Azerbaijan: Top View

VATICAN – Cardinal Filoni in Azerbaijan for the 10th anniversary of Blessed John Paul II’s visit

Baku (Agenzia Fides) –

“I am very happy to be here with you today in Baku, presiding this Eucharistic Celebration and joining you in thanking the Lord on the occasion of the tenth Anniversary of the historic and unforgettable Pastoral Visit of Blessed John Paul II in this country in May of 2002.”

With these words, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, began his homily on Sunday morning, June 10, during the Holy Mass celebrated in Baku attended by Archbishop Marek Solczynski, Apostolic Nuncio; Father Vladimir Sekete, SDB, Apostolic Prefect of Azerbaijan, priests, religious sister and laity.

We unite our Eucharistic Celebration with the opening of the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, the Cardinal pointed out that “this tiny local Church, yet very much in the heart of John Paul II, so much so that, despite his declining health, a few years before his final journey to heaven on April 2, 2005, he came here in May 2002 to acknowledge the heroism of the local Catholics who remained faithful to their Baptismal commitments under the brunt of persecution, depriving them for 70 years of priests, thus silencing the proclamation of the Good News of salvation, demolishing Church buildings and dispossessing them not only of dignity, but most of all, of access to the Eucharist.”

The Prefect of the Congregation the Evangelization of Peoples noted that although the visit of John Paul II in Azerbaijan was not accompanied by the usual great crowds of people, as we have seen in his other trips, particularly in predominantly Catholic countries, the pope was nonetheless warmly received and embraced by small, yet an assembly of believers fully aware of being a Church, God’s people.

Against the backdrop of the enormous geographical size of Azerbaijan, being the largest country in the Caucasus region, the local church has about 450 faithful, and in this respect, the Cardinal quoted the parable in the Gospel which speeks of the mustard seed (cf. Mt 13: 31-32). “You are the Church in the full meaning of the word” Cardinal Filoni said. “You are an assembly of believers, vivified by the Holy Spirit, illumined by word of Christ, nourished by the sacraments, most especially by the Eucharist, and called to bring the light of Christ Gospel to every creation and a sign of His abiding presence.

“The Cardinal then focused his attention on the exhortation made by John Paul II to be faithful to the mission entrusted to them, without becoming discouraged, as St. Paul urges, as ” discouragement is an enemy of perseverance and perseverance is a condition for fidelity in Christ “. Finally, the Prefect of the Congregation the Evangelization of Peoples thanked the Apostolic Prefect, together with Salesian confreres, for the invitation made to praise the Lord, together with the community of Azerbaijan, “for the many blessings He has showered on this Local Church in the past few years, aware that from heaven the Blessed John Paul II is smiling at us, interceding for you because keeps you in his heart.”

After the Mass, Cardinal Filoni blessed the stone commemorating the 10th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s visit, then inaugurated the Exhibition on John Paul II’s visit in Baku and the new Pastoral Center of the Apostolic Prefecture.

(SL) (Agenzia Fides 11/6/2012)

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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  1. Curt Stoller says:

    Was it St. Augustine who said that all the darkness in the universe cannot extinguish the light of a single little candle?

    Sometimes it seems like the incredible presumption of the contemporary world is nothing more than masked despair. Fear parades as aggression and violence. Loneliness hides itself behind the mask of lust. Slavery holds itself out as the greatest freedom. Skepticism and doubt wear the mask of common sense.

    The great presumption of our world is just a facade. Look behind it and one finds unspoken and unspeakable despair. Recall the scene in the film, “The Wizard of Oz,” where Dorothy and her friends discover the little old man pulling levers to create the idol of the great and powerful Oz. Recall what he says to them in the bellowing voice of his man-made god: “Disregard the little man behind the curtain: I am the great and powerful Oz!” What a perfect image of contemporary presumption!

    The words of Jesus are always there pulling away that curtain. Each of His words are little candles that all the darkness of the immense universe cannot cancel. Take a walk in any great American shopping Mall and feel that despair in the air beyond all the lights and glitter. We plunge headlong into our escape from God full of glee. But the seeming joy is just a cover for profound sadness and hopelessness. I don’t know about you, but I can’t stay in a shopping mall for long before I am overcome with this profound feeling of emptiness and despair.

    Today’s Gospel was about loving one’s enemies. Well, it seems that we are also our enemies. I am my enemy, my worst enemy. I live in denial. I flee the Divine Physician with his life-giving medicine. But the words of Pascal echo in my mind: “Human physicians will not save you, for you will die in the end. Only God will save you.” And who are these human physicians? Jean Paul Sartre? Sigmund Freud? Karl Marx? Charles Darwin? Masters and Johnson? President Obama? CNN?

    Pope Benedict talks about the doubt no one speaks of. He says that doubt is not something that tempts only religious people. There is a deeper doubt. It is the doubt that tempts atheists to believe. The doubt that tempts hedonists and epicureans to repent. The doubt that tempts relativists to return to common sense and sanity. The doubt that tempts heretics to orthodoxy.

    That little Catholic community is Azerbaijan is a little candle that the darkness cannot overcome. It shines brighter than the lights on Broadway or Madison Avenue or Wall Street. It shines brighter than the artificial lights of Las Vegas or the Mall of the Americas. “Physicians will not heal you. You will die in the end. Only God can save you.” God save us from ourselves!

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