On a personal level, I was delighted yesterday to hear Pope Francis speak at the Sunday Angelus of World Leprosy Day, which is celebrated annually on January 30 since 1954. I also read a Message about this disease, also known as Hansen’s disease, from the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Dicastery prefect, Cardinal Michael Czerny noted that leprosy has been on the decline since a multi-drug therapy was introduced in the 1980s, but said the tropical disease is still devastating and neglected.

 In fact, over just the past year, over 127,000 cases of Hansen’s Disease were reported, with many leading to long-term complications.

As most of you know, Saints Damien and Marianne of Molokai were two prominent saints who worked with victims of leprosy in the 19th century in Hawaii. Joseph Dutton – a layman but called Brother Joseph by St. Damien – worked with each of them for a total 44 years, half his life. In fact, even after Mother Marianne’s death in 1918, Joseph continued to work with victims of leprosy on Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai. (The Chosen: Jesus heals a leper)

The Joseph Dutton Guild in the diocese of Honolulu, of which I am a member, chose a postulator last year and we are excited that the cause for canonization for Servant of God Joseph Dutton, is now fully underway! Another saintly person who worked to ease the pain and suffering of Hansen’s patients, to educate them, to make life as comfortable, even joyful, as possible.


Pope Francis urged members of Italy’s taxation authority to implement Gospel values as they work to favor the redistribution of wealth and support public services for society’s neediest members.

By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

The Pope met Monday with a delegation of the Agenzie delle Entrate, Italy’s revenue agency, and reflected on the Biblical roots of taxation and its purpose in society.

The theme of taxation, noted Pope Francis, appears regularly in the Bible, and was an aspect of every government that ruled over the Holy Land.

“The Bible,” he pointed out, “does not demonize money, but offers an invitation to use it correctly, to not become slaves to it, and not to turn it into an idol.”

Even the Biblical kings of Israel imposed taxes on their subjects, he said, making it part of life even in ancient times.

Biblical taxation

Tithing, said the Pope, is a little-known but interesting aspect of taxation, in which a tenth of a person’s revenue is given to the king, as Abraham did after he received a blessing from the priest-king Melchizedek.

The Old Testament book of Leviticus employed revenue from the pre-existing practice of tithing to support the priestly tribe of Levi, freeing them up from manual labor to serve in the Temple of God.

“The tithe for the Levites helped mature two realities in people’s consciences: that of not being self-sufficient, because salvation comes from God; and that of being responsible for one another, beginning from those most in need.”

Pope Francis also explored the conversions of the tax-collectors Zacchaeus and Matthew due to their personal encounters with Jesus.

“Matthew,” he said, “may have even continued to manage his own wealth, even those of others, but he certainly did so with a different logic: that of service to the needy and sharing with the brothers and sisters, just as the Teacher taught him.”