Attention readers: The Marians' website, thedivinemercy.org, will provide full coverage of the first-ever World Apostolic Congress on Mercy, which begins in Rome Wednesday, April 2, and continues through Sunday, April 6.
Our editorial team will file day-to-day coverage from Rome, beginning Wednesday. The coverage will include stories and photo galleries. We invite you to log on to thedivinemercy.org daily to catch the latest on this historic event.
Never before has the Catholic Church conducted a congress devoted to mercy. A congress gathers people from around the world to celebrate a particular aspect of faith. Organizers expect 7.000 people to attend — including 200 official delegations from around the world.
Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate the opening Mass at 10:30 a.m. on the 2nd in St. Peter's Square, a day that marks the 3rd anniversary of the death of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.
Opening talks Wednesday will be given by Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Austria, Cardinal Camillo Ruini of Italy and Cardinal Stanislaus Dziwisz of Poland.
Following these remarks, Cardinal Schonborn will lead a conference beginning at 5 p.m. Opening day activities will be conducted in St. John's Lateran Basilica.
The World Mercy Congress aims to bring mercy prominently into the daily life of every person. Delegates will include clergy, laity and people of other faiths. Beginning next year and continuing in 2010, a series of follow-up national mercy congresses will be held in the United States, Latin America, Europe, Africa and Oceania. These will be followed by regional gatherings on those continents.
Throughout the week, the congress will feature prayer, plenary sessions, ecumenical testimonies and evangelization throughout Rome.
On Thursday, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of France will lead a session devoted to inter-religious dialogue. Leaders from various faiths are expected to participate. On Friday, Cardinal Francis Arinze of Africa directs a session on mercy in the liturgy. The week concludes Sunday with a 10:30 a.m. Mass in St. Peter's Basilica presided by Cardinal Schonborn. Pope Benedict's Regina Caeli follows at noon from St. Peter's Square.
Pope John Paul II tirelessly promoted the message of God's mercy and of the call to be merciful to each other. This message is found in sacred scripture, throughout history, and in the writing of St. Faustina Kowalska.
The Rome congress will explore both the spiritual and social implications of mercy.
The gathering will be covered by EWTN, the Catholic global network, and
many religious and secular media.
The Marians of the Immaculate Conception — the publishers of thedivinemercy.org — has played a major role in the planning of the congress through its service arm, the Association of Marian Helpers.