07/12/2016, 14.10
UZBEKISTAN
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Bishop of Tashkent: God’s mercy also touches the hearts of children

Mgr Jerzy Maculewicz is the apostolic administrator of Uzbekistan. Local Catholics came together for three days to celebrate the feast day of the Sacred Heart with activities exploring the theme of the Jubilee Year. Stories of forgiveness and personal penance came out of the working groups. Plays based on Gospel stories were staged. A meal was shared with Lutherans.

Tashkent (AsiaNews) – God’s mercy is great "because it also touches the hearts of children,” said Mgr Jerzy Maculewicz, apostolic administrator of Uzbekistan, who spoke to AsiaNews about the celebrations for the Sacred Heart of Jesus at the eponymous Cathedral in Tashkent, whose theme during the jubilee year was God’s mercy.

Catholics in Tashkent gathered for the festivities and spoke about their personal stories of forgiveness and reconciliation. One in particular struck the bishop, namely that of an eight-year-old child who, listening to the stories of the faithful, asked for forgiveness for offending a friend.

This is important, the bishop noted, because "we must not only ask ourselves how we experience God's mercy on us, in our lives, but also how we can be merciful towards others and forgive serious injury."

Celebrations were held in the cathedral in mid-June. About 350 people, basically the entire Catholic community in the Uzbek capital and neighbouring parishes, got together. The faithful took part in three days of lectures and workshops.

Unlike past years, Mgr Maculewicz said, "we decided not only to organise meetings, but also working groups in order to allow a true sharing of experiences."

The aim of smaller groups was “to allow people to open their hearts in a sincere way and speak openly about how they are dealing with this Year of Mercy. Many stories of reconciliation and personal penance came out. This happens when – through mercy – we can experience the fullness of joy that helps us overcome even the greatest problems."

The theme of the meeting, mercy, was also "staged by the capital’s five communities. Before each meeting, each presented on stage the mercy of Jesus as narrated in Gospel passages, like that of the Good Shepherd or the Parable of the Good Samaritan."

Before the liturgical services, which accompanied all the sessions, some moments were dedicated to confession. During one of these moments, the eight-year-old child came forward.

"He asked me if he could go to confession even though he still has not received the sacrament of Confession,” the prelate said. “I explained to him that I could not confess him, but I could hear the reason for his distress and try to help him. At that point he told me that he had done something wrong to another boy and was very sorry for his behaviour."

At the end of the festivities, plov, the traditional Uzbek dish of cooked rice and lamb, was served for lunch.

For this occasion, Tashkent Catholics invited Lutherans from a nearby church to join last day festivities –  liturgy and shared meal. The latter “were very happy to join us."

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