Rome: Divine Mercy Congress opens

 The first Divine Mercy Congress, organised by Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, opened in Rome yesterday, the third anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II. Pope Benedict XVI started the event with Mass in St Peter's Square. At his Regina Caeli audience on Sunday, Pope Benedict said that he was placing the congress under the protection of the Virgin Mary, Mater Misercordiae. He added a prayer that "God's mercy may achieve what is impossible for merely human efforts." The late Pope John Paul II established the feast of Divine Mercy on the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church, to be celebrated each year on the first Sunday after Easter. His proclamation of the feast came at the canonisation of St. Faustina Kowalska, the Polish nun whose mystical visions helped to spread the Divine Mercy devotion around the world. About 9,000 people are expected to participate in this week's congress, which is being held in the Vatican's Paul VI auditorium. The organisers hope to spread the Divine Mercy message more effectively throughout the world, with congresses to follow on each continent next year, in individual nations for 2010, and at the diocesan level in 2011. The Second World Congress will be held in 2012. Source: Fides

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