1. After Easter attacks, learning to live alone.

By Joanna Slater, The Washington Post, July 3, 2019, Pg. A1

During the long month at the hospital, it was always the same nightmare. A deafening noise, followed by the world blasting into pieces. Then suddenly, Naresh Denilson’s eyes would open, his mind frozen with fear.

His parents were dead, their bodies found at the morgue in Colombo in the hours after the Easter Sunday attacks. His sister clung to life for a week. While Naresh, 20, was in the hospital, all three were buried in a local cemetery, one grave in front and two in back.

In the devastation of the April attacks that killed more than 260 people, Naresh’s situation was not unique. The bombers struck places where families had gathered — churches packed with worshipers, weekend breakfast buffets at hotels. In several famisodes lies, only one person survived. For three Sri Lankan families, there were no survivors.


2. Putin to meet with the pope and Kremlin-friendly politicians in Rome.

By Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli, Washington Post Online, July 2, 2019, 4:22 PM

Italy’s populist government, when it took power last year, appeared to present Russian President Vladimir Putin with everything he could want from a major Western European country. The new Italian leaders were anti-establishment chaos agents who were dubious about the European Union, NATO’s buildup in Eastern Europe and sanctions on Moscow.

But a year later, Putin has found in Italy something more modest: a government that speaks warmly about the Kremlin but that hasn’t dramatically broken from policies favored by Washington and other European capitals.

Putin is scheduled to visit Rome on Thursday for a one-day trip that analysts say is designed to cultivate the friendship between the countries at a time when Russia is playing a more ambitious and divisive role around the world.

The Russian president will spend time with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, as well as with Pope Francis, with whom he has met twice before.


3. New Vatican doc displays simplified, decentralized curia.

By Elise Harris, Crux, July 3, 2019

A preliminary outline of Pope Francis’s coming apostolic constitution on the Roman Curia reveals the merger of several more departments and an increased emphasis on the presence of laity as part of a reform hinged on decentralization and synodality and fueled by evangelization.

Tentatively titled Praedicate Evangelium, a draft of the constitution has been sent to the heads of all Vatican departments, bishops’ conferences, nuncios and certain law institutes, whose comments are being studied before the document’s publication.

According to a preliminary outline of the constitution which Crux has obtained, it seems the overall tone of the document will heavily stress the topics of synodality, the need for more lay leaders, including women, and a “healthy decentralization.”

Another priority for the reform appears to be the need to streamline, reducing the number of curial departments and “rationalizing” their functions in order to avoid a repetition of competences and to be more efficient and economize.


4. Icons on Ammo Boxes.

By George Weigel, First Things, July 3, 2019

Throughout the 20th century—the greatest period of martyrdom in history—persecuted Christians used the dross of this world to make religious artifacts.

Rosaries were constructed from bits and pieces of this-and-that. Crucifixes and Mass vessels were forged from scrap metal. Bibles and missals were handwritten on scraps of paper from memory. The Venerable Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan wore his pectoral cross suspended from a chain he made from the barbed wire of the Vietnamese communist concentration camp in which he was confined for years. Many such relics are displayed at the shrine of the New Martyrs in the Basilica of St. Bartholomew on Rome’s Tiber Island—a place where the usual bustle and buzz of Roman churches is replaced by a hushed reverence, as if even the least well-catechized visitors realize that they’re in the supernatural presence of great witnesses.

This deeply Catholic instinct for transforming what is dead or death-dealing into something life-affirming and life-giving continues today in Ukraine, through a remarkable project known as “The Icons on Ammo Boxes.” I discovered it in Philadelphia in early June, while speaking at the celebrations marking the enthronement of my old friend Borys Gudziak as Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Catholic archeparchy of Philadelphia. During my remarks (which can be found in full here), I spoke of Eastern Catholicism’s “gift of iconography” to the universal Church. Whatever impact my words may have had, however, it was likely less than the thoughts and emotions stirred in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception by an extraordinary display around the cathedral’s perimeter: icons written (painted) on the wooden lids of ammunition boxes by a husband-and-wife team of two young Ukrainian artists, Sofia Atlantova and Oleksandr Klymenko.


5. Cardinal Ranjith Calls for Accountability for Easter Bombings’ Victims, The archbishop of Colombo says the government was warned by India that attacks on churches were coming.

By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register, July 2, 2019

Sri Lankan Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo is calling on his country’s government leaders to face up to their responsibility for allowing the deadly Easter Sunday terrorist attacks to take place and for those who were negligent of the threats to be held accountable.

In June 24 comments to the Register during a visit to Rome and Italy, Cardinal Ranjith said about 500 families have been affected by the suicide-bomb attacks on three Sri Lankan churches and other targets in the country, but no one has been brought to justice yet.

The Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS) has claimed ownership of the attacks. The April 21 atrocities left 258 dead and at least 500 injured.


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