Russia: Millions queue to see the relic of St John the Baptist
2,5 million faithful from Russia, the Ukraine and Belarus came to venerate the relic of the hand of St John the Baptist in the cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow.
The relic of the hand of St John the Baptist arrived on June 7 from the monastery of Cetinje (Montenegro). According to tradition, it was brought to Antioch by St. Luke. Transferred to Constantinople in the middle of the Tenth century, it left the city in the hands of the Crusaders for Rhodes, Malta, and eventually to a chapel of the Winter Palace of Saint Petersburg. Hidden during the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, it was offered to the king of Yugoslavia. After having disappeared again it was rediscovered in 1993.
The Russian Orthodox patriarch Alexis II, called upon the faithful to implore St John the Baptist “as the apostle of repentance, so that he may teach us true repentance and life in Christ”.
France: Publicity campaign for catechism in the Paris region
During a press conference, archbishop André Vingt-Trois, metropolitan archbishop of Ile-de-France, declared : “Around 70% of the French regularly call themselves Catholics in surveys… This does correspond with the view –not entirely false- of empty churches in France”. It is manifest, he explained, that between “the desire to identify oneself as Catholic and the means to achieve this, some distance has to be covered.” And “for a French child, today in a public school in Paris, to be a Christian is to be different”, he added.
Consequently, the Catholic Church in Paris is launching a campaign for the enrolment of children in catechism classes in the eight dioceses of Ile-de-France: 26,000 posters, 405,000 flyers, a personal letter addressed to 100,000 families… to “halt the decrease in attendance at catechism classes”.
South Africa: Bishops warn against Ancestor Worship.
The Catholic bishops of Southern Africa (Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland) have called upon priests to stop acting as witchdoctors. They must abandon these practices called “ubuNgoma” which involve the intervention of spirits.
In a pastoral letter published on August 12, and entitled Ancestor Worship and Christian Faith, the bishops are concerned to see many African Christians turning to animist practices (intervention of ancestors’ spirits, use of mediums, possessions by spirits, consultations with diviners, magical practices…) in difficult times of their lives. They say that what is even more worrying is that priests, religious and Catholic lay people are choosing to become diviners and witchdoctors – “sangomas” – invoking ancestors in order to cure people. Prelates stress that witchdoctors put all their confidence in ancestors placing them on a par with Christ, or even excluding Him entirely.
France: Ignatian Jubilee at Lourdes
Some 10,000 people took part in the celebrations for the commemoration of the 450th anniversary of the death of St. Ignatius of Loyola, organized at Lourdes from July 27 to August 4.
Rev. Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, General Superior for 23 years, addressed the members of lay Ignatian Institutes and movements (Ignatian women’s congregations, the Lay Community of Christian Life, Youth Eucharistic Movement, the Christian Movement of executives and directors, the Community of the Chemin Neuf, the Ignatian Youth Net, former pupils, Madeleine Daniélou Centers): “Lourdes is the beginning of a way, the way of us all, the members of the Ignatian family, pilgrims of God upon the roads of the world”.
On August 2, three Jesuits aged between 42 and 49 years took their solemn vows. It takes nearly 14 years of formation before entering definitively into the order, in which a quarter of the postulants come from the Indian continent. The Company of Jesus, which boasted 28,000 member 30 years ago, has only 19,654 members today.
Swiss: The new kosher pear brandy
The Morand distillery located in Martigny a town in Wallis (Switzerland) has launched a kosher pear brandy in collaboration with the French rabbis and an American wines and spirits consortium.
10,000 bottles are already available on the European market. The Morand distillery will later on turn to the American and then the Israeli markets.