NEWS BRIEFS

– Tej Francis

ROME

POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT XVI VISITS PAPAL SUMMER RESIDENCE NEAR ROME

(Vatican news) He passed many a summer evening in the quiet and relative cool of the gardens behind the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo during his time on the Chair of Peter. On Thursday evening, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI relived those peaceful moments with a quick trip to the Alban Hills outside Rome.

Prayerful evening stroll and supper

According to the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, the Pope emeritus stopped off first at the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo to pray the Rosary while strolling through its spacious gardens. Benedict XVI spent most of his summers as Pope in the papal residence there, enjoying the area’s slightly cooler temperatures compared to the sweltering heat in central Rome. He would usually stay for the months of July and August, holding the Sunday Angelus prayer in the square in front of the palace. After his Thursday evening walk, the Pope emeritus stopped off at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sandstone in nearby Rocca di Papa. Then he had dinner with Bishop Raffaello Martinelli at the bishop’s residence in Frascati. It was precisely Bishop Martinelli who had invited the Pope emeritus for supper.

Serene presence

Msgr. Raffaello Torelli, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Frascati, was also present for the relaxing evening. He told Vatican Radio that the Pope emeritus’ visit left “a wonderfully serene impression”. Benedict, he said, “is a man who lives constantly in the presence of God, a saintly man who transmits that sense of God in a manner beyond his physical appearance. He does so with his eyes and his smile.” Pope emeritus Benedict XVI returned later on Thursday evening to his residence at the Mater Ecclesia Monastery in the Vatican Gardens.

AUSTIN, TEXAS

ATF INVESTIGATES ‘PAINFUL’ FIRE THAT DESTROYED 125-YEAR-OLD TEXAS CATHOLIC CHURCH

(CNA) Federal agents have joined the investigation of a fire that ravaged and destroyed a 125-year-old landmark Catholic Church in central Texas on Monday. Fire-fighters responded to the blaze at the historic Church of the Visitation in Westphalia, Texas on Monday morning. While the tabernacle containing the Eucharist was saved by nearby residents, nearly everything else was destroyed, including a century-old organ and stained-glass windows imported from Germany, according to local news channel KWTX. “(It’s) extremely difficult and painful to be here,” Bishop Joe Vasquez of the Diocese of Austin, who visited the scene of the fire on Monday, told KWTX. “I’m very deeply affected by this and I know the people here are also heartbroken,” he added. On Tuesday, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) joined in the investigation of the cause of the fire, which is yet unknown.

The parish had an active congregation of several hundred people, which had been planning a 125th anniversary celebration of the building before the fire struck. In 1978, the Church of the Visitation was officially recognized by the State of Texas with a Texas Historical Marker. In 1996, the church and the surrounding 5,500 acres of farmland were designated as a Rural Historic District, and the church is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places. “This architectural beauty is now a loss and that’s what saddens all of us here,” Vasquez told KWTX. The parish website notes that a total of 14 priests and 38 religious sisters came from the community, which currently has 185 families and some 500 parishioners. Damages from the fire are estimated to total at least $3-$4 million dollars

PAKISTAN

LOCAL GOVERNMENT SUPPORTS RESTORATION OF ST PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, KARACHI

(Independent Catholic news) St Patrick’s Cathedral was the first church built in Karachi. The 175-year-old building, is currently undergoing a three-year restoration project which is being supported by the government of Sindh Province. During a meeting with provincial Prime Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Rector Fr Mario Rodrigues said: “This year we celebrate the platinum jubilee of the Cathedral. The building is well known for its Gothic Renaissance architecture and can accommodate up to 1500 people. The historical and ancient architectural works of the building, particularly those in stone, the stained-glass windows and the wooden ones date back almost 146 years ago.”

Various Bible scenes are depicted on the windows of the Cathedral, including the sacrifice of Isaac, the Annunciation, the Nativity of Jesus, the presentation of Jesus in the temple, the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt and the Passion of Jesus. “The building of the Cathedral is a cultural heritage that cannot be totally demolished and rebuilt; we must preserve and protect our history. This is the reason why the project is financially demanding,” said Fr Mario Rodrigues after the meeting with Ali Shah.

Provincial Prime Minister of Sindh, who studied at the St Patrick’s High School, hailed the Catholic Church’s good works within the province, especially in providing educational and health services. In April, the fundraising team of this project had organized a ‘Food and Music Festival’. There are only about 166,000 Catholics in Karachi (as of 2013) out of a population of more than 18 million, but the Catholic Church contributes much to the welfare of the country through schools, hospitals and other institutions.

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