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« Reply #315 on: Nov 12, 2014, 07:35 AM »

Pope Urges G20 Leaders not to Forget the Poor

by Naharnet Newsdesk
12 November 2014, 08:41

Pope Francis has called on G20 leaders not to forget the poor, saying to do so would be "regrettable" as the heads of the world's most powerful economies prepare to meet in Australia.

The Group of 20 leaders are expected to sign off in Brisbane this weekend on a pledge to boost the level of their combined economic output by at least two percent above the currently projected level in the next five years, creating millions of jobs.

In a letter to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who holds the G20's rotating presidency, the pope said world powers "must not forget that many lives are at stake behind these political and technical discussions".

"And it would indeed be regrettable if such discussions were to remain purely on the level of declarations of principle," he said in the letter, sent on November 6 but only made public on Wednesday.

"There are far too many women and men suffering from severe malnutrition, a rise in the number of the unemployed, an extremely high percentage of young people without work and an increase in social exclusion which can lead to criminal activity and even the recruitment of terrorists."

He said he hoped the talks would mark a step towards "eliminating the root causes of terrorism, which has reached proportions hitherto unimaginable; these include poverty, underdevelopment and exclusion."

"It has become more and more evident that the solution to this grave problem cannot be a purely military one, but must also focus on those who in one way or another encourage terrorist groups through political support."

The pontiff said he hoped to see "a substantial and productive consensus" on boosting growth and jobs that took into account "real improvements in the living conditions of poorer families and the reduction of all forms of unacceptable inequality".

Each country is expected to submit its detailed reform plans to achieve the growth goal in Brisbane, with an emphasis on private sector financing to spur infrastructure investment.

In his letter, the pope also warned about the impact on the environment of "unbridled consumerism" while speaking of the "unbearable humanitarian situations around the world", pointing to the Middle East.

"I take this opportunity to ask the G20 member states to be examples of generosity and solidarity in meeting the many needs of the victims of these conflicts, and especially of refugees," he said.

"The situation in the Middle East has revived debate about the responsibility of the international community to protect individuals and peoples from extreme attacks on human rights and a total disregard for humanitarian law."

Pope Francis emphasized the need to protect people from abuses in the financial system, referring to the transactions that led to the global recession in 2008 as a "less evident but equally real and serious" form of aggression against human rights.

"Responsibility for the poor and the marginalized must therefore be an essential element of any political decision, whether on the national or the international level," he said.

Source: Agence France Presse


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« Reply #316 on: Nov 13, 2014, 06:52 AM »

Despite Pope Francis’ popularity, Catholic flock thinning in Latin America

Agence France-Presse
13 Nov 2014 at 06:21 ET   

Although Argentine-born Pope Francis is largely popular in Latin America, the number of adults in the region who describe themselves as Catholic is falling, says a study published Thursday.

In a study of 18 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as the US territory of Puerto Rico, the Pew Research Center said the Roman Catholic church is losing adherents to Protestant faiths or seeing them abandon organized religion altogether.

The study said that historical data suggest that from 1900 through the 1960s at least 90 percent of Latin America?s population was Catholic.

But today 69 percent of adults polled identified themselves as Catholic, the study said.

Latin America has more than 425 million Catholics, who account for nearly 40 percent of the world’s Catholic population, the center said.

But the number of people switching to other religions, mainly Protestant churches, is on the rise.

According to the report, 84 percent of today’s Latin American adults say they were raised as Catholics. That is 15 percentage points more than those who still call themselves Catholic.

At the same time, membership of Protestant churches and people who say they are not affiliated with any church are increasing.

Nine percent of Latin Americans say they were raised as Protestants, but almost one in five now call themselves Protestants.

“In nearly every country surveyed, the Catholic Church has experienced net losses from religious switching, as many Latin Americans have joined evangelical Protestant churches or rejected organized religion altogether,” the study said.

As to why Catholics are leaving the church, Pew said that of eight answers available in the poll, the most frequently chosen was that people were “seeking a more personal connection with God.”

The study said that in general Latin America has embraced the former Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Jesuit who was elected pope in March 2013 and took the name Francis.

In his native country, 91 percent of those polled have a favorable view of the pontiff. But that support is uneven across the region.

“Among former Catholics, relatively few give the pope a positive rating, with many saying it is too soon to rate him,” the study said.

“Similarly, while majorities of Catholics in most countries describe the election of Francis as representing a major change for the Catholic Church, this view is held by much smaller shares of former Catholics,” it added.

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« Reply #317 on: Nov 14, 2014, 08:49 AM »

The Vatican Will Build Showers For The Homeless

Zoe Mintz
International Business Times
November 13, 2014

The Vatican said showers will be built in public restrooms near St. Peter's Square for the city's homeless. Wikimedia Commons

The Vatican has commissioned showers to be installed at public restrooms in St. Peter’s Square for the city’s homeless to use, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, said Thursday. The facilities will require volunteers and donations of soap, towels and clean underwear.

"We have to be evangelical, but intelligent, too," Krajewski told Catholic News Service.

The new bathrooms belong to an already-approved project to renovate the public restrooms at St. Peter’s Square set to begin Nov. 17. Krajewski said there will be three shower stalls located just behind the Vatican’s post office.

The idea for the showers stemmed from a conversation the bishop had in October with a homeless man, known as Franco. When  Krajewski learned it was the man's 50th birthday, he invited him out for dinner. But the homeless man declined, saying the restaurant wouldn't let him enter because of his "smell."

“I took him with me nonetheless. We went to a Chinese restaurant. During dinner, he explained to me that you can always find some food in Rome. What is missing is places to wash,” Krajewski said.

Barbara, a Polish woman who lives in a tent with her teenage son and a companion, told CNS that showers in the Vatican's public restrooms "would be good.” The homeless seeking showers at existing facilities have to arrive at the shelter by 4 a.m. to sign in. “Then only 15 people get in each day,” she said.

Pope Francis, called the "People's Pope" by Time magazine, which named him its Person of the Year for 2013, has made alleviating global poverty a priority of his ministry. Since his election to the papacy last year, Francis has been outspoken about the church’s need to focus on helping the "poor and marginalized." He has refused to live in the luxurious papal apartments, washed the feet of inmates on Holy Thursday and paid his own hotel bill the day after he was elected to the church’s highest office. Most recently, Francis wrote to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott ahead of the G-20 summit, telling world leaders to “not to forget” the less fortunate.

While Krajewski thought food was the primary need for the city’s homeless, he has now shifted gears to building these new showers. He purposely decided against any fundraisers saying, “In the Gospel, Jesus always uses the word ‘today’ … And it is today that we must respond to people’s needs.”


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« Reply #318 on: Nov 16, 2014, 08:45 AM »

Pope Says Italy Immigrant Tensions a 'Social Emergency'

by Naharnet Newsdesk
16 November 2014, 16:33

Pope Francis on Sunday described violent attacks on refugees in Rome as symptomatic of a "social emergency" that will only get worse if it is not addressed.

Addressing the crowds in St Peter's square after his weekly Angelus sermon, the pontiff urged authorities and church officials to work to calm tensions after several days of mob attacks on a holding center for asylum speakers in a rundown neighborhood of the Italian capital.

"In recent days in Rome there have been quite strong tensions between residents and immigrants," the pontiff said, in a reference to the unrest in the Tor Sapienza district.

"These are things that can happen in different European cities, particularly in peripheral neighborhoods already suffering from other problems.

"I call on the authorities, at every level, to address what now constitutes a social emergency which, if not dealt with soon in an adequate manner, risks degenerating further.

"The Christian community needs to get involved in a concrete manner to ensure we have a coming together not clashes.

"Citizens and immigrants can meet, even in parish rooms, to speak about the situation.

"It is possible to have dialogue, listen to each other and plan together, and in this way overcome suspicion and prejudice and build safe, peaceful and inclusive co-existence."

That looks unlikely in the short-term in Tor Sapienza, which was last week the scene of some of the worst scenes of anti-immigrant violence witnessed in Europe for years.

A building housing around 50 migrants was pelted with stones, flares and other missiles for three consecutive nights.

Windows were smashed, rubbish bins set ablaze and there were pitched battles with riot police that became sufficiently serious for the city authorities to order the removal of teenagers from the center.

There was also some evidence of the local protest being hijacked by far right groups with references to "Il Duce" - as Italy's former dictator Benito Mussolini styled himself -- featuring alongside overtly racist and anti-Islamic chants and banners.

Rome's mayor has insisted that the asylum seekers will not be removed from the center, as local residents are demanding, arguing that an influx of non-Italians has brought problems of crime and prostitution.

Source: Agence France Presse


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« Reply #319 on: Nov 16, 2014, 08:58 AM »


Change urged by Pope Francis shakes Roman Catholic hierarchy

American Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church are impressed that Pope Francis has a fresh message, but some say they do not yet understand where he hopes to lead them.

By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
The New York Times
11/16/2014

BALTIMORE —

It was a hail and farewell moment at a tumultuous time for the Roman Catholic Church. More than 200 bishops rose to their feet Monday and gave a protracted standing ovation to Cardinal Francis George, a former president of the bishops conference, who will step down this coming week as the archbishop of Chicago.

Among those applauding in the conference room was the man who will on Nov. 18 be installed in the powerful Chicago seat, Bishop Blase Cupich. Pope Francis has never met him, but plucked him from the obscure Diocese of Spokane, passing over archbishops considered rising stars under the two previous popes.

Change is rattling the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, and the bishops here say they now feel it even if they do not yet understand where Pope Francis is leading them. The change is reflected not only in appointments — with the Chicago seat the main indicator so far — but also in Francis’ call for the church to open discussion on sticky matters long considered settled, such as communion for the divorced and remarried, same-sex relationships, couples who live together without being married and even polygamists in Africa.

Some prelates, like Cupich, are exhilarated at the pontiff’s fresh message and the prospect of change, while others, like George, are more wary. A few have been downright resistant, including Cardinal Raymond Burke, an American in Rome who has publicly challenged Francis and was removed Nov. 8 from his position as head of the Vatican’s highest court.

“The pope is saying some very challenging things for people,” Cupich said in an interview Tuesday. “He’s not saying, this is the law and you follow it and you get to heaven. He’s saying we have to do something about our world today that’s suffering; people are being excluded, neglected. We have a responsibility, and he’s calling people to task.”

The Conference of Catholic Bishops gathered Monday through Thursday for its annual meeting in Baltimore only weeks after a contentious Vatican meeting on marriage and family ended in Rome. That meeting — the first of two synods being held one year apart — has potentially awakened a split in the church between theological conservatives and liberals that had remained relatively dormant during the 20-month honeymoon with Francis. But now Francis’ pontificate has entered a more delicate phase, with some bishops asking whether he has a coherent vision of where he wants to take the church and a plan for how to get there.

“He says wonderful things,” George said about Francis in an interview last Sunday, “but he doesn’t put them together all the time, so you’re left at times puzzling over what his intention is. What he says is clear enough, but what does he want us to do?”

George, who is 77 and being treated for cancer, remains a voting cardinal until age 80 and says he would like to travel to Rome to see Francis: “I’d like to sit down with him and say, Holy Father, first of all, thank you for letting me retire. And could I ask you a few questions about your intentions?”

Catholics worldwide are supposed to spend the next year leading to the next synod meeting in Rome in October 2015 discussing issues related to marriage and the family. Several bishops said in interviews that they were supposed to shepherd such a dialogue but are awaiting instructions from the Vatican about how to conduct it.

Their public meetings here have largely been taken up with the priorities they have had for years: opposing abortion and same-sex marriage, and the concern that government is infringing on the church’s religious freedom through provisions like the birth-control mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

On Tuesday afternoon, after some Catholic commentators took the bishops to task for saying nothing during the conference about the hot-button issue of immigration, the floor was briefly turned over to Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, an auxiliary bishop of Seattle. He called attention to a letter that the bishops conference sent in September urging Jeh Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, to take executive action to protect from deportation some immigrants who came to the country illegally, including parents with children who are American citizens, and those who have been in the United States for 10 years or more.

In their regional meetings, the bishops were asked to identify which seven priorities the bishops conference should take up, in light of Francis’ pontificate, for the years 2017 to 2020, Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City said in an interview.

He said that among the priorities he suggested were the plight of immigrants in the country illegally, and the poor — including working people who live paycheck to paycheck, and “those who are caught in our world financial structures and are getting squeezed.” These are concerns and themes that Francis has sounded repeatedly.

However, Wester said, “I don’t think the old priorities are going to stop, particularly if they’re still relevant.”

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, the chairman of the bishops committee on marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage, said in his report to the conference that it was possible to link these varied priorities: “The message of Pope Francis, with his concern for the poor, but also standing for marriage, I think they do go together.”

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest and senior analyst for National Catholic Reporter, a liberal, independent news outlet, said in an interview between the sessions that this group of bishops was shaped by the popes who appointed them, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

“There is no bishop who is standing up and being the real leader of a Francis faction,” Reese said. “They grew up in conservative families, went to conservative seminaries and have been told not to talk to theologians who are creative because they’ve been labeled heretical. Now Francis is saying, let’s go in a different direction and let’s have a discussion. The last two pontificates, there was no room for discussion, and this makes them nervous and confused.”


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« Reply #320 on: Nov 17, 2014, 06:29 AM »

Pope Francis calls on Christians to stop anti-immigrant violence

Agence France-Presse
16 Nov 2014 at 11:50 ET                   

Pope Francis on Sunday described violent attacks on refugees in Rome as symptomatic of a “social emergency” that will only get worse if it is not addressed.

Addressing the crowds in St Peter’s Square after his weekly Angelus sermon, the pontiff urged authorities and church officials to work to calm tensions after several days of mob attacks on a holding centre for asylum speakers in a rundown neighbourhood of the Italian capital.

“In recent days in Rome there have been quite strong tensions between residents and immigrants,” the pontiff said, in a reference to the unrest in the Tor Sapienza district.

“These are things that can happen in different European cities, particularly in peripheral neighbourhoods already suffering from other problems.

“I call on the authorities, at every level, to address what now constitutes a social emergency which, if not dealt with soon in an adequate manner, risks degenerating further.

“The Christian community needs to get involved in a concrete manner to ensure we have a coming together not clashes.

“Citizens and immigrants can meet, even in parish rooms, to speak about the situation.

“It is possible to have dialogue, listen to each other and plan together, and in this way overcome suspicion and prejudice and build safe, peaceful and inclusive co-existence.”

That looks unlikely in the short-term in Tor Sapienza, which was last week the scene of some of the worst scenes of anti-immigrant violence witnessed in Europe for years.

A building housing around 50 migrants was pelted with stones, flares and other missiles for three consecutive nights.

Windows were smashed, rubbish bins set ablaze and there were pitched battles with riot police that became sufficiently serious for the city authorities to order the removal of teenagers from the centre.

There was also some evidence of the local protest being hijacked by far right groups with references to “Il Duce” – as Italy’s former dictator Benito Mussolini styled himself — featuring alongside overtly racist and anti-Islamic chants and banners.

Rome’s mayor has insisted that the asylum seekers will not be removed from the centre, as local residents are demanding, arguing that an influx of non-Italians has brought problems of crime and prostitution.


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« Reply #321 on: Nov 19, 2014, 07:24 AM »


Pope Francis to raffle off gifts to raise money for poor

Prizes for 8 January draw include a new Fiat Panda 4x4 with all the optional extras, a light blue racing bike and a panama hat

John Hooper in Rome
The Guardian, Tuesday 18 November 2014 18.35 GMT      

It really ought not to be news, but given the worldly tenor of the Vatican down the centuries, it is: Pope Francis is raffling the gifts that have been showered on him to raise money for the down-and-outs who bed down in the environs of the world’s tiniest – but far from poorest – state.

In recent days, posters have gone up on walls around the Vatican advertising a draw. The tickets are only €10, yet the first prize is a brand spanking new Fiat Panda 4x4 – with all optional extras.

The car, sprayed papal white, is worth more than £15,000 new. But that is without the cachet that comes with having been the property of one careful owner who is also Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church. Such things count for a lot on eBay.

Other prizes include a light blue racing bike, a ballpoint pen and a panama hat.

Francis, famed for his ascetic way of life, has forsaken the lavish accessories of the papacy since his election last year as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion baptised Roman Catholics. He wears clumpy black shoes instead of the custom-made red slippers favoured by his predecessor, Benedict; refuses to live in the magnificently decorated papal apartments, and drives himself around the city state in a 1984 Renault 4 of the sort favoured by Italian smallholders.

Less visibly, he has appointed a new papal almoner – a Polish archbishop, Konrad Krajewski – and boosted his department. The almoner’s job is to respond to pleas for help, mostly with small gestures such as the paying of fuel bills for poor families.

Last week, it was reported that Krajewski was arranging for showers to be built at the Vatican for the homeless who camp out in the area round St Peter’s Square. The Rome daily Il Messaggero said the raffle was intended to raise funds for projects to help the down-and-outs. In a bid to increase its resources, the almoner’s office last month reasserted the Vatican’s monopoly on the production of papal blessings on parchment, which some Catholics buy to mark special occasions such as baptisms and marriages.

The raffle draw is not being held, as might have been expected, at Christmas but on 8 January. Why is unclear but the date is the feast day of St Severinus of Noricum who ministered to refugees displaced by the Hunnish invasions of the fifth century. Famed for his self-denial, Severinus is said to have slept on sackcloth.
The papal prizes

1. Fiat Panda 4x4 1.3 JTD.

2. Racing bicycle (light blue).

3. Bicycle (orange) with panniers.

4. City bicycle (grey).

5. Tandem bicycle (white).

6. Sony HD digital video camera.

7. Illy Iperespresso coffee maker.

8. JBL Wi-Fi dock for iPod and iPhone.

9. Ottaviani ballpoint pen with silver trim.

10. Leonardo Argenti silver picture frame.

11. Brosway gentleman’s wrist watch.

12. PTM document case in brown leather.

13. Homero Ortega white panama hat – plus around 30 “consolation” prizes.


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« Reply #322 on: Nov 19, 2014, 07:25 AM »


'Pope Francis effect' credited with boosting Italian congregations

Researchers say more than half of Catholic priests have reported significant rise in attendance since election of new pontiff

John Hooper in Rome
theguardian.com, Sunday 10 November 2013 18.31 GMT      

Hundreds of thousands of Italian Catholics have flocked back to church since the election of the pope, according to a study published on Mondaythat credits the "Francis effect" for the boost in congregations.

Researcher Massimo Introvigne, a sociologist and head of Italy's Centre for the Study of New Religions (Cesnur), found that 51% of 250 priests he interviewed reported a significant rise in church attendance since the election of the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in March.

"If we project those results nationally, and if only half the parishes and communities in Italy have been touched by the Francis effect, then we're talking about hundreds of thousands of people who are returning," he said.

There was evidence that the 76-year-old Argentinian pope had made an even more dramatic impact in Britain. In a smaller survey, of 22 British cathedrals, 65% of the respondents had said they had noticed a rise in numbers, Introvigne added.

He said he first discovered evidence of a surge in attendance at mass in a survey he carried out soon after Francis became pope. He decided to conduct a more extensive poll to see if observance had since returned to its previous level.

"It might have been attributable to the novelty of having a new pope and the emotions stirred by the resignation of pope Benedict. But after six months I got more or less the same result," he said.

According to two of Italy's most senior clerics, Francis is making his biggest impact on long-lapsed Catholics. Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, the archbishop of Florence, said: "So many are returning to the sacraments, in some cases after decades."

His account was borne out by the auxiliary bishop of L'Aquila, Giovanni D'Ercole, who said in an interview with the daily La Stampa that "Francis makes headway above all among those who had distanced themselves from Christian life."

Introvigne cautioned that the persistence of the Francis effect would depend on how parish priests dealt with those who had previously abandoned their faith: "whether they are made to feel welcome" and whether they were given a proper re-introduction to Catholicism.

Pope Francis, who was noted for his simple lifestyle while archbishop of Buenos Aires, has refused the opulent trappings of the papacy and repeatedly advocated a simpler, poorer and less bureaucratic church. Some of his initiatives have also suggested he intends decentralising the administration of the world's biggest Christian denomination.

In one of the first public signs of misgivings, an influential Catholic writer on Sunday disparaged the idea of a less hierarchical church and defended the Vatican bureaucracy. Vittorio Messori, whose book-length interview with the late pope John Paul II sold millions of copies around the world, wrote in the daily Corriere della Sera that the dream of a "poor, egalitarian church [reminiscent of its] origins in which faith is freed of superstructures" was at odds with the historical fact that charismatic movements that "refused to change into hierarchical institutions" were swiftly reduced to irrelevance.


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« Reply #323 on: Nov 20, 2014, 06:54 AM »


Man who shot John Paul II requests meeting with Pope Francis

Mehmet Ali Ağca wrote to the Vatican to welcome the pope to Turkey when he visits the country for the first time later in November

AFP in Istanbul
theguardian.com, Wednesday 19 November 2014 18.07 GMT      

The Turkish man who attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II more than three decades ago has asked the Vatican for permission to meet Pope Francis when he visits Turkey next week, local media reported on Wednesday.

The pope is due to visit Turkey for the first time from 28-30 November, during which time he will meet President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

In a statement published by Turkish media, Mehmet Ali Ağca requested a meeting with Pope Francis. “Pope Francis, who seeks to boost peace and brotherhood at a time the world is going through a political, economic and humanitarian crisis, is welcome to Turkey,” Ağca said.

“I am Mehmet Ali Ağca and I would like to meet the pope during this visit,” the statement said, accompanied by a photo of Pope John Paul II visiting Ağca in a Rome prison in 1983 to forgive his attacker.

John Paul II nearly died in the assassination attempt in 1981 when Ağca shot him at close range in St Peter’s Square. One bullet went through his abdomen and another narrowly missed his heart.

The motive for the attack, which landed Ağca in an Italian prison, remains a mystery.

Ağca, believed by many to be mentally disturbed, was released from a Turkish prison in 2010 after serving nearly three decades behind bars.

He was a 23-year-old militant of the notorious far-right Grey Wolves movement, on the run from Turkish justice, when he shot Pope John Paul II.

Extradited to Turkey in 2000 after Italy pardoned him, Ağca was convicted of the murder of prominent journalist Abdi Ipekci, two armed robberies and escaping from prison, crimes all dating back to the 1970s.   


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« Reply #324 on: Nov 23, 2014, 07:35 AM »

Pope Canonizes 2 Indians, 4 Italians

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
NOV. 23, 2014, 8:30 A.M. E.S.T.

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis canonized six new saints Sunday, including a priest and a nun from the Indian state of Kerala, in a packed ceremony in St. Peter's Square.

The pope said the new saints, four Italians from far-flung provinces and two Indians from the Syro-Malabar Church, one of 22 Eastern rite churches that operates in full communion with Rome, provided examples of service to "the smallest and the poorest."

"They dedicated themselves, without holding back, to serving the least and assisting the destitute, sick, elderly and pilgrims," Francis told the crowd.

Some 5,000 faithful traveled from Kerala state for the solemn event, which was also streamed live onto screens set up outside churches in the southern region of India.

"Today is a big day for Indian people, especially for Indian people coming from Kerala," said Elsy Chandy Plammoottil, a pilgrim from Kerala. "We got two saints: Eufrasia Eluvathingal and Kuriakose Elias Chavara. They are very important people for us."

The Rev. Chavara, who lived in the 19th century, contributed to the expansion of the Syro-Malabar Church, including setting up printing presses. Eluvathingal, born in 1877 and baptized Rose, led a secluded life of prayer, becoming known as a "praying mother."

The pope expressed hope that the four Italian saints, born in the provinces of Vicenza in the north, Naples in the south, Rimini on the Adriatic coast, and Cosenza near the tip of the Italian boot, would help "revive the spirit of cooperation and harmony for the common good."


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