HOSPITAL DONATION: St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver is benefiting from the largest donation a private citizen has made to a single medical facility in Canadian history.
Canadian philanthropist Jim Pattison is giving $75 million to St. Paul’s Hospital, just as the acute care hospital prepares to build a new $1 billion facility over the next five years. “I am proud to donate to St. Paul’s Foundation for a hospital that has been putting people first in our community for more than 120 years,” Pattison said in a statement.
Pattison, chairman and CEO of the Jim Pattison Group, said his mother had been treated at St. Paul’s and he had his appendix removed at the hospital as a child. He praised the hospital for a “history of serving British Columbians with excellence and compassion.”
“This is truly a humbling experience,” said Dick Vollet, president and CEO of St. Paul’s Foundation.
St. Paul’s, opened in 1894, is a member of Providence Healthcare, one of Canada’s largest Catholic health-care organizations.
MAKING THE GRADE: Pope Francis has again made Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people.
The Pope has made the list every year since 2013, when he was also name the magazine’s Person of the Year.
The 2017 nomination included a brief reflection on Pope Francis written by Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, who reflected on the Pope’s humility, saying that his powerful witness is what attracts so many people to his message.
Cupich recalled that in his first interview after being elected to the pontificate, Pope Francis acknowledged himself as a sinner, and that when he hears confessions in St. Peter’s Basilica, he also goes to confession himself, “because one cannot accompany a suffering world without acknowledging one’s own faults.”
SLAVERY APOLOGY: Georgetown University and the Society of Jesus’ Maryland province have apologized for their roles in the 1838 sale of 272 enslaved individuals for the university’s benefit.
“Today the Society of Jesus, who helped to establish Georgetown University and whose leaders enslaved and mercilessly sold your ancestors, stands before you to say that we have greatly sinned,” said Jesuit Fr. Timothy Kesicki, president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, during a special liturgy April 18. Georgetown is renaming two buildings on campus previously named for priests who sold women, children and men into slavery for financial gain in 1838.
THE POPE FACTOR: Hours before Bill O’Reilly’s ouster at Fox News was announced April 19, the cable TV personality was greeted by Pope Francis during the pontiff’s weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square.
O’Reilly, a Catholic, who last year challenged the Pope’s views on immigration, shook hands briefly with the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics at the Vatican.
It’s unclear if Francis knew who O’Reilly was, and they appeared to exchange no conversation as O’Reilly, on vacation in Italy, joined VIPs in a suit and tie to greet the 80-year-old pontiff.
PERSECUTION ON RISE: Global religious persecution spiked from 2014 to 2015, according to the latest research from the Pew Research Center.
“Government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion increased in 2015 for the first time in three years,” said the U.S.-based centre’s annual report on religious restrictions released April 11.
In 2015, there were “very high” or “high” levels of animosity shown towards religious groups in 40 per cent of countries, the report noted, either through restrictive government laws or violence or harassment toward adherents of specific religions.
The 2015 percentage was up six points from 2014. Certain countries and regions of the world showed especially high hostility towards religious groups: Russia, Egypt, India, Pakistan and Nigeria.
SHEEN PLEDGES: A grass-roots effort is calling on Catholic churches around the world to celebrate a special Mass on the May 8 birthday of the late U.S. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen to help reach its goal having 1,000 Masses said in his memory.
As of April 13, close to 900 churches had pledged to celebrate a Mass for the prelate, who was an Emmy-winning televangelist and head of the Propagation of the Faith from 1950 to 1966.
Lo Anne Mayer, a New Jersey Catholic who helped launch the Mass effort in January said the idea is to not only celebrate the archbishop’s life and work, but also to “storm Heaven” with prayers for his canonization.
LE PEN ON ATTACK: France’s National Front presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, has slammed Pope Francis for welcoming migrants and attacked the Catholic Church for meddling in French politics. The far-right candidate said she was “extremely religious” but “angry” with the Church.
In an interview with the Catholic daily La Croix, Le Pen, whose campaign is based on an anti-immigrant and protectionist platform, openly attacked the Pope’s views on migrants.
“The fact that he appeals for charity, for welcoming others, foreigners, does not shock me,” said Le Pen, a week before the French go to the polls April 23. “But charity should only be personal.” If states go against the interests of their own people by welcoming migrants it raises questions of “interference,” she said.
VATICAN STAMPS: The Vatican stamp and coin office has big plans for early May: the release of stamps marking retired Pope Benedict XVI’s 90th birthday and important events in the life of the Church spanning almost 2,000 years.
The Philatelic and Numismatic Office said the stamp sheet celebrating Pope Benedict’s April 16 birthday was designed to “offer our affectionate tribute to him.” Designed by the artist Daniela Longo, the sheet features a drawing of Pope Francis and Pope Benedict embracing, while the actual stamps show the retired pope praying his rosary.
Separate 95 euro-cent stamps will be released to mark the 1,950th anniversary of the martyrdoms in the year 67 of Sts. Peter and Paul, founders of the Church in Rome. Another stamp set for release May 4 marks the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Mary to the three shepherd children in Fatima May 13, 1917.
POPE LAUNDRY: Pope Francis is getting into the laundry business. The office charged with coordinating the Pope’s acts of charity announced the opening of a laundromat for the poor and homeless of Rome on April 10.
The “Lavanderia di Papa Francesco” (Pope Francis Laundry) is a free service “offered to the poorest people, particularly the homeless, who will be able to wash, dry and iron their clothes and blankets,” the Papal Almoner’s Office said.
The laundromat, located in a city-run building already housing services, was inspired by the Pope’s call for “concrete signs of mercy” during the Year of Mercy in 2016, the office said. Six brand new washers and dryers were donated by the Whirlpool Corporation while Procter & Gamble will provide a free supply of detergent.