In March 2016, Pope Francis released a document entitled Amoris Laetitia about the family. In it, the pontiff discusses marriage and his position on divorced Catholics who remarry civilly. For a long time, the Church has always taught that those who separate after a Catholic sacramental marriage and remarry in the civil way, cannot receive Holy Communion. In Chapter eight, the pope indicated that this could change through "discernment regarding the possible access to the sacraments of some of those who are divorced and in a new union." He chose his words carefully for the understanding in the Catholic world and beyond. A whole series of dialogue continues whether remarried couples in the civil way can receive Holy Communion.
Prior to this exhortation by Pope Francis, there were two Synods of Bishops on the Family in October 2014 and in 2015 in Rome. The pope seems to indicate that his position in Amoris Laetitia is based on the fruits of these two synods. Many dioceses all over the Catholic world have been studying the exhortation carefully in order not to water down the centuries-old teaching of the Church. Remarried couples like any other Catholics, need salvation through the reception of the sacraments of the Church. But this does not mean that the teachings of the Church should be reduced to accommodate couples who do not remarry in the Church but choose to do so in the civil way. By not recognizing the importance of the sacrament of marriage, they alienate themselves from Holy Communion.READ MORE
The story of Zacchaeus is a popular biblical discourse that bible students never easily forget because "he was short in stature." The story of Zacchaeus is always interesting to read. I often ask myself why Zacchaeus had to give half his possessions to the poor or promise to repay four times all those he had extorted. I often ask myself why a man of great wealth could dispose of it for no just reason. Was he excited by meeting Jesus? Finding answers to these questions to know the state of mind of Zacchaeus may be difficult. But reflecting on the story reveals that he desired a better life. The gospel tells us that he was from Jericho, and he was the chief tax collector of that town. By knowing his profession, we can say that he was familiar with cash flows. I can imagine how much money he extorted from the citizens on behalf of the Romans.
From reading biblical commentaries, I know that tax collectors increased percentages on amounts they collected in order to cover their administrative costs. As the chief tax collector, I imagine that Zacchaeus had a staff that was large and aggressive in collecting taxes. This job gave him fame and made him infamous for two reasons. While the Roman authorities pressured Zacchaeus to collect taxes for the numerous projects of the empire, he, in turn, pressured the citizens to pay or be locked up. Some unlucky citizens were even sold to cover their taxes. The Romans considered tax evasion a criminal offense. So, imagine Zacchaeus in the middle of these two sides: always receiving and always giving.READ MORE
Many years ago, Catholics were taught that politics is a dirty venture and that politicians speak from both sides of their mouths. They say one thing today and tomorrow their interest shifts to another. Henry Kissinger, the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former Secretary of State once said, "America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests." While the interpretation of this saying can vary depending on political ideology, this makes the subject of politics a heated one. Politicians do not have permanent friends or enemies but self-interests that serve their goals. The three presidential debates leading to the US elections on November 8, have given us inklings to what politicians can do or can say just to clinch the exalted position of president.READ MORE
The dishonest judge in today's gospel is a story told by Jesus to illustrate to us how persistence, of any kind, can pay off at the end. Although the dishonest judge neither feared God nor man, he was moved by pity to render justice to the widow. The words Jesus used in describing the two actors are perfect for understanding the situation. "While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me, I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me." The widow feared that justice could be perverted against her. The hope she had was persisting until the judge was on her side.READ MORE
Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease (HD), is an infectious disease that afflicts mostly the skin and eyes. It causes great discomfort to the victim. The good news is that modern medicine can cure leprosy now with the right doses of antibiotics. The bad news is that at the time of Jesus, lepers were not so lucky with any cure. They were removed from the community and kept at the outskirt of any town to prevent infecting whole communities. The isolation of lepers from the community is still practiced as a precautionary measure against the rise of an epidemic. We may liken leprosy to the epidemic of Ebola which has devastated communities in Africa. Medical science is still battling to provide a cure to this virus.READ MORE
According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (2010), 32% of the world's population professes the Christian faith. The largest numbers of Christians are found in Mexico with over 107 million that is 95% of the population; Brazil has 175 million that is 90.2% of the population; and the United States has 246 million Christians that is 79.5% of the population. In another perspective, Europe has 25.9% Christians, Sub-Saharan Africa has 23.6% Christians, the Americas have 36.6% Christians, the East Pacific has 13.1% Christians, and the Middle East and North Africa has 0.06% Christians.
From the numbers and statistics above, we can see that Christianity has a large following across the world. We can notice that the birthplace of Christianity has base number. Persecution and immigration account for the low stats. However, the number of world Christians is 2.2 billion constituting 32% out of the over 7 billion population of the world.READ MORE