Sunday March 9th. 2014                                                                                        Charity registration No. SC 002876

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Cardinal Bergoglio's adoption of the name Francis on his election as Pope a year ago this coming week has had various interpretations, mostly associated with his desire for the Church to be of, and for, the poor. There is another, however, which relates to a famous mystical experience in the life of his thirteenth-century namesake. Having just returned from Rome, St Francis heard Christ's voice speaking from a crucifix in the Church of San Damiano outside Assisi, which was falling down. The voice said: "Go, Francis, and repair my Church in ruins:' In an address in 2010, Benedict XVI explained that though the saint was being called to restore that one small building ˜which he did - "its ruinous state was a symbol of the dramatic and disquieting situation of the Church herself", which Christ was also commanding him to repair. It is hard not to see that address as prophetic.

In the 12 months since his election, Pope Francis has started work on a comprehensive programme of renewal and rebuilding, ranging from reform of the Church's internal power structure to repairing relations with marginalised Catholics, with special attention to the situation of those who are divorced and remarried. This will be the focus of the first major landmark of his papacy, the special International Synod of Bishops that he has called for this autumn, with another planned for a year later on the same topic. When he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires,

he was aware how the lives of many Argentine Catholics were not in accordance with church doctrine in one respect or another, and the Church's rules seemed to exclude them from God's mercy. Along with poverty, mercy is one of his key messages. But he also seems determined that solutions to such problems should be sought not just in Rome but in all parts of the Church, which is why he sanctioned a unique consultation with bishops, clergy and laity all over the world.

He has yet to show what shape the Vatican Curia will take on in the light of his reforms, but it seems his intention is to make it an instrument of collegiality, where responsibility for the government of the Church is shared with the bishops. This is foreshadowed in his creation of a Council of Cardinals, whose very existence is itself a fundamental reform of how the papacy works. His recent profound shake-up of the system for administering the Vatican's finances shows he is not averse to bringing in outside expert help. And to the outside world, he has rapidly become the warm and friendly face of a new style of Catholicism, non-judgemental, unstuffy, approachable, endearing - and very photogenic. In a word, the Franciscan repair of today's Catholic Church has started well,

The Scottish Hierarchy meet in Glasgow on Sunday, March 30th, . All are welcome

This week Pope Francis celebrates his first year as Pope

His Bold Steps on the  Road to reform

The Joy of the Gospel

The book everyone is encouraged to read during Lent

Bishops throughout the world are encouraging people to read this book written by Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, which brings the teaching of Christ to us in  a very special way reminding us what Christ expects of each of us as his followers.

It is written in his own unique easy style, and has already influenced millions of people world wide.
There are twelve copies available this weekend at £7 each, and they will probably disappear very quickly, for the books are flying off bookshelves wherever they are displayed. Should you wish to obtain a copy for your Lenten reading please put your name on the sheet. It is £7 well spent!

Pope Francis reminds of  our responsibility as missionaries of the Gospel by the lives we lead and especially our desire to help the poor in any way we can, for in helping g them, we are serving Christ who said: whatever you do to the least, you do it to me. The book covers so many of the social and economic problems of our day, especially materialism and the moral laxity of our age where Christ’s commandments are ignored.


If you read this book during Lent as a spiritual exercise, reflect on it and  pray about what Pope Francis places before us, then our Lent will certainly be filled with many graces and our lives can take on a new direction.