Pope Francis welcomes Barack Obama to Rome

Global inequality high on the agenda for discussion.

Vatican City:

Barack Obama held a historic first meeting with Pope Francis on Thursday to discuss a shared agenda of fighting global inequality despite wide differences over issues like gay rights and contraception.

Obama told Francis he was a “great admirer” at the start of their talks at the Vatican, which political observers said could be a bid to boost the US president’s support at home among Catholic voters.

Obama was accompanied by US Secretary of State John Kerry and the delegation was led through the Apostolic Palace to the pope’s study by Swiss Guards and ceremonial aides known as Papal Gentlemen.

The first African-American US president spoke of the first pope from Latin America as an “inspiration” in an interview with the Corriere della Sera daily.

“The Holy Father has been an inspiration to people around the world, including me,” Obama said, adding however: “It doesn’t mean we agree on every issue”.

The meeting comes as a welcome rest-stop for Obama during a six-day European tour dominated by the crisis over Crimea, and the US leader will doubtless be hoping some of the pope’s stardom will rub off on him.

Obama is “mostly going I think to bask in the glow of the new pope,” said Jeremy Shapiro, visiting fellow at Washington’s Brookings institute.

His main aim will be “to highlight their sort of mutual attention to the problems of poverty and inequality. This isn’t really a foreign policy stop,” he said.

Ahead of the meeting, Francis celebrated mass for a group of 500 Italian politicians in which he warned them against becoming “hard-hearted” and “corrupt”.

Obama will also meet new Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi — the European Union’s youngest government leader — and President Giorgio Napolitano, as well as going on a private guided tour of the Colosseum.

Diplomatic relations between Italy and the United States are close, though Rome has been cautious about imposing sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis, amid fears it would take a toll on a key market.

Obama in his interview highlighted Italy’s “critical role” in the Mediterranean region, praising Renzi for visiting Tunisia on his first foreign trip and saying Washington and Rome were collaborating to rebuild Libya.

Obama earlier this month said his calls for tax hikes on the rich and curbs on abuses by big banks had a strong moral grounding — in an election-year swipe at Republicans and echoing the pope’s rallying cry for action to curb growing inequality around the world.

However, Vatican experts say the relationship is not as cosy as it once was between pope Jean Paul II and Ronald Reagan, and Francis is unlikely to refrain from tackling Obama on his domestic and foreign policy.

Vatican expert John Allen wrote in the Boston Globe that the Obama administration would like to create “the impression of a grand alliance on behalf of the world’s poor… both as part of his eventual legacy and with an eye towards the mid-term elections looming this fall”.

But he pointed to “contrasts” and “sharp differences” and said that “a deep partnership between the two leaders… may not be in the cards”.

The pontiff spoke out strongly against a proposed military intervention by the US in Syria last year, organising a mass prayer vigil at the Vatican.

US Catholic leaders have also repeatedly challenged Obama’s signature accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, arguing that it violates religious freedom by requiring for-profit corporations to provide insurance for contraception.

Controversy surrounding the Affordable Care Act and Obama’s drop in popularity risk resulting in a Republican victory in the upcoming Senate election, which would dramatically weaken the US leader for his remaining two years in power.

Words of support from Francis would certainly boost his case: a survey by Saint-Leo University found Francis was popular with 85 percent of Catholics and 63 percent of Americans.

A survey published last month by CBS News and the New York Times meanwhile put Obama’s approval rating at just 41 percent.

Source: AFP



Dear Readers,

On 15th of March, 2014; this city of Mumbai witnessed a BIG BANG, similar to the one occurred billions years ago and gave birth to our Universe, with the Sun at its Core.

BIG BANG at AZAD MAIDAN also gave birth to the Universe of our own….Christian associations from various  parishes from within Mumbai and around, came together to support the just cause and issues faced by community…At the core of this Universe is SOUL – SAVE OUR LAND, which has succeeded in achieving the impossible….

SOUL will always be at the forefront in fighting the injustice to community anywhere in Mumbai… at the hands of Government authorities…



Many speakers expressed their anguish at the BMC’s attitude.  Archbishop Cardinal Oswald Gracias also sent a Message, which was read by his secretary, Fr. K. T. Emmanuel……While we as a SOULmates are happy about it and his praise of Fr. Austin Norris, Parish Priest of St. Anthony’s Church, Malwani; who was at the helm and the guiding force of this Rally; mention to SOUL – SAVE OUR LAND was absent in Archbishop’s message…..Is it because SOUL is not an organisation recognized by Church?

We are compelled to state this because our feedback indicates; Parishioners of various parishes were enthusiastic about attending the Rally… However, response from the Parish Authorities was very LUKWARM…..Baring handful of Parishes… Even announcement of the Rally on Sunday Masses was missing…In one of the Major Parish, an interested Parishioner questioned the Parish Priest about it and his answer was, SOUL is a PRIVATE ASSOCIATION…this is the attitude of our Clergy towards a problem faced by one of our own Church…  PRIVATE ASSOCIATION? SO BE IT…..SOUL is fighting to save our Church Land. SOUL is not an Association but a Movement… started by concerned Catholics under the able leadership of Fr. Austin Norris..to Save our Church Lands, because the Church recognized association, Bombay Catholic Sabha (BCS) has failed in it duty to take this issue up…On the contrary they tried to stall the Rally citing silly excuses. This is applicable only to Central Office of BCS. Many local units of BCS overruled diktat of Central office and joined the Rally…..

Due to attitude of Certain Parish Authorities, Many Parishioners missed the opportunity to hear the views of Prominent speakers and understand the issues…..SILENT VOICE is bringing  speakers to your living room…In this part, readers will have the opportunity to listen to few of the Speakers…The balance, we shall try to bring in as soon as possible…


Prior to the beginning of the Rally, delegaion of SOUL committee, comprising of Fr. Austin Norris, Dolphy D’souza, Stanley Fernandes and Greg Pereira met Municipal Commissioner, Shri Sitaram Kunte. SOUL delegation presented him Memorandum listing Charter of our demands. He was also explained the manipulation of ROAD LINE (RL), by BMC authorities, with the help of Road Plan and other Graphics……








Vatican dismisses Germany’s ‘luxury lifestyle’ bishop

High-spending bishop apologizes for ‘carelessness’ but denies wrongdoing.

The bishop was lampooned during a carnival this month in Germany, where his story has drawn massive media attention.

Vatican City:

The Vatican has removed a German bishop because he spent $43m of Church funds on an extravagant residence when Pope Francis was preaching austerity.

Announcing the decision on Wednesday, the Vatican said the atmosphere in the diocese of Limburg had become such that Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst could no longer carry out a “fruitful exercise” of his ministry there.

Tebartz-van Elst has apologised for any “carelessness or misjudgement on my part”, but he denies any wrongdoing.

Dubbed the “bishop of bling”, the bishop had been ordered to stay out of his diocese temporarily last October during a local Church investigation and audit of cost over-runs.

He offered his resignation at the time.

A statement said the Vatican department that oversees bishops had now studied the investigation’s findings and accepted his resignation.

The 108-page report for the German Bishops’ Conference said Tebartz-van Elst had demanded that all those involved in the project should observe “strict secrecy” about its costs.

It said the accounting and construction procedures used “a system that was not transparent either to the diocese or the public”, adding that the bishop “alone must also carry the full responsibility” because he did not share information.

Another prelate, Monsignor Manfred Grothe, has been appointed to run the diocese as an administrator on the Vatican’s behalf for the time being and a position will be found for Tebartz-van Elst in due course, the Vatican said.

Pope Francis has been urging Church officials around the world to live simpler lives and to get closer to the poor.

He has several times told bishops not to live like princes and has renounced the spacious papal apartments in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace for much more modest quarters in a Church guest house.

Last year, Francis showed his irritation over the affair by keeping Tebartz-van Elst waiting for eight days in Rome before receiving him in the Vatican.

Source: Al Jazeera

More arrests expected in seminary murder case

Police last Friday arrested a Carmelite priest, a Bangalore archdiocesan priest and layperson linking them to the murder of Father K. J Thomas.


File photo of Fr. K.J. Thomas (Photo courtesy: facebook)


A senior police official investigating the murder of a seminary rector says there will be more arrests in the case in addition to last week’s arrests of two priests and a layperson.

Police last Friday arrested a Carmelite priest, a Bangalore archdiocesan priest and layperson linking them to the murder of Father K. J Thomas, whose body was found just outside his bedroom in St. Peter’s seminary on April 1 morning last year.

“There will be more arrests. We are continuing the investigation,” the officer told ucanews.com.

Police sources said they have not filed charges on the arrested–Father Elias Daniel OCD, parish priest Father William Patrick of from Kengeri, and layperson Peter. The charge sheet will be filed only after more arrests are made and evidences are established, the officer said.

A team of investigators continues to work to establish findings linking the murder to the arrested people and their accomplices. Investigators believe more people are directly and indirectly involved “in the conspiracy, planning and execution of the crime. ”

The victim was a morally upright and austere priest and investigation need to establish beyond doubt the reasons for fatally attacking him.

The officer said since it is “very sensitive case” they are careful not to offend the sensibilities of the people by making statements and rash actions. “There will be more arrests. I can’t give more details now.”

The police are working hard to make foolproof case. “We want a case that will stand the prosecution and court of law.”

Meanwhile, some members of the Karnataka Kannada Priests’ Association has alleged that police conducted the inquiry with little knowledge of how church institutions function, making the investigation questionable.

They accused police of arresting the two priests based on circumstantial evidence and loose statements, reported the Times of India.

However police maintain that the information they passed on the press was only partial and they have more evidences to link the arrested to the crime.

Source: UCANews

Goa Church wants Catholics to engage in politics

The circular also calls active political participation as the “compelling need” of the times we live in.


Goa’s influential Roman Catholic church wants its followers to both pray and actively engage in the political process to elect parliamentarians who will work for the good of the country.

In a circular issued Saturday, the Archbishop of Goa and Daman, Filipe Neri Ferrao, exhorted Goa’s 26 percent Catholics to start a prayer campaign to internally think and choose the best possible elected representative for the state.

The circular also calls active political participation as the “compelling need” of the times we live in.

“It should make us constantly aware of our duties and responsibilities as citizens who not only cast their vote, but also actively participate in the political life of our state. This is indeed a compelling need of the present times,” the circular says.

The circular comes a few days after a social organization backed by the Church issued a stinging critique of Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and the Gujarat chief minister, accusing both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders of misgovernance.

The Church, during the last assembly elections, had a cosy relationship with the BJP, which eventually proved helpful for the saffron party helping it win an unprecedented simple majority in the 40-member Goa legislative assembly.

In Saturday’s circular, the Church has reminded the Catholic faithful to fulfil “their solemn duty of exercising their franchise with a sense of responsibility to oneself and to our beloved nation, so that we may have a government which will uphold the principles of democracy, secularism, human rights, freedom of conscience…as enshrined in the Constitution of our nation”.


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