5th Islamic-Christian Marian Day (OLA Algiers)

Saturday, March 28, 2020 

5th Marian Christian-Muslim Day
MARY: Words of women; bearers of values

9:30 am: Welcome at the Basilica and craft market.
10:00 am: ROUND TABLE:

Mrs. Anna Medeossi and Mrs. Amel Oudine:
Presentation of the Sanctuary of Santa Cruz, Oran.

Mrs. Karima Berger:
My experience in writing the book “You, my foreign sister”.

Mrs. Fayrouz Bibi:
Towards the promotion of a culture of dialogue and tolerance in Algeria.

Mrs. Michel Chachatti and Mr. Naguib Shallal:
Kiara Lubeck and “Mary’s Work” in Algeria.

Mrs. Asma Nouira (Tunisia) :
Mary, figure of encounter, in the popular Muslim faith.

Mrs. Cissé Zeinab Keita (Mali) :
The values of a virtuous woman according to Islamic-Christian marital qualities.

1:00 pm: Marian CUSCOUS
4:00 pm: CONCERT of organ, piano and singing
with Mr Christian Bacheley
and the students of the 3rd Master class.

Information and access cards: www.notre-dame-afrique.org/events

Merry Christmas

Compliments of the Season

Live from Mar Estephan (St Stephen Cathedral) in Lebanon,
together with Marianne Alwan (Vocals) and Lucas Sakr (Piano),
we wish you a Merry Christmas Season and a Happy New Year.

Louis Blondel : ten years already

Memorial Service for Louis Blondel

Ten years ago already…. Our colleague Louis Blondel was murdered in the prebytery of Diepsloet, a township in northern Johannesburg, South Africa. Since then, a Youth Centre has been built in his memory. On Sunday a “Memorial Service” will be celebrated on site. You can follow its progress in streaming. Here’s how it works:

Desktop PC or Apple Mac
Go to www.watchaweb.co.za
Register a free account (Sign In)
Log In with your account details
The Voice of Diepsloot is on the Main Page
Click to view

On any Tablet or Smartphone
Go to the Playstore for Android devices or App store for Apple devices
Search for Watcha Streaming
Download the free App
Install the app
Register a free account (Sign In)
Log In with your account details
The Voice of Diepsloot is on the Main Page
Click to view

Oath & Declaration of Intent in Jerusalem

Oath & Declaration of Intent in Jerusalem

On Tuesday, 26th November, our Confrere Michael Cardinal Fitzgerald, received the Final Oath of Patient Balma and Nelson Ekeh, as well as the renewal of the Declaration of Intent of Audace Niyibigira, Belito Jose Joaquim, Isac Kinda and Thierry Uyirwoth in the new Chapel of St. Anne’s in Jerusalem. Congratulations to all.

Various newsletters

We have received various newsletters in the last two weeks :

From the Province of Europe:

EUR ECHO – Autumn 2019 available here

Mini-Lien n° 488 from the sector of France available here

Nuntiuncula n° 713 from the sector of Belgium available here

and from elsewhere:

Info-PAC n° 81 from PAC available here 

Baobab n° 33 from PAO available here

Newsletter n° 3 from SOA available here

Relais Maghreb n° 34

Grace upon grace…

Grace upon grace...

The beginning of the month of October was very intense in Rome. Launching of the extraordinary missionary month on the 1st of October , commemorating and reviving the very strong missionary appeal made by Benedict XV in his Apostolic Letter “Maximum Illud” a hundred years ago. 

“Baptised and sent: the Church of Christ on mission in the world.” To speak today of the ones baptised and sent means that each baptised person, at his or her level, can be a missionary, can be the instrument of the proposal that God wants to make to Man, through his or her personal witness, prayer and offering.

Three days later, on the feast of St. Francis, the Pope took part, in the Vatican gardens, in a cultural event to celebrate the end of the Season of Creation 2019 and to consecrate the forthcoming Synod on Amazonia. 

But even nearer to our heart and identity was certainly the creation of 13 new Cardinals taken for a great part from missionary institutes, among whom our confrere Michael Fitzgerald. A lot has been written about the event. The General House was full of guests, between the 25 family members and friends of Michael Fitzgerald and a few of the Congolese Bishops who had come to celebrate the creation of Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu of Kinshasa. 

The Pope had called a Constistory for Saturday the 5th of October at 16 hours to elevate the 13 new Cardinals. For that occasion, all the Cardinals of Rome were present to welcome their new brothers. A few minutes before 3 in the afternoon, “Cardinal Fitzgerald to be” appeared in his scarlet cassock but without the scarlet zuchetta and biretta, both of which he would receive from the hands of the Pope himself during the ceremony. You will recognize on the left side of the photo our confreres, Bishop Willy Ngumbi, and Martin Wullobayi, professor at the Pisai, chose by the new Cardinal as his personal secretary for the ceremony.

The following video is the part of the consistory when the Pope is inviting the “Cardinals to be” to profess their faith, when he wears them with the scarlet zuchetta and biretta and when the new Cardinals are welcomed and congratulated by the College of Cardinals present. This extract of the ceremony just lasts 24 minutes. If you want to see the full video (1h15), follow this link.

After the ceremony, each of the new Cardinals were given a space where they could be met and congratulated by their family members and friends. Back to the house around supper time, Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald still founds the energy to come and share a bit of the evening time with the confrères of the Services and a few others. This shows how simple and fraternal Michael is with his “family”. 

On Sunday, the new Cardinals were concelebrating with the Pope the morning mass on St. Peter’s Square for the big celebration inaugurating the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region.

At one o’clock in the afternoon, all the ceremonies and liturgies were finished. It was then time for celebration. In his congratulating speech, Father Stan Lubungo, superior general, commented on the “Coincidence” of this honour given to Michael but also to all of us and remembering the beatification of our 4 confreres martyred in Algeria and the proclamation of an extraordinary missionary month this October, all occurring within our Jubilee Year, he preferred speaking of a “wink” of God… as we are harvesting “Grace Upon Grace”!

Bp. Michael Fitzgerald… in La Croix International

Cardinal-designate Michael Fitzgerald, a man devoted to dialogue

Anne-Bénédicte Hoffner

Pope Francis shows us how to support those involved in Muslim-Christian dialogue, says the former apostolic nuncio to Egypt who is to be made a cardinal Oct. 5

In his office in Egypt. Arnaud du Boistesselin/Ciric

Cardinal-designate Michael Fitzgerald, former apostolic nuncio to Egypt who at one time was also president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, ambles through the living room of his rectory in Liverpool, northwestern England and produces two letters of congratulations.

He has a chuckle: “The message is very kind but there is a mistake,” he says. “I am not the second English cardinal, I am British. You won’t find a drop of English blood in my veins!”

In any case, it is not for his nationality or his episcopal seat that Pope Francis asked this priest of the Society of Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) to join the circle of his closest advisors.
“It is an act of justice,” the pope replied to a journalist who was asking him on the flight back to Rome from Madagascar in early September.

“I have never wanted or sought honors,” says Cardinal-designate Fitzgerald. “And then, at 82, will I really advise the pope?”

He looks at the interpretations he reads here and there dispassionately: is it a question of the pope “strengthening his team”, with one eye on the election of his successor?

Or rather, through his appointment, as well as that of the current President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Bishop Miguel Ayuso Guixot, and the Archbishop of Rabat, Bishop Cristobal Lopez Romero, is it a desire to place interreligious dialogue at the heart of the service of the Church and the Gospel?

Archbishop Fitzgerald himself is careful not to make a decision and prefers to speak of “recognition.”
In fact, he perfectly embodies these new Francis-style cardinals, at the opposite end of the spectrum from the “princes of the Church.”

A ‘White Father’ from a young age

From the permission obtained from his parents, both Irish, to let him join the minor seminary of the White Fathers in Scot land at the age of 12, to his appointment in 2002 as head of the dicastery in charge of interreligious dialogue, he considers each of his appointments in Rome, Uganda and Sudan as a coincidence… or act of providence.

All of them have oriented him a little more toward the study of Islam and meeting Muslims. Each time, he bowed to the will of his superiors… and is surprised that we are surprised.

“It’s part of our oath of obedience: you can always refuse, but you need good reasons to do it,” he says.
He directed the Pontifical Institute for Arab Studies and Islamology (Pisai), founded by the White Fathers from 1972 to 1978 and had a number of students, including Brother Christ ian de Chergé, the future Prior of Tibhirine.

Still “without having sought it out”, he accepted in 1987 the post of secretary of what is still called the “Secretariat for non-Christians”.

John Paul II, anxious to develop relations between believers, later transformed it into a Pontifical Council. For 15 years, he faithfully assisted Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze in his efforts to put dialogue at the service of peace, before one day learning of his appointment as president of this dicastery.

The election of Joseph Ratzinger, under the name of Benedict XVI, in 2005, marked a turning point in his career. The new pope’s lack of interest in bringing religions closer together is well documented.

The following year, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue was entrusted to Cardinal Paul Poupard, already in charge of culture, with Archbishop Fitzgerald being appointed nuncio in Egypt.

“Perhaps the intention was to merge interreligious dialogue into intercultural dialogue?” he wonders out loud, remaining faithful to his extreme discretion on the subject.

A few months later, after a speech in Regensburg, Germany, which caused a vigorous uproar in the Muslim world, Benedict XVI reversed his position and restored his independence to the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, placing at its head a seasoned diplomat, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.

From Jerusalem, where he retired seven years ago, Cardinal-designate Michael Fitzgerald received some signs of Pope Francis’ affection for him: he was entrusted with “a mission in Lebanon.”

“But I didn’t think I would be created a cardinal during Benedict XVI’s lifetime,” he acknowledges.

Surprisingly, despite the years that have passed, we can feel some Roman reflexes, when he is surprised, for example, by these appointments that “do not respect tradition.”

“I will not force the next pope to live in Sainte-Marthe,” he also announces with a smile on his face, referring to Pope Francis’ choice to renounce the papal apartments.

Outside the talk of schisms

In the meantime, and while Vatican rumors swirls about “schism” and sexual scandals, Cardinal-designate Fitzgerald is pleased to be “outside all this.”

His concern today is very different, as he has just returned to his native England, more than 50 years after leaving it. Together with three priests from his institute, he took over an almost abandoned parish in Liverpool.

In agreement with the diocese, the European province of the White Fat hers wanted this “integration” in England to have a double mission: the service of migrants and dialogue with Muslims.

They must therefore find a way to establish contact with the inhabitants: Chinatown on one side and the “Baltic triangle” on the other, named after the former sailors who used to land there.

“In the past, Liverpool was best known for the Beatles. Today, it seems that its main religion is football,” says Fitzgerald who is to be made a cardinal on Oct. 5, buying his bread in front of a huge graffiti representing the coach of the Liverpool Football Club, winner of the Champions League last season.

He also said he was ready to “give support” to the actors of Islamic-Christian dialogue in the United Kingdom.

It is on this lifelong struggle that he is most vocal: “In Al-Azhar, Abu Dhabi or Jerusalem, Pope Francis shows us how to do it: through direct contact and without being locked in prescriptions or barriers,” he exclaimed. “He’s a free man, and we need free men!”

When it comes to electing a successor to the Bishop of Rome one day, the soon-to-be Cardinal Fitzgerald, because he is over 80 years old, will not vote. But he will participate “in the discussions” and “will be happy to support the direction taken by Francis.”

Baptised and sent

Today, a new impulse to the Church’s missionary activity is needed to face the challenge of proclaiming Jesus and his death and resurrection. Reaching the peripheries—the human, cultural, and religious settings still foreign to the Gospel: this is what we call the missio ad gentes.  We must also remember that the heart of the Church’s mission is prayer. In this Extraordinary Missionary Month, let us pray that the Holy Spirit may engender a new missionary “spring” for all those baptized and sent by Christ’s Church.