During Mass in Casa Santa Marta last Monday, Pope Francis said: “If leaders do not pray, they close themselves off in a self-referential circle or in that of their party, a circle from which they cannot escape.”

He said it is important to be aware that we are all subordinate to someone more powerful. And those who are more powerful than political leaders, he suggested, are both the people who gave those leaders their power, “and God, from whom their power comes through the people”. Political leaders pray, said the Pope, when they are aware of being a subordinate.

He then recalled a conversation with a political leader who spent two hours before God every day, despite being tremendously busy. A leader must ask God, said the Pope, for the grace to govern well, like Solomon, who asked not for riches and gold but for the wisdom to govern.

Conversion is made a crime in Nepal

Religious leaders condemned a new law passed by the Parliament of Nepal under which anyone caught proselytising risks up to five years in prison. Moreover, anyone who “hurts the religious sentiment” of another confessional group faces up to two years in prison and a fine of 2,000 Nepalese rupees (€17)

The law will come into effect in August 2018. Since over 80 per cent of Nepal’s population are Hindus, minorities feel the legislation is designed to discourage their faith, especially Christianity.

Asia News spoke to Christian leaders, all of whom are appalled by the Parliament’s decision. Now they fear for their members and for religious freedom, which in theory is guaranteed by the country’s secular and democratic constitution adopted in 2015.

Vatican following Rohingya crisis

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States, confirmed that the Pope had raised his concerns with Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, during her private visit to the Vatican last May.

Gallagher added that the Vatican is closely following the plight of the Rohingya people. He said the country’s bishops will continue to put pressure on the government to stop the attacks on Rohingya villages and to respect the rights of these suffering people.

He also insisted that the tensions on the Korean penin­sula must be seen in a broader context of “unprecedented dangers” due to the worst global insecurity since World War II.

(Compiled by Fr Joe Borg)


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