PAPAL APPEAL FOR ASIA BIBI VATICAN CITY, 17 NOV 2010 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience the Holy Father, with reference to the situation of Christians in Pakistan, pronounced the following words: "Over these days the international community is, with great concern, following the situation of Christians in Pakistan, who are often victims of violence or discrimination. In particular, I today express my spiritual closeness to Ms Asia Bibi and her family while asking that, as soon as possible, she may be restored to complete freedom. I also pray for people who find themselves in similar situations, that their human dignity and fundamental rights may be fully respected". Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian who, following a discussion with some Muslim colleagues, was accused by the latter of having pronounced offensive words against the Prophet Mohammed and denounced to the local imam. The imam asked the police to intervene and an investigation began which, a few days later, led to the arrest of Asia Bibi on the accusation of violating code 295 of the penal code, which provides for the death penalty for blasphemy.AG/ VIS 20101117 (190)
POPE RECALLS ITALIAN EARTHQUAKE OF 1980 VATICAN CITY, 17 NOV 2010 (VIS) - During his greetings to faithful at the end of his general audience today, the Pope addressed a group of Italian pilgrims from the region of Basilicata, who have come to Rome in the company of their local bishops priests and civil authorities to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the earthquake that devastated southern Italy in 1980. "During that dramatic event", said the Holy Father, "the wounds of which are still deep and open in the minds and hearts of those dear peoples, much generous aid came from many parts of Italy. At the local level, everyone undertook to implement the necessary measures. In particular, I would like to highlight the efforts made by the Church, which was able to offer, as well as material aid, the light of hope of the risen Christ, at a time of distress and darkness. My hope is that today's meeting, as well as the memory of the paternal visit made at that time by Servant of God John Paul II, may revive in Christian people the gift of faith, and the joy of sharing it in the great family of the Church".AG/ VIS 20101117 (210)
MASS FOR VICTIMS OF ATTACK AGAINST CATHEDRAL IN BAGHDAD VATICAN CITY, 17 NOV 2010 (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 5 p.m. on 25 November, at the initiative of the Syrian-Catholic Church in Rome, a Mass will be held in memory of the priests and faithful who died in an attack against their cathedral in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on 31 October, according to a communique published today. The Eucharist - which members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See have also been invited to attend - will be celebrated by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.OP/ VIS 20101117 (110)
IN MEMORIAM VATICAN CITY, 17 NOV 2010 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks: - Bishop Petros Hanna Issa al-Harboli of Zaku of the Chaldeans, Iraq, on 3 November at the age of 64. - Bishop Nikol Joseph Cauchi, emeritus of Gozo, Malta, on 15 November at the age of 81. - Bishop John Jerome Cunneen, emeritus of Christchurch, New Zealand, on 9 November at the age of 78. - Bishop Romualdas Kriksciunas, former apostolic administrator of the diocese of Panevezys, Lithuania, on 2 November at the age of 80. - Bishop Mateus Feliciano Tomas of Namibe, Angola, on 30 October at the age of 52.