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posted Mar 8, 2018, 10:16 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 8, 2018, 10:16 AM ]

Pope explains keys to Lent

Pope Francis met in the Vatican with a group of benefactors from the French-Belgian association Pro Petri Sede, which collects donations for the Pope's initiatives. During the encounter, the Holy Father asked them this dramatic question. "In light of evidence of a world marked by indifference, violence, selfishness and pessimism, it's useful to wonder if the problem is the lack of charity in hearts as well as in relations with God and others."


Pope, Austrian leader discuss current issues

Pope Francis and Europe's youngest political leader met at the Vatican recently, where they discussed an array of issues including migration, nuclear disarmament and the need to promote peace and solidarity.

Sebastian Kurz, 31, is the Chancellor of Austria and is currently the youngest European leader in office. Prior to his December 2017 election to the position, he served as the nation's Foreign Minister.

In their roughly 35-minute private exchange, Pope Francis and Kurz spoke with the help of an Italian-German interpreter, with migration emerging as a key theme. Kurz, who served as Foreign Minister at the height of the European migrant and refugee crisis in 2015-2016, has insisted that the current E.U. migrant/refugee quota will not solve the problem, and has urged that borders be closed and migrants without the right to asylum be rejected.


Pope to visit Geneva for WCC milestone

Making official what the Swiss government had already announced, the Vatican confirmed on Friday that Pope Francis will travel to Geneva, Switzerland, on June 21 to mark the 70th anniversary of the World Council of Churches in one of the traditional centers of the Protestant Reformation.

"His Holiness has in mind to visit the World Council of Churches in Geneva on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of its foundation," Vatican spokesman Greg Burke announced on Friday in the Vatican's daily news bulletin.

"The visit will take place Thursday, June 21, 2018," Burke said. "The program of the trip will be published soon."

With 348 member churches in 110 nations, the World Council of Churches (WCC), founded in 1948, is the largest umbrella group of Christian denominations in the world. It includes most Eastern Orthodox churches, the Anglican Communion, most mainline Protestant churches and several Evangelical denominations.

The Catholic Church is not a member of the WCC, although it does send observers to meetings and events.

The trip will be the second European outing by Francis with a clear ecumenical thrust, after an Oct. 31, 2016 visit to Lund in Sweden to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in tandem with leaders of the Lutheran World Federation.

The Vatican confirmation of the trip came just ehad a news conference on Friday featuring Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, a Norwegian Lutheran theologian and General Secretary of the WCC.

Asked about why the Catholic Church is not a member of the WCC, Koch said that the papal office has a special responsibility as an agent of Christian unity, and it would be inappropriate to confuse that with the role of other ecumenical agencies and instruments.

Tveit suggested that focusing on the question of membership puts the emphasis in the wrong place.


Missionary nun stabbed by thieves

A sister of Mother Teresa was stabbed recently in Bangladesh, but has decided not to file a complaint against the four assailants who seriously injured her.

Sr M. Madeleine works in the Homes for Malnutrition Centre of the Catholic Church of Lokhipur, in the diocese of Sylhet. The structure houses more than 100 abandoned children and poor people. The religious said: "They do not know the spirit of our foundress, Saint Mother Teresa, for whom the motto was love. We can only take care of these miserable people. I forgive those who attacked me."


The issue with euthanasia is loneliness

It's paradoxical, but in the world of social networks, we are increasingly more alone. It's an epidemic in Western society, and if loneliness is combined with the pain of an incurable disease and advanced age, the trauma can become very difficult.

Countries like Belgium have used this argument to justify the legalisation of euthanasia, which is completely rejected by the Church, as well as other sectors. In fact, the Vatican is taking another route – trying to eliminate loneliness and investing in palliative care. That's why the Holy See joined 400 experts from 38 countries to share experiences and launch this proposal worldwide.

Msgr Vincenzo Paglia, President, Pontifical Academy for Life, said, "Globalisation is very technological, but not very human. That's why I believe people must be educated about life stages, their problems and how essential human relationships are."