A Special Christmas Appeal
December 16, 2014
At this Christmas time, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for reading my newsflashes and for your support over the years.
I would also like to invite you to join with me as supporters and co-workers.
We continue to publish Inside the Vatican magazine, launched 21 years ago. While many have ceased publishing in the traditional way, we plan to continue. We need support for this. Such support would also support the writing of these email letters.
Our newly established Urbi et Orbi Foundation had a remarkable year.
In June, thanks to two generous donors, we provided support for an Orthodox-Catholic Forum held in Minsk, Belarus, to discuss the Christian response to secularism in the modern West.
In July, we traveled with 10 Founding Members of the Foundation to Moscow, Istanbul, Vienna and Rome. We met with Russian Orthodox Church leaders in Moscow, met with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul (photo above), visited Vienna and met with Cardinal Peter Erdo, and flew to Rome, where we were invited into several Vatican offices to discuss future projects. From these meetings, we were able to clarify our vision for our work.
Bishop Brian Farrell of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, told us: “Nothing could be more important for the unity of the Church than providing scholarships for Orthodox students from Eastern Europe and the Middle East to study in Rome and other Catholic universities and institutions in the West.”
We planned our First Annual Urbi et Orbi Foundation Dinner to raise money especially for scholarships. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, Pope Francis’ representative in the United States, invited us to hold our dinner at the nunciature in Washington, D.C. — the house of Pope Francis in the United States. Father Cassian Folsom, of Norcia, Italy, on December 10, opened our retreat by celebrating Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, followed by a breakfast and spiritual reflection. We closed our program at the National Press Club (there is a link to the press conference video below).
Our plans for 2015 include sponsoring a major concert in Washington, D.C., either in May or September, commemorating the end of World War II (the war ended on May 7 in the West, on September 2 in the East). The concert may be Verdi’s Requiem, to recall and honor all those who died in that war, regardless of national origin. We have had indications of support for such an initiative from our partners in other countries, including Russia. So we will continue to try to build bridges and keep open avenues of communication and friendship.
Within the United States and Canada, we plan to promote dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. In Russia, we will partner with various Russian Orthodox and Catholic foundations and organizations. In Ukraine, we will partner with the St Clement’s Center in Kiev, led by Dr. Constantin Sigov, including support for handicapped children in Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine.
(The icon of Our Lady of Kazan, one of the most holy icons of Russia and nicknamed “The Protection of Russia.” It was in the private library of St. John Paul II from 1992 to 2004 where he prayed before it for 30 minutes every day. It is now back in Kazan, Russia, as a sign of the holy Pope’s desire for the two lungs of the Church — East and West — to breath together. Pope Francis recently said that he is ready to meet with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow at anytime and in any place.)
In Belarus, we will partner with an Orthodox educational center in Minsk, and with the Catholic and Orthodox communities. In Istanbul, we plan to support initiatives indicated to us by Patriarch Bartholomew and his staff. In the Middle East, we will develop Catholic and Orthodox contacts to enable us to help in situations of special need. In the Vatican, we will assist Cardinal Koch and Bishop Farrell in their efforts to provide scholarships for Orthodox students.
We sincerely hope that you will consider supporting us in this work.
If you have appreciated these newsflashes, if you would like our print publication, Inside the Vatican, to continue in print, if you would like our Foundation to “build bridges” between the East and the West, between Orthodox and Catholics, to grow and flourish, then please consider supporting us.
P.S. This is a season when many groups ask for support before the end of the year. Please consider including us among those to whom you donate. If you would like to donate, click on one of the donate boxes, above or below, or call 1-800-789-9494 or 202-536-4555 in the US during working hours. We appreciate all of you, and wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!
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Urbi et Orbi Communications
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