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LOURDES

Pope Francis pushes for more prayer and less business at Lourdes shrine

Pope Francis has named a special envoy to prioritise spirituality at the Roman Catholic shrine at Lourdes in France over "managerial and financial" aspects.

Pope Francis pushes for more prayer and less business at Lourdes shrine
Lourdes is one of the most revered sites for the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. Photo: AFP
The Italian press said Friday that the nomination of Lille auxiliary Bishop Antoine Herouard is seen as the equivalent of placing the holy spring in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains under supervision.
 
Lourdes is one of the most revered sites for the world's 1.2 billion Catholics because the town is said to be where the Virgin Mary appeared to a peasant girl in a grotto.
 
“Pope Francis, who has this case very much at heart, wishes to accentuate the spiritual primacy over the temptation to overemphasise the managerial and 
financial aspect,” the official Vatican News website said.
   
The pope wants centres of Marian devotion to be “ever more a place of prayer and of Christian witness corresponding to the needs of the People of God.”
   
A former Renault manager, Guillaume de Vuilpan, was put in charge of Lourdes in 2017, and has introduced new products at the site.
   
The shrine returned to profit in 2018 after 10 years in the red, accumulating losses of 10 million euros.
   
Last year, 1.2 million pilgrims visited the site, half of them on organised tours.
 
 
Photo: AFP
 
 

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CATHOLICISM

Pope holds record meeting with French president Macron at the Vatican

French President Emmanuel Macron made his first official visit to the Vatican on Tuesday where he held a record meeting with Pope Francis.

Pope holds record meeting with French president Macron at the Vatican
The tete-a-tete between the Argentine pontiff and Macron in the Vatican's ornate library lasted 57 minutes — the longest between Francis and a head of state.
   
Past talks between the pope and a president have never exceeded 50 minutes.
   
Francis spoke with former US president Barack Obama for 50 minutes and with his successor Donald Trump for 30 minutes.  
   
Faith and the sensitive subject of the role of the church in French society were thought to be among the topics for discussion, as was the thorny issue of 
migration, currently casting deep divisions within the European Union.
 
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Pope Francis (C) smiles next to French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and his wife Brigitte on June 26th. Photo: AFP
 
Macron made the visit after deciding to accept being made an honorary canon of St John Lateran, the cathedral of Rome, a tradition dating back to the 15th 
century when the French state and church were indistinguishable.
   
Several of Macron's predecessors have declined the title, including socialists Francois Mitterrand and Francois Hollande, in order to avoid associating themselves with religious imagery.
   
France is strictly secular under a landmark 1905 law that separated the state from the church.
   
Macron's decision to accept the title has drawn particular scrutiny at home following comments in April in which he said he wanted to “repair” the “bond” 
between church and state.
 
Photo: AFP
   
Francis and the French president smiled and embraced each other as they left their meeting.
   
The French president offered the Pope a 1949 edition in Italian of “The Diary of a Country Priest” by French Catholic writer Georges Bernanos.
   
Francis presented Macron with a bronze medal of Saint Martin, a fourth century symbol of generosity, and the main texts from his papacy.
   
Giving the medal to Macron, the Pope said it was the “vocation of those in government to protect the poorest”.
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