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FORUM: ‘Throwback Thursday: The Mercy of Hospitality’

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 7:03 AM

Below is a reflection of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, entitled ‘Throwback Thursday: The Mercy of Hospitality’ from Cardinal Wuerl’s blog:


Travel to any community in the country and you will likely find motels, hotels and restaurants that are happy to provide you – for a price – a room for the night or a hot meal.  So extensive is the modern hospitality industry that some schools even offer degrees in managing these services.  It is all a very convenient and useful social good.

Traditionally, however, the concept of hospitality has had a rather different meaning, one that did not involve the payment of money in return.  This older concept of hospitality, observed in many cultures, more resembled the gratuitous reception that is given now to family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and other guests.

On this smaller, more personal level, it is an almost ingrained ethic today to ask a visitor – whether in the home or the office – “Welcome. Would you like something to drink?  Something to eat?”  A good host wants his or her guest to be comfortable.  We open our homes also for holidays, parties, graduations, funerals, and we host wedding receptions, offering food, drink, sometimes entertainment or a place to stay, and just as important, camaraderie.

Mothers and grandmothers are especially renowned for their hospitality, not only to their own family members, but to others as well.  How many of us remember going to a friend’s house when we were growing up and being asked if we were staying for dinner?

This hospitality extends outside the home as well, expressed in etiquette and social conventions of holding the door for others, giving up your seat to a pregnant woman or older person, offering a portion of your lunch to someone who has none.  Our parishes too should be places of warm welcome and sustenance.  In these small ways, these small mercies, we help make the world a little bit better.

This attitude of hospitality and warm welcome, sometimes expressed as, “Mi casa es su casa – My house is your house,” was in older times even freely extended to complete strangers and travelers, rich and poor alike, including foreigners.  Before the age of interstate highways and pervasive hotels and restaurants, it was understood to be a vital social virtue, religious ethic and moral duty for both the elite and common people to open their doors and show generosity and courtesy to those away from home and widows and orphans too.  Of course, the clergy and monasteries of the Church opened their spiritual homes as well to provide hospitality to people in need.

The roots of this hospitality go back to the ancient world.  Particularly in places like the desert regions of the Middle East, access to water, food and shelter was a matter of life and death for a traveler.  God in his mercy had provided these necessities to his chosen people and so he instructs them, “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:34).  The Lord commands this kindness be shown to even foreigner travelers despite foreign domination being a constant prime concern of Israel.

Holy Scripture provides an example of the hospitality we should practice when the Lord appeared to Abraham in the form of three men.  Abraham waited on this manifestation of the Trinity, providing food, shelter from the hot sun, and water for the three visitors to wash their feet.  The Lord then blesses Abraham and his wife Sarah with a son in their old age (Genesis 18:1-16).  In the First Book of Kings, we read how the widow Zarephath received the prophet Elijah and, even though she was in dire straits with her food nearly gone, she gave him a portion.  Again God gives his blessing – Zarephath is given enough food to survive and when her son dies, the Lord restores him to life (1 Kings 17:8-24).

“Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels,” we are told (Hebrews 13:2).  Having been received in mercy by the Lord, hospitality is among the essential qualities that he expects of his good and faithful people, including concern not only for family and friends, but for those we do not know, for domestic travelers, foreign immigrants and refugees, and for all who are downtrodden, vulnerable and marginalized.

Whether it is in the home, at work, in the Church, or in our nation, as a matter of justice and gratitude for what we have been given, we are called to be welcoming and hospitable to others.  By these acts of gratuitousness, we help build up the kingdom of God.


On the NET:

To the original post on Cardinal Wuerl’s blog:  http://cardinalsblog.adw.org/2017/12/christmas-invitations-gifts/

ANNOUNCEMENT: Pope Francis to Visit Rome’s Greek-Catholic Community of Ukrainians

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 6:18 AM

Pope Francis will visit Rome’s Greek-Catholic Ukrainian community later this month.

This was announced in a statement of the Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Greg Burke, this morning.

“Welcoming the invitation of His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halyč of the Ukrainians,” the statement read, “Pope Francis will visit the Basilica of Santa Sofia in Rome on Sunday, January 28, 2018, at 4 p.m., and will meet the Greek-Catholic Community of Ukraine.”

Man & Woman: Science & Faith on Equality, Difference, and Complementarity

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 3:53 PM

Helen M. Alvaré will discuss “Legal Foundations and History of Male / Female in Jurisprudence” in the Newman Lecture series January 25, 2018, at Divine Mercy University (DMU), Arlington, Virginia.

Visit the DMU website to register to attend: Newman Lecture. You also can watch the event live and free on the DMU Facebook Page or on the university’s YouTube Site.

The 2017-2018 Newman Lecture series seeks to explore what science and faith have to offer on the equality, difference, and complementarity of man and woman. Man and woman are equal in value and dignity. They are also equally human. Nonetheless, in addition to many similarities, there are also significant differences that, when understood, can be seen as the basis for their unique complementarity. This 2017-2018 series identifies the psychological, social, economic, philosophical, legal, and spiritual dimensions of being man or woman, in the light of the truth that Christ brings to understanding the human reality

Helen Alvaré is a Professor of Law at Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University, where she teaches Family Law, Law and Religion, and Property Law. She publishes on matters concerning marriage, parenting, non-marital households, and the First Amendment religion clauses. She is faculty advisor to the law school’s Civil Rights Law Journal, and the Latino/a Law Student Association, a consultor for the Pontifical Council of the Laity (Vatican City), an advisor to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (Washington, D.C.), founder of WomenSpeakforThemselves.com, and an ABC news consultant. She cooperates with the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations as a speaker and a delegate to various United Nations conferences concerning women and the family.

Divine Mercy University (DMU) is a Catholic graduate school of psychology and counseling, founded in 1999 as the Institute for the Psychological Sciences.  The University is dedicated to the scientific study of psychology with a Catholic understanding of the person, marriage, and the family.  The University offers Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctoral (Psy.D.) degrees in Clinical Psychology, a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Psychology and a Master of Science (M.S.) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.



The Other Francis

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 12:33 PM
‘The Other Francis’: Cardinals, Leaders of the Church, Pope’s Relatives & Friends Share Unfiltered Accounts of Their Francis

In Deborah Castellano Lubov’s New Book, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin’s Preface Leads Into Many Conversations

Church Statistics for Chile and Peru

Apostolic Journey January 15-22, 2018

Cardinal Parolin: ‘That the Curia Might Become Truly An Aid to the Pope’

Interview with Vatican News: Amoris Laetitia Arose from a New Paradigm that Francis Is Carrying Forward with Wisdom. The Church Asks Young People for Their Contribution in Spreading the Gospel

Man & Woman: Science & Faith on Equality, Difference, and Complementarity

Helen M. Alvaré to Speak at Divine Mercy University January 25, 2018: Livestream Available

Cuba, Two Years Later: Cardinal Koch and Metropolitan Hilarion at Vienna

‘Good Relations,’ says Father Destivelle, OP

Peru: Vatican Comes to the Aid of a Lay Association

A Redemptorist Is Appointed “Commissioner”

Poland: In the Parliament: 277 Votes for the Pro-Life Draft Law, Against – 134  

Draft aims to abolish the admissibility of eugenic abortion

Cuba, Two Years Later: Cardinal Koch and Metropolitan Hilarion at Vienna

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 11:17 AM

“Good relations” exist “at present between the Holy See and the Patriarchate of Moscow,” said Dominican priest Hyacinthe Destivelle, who heads the Bureau of Oriental Relations of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

A new reunion will take place at Vienna on February 12, 2018, to mark the second anniversary of the historic meeting between Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill at Havana in 2016, he said in an interview with Vatican News in English on January 5, 2018, a milestone prepared also for the great Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25, 2018).

Meeting at Vienna

They will meet in the Austrian capital, at the invitation of Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn; Metropolitan Hilarion, President of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Father Destivelle pointed out that the meeting in Cuba “opened a new phase in our relations,” leading to loan the Russian Church relics of Saint Nicholas, viewed by more than two million people in Moscow and St. Petersburg, as well as the visit to Russia of the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. It’s the first visit of a Vatican Secretary of State to Russia since 1999.

The Dominican Father also said that the joint working group, founded after the Havana meeting, is working on cultural and spiritual projects. “Spiritual ecumenism and especially the ecumenism of Saints is very important, he stressed, to remind us that “unity won’t be the fruit of our efforts,” but, rather, the work of the Holy Spirit and the prayers of the Saints.

Cultural Events

Cultural events, such as study visits for young priests or concerts are also important to recognize that “although our cultures are different, we share the same faith,” continued Father Destivelle. Although he said he wasn’t aware of a papal plan to visit Moscow at this time, the Dominican priest emphasized the fact that such spiritual and cultural initiatives were essential to “prepare mentalities” for such a visit.

Although Catholics have been sensitive to the ecumenical problems since Vatican II, the Orthodox Church has suffered at this time and even if there have been high-level exchanges, “the people of God were not really involved in all these contacts,” explained the priest.

Finally, Father Destivelle mentioned the theological dialogue with the 14 Orthodox Churches, pointing out that the adoption of last year’s “Chieti document” is probably also a fruit of good relations existing at present between the Holy See and the Patriarchate of Moscow.”

A Pedagogy Is Still Necessary

In connection with the dialogue with Russian Orthodoxy, observers confided to ZENIT that there certainly is a will of the Patriarch and his entourage to improve relations with Catholics but, at the same time, strong opposition remains, notably on the part of Bishops, but also of the people, among the “simple” people, who are far from all the theological battles, but who consider themselves guardians of the “traditions” and of the “purity” of the Orthodox faith.

Thus, for instance, some don’t see the loan of Saint Nicholas’ relics as a gesture of friendship on the part of the Catholic Church. For them, he is a great Orthodox Saint; so, it’s altogether normal that his relics are exposed in Russia! The same observers believe the Bishops don’t dare pronounce themselves in public, but they were unhappy with the meeting of the Patriarch and the Pope.

In sum, a true pedagogy is still to be implemented; it’s also the raison d’etre of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester




Cardinal Parolin: ‘That the Curia Might Become Truly An Aid to the Pope’

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 10:58 AM

In regard to the Reform, Cardinal Pietro Parolin said, in an interview with Vatican News on several issues, that the aim is “that the Curia may become truly an aid to the Pope.

Recalling the steps already taken in the realm of the works of the C9, the Cardinal spoke of conversion and described it as “the profound spirit that should animate every reform,” as well as “the fundamental dimension of the Christian life.”

Among the topics addressed, including Amoris Laetitia, which “arose from a new paradigm that Pope Francis is carrying forward with wisdom, with prudence and also with patience,” he specified. The document is a request of help for families, “in addition to being an embrace of the Church of families and their problems in today’s world,” added Cardinal Parolin.

Moreover, the Vatican Secretary of State stressed that in 2018 the Church will concentrate on young people, and will do so following an innovative approach: “asking them what they can do for the Church and what contribution they can make to the spread of the Gospel.”

In the interview, which is available in a video version on the www.vaticannews.va  site, the conversation pauses finally on the imminent Apostolic Journey to Chile and Peru. There are two challenges, according to Cardinal Parolin, which the Pope has at heart”: the role of the indigenous population and the fight against corruption. “I believe it won’t be a simple trip, but truly exciting,” he concluded.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester



Peru: Vatican Comes to the Aid of a Lay Association

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 10:48 AM

The Vatican has come to the aid of the  “Association of Christian Life” of Peru, indicated the Holy See, appointing a “Commissioner,” as the Association’s Founder was declared guilty of abuse, days before the Pope’s trip to the country (January 18-21, 2018).

On Wednesday, January 10, 2018, the Roman Dicastery for Consecrated Life promulgated a Decree by which it puts under a sort of tutelage the Society of Apostolic Life called Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (Association of Christian Life).

The Dicastery appointed Monsignor Noel Antonio Londono Buitrago, Redemptorist (C.Ss.R.) Bishop of Jericho, Antioquia, Colombia, Apostolic Commissioner of this Association.

Cardinal Joseph William Tobin, also a Redemptorist, continues to be the referent of the Roman Dicastery, delegate for this Association and, in particular, for what concerns the economic issues.

The same press release points out that Pope Francis “has followed with concern all the information that has arrived for several years, at the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, on the situation of the Association of Christian Life.

The Pontiff” showed that he was particularly attentive to the gravity of the information concerning the interior regime, the formation, and economic and financial management, the reason for which he asked the Dicastery repeatedly for particular attention.”

Added recently to this are the serious measures adopted by the Peruvian Judiciary against M. Luis Fernando Figari,” a lay Catholic, Founder in 1971 and former Superior General of this Association, recognized as an International Association of Lay Faithful of Pontifical Right in 1994: other communities are linked to it.

“After a thorough analysis of all the documentation, the Dicastery promulgated the Decree,” putting the Association under a sort of tutelage.

The present Superior General, Alessandro Moroni, apologized in a video posted on YouTube in Spanish, with English subtitles. He asked the victims for pardon as well as those that for years denounced the situation with getting an answer, the consecrated members, the priests and the laymen, for those responsible who did not live “up to the standards,” and all those that “take part” in the Association’s works.

He said that Luis Fernando Figari is guilty of abuse against him and that he became a “persona non grata.” He denounced the Founder’s “lamentable past,” and “sad and condemnable “acts. Some 30 complaints were filed against the Founder, who in his youth frequented extreme right milieus, and was guilty of sexual and psychological abuses and abuse of power. He resigned in December 2010 for “reasons of health.”

Alessandro Moroni revealed that he spoke with Pope Francis last December, requesting the exclusion of the Founder.

And he announced a period of penance and renewal of the Catholic Association: an “integral reform” for a “new Sodalitium,” in order to “write a new history.”

It seems that the Vatican’s Decree responds to this appeal.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester



Church Statistics for Chile and Peru

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 9:45 AM

Pope Francis will visit Chile and Peru from January 15-22, 2018.  Here are statistics of the Catholic Church in Chile and Peru as of 31 December 2015 (from the Central Office for Church Statistics)

Table 1 – Population and ecclesiastical structure

Table 2 – People engaged in activities of the apostolate

Table 3 – Indicators of pastoral workload

Table 4 – Priestly Vocations

Table 5 – Educational centers owned/managed by ecclesiastics or religious

Table 6 – Charitable and social centers owned/managed by ecclesiastics or religious


The following are some statistical data relating to the situation of the Catholic Church in Chile and Peru as of 31 December 2015:


Table 1 – Population and ecclesiastical structure

  Chile Peru Area (km2) 756,626 1,285,216 Population (in thousands) 18,006 31,152 Density (inhabitants/km2) 24 24 Catholics (in thousands) 13,329 27,911 Catholics per 100 inhabitants 74.0 89.6 Ecclesiastical circumscriptions 27 45 Parishes 960 1,645 Other pastoral centres 3,779 6,303 Catholics per pastoral center 2,813 3,512


Table 2 – People engaged in activities of the apostolate

  Chile Peru Bishops (Situation on 15.12.2017) 50 68 Diocesan priests 1,175 2,088 Religious priests 1,108 1,273 Total priests 2,283 3,361 Permanent deacons 1,138 65 Men religious (other than priests) 546 422 Professed women religious 4,006 5,568 Members of secular Institutes 472 179 Lay missionaries 1,473 11,120 Catechists 43,547 51,367


Table 3 – Indicators of pastoral workload

  Chile Peru Catholics per priest 5,838 8,304 Catholics per pastoral worker 249 387 Priests per pastoral center 0.48 0.42 Priests per 100 people engaged in activities of the apostolate 4.36 4.75


Table 4 – Priestly Vocations

  Chile Peru Minor seminarians 39 689 Major seminarians 568 1,539 Major seminarians per 100,000 inhabitants

  3.15 4.94 Major seminarians per 100,000 Catholics 4.26 5.51 Major seminarians per 100 priests 24.88 45.79


Table 5 – Educational centers owned/managed by ecclesiastics or religious

  Chile Peru Schools: Pre-school and primary 957 995 Lower middle and secondary 597 524 Higher and university 27 90 Students in: Pre-school and primary schools 258,366 248,171 Lower middle and secondary schools 392,582 196,165 Higher and university institutes 321,105 68,768


Table 6 – Charitable and social centers owned/managed by ecclesiastics or religious

  Chile Peru Hospitals 18 38 Clinics 39 323 Leper colonies 1 4 Homes for the elderly and disabled 318 90 Orphanages and nurseries 205 244 Family consultation centers 30 145 Special centers for social education or rehabilitation 43 36 Other institutions 447 581



Poland: In the Parliament: 277 Votes for the Pro-Life Draft Law, Against – 134  

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 7:01 AM


For the draft, which aims to abolish the admissibility of eugenic abortion, voted 277 parliamentarians from the lower house of the Polish parliament (Sejm), while 134 voted against it at first reading. The Sejm has directed the draft law, which was submitted by the Legislative Initiative Committee “Halt Abortion” (Zatrzymaj aborcje) for further work. The Sejm did not agree to further work on a leftist draft law liberalizing the abortion rules.

“Halt Abortion” (Zatrzymaj aborcje) is a civic legislative initiative submitted by the Legislative Initiative Committee of the same name. It has one postulate – to cancel eugenic abortion from the Polish law, i.e. the possibility of killing a child due to the suspicion of illness or disability. The draft law was signed by 830,000 Poles. In the discussion it was emphasized that there can be no discrimination on the basis of an illness.

At the same meeting, the Sejm rejected at first reading the draft law on women’s rights and conscious parenthood submitted by left-wing organizations. A total of 202 parliamentarians voted against the draft submitted by the Legislative Initiative Committee “Let’s save women 2017”. 194 parliamentarians were against and 7 abstained from voting.

The draft assumed the introduction of abortion almost without any restrictions – the woman would have the right to abortion at her own request before the end of the 12th week of pregnancy. After this period, the killing of conceived children would be acceptable if the pregnancy represents a threat to a woman’s life or health; there is a likelihood of severe and irreversible impairment of the fetus or an incurable disease that threatens his or her life; or when pregnancy is the result of rape. About 200,000 Poles signed up for this draft, which is four times less than to the pro-life draft.

Here is a letter of the Presidium of the Polish Episcopate provided to Zenit:


Presidium of the Polish Episcopate thanks the organizers, volunteers, signatories and parliamentarians voting for life

– On behalf of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, we thank the organizers of the civic legislative initiative “Halt abortion”, volunteers collecting signatures, 830,000 of citizens who have signed up to this draft law and all the parliamentarians who – by voting for life – supported this civic draft law. We trust that soon the legal guarantees to protect the lives of the weakest will be increased by stopping eugenic abortion – to quote from the Communication of the Presidium of the Polish Bishops’ Conference from January 11, 2018.

We publish the entire Communication:

Communication of the Presidium of the Polish Bishops’ Conference regarding the proceeding of a civic legislative initiative enhancing the protection of the right to life

On behalf of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, we thank the organizers of the civic legislative initiative “Halt abortion”, volunteers collecting signatures, 830,000 of citizens who have signed up to this draft law and all the parliamentarians who – by voting for life – supported this civic draft law. We trust that soon the legal guarantees to protect the lives of the weakest will be increased by stopping eugenic abortion.

A few days ago Pope Francis – speaking to diplomats from around the world – said that seventy years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted, fundamental rights are still being violated. “First among all of these – emphasized the Pope – is the right of every human person to life, liberty and personal security. It is not only war or violence that infringes these rights.  In our day, there are more subtle means: I think primarily of innocent children discarded even before they are born, unwanted at times simply because they are ill or malformed, or as a result of the selfishness of adults” (Vatican, January 8, 2018).

In the context of the ongoing work on the aforementioned civic draft law, we are asking for prayer for the protection of the right to life.


Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki

Metropolitan of Poznan

President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference


Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski

Metropolitan of Cracow

Vice-President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference


Bishop Artur G. Mizinski

General Secretary of the Polish Bishops’ Conference


Warsaw, January 11, 2018


‘The Other Francis’: Cardinals, Leaders of the Church, Pope’s Relatives & Friends Share Unfiltered Accounts of Their Francis

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 6:44 PM

The ambitious objective, stated already on the book’s cover, is to offer the reader a portrait of the “Other Francis,” namely, to tell all that has never been said about Pope Francis. Not an easy task, given the impressive amount of volumes dedicated to Francis, which already crowd the shelves of bookstores.

The author is the American journalist – but transplanted to Rome – Deborah Castellano Lubov, Vaticanista of Zenit. “The Other Francis,” (L’Altro Francesco’) (published in Italian by the prestigious publishing house Cantagalli of Siena, but which soon will be translated into English) contains a preface by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and 14 interviews with personalities of the Roman Curia (and of the Church), spread throughout the five continents, and relatives and friends of the Argentine Pontiff.

However, not lacking in these 200 pages is interesting original news, information, revelations, and sometimes even courageous opinions about the Argentine Pope and various timely questions raised by him. Jorge Mario Bergoglio is a simple and friendly man, who likes to joke a lot, but who is also the Pope who has been able to focus the attention of all humanity on the topics most dear to him: human dignity, unbridled globalization, the distribution of wealth, the safeguarding of Creation.

* * *


Cardinal Pietro Parolin

The Interviewees:

Cardinal Gerhard Muller, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Cardinal George Pell, Cardinal Peter Turkson, Maria Elena Bergoglio, Cardinal Kurt Koch, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, Patriarch F.B. Fouad Twal, Archbishop Joseph Edward Kurtz, Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Adrian Pallarols, and Rabbi Abraham Skorka

* * *

Who is “The Other Francis” (L’Altro Francesco) to which you make reference in the title?

A man that first of all wants to be considered and treated as a “normal” person, even if now, Cardinal Koch told me, it disappoints him that he can no longer easily agree to meet Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at a bar in Rome’s Piazza Navona to have a cappucchino together.

From your many interviews, one would say he is a very friendly man with quite a sense of humor . . .

Indeed! Cardinal Dolan of New York also bore the brunt of it, because, as he told me, he is a ‘man of girth.’ Yet, he told me:  “But thus, I feel immediately at ease with him,” he told me. Cardinal Dolan’s interview shares quite a few fun, heartwarming anecdotes with Francis, especially from when the Pontiff visited New York in September of 2015.

Or Rabbi Abraham Skorka, who then became his great friend. They were in the Cathedral of Buenos Aires, after a solemn celebration. Cardinal Bergoglio made a joke to him about ‘chickens,’ the nickname used by the adversary fans to make fun of the River plate soccer players. It was a way of being ironic about that team’s losing streak, but very inappropriate in that situation. So Rabbi Skorka, a River fan, did not appreciate this at first, feeling offended. Then he understood, he says, that there was a message between the lines: “treat me without formality, like any other person!”

How was the idea to write this book born?

The beginning of the Bergoglio pontificate coincided, more or less, with the beginning of my activity as Vatican correspondent of Zenit. Francis attracted much attention immediately, because of all the novelties brought within and outside the Church. In this atmosphere of great excitement, for journalists used to following the Vatican’s news, I often felt the need to confront truly expert voices. Thus, many interviews came about, day after day, in doing my work, and even many friendships. Then I wondered if they would be able to share with me an unfiltered  account of their view of and relationship with Francis. This is the result.

In regard to interviews, Francis has granted many more than any other predecessor. Did you discover anything particularly interesting about these?

Many things! Once, for instance, during one of the interviews on a plane there was talk of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in the Vatican. “It’s like having a wise grandfather at home,” Francis said. Then, he thought about it again and right after landing in Rome, he mentioned it immediately with concern to Archbishop Gaenswein, Prefect of the Papal Household and private secretary of the Pope Emeritus: “Today, I said something a bit strong . . . I hope Benedict XVI won’t be offended!”

Much has been said and written about the relationship between Francis and Benedict, often also with much superficiality, inventing oppositions … is it true?

Suffice it to say what Francis’ sister said, hence a privileged source of news, said to the journalist and my friend Michael Hesemann (German author and historian, co-author of My Brother the Pope co-authored with Georg Ratzinger), whom I thank for having allowed me to include his precious interview in my book. “You owe me obedience. If you are elected, you must accept,” said Pope Ratzinger to Cardinal Bergoglio, when they met the last time before the Conclave.

And what other interesting thing did you discover on the pre-pontificate biography of Pope Bergoglio?

First of all that Bergoglio’s famous grandmother, being a fervent anti-Fascist,  was the reason why the family felt almost constrained to leave Italy for Argentina. Then an episode, which goes back to when Jorge, having finished high school, said to his mother that he wanted to become a doctor. She was so happy that she immediately freed a small room so that he could study peacefully but, one day, she only found books of philosophy, theology and Latin. The explanation, he told her, was that he did want to become ‘a doctor,’ but one ‘of souls.’

Who is Adrian Pallarols, the Pope’s other friend who you interviewed?

Adrian is a famous Buenos Aires silversmith, a very dear friend of the Pope. I don’t want to ruin the surprise for the reader. I will tell you only that it was Bergoglio himself to celebrate his marriage and baptized his children. The problem with the wedding was that the parish priest, who held the course that Adrian and his wife had, was very abrupt with all. When Bergoglio called him, introducing himself as “Father Jorge,” to come to an agreement about the celebration of Adrian’s marriage, he began as usual to shout and vehemently protest, until he discovered that . . . you read the rest.

Returning to the topic of the relationship between Francis and the mass media in general, what did you learn?

Archbishop Gaenswein’s judgment seems important to me: the media were never so well disposed with Pope Benedict as they are today with Pope Francis. Even if Francis  — I learned from the former director of the Vatican Press Office, Father Lombardi –, that Pope Francis doesn’t always appreciate journalists’ questions during air travel. Instead, he is often rather disappointed, because he doesn’t find them interesting, or because journalists ask anything that passes through their mind instead of focusing on the contents or the most significant episodes of every trip.

It is said that the ‘normality,” the sobriety of Francis, who for instance lives in a very small space compared to the large apartments of some cardinals, brought much disarray in the Vatican.

This is true in part, but it’s not even necessary to emphasize it. When I went to interview Cardinal Turkson in his office in his dicastery, we spoke about the greatness of the rooms: He also expressed that similarly, his residence,  is large and one of his architect friends once said that in that surface a good four rooms could be made, but certainly not in a building as ancient a structure as that one. And in any case, do you know where Cardinal Turkson went to furnish his house when he arrived in Rome? IKEA!

Francis made everyone understand thoroughly that he cannot endure adulators. He wants everyone to tell him exactly what he thinks. And then, among all the judgments and opinions expressed by various Cardinals and Bishops, is there someone that surprised you for his frankness?

Returning to interviews on a plane, there comes to mind the Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem of the Latins, His Beatitude Fouad Twal. On the return flight from Poland, in July 2016, there was talk of terrorism and Islam. It’s true, he told me, that the head of the Catholic Church can’t say explicitly everything about Islam. However, according to him, it was surprising to hear the Pope explain that violence exists in all the religions, including Catholicism, and that one religion alone can’t be accused, or Cardinal Napier of Durban, South Africa, on the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetita. How can the African Church go about not losing her credibility? — he wondered. Now, in fact, the Church must tell Africans that she was mistaken 200 years ago, preaching that to become Christians they must abandon customs such as polygamy; because today one can go to Communion even if one has more than one wife, because one cannot turn one’s back on them.

On the list of interviewees there are also personalities of the Church considered not very in tune with Pope Francis. Why did you want to include these voices also in the book?

I believe that a variety of opinions and points of view is a merit, not a defect, for a book of this nature. Therefore, there is also, for instance, Cardinal Muller, who became “former” Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith precisely while the book was going to press; a man who is certainly very different from Francis in provenance, orientations, mentality. Therefore, it has all the more of an effect to hear him say what is the strongest impression Francis makes on him: It is when he embraces men and women even with a deformed face from a serious sickness, without that aversion that would be simply natural. Cardinal Muller also admits that it is certainly easy to preach love of neighbor, but difficult to practice it.

Then there is also Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, in Myanmar, certainly a country “of the periphery” for the Catholic Church, but Francis in fact decided to honor it undertaking an Apostolic Trip there?

Not “periphery” but “periphery of peripheries,” Cardinal Bo corrected me! It’s a Church that has suffered so much, in 60 years of “inhuman” dictatorship, as he himself described it. No contact with the rest of the world, the foreign missionaries expelled overnight . . . Not only “periphery,” “but a country forgotten by the world,” he said, noting the only exception was now by the Church and now by Francis.


Pope Invites Poor to the Circus

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 1:27 PM

More than 2,000 people living on the “peripheries” will enjoy a special “Circus of Solidarity” on January 11, 2018, thanks to Pope Francis, the Vatican announced January 10, 2018.

“The Holy Father is offering a ticket for a fun-filled evening to more than 2,000 of Rome’s poor or homeless people, several refugees, a group of prisoners, and many families in great need,” said Vatican News.

The event will be held at the Medrano Circus in Rome’s northern Saxa Rubra district. In addition to the circus, there will be a sack supper and medical care available.

Pope Francis has indicated he is a bit of a circus fan.  In September, he received — in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Vatican Palace – the members of the National Association of Owners of the Traveling Show (ANESV), on the 70th anniversary of the Association’s activity.

The Holy Father thanked these representatives of the world of the traveling show, for the work they do with their art and joy in so many places and countries.

The Pope assured them that they have a mission: “to offer people, children but also adults and elderly, the opportunity for healthy and clean entertainment. It’s healthy and clean entertainment, without the need to “go down” to find material for the people to be entertained.”

And, “how can God’s hand not be” in this vocation, in this mission? “God loves us and wants us to be happy,” because His mark is wherever there is simple and clean joy.” Therefore, if they preserve these values, this authenticity and simplicity, they are messengers of Joy that pleases God, and that comes from Him.



Pope Names Commissioner for Sodalitium Christianae Vitae

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 1:05 PM

The Holy See announced January 10, 2018, that an Apostolic Commissioner has been appointed to oversee the administration of the Society of Apostolic Life Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (Christian Life Society). The Society was founded in 1971 in Perun and granted pontifical recognition in 1997.

The commissioner is a Redemptorist, Bishop Noel Antonio Londoño of Jericó, Colombia. The Society has struggled since its founder was accused of sexual and psychological abuse.

Cardinal J. Williams Tobin, C.Ss.R., continues to be the referent for the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, as Delegate ad nutum in relation to Sodalitium Christianae Vitae and with regard to economic issues in particular.



US Bishops Message for National Migration Week, January 7-13, 2018

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 12:39 PM

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), on January 5, 2018, offered a National Migration Week message to the nation. The observance is January 7-13, 2018.

Cardinal DiNardo cited Pope Francis’ message for World Day of Peace for January 1, 2018. In that message, issued November 24, 2017, the Holy Father said that peace is a “profound aspiration for everyone.”

Peace is sought “for each individual and all peoples, and especially for those who most keenly suffer its absence.” Francis said.  And he stressed: “I constantly keep in my thoughts and prayers, I would once again mention the over 250 million migrants worldwide, of whom 22.5 million are refugees.”

He called on the United Nations to take action on the migration issue during 2018, by creating two Global Compacts: one for safe, orderly and regular migration; and the other for refugees.

Cardinal DiNardo also recommended families reflect on the stories on the Share the Journey website.


Cardinal DiNardo’s statement as follows:

“On Sunday, the Catholic Church across the United States will celebrate the beginning of National Migration Week. For nearly 50 years, this week has been a time of prayer and reflection on our history as a migrant Church and nation. In these five decades, the face of the immigrant may have changed – European, Asian, South American, and elsewhere — but their faces reveal a common desire to secure the great blessings of American opportunity.

Pope Francis, in his statement on the World Day of Peace on January 1, 2018, advises us that if we view the situation of migrants and refugees through the wisdom of our faith ‘we discover that they do not arrive empty-handed. They bring their courage, skills, energy, and aspirations, as well as the treasures of their own cultures; and in this way, they enrich the lives of the nations that receive them.’

This week, I invite everyone to reflect on the Holy Father’s words as well as on your own family’s immigration story. Please also join me in prayer for all families, as together, we ‘Share the Journey ‘ toward a better life.”


School of Prayer

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 12:32 PM
General Audience: Pope Reminds How Liturgy Becomes a True School of Prayer

Official Summary of the Catechesis — Jan. 10, 2018

Pope Offers Special Greeting to Seminarians and University Students

Pope Invokes Joy and Peace of Jesus on All English Speakers

GENERAL AUDIENCE : On the Gloria & Collect (FULL TEXT)

‘May the liturgy be able to become for all of us a true school of prayer’

Pope Gives Arabic-speaking Pilgrims Prayer Advice

Explains Ways to More Effectively Turn to God

General Audience: Pope Calls for Silence, Without ‘Rushing’ During Mass

Reflecting on the Gloria & the Collect at General Audience, Pontiff Gives Priests Some Advice

“Dear Young People, Take the Love of Christ to Your Peers!”

Message to Young People, the Sick and Newlyweds

Chile: A Song for Pope Francis

‘With One Voice’ – A Project of 17 Catholic Singers of Chile

US Bishops Message for National Migration Week, January 7-13, 2018

With Special Gratitude for the Gift of Immigrants and Refugees

Pope Names Commissioner for Sodalitium Christianae Vitae

A Redemptorist, Bishop Noel Antonio Londoño of Jericó, Colombia.

Pope Invites Poor to the Circus

The Poor, Homeless, Refugees, Prisoners, Families in Need

Chile: A Song for Pope Francis

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 12:14 PM

“With One Voice” is the title of the song, recorded by 17 Catholic singers of Chile, to give Pope Francis a warm welcome, when he visits the country from January 15-18.

The song, written by Marcela Gael, was chosen for its message of profound faith. As the official site of the Apostolic Visit “Francis in Chile” states, the author explained that God touched her heart while she was composing the text of the song, inspired by words of Pope Francis expressed in Messages, Addresses and Exhortations. All the singers said they were very happy with the visible result on Youtube.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester



“Dear Young People, Take the Love of Christ to Your Peers!”

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 9:58 AM

“Take the love of Christ to your contemporaries,” was Pope Francis’ invitation to young people, on the occasion of the General Audience of Wednesday, January 10, 2018, held in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.

At the end of the Audience, the Pope said to them in Italian: “Dear young people, take the love of Christ to your peers.”

“Dear sick, find in God’s tenderness your support in pain.”

“And you, dear newlyweds, be witnesses of the beauty of the Sacrament of Marriage through your faithful love.”

General Audience: Pope Calls for Silence, Without ‘Rushing’ During Mass

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 7:52 AM

Pope Francis has given priests some practical advice about the importance of silence and taking one’s time during Mass.

The Pontiff did so during this morning’s General Audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, Jan. 10, 2018, as he continued his catechesis on the Holy Eucharist, considering the Gloria and the Collect. Last week, he reflected upon the Penitential Rite.

Reflecting on the song of the Gloria, this very old hymn, the Holy Father stressed, has a connection with the Nativity. “The beginning of this hymn – “Glory to God in the highest” — takes up the song of the Angels at Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, joyful proclamation of the embrace between Heaven and earth. Moreover, he reflected, it is an act of ‘trust’ in the love of the Holy Trinity. “The song of praise to God the Father and to His Son Jesus Christ, the Lamb Who takes away the sins of the world,” the Gloria, he noted, is also a confident supplication of divine goodness. The Pontiff then commented on the liturgical silence, the meditation, which precedes the prayer. After the “Gloria,” or when this isn’t immediately after the Penitential Act, the Pope reminded, prayer takes a particular form in the prayer called “Collect,” through which is expressed the character proper of the celebration, variable according to the days and the times of the year. With the invitation ‘Let us pray,’ the Pope continued, the priest exhorts the people to recollect themselves with him in a moment of silence, in order to be conscious of being in the presence of God and have arise, in each one’s heart, the personal intentions with which he takes part in the Mass. After the priest says “Let us pray,” a moment of silence follows in which each person thinks of their personal intentions, what they wish to ask for in prayer. This silence, the Pontiff noted, is a way each person makes himself available to the Holy Spirit. “Silence, whose character depends on the moment when it intervenes during the Mass, allows, just before the Collect, to dispose ourself to listening to the voice of our heart and especially that of the Holy Spirit and to present to the Lord our personal intentions. “ The Pope reminded that the prayer follows. “After this brief moment of silence,” the Jesuit Pope explained, “the priest, with his arms extended to imitate Christ on the Cross, expresses to God, in the name of everyone, the common prayer which concludes the rites of introduction, and whose content goes from praise to supplication.”

Pope Francis concluded,  inviting faithful to “meditate these texts, outside the Mass,” which he reminded will help them  “to learn better how to turn towards God.”


On Zenit’s Web page:

Full Text: https://zenit.org/articles/general-audience-on-the-gloria-collect-full-text/

Pope Gives Arabic-speaking Pilgrims Prayer Advice

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 7:13 AM

“I give a warm welcome to the Arabic-speaking pilgrims, particularly those from the Middle East!”, said Pope Francis during his General Audience of Jan. 10, 2018.

This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:30 in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.

The Pope spoke in Italian, translated immediately into Arabic by one of his collaborators in the Roman Curia: “Dear brothers and sisters,  remember to meditate on the texts of the orations, also outside of the Mass. It could help us understand how to turn ourselves to God, what to ask, what words to use.

“May the liturgy become for everyone a true school of prayer.”

Pope Francis concluded, praying: “May the Lord bless you!”

GENERAL AUDIENCE : On the Gloria & Collect (FULL TEXT)

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 6:17 AM

This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:25 in Paul VI Hall, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.

Continuing with the series of catecheses on the Holy Mass, in his address in Italian the Pope focused his meditation on the song of the “Gloria” and the Collect Prayer.

After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present.

The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.

* * *

The Holy Father’s Catechesis

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In the course of the catecheses on the Eucharistic Celebration, we reflected on the Penitential Act that helps us to strip ourselves from our presumptions and to present ourselves to God as we really are, conscious of being sinners, in the hope of being forgiven.

In fact, the gratitude expressed in the “Gloria” comes to life from the encounter between human misery and divine mercy; <it is> “a very ancient and venerable hymn with which the Church, gathered in the Holy Spirit, glorifies and beseeches God the Father and the Lamb” (Ordinamento Generale del Messale Romano, 53).

The beginning of this hymn – “Glory to God in the highest” — takes up the song of the Angels at Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, joyful proclamation of the embrace between Heaven and earth. This song involves us also, recollected in prayer: “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to men of good will.” After the “Gloria,” or when this isn’t, immediately after the Penitential Act, the prayer takes a particular form in the prayer called “Collect,” through which is expressed the character proper of the celebration, variable according to the days and the times of the year (Cf. Ibid., 54). With the invitation “Let us pray,” the priest exhorts the people to recollect themselves with him in a moment of silence, in order to be conscious of being in the presence of God and have arise, in each one’s heart, the personal intentions with which he takes part in the Mass (Cf. Ibid., 54). The priest says “Let us pray”, and then comes a moment of silence, and each one thinks of the things of which he is in need, what he wishes to ask for in prayer.

The silence isn’t reduced to the absence of words, <but> rather in disposing oneself to listen to other voices: that of our heart and, especially, the voice of the Holy Spirit. In the liturgy, the nature of the sacred silence depends on the moment in which it takes place: “During the Penitential Act and after the invitation to prayer, it helps recollection; after the Reading or the homily, it’s a call to meditate briefly on what one has heard; after Communion, it fosters interior prayer of praise and supplication” (Ibid., 4r5). Therefore, before the initial prayer, silence helps to recollect ourselves in ourselves and to think why we are there. See then the importance of listening to our spirit to then open it to the Lord. Perhaps we come from days of toil, of joy, of sorrow, and we want to say it to the Lord, to invoke His help, to ask that He be close to us; we <might> have sick relatives and friends or who are going through difficult trials; we want to entrust to God the fate of the Church and of the world. And for this the brief silence is useful, before the priest, gathering the intentions of each one, expresses in a loud voice to God, in the name of all, the common prayer that ends the Rites of Introduction, doing in fact the “Collect” of the individual intentions. I earnestly recommend to priests to observe this moment of silence and not go in a hurry: “Let us pray,” and that silence be kept. I recommend this to priests. Without this silence, we risk neglecting the recollection of the soul.

The priest recites this supplication, this Collect prayer, with his arms spread, which is the attitude of the worshipper, assumed by Christians from the first centuries  — as the frescoes of the Roman catacombs attest — to imitate Christ with His arms open on the wood of the cross. And there, Christ is the Worshipper and is at the same time the prayer! In the Crucified we recognize the Priest that offers to God the worship that pleases Him, namely, filial obedience.

In the Roman Rite the prayers are concise but rich in meaning: beautiful meditations can be made on these prayers, which are so beautiful! To return to meditate the texts, also outside of the Mass, can help us to learn how to address God, what to ask for, what words to use. May the liturgy be able to become for all of us a true school of prayer.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

In Italian

Dear Italian-speaking pilgrims: welcome! I’m happy to receive the Permanent Deacons of the Diocese of Biella and the Ursuline Sisters Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. I hope that this meeting will revive in each one communion with the universal ministry of the Successor of Peter.

I greet the parish groups, in particular those of Gesualdo and of Canosa di Puglia; the Private Schools Kindergartens of the Basilicata and the School Institutes: Caetani di Cisterna di Latina and Zona Leda di Aprilia. I greet the Directors and Pupils of the Inspectors and Superintendents School of the Customs Service of L’Aquila-Coppito; the Socio-Health Voluntary Associations of Bronte (CT) and the National Institute of Tumors Foundation of Milan.

A special thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Dear young people, be bearers of the love of Christ among your contemporaries; dear sick, find in God’s tenderness support in pain; and you, dear newlyweds, be witnesses of the beauty of the Sacrament of Marriage through your faithful love.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

Pope Offers Special Greeting to Seminarians and University Students

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 5:55 AM

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from Norway, New Zealand and the United States of America,” Pope Francis said on January 10, 2018, at his General Audience in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, his second of the New Year.

“In a special way, I greet the numerous seminarians and university students present. Upon you and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“God bless you all!”

© Libreria Editrice Vatican