People will forgive a weak priest, but not a greedy one: Pope Francis

In his Friday morning Mass, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel reading where Jesus pushes merchants from the Temple because they turned the house of prayer into a den of thieves. The Pope said, even nowadays, Christians make those same mistakes.
“When those who are in the Temple – be they priests, lay people, secretaries, who manage the ministry of the Temple…when they become business people the community is scandalized. And we are responsible for this. The laity is too! Everyone. Because if I see this happening in my parish, I need to have courage and tell it directly the pastor.”
The Pope then added that there are two sins that a community cannot forgive. One is a priest who is obsessed with money. The other, a priest who disrespects people. He also explained that Salvation is free.
(Source: Vatican Radio)
“People will forgive a weak priest or pastoral minister, but they will not forgive a greedy one or one who mistreats people, said Pope Francis at Mass Friday morning as he marked the feast of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary with a prayer that she help us keep the Lord’s Temple clean.
Basing his homily on the Gospel of the Day in which Jesus drives the merchants from the Temple because they had turned the house of prayer into a den of thieves, Pope Francis said in doing so Jesus was purifying the Temple of God because it had been profaned and with it the People of God.  The Temple had been defiled with the gravest of sins: scandal.
“People are good – continued Pope Francis- people went to the Temple and did not look at these things, they sought God and prayed … but they had to change their money into coins to make offers”. The people of God did not go to the Temple for these people, for those who were selling things, they went because it was the Temple of God” and “there was corruption that scandalized the people”.  Pope Francis recalled the biblical story of Anna, a humble woman, mother of Samuel, who goes to the temple to ask for the grace of a child: “she whispered her prayers silently” while the priest and his two sons were corrupt, they exploited the pilgrims, they scandalized the people. “I think of how our attitude can scandalize people – said Pope Francis – with unpriestly habits in the Temple: the scandal of doing business, the scandal of worldliness … How often when we enter a church do we see  – even today – do we see a price list hanging there “for baptism, blessings, Mass intentions”. And people are scandalized”.

Thousands to attend Indian canonizations at Vatican


Bl Fr Chavara Elias Kuriakose and Bl Sr Euphraisa of Sacred Heart of Jesus to be canonized November 23.

Kochi: At least 4,000 Indians are expected at the Vatican this weekend to see Pope Francis officially declare two Indians — a mystic nun and a social reformer priest — as saints.

Blessed Father Chavara Elias Kuriakose (1805-1871) and Blessed Sister Euphraisa of Sacred Heart of Jesus (1877-1952), both from the Syro-Malabar Church based in southern Kerala state, are set be canonized on November 23.

The canonizations come six years after the canonization of India’s first woman saint, Sister Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception, said Cardinal George Alenecherry, the Major Archbishop of Syro-Malabar Church.

Both the future saints are credited with spearheading a better spiritual and social awareness that have become the foundations of present-day Catholic life in Kerala, the cardinal told

“We expect some 4,000 people from India at the Vatican. Also, hundreds of our priests and nuns working in Europe and other parts of Asia should be attending it,” said Father Robin Kannanchira, public relations officer for the congregation Blessed Chavara founded — the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI).

Social thinkers and historians say Blessed Chavara was a leading social reformer in 19th century Kerala, which was beset with social ills such as the caste system, discrimination and pervasive superstition.

Blessed Chavara was instrumental in establishing modern secular education along with parish churches to provide education to all people irrespective of caste and religion, said KS Radhakrishnan, former vice chancellor of Kerala’s Sanskrit University.

The priest established a Sanskrit school in 1846, when Sanskrit was considered the language of affluent classes and learning it was reserved only for upper-caste people.

“Sanskrit at that time was not a language alone, it was the abode of wealth, power, position and fame in society,” Radhakrishnan said.

By opening his Sanskrit school to all, “this visionary … was pioneering a revolution, making low caste people enjoy wealth, power and position”, he said.

In 1829 he established the CMI, the first indigenous religious institute for men in the Kerala Church, becoming its first prior-general.

Almost four decades later, in 1866, along with Carmelite missionary Leopold Beccaro, Blessed Chavara began the first Carmelite convent, the first indigenous order for women in the Syro Malabar Church, today known as the Congregation of Mother Carmel.

Sister Euphrasia, the nun who will be canonized with him at the weekend, is one of the congregation’s pioneers, according to Sister Sancta Kolath, the order’s present superior-general.

“She was not known for building up anything or social reform. She led an intense life of prayer. She was known as the ‘praying mother’,” said Sister Kolath who also described her as a “mystic”.

During her lifetime “people flocked to her, seeking … counseling and inspiration, and that was her way of helping people,” she said.

Soon after her death people began to pray at her tomb and many claim to have received favors through her. Her saintly nature was accepted as a fact even during her lifetime.

Her inspiration helps the congregation engage in the fields of education, social work and healing across India and Europe, Sister Kolath said.


Millions expected to venerate remains of Saint Francis Xavier


Preparations are underway in Goa for the once-a-decade event.

 By Christopher Joseph
A visitor takes a picture of the casket of St Francis Xavier at the 16th-century Basilica of Bom Jesu in Goa


Old Goa: Some five million people are expected to venerate the remains of the 16th century Spanish missionary Francis Xavier when they are exhibited for 40 days beginning this weekend in Goa.

For the once-a-decade event, the government of Goa has allotted some US$1.6 million to renovate and build infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and accommodation facilities.

Officially called the “Exposition of the Sacred Relics of St Francis Xavier,” it has become a state-Church collaborative event, promoted by the state’s Tourism Department.

The main attraction is the remains of the saint, who died in 1552. The remains are preserved in a glass-paneled silver casket and kept inside the 16th-century Basilica of Bom Jesu (Good Jesus). During the exposition the casket will be kept inside the nearby Se Cathedral, another 16th century building.

These buildings and numerous other churches and convents in Old Goa, the former colonial capital of the Portuguese in Asia, are now under the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), a federal agency for the care and maintenance of historically important structures across the nation.

“We’re determined that this event is celebrated in all its pomp and piety. We are working with other government agencies and the Church to make it a huge success,” said ASI’s Gangadhar Koregaonkar, assistant superintending archeological engineer.

Archeological experts, stationed in Goa to oversee painting and maintenance of the buildings, said they want to make sure that temporary structures being put up on the vast campus do not harm the old buildings.

The exposition has been increasing in popularity with each event recording a roughly twentyfold increase in the last 30 years, said Father Alfred Vaz, chief of the organizing committee of the Goa archdiocese.

“This year we expect some five million people, at least half a million foreigners, to visit and venerate the relics,” said the senior priest.

He said for years after the death of the saint on Shangchuan Island near China in 1552, the body was considered “uncorrupt” but the miracle of the body ended long ago. “What we now have is only the relics or remains of the body,” he said.

The clothed skeleton can be seen through the glass panels of the silver case with the help of a light inside. Fr Vaz said people look forward to the exposition “to see the relics closer and kiss them seeking the blessings” of the saint.

The body was buried on the island where he died but a year later Jesuits moved it and temporarily buried it inside a church in Malacca. At that time in February 1553, they reportedly found the body “uncorrupt”. In December of the same year, the body was shipped to Goa.

The first exposition took place 23 years after the Jesuits were expelled in 1759 following the suppression of their society. The 1782 exposition was, historians say, to ally fears that Jesuits took away with them the uncorrupt body of the Jesuit saint.

A series of expositions followed but most of them marked special occasions. Since 1964, however, the relics have been displayed for 40 days every 10 years, covering the saint’s feast day on December 3.

Critics like Jose Mario, a Catholic who lives close to the cathedral compound, said the Church is “running a business” with the exposition of the remains of the saint. “It is no more faith. It is a business of donations and no one tells how much they collect.”

He argued that if it were not for the money earned, the exposition would be for a shorter period, there would not be so many donation boxes around, and there would be no real need to keep a dead body unburied especially since officials agree that the miracle of the “uncorrupt body” is over.

“My faith should not depend on a body there,” he said.

But Fr Vas said such accusations are common from people who do not understand the faith aspect of the event. “I do not know how much in donations we got last time, but the income from such activities go to fund our orphanages and old age homes. And, we don’t spend money on this. The government departments take care of it,” he said.

“For us, this is an occasion to catechize our people. It is an occasion of spiritual renewal for the people,” he said explaining several liturgical and biblical programs they have scheduled for the period. And, most Goans who have migrated to other countries and are living in different cities come home for this special occasion, he said explaining the reason for having decennial expositions.

This year organizers are trying to attract more young people to the event by organizing an international FIFA approved soccer match involving teams from Egypt, Brazil, Portugal, Ghana, Nepal, India and Colombia. The teams are scheduled to play in at least four Indian cities, Fr Vaz said.

The matches with the theme, “preach from the ground” will cost some $10 million to organize but “we expect to cover at least some of the expenses from the tickets because some of these teams will have World Cup players”, the priest said.

Goa is well known for soccer in India, “we would like to spread the spirit of Goan football across India with a Christian spirit” as a special exposition program, he said.

He also dismissed rumors that this will be the last exposition. “I think these are rumors spread by travel agents to get more customers,” he said.


Six years later, Kandhamal Christians await justice


Some 100 Christians were killed for refusing to convert to Hinduism and 50,000 people were displaced.

File photo of Fr. Thomas Chellan.

India: Last August marked the six year anniversary of the brutal 2008 Kandhamal, Odisha massacre in India, but for Fr. Thomas Chellan, the memories have not faded.

Although most of the instigators have been caught, they have still not gone to trial, the priest said. “The local community utterly failed to protect the lives and property of their Christian neighbors,” he told international charity Aid to the Church in Need.

Now living in New York, Fr. Chellan is safe from the persecution and violence he endured in India. However, he hopes the government will seriously investigate the massacre and others like it.

Following the Aug. 23, 2008 murder of Swami Lakshmanananda, leader of the right-wing Hindu nationalist organization Vishna Hindu Parishad, Hindu fundamentalists took the opportunity to attack local Christians, whom they blamed for the murder.

In the days that followed, some 100 Christians were killed for refusing to convert to Hinduism and 50,000 people were displaced, while 5,600 houses and 300 churches were destroyed.

“Yet, the Christian faith stood out shining amidst the rubble of burned out churches and Christian houses,” he said. Fr. Chellan survived the violent attacks, but said he expected to die more than once during that time. His story is just one of many of those who were persecuted for their faith.

The afternoon after the murder, a mob of hundreds of people descended on his parish’s pastoral center. Fearing for his life, Fr. Chellan, along with his assistant priest and a religious sister, escaped by climbing over the wall of the compound and hiding out in the nearby forest until late into the night.

“We could see our home going up in flames. The mob broke open all the doors and windows, thinking we were hiding inside,” he said.

Fr. Chellan and the sister sought shelter at the home of a Hindu man who took them in despite the huge threat he faced from the radicals seeking out Christians. His assistant priest sought refuge at his brother’s house.

The following day, a smaller crowd of about 50 returned to the pastoral shelter shouting anti-Christian slogans and carrying knives, sticks and axes.

The Hindu man grew nervous hearing about this and asked Fr. Chellan to hide in a shed in his backyard while allowing the sister to remain in his home.

The mob came and searched the man’s house and found the sister and Fr. Chellan.

“I was pulled out and beaten with sticks and iron rods. I sustained injuries on top of my head, my forehead and shoulder,” the priest recalled.

The sister and Fr. Chellan were dragged back to the pastoral center where they tore off the sister’s clothes and brutally raped her. The priest tried to intervene, but was overpowered by the mob.

“When I tried to prevent the men from attacking her I was taken outside and doused in gasoline. Someone took out a box of matches. Seeing that I said my last prayers, thinking my end had come.”

They tied him and the sister together and, even as a police car drove by and other police officers stood on as spectators, no one intervened.

Eventually, their attackers and they were taken into the local police station where they safely spent the night. The next day, police took them to a safer station in the capital of Bhubaneswar where they were able to visit the archbishop, but were then taken out of state in order to receive medical treatment.

Despite this persecution, he said that the Christian community has made strides in improving life for all locals of any religion, particularly by providing education.

“Christians are claiming their rightful place in society, unwilling to put up any longer with religious and social discrimination.”

He explained that the majority of the Christians in the area are considered to be Dalits, or part of the lowest caste in the traditional Hindu hierarchy.

Source: catholic news agency

Priest accused of sex abuse extradited from India


Jeyapaul was expected to travel Tuesday to Roseau County, where he will be jailed, Foss said.

File photo of Fr. Joseph Jeyapaul

India: An Indian Catholic priest facing charges of sexually abusing a teenage girl in the Crookston Diocese 10 years ago has been extradited to Minnesota.

Father Joseph Jeyapaul arrived Monday in Minneapolis — a rare instance of a foreign priest returning to face charges of child sex abuse in the United States, reported.

“We have been waiting for five years,” said Karen Foss, Roseau County attorney, whose office first sought extradition in 2009.

The priest’s arrival in Minnesota came just days after a New Delhi appeals court denied his latest motion to remain in his home country.

Jeyapaul’s extradition is rare, said Patrick Wall, a former priest and investigator for the law firm of Jeff Anderson, which represented Jeyapaul’s victim in a civil case.

“I know of no other priest who has been extradited to face criminal prosecution” in Minnesota, Wall said. More often, foreign priests who abuse children are sent back to their home country, he said.

Jeyapaul was expected to travel Tuesday to Roseau County, where he will be jailed, Foss said.

Jeyapaul, 59, has been charged with sexually molesting a then 14-year-old girl on multiple occasions during 2004 while he served at the Blessed Sacrament Church in Greenbush. He served in northern Minnesota for about a year.

The diocese did not learn of the abuse until 2005, according to church documents, and by that time Jeyapaul had returned to India, allegedly to care for his mother. In 2006, another Minnesota teen also accused him of abuse.

The diocese reported the abuse to the Sheriff’s Office in October 2005, according to church documents. The county attorney’s office filed extradition papers five years ago.

Jeyapaul remained working in India until 2012, when he was arrested. He has been in jail there since.

Wall attributed the extradition to the presence of a strong abuse survivor prepared to fight the case, a prosecutor willing to stay the course, and Indian law enforcement authorities willing to apprehend him.

The diocese said it supports the extradition.

“The Diocese of Crookston has publicly and repeatedly supported the process of returning Jeyapaul to Roseau to face the serious charges against him,” said Susan Gaertner, an attorney for the diocese.

Across the nation, very few foreign priests who have abused children ever return for their day in court, said David Clohessy, national director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

“I’d say no more than two dozen during the 25 years I’ve been involved in these issues,” he said.

Source: startribune

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