One day after his release from captivity, Salesian priest Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil met with Pope Francis.
According to the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, the Pope welcomed the priest at his residence yesterday after his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square. Upon greeting the Pope, Fr. Uzhunnalil knelt before him and kissed his feet. Visibly moved by the gesture, the Pope helped him up and kissed his hands. Before blessing the priest, the Pope embraced him and said, he would continue to pray for him, as he had done during his imprisonment.
Father Uzhunnalil was kidnapped in March of last year from a home for the aged run by the Missionaries of Charity in Yemen. During the attack, four nuns and 12 others were murdered.
In other news from Rome, Pope Francis urged new bishops, to cultivate what he calls an “attitude of listening” and to avoid being “imprisoned by nostalgia.” Addressing a crowd of new bishops at the end of their annual Vatican training for new bishops, the Pope said, “that a bishop cannot truly discern God's will by lording over his flock. Rather he must listen to and participate in the lives of those entrusted to his care.”
"The bishop is not a self-sufficient 'father-ruler,' nor is he a frightened and isolated 'solitary shepherd”, he said. “A bishop's discernment is a "community action" that cannot disregard, "the richness of the opinion of his priests, deacons, the people of God and those, who can offer a useful contribution.”
One final piece of advice the Pope gave to the new bishops was this: "Remember that God was already present in your dioceses when you arrived and He will still be present when you have gone.” In the end, we will all be measured, not by an accounting of our works, but on the growth of God's work in the hearts of the flock that we watch over, in the name of the shepherd and guardian of our souls."
In the aftermath of the two catastrophic hurricanes in the US that destroyed the lives of many, the U.S. Bishops' Executive Committee is urging Catholics around the country to offer their prayers as well as financial support and volunteer help, where they can. "The massive scale of the dual disasters and the effect it has on communities, families, and individuals cannot be fully comprehended or adequately addressed in the immediate aftermath of the storms," the statement said, noting that "lives and livelihoods" were "still at risk in Texas, Florida, the Virgin Islands and throughout the Caribbean."
Beginning on Sept. 6, Hurricane Irma brought unprecedented flooding on Cuba's north coast, devastated the Florida Keys, Miami, and cities along Florida's Gulf Coast, leaving at least 37 people dead in the Caribbean and at least 19 deaths in the United States.More than a week earlier, Hurricane Harvey destroyed Houston and southern Texas and displaced more than 30,000 people, and prompted more than 17,000 rescues. The death toll from that storm stood at 70.
The Executive Committee said it shared "Pope Francis' trust that the Catholic faithful here in the United States, will respond to the needs presented by these disasters with a 'vast outpouring of solidarity and mutual aid in the best traditions of the nation." "We encourage", the statement continued, "the faithful to respond generously with prayers, financial support, and for those who have the opportunity, the volunteering of time and talents in support of those in need.”
To heed the call for help, the Knights of Columbus in Missouri City, Texas, organized a blood drive to support victims of Hurricane Harvey. Have a look:
That's all for this week. Join us again on Monday, when we bring you more news and stories from the Perspective of a Catholic lens.
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