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After setting a policy against soliciting or accepting payments for sacraments, a Catholic archbishop in the Philippines this time wants his parishes to stop charging fixed rates for issuing certificates.  Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan said the move is still part of the ongoing archdiocesan reform, as he reminded the clergy not to “commercialize” church services.  “This is in consonance with our collective vision to cleanse the church of any semblance of commercialism in the rendering of Church services,” Archbishop Villegas told his priests in a circular issued on Jan. 11.  The new “obligatory policy” was also agreed upon by the majority of priests and religious men of the archdiocese during their regular meeting on Friday.  According to the policy baptismal certificates, confirmation certificates, marriage certificates, wedding banns, and similar documents will be issued to requesting parishioners “...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says prayer works miracles and prevents the hardening of the heart.His words came on Tuesday morning during morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. “It’s the prayer of the faithful – the Pope said – that brings change to the Church; it’s not us popes, bishops or priests who carry the Church forward, but the Saints”.Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:   Pope Francis took his cue from the Bible reading of the day which tells the story of Hannah, a woman whom, deeply distressed by her infertility, desperately prays to the Lord to give her a child, and of Eli, a priest, who looks on vaguely from afar and superficially judges the woman as a drunkard as he can see her babbling but cannot hear her words.“Hannah was praying silently, her lips moved but her voice was not heard. Hers is the courage of a woman of faith who is weeping and grieving and asks the Lord for his grace. There are many good women in the...
(Vatican Radio) Italian actor Roberto Benigni said on Tuesday Pope Francis is “so full of mercy, you could sell it by the pound.”He was speaking during the presentation of Pope Francis’ book length interview with journalist Andrea Tornielli - entitled The Name of God is Mercy – which took place at the Patristic Institute "Augustinianum,” located near the Vatican.Benigni called the book “beautiful” and said it was possible to read portions “in five minutes, while waiting for a late train.”In an excited and exuberant presentation, he said “you cannot speak in moderation about this Pope.”“It’s a revolution, and it’s wonderful…I have done everything to see him,” he said.“The core of the ministry of Pope Francis is just this: Mercy,” Benigni said.The actor added that mercy is not “a virtue,” and “does not sit still for a second, but reaches out to sinners ...
(Vatican Radio) Anglican leaders from around the world on Tuesday conclude the second day of a meeting in Canterbury focused on healing divisions within the global communion.Philippa Hitchen takes a closer look:  Primates from all the 38 Anglican provinces, are attending the five day, closed door meeting in Canterbury Cathedral . They’re joined by the head of the Anglican Church in North America, established in 2009 in protest against what its founders saw as increasingly liberal teachings and practice within the Episcopalian tradition in Canada and the United States.Also addressing the meeting is Templeton Prize winner Jean Vanier, the 86 year old Catholic founder of the Arche communities for people living with disabilities.Despite fervid media speculation of a walk out by some bishops on the first day of the meeting, the participants gathered for a public evensong service on Monday, accompanied by young people from the new religious community of St Anselm, launched by...
(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, on Tuesday expressed his sorrow for the terrorist attack which took place in Istanbul, Turkey.“What is happening [in Turkey] pains us. What is happening there, what continues to repeat itself, confirms that the best medicine in the face of these evils is always mercy.”At least 10 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack Tuesday morning in the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul, near the city’s famous Blue Mosque.His words came in response to a sideline question at the presentation of Pope Francis’ new book The Name of God is Mercy.
(Vatican)  Pope Francis on Tuesday acknowledged the appointment of a new auxiliary bishop to a diocese in southern India’s Kerala state belonging to the eastern rite Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.   At its meeting at Mount Saint Thomas in Kerala, the  Syro-Malabar Church Synod elected Fr. Jose Pulickal as Auxiliary Bishop of Kanjirapally, headed by Bishop Mathew Arackal.  Unlike in the Latin-rite Church where the Pope directly appoints bishops, the synods of eastern-rite Catholic churches have the autonomy of appointing their own bishops, to which the Pope gives his assent.Born March 3, 1964, Fr.  Pulickal studied at the Minor seminary of Mary Matha.  After his priestly studies at St. Thomas Apostolic Seminary, Vadavathoor, he was ordained priest on Jan. 1, 1991.  After becoming the vicar of Kanjirapally Cathedral and director of ‎Snehashram Jesus Fraternity, he obtained a Master’s degree in biblical theology from St. Peter&rs...
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Embarking on his final year in office, President Barack Obama will use Tuesday's State of the Union address to present an optimistic vision built on economic progress under his watch while seeking to ease Americans' growing concern about national security and terrorism....
PARIS (AP) -- Six years before the IAAF banned Russia, track and field's governing body knew of doping so out of control it feared Russian athletes could die from abuse of blood-boosting drugs and transfusions, and officials considered collaborating with Russians to hide the full extent of the cheating before the 2012 London Olympics, according to internal documents obtained by The Associated Press....
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Pentagon says it briefly lost contact with two small Navy craft in the Persian Gulf on Tuesday but has received assurances from Iran that the crew and vessels will be returned safely and promptly....
BEIRUT (AP) -- Siege and starvation have left the rebel-held Syrian town of Madaya in a nightmarish state not seen elsewhere in the country, a U.N. official who traveled there said Tuesday, as some 300 residents fled and desperately needed humanitarian aid arrived....
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