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DAVEY & GOLIATH SERIES: HAPPY EASTER

Length30 min.
Age GroupP - Primary
PublisherGospel Films
TopicsSocial Justice

An excellent approach to teaching death and eternal life to children in a way they can readily understand.

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  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob RollerBy Jonathan LuxmooreKRAKOW, Poland (CNS) -- St. John Paul II's former secretary urged young Catholics to share their faith, experiences and hopes and spread a "message of divine mercy" worldwide during World Youth Day. "We come from every nation under heaven, like those who came in great numbers to Jerusalem on Pentecost Day, but there are incomparably more of us now than 2,000 years ago, because we are accompanied by centuries of preaching the Gospel," Krakow Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz said during the July 26 opening Mass. "We bring experience of various cultures, traditions and languages. But what we also bring are testimonies of faith and holiness of our brothers and sisters, followers of the risen Lord, of past generations as well as the current generation," he said. The cardinal preached to an estimated 200,000 pilgrims from 187 countries in Krakow's Blonia Park, a day before the scheduled arrival of Pope Francis. He said a special clock had been fitted to the front of the city's cathedral, "counting the days, hours, minutes and seconds," since 2013, when the city was announced as the venue for World Youth Day this year. He added that Krakow was the city from where St. John Paul "set off to preach the Gospel," as well as where St. Faustina Kowalska helped spread devotion to Divine Mercy worldwide in the 20th century. "You have come from all continents and nations, from the East and West, North and South of our globe," said Cardinal Dziwisz, who was personal secretary to St. John Paul for 39 years. "You bring with you many experiences. You bring many desires. You speak numerous languages. But starting today, we are going to communicate with each other in the language of the Gospel -- a language of love, brotherhood, solidarity and peace." Up to 2 million young people were expected to attend World Youth Day July 26-31. Nearly 50 cardinals, 800 bishops and 20,000 priests from around the world also were to attend. The opening Mass was partially disrupted by heavy rain, which forced the temporary closure of Krakow's airport. The Mass site featured giant portraits of Sts. John Paul and Faustina by the main altar. A Catholic teacher from the pope's native Argentina, Clara Retta, told Catholic News Service she counted on Pope Francis to encourage young people to "go out to people and do things for others" and to bring a "message of joy and simplicity." She added that she believed the 7,000 Argentines attending World Youth Day had been warmly welcomed in Poland and were "very excited and proud" to be seeing the pope. Carolina Alraheb, a Catholic from the war-torn city of Homs, Syria, said she hoped her countrymen would come to see themselves as "part of one family" by somehow maintaining a "deep relationship with God." "I hope the pope will also ask our people to deepen their own relations with themselves and find meaning in life again," said the 25-year-old physics student, who was among two dozen Syrian Catholics at World Youth Day with two Jesuit priests from Aleppo. "Home is full of orphans and widows, and many people have asked where God is. But I realized he's still here, suffering with us and staying with the young Syrians, who'll one day rebuild their country as a house of God," she said. In his homily, Cardinal Dziwisz said young people had come to Krakow from peaceful countries, "where families are communities of love and life and where young people can pursue their dreams," but also "from countries whose people are suffering due to wars and other kinds of conflicts, where children are starving to death and where Christians are brutally persecuted." He added that young Catholics would bring to World Youth Day their experiences of "living the Gospel in a difficult world, as well as their "fears and disappointments, hopes and yearning, and desire to live in a more human, more fraternal and solidary world." "Among us are young pilgrims from parts of the world that are ruled by violence and blind terrorism, and where authorities usurp power over man and nations, following insane ideologies," the cardinal told young pilgrims, who waved flags and banners during the Mass. "May the flame of love engulf our world and rid it of egoism, violence and injustice, so that a civilization of good, reconciliation, love and peace will be strengthened on our earth." Pope Francis was to arrive in Krakow July 27 on his first visit to Poland. He was scheduled to travel to the former Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau during his stay, as well as leading an open-air Mass at the country's Jasna Gora national sanctuary. He planned to pray before the relics of St. Faustina at Krakow's Divine Mercy center. A Polish World Youth Day ambassador, Jan Mela, who founded a youth support group after losing an arm in a road accident, said he hoped Pope Francis would help young people to "find sense in life" and overcome a widespread sense of "dissatisfaction and fatalism." Meanwhile, a Catholic from neighboring Ukraine, Elisabeth Dotsenko, said she and other members of the 5,000-strong Ukrainian Catholic delegation had got along well with Russian pilgrims in Krakow, despite the war currently raging in their country. She said she believed "human connections" could help overcome most political conflicts. Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg told CNS he believed the pope was able to "speak in the language of the Gospel, but not in complex theological language," and would discourage notions that Christians were "up against a bad secular world" by showing young people that God's love was "for everyone equally." Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley told CNS he was impressed by the huge numbers who had come to "the city of John Paul II," as well as the enthusiasm of young Americans attending the festival, adding that he was sure the pope would offer "many resonating messages." "Participating at World Youth Day makes an enormous difference in a person's life -- over a third of our own U.S. seminarians helped discover their vocations while at World Youth Day," the cardinal said. "In our more and more secularized society, it's very reaffirming for the faith of young people to be surrounded by hundreds of thousands of others like this. It can have an important long-lasting effect on their relations with the church and Holy Father, as well as on their experience of the church's catholicity." - - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Pascal Rossignol/ReutersBy Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The murder of a priest in northern France, taken hostage with a handful of other faithful during a weekday morning Mass July 26, is another act of "absurd violence" added to too many stories of senseless violence and death, said the Vatican spokesman. Pope Francis was informed about the hostage situation at the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray near Rouen and the murder of 84-year-old Father Jacques Hamel, said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman. "With pain and horror" for the "absurd violence," Pope Francis expressed his condemnation of "every form of hatred" and offered his prayers for all those involved. "We are particularly stricken because this horrible violence occurred in a church -- a sacred place in which the love of God is proclaimed -- with the barbaric killing of a priest," Father Lombardi said. Police said two men, armed with knives, entered the church during Mass. They reportedly slit the throat of Father Hamel. They said another person present at the Mass was in serious condition at the hospital. An Interior Ministry spokesman said the attackers were killed by police, ending the hostage situation. A nun who witnessed the attack described the scene to French radio station RMC. "In the church, everyone screamed 'Stop, you don't know what you're doing.' They didn't stop. They forced him to his knees; he tried to defend himself, and it was then that the drama began," said the nun, who identified herself as Sister Danielle. "They recorded themselves (on video). They did a little -- like a sermon -- around the altar in Arabic. It was a horror." The sister managed to escape the church and flag down a car for help, RMC reported. She told the station about her respect for her colleague. "It's necessary to remember that this was an extraordinary priest," Sister Danielle told RMC. "That's all I want to say. He's great, Father Jacques." The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack via its news site, though the group's involvement has not been confirmed by French police. French President Francois Hollande suggested the group was behind the attack. Hollande called Pope Francis to express "the grief of the French people after the odious assassination of Father Jacques Hamel by two terrorists," said a statement from the president's office. Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen, who was in Krakow, Poland, with World Youth Day pilgrims when the attacked occurred, said he would return to his archdiocese. "The Catholic Church can take up no weapons other than those of prayer and brotherhood among people of good will," the archbishop said in a statement from Krakow. He said that while he would leave Poland, hundreds of young people from his diocese would remain. "I ask them not to give in to violence," but instead "become apostles of the civilization of love." Msgr. Olivier Ribadeau Dumas, secretary-general of the French bishops' conference, also was in Krakow for World Youth Day. He told media: "We know now they were both terrorists." "We believe that evil and violence will not have the upper hand, and all the French bishops share this opinion," he said. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, sent a message of condolence to Archbishop Lebrun. The cardinal said Pope Francis was "particularly upset that this act of violence took place in a church during Mass, the liturgical act that implores God's peace for the world." In the latest event of violence, the cardinal said, the pope prayed God would "inspire in all thoughts of reconciliation and brotherhood." - - - Contributing to this story was Colleen Dulle in Washington. - - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Pawel Supernak, EPABy Jonathan LuxmooreKRAKOW, Poland (CNS) -- Polish police have raised the official security threat level at World Youth Day in Krakow, after an Iraqi man was arrested with traces of explosives. However, a police spokesman said the category of "alpha," or high, was not linked to any "concrete threat," adding that security arrangements were "proceeding smoothly" for the expected arrival of 2 million young people in the southern city. "We're determined to assure maximum security for all, and our staffers are doing everything they should," said Mariusz Ciarka, spokesman for Poland's Warsaw-based police headquarters. "But we're also urging everyone to be vigilant and to inform the police or Youth Day volunteers if they see anything suspicious, such as baggage or packs left unattended, and to show understanding if we implement selective controls and movement restrictions. Safety of such a huge gathering of people is what's most important," Ciarka said July 26 ahead of the official opening ceremony World Youth Day. Officials were expecting half a million young people to attend opening ceremonies from 187 countries in Krakow's Blonia Park. He said security services had so far noted only "minor incidents," such as lost documents and small injuries, as well as a July 25 bus crash in which no one was reported injured. He said police were using mobile X-ray devices and metal detectors, as well as using dogs trained to detect explosives, at railway and bus stations and major road hubs around the city, as well as anywhere crowds gathered. Gas tankers and large trucks had been barred from Krakow, Ciarka said, after a 19-ton truck was driven into a celebration in Nice, France, July 15. Security fears are high in Europe in the wake of the Nice outrage and a spate of Islamist-linked attacks in neighboring Germany, as well as the July 26 killing of French Father Jacques Hamel, 84, during an attack during a Mass at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for that attack. Polish police said they had arrested a 48-year-old Iraqi man July 24 in Krakow, after explosive traces were found in his luggage and his clothes, as well as at hotels where he had stayed in Krakow and Lodz. However, a Krakow prosecutor told journalists there were no grounds for charging the man with terrorism and said not enough explosive material had been detected to cause an explosion. Ciarka said July 26 that 200 people had so far been barred from entering the country. The police spokesman said drones and "unauthorized flying objects" had also been banned over a 65-mile zone around Krakow, as well as over the nearby city of Czestochowa, where Pope Francis will celebrate an open-air Mass July 29. The carrying of arms and dangerous substances had also been outlawed, Ciarka added, as well as any objects normally not permitted aboard planes. "From today, all movements are being limited around Krakow, as well as at Blonia and the Lagiewniki suburb, where pedestrians will have total priority," the police official said. "The Polish government has given the police the task of serving society by ensuring this huge event passes off safely, and that's what we will do."- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob RollerBy Dennis SadowskiOSWIECIM, Poland (CNS) -- Walking into the Auschwitz concentration camp, Stephanie Dalton felt a chill up and down her spine. She called it the spirit of those who died at the hands of the Nazis more than 70 years ago. "You could tell the people's presence (was) still there," she said after her group from the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, walked through the camp July 25 as part of their World Youth Day pilgrimage. Dalton, 19, a member of Sts. Simon and Jude Parish, spoke to Catholic News Service during a break after touring the camp and the nearby Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp where nearly 1 million people were killed in secret during World War II. Looking at forested areas at Birkenau, Dalton said she could see the people who were held "in the beauty" after arriving by train in crammed boxcars as their fate was being determined by the Nazis. "They didn't know what was going to happen," she said in a solemn tone. The Brooklyn contingent totals about 600. Forty of them filled a bus and joined thousands of others from around the world at the camps a day before the official opening of World Youth Day. At Auschwitz, visitors walked in silence under the famous gate with the slogan "Arbeit macht frei" (Work makes you free.) Only the footsteps of the pilgrims on the dry, rocky ground could be heard. For some of the Brooklynites, the silence echoed what it may have been like for the Jews, Roma and others identified for extermination as they left the trains and walked to their death. Wadley Fleurime, 18, a native of Haiti and a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, compared the pain of losing friends in his homeland's 2010 earthquake to how families must have felt when they lost loved ones and friends at Auschwitz. "It breaks my heart that something like this could happen, because I know what the heartbreak is like," he said. Patricia, 22, and Gabriella Ruiz, 19, sisters who belong to Mary Queen of Heaven Church, said after leaving Auschwitz they found it difficult to comprehend the killing that occurred onsite. They expect to share what they saw and learned with parishioners at home. "It was crazy that we were walking in the same place that they harmed people," Gabriella Ruiz said. Her sister described her experience as "surreal." The sisters want to research the Holocaust more deeply so that they can support their experience with additional facts and photos. "We can say we saw it with our own eyes," Patricia Ruiz said. Several contingents from France stopped at various locations at the expansive Birkenau site to pray and sing hymns of atonement for the sins of humanity. Dominick Costantino, 24, vocation program coordinator for the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania, was walking with a young Polish woman, Monika Hulewicz, discussing the history of the camps. "It's very sad that humans could have done this to other humans," Costantino said. "It's amazing (that) you're walking in the suffering. In the silence you hear the stumbling, the falling, the crying of the people." Hulewicz, 23, said it is imperative for Poles to tell the story of the carnage at the camps. "It is very important for us to show that this is not just Polish heritage, but that this is the heritage of the whole world," she said. "It is a big, big reminder of how we can avoid doing it in the future." At the crumbling bricks of a dynamited Birkenau crematorium, Adrianna Garcia, 26, a member of St. Peter Prince of the Apostles Parish in San Antonio, stopped to discuss with a friend what she was seeing. She said that studying the Holocaust in school was far different than seeing the camps where mass executions were carried out. "You honestly don't get the full picture until walking the grounds," she said. As a fifth-grader in a Catholic school, Garcia had a Jewish teacher who would tell stories about the Holocaust. "Her stories can't compare to seeing this," Garcia told CNS. "She would take us to the San Antonio Jewish museum, but you can't compare it." She said the pilgrims who visit the concentration camps must take home the stories home and encourage others to make the same trip if they can. She said she already had been sharing what she saw on social media. "It's important not to leave it in the storytelling. Stories come and stories go. But if you live it, you can help others understand it," she said. - - - Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski. - - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul JeffreyBy Paul JeffreyDURBAN, South Africa (CNS) -- The face of the AIDS epidemic has changed dramatically in recent years as scientists have created antiretroviral drugs that lower levels of the virus in the bloodstream, allowing those infected with HIV to live relatively normal lives. Yet getting those drugs into the hands of everyone who needs them remains difficult. Worldwide, only 17 million of the 36.7 million people who carry the virus are receiving treatment, U.N. officials told delegates to the International AIDS Conference here. As long as those numbers do not improve, untreated carriers will continue to pass on the virus to others. So a major point of discussion at the conference, which ended July 22, was how to get more drugs to more people. Despite what many dub "AIDS fatigue," Catholics and other religious leaders recommitted themselves to work to expand treatment, especially among children. Vatican officials have already begun pushing a unique project to rapidly expand the availability of antiretroviral drugs for children. The first step was getting drug manufacturers on board. Since not many children in developed countries contract HIV these days, there's no sizable market to recoup research and development and manufacturing costs. With only poor children needing the drugs, there's less of an incentive to manufacture pediatric medicines or the specific diagnostic tools that are also needed. "We have a commitment to make those medicines for children at the right dosage levels, but it's not a very profitable business. But then none of this HIV work is," Anil Soni, vice president for infectious diseases at Mylan, the largest producer of generic antiretroviral medicines, told a gathering of religious activists held in conjunction with the AIDS conference. Soni was one of a handful of pharmaceutical executives invited to Rome for meetings in April and May with high-level Vatican officials and AIDS experts from the United Nations and the United States. The meetings came after years of lobbying by church officials to get governments and drug makers to take action on their own. Frustrated by the lack of progress that produced, the Vatican decided to more directly intervene. It did so by appealing to their sense of morality. "We recognized up front that this wasn't something companies could make a lot of money on, but we also think there's a moral imperative for them to act," said Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo, who became the general secretary of the International Catholic Migration Commission in May. Until a successor is named, he also continues as the Vatican's special adviser on HIV and AIDS. Msgr. Vitillo told Catholic News Service that the Vatican did not invite Martin Shkreli, the U.S pharmaceutical boss who increased the price of an HIV-related drug by 5,000 percent. Shkreli has been indicted for fraud in a U.S. federal court. An off-Broadway musical about his greed opened in July. Pope Francis was scheduled to meet with the group April 16, but a last-minute trip to the Greek island of Lesbos took him out of Rome. "He did send a personal message to the group, however. It was strong motivation to these corporate executives to hear the pope state that what they're doing is vitally important, and that they must do it together," Msgr. Vitillo said. Msgr. Vitillo said he found participants open to new ideas and wanting to be involved. "I didn't hear anyone say we can't do this. They did share the challenges they face and a belief that if we could share some kind of united approach" that guaranteed enough of a market, their companies could participate, even if it wouldn't be a highly profitable. The meetings gave enough encouragement to AIDS officials that a new target for reaching children with life-saving drugs was inserted into a document signed at the High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS held at the United Nations in June. Not all of the details have been worked out yet, and Msgr. Vitillo took advantage of the presence of all the players in Durban to continue refining their plans. He said the next steps include forming a working group with a smaller number of representative stakeholders, then bringing an action plan back to the larger group. Msgr. Vitillo said they would probably start pilot projects in Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Congo. The target numbers the group will pursue are ambitious: getting 1.6 million children under 15 on antiretroviral medications in the next two years. Msgr. Vitillo called that a major step toward eliminating AIDS as a major public health crisis by 2030. Soni said new approaches will be necessary to meet that goal, because what has been tried with children until now simply is not working. He said he was recently in China, where some people crush adult tablets to treat children. "It's the wrong dosage and it's a taste that the children can't take," he said. Soni said researchers are developing new pediatric formulations that can, for example, be sprinkled on food. But these must be brought to market quickly. He said half of children born with HIV will die within 24 months of birth if not treated. Faith-based groups, which in several countries are among the largest providers of health care, must continue to push their corporate partners, Soni said. "From our perspective in industry, we appreciate and really look to faith-based organizations for their leadership in reaching out to communities, identifying patients and supporting them and offering both care and prevention services," he said. "The church has shown tremendous leadership this year in encouraging all partners to reach the children who are living with or affected by HIV to receive treatment and care."- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.