Thursday, April 09, 2009

For L'Aquila, a Gift of Oil

At this morning's Chrism Mass for the diocese of Rome, the Pope consecrated the year's holy oils not just for his own local church, but a stock for the central Italian city of L'Aquila, where a 6.3-magnitude quake early Monday shook buildings 50 miles away in the Eternal City.

In a message to the ravaged city's Archbishop Giuseppe Molinari, B16 offered a prayer that the oils would "aid this time of rebirth and rebuilding, heal the scars and sustain hope."

In an even more unusual concession, the Vatican announced that -- in a unique exception from the church's ancient tradition, which forbids the celebration of the Eucharist on Good Friday -- an indult had been granted for a communal funeral Mass to take place in the Abruzzese capital tomorrow. The liturgy will be presided over by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and Benedict will send his private secretary, Msgr Georg Ganswein, as an added sign of his closeness.

At yesterday's General Audience, the Pope said that he intended to visit the region "as soon as possible." With the pontiff traveling by helicopter, the visit is anticipated to take place on Easter Monday or Tuesday.

Including close to 20 children, the death toll from the quake is approaching 300, with over 1,000 injured, some 20,000 displaced to makeshift tent cities, immense damage to property and communities, and continued reports of looting in the streets.

PHOTO: Reuters