World Report

Vatican Roundup

A relative of one of the victims of the riot at the Anisio Jobim Penitentiary Complex

Pope urges prison reform in wake of Brazilian riot

Pope Francis has prayed for the victims of the January 1 prison riot in Manaus, Brazil, and voiced again his appeal that prisons be reformed to better rehabilitate people with real dignity.

During his general audience of January 4, the Pontiff lamented the loss of life in “an extremely violent clash between rival gangs”. He said: “I express my sorrow and concern over what happened. I invite prayer for the deceased, for their families, for all the detainees in the prison, and for those who work there. And I renew my appeal for penal institutions to be places of re-education and social reintegration, and for the conditions of life for inmates to be worthy of human persons.

“I invite you to pray for these detainees, dead and alive, and also for all detainees in the world, that prisons may be for reintegration and are not overcrowded; may they be places of reintegration.”

The riot at the Anisio Jobim Penitentiary Complex led to 56 deaths in a period of savage violence that saw victims beheaded and thrown from the prison walls. Numerous inmates escaped and remain at large.


English diocese granted Blessed Oscar Romero honour

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has granted permission for Blessed Oscar Romero to be added to the liturgical calendar of England’s Diocese of Southwark, following an official submission from the diocese. Believed to be the only such application granted outside Central America, the move allows for a liturgical commemoration to be celebrated in St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, every March 24, the anniversary of the Blessed Romero’s martyrdom.

In approving the submission, the Divine Worship Congregation recognised that “the Cathedral is home to a national shrine…and contains a number of [Blessed Romero’s] relics”. The cathedral houses a painted Salvadoran cross which contains a fragment of Archbishop Romero’s blood-stained alb and his zucchetto.

Reacting to news of the decision, Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark said: “I am delighted that the Holy See has approved this request, and hope that the example and prayers of Blessed Romero will prove a blessing to the diocese and to all who visit the cathedral.”

Bishop Patrick Lynch, Auxiliary Bishop of Southwark will celebrate the 12.30pm Mass in St George’s Cathedral on Friday March 24 in honour of the memory of Blessed Oscar Romero.


Pope meets and prays with Italian earthquake victims

On January 5, Pope Francis met and prayed with hundreds of people affected by earthquakes in the Archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia over the last six months. 

Led by Bishop Renato Boccardo [pictured], some 800 people who lost family members or their homes in the series of quakes that devastated Norcia and surrounding areas in August and twice in October gathered at the Pope Paul VI hall to share their stories with the Pontiff and hear him stress the importance of solidarity in rebuilding their communities.  

The meeting came as work continues to stabilise the famed Benedictine church of Norcia, but also just days after reports of fresh tremors in the area.