NEWS BRIEFS

Tej Francis

ROME

Francis canonizing not only Paul VI’s life, but also his legacy

(Crux)  Now that Pope Francis has said out loud what many have long suspected, which is that Blessed Pope Paul VI will be declared a saint within the year, it’s worth asking what the current pontiff seems to have picked up from his recent predecessors.

Giovanni Battista Montini, the man who became Paul VI, was a figure of deep refinement and a delicate touch, somewhat shy and reserved, and always did everything with a deliberate elegance. Francis tends to be far more spontaneous and informal, a sort of “let-it-all-hang-out” personal approach that doubtless would have left the carefully prepared Paul a bit speechless at times.

Even on the rare occasions when Paul VI emoted in public, such as his famous cry of anguish after the assassination of his friend, former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro, in May 1978, he did it with deep eloquence and conscious aforethought.

In terms of substance, of course, each man handled what would become the defining moment of his papacy differently. Fifty years ago, in 1968, Paul VI faced the issue of whether to change the Church’s longstanding opposition to artificial birth control, delivering a strong “no” in his landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae.

Two years ago, Francis took up the question of whether to change another seemingly firm Church teaching, which was a prohibition on divorced and civilly remarried Catholics receiving Communion, offering up a cautious and qualified “yes.”

In terms of background, the two men are also something of a study in contrasts. Francis never served in the Vatican prior to his election five years ago, and as the Cardinal-Archbishop of Buenos Aires, was well known for his aversion to the trips to Rome he was occasionally compelled to make.

Paul VI, on the other hand, was a consummate Vatican insider, having worked in the Secretariat of State from 1922 to 1945. He and Monsignor Domenico Tardini, later also made a cardinal, were the closest aides and advisors to Pope Pius XII, so by the time Paul VI took over the top job himself, he had decades of experience under his belt of making the Vatican’s trains run on time.

Vatican City

Pope Francis returns to Rome after week of spiritual exercises

(CNA/EWTN News) On Friday Pope Francis returned from his week-long Lenten spiritual exercises in Ariccia, where he and members of the Roman Curia have been on their annual retreat since Sunday afternoon.

Before boarding the bus that would take him back to Vatican City, Francis thanked the priest who preached the exercises for his reflections and for encouraging members of the Curia to be open to the Holy Spirit and not stuck in bureaucratic structures.

Fr. Tolentino is a Portuguese priest, poet, and Biblical theologian who preached during the spiritual exercises, which this year focused on the theme: “Praise of Thirst.”

Held Feb. 18-23, this year’s curial Lenten spiritual exercises began Sunday evening with adoration and vespers. The rest of the week followed a basic schedule beginning with Mass at 7:30 a.m., followed by the first meditation of the day.

In the afternoon, a second meditation was preached before concluding with adoration and vespers. Friday, the final day of the exercises, consisted of only a morning meditation. Pope Francis and the curia then left the retreat house, returning to the Vatican at 11:15 a.m.

The exercises took place at the Casa Divin Maestro in Ariccia, a town just 16 miles outside of Rome. Located on Lake Albano, the retreat house is just a short way from the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. It will be the fifth consecutive year the Pope and members of the Curia have held their Lenten retreat at the house in Ariccia.

While the practice of the Bishop of Rome going on retreat with the heads of Vatican dicasteries each Lent began some 80 years ago, it had been customary for them to follow the spiritual exercises on Vatican ground. Beginning in Lent 2014, Pope Francis chose to hold the retreat outside of Rome.

INDIA

Hindu attacks on Christians double in India

(Ucanews) Hindu attacks on Christians in India have doubled in the past year as part of an unprecedented trend to portray Christians as acting against the state, its religious tolerance and national ethos, according to a newly released report.

The country recorded 736 incidents of attacks against Christians in 2017 against 348 in 2016, according to data from Persecution Relief, an ecumenical forum that records Christian persecution in India and helps victims.

Most police complaints filed against victims accused them of crimes such as sedition, working against religious tolerance, discriminating against people, acting against national integration, defiling places of worship and insulting religions, the report revealed.

“It is a new trend to accuse Christians of serious crimes,” said Shibu Thomas, founder of Persecution Relief. If sedition charges are proved, the accused can get life terms in prison, he told ucanews.com.

Christian leaders say violence against their people increased after the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014 with the support of Hindu groups who want to make India a Hindu-alone state. These groups attempt to present religious minorities like Christians and Muslims as unpatriotic.

“In 99 percent of cases, they bring false witnesses and charge victimized Christians with serious offenses like sedition,” he said. “When victims reach for police help, they find themselves accused of violations. ‘It is you who have done it,’ police say. This is a dangerous sign. Unfortunately, the police are in league with fanatics and elected members support their actions.”

Christians account for 2.3 per cent or 29 million of India’s population of 1.3 billion, some 80 percent of them Hindus.

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