Today in Church History - April 29

1670 Pope Clement X elected

Clement X was elected as a compromise candidate after a very difficult conclave lasting 5 months.

His Holiness Pope Clement X died on 22 July 1676 in Rome, in the 7th year of his pontificate, at the age of 86-years. He was buried on 26 July in the Patriarchal Vatican Basilica, and his mortal remains were transferred on 15 October 1691 to the Chapel of St. Petronilla of the same basilica.

Born: July 12, 1590 (Rome, Italy)
Died: July 22, 1676
Crowned: May 11, 1670
Pope: April 29, 1670 - July 22, 1676 (6 years)

Church in Sri Lanka preparing for annual pilgrimage to Madu Matha Shrine

Colombo, Srilanka, August 01, 2009 – With special prayers for peace in all the dioceses, the Church in Sri Lanka is preparing the customary annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu (Diocese of Mannar), which will be held this August 15, for the Solemnity of the Assumption, according to an over 400-year-old tradition.

The pilgrimage will focus on the theme of peace and national reconciliation, which will be the main prayer intentions during these days leading up to the event and during the pilgrimage (which many make on foot), as well as in the celebrations at the Shrine.

Following an accord between the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka and the government, the pilgrimage was no longer post-poned or cancelled as had been previously thought, for security reasons. The Shrine has been affected in recent months by the fighting between national forces and the Tamil rebels. The statue of the Virgin Mary had to be moved for safety reasons.

The government authorities are working to restore safety in the Shrine area, clearing it of anti-personnel mines and explosives that have been spread throughout the area. Also, the path leading up to the church will no longer have road blocks and other security measures that have made the path of the pilgrims more difficult.

This year, a great number of pilgrims are expected to come, in comparison to last year when bombing and fighting were still taking place and only 500 faithful were able to make the visit to the Shrine of Madhu.

-Agenzia Fides

Day of Prayer for the Church in China

Vatican City, May 21, 2009 – May 24 is the second “Day of Prayer for the Church in China,” which was instituted by Pope Benedict XVI in his Letter to Chinese Catholics, signed May 27, 2007, Solemnity of Pentecost, with these words: “Dear Pastors and all the faithful, the date 24 May could in the future become an occasion for the Catholics of the whole world to be united in prayer with the Church which is in China. This day is dedicated to the liturgical memorial of Our Lady, Help of Christians, who is venerated with great devotion at the Marian Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai.”

After the large participation and success of the celebration last year, and thanks as well to the great care and attention of Cardinal Sepe, Archbishop of Naples, the Chinese Catholic community in Italy is collaborating with the Archdiocese of Naples to celebrate the Day there. All Chinese people, Catholic and non-Catholic here in Italy are invited to the “Duomo” in Naples at 11am on May 24 to respond to this appeal from the Pope.

Their statement says: “Members of all the Chinese communities in every diocese in Italy are invited, along with all the missionaries and sisters of various congregations,” offering further information on their website:

In addition, after the Mass presided by Cardinal Sepe in Italian and Chinese, there will be a reception and a conference on the pastoral care and evangelization effort in the Chinese community in Italy.


Catholic Church in Sri Lanka request to protect minority rights

Colombo, Srilanka, May 21, 2009 – The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has made several petitions to the government in Colombo, following the national celebration of the end of the war, assuring that, at the dawn of this new era without violence the Church will do her part to build reconciliation and peace. Among the Church's requests are: to resolve the matter of the Tamil refugees with haste; protect minority rights for ethnic and religious groups; take measures for ensuring a “fair peace.”

In a statement sent to Agenzia Fides, Archbishop Oswald Gomis of Colombo affirms that “the war would end only on the day that we grow in nationhood realizing that we are all one people in one country with equal rights.”

The nation has realized in the years of conflict and suffering, that it is “a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural community. As such we are now left with the great task of nation-building forgetting our ethnic, political and religious differences,” the Archbishop said.

Archbishop Gomis continued: “It is imperative that there be a political formula that will inspire confidence and promote a sense of belonging among the minority groups in the country. We have to leave the sad and bitter memories of the past three decades and look positively and optimistically towards the future in hope. All of us have to share the blame for our division and forgive each other. We should have the humility and wisdom to learn from the sad experiences of that past. It is then, and only then, that we could build nationhood that will bring true peace and prosperity to our beloved country - Sri Lanka. Let us always remember that united we will flourish but divided we will perish. May Sri Lanka be a land where unity, equality, and fraternity reign supreme!”

The Secretary of the Bishops' Conference, Bishop Norbert Andradi, OMI, told Fides yesterday that “the Church will do her part for a future of peace and unity in the country”.

Caritas Sri Lanka has also made an appeal to the government in Colombo, asking that they address these three main issues: assistance to the thousands of refugees who have suffered months of war; providing homes for the refugees and homeless, helping them to return to a stable economic status and normal life; establishment of a “fair peace” that takes into account the demands of all Sri Lankan citizens, no matter their ethnic origin.

Caritas is especially working to provide for the Tamil refugees who have been victims in the government's attacks on the rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who have surrendered after 25 years of conflict.

Caritas Director in Sri Lanka, Fr. Damien Fernando, after having seen the refugee camps, declared: “We need to see an urgent improvement in the conditions in the camps. People in them don't have the food, medical supplies, and the security they need. Families must be reunited. The government needs to take the initiative to speed up its plans to resettle the people in the camps back to their homes.”


Benedict XVI urged youths to be the hope of the Church

Vatican City, April 3, 2009 – Young people must be the “hope” of the Church and avoid the danger, so much present in our society, that “Christian hope” might be “reduced to ideology, group slogan, an outer cover.” Giving young people Jesus as the true basis for hope was John Paul II”s deepest concern, something that continues to motivate Benedict XVI in his quest to confront today’s “educational emergency.” In tonight’s mass in St Peter’s Basilica in memory of John Paul II who died four years ago today, his successor insisted on the continuing need to be concerned about young people.

Young people from Sydney and Madrid, coming from the last and the next city to host World Youth Day, joined those from Rome to hear the Pope speak. Together, they stood for the millions who participate in this international gathering promoted by the late Pontiff. Young Poles came as well, accompanying the current cardinal of Krakow, Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was John Paul II’s personal secretary from the time he was archbishop till his last breath.

“Your presence,” Benedict XVI said as he focused his attention on young people, “reminds me of the enthusiasm John Paul II was able to inspire in young generations. [. . .] Since his youth he was a fearless and ardent defender of Christ. For Him he did not spare his energy in order to spread His light everywhere. He chose not to compromise when it came to proclaiming His Truth and defending it. He never tired from spreading love. From the start of his pontificate until 2 April 2005 he was never afraid to proclaim to one and all that only Jesus is the Saviour, the true Liberator of mankind, the whole of mankind.”

“Looking at his life we see how God’s pledge of fecundity to Abraham unfolded,” said the Pope. “Specifically, we can see how, during his long pontificate, he instilled faith in so many youths, at World Youth Day, now in its 23rd edition, in various parts of the world. How many people owe their vocation for the priesthood and the consecrated life to him! How many young families chose to live by the evangelical ideal in search for holiness inspired by the way my venerated predecessor preached and bore witness! How many young men and women converted or kept to the Christian path because of his prayers, encouragement, support and example!”

“It is true! John Paul II was able to impart a strong urge for hope, based on faith in Jesus Christ. As a loving father and attentive educator, he pointed the way to safe and sound points of reference that are indispensable for all, but especially for the young. As he lay dying, the new generation showed how it understood his example, gathering in silent prayer in St Peter’s Square and many other places around the world, feeling that they were losing their Pope; that their “father” in faith was passing away, dying. Yet they also felt he was leaving them in legacy the courage and coherence of his witness. Did he not in fact insist on several occasions that a radical commitment to the Gospel was need? Did he not exhort adults and young people alike to take seriously their joint educational responsibility? I, too, do focus on this concern of his, having stressed it on several occasions when I spoke about the educational emergency now affecting the family, the Church, society and above all young people. As they grow up young people need adults who can provide them with principles and values. At their age they feel the need for others to teach how to live up to high ideals by example even more than by words. But where can we get the light and wisdom to accomplish such a mission which involves all of us in the Church and society? Certainly it is not enough to rely on human resources alone; we must trust divine help first of all.”

Dear young people, without hope life does not exist. Experience shows that everything, our life included, is in danger and can collapse at any time if it has no internal or external reason. This is normal because all that is human, including hope, has no basis in and of itself, but requires a “rock” to stand. That is why Paul writes that Christians are called to build human hope on the “living God” for “only in Him can it be certain and reliable.”

“Be careful though, at a time like ours, and in the cultural and social context in which we live, we might see Christian hope reduced to ideology, group slogan, an outer cover. There is nothing more antithetical to the message of Jesus than this. He does not want his disciples to “play” a role, not even that of hope. He wants them to “be” the hope, and they can be it only if they remain united with Him. He wants each one of you, my dear young people, to be a little spring of hope for your fellow man, so that together all of you can be an oasis of hope for the society in which you live.”

“If Christ’s words dwell in us, we can spread the fire of love he set on earth and carry on high the torch of faith and hope with we which we move towards Him, as we await his glorious return at the end of times.”

“That is the torch Pope John Paul II left us as our inheritance. He handed it to me, his successor, and as an ideal I hand it to you, once more, to you especially, young people of Rome, so that you can continue to keep watch in the morning, vigilant and joyful, in this, the dawn of the 3rd millennium. Please, respond to Christ’s appeal with generosity!”

Benedict XVI’s ended by addressing Mary with the words Totus tuus, John Paul II’s motto, as he entrusted the “noble soul” of the late Pope to the Virgin.


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