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Toronto cardinal calls for prayers after van kills at least 10

IMAGE: CNS photo/Carlo Allegri, Reuters

By

TORONTO (CNS) -- Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins called for special prayers after a van jumped a curb and killed at least 10 people on a busy Toronto street.

Although officials said the April 23 incident did not appear to be terrorism, they said it did appear to be deliberate. Cabinet members from leading industrialized nations were meeting in Toronto in preparation for a G-7 summit in Quebec in June.

"I invite the Catholic community across the Archdiocese of Toronto to join me in offering our prayers for all those who were killed and injured in the violent incident earlier today," the cardinal said in a statement. "I will be asking all 225 Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of Toronto to offer special prayer intentions this week for all those who have suffered. Let us all unite in our efforts to bring comfort and care to those who are hurting today."

Authorities identified the driver as Alek Minassian, who was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder. The Associated Press reported witnesses said he appeared to intentionally jump a curb in the North York neighborhood as people filled the sidewalks on a warm afternoon. He continued for more than a mile, knocking out a fire hydrant and leaving bodies strewn in his wake.

Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, CEO of the Toronto-based Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation, tweeted: "Death toll of today's horrific accident is now at 10 with many more in critical condition. Tonight we celebrated Mass for all who have died. Such senseless, horrible killing of many innocent people who were outside enjoying our first taste of spring. God bless Toronto tonight."

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Body of St. John XXIII to make brief return to his home diocese

Raise a cone: Rome's poor celebrate pope's name day with gelato

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

ROME (CNS) -- Cones raised in the air, the crowd gathered for dinner at the Sant'Egidio Community's soup kitchen toasted Pope Francis on his name day, the feast of St. George.

The gelato was offered by the pope, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, as part of his name day celebration April 23. He provided 3,000 servings of ice cream -- mostly vanilla cones with chocolate and nuts on top, but also a few pistachio cones and a couple strawberry ones -- to soup kitchens and homeless shelters around Rome.

"It's not like gelato is the only thing he gives away," said Ruggiero, who passed on the cones because, he said, at his age -- 70-something -- "I'm watching my physique."

"Everything this pope does he does for the poor," Ruggiero told Catholic News Service. "And then there's his smile."

Alberto, roughly the same age, was seated next to Ruggiero for the dinner, which began with a course of gnocchi, then moved on to the main course of veal and potatoes and would normally have finished with fruit. Oranges were the day's offering.

"It's a very charming gesture," said Alberto as he unwrapped his cone at the kitchen in Rome's Trastevere neighborhood.

The two men, along with five other friends, had begun their evening in the tiny Church of San Calisto, where they join in singing evening prayer and prayers for peace twice a month. Then they walk to the soup kitchen nearby for dinner.

One of the seven gentlemen wrote their names in big letters on the paper place mats to save their seats. But there is always room for one more. And they take turns filling each other's water glasses, passing out the food and collecting the dirty plates before the next course.

Across the room, Antonino Siragusa was eating, but also helping to serve. He said he has met the pope "six times. He's a good person, very lively. He smiles and will meet anyone."

Before the meal began, he admitted he had not known it was the pope's name day, but he was glad to hear it.

"I love sweets," he said. "This is great!"

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Raise a cone: Rome's poor celebrate pope's name day with gelato

Italy grants citizenship to Alfie Evans in attempt to guarantee his care

IMAGE: CNS/Vatican Media

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Italian government granted citizenship to Alfie Evans, a seriously ill British toddler, in a last-minute effort to prevent doctors in England from withdrawing life-support.

The Italian foreign ministry, in a brief note April 23, said Angelino Alfano, the foreign minister, and Marco Minniti, the interior minister, "granted Italian citizenship to little Alfie."

"The Italian government hopes that being an Italian citizen would allow the immediate transfer of the baby to Italy," the foreign ministry said.

The baby's parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, lost their latest legal battle April 23 to prevent doctors from removing Alfie's life-support when the European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene.

Doctors in the U.K. have not been able to make a definitive diagnosis of the 23-month-old child's degenerative neurological condition, but they have said keeping him on life-support would be "futile."

A high court judge backed a lower court's ruling that the hospital can go against the wishes of the family and withdraw life-support.

Tom Evans flew to Rome and met Pope Francis April 18, begging the pope to help get his son "asylum" in Italy. The Vatican-owned Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome has offered to care for Alfie. Three specialists from Bambino Gesu had flown to Liverpool and examined Alfie. According to the president of Bambino Gesu, "a positive outcome would be difficult, but the baby's suffering can be alleviated."

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Italy grants citizenship to Alfie Evans in attempt to guarantee his care