the light so they can become full members of our communities,” he said.
The senate's 867-page immigration bill would allow the estimated 11 million illegal residents of the U.S. to obtain provisional immigrant status six months after the bill if they meet certain conditions, the Washington Post reports.
Those eligible must have arrived in the U.S. before Dec. 31, 2011 and must have maintained continuous physical presence since then. They must also pay a $500 fine every six years.
After 10 years of provisional status, immigrants can seek a green card and lawful permanent resident status if they meet certain conditions, including paying a $1,000 fine, keeping current on their taxes and learning English. Additionally, they must meet work requirements. Those with a felony conviction or three or more misdemeanor convictions are ineligible.
These conditions are also dependent on whether the Department of Homeland Security develops and enacts adequate border security and fencing plans. Residents may obtain provisional immigrant status six months after the bill passes only if the plans are developed.
They may obtain a green card and legal permanent resident status only if border security “triggers” have been met and if the government has processed all legal immigrant applications pending upon the date of the bill’s enactment.
If passed, the bill would allow those brought to the country as youths to get green cards in five years and citizenship immediately afterward. Those deported for non-criminal reasons may apply to re-enter the U.S. with provisional status if they have a spouse or a child who is a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. Deportees may also apply for reentry if they were brought to the U.S. as a child.
The bishops’ conference has worked to shorten the waiting period for individuals who want to apply for permanent residency and to expand the cut-off date for eligibility. They have also asked for a relaxation of income and work requirements.
The senate bill bars citizens from sponsoring their siblings and allows them to sponsor their married children only if their children are under age 31.
In his statement Thursday, Archbishop Gomez criticized cuts to the family-based aspects of the immigration system.
“We must not abandon our focus on families, which are the backbone of our society,” he said. “Family unity, based on the union of a husband and a wife and their children, must remain the cornerstone of our nation's immigration system.”
The U.S. Senate is expected to consider the legislation in June, though its passage is not certain.
The senate bill’s counterpart in the House of Representatives faces opposition over whether federal healthcare should be prohibited for undocumented immigrants as they transition to legal resident and permanent resident status, Reuters reports. Several House Republicans have said that the senate bill will not pass the House.
CALGARY, CANADA, May 24 (CNA/EWTN News) .- A pro-life group in Canada is renewing its efforts to ignite discussion and conversion in their country by calling out major politicians who support abortion.
“We very much want to change public opinion so that we can change public policy,” Stephanie Gray of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform told CNA May 21.
The campaign called “Face the Children” consists of postcards featuring images of some of Canada’s most powerful politicians alongside graphic pictures of aborted children.
“Our experience has been that when people see the pictures it does change their minds,” Gray explained.
With a team made up of volunteers, summer interns and staffers, the organization has been scouring neighborhoods with the postcards and distributing them door-to-door.
“We’ve seen a range of reactions,” Gray said. While some recipients have called their office with words of encouragement and suggesting that they target more pro-choice politicians, others have been angry and upset.
“The point we make is that the images are disturbing,” Gray said, “but what’s more disturbing is that the picture of the politician next to the image has failed the children.”
“If we just had leaders who would implement laws to protect the pre-born, then these images wouldn’t have to be circulated,” she added.
So far, the group has revealed two of the five politicians they will be highlighting throughout the summer.
In the first round of postcards, a smiling picture of the Prime Minister is shown next to a baby girl aborted at six months with text that reads “Stephen Harper won’t ban this.”
The second postcard the group began distributing just this week features Michelle Rempel, Member of Parliament of Calgary Centre North, alongside a baby aborted at six months with the words “One of
Canada’s most powerful women failed Canada’s most powerless children.”
Each round of the campaign, which will run for five weeks, distributes 50,000 postcards in each politicians riding – or constituency – amounting to a total of 250,000 postcards circulating throughout Canada.
“So, if you think just that on average, say two people see a postcard, that’s basically half a million people that will be targeted with the pro-life message in four months,” Gray said.
Just as the murder trial of Kermitt Gosnell – the late-term abortionist who was convicted of first-degree murder for three babies who survived botched abortions and third-degree murder of one mother – has brought the images of abortion to the public eye in the United State, so too will this campaign in Canada.
“We need to bring what’s in darkness into light because if it remains in the dark, it will carry on,” she said, “but if it comes into the light those with functioning consciences will respond accordingly.”
This is not the first campaign featuring graphic images that the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform has conducted.
The group frequently gathers outside of high schools with poster board-sized images of aborted babies and engages in conversation about what abortion actually is.
ROME, ITALY, May 24 (CNA/EWTN News) .- One of the oldest movements in the Church will be celebrating its 100th anniversary next year, but on Wednesday its members received an early gift when they learned that the chapel where it all started was being given to them.
Father Andrew Pastore, the movement’s communications officer, explained in a May 23 interview with CNA that the Pallottine Fathers announced during their provincial assembly that “they’re actually going to give the shrine to the Schönstatt Movement as a gift for this great jubilee year in the hope that we can together move forward.”
The provincial superior of the movement, Father Theo Breitinger, added in a May 22 statement that the community received the “surprising” news with “great joy” and that the gift shows the Pallottine’s “good will.”
The movement first began on Oct. 18, 1914, when Pallottine Father Joseph Kentenich lead a group of his students in dedicating themselves to Mary in the small chapel that had served as a garden tool shed before they refurbished it.
“You can imagine 1914 was the outbreak of the First World War. Father Kentenich was looking for ways to ground these people in faith and to give them a strength that they needed to take on the challenges of the transforming world around them,” Fr. Pastore said.
“There weren’t many people in the little chapel, there was Father Kentenich and a few of the boys who were around the age of 14 to 16,” he explained.
“Fr. Kentenich just very tentatively said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if Our Lady would take up her throne here and from this little place she could work throughout the course of history, the course of time, the course of the world.”
With the transfer of the original chapel, both the Pallottines and the Schönstatt movement hope that “the things that have happened in these last 100 years can happen in the 100 years to come.”
The historical interaction has not been without its difficulties, though, as is often the case with new movements that are born from a pre-existing community.
In 1964 the Schönstatt movement and Fr. Kentenich parted ways with the Pallottine Fathers, but the small chapel remained in the hands of the religious order, which provided for the pastoral needs of those who came to the shrine.
Fast-forward 50 years and the movement is present all over the globe and is gearing up to celebrate its 100th anniversary, with activities planned in Schönstatt and Rome.
The organizers expect around 15,000 pilgrims from 48 countries to attend the Oct. 16-19, 2014 festivities at the shrine in Schönstatt, which will also include a Mass with Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko.
Fr. Pastore explained the importance of also holding a celebration in Rome by quoting from the words inscribed on their founder’s coffin: “Delexit Ecclesiam” (He loved the Church).
The gathering in the Eternal City will take place between Oct. 23-26 next year, and will feature a pilgrimage on foot from the Basilica of St. Mary Major to St. Peter’s Basilica, visits to the shrines run by the movement, and a possible meeting with Pope Francis.
During the meetings the movement will also focus on five areas in the culture that it is working to proclaim the message that “Mary bears Christ as the answer to the burning questions of the age.”
Those areas are: marriage and family life, working with youth, education, integrating its charism into diocesan life, and renewing society.
To learn more about the Schönstatt Movement and its celebrations, please visit: http://www.schönstatt.org.
ALEPPO, SYRIA, May 23 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Orthodox and Catholic Christians in the Middle East gathered this week to pray for and appeal for the realease of two Orthodox bishops who were kidnapped in Syria one month ago.
“We renew our request for the abductees to...release the two Archbishops without hurting their health or physical situation; and release all other abducted priests and innocent civilians,” the Syriac and Greek Orthodox archdioceses of Aleppo said May 22.
“We trust that the mercy of the one God whom we all believe in, will guide the abductees and induce them to release the Archbishops without any pre-conditions, because there is no price equals the freedom of the two Archbishops, and no condition equals their safe return to their communities and churches.”
Just over a month ago, on April 22, Archbishop John Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church and Archbishop Paul Yagizi of the Greek Orthodox Church were kidnapped by armed men who killed their driver, Deacon Fatha' Allah Kabboud.
The bishops were abducted on their way back from the Turkish border, where they were negotiating the release of two priests, Fathers Michael Kayyal and Maher Mahfouz, who had themselves been kidnapped Feb. 9.
Last weekend, Christians in Aleppo gathered for an ecumenical prayer service at the city's Greek Orthodox cathedral. It was attended by Bishop Antoine Audo, the Chaldean Catholic bishop of the Aleppo eparchy.
He told Vatican Radio that it was a “sad” occasion, those attending having “tears in their eyes.” He said the situation has been confusing, as the kidnappers have made no ransom demands for their release, and added that “it's not a question of money.”
The Greek Orthodox in Damascus gathered May 20 to pray for Bishops Ibrahim and Yagizi, and Patriarch John X met May 22 with Eva Felipi, the Czech ambassador to Syria. They discussed the grievous Syrian civil war and the need for the return of the bishops, as well as all others kidnapped in the country.
In neighboring Jordan, some 2,000 Christians participated in a candlelight procession from a Greek Orthodox church to a Syriac Orthodox church in the capital, Amman.
Archbishop Maroun Lahham, an auxiliary bishop of the Jerusalem patriarchate, prayed at the procession for “tranquility and stability in beloved Syria” and for the release of the bishops, whom he called “two of the most significant Arab Christian personalities of our time.”
He told Fides after the prayers that “we prayed so that Jordan is not plagued by conflicts that are causing suffering to the peoples of neighboring countries.”
Two weeks ago, Syrian refugees already represented 10 percent of the Jordanian population. The nation's foreign minister said it could reach 25 percent by the end of the year. The flood of refugees are straining resources in the area.
The situation is so desperate that some refugee families are arranging marriages for their teenage daughters, or selling them, to older men so that they might have stability and escape the unsanitary conditions of the refugee camps.
The Syrian civil war has dragged on for 26 months. The United Nations estimates that 80,000 have died in the conflict. There are 1.5 million Syrian refugees in nearby countries, most of them in Jordan and Lebanon.
An additional 4.25 million Syrian people are believed to have been internally displaced by the war.
The Syriac and Greek Orthodox of Aleppo added that they are daily “living the nightmare” of lacking their abducted shepherds.
“We...express day after day our sadness and increasing pain about the abduction and the absence of these two eminent Prelates, and what they represent in terms of their holiness, their local and international rank, their active role on all levels including the spiritual, the thoughts, the academic, the education and the social (spheres).”
“But above all,” the archdioceses noted, “the humanitarian work which they were carrying within the current crisis which is engulfing our country Syria.”
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