Monday, January 31, 2022

Catholic devotion for February: The Holy Family


Catholic Prayer: February Devotion: The Holy Family








Since the 16th century Catholic piety has assigned entire months to special devotions. The month of February has been primarily asociated with the holy Family, probably due to the feast of Our Lord's presentation at the temple, celebrated on February 2. At the very outset of Christ's work on earth, God showed the world a family in which, as Pope Leo XIII teaches, "all men might behold a perfect model of domestic life, and of all virtue and holiness." The harmony, unity, and holiness which characterized this holy Family make it the model for all Christian families.


INVOCATION Jesus, Mary, and Joseph most kind, Bless us now and in death's agony.

FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE HOLY FAMILY Grant unto us, Lord Jesus, ever to follow the example of Thy holy Family, that in the hour of our death Thy glorious Virgin Mother together with blessed Joseph may come to meet us and we may be worthily received by Thee into everlasting dwellings: who livest and reignest world without end. Amen. Roman Missal

CONSECRATION TO THE HOLY FAMILY O Jesus, our most loving Redeemer, who having come to enlighten the world with Thy teaching and example, didst will to pass the greater part of Thy life in humility and subjection to Mary and Joseph in the poor home of Nazareth, thus sanctifying the Family that was to be an example for all Christian families, graciously receive our family as it dedicates and consecrates itself to Thee this day. Do Thou defend us, guard us and establish amongst us Thy holy fear, true peace, and concord in Christian love: in order that, by conforming ourselves to the divine pattern of Thy family, we may be able, all of us without exception, to attain to eternal happiness.

Mary, dear Mother of Jesus and Mother of us, by thy kindly intercession make this our humble offering acceptable in the sight of Jesus, and obtain for us His graces and blessings.

O Saint Joseph, most holy guardian of Jesus and Mary, assist us by thy prayers in all our spiritual and temporal necessities; that so we may be enabled to praise our divine Savior Jesus, together with Mary and thee, for all eternity.

Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be, three times.

IN HONOR OF THE HOLY FAMILY O God, heavenly Father, it was part of Thine eternal decree that Thine only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, should form a holy family with Mary, His blessed mother, and His foster father, Saint Joseph. In Nazareth home life was sanctified, and a perfect example was given to every Christian family. Grant, we beseech Thee, that we may fully comprehend and faithfully imitate the virtues of the Holy Family so that we may be united with them one day in their heavenly glory. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

For February 2022, the special prayer intention of the Pope


Pope’s prayer intentions for 2022


For religious sisters and consecrated women

We pray for religious sisters and consecrated women; thanking them for their mission and their courage; may they continue to find new responses to the challenges of our times.

First Saint of the Day for February


St. Brigid of Ireland

Feastday: February 1
Patron: of Ireland, dairymaids, cattle, midwives, Irish nuns, and newborn babies
Birth: 451
Death: 525

Saint Brigid was born Brigit, and shares a name with a Celtic goddess from whom many legends and folk customs are associated.

There is much debate over her birthparents, but it is widely believed her mother was Brocca, a Christian baptized by Saint Patrick, and her father was Dubthach, a Leinster chieftain. Brocca was a slave, therefore Brigid was born into slavery.

When Dubthach's wife discovered Brocca was pregnant, she was sold to a Druid landowner. It is not clear if Brocca was unable to produce milk or was not present to care for Brigid, but legend states Brigid vomited any food the druid attempted to feed her, as he was impure, so a white cow with red ears sustained her instead.

Many stories of Brigid's purity followed her childhood. She was unable to keep from feeding the poor and healing them.

One story says Brigid once gave her mother's entire store of butter, that was later replenished after Brigid prayed.

When she was about ten-years-old, Brigid was returned to her father's home, as he was her legal master. Her charity did not end when she left her mother, and she donated his possessions to anyone who asked.

Eventually, Dubthach became tired of her charitably nature and took her to the king of Leinster, with the intention of selling her. As he spoke to the king, Brigid gave his jeweled sword to a beggar so he could barter it for food for his family. When the king, who was a Christian, saw this, he recognized her heart and convinced Dubthach to grant her freedom by saying, "Her merit before God is greater than ours."

After being freed, Brigid returned to the Druid and her mother, who was in charge of the Druid's dairy. Brigid took over and often gave away milk, but the dairy prospered despite the charitable practice, and the Druid eventually freed Brocca.

Brigid then returned to Dubthach, who had arranged for her to marry a bard. She refused and made a vow to always be chaste.

Legend has it Brigid prayed that her beauty be taken so no one would want to marry her, and the prayer was granted. It was not until after she made her final vows that her beauty was restored.

Another tale says that when Saint Patrick heard her final vows, he accidentally used the form for ordaining priests. When the error was brought to his attention, he simply replied, "So be it, my son, she is destined for great things."

Little is known about Saint Brigid's life after she entered the Church, but in 40 she founded a monastery in Kildare, called the Church of the Oak. It was built above a pagan shrine to the Celtic goddess Brigid, which was beneath a large oak tree.

Brigid and seven friends organized communal consecrated religious life for women in Ireland and she founded two monastic institutions, one for men and one for women. Brigid invited a hermit called Conleth to help her in Kildare as a spiritual pastor.

Her biographer reported that Brigid chose Saint Conleth "to govern the church along with herself."

She later founded a school of art that included metalwork and illumination, which Conleth led as well. It was at this school that the Book of Kildare, which the Gerald of Wales praised as "the work of angelic, and not human skill," was beautifully illuminated, but was lost three centuries ago.

There is evidence that Brigid was a good friend of Saint Patrick's and that the Trias Thaumaturga claimed, "Between St. Patrick and Brigid, the pillars of the Irish people, there was so great a friendship of charity that they had but one heart and one mind. Through him and through her Christ performed many great works."

Saint Brigid helped many people in her lifetime, but on February 1 525, she passed away of natural causes. Her body was initially kept to the right of the high altar of Kildare Cathedral, with a tomb "adorned with gems and precious stones and crowns of gold and silver," but in 878, during the Scandinavian raids, her relics were moved to the tomb of Patrick and Columba.

In 1185, John de Courcy had her remains relocated in Down Cathedral. Today, Saint Brigid's skull can be found in the Church of St. John the Baptist in Lumiar, Portugal. The tomb in which it is kept bears the inscription, "Here in these three tombs lie the three Irish knights who brought the head of St. Brigid, Virgin, a native of Ireland, whose relic is preserved in this chapel. In memory of which, the officials of the Altar of the same Saint caused this to be done in January AD 1283."

A portion of the skull was relocated to St. Bridget's Church and another was sent to the Bishop of Lisbon in St. Brigid's church in Killester.

Saint Brigid's likeness is often depicted holding a reed cross, a crozier, or a lamp.

Saint Brigid Hearth Keeper Prayer
Courtesy of

Brigid of the Mantle, encompass us,
Lady of the Lambs, protect us,
Keeper of the Hearth, kindle us.
Beneath your mantle, gather us,
And restore us to memory.
Mothers of our mother, Foremothers strong.
Guide our hands in yours,
Remind us how to kindle the hearth.
To keep it bright, to preserve the flame.
Your hands upon ours, Our hands within yours,
To kindle the light, Both day and night.
The Mantle of Brigid about us,
The Memory of Brigid within us,
The Protection of Brigid keeping us
From harm, from ignorance, from heartlessness.
This day and night,
From dawn till dark, From dark till dawn.

In Vietnam: Priest brutally murdered in the confessional


File photo of a crucifixFile photo of a crucifix  (Erzdiözese Wien/ Wolfgang Seper)

Dominican priest killed while in the confessional in Vietnam

Father Giuse Trần Ngọc Thanh, O.P., was killed in a knife attack on 29 January while hearing confessions, and local authorities have arrested a suspect linked to his murder.

By Vatican News staff writer

A Vietnamese priest of the Dominican order, Fr. Giuse Trần Ngọc Thanh, was killed in a knife attack on Saturday.

Fr. Trần was attacked while hearing confessions shortly before the celebration of the Vespers Mass on Saturday evening at a mission of Dak Mot, about 40 miles northwest of Kon Tum.

The priest was in the confessional when he was attacked with a knife by a man. Another Dominican religious who rushed to the scene was wounded with a knife when he tried to stop the attacker.

Fr. Trần, who was injured in the attack, received initial treatment, but later died around 11:30 pm on 29 January.

Shock and sorrow of the faithful

The unexpected murder of Fr. Trần has shocked the local community which was preparing to celebrate the Lunar New Year on 1 February.

Messages of mourning and grief have poured in from the parish community of Dak Mót where the priest lived and worked, as well as from the Dominican Province of Vietnam.

Local authorities have arrested the attacker, who is considered a person "mentally ill," according to the Vatican's Fides news agency.

Dying 'in persona Christi'

Bishop Aloisio Nguyen Hung Vi of Kon Tum Diocese celebrated a funeral Mass on Sunday, and expressed his condolences to the parish community of Dak Mót and the Dominican Province of Vietnam.

Speaking at Mass, the Bishop said: "We know that the will of God is mysterious; we cannot fully understand the ways of the Lord. We can only place our brother in the hands of the Lord. Father Joseph travels in eternity and, no matter what happened, no one can separate him, or us, from the love of God. When he was hit, Father Joseph stood in the place of Christ, dispensing his forgiveness. Dying at that moment, 'in persona Christi', must be a grace. In this pain, we also see the beauty and the nobility of the priest."

Burial arrangements

Fr. Trần's interment was held on Monday at St. Martin Chapel in Biên Hòa, Dong Nai. His body was laid to rest among other Dominican friars in the Cemetary of the Province located in Bien Hoa.

Fr. Trần was born on 10 August 1981 in Saigon, and he took his religious vows in August 2010. He was ordained a priest in 2018.

“Please unite to pray so that Father Guise's soul may soon enjoy the glory of God,” the Diocese of Kon Tum said in a statement on 30 January.

Pope Francis says taxation must favor the redistribution of wealth to promote the common good


Pope Francis receives a gift from Italy's revenue agencyPope Francis receives a gift from Italy's revenue agency  (Vatican Media)

Pope: Taxation should favor wealth redistribution for public services

Pope Francis urges members of Italy’s taxation authority to implement Gospel values as they work to favor the redistribution of wealth and support public services for society’s neediest members.

By Devin Watkins

The Pope met Monday with a delegation of the Agenzie delle Entrate, Italy’s revenue agency, and reflected on the Biblical roots of taxation and its purpose in society.

The theme of taxation, noted Pope Francis, appears regularly in the Bible, and was an aspect of every government that ruled over the Holy Land.

“The Bible,” he pointed out, “does not demonize money, but offers an invitation to use it correctly, to not become slaves to it, and not to turn it into an idol.”

Even the Biblical kings of Israel imposed taxes on their subjects, he said, making it part of life even in ancient times.

Biblical taxation

Tithing, said the Pope, is a little-known but interesting aspect of taxation, in which a tenth of a person’s revenue is given to the king, as Abraham did after he received a blessing from the priest-king Melchizedek.

The Old Testament book of Leviticus employed revenue from the pre-existing practice of tithing to support the priestly tribe of Levi, freeing them up from manual labor to serve in the Temple of God.

“The tithe for the Levites helped mature two realities in people’s consciences: that of not being self-sufficient, because salvation comes from God; and that of being responsible for one another, beginning from those most in need.”

Pope Francis also explored the conversions of the tax-collectors Zacchaeus and Matthew due to their personal encounters with Jesus.

“Matthew,” he said, “may have even continued to manage his own wealth, even those of others, but he certainly did so with a different logic: that of service to the needy and sharing with the brothers and sisters, just as the Teacher taught him.”

Redistribution of wealth for common good

Pope Francis went on to explore the guiding principles of Italy’s Revenue Agency: legality, impartiality, and transparency.

Legality in fiscal matters, said the Pope, serves to “balance social relationships, removing strength from corruption, injustices, and inequalities.”

He added that legality safeguards everyone and is a “guarantee of equality”, though a cultural shift is required to see taxation as a “sign of legality and justice.”

“[Taxation] must favor the redistribution of wealth, safeguarding the dignity of the poor and the least, who always risk being trodden underfoot by the powerful. The taxman, when he or she is just, promotes the common good.”

He pointed to the social doctrine of the Church and Scripture to urge everyone to promote the common good by understanding the “universal destination of goods.”

Legal equality and public services

Impartiality in tax collection, said Pope Francis, affirms that “no citizens are better based on their social class, but that everyone is entrusted in good faith to be faithful builders of society.”

Though cases of tax evasion and illegality abound, he added, employees of the Revenue Agency can also attest to the millions of people who pay their taxes and contribute to the common good.

Transparency, noted the Pope, is an important aspect in both tax collection and government spending on healthcare and other state-run institutions.

“Transparency in the management of money, which comes from the sacrifices of many workers, reveals freedom of spirit, and teaches people to be more motivated in paying their taxes, especially if fiscal revenue contributes to overcoming inequality, making investments to create jobs, guaranteeing good healthcare and schooling, and creating infrastructure that facilitates social and economic life.”

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Devoted to care of youth, founder of Salesians, final Saint of Day for January


St. John Bosco

Feastday: January 31
Patron: of apprentices, editors and publishers, schoolchildren, magicians, and juvenile delinquents
Birth: August 16, 1815
Death: January 31, 1888
Beatified: June 2, 1929 by Pope Pius XI
Canonized: April 1, 1934 by Pope Pius XI

John Bosco, also known as Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco and Don Bosco, was born in Becchi, Italy, on August 16, 1815. His birth came just after the end of the Napoleonic Wars which ravaged the area. Compounding the problems on his birthday, there was also a drought and a famine at the time of his birth.

At the age of two, John lost his father, leaving him and his two older brothers to be raised by his mother, Margherita. His "Mama Margherita Occhiena" would herself be declared venerable by the Church in 2006.

Raised primarily by his mother, John attended church and became very devout. When he was not in church, he helped his family grow food and raise sheep. They were very poor, but despite their poverty his mother also found enough to share with the homeless who sometimes came to the door seeking food, shelter or clothing.

When John was nine years old, he had the first of several vivid dreams that would influence his life. In his dream, he encountered a multitude of boys who swore as they played. Among these boys, he encountered a great, majestic man and woman. The man told him that in meekness and charity, he would "conquer these your friends." Then a lady, also majestic said, "Be strong, humble and robust. When the time comes, you will understand everything." This dream influenced John the rest of his life.

Not long afterwards, John witnessed a traveling troupe of circus performers. He was enthralled by their magic tricks and acrobatics. He realized if he learned their tricks, he could use them to attract others and hold their attention. He studied their tricks and learned how to perform some himself.

One Sunday evening, John staged a show for the kids he played with and was heartily applauded. At the end of the show, he recited the homily he heard earlier in the day. He ended by inviting his neighbors to pray with him. His shows and games were repeated and during this time, John discerned the call to become a priest.

To be a priest, John required an education, something he lacked because of poverty. However, he found a priest willing to provide him with some teaching and a few books. John's older brother became angry at this apparent disloyalty, and he reportedly whipped John saying he's "a farmer like us!"

John was undeterred, and as soon as he could he left home to look for work as a hired farm laborer. He was only 12 when he departed, a decision hastened by his brother's hostility.

John had difficulty finding work, but managed to find a job at a vineyard. He labored for two more years before he met Jospeh Cafasso, a priest who was willing to help him. Cafasso himself would later be recognized as a saint for his work, particularly ministering to prisoners and the condemned.

In 1835, John entered the seminary and following six years of study and preparation, he was ordained a priest in 1841.

His first assignment was to the city of Turin. The city was in the throes of industrialization so it had slums and widespread poverty. It was into these poor neighborhoods that John, now known as Fr. Bosco, went to work with the children of the poor.

While visiting the prisons, Fr. Bosco noticed a large number of boys, between the ages of 12 and 18, inside. The conditions were deplorable, and he felt moved to do more to help other boys from ending up there.

He went into the streets and started to meet young men and boys where they worked and played. He used his talents as a performer, doing tricks to capture attention, then sharing with the children his message for the day.

When he was not preaching, Fr. Bosco worked tirelessly seeking work for boys who needed it, and searching for lodgings for others. His mother began to help him, and she became known as "Mamma Margherita." By the 1860s, Fr. Bosco and his mother were responsible for lodging 800 boys.

Fr. Bosco also negotiated new rights for boys who were employed as apprentices. A common problem was the abuse of apprentices, with their employers using them to perform manual labor and menial work unrelated to their apprenticeship. Fr. Bosco negotiated contracts which forbade such abuse, a sweeping reform for that time. The boys he hired out were also given feast days off and could no longer be beaten.

Fr. Bosco also identified boys he thought would make good priests and encouraged them to consider a vocation to the priesthood. Then, he helped to prepare those who responded favorably in their path to ordination.

Fr. Bosco was not without some controversy. Some parish priests accused him of stealing boys from their parishes. The Chief of Police of Turin was opposed to his catechizing of boys in the streets, which he claimed was political subversion.

In 1859, Fr. Bosco established the Society of St. Francis de Sales. He organized 15 seminarians and one teenage boy into the group. Their purpose was to carry on his charitable work, helping boys with their faith formation and to stay out of trouble. The organization still exists today and continues to help people, especially children around the world.

In the years that followed, Fr. Bosco expanded his mission, which had, and still has, much work to do.

Fr. Bosco died on January 31, 1888. The call for his canonization was immediate. Pope Pius XI knew Fr. Bosco personally and agreed, declaring him blessed in 1929. St. John Bosco was canonized on Easter Sunday, 1934 and he was given the title, "Father and Teacher of Youth."

In 2002, Pope John Paul II was petitioned to declare St. John Bosco the Patron of Stage Magicians. St. Bosco had pioneered the art of what is today called "Gospel Magic," using magic and other feats to attract attention and engage the youth.

Saint John Bosco is the patron saint of apprentices, editors and publishers, schoolchildren, magicians, and juvenile delinquents. His feast day is on January 31.

Learn about these key documents of the Church


If you’ve wanted to become more familiar with key documents of the Church, start here

Pope Benedict XVI signs a copy of his encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate" ("Charity in Truth"), at the Vatican in 2009. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Catholic Press Photo)

The Catholic Church has a treasure chest that may be unknown to some people or rarely opened by others. The treasures inside are the many teaching documents written by the magisterium, the official teaching office of the Church that consists of the pope and/or the college of bishops in union with him. The documents explain and clarify divine revelation given to mankind via the life and ministry of Jesus, Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. As Catholics, we believe Jesus established the teaching office as a way to communicate God’s word to the world until the end of time.

The teaching documents that bear the fruit of the magisterium’s reflection on divine revelation sometimes fall into obscurity after their initial release. In order to facilitate a rediscovery of these treasures, Our Sunday Visitor will provide an article on the meaning of one pivotal document per month for the next 14 months. Each of the articles will address four important components of the particular document being explained: 1.) the kind of document; 2.) the context; 3.) the content; and 4.) the call — or, in other words, what the document says to/expects of Church members.

The kind of document

The magisterium produces a number of documents that can be divided into two basic groups: legislative and explanatory. Legislative documents contain doctrinal or dogmatic elements that are binding on the whole Church. Doctrine refers to Church teaching in matters of faith and morals. Dogma includes those doctrines that the magisterium has defined formally as divinely revealed. Apostolic constitutions and papal decrees (as opposed to ordinary decrees), as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Code of Canon Law, are legislative documents. Apostolic constitutions carry the greatest level of authority because they define particular or universal laws concerning doctrinal or disciplinary matters.

Explanatory documents help Church members understand and put into practice existing law and doctrines, and they can be issued by the pope or a local bishop. Those issued by the pope apply universally to the Church and have greater authority than those issued by a bishop for a particular diocese. Four of the most common explanatory documents issued by the pope are listed here in order of greater to lesser authority (although, again, all of these merit close attention because of their origin in the papal office).

Encyclical: a formal letter from the pope that explains or clarifies existing doctrine.

Motu proprio: a letter from the pope that gives instruction on a particular matter or a new law issued at a certain moment in Church history.

Apostolic letter: a letter from the pope, pastoral in nature (not legislative or doctrinal), that gives counsel on a certain need or question in light of particular circumstances.

Apostolic exhortation: a papal reflection on a particular subject.

The pope by himself or with the magisterium publishes other documents as well: addresses that contain subjects unrelated to Church teaching or simple briefs that deal with minor matters. Knowing what kind of document one is reading helps to understand it better. (This series will examine five apostolic constitutions, seven encyclicals, and two apostolic exhortations. See the sidebar for a list of all 14 documents that this series will cover.)


Since the Church has published documents throughout its more than 2,000 years of existence, it is very important to understand when a particular document was released. What are the major events, the popular movements, the important issues of the time period under consideration? And how did these historical elements impact the document?

For example, in the last 150 years, two apostolic constitutions about the Church have been published by the magisterium: Pastor Aeternus in 1870 and Lumen Gentium in 1964. Both of these will be the subjects of articles later in this series, but the reader should know that the Church took a defensive stance in 1870 because it felt under attack (e.g., Italy took over the papal states) versus a more conciliatory approach in 1964 when the Church felt the need to be more open to the world, and particularly to other Christians (there were great changes happening that the Church needed to address). Knowing the historical details helps to grasp what the Church was trying to teach via the particular document.

Another very important, but often overlooked, aspect of a document’s context is how it relates to the overall history of the Church. Consider Pastor Aeternus and Lumen Gentium again: They are separated by 96 years. It’s no surprise that the world had changed in the interim, and so they present different perspectives that readers should consider carefully. However, both documents also must be grounded in revelation. The magisterium is not charged with crafting new doctrines but with passing on the Faith first received by the apostles. Therefore, the context of every Church document includes not only its own moment in time but also its relationship to other documents and historical periods throughout the Church’s life.


Just as the context of Church documents always involves divine revelation, the content does as well. Individual documents cover particular topics, of course, but they always relate to Jesus’ words and Scripture and Tradition. Divine revelation does not change; it has been perfectly revealed to us in the person of Christ. However, human beings do change, as do the times and culture, so the clarification of Church teaching is often needed in new circumstances.

The magisterium has the responsibility of discerning how revelation applies in new situations — a particular moment in history or an advance in scientific understanding. For example, the medical field has changed rapidly and dramatically over the years. Given what revelation tells us of the inherent dignity of the human person — each of whom has been made in the image and likeness of God — how should we approach life and death issues as followers of Christ? The encyclical Evangelium Vitae (1995) examines issues such as abortion, birth control and euthanasia in light of divine revelation and guides readers on how to respect and defend God’s gift of life. All of the teaching documents do the same for whatever topic under consideration. They strive to bring God’s revealed truth to bear on the life and times of the human community.


The magisterium publishes documents for the people’s edification and decision-making. Members of the Church, like all people, make judgments about how to act in specific situations. The Church’s documents help individuals to make prayerful and thoughtful decisions that are steeped in the wisdom of the Church’s own 2,000-year-old reflection on revelation. People who avail themselves of these documents benefit from the magisterium’s discernment: What actions are good or evil? How does one come to that decision? The Church’s documents also help people avoid errors and understand the reasoning involved in a particular teaching.

The basic call of every Church document is to follow Jesus more closely. When the magisterium publishes a document, they are relying on the promises of Jesus to be with the Church always, “until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20), and to provide the Church with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, who, Jesus says, “the Father will send in my name — he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you” (Jn 14:26).

The reason we can be confident in the official teaching of the Church is based on these promises of Jesus. It is the light of Christ that shines through the Church’s documents that make them an unfailing treasure and worthy of our close attention.

David Werning writes from Virginia.

Remembering Bloody Sunday


50th anniversary of the "Bloody Sunday" shootings, in Derry50th anniversary of the "Bloody Sunday" shootings, in Derry 

Northern Ireland: Bloody Sunday commemorated 50 years on

This weekend the people of Derry are commemorating the victims of the “Bloody Sunday” massacre in the city, seen as one of the defining moments in Northern Ireland’s 30-year-long conflict.

By Vatican News staff reporter

It’s been fifty years since British soldiers killed 13 unarmed Catholic civil rights marchers in what has become known as “Bloody Sunday.”

Family and friends of the 13 Catholics who died in Derry (Londonderry) on 30 January 1972 - and of a 14th who died later of his wounds - gathered this week for a series of commemorations to mark this tragic event.

They also vowed they would not give up their call for prosecutions.

The bloodshed in Northern Ireland was to last for decades until the Good Friday peace agreement was signed in April of 1998, bringing an end to 30 years of conflict known as the “Troubles”.

In 2010, the Saville judicial inquiry found that the victims on the day were innocent and had posed no threat to the military.

The current British government last year announced a plan to halt all prosecutions of soldiers and militants in a bid to draw a line under the conflict.

The massacre on Bloody Sunday took place in the Bogside area of the City of Derry. Its current bishop, Donal McKeown, spoke to Vatican News about healing the wounds of the past and looking to the future with hope.

Faith and courage

“I think about the dignity of many people, the courage of many people, the strength of many people who have come through this, particularly because of their faith background; because the future belongs to those who can generate hope from the past rather than despair.”

Architects of the future not prisoners of the past

Speaking to Fabio Colegrande, Bishop McKeown said as people gather to remember the events that took place in Derry fifty years ago this weekend, he would be asking them to “look at the past with compassion; to forgive and remember, and be able to move on because we deserve to be architects of the future and not prisoners of the past.”

Following years of conflict which led to the deaths of 3,000 people, the Bishop of Derry noted that much work has been achieved in building a strong relationship between both the Catholic and Protestant Churches.

“The Church leaders were way ahead of politicians,” he said.

Ecumenical relations

At a Mass this weekend to mark this milestone anniversary, Bishop McKeown was joined by his Anglican counterpart. There was also expected to be an ecumenical service at the monument in Creggan, Derry, which commemorates all those who lost their lives on that tragic day.

The Bishop noted that the tensions that lay behind Northern Ireland’s conflict are still there but “the war is over”.

He also said that, in today’s Northern Ireland, “differences of opinion, differences of identity can be celebrated; not seen as something to be feared, and I hope that we as Church leaders can ensure that whatever direction the island take,d whatever direction Europe takes, it is a society that is able to process the pain of being human; process the pain of the past and build hope for the future.”