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Pope Francis restores the good sense of Jesus

by Leonardo Boff, Theologian-Philosopher, Earthcharter Commission

Pope Francis' speeches are not framed either by the doctrines or dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church. It is not that he does not appreciate them, but that he understands that they are theological works created during different historical times. Those doctrines and dogmas provoked religious wars, schisms, excommunications, the burning of theologians and women (such as Joan of Arc and the women considered witches) at the stake of the Holy Inquisition. That lasted for several centuries and the author of these lines had a bitter experience in the cubicle where the accused were interrogated in the forbidding building of the former Inquisition, located to the left of the Basilica of Saint Peter.

Pope Francis has engendered a revolution in the thinking of the Church, returning to the praxis of the historical Jesus. He is restoring what is now called "The Tradition of Jesus", that precedes the present Gospels, written 30-40 years after His execution on the cross. The Tradition of Jesus, or as it is also called in The Acts of the Apostles, “the path of Jesus”, is grounded more on values and ideals than on doctrine. The essentials are  unconditional love, mercy, forgiveness, justice and preference for the poor and the outcast, and a total openness to God the Father. Jesus, to put it bluntly, did not intend to found a new religion. He wanted to teach us how to live. To live with fraternity, solidarity and caring for each other.

Vatican to undertake ecological initiatives during Easter season

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- During Holy Week and in the Easter season, the Vatican will take part in several initiatives highlighting the importance of ecology and the care for creation.

The Governorate of Vatican City State announced March 18 that the thousands of floral arrangements for the Easter morning Mass and the pope's solemn blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city and to the world), will be repurposed after the celebrations.

Thousands of bushes, flowering trees, tulips and other flowering bulbs, which are a gift of growers in the Netherlands, will be replanted in the Vatican gardens. The plants also will be distributed to various pontifical colleges and institutions "so that they may bloom in the coming years," the governorate said.

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Unique 'songs of sorrow' sung during Lent in Bangladesh

Dhaka: 

As darkness descends, Montu Tolentino makes his way to a house in Chorakhola village situated about 40-kilometers from Dhaka.

Once at the house the 45-year-old farmer joins around 30 Catholic villagers in singing traditional Lenten songs called koshter gaan (songs of sorrow).

"Koshter gaan is an important tradition we have been carrying out for generations," says Tolentino.

"Our families have handed down this tradition and we are proud to continue it," he says.

Read the article in UCAN News

Pope Francis: Year four begins

Pope Francis is now in the fourth year of his pontificate.

And in this relatively brief period of time one could say he's worked nothing short of a minor miracle in the way he's restored hope and enthusiasm among so many people in the church and beyond.

This has been especially true for those Catholics who eagerly embraced the reforms and the reforming spirit of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) only to grow weary and dejected in the nearly thirty-five years of exile they experienced under John Paul II and Benedict XVI, popes they saw as reversing the journey mapped out at Vatican II.

For them Francis's election has been nothing else if not proof that the Holy Spirit still shows up at the occasional conclave.

Read Robert Mickens' article in NCR