Cardinal John’s Newsletter 22 February 2018

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Dear Friends

For the last few years Pope Francis has invited the world to participate in 24 Hours of Prayer for the Lord. He has requested this again this year with the theme being “With you is forgiveness” (Psalm 130:4). This year the Church of Sts Peter and Paul (Lower Hutt) in Te Awakairangi Parish will host this time of prayer from 6pm Friday 9th March until 6pm Saturday 10th March. This 24 hours will be, as People Francis calls it, “a moment of grace.” I have written to all parishes asking that this be promoted and people be encouraged to come, and I have asked priests to be available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This will all take place within the context of Eucharistic Adoration.

As well as the request to participate in the 24 Hours of Prayer for the Lord, Pope Francis has also called for an ecumenical day of prayer and fasting for peace for tomorrow 23rd February. This prayer is to have a particular focus on the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. Pope Francis made his call on Sunday 11th February in his Angelus address. “Faced with the tragic continuation of conflict in several parts of the world, I invite all faithful to a special day of prayer and fasting for peace on this coming 23 February, Friday of the First Week of Lent. We will offer this in particular to the populations of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and of South Sudan. As on other similar occasions, I also invite non-Catholic and non-Christian brothers and sisters to participate in this initiative in the ways they consider most appropriate, but all together.”

I realise that this is late notice and that we have not had time to arrange anything ecumenically, although Arch-bishop Philip Richardson (Anglican Primate in New Zealand) and I have made a joint statement about this. Even with this late notice I reiterate the request of the Holy Father and ask for prayers for the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and of South Sudan.

As I make these requests for these two special times of prayer I also ask that you pray especially for Pope Francis. In the times I have met him over the last three years he has said every time “Pray for me.” He needs our prayers. He is a remarkable leader. He approaches world problems with courage and humility and leads the Church with great pastoral sensitivity and concern for people. He deserves and needs our prayerful support. Please pray for him.

Finally remember that Lent in itself as “a moment of grace,” make the most of it and accompany your prayer, fasting and works of charity with a sincere desire for a conversion of heart.

With every blessing

+ John

The full newsletter can be viewed here.