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Vatican City, Sep 17, 2014 / 09:54 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Blessed Joseph Vaz will soon become Sri Lanka's first saint after Pope Francis Sept. 17 advanced his cause for canonization by waiving the requirement for a second miracle.

The canonization of the 16th century cleric is expected to take place during the Holy Father's visit to Sri Lanka in January, 2015.

An Indian-born priest of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, Blessed Joseph Vaz (1651-1711) he became an “apostle” for Sri Lanka at a time when Catholics were suffering persecution at the hands of Calvinist Dutch rulers.

The soon-to-be declared saint was also also the  founder of the Oratory of the Holy Cross of Miracles in Goa.

Typically, two miracles attributed to a Blessed are required before he or she can be declared a saint.

Donald Prudlo, an associate professor of ancient and medieval history for Jacksonville State University, told CNA that it's within the realm of the Pope's authority to dispense with this second miracle.

He stressed, however, that the presence of at least one miracle is essential. Without this, “it would be difficult to call it a canonization in the strict sense...since at the very heart of public sanctity in the Church is holiness of life, confirmed by the testimony of God in miracles.”

An example of such a decision by a pontiff was evidenced earlier this year when Pope Francis canonized John XXIII without the presence of a second miracle.

“The Pope clearly wants to provide an example of holiness that is relatable to the people of Sri Lanka,” Prudlo said.

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2014 / 06:19 am (CNA/EWTN News).- At his weekly general audience Pope Francis spoke on what it means to evangelize, calling it apostolic work born of an encounter with Christ rather than lifeless efforts from the self-appointed “elect.”

He also asked for prayers for his upcoming trip to Albania on Sept. 21, saying that his choice to visit the country was because of the suffering endured on account of “a terrible atheist regime and is now realizing peaceful coexistence among its various religious components.”

Earlier in the morning, Pope Francis offered catechesis to those gathered in the square, reflecting on the words “catholicity” and “apostolic.”

The Church, the Pope said, shows her “catholicity” – or “universality” – by speaking all languages which is the effect of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit gave to the apostles and the whole Church the gift of proclaiming the good news of God's salvation and love to all, even to the ends of the earth.”

The Church is also by its nature missionary, “given to evangelization and encounter” – in other words, apostolic.

In off-the-cuff remarks, Pope Francis noted how today the Gospel is available in every language. For this reason, he said, it is a good habit to carry a copy of the Gospel with us in our pocket or purse to read throughout the day.

“The Gospel is available in every language,” he said, “because the Church, the message of Jesus Christ redeemer, is in all the world.” This is why one can say that the Church is Catholic, and universal.

To say that the Church is born Catholic, the Pope said, is to say that it is “born to go out” – “born missionary.”

Had the apostles remained in the Upper Room without going out to proclaim the Gospel, he continued, the Church would have consisted solely of the people in that city, in the Upper Room.

“But they all went out to the world,” he said, “from the moment of the Church's birth, from the moment in which the Holy Spirit came, and for this reason, the Church was born “in going out” – that is, missionary.

Pope Francis added that those of us living today are in “continuity” with the Apostles who went out after having received the Holy Spirit.

The Church's call to proclaim the Gospel, showing the “tenderness and power of God,” the Pope continued, “flows from Pentecost.”

He also warned against sentiments of those Christians who see themselves as being among the “elect,” saying that they die, first in spirit then in body.
“Such people do not have life,” he said, nor do they “have the capacity to generate life... they are not apostles.”

Rather, he said, “the Spirit compels us to encounter our brothers and sisters, even those most distant from us in every way, to share with them the love, peace, and joy of the Risen Lord.”

Vatican City, Sep 16, 2014 / 08:31 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis’ upcoming Albanian visit will highlight Mother Teresa, honor the martyrs of Albania’s atheistic past, and suggest the country’s potential as a model for religious coexistence.

Holy See Press Office director Father Federico Lombardi, S.J. discussed the motives for Pope Francis’ Sept. 21 trip in a press briefing Tuesday.

The Albanian-born Blessed Mother Teresa will be an important figure for Pope Francis’ trip, he said.

“In Albania, Mother Teresa is a national heroine, as well as a figure of extraordinary Christian holiness,” Fr. Lombardi explained.

He observed that Albania was the first officially atheistic state. The Pope’s desire to honor those martyred under atheistic communism is a major motive for the trip.

During an Aug. 18 interview on the flight home from South Korea, the Pope noted that Albania was the only country in the region to practice “practical atheism.” He noted that hundreds of Catholic and Orthodox churches were destroyed under the communist government, while other churches were turned into cinemas or dance halls.

Pope Francis also praised Albania’s formation of “a government of national unity” among Muslims, Orthodox and Catholic Christians.

The Pope aims to foster interreligious coexistence in the only majority Muslim country in Europe, Fr. Lombardi said at the Sept. 16 briefing.

The Albania visit will be Pope Francis’ fourth international voyage and his first visit as Pope to a European country outside Italy.

St. John Paul II was the first Pope to visit Albania. During his 1993 visit, John Paul II “practically re-established the (Catholic) hierarchy” by ordaining four bishops in Shkoder Cathedral, Fr. Lombardi said.

The press office director suggested that John Paul II will be another significant figure for Pope Francis’ Albanian visit.

Pope Francis will only be in Albania for one full day. He will visit Albanian president Bujar Nishani at the presidential palace and then address other civil authorities. He will then celebrate Mass at Mother Teresa Square in the national capital of Tirana. After the Mass and the Angelus prayers, he will lunch with Albania’s bishops at the apostolic nunciature.

In the afternoon, Pope Francis will visit Tirana’s Catholic university to meet with leaders of Christian denominations and religious communities in Albania.

He will celebrate vespers in Tirana’s Cathedral of St. Paul with priests, vowed religious, seminarians and participants in the local diocese’s lay movements.

At the end of his visit, he will visit children at the Bethany Center, which cares for abandoned children. He will also meet representatives from other charities in Albania.

Pope Francis will leave Albania following a farewell ceremony at Tirana’s international airport, which has been named for Mother Teresa.
 

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