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Pope Francis and the ‘spilled cup of coffee’




One of the protagonists of “Sharing the Wisdom of Time”, a book by ‘Pope Francis and friends’ speaks of his contribution to the publication and of his deep belief that the young and the old have a lot to learn from each other.

By Linda Bordoni    

As the Synod of Bishops on Young People drew to a close at the end of October, Pope Francis joined fellow Jesuits, collaborators and a hall full of young people for a book-launch.

The book, published by Loyola Press and entitledSharing the Wisdom of Time”,  ​is a collection of stories about elders from around the world. From all walks of life and from over 30 countries, they share their wisdom rooted in lifetimes of experience, providing a witness to the power of faith, perseverance, human resilience, and love.

Pope Francis contributes to the book as a fellow elder, offering the Preface, his own story in each chapter, and calling for a new alliance between young and old people.

“I entrust this book to the young, he says in the Preface, so the dreams of their elders will bring them to a better future”.

One of the elders featured in the book is Jesuit Father and human rights activist Cedric Prakash.  He told me of how he was contacted by a journalist while he was serving as Regional Advocacy and Communication Advisor of the Jesuit Refugee Service for the Middle East and North Africa. 

Listen to the interview with Cedric Prakash SJ

Gentle, affable, well-spoken and modest, Father Cedric Prakash told me that it all came “as a great surprise!”

He said he was contacted by the publishers, Loyola Press, and asked whether he would be available for an interview about his life, his work, some insights, and so on.

At the time, he revealed, he was in Beirut where he was stationed for his work with JRS MENA.

The interview

Fr Cedric said the journalist, Rosemary Lane, got in touch with him soon afterwards and conducted a very long interview.

“She asked me all sorts of things, about human rights, about what types of involvement I had, about what type of work I had done, and generally asked me to talk about anything in particular that had struck me, and I mentioned a couple of anecdotes and other stories” he said.

Regarding the story that was chosen to feature in the book, on page 90, in the Chapter dedicated to ‘Love’, Father Cedric said: “I never thought they would take that actually!”

The spilled cup of coffee

He explained that Rosemary had asked him to mention anything simple that  he felt good about and said he told her of the time when, after having spent a long time working on a document, highlighting passages and scribbling in notes and sub-notes, a friend came up to me and spilled his whole cup of coffee on it.

“With a pen I used to put down words, phrases, ideas on plenty of sheets of paper; I like jotting down things in my ugly scrawl” he said.

He says that instinctively he was upset: “It was several hours of work gone – it was all blotched, nothing to be saved, as the pen I was using was one of these fluid ink types”

“I didn’t know what to do” he said, reflecting on the fact that he had several possibilities: “being angry, crying… because it was just work that was gone”. “So I smiled as said to him: shall I make you another cup of coffee?”

Later, Fr Cedric said, that friend told him he would never forget that instance in his life.

Actually, Fr Cedric continued, reflecting on his reaction, he doesn’t think it was “anything fantastic.”

He said he has come to the conclusion though that we go through many situations in life that do not warrant a strong reaction, although he points out, that does mean we should look the other way if  someone else is affected.

“I ask myself: If I react negatively, violently, angrily, do I change the situation? Or can I help make the situation much better?” he said.

The Pope’s response

Fr Cedric revealed he was amazed that not only Rosemary chose that anecdote to be written in the book, but that the Pope – who responded to 31 of the selected stories –  chose to respond to it with beautiful words.

“The story of Father Cedric helps us understand that we must go beyond the inconveniences of life… maybe with a sense of humour, and certainly with the conviction that all things can be resolved. The wisdom of age, accompanied by a sense of humour and a touch of irony, can help us to see our daily challenges in a positive way and avoid dramatization. We have to take a fresh and creative look at things. Love is creative, and it will not be overcome by the disasters and pitfalls of life. That’s the way love sees things.” (Franciscus)

I feel greatly privileged, Fr Cedric, said: “it’s a great honour to be part of this book that was launched at the Synod of Bishops with so many young people present”.

He says the book has a message for the world and calls for a connection between the youth of today and the wisdom of time, the wisdom of the ages as, he says, we can all learn from each another.

But, he continues, there has to be some kind of a complementarity and the will and the quest to enrich each other: “How do we try to make this world a better one? A more humane place,  more lovable,  more inclusive,  more warm and welcoming?”

This – Fr Cedric concludes – has been the mission and the message of Pope Francis consistently.


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Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes



Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump - CAN fumes

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.

President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.

Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.

He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.

He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.

“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’

“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.

“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.

“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.

“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.

“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”

However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.

He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.

“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”

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Nuncio tasks clergy, laity on good stewardship



Nuncio tasks clergy, laity on good stewardship

The Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi, has urged the clergy, religious and lay faithful to be trustworthy, transparent, selfless and generous stewards in the discharge of their duties in the Church, following the way of Jesus.

Archbishop Filipazzi made the call during the opening ceremony of the maiden General Assembly of the Abuja Archdiocese, which was held on at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Friday September 4.

The General Assembly, with the theme “Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja: Together in Evangelization,” saw Bishops, priests, religious men and women, and the laity gathered together to discuss means of strengthening the faith of God’s people amid the ongoing Covid-19 health crisis.

Addressing participants, Archbishop Filipazzi said that “an administrator is neither a master nor a slave who cannot decide anything, but one who is given a responsibility by the Master.” In this light, the faithful are called to be “true administrators of divine mystery” entrusted to them by Our Lord, according to their varying roles in the Church.

The Apostolic Nuncio also said “differences must not lead to division,” as everyone, though different, must strive for unity since there is no room for divisions in the body of Christ.

Archbishop Filipazzi, speaking on the upsurge in violence in northern Nigeria in a Vatican News interview on 29 August, had also called for shunning divisions along religious and ethnic lines.

Rather, he appealed for “general respect of the law and general intervention of the government” in the violent attacks which have claimed many lives and caused massive material damage.

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Assumpta CMO raises fund to roof “St Joseph’s Hall of Faith”



Assumpta CMO raises fund to roof “St. Joseph's Hall of Faith”

The Catholic Men Organization, CMO, Maria Assumpta Cathedral Parish Owerri, joined their counterparts in the Archdiocese to celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday, August 30.

The celebration earlier scheduled for May 10 this year was differed because of Covid-19 pandemic.

The occasion began with a Pontifical Mass presided over by His Grace, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna, Archbishop of Owerri cum Parish Priest of the Cathedral Parish.

In his homily, Archbishop Obinna called on Christians to live a life of witnessing to Christ at all times. He said that the zeal to preach the word of God is like a fire that burns inside the heart of a Christian and will not abate until one bears witness to Christ. This, he said, must be done in the course of our daily lives, in our places of work, in our families, among our friends, through living life that is Christ-like.

He congratulated the Christian fathers on the occasion and appealed for support to enable them complete their building project in no distant time. His Grace also appreciated the performance of the CMO choir during the Mass.

The theme for the parish celebration is: “Catholic Men As Spiritual Heads of the Domestic Church: Implications in the Family.”

The parish CMO used the celebration to raise fund for the roofing of their building project named: “St. Joseph’s Hall of Faith.”

In his brief remark at the occasion, the Parish CMO President, Arc. Anthony Emeka Ozoude said, “We have been able to complete the block work,” adding that, “the task before us now is to put a roof on the building.”

He therefore made a passionate appeal for generous donations from members and well wishers, assuring donors that every kobo donated will be prudently applied for the purpose.

Arc. Ozoude recalled that early this year, the parish CMO executive identified a three-prong programme of focus, namely: Membership revalidation, Debt recovery and Fund raising for the roofing.

He advised members not to sit on the fence anymore as there is so much to gain spiritually, morally and even intellectually from participating in the CMO activities both at the parish, stations and prayer groups levels.

“The committed members who attend our programmes regularly have discovered this and have remained resolute in their participation,” he said.

Activities marking this year’s celebration included Retreat, visit to ailing members in their homes, thanksgiving Mass blessing of the mini altars for the 5 prayer groups of CMO etc.

Arc. Ozoude thanked in a special way, Archbishop Obinna, the Cathedral Administrator and priests working in the Cathedral for their support. He also commended the various stations and prayer groups for their cooperation.

The CMO president acknowledged the good work and sacrifice of the Planning Committee, headed by Dr. Uche Ukozor and thanked them for a job well done.

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