LENTEN STATION CHURCHES: WEDNESDAY OF WEEK 2, ST. MARY MAJOR – VATICAN CLARIFIES EXPRESSION USED BY POPE IN PRIVATE EMAIL

There was no general audience today as the Pope continues his week of spiritual exercises with members of the Roman Curia in Casa Divin Maestro, a religious house in Ariccia, south of Rome. Vatican Radio reports that Pope Francis and the Roman Curia are in the middle of their weeklong retreat. According to L’Osservatore Romano, the retreat master, Carmelite Father Bruno Secondin, has shared reflections with the Curia on the prophet Elias. In his reflection, Fr. Secondin compared the worship of the false idols in Elias’ time with a modern-day religiosity that is interested in the superficial and in measures of faith “according to statistics.” He called the participants to authentic and “audacious” worship. The Pope and the Curia will conclude their Spiritual Exercises on Friday.

LENTEN STATION CHURCHES: WEDNESDAY OF WEEK 2, ST. MARY MAJOR

One of Rome’s oldest, most famous and most visited churches, the basilica of St. Mary Major, is today’s Lenten station church. There is an embarassment of riches when it comes to websites and photos of this great Marian basilica. You can start with the virtual visit courtesy of the Vatican website: http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/sm_maggiore/index_en.html

Then, I would visit Brian Lenz’s site, as we have been doing daily, thanks to his permission to give a link to his 2014 pilgrimage to and through the Lenten station churches: http://blenzinrome.blogspot.it/2014/03/wednesday-of-first-week-st-mary-major.html

And here is more on the basilica from the NAC website:

http://www.pnac.org/station-churches/week-1/wednesday-santa-maria-maggiore/

I took these photos two years ago at the August 5 “snowfall” of thousands of white rose petals from the ceiling of St. Mary Major (see above links to understand what’s behind the snowfall!).

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VATICAN CLARIFIES EXPRESSION USED BY POPE IN  PRIVATE EMAIL

In a recent personal and private letter that Pope Francis wrote to an Argentinian lawmaker, a phrase of his made national and international headlines. In that letter, Francis lamented the fact of the growth of drug use in Argentina, and said he hoped it would not lead to the “mexicanization” of the country. Today, Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, made a statement clarifying an expression used by Pope Francis in an informal and private email.

The Vatican Secretary of State, he said, has sent a note to the Mexican ambassador to the Holy See, explaining that Pope Francis had no intention of hurting the feelings of the Mexican people “whom he loves very much,” or of ignoring “the commitment of the Mexican in combatting drug trafficking.” Father Lombardi noted that the expression “to avoid mexicanization” had been used by the Holy Father in a “strictly private and informal email” in response to an Argentinian friend who is very committed to the struggle against drugs, and who had used the that expression.

“The note shows clearly that the Pope intended nothing else but to comment on the gravity of the phenomenon of drug trafficking afflicting Mexico and other Latin American countries,” Father Lombardi said. Precisely because of the seriousness of the situation, he continued, addressing the problem of drug trafficking “is a priority of the Government; to counter violence and to restore peace and serenity to Mexican families, by addressing the underlying causes of this plague.”

Father Lombardi said that drug trafficking is “a phenomenon, like others in Latin America” that the Holy Father has called attention to, even in meeting with Bishops, emphasizing the need for cooperation and consultation at all levels.