Prayers for Flooded Guatemala

VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE, Sept. 16 — On behalf of Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, wrote papal nuncio Archbishop Ramiro Moliner Ingles of Guatemala to offer his prayers for the people affected by the floods that have devastated that country.

“Having received the sad news of the floods that have provoked serious damage and many victims in various parts of the country, the Holy Father wishes to make present his special closeness to the victims, offering suffrage for the eternal rest of the deceased and asking the Almighty to give comfort and Christian hope to all those who are suffering this adversity.”

The Pope urged international charities and people of good will to send generous assistance to the victims.

Mel Gibson Films Life of Christ

THE ADVERTISER (Australia), Sept. 14 — Actor Mel Gibson, whose film Braveheart was seen by many as a kind of Christ story, is now buckling down to do the real thing — a serious life of Jesus that he will direct.

He is currently in Italy filming Passion in Rome and in the southern city of Matera. Gibson predicted the project would be “the most difficult” of his celebrated career.

He told reporters he was fascinated by the last two hours Jesus spent before his crucifixion, by “the drama of a man torn between his divine spirit and his earthly weakness. ... My Jesus will be shaken by his human suffering,” Gibson said. “Real blood will flow from the wound in his side and the screams of his crucifixion will be real as well.”

Gibson said the film was made in consultation with theologians and prelates in Italy.

Pope: Lift High the Cross

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Sept. 15 — Marking the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Pope John Paul II called on Christians to venerate the cross and keep it prominently displayed in schools, hospitals and homes as a weapon against increasing secularization.

The Holy Father reminded pilgrims that the central emblem of Christianity is Jesus dying on the cross.

“In the process of secularization, which distinguishes a great part of the contemporary world,” he said, “it is all the more important that the faithful fix their gaze on this central sign of the revelation.”

Church Honors Patroness of Emigrants

FIDES NEWS SERVICE, Sept. 16 — Sicily, the source of so many emigrants to the United States, held a week in honor of St. Frances “Mother” Cabrini, the patron saint of emigrants, from Sept. 16–22 in the city of Agrigento.

A statue in her honor was unveiled and organizers held a symposium, TITLEd “St. Frances Cabrini: On the Wings of the Ocean.” Organizers also exhibited period photographs of the emigrants St. Frances Cabrini aided by building hospitals and schools across America.