Friday, February 14, 2014


St. Claude de la Colombiere
Feast: February 15

Feast Day:February 14
2 February 1641 at Saint-Symphorien d’Ozon, Rhône, France
Died:15 February 1682 at Paray-le-Monial, Saône-et-Loire, France
31 May 1992 by Pope John Paul II in Rome
Major Shrine:Monastery of the Visitation nuns at Paray-le-Monial
Patron of:toy makers, turners
Claude de la Colombiere is best known for his association with St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and the devotion of the Sacred Heart, but his life has its own drama. He was sent to England after his spiritual direction of St. Margaret Mary was over and became embroiled in the Titus Oates "Popish Plot," was imprisoned, then banished from England. His story is part of the history of the seventeenth century.

He was born near Lyons in 1641 and entered the Society of Jesus at Avignon. After his novitiate, he taught grammar and the humanities. Even before his ordination to the priesthood, he gained a reputation as a preacher. After completing his studies in Paris, he became tutor to the sons of Colbert, the financial minister of Louis XIV, but was dismissed from his post and returned to Avignon.
In 1675, after his solemn profession as a Jesuit, he was appointed superior at Paray-le-Monial, in which the convent of St. Margaret Mary was located. Here he became her spiritual director, encouraged her in the spread of the devotion to the Sacred Heart, and was described by our Lord as His "faithful and perfect friend."
Because of his remarkable gifts and judgment, he was sent to England, to be court preacher to the duchess of York, wife of the future James II, and took up residence in London. His radiant personality and splendid gifts were noted by everyone. When the alleged "Popish Plot" to assassinate King Charles II shook the country, Blessed Claude was accused of complicity in the plot and imprisoned. Through the intervention of Louis XIV of France, he was released, then banished from the country. He spent his last years at Paray-le-Monial, his health broken.
He died on February 15, 1682, an apostle of the devotion to the Sacred Heart, and was beatified in 1929.
Thought for the Day: Blessed Claude was an amazingly gifted man, and he recognized that his gifts should be put at the service of others. He spent himself in the service of Christ and was chosen to direct someone with an important mission to the Church. Let us emulate Claude and place our gifts at the service of others.
From 'The Catholic One Year Bible': . . . "Come, follow me! And I will make you fishermen for the souls of men!" At once they left their nets and went along with him.-Mark 1:17-18



by Christopher Sharma
Every year, tribal Newaris celebrate a unique a fertility rite as a step towards the real "marriage". Critics view the practice as "superstition" and consider it a shortcut to child marriage.


Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - More than 500 Buddhist and Hindu girls under the age of 12 took part in a group marriage during which they were married to a bael fruit tree.
The ceremony took place earlier this week in the heart of Kathmandu Valley, home to the Newari ethnic tribe, who are Hindu and Buddhist.
According to the tradition, before reaching puberty Newari Hindu girls must marry a bael tree, whose fruit is called aegle.
The marriage ritual is called Ehi in the local language, and involves girls between the ages of 5 and 12 years.
Typically, the ceremony lasts two days. It starts with purification rituals and ends with the Kanyadan, the moment when the father "gives" away his daughter.
Many of the girls do not understand the meaning of what they are doing. "This is my wedding," 5-year-old Prisha Shakya told AsiaNews. "My family gave me a new dress and some good food today. But I do not know more than that."
"This is part of our religious culture," Prisha's mother Sabita said. "We shall have a place in heaven if our daughters are married before menstruation."
According to Newari tradition, the aegle is the groom, symbolising the eternal bachelor Kumar, son of the Hindu god Shiva.
Marriage allows girls to become and remain fertile. The fruit must be ripe and juicy and must not be blemished. If it is, then the bride is bound to have a bad and unfaithful husband.
However, the most important reason behind this practice is that if the girl marries Kumar, she will remain pure and chaste, and will not be considered a widow if the "real" husband were to die, because she would already be married to a deity.

However, for Rishi Sapkota, an expert on Hinduism, the ritual can be dangerous. "Such practices favour child marriage. This tradition is based on superstition, not true religious teachings."

POPE FRANCIS CHRISTIANS “are people who exult because they know the Lord and they bring the Lord”

(Vatican Radio) A true Christian is someone who walks joyfully through the world as a lamb of the Lord. These were the words of Pope Francis at Mass on Friday morning in the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta.
Commenting on the day’s first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, Pope Francis reflected on the nature of Christian identity, noting that a Christian is first of all someone who is “sent”: the Lord sends his disciples out into the world to proclaim the Gospel, so a Christian is a disciple “who walks, who always moves forward”. A Christian who stands still “is sick”, the Pope said, because the first marker of Christian identity is the capacity “to walk even where there are difficulties, to go beyond those difficulties”.

A second feature of Christian identity, the Pope continued, is that a Christian “is a lamb, and must retain this identity”: the Lord sends us out “as lambs among wolves”. Some would suggest using strength against those wolves, the Pope continued, but we must remember David when he fought the Philistine: “they wanted to dress him up in all of Saul’s armour and he couldn’t move, he wasn’t himself, he wasn’t humble”, so in the end he took his catapult and he won the battle. Sometimes temptation leads us to think: “This is difficult, these wolves are smart and I’ll be smarter than them”. But as long as you’re a lamb, the Lord will defend you, while if you’re a wolf, He won’t defend you, He will leave you alone.

A third feature of Christian identity, Pope Francis went on, is the “Christian style”, which is joy. Christians, he said, “are people who exult because they know the Lord and they bring the Lord”. It is not possible, the Pope said, to walk as Christians without joy, to walk as lambs without joy. Even in the face of challenges, in the face of difficulties, in the face of our own mistakes and sins, “there is the joy of Jesus, which always forgives and helps”. Those Christians whose “tempo” of life is “adagio-complaining” are not helping the Lord or the Church, the Pope said: that is not the style of the disciple.

On the feast of the two Christian disciples, Cyrill and Methodius, we must reflect on the nature of Christian identity, Pope Francis concluded: a Christian is a man or a woman who never stands still, who always walks, who walks as a lamb, and walks with joy. Through the intercession of these Saints, Patrons of Europe, may the Lord grant us the grace to live as Christians who walk as lambs, with joy.

Text from the Vatican Radio website 


(VIS/Vatican Radio) Ten thousand engaged couples from all over the world gathered today, on the feast of St. Valentine, in St. Peter's Square to consider the vocation of marriage, with the theme “The joy of 'Yes' forever”, and to meet with Pope Francis. The event, organised by the Pontifical Council for the Family, takes as its starting point the idea that one does not get married once all problems are solved, but rather that one marries in order to face problems together, and concludes that it is still possible to take the risk of saying “forever”, that it takes courage, but “forever” is a prospect that brings joy and allows us to look to the future with hope.
The event began at 11 a.m. with a series of testimonies from couples, interspersed with readings and songs dedicated to love in its various manifestations, and at 12.30 p.m. the Holy Father entered the Square to greet the couples and to comment on three issues put forward by many couples: The fear of “forever”, living together, the matrimonial way of life; and the type of matrimonial celebration.
“It is important to ask ourselves if it is possible to love one another 'forever'”, affirmed the Pope. “Today many people are afraid of making definitive decisions, that affect them for all their lives, because it seems impossible … and this mentality leads many who are preparing for marriage to say, 'We will stay together for as long as our love lasts'. But what do we mean by 'love'? A mere emotion, a psycho-physical state? Certainly, if it is just this, it cannot provide the foundation for building something solid. But if instead love is a relationship, then it is a growing reality, and we can also say, by way of example, that it is built in the same way that we build a house. And we build a house together, not alone! … You would not wish to build it on the shifting sands of emotions, but on the rock of true love, the love that comes from God. The family is born of this project of love that wishes to grow, as one builds a house that becomes the locus of affection, help, hope and support. Just as God's love is stable and lasts forever, we want the love on which a family is based to be stable and to last forever. We must not allow ourselves to be conquered by a 'throwaway culture'. This fear of 'forever' is cured by entrusting oneself day by day to the Lord Jesus in a life that becomes a daily spiritual path of common growth, step by step. Because 'forever' is not simply a question of duration! A marriage does not succeed just because it lasts; its quality is also important. To stay together and to know how to love each other for ever is the challenge Christian married couples face! … In the Our Father prayer we say, 'Give us this day our daily bread'. Married couples may also learn to pray, 'Give us this day our daily love', teach us to love each other, to care for each other. The more you entrust yourselves to the Lord, the more your love will be 'for ever', able to renew itself and to overcome every difficulty”.
In response to the second question, Francis emphasised that living together is “an art, a patient, beautiful and fascinating journey … which can be summarised in three words: please, thank you and sorry. 'Please' is a kind request to be able to enter into the life of someone else with respect and care. … True love does not impose itself with hardness and aggression. … St. Francis said that 'courtesy is the sister of charity, it extinguishes hatred and kindles love'. And today, in our families, in our world, often violent and arrogant, there is a need for far more courtesy. 'Thank you': gratitude is an important sentiment. Do we know how to say thank you? In your relationship, and in your future as married couples, it is important to keep alive your awareness that the other person is a gift from God, and we should always give thanks for gifts from God. … It is not merely a kind word to use with strangers, in order to be polite. It is necessary to know how to say thank you, to journey ahead together”.
“'Sorry'. In our lives we make many errors, many mistakes. We all do. … And this is why we need to be able to use this simple word, 'sorry'. In general we are all ready to accuse other sand to justify ourselves. It is an instinct that lies at the origins of many disasters. Let us learn to recognise our mistakes and to apologise. … Also in this way, the Christian family grows. We are all aware that the perfect family does not exist, nor does the perfect husband, nor the perfect wife. We exist, and we are sinners. Jesus, who knows us well, teaches us a secret: never let a day go by without asking forgiveness, or without restoring peace to your home. … If we learn to apologise and to forgive each other, the marriage will last and will move on”.
Finally, the Holy Father commented that marriage should be a celebration, but a Christian rather than a worldly one. He offered as an example Jesus' first miracle at Cana, when he transformed water into wine when the latter appeared to have run out, thus saving the celebrations. “What happened at Cana two thousand years ago, happens in reality at every wedding feast. It is the presence of the Lord, who reveals Himself and the gift of His grace, that will render your marriage full and profoundly true. … At the same time, it is good for your wedding to be sober and to emphasise that which is truly important. Some people are more concerned with external signs, with the banquet, the dress... These are important aspects of a feast, but only if they are able to indicate the true reason for your joy: the Lord's blessing upon your love. Ensure that, like the wine in Cana, the external signs of your wedding feast reveal the presence of the Lord and remind you, and all those presence, of the origin of and reason for your joy”.

Text  Vatican Radio website 


Memorial of Saints Cyril, Monk, and Methodius, Bishop
Lectionary: 333

Reading 1              1 KGS 11:29-32; 12:19

Jeroboam left Jerusalem,
and the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite met him on the road.
The two were alone in the area,
and the prophet was wearing a new cloak.
Ahijah took off his new cloak,
tore it into twelve pieces, and said to Jeroboam:

“Take ten pieces for yourself;
the LORD, the God of Israel, says:
‘I will tear away the kingdom from Solomon’s grasp
and will give you ten of the tribes.
One tribe shall remain to him for the sake of David my servant,
and of Jerusalem,
the city I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel.’”

Israel went into rebellion against David’s house to this day.

Responsorial Psalm            PS 81:10-11AB, 12-13, 14-15

R. (11a and 9a) I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.
“There shall be no strange god among you
nor shall you worship any alien god.
I, the LORD, am your God
who led you forth from the land of Egypt.”
R. I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.
“My people heard not my voice,
and Israel obeyed me not;
So I gave them up to the hardness of their hearts;
they walked according to their own counsels.”
R. I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.
“If only my people would hear me,
and Israel walk in my ways,
Quickly would I humble their enemies;
against their foes I would turn my hand.”
R. I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.

Gospel    MK 7:31-37

Jesus left the district of Tyre
and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee,
into the district of the Decapolis.
And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment
and begged him to lay his hand on him.
He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man’s ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”)
And immediately the man’s ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly.
He ordered them not to tell anyone.
But the more he ordered them not to,
the more they proclaimed it.
They were exceedingly astonished and they said,
“He has done all things well.
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”


ASIA NEWS REPORT: Representatives of various denominations take turns in celebrating Mass on Kiev’s Independence Square, the heart of anti-government demonstrations. They were invited by the leaders of the opposition. Churches condemn the streets on the violence and call on politicians to find a peaceful solution to the social crisis.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - "We could not stand by and watch, we had to take the side of the people". This, according to members of the local clergy, is the underlying reason that moved all the main Christian Churches in Ukraine to take to the streets in recent months of anti-government protest, not only in support of the population, but especially in an attempt to 'mediate' where the demonstrations turned violent. Several interviews published in the Russian press in February, describe this unexpected "alliance" between the various Christian churches in the former Soviet republic. The conflict in Kiev was triggered by President Viktor Yanukovych's u-turn on signing the Partnership Agreement with the EU in favor of a rapprochement with Russia. Many feared that the Churches' reaction to the protest movement would reflect their own internal geopolitical division: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchate (not recognized by other churches and opposed by Moscow), - the Ukrainian Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (close to Constantinople) and the Greek - Catholics in communion with the Pope.
However, they have all united in sharing the same stance: they are working together in an attempt to constructively and peacefully address the issues of the protest. Even the historically more conservative Orthodox monks under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Moscow, took to the streets to pray. Tents have been set up on the Maidan Square (the main square of Kiev and the theater of its biggest protests) where the different denominations take turns in celebrating Mass, at the request of the protesters themselves. A joint statement by religious leaders, issued in late January, has condemned the violence and asked politicians to "find a peaceful solution to the social crisis".
The following excerpts are from the interviews in three different Kommersant editions with representatives of local Christian communities.
Archpriest Igor Yatsiv, Greek Catholic Church
It all began with the protesters themselves inviting the priests. Once the protesters understood that they had to stay not just a day or two and that this was going to take a lot of time, they began to appeal to clergy: come here and pray with us. I myself was there several times. I understood as a citizen that I had to be there, because values that Maidan represented are important for the development of society. So this was all on the initiative of the priests themselves. The church only confirmed for the priests that they were acting properly. The church stands on the side of Maidan. It stands on the side of Maidan not politically, but as a social and national means of protest. The church is outside politics. It is present on Maidan as a spiritual part that the protesters themselves need. I call this the peacemaking contingent of Maidan. In such a stalemate, the Council of Churches and Religious Organizations assembled. We became mediators, and at the meeting with the opposition the Council of Churches blessed the opposition to go to the negotiations with the president. The church now has maximum trust from various parties and therefore its mediating mission was simply necessary. In this sense it is simpler for our church than for others. There is a document which is the result of centuries of the life of the church. This is the social doctrine of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has lived under totalitarian and communist and monarchist regimes. And the experience of the interaction of the church with the government and society in various situations has issued into this doctrine. There it is clearly stated that the church must be with the people. And that the people have the right to protest against steps of the government with which they do not agree. But it is also clearly stated that armed, violent protest is an extreme measure and is not effective. We already are a European state-historically and geographically. It is not that when we join the European Union we will become Europeans. We already are Europeans. But without European institutions many spheres of life are not right. This pertains to such spheres are the real struggle with corruption, reforms of education and health care, and attitude toward ecology. One of the positive moments in inter-church relations is that we are praying together on Maidan, we have a common position about Evromaidan, human dignity, and the European integration desires of Ukrainians.
Metropolitan Antony, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate
"Several of our Church monks took to Grushevsky St. [where the Supreme Rada, the Ukrainian parliament is located and the epicenter of the unrest in late January, ed] , following their consciences, where a terrible act confrontation between demonstrators and law enforcement was going on.  This was their personal decision, but when the church leadership learned about this action it supported in unambiguously. When the church considers it morally impermissible to submit to the orders of the state authorities it reserves to itself the right to call its members to peaceful civil disobedience. But such a decision, of course, is made by the supreme church authority. Now, we must all [the various Churches-ed] do everything possible to save the country. And to fulfill this important task, we are open to collaboration both with the political forces, and with other denominations. At the same time, the issues of principle that divide us have not disappeared. When the social crisis is overcome, we will return to discussing ways of overcoming the division of the Church in Ukraine".
Archbishop Yevstrati, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchate

"The church is called to be a peacemaker. I cannot look on at clashes from the sidelines. People are listening, and I can say that in the past two months the public role and public influence of the church have grown very much. There was a discrepancy between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian. In Russia, the church is structurally accustomed to stick with the government to the end, whatever it may be. Therefore it was more difficult for their priests to descend on Maidan than for us. The Church says only one thing: less violence and dialogue is not an end in itself, but a means to obtain results. We insist on the continuation of negotiations, but we will not be moderators. We can not take responsibility for decisions that belong to the government. Just as we do not want to take decisions on the life of the Church. The Patriarchates of Moscow and Kiev have been at odds for 22 years. But both say that the state can not resolve our conflict. We support European integration, although we know that Europe is not heaven on earth. Patriarch Filaret said that the Church must always uphold justice. If the authorities act in the right way, the Church will support them. If they behave in an unfair manner, the Church can not support them. The Church is always on the people's side. Because without the people, the Church is just a building. Beautiful, but empty". ( N.A. )


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
5 Feb 2014

Across all cultures and all centuries traditional marriage has been bedrock of society
St Valentine's Day is an opportunity for men and women of faith to proclaim their beliefs and deeply held values. It is also a time to promote and affirm marriage and life-long romantic love.
"In a culture that is increasingly intolerant of Christian values and beliefs, (religious) feasts that have captured the imagination of the secular community such as St Valentine's Day, represent a unique opportunity for the Church," says Bishop Eugene Hurley, Chairman of the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life.
In the midst of the commercialisation of St Valentine's Day, it is important we highlight the positive good of our values and reinforce the need to protect them for the benefit of the community and for society as a whole, he says.
While St Valentine's Feast Day may no longer be on the Catholic Church's liturgical calendar, he remains one of the world's most well-known saints and is commemorated by Christians and non-Christians alike as the patron Saint of engaged couples and romantic love within marriage.
But in the commercial frenzy of the Feast Day, not only has the Saint of Valentine's Day been dropped but the secular world has replaced the age-old and sacred tradition of honouring romantic love in the context of life-long marriage with a romantic free-for-all where love of all persuasions, genders and degrees is celebrated.

Lifelong romantic love grows and deepens with each year
"It's time we put the Saint back in St Valentine's Day and reclaimed the day as our own," says Chris Meney, Director of the Archdiocese of Sydney's Life, Family and Marriage Centre.

Over the past 50 years, Christians have seen the commercialisation of important festivals on the Church calendar.
The secularisation of St Valentine's Day is no different. But as with Christmas, the Church is taking a stand and on February 14 this year, the faithful are being urged to remember what the day really means.
For  the past five years the Bishops Commission Pastoral Life through the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council has created a St Valentine's Day resource kit to reaffirm the importance of the vocation of Christian marriage and the joy and rewards of life-long romantic married love.
Throughout history across all cultures, faiths and periods of time, marriage has been the bedrock of society and provided a stable, loving and ideal environment in which to raise children to become strong, independent adults.

Sunsets and romance just one factor among many needed for a long and happy marriage
But in modern times, marriage and traditional values have come under increasing under attack and no longer considered by many in the secular world as important or even necessary.
Private member bills aimed at legalising same sex marriage continue swamp state and federal parliaments with same sex couples not only able to legally adopt children but who have the right to have their names put on the child's birth certificate.
In Australia St Valentine's Day might be celebrated as a day for lovers but in the store promotions, TV ads and excitement touting couples to spend big on long stemmed roses, boxes of chocolates and romantic candlelit dinners for two, marriage is seldom mentioned.
But the true meaning of St Valentine's Day should give all of us pause, and be used as a time to reflect on marriage and the innate joyfulness and deep happiness of life-long romantic love.

St Valentine's is patron saint of marriage and romantic love
Among the resources in the kit for St Valentine's Day 2014, which is also known by the Church as World Marriage Day, are notes for liturgies, prayers of the faithful, readings, blessings for couples, offertory prayers, homily notes for parish Masses and school celebrations, and advice and tips to keep marriages vibrant and alive.
This year's St Valentine's Day resource kit, compiled by the ACBC's Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life, also features Growing in Love, which emphasises the importance of commitment by couples to understanding the sacrament of marriage and how this can strengthen and deepen their love for each other and for God.
Growing in Love also encourages couples to make time for one another. Perhaps putting aside 10 minutes each day for one another is far more important than giving or receiving a bunch of red roses on St Valentine's Day. Equally important is couples praying together with those who are married or contemplating marriage urged to develop a daily habit of praying together.
"We know that as a sacrament, marriage also is a light; it illuminates an aspect of God that is fundamental to our understanding," this year's St Valentine's Day resource kit says and goes on to explain that: "Marriage helps us to 'see' the loving intimacy between the Father, Son and Spirit. Just as the Father gives himself totally to Jesus, the Sun, so does Jesus give himself without reservation to the Father and from their union, the Holy Spirit proceeds giving life to the world. In a similar way, a husband gives himself totally to his wife, as she responds with her own gift of self to him, and from their union, new life springs forth."

Chris Meney, Director of Life, Marriage and Family Centre
In addition to pastoral, spiritual and practical advice to couples, the kit contains a 12-point plan for parishes, schools as well as couples and individuals to help build a marriage-friendly community where the gift of marriage is not only embraced but celebrated and emulated.
As the kit points out, it is also important on this day to remember St Valentine was a real person who lived as a Roman priest in the 4th Century. But when Emperor Claudius II banned all weddings in order to recruit more single young men to his army, St Valentine defied him. Showing great bravery and determination as well as a soft heart, he married young couples in secret. Eventually caught, he was beheaded on February 14 269 A.D.
But his courage lives on and the date of his death remains a day when couples and love take centre stage. RESOURCE KIT:
To access the St Valentine's Day resource kit log on to 
Shared from Archdiocese of Sydney


(VIS/Vatican Radio) – Today, on the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, Pope Francis received in audience the prelates of the Czech Bishops' Conference at the end of their “ad limina” visit. In the text of the address he handed to them, he writes that to enable the faithful to know Jesus Christ well, it is necessary “to increase appropriate pastoral initiatives dedicated towards a solid preparation for the Sacraments and active participation in the liturgy. Commitment to religious education for a qualified presence in the world of schools and culture is also necessary. On your part, there must be a vigilant and courageous openness to new impulses from the Holy Spirit, Whose charisms are widespread and render the lay faithful available to assume responsibilities and ministries, useful for the renewal and growth of the Church”.
The Pope goes on to state that, to face contemporary challenges and new matters of pastoral urgency, there is a need for synergy between clergy, religious and lay faithful. He also repeats that “while for a long period the Church in your country was oppressed by regimes based on ideologies contrary to human dignity and freedom, today you must face other more insidious difficulties, such as secularism and relativism. It is therefore necessary, alongside the tireless proclamation of Gospel values, to engage in constructive dialogue with all, even with those who are far from any religious feeling”.
The Holy Father emphasises that the bishops must “persevere in prayer, generous in serving your people, full of zeal in the proclamation of the Word. It is your task to follow your priests with paternal affection: they are your principal collaborators, and their parochial mission requires stability to favour a climate of truth and serenity in the people”. He urges them to “promote the pastoral vocation in an increasingly organic and capillary fashion, and in particular to encourage the young in the search for meaning and in giving to God and to their brothers. May you turn your attention also to the pastoral of the family”, he added, “as the family is the cornerstone of social life and only by working in favour of families may we renew the fabric of the ecclesial community and of civil society itself”.
The Pope mentions the importance of unity and solidarity between bishops, as well as their communion with Peter's Successor. “This fraternal union is equally indispensable for the effectiveness of the work of your Episcopal Conference, and can give you ever greater authority in your relations with the civil authorities of the country, both in ordinary life and in facing the most delicate problems”. In relation to economic matters, the Pope mentions that “material goods are destined exclusively to the spiritual mission of the Church, to ensure that every ecclesial situation there are the necessary means and freedom for pastoral activity. It is necessary to pay close attention to guarantee that ecclesiastical assets are administered with caution and transparency, so that they are protected and preserved, also with the help of trusted and competent lay faithful”.

Text  Vatican Radio website 


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday afternoon met with Carlos and Rodolfo Luna, two Argentinian brothers who lived in exile in Sweden. The Holy Father had known the wife of one of them, as well as the woman's mother, the deceased Esther Balestrino De Careaga – the daughter was known as ‘Estercita’. He had once worked with her mother in a chemical laboratory before he entered the Jesuit order. The Pope recalled that he had hidden the books of their library in the Collegio Massimo in Buenos Aires in the period during which they were under surveillance by the dictatorship.

During his hour-long meeting with the men and their guests, Pope Francis spoke about their mutual acquaintance – including a man working to fight slave labor and child prostitution in their native Argentina - and his encounters with the Swedish people.

The Pope remembered his friendship with a Lutheran minister , Anders Gutt - “a big man” - with whom he shared the professorship of spiritual theology in Buenos Aires.

"We were a Jesuit priest and a Lutheran,” Pope Francis said. “We understood each other very well." 

Pastor Gutt is now deceased.

The Pope thanked Sweden for being a humane monarchy.

“How nice to find people with such a heart!” he said. “ And Sweden has great saints. At the beginning of Christianity, Saint Bridget, the nun, and also among the Lutherans ... The Lutherans are a church of great men and women.”

Pope Francis then said he wished to exploit – “in the best sense of the word” – the historical reception offered by the Swedish people and the welcoming experienced by the Luna brothers at a time when refugees are not treated so well.

“We have so many refugees, but no one wants them. They are a ‘bad word’,” Pope Francis said. “Perhaps the message is the salvation of a people is also joined with those who are suffering exile from their homeland… Because God blesses. God blesses that. That's being a brother… Well, we in our Christian faith must make ​​clear that Jesus was a refugee when they wanted to kill a child ... It's one of the first messages of the Gospels… Jesus was a refugee. He was not a tourist. It was not for work. He was fleeing death. A refugee.”

The Pope remembered the one million refugees in Lebanon and the fact that there are countries which cruelly close their borders.

He contrasted this with the reception offered by Sweden.

“Sweden opens its borders, organizes language classes, gives economic assistance, and offers paths to join society,” Pope Francis said. “They do not have anyone in a concentration camp and other such terrifying places. That's an example we can present to the world. Because in reality it is the only country that is doing that, and is not filled with misery. It is not thereby suffering. This is the message Sweden presents. Open your heart to your brother, your sister, who has nowhere to live, to work, to sleep peacefully.”

When asked about Lampedusa, the Pope repeated what he said when he visited the island on July 8, 2013.

“The globalization of indifference,” he said. “Refugees! We think of them! In Lampedusa, the people felt the need to accommodate them. To welcome them. The people of Lampedusa, with their mayor, who is a woman – a strong and brave woman – took on this mission of welcome. There you will see how it is done.”

The Pope added that although Lampedusa is doing the right thing, there is no room to accommodate all those who are landing on the island.

As for the rest of Europe, the Pope said refugees are not well received , and end up on the street, stealing, or in prostitution. He spoke of the work of the Centro Astalli, the Jesuit refugee centre in Rome, but said much more needs to be done.

The Pope also mentioned the good work different Vatican offices are doing to help refugees and combat human trafficking. 

In addition, Pope Francis spoke about the 4 million immigrants in Argentina, the vast majority of whom are Paraguayans and Bolivians.

"In my opinion, the Paraguayan woman is the most heroic in the Americas,” he said. “After the war [The War of the Triple Alliance - 1864–1870 – in which nearly half-a-million Paraguayans died], out of every ten people , eight were women. And these women made the great decision to have children… To save the country , the language, the culture and the faith. I wish that one day the Nobel Prize Committee would give the Nobel prize to the Paraguayan woman . To have saved her culture, her country. It was heroic! I nominate her!" [laughter]

Concerning the specific question of a visit to Sweden, the Pope replied that he would like to go to the country, but that he does not believe he can do so because he has little time available. 

"I have to do so many things,” Pope Francis said. “I do not know . If God will give me time, I will go ."

Text from  Vatican Radio website