Ukraine bomb shrapnel placed beside tomb of Sister Lucia in Fátima

Shrapnel symbolises prayer for peace

A piece of bomb shrapnel from the war in Ukraine has been placed next to the tomb of Sister Lucia in Fátima*, in a prayer for peace, after a Mass that brought together young Carmelites, writes Lusa.

The young Carmelites are in Portugal to take part in the celebrations of World Youth Day ongoing in Lisbon until Sunday.

Their ‘superior general’ Father Miguel Márquez Calle told Lusa that he has been carrying the shrapnel (of a projectile bomb that fell in the western part of Ukraine) “since the beginning of the war”.

He explains, he was given it by a Ukrainian mother who asked that he pray for peace.

Little cameos like this may be lost in the hurly burly of World Youth Day, but they show the strength of faith in so many taken up by the occasion.

Conversely, the press has been highlighting some of the dissonance at play.

“Boss, the school has a hole in the roof. We need to carry out repairs urgently…” runs an opinion piece in today’s Correio da Manhã.

“There’s no money!

“But boss, it’s for World Youth Day.

“Oh, you should have said. How much will it cost?

“If there are miracles, the one about the money for WYD coming out from under the rocks is a fact that does not need much examination to be justified by the Vatican”, writes society editor Paulo Fonte. 

“Alongside this, we have the phenomenon of health centres opening their doors after hours, of security being on the streets and allowing us to walk around late at night without being disturbed, of supermarkets operating 24 hours a day, of public transport increasing its services, of there being limitless parking for buses…. For all this (taking place), there is total disagreement that WYD shows a subservience of the State to the Church, with those who squirm at the money coming out of our pockets, or with those who criticise politicians and the all the hand-kissing after a scandal of paedophilia that has yet to see an indictment beyond the Kingdom of Heaven (…) We should all be thankful that Portugal has been chosen. We want World Youth Day to be every day of the year”.

The scandal of pedophilia is, Lisbon’s cardinal patriarch assures, being tackled on multiple levels – but discreetly. The Pope, for instance, will be meeting over the next few days with now adult victims of sexual abuse by clergy during their childhoods. But these meetings are ‘so secret’ that not even the cardinal patriarch knows where or when they will be taking place.

So little is ever discussed about the collateral damage of child sex abuse within the Catholic Church, thus it was illuminating to receive an email today from the now adult son of a victim in the Azores, who described how the sexual abuse committed against his father as a young boy saw the man “drown his pain in alcohol (…) he drank himself to death, and along the way destroyed his younger brothers and myself with verbal and physical abuse”.

The author of the mail referred to “abuse perpetrated by pedophiles, hidden by the Church”. 

This is the real issue behind this scandal. The years where even when victims spoke out, nothing was done.

World Youth Day may well show an ‘unimaginable return’ for Lisbon (and the country in general), in financial terms. But it is not quite so clear whether it can heal the wounds carried by people like the author of today’s email.

*Sister Lúcia was a Portuguese Catholic Discalced Carmelite nun. Sister Lúcia and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto claimed to have witnessed the apparitions of Our Lady of Fátima in Fátima in 1917.

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