VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Devotion to divine mercy spurred an Austrian cardinal to correspond with a death row inmate in Texas; Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna said he was shocked at the idea that Richard Masterson could be put to death Jan. 20.
“It’s frightening,” Cardinal Schonborn said at a Vatican news conference Jan. 18. He added that Pope Francis has been informed of the scheduled execution.
Cardinal Schonborn, president of the executive council of the World Apostolic Congress on Mercy, said that true devotion to divine mercy forms one’s spiritual life, but also impacts one’s family life, commitments in society and personal activity.
“The apostolate of mercy is not just devotion, but charity — mercy in action,” he said.
Visiting prisoners is a traditional work of mercy and the cardinal’s personal contact with Masterson is a symbolic expression of that.
Masterson, 43, was sentenced to death in 2002 for the murder a year earlier of a female impersonator.
Cardinal Schonborn said the Christians in Texas who have visited Masterson “carry out the apostolate of mercy. It is a witness of the Christ’s closeness to this man because they help him experience the merciful heart of Jesus.”
The cardinal was at the Vatican to unveil plans for the European Apostolic Congress on Mercy at the Vatican March 31-April 4 and for the World Apostolic Congress on Mercy in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 16-20, 2017.
The reception of migrants and refugees and the ways they are integrated into European society, the cardinal said, will be a primary concern at the European congress, which will culminate with Pope Francis’ Mass for the feast of Divine Mercy.
“We must not forget that Europe lived with blood and tears for centuries because of wars between Christians,” he said. “Now, facing the challenge — and it’s a big challenge — of migrants and refugees there is a risk” that an increasing number of European countries will close their borders and not just temporarily as several have done over the past six months.
“The Iron Curtain exists again; in a different way, but it exists,” he said.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103