De­vout Guam cel­e­brates Mass amid Korea threat

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Across Guam - where nearly ev­ery­one is Ro­man Catholic - priests prayed for peace as res­i­dents of the US Pa­cific is­land ter­ri­tory faced a mis­sile threat from North Korea. Arch­bishop Michael Byrnes in­structed priests in Guam’s 26 churches to of­fer prayers for peace be­tween the two na­tions and courage for mil­i­tary forces on the is­land. He asked for prayers for “just res­o­lu­tion of dif­fer­ences, and pru­dence in both speech and ac­tion.”

Guam’s Catholic faith­ful at­tended Sun­day Mass after sev­eral days of dra­matic rhetoric be­tween the two nu­clear-armed na­tions. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump threat­ened swift and force­ful re­tal­i­a­tion against North Korea, declar­ing the US mil­i­tary “locked and loaded.” There hasn’t been any wide­spread anx­i­ety among Guam res­i­dents, even after Py­ongyang vowed to com­plete a plan to at­tack wa­ters near the is­land by mid-Au­gust.

Monte Mesa, who is vice-chair­man of the Guam Vis­i­tors Bureau, said the Mass at Blessed Diego de San Vi­tores Catholic Church in Tu­mon was com­fort­ing. He said after the crowded Mass the mes­sage from the read­ings and the gospel “tell our peo­ple that God is in con­trol of what is hap­pen­ing and if we have faith and be­lieve in God all this rhetoric and war pos­si­bil­ity here on Guam will be taken care of by God.”

Prayers of peace

The Rev Jose An­to­nio “Lito” P Abad said dur­ing the Mass that he woke up Wed­nes­day morn­ing read­ing the breaking news on his phone that Guam was a mis­sile tar­get from North Korea. He felt anx­ious, he told the con­gre­ga­tion dur­ing his homily, but that say­ing prayers gave him peace. He asked his parish­ioners to pray that God will give them strength. The church is a ma­jor in­flu­ence on the de­vout is­land where 85 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion is Catholic. The church is grap­pling with nu­mer­ous law­suits al­leg­ing sex abuse in a grow­ing scan­dal that has rocked the tiny is­land where Catholi­cism is deeply wo­ven into the Span­ish-in­flu­enced cul­ture of about 160,000 peo­ple.

The Arch­dio­cese of Agana in­vited peo­ple to a noon rosary prayer rally, where hun­dreds gath­ered un­der an over­cast sky at the ru­ins of the old Span­ish gov­ern­ment palace in the heart of Ha­gatna, Guam’s cap­i­tal. Ral­lies are be­ing held across the world in com­mem­o­ra­tion of Our Lady of Fa­tima’s ap­pear­ance to three shep­herd chil­dren, 100 years ago in Fa­tima, Por­tu­gal. “Pray­ing for peace in our world and con­ver­sion of sin­ners is very much a part of the mes­sages Our Lady im­parted to the chil­dren in her ap­pear­ances at Fa­tima,” the arch­dio­cese said in a state­ment.

Nikky Flores, a mem­ber of the Catholic Daugh­ters of America, said the prayers of­fered dur­ing the rally were “to­tally sig­nif­i­cant es­pe­cially be­cause of this threat. We all come to­gether and pray. We re­ally are very hope­ful that it will not come,” she said of the mis­sile threat. The Rev Fran­cis X Hezel, as­sis­tant pas­tor at Santa Bar­bara Catholic Church in Dededo, said he hasn’t heard of parish­ioners seek­ing com­fort from the church amid the North Korea threat. “It’s busi­ness as usual with this dark cloud hov­er­ing over us for sure,” he said. “I don’t think they’ll be trem­bling with fear.” Hezel noted that Guam is fa­mil­iar with the threats. “The peo­ple of Guam are used to stand­ing in a per­ilous po­si­tion,” he said. “That’s the peril and the prom­ise of the place.”

— AP

HA­GATNA: Peo­ple gather at Plaza de Es­pana, to pray for peace yes­ter­day.

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