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Sister in Syria honoured

WASHINGTON (SE): Melania Trump bestowed the International Women of Courage Award on 13 women in early April, including Salesian Sister Carolin Tahhan Fachakh, who works in Aleppo, Syria.

“She has worked tirelessly to support the needs of Syria’s most vulnerable populations, particularly internally displaced persons and children,” a citation from the State Department in the United States of America which gives the award reads.

“She has been a beacon of hope to both Muslims and Christians alike, while putting her own life at risk,” it concludes.

Anglican regret for Reformation

CANTERBURY (SE): Archbishop Justin Welby, from Canterbury, and Archbishop John Sentamu, from York, issued a statement on April 12 calling upon members of the Anglican Communion to acknowledge “the lasting damage done five centuries ago to the unity of the Church.”

The two said that the conflicts among Christians that occurred with the Reformation are a clear offence against Christ’s call to unity.

“A legacy of mistrust and competition would then accompany the astonishing global spread of Christianity in the centuries that followed,” the two bishops concluded.

Church marks Canada’s sesquicentennial

OTTAWA (SE): The president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops says in a message to mark the 150th anniversary of independence on July 1, “As the festivities of Canada Day draw near, we, and all the Catholic faithful of this nation, rejoice.”

Bishop Douglas Crosby concluded his four-page message saying, “It is our prayer that God will continue to keep our home and native land glorious and free, and that Canadians, including the Indigenous Peoples whose lands we share, will continue to work toward a better country and a better world.”

Vatican commemorative stamps minted

VATICAN (SE): The Vatican issued stamps in May to commemorate the 90th birthday of Pope Benedict XVI and the 100th anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima.

The stamp honouring Pope Benedict shows him praying the rosary. It was described as being an expression of affection for him and to wish him well on his April 16 birthday.

The Fatima stamp shows a representation of the Virgin Mary speaking to the three children. The first apparition took place on 13 May 1917.

There will also be a stamp to mark the 1,950th anniversary of the martyrdom of Ss. Peter and Paul.

No Mass day for Irish diocese

LIMERICK (SE): There were no Masses celebrated in the diocese of Limerick in Ireland on April 25, as the priests had gathered for a formation gathering day.

The people were encouraged to gather all the same and conduct prayer services for themselves.

Bishop Brendan Leahy described the day without Mass as a useful preparation for the future, as the acute shortage of priests in the diocese, which currently boasts 184,000 people in 60 parishes, will mean that lay people will be called upon to lead services.

Vatican Bank on the clean list

ROME (SE): The Institute for Religious Works, more commonly known as the Vatican Bank, has for the first time won a place on the banking white list certifying it as meeting Italian transparency standards.

ANSA reported that the economic minister for Italy, Pier Carlo Padoan, listed the institute among the countries that are regarded as providing adequate documentation for financial transactions.

The white list rating is a landmark for the Vatican, which has undergone a series of reforms in its quest to conform to European banking standards.

Trump might ask to meet pope

ROME (SE): The president of the United States of America, Donald Trump, is reported to have requested a meeting with Pope Francis in May, when he will be in Italy for the G7 meetings.

Although no plans have been announced and the spokesperson for the Vatican, Greg Burke, said that no formal request has been received, White House officials confirmed that the president would ask for a meeting.

Speculation that Trump would not seek an audience with the pope had arisen, because the White House had not mentioned it and there seemed to be tension between the two.

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