It was a big news day here as the story continues to develop surrounding the Pope’s acceptance yesterday afternoon of the resignation of Cardinal Angelo Becciu as head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints as well as resignation from the rights he has as a cardinal. A report by Italian news agency ANSA, noted that Becciu, a former substitute of the Secretariat of State, said that he did nothing wrong and implied that Pope Francis made him quit. “I said to the pope ‘why are you doing this to me?’ In front of the whole world,” Becciu told daily newspaper Domani. “He said that I allegedly gave money to my brothers. I see no crimes and I am sure that the truth will come out. I didn’t steal even one euro. I am not under investigation but if they send me to trial, I will defend myself.” He later held a press conference

And a big day today for Pope Francis who, in a recording made at the Vatican in Spanish, addressed the United Nations General Assembly as it marks its 75th anniversary. A Vatican news summary of that speech is below, as well as a link to the papal address and translation in English.

And here is your weekly English edition of L’Osservatore Romano:


As you know, two weeks ago, in what is normally the interview segment, I began a series about famous Italian shrines, starting with Rome’s Shrine of Divine Love. Last week we went on a mini pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii. This week I take you a shrine that might be lesser known outside of Italy but is extremely popular here – St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin. You will learn about the young man whom many have called Assisi’s “second St. Francis!”

You might be interested in this week’s Q&A because, on this weekend that follows the stunning September 24 news of Pope Francis accepting the resignation from the office of Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and from the rights connected with the Cardinalate, presented by His Eminence Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu,” I will try to answer the question that has come to me: Exactly what does the resignation from rights connected with being a cardinal entail? I’ll look at who a cardinal is and what he does, according to Canon Law.

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Pope Francis calls for reforms, multilateralism, cooperation and respect for human dignity in his video message to the 75th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ (Vatican news)

This year marks a special anniversary for the UN – the 75th year from the signing of the UN Charter in San Francisco in 1945. On Monday, representatives of the Member States gathered in a high-level event to commemorate the anniversary, with other activities scheduled throughout the week.

With the Covid-19 health crisis still limiting global movement, participation at the event was mostly virtual as world leaders sent in pre-recorded video messages. The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin also addressed the General Assembly via a video message on Monday.

Pope Francis on Friday addressed the representatives of the 193-member world body. In a video message, the Pope appealed for a joint commitment towards a better future through multilateralism and collaboration among states.

He also noted that this 75th anniversary is a fitting occasion to express the Holy See’s desire that the organization serves “as a sign of unity between States and an instrument of service to the entire human family.”

As the world continues to face challenges stemming from the deadly coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis highlights that the ongoing crisis has exposed our human fragility and has called into question our economic, health and social systems. More so, it has brought to the fore the need to realize the right of every person to basic health care.

Reiterating his reflections during the Extraordinary Moment of Prayer on 27 March, Pope Francis said the pandemic calls us to seize this time of trial to “choose what matters and what passes away,” and “separate what is necessary from what is not.” He urged that we choose the path that leads to the consolidation of multilateralism, global responsibility, peace and inclusion of the poor.

The current crisis, the Pope notes, shows us that solidarity cannot be “an empty word or promise.” It also shows us “the importance of avoiding every temptation to exceed our natural limits.” In this regard, the Pope considers the effect of the pandemic on the labour market driven by an increasing robotization and artificial intelligence (AI), and stressed the need for “new forms of work that are truly capable of satisfying human potential while affirming our dignity.”

To ensure this, the Pope proposes “a change of direction” that involves a more robust ethical framework capable of overcoming “today’s widespread and quietly growing culture of waste.” He called for a change in the dominant economic paradigm which aims only to expand profit. At the same time, he urged businesses to make offering jobs to more people one of their main objectives.

Pope Francis points out that at the origin of the culture of waste, there is a “gross lack of respect for human dignity, the promotion of ideologies with reductive understandings of the human person, a denial of the universality of fundamental human rights and a craving for absolute power and control.” These, he states, are “an attack against humanity itself.”

The Pope laments the many violations of fundamental human rights that “offer us a frightening picture of a humanity abused, wounded, deprived of dignity, freedom and hope for the future.” The Pope characterises as “intolerable, yet intentionally ignored by many”, the instances of religious persecution, humanitarian crises, the use of weapons of mass destruction, internal displacement, human trafficking and forced labor, and the “great numbers of people being forced to leave their homes”.

The Pope notes that international efforts to respond to crises begin with great promise but many subsequently fail due to a lack of the political support necessary to succeed or “because individual states shirk their responsibilities and commitments.” To combat this, he is appealing to the international community to ensure that institutions are truly effective in the struggle against these challenges and reiterated the Holy See’s commitment to playing its part to help the situation.

In responding to the inequalities between the rich and the poor, Pope Francis proposes a reconsideration of the role of economic and financial institutions. He recommends an economic model that “encourages subsidiarity, supports economic development at the local level, and invests in education and infrastructure benefitting local communities.” He also calls on the international community to put an end to economic injustices through greater fiscal responsibility among nations and “an effective promotion of the poorest” including offering assistance to poorer and highly-indebted nations.

The Pope goes on to highlight the devastating effects of the Covid-19 crisis on children, including unaccompanied migrants and refugees, pointing out that instances of child abuse and violence have seen an increase. Calling on civil authorities, Pope Francis urges them to be “especially attentive to children who are denied their fundamental rights and dignity, particularly their right to life and to schooling.”

Turning his thoughts toward the family, he laments the weakening of the “natural and fundamental group unit of society” by ideological colonialism that produces a feeling of “lacking roots” in its members. He also spoke for the advancement of women, pointing out that at every level of society, women now play an important role and offer their contribution towards the promotion of the common good.

Pope Francis talks of the “need to break with the present climate of distrust” marked by the erosion of multilateralism and the development of new forms of military technology that irreversibly alter the nature of warfare. In particular, he singles out nuclear deterrence that “creates an ethos of fear based on the threat of mutual annihilation” and calls for dismantling the perverse logic that links security to the possession of weaponry while generating profit for the arms industry. On this front, he calls for increased support for the principal international and legal instruments on nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and prohibition.

“We never emerge from a crisis just as we were. We come out either better or worse,” Pope Francis affirmed.

He also adds that the present crisis has demonstrated the limits of our self-sufficiency as well as our common vulnerability. It has also shown that “we cannot live without one another, or worse still, pitted against one another.” Therefore, at this critical juncture, “it is our duty to rethink the future of our common home and our common project” by strengthening multilateralism and cooperation between states.

Concluding, Pope Francis emphasizes that the UN was established to bring nations together. Therefore, the institution should be used to “transform the challenge that lies before us into an opportunity to build together, once more, the future we all desire.”




BREAKING FROM HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE: “Today, Thursday 24 September, the Holy Father accepted the resignation from the office of Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and from the rights connected to the Cardinalate, presented by His Eminence Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu.”


The 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees will be celebrated on Sunday September 27, 2020 on the theme “Forced like Jesus Christ to flee.”

The Vatican’s Migrants and Refugees Section has produced a video (link below) for this year’s communication campaign. This Vatican offices is, as its website says, “a small pastoral office of the Holy See, personally directed by Pope Francis, working to help the Church worldwide to accompany vulnerable people on the move, including those who are forcibly displaced by conflict, natural disaster, persecution or extreme poverty, refugees and victims of human trafficking.”

The video explores the sub-theme “To collaborate in order to build.” It offers real-life testimony of an internally displaced person who describes how she was able to rebuild her life thanks to the help and collaboration she received. The Holy Father urges us to collaborate “perfectly united in mind and thoughts,” as St. Paul urges.


Ahead of the World Migrant and Refugee Day slated for September 27, Lorena Margarita Pinilla Rojano shares her experience of fleeing from violence and becoming internally displaced

By Vatican News

The Church marks the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees on Sunday.

Since the first observance of this annual celebration in 1914, this day has been set aside to express concern for vulnerable people on the move and the increasing awareness for them as they face challenges.

The Pope’s Message for this year’s celebration is themed: “Forced like Jesus Christ to flee.” His reflections are inspired by the experience of Jesus as a child with His parents as displaced refugees.

Pope Francis points out that “building the Kingdom of God is a commitment that all Christians share, and for this reason, it is necessary that we learn to collaborate.” He also prayed that we “may be perfectly united in mind and thought,” as St. Paul recommends.

Lorena’s story
This week, the Vatican’s Migrant and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development released the sixth in a series of videos ahead of the annual day.

In the video, Lorena Margarita Pinilla Rojano—a 25-year-old woman from Chibolo Magdalena, Columbia—recounts her experience of becoming internally displaced.

“I arrived in the city of Bogotá in 2012. I have been here for 8 years,” she said. “I arrived here with my family, which was displaced because of violence.”

She recalls that her family had to flee Chibolo Magdalena in the middle of the night, leaving behind everything, including her father’s farm, which the guerillas burnt down.

Beginning anew
In 2015, Lorena moved to Soacha Cundinamarca, a suburb of Bogota, and was able to purchase a home. Currently, she is one the beneficiaries of an initiative run by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in San Benito, and is one step closer to her dreams of becoming an entrepreneur.

“I had a business idea that I wanted to develop but I did not have the financial means to do that,” she said. “I am grateful to the Jesuits here in Columbia who supported me, trained me, and offered me this initiative opportunity. Thanks to them, I developed my business initiative and moved forward.”

Lorena gives some sound advice: She encourages everyone to “move on and fight for their dreams.”


I have been working on this column since last Saturday while I was still in Sorrento. First there were issues with Microsoft Word, then even bigger ones with WordPress, to the point I thought I’d no longer be able to post a blog! That issue was resolved this morning, Deo gratias!  In the meantime, apologies in the event I’ve overdone it with the slideshows!

I firmly believe that when life gives you a lemon, you make limoncello!


My delightful two week sojourn in what I have been calling “my corner of heaven,” Sorrento, is over. But I still have a lot to share with everyone who, once Covid is a memory and people can travel with relative freedom, will plan on coming to Bella Italia, and especially Sorrento!

Every time I come to the Amalfi Coast and spend time, be it 2 days or 2 weeks, I meet new and wonderful people, see new and stunning sights and go home renewed, refreshed and happier, more contented than when I arrived.

As you will see in the slideshows, there’s something for everyone in this part of God’s beautiful world – parks, statues, flora and fauna, the glistening waters of the Mediterranean, dotted with pleasure craft an the boats that take you to neighboring islands, gorgeous historic churches, luxury hotels and warm, welcoming small hotels and residences and, of course, a plethora of restaurants and stores!

Soon I’ll be offering a column called “Tables with a View” that will feature all of the places where I’ve eaten that have had superb views!

When you can travel again with some kind of frequency and normalcy, I hope you put the Amalfi Coast, especially Sorrento, at the top of your list, and that my travelblogues have stimulated, not discouraged you!

The many facets of the diamond that is Sorrento –

Flora and Fauna, Parks and Statues:

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Views – the Mediterranean:

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And shopping galore:

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We have all been wondering what would happen in inclement weather to weekly general audiences that were resumed only a few weeks ago outdoors in the Vatican’s San Damaso courtyard. Today we found out. Today it rained.

September has been an unusually warm, even hot, month and even that might have caused some problems for people sitting under a hot sun for some hours.

Pope Francis was, of course, seated under a canopy, but the prelates from the Secretariat of State who deliver summaries of the papal catechesis in different languages were not. However, those priests and a small number of invited guests who sat in the “prima file,” the first row, were given large umbrellas in the yellow and white Vatican colors. The mask-wearing faithful sitting in the courtyard brought their own umbrellas.

As far as I could see, it was a light drizzle, not a constant rain. We are in fall, and that’s when weather can change, though I must say, when October is a beautiful month in Italy, it is spectacular! Here’s hoping!


Speaking during the general audience in the Vatican, Pope Francis looks to a post-pandemic world and reflects on the principle of subsidiarity, whereby every level of society has a role to play in revitalizing the social fabric.

By Vatican News

Continuing his series of catecheses on the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in light of the Church’s teachings, Pope Francis said, “Every one of us is called to assume responsibility for his or her part,” and he highlighted the fact that we must look to the future working for a social order in which the dignity and the gifts of all of its members are respected.

From top to bottom and from bottom to top
To better explain its meaning, he recalled how after the great economic depression of 1929, Pope Pius XI explained that “this principle has a double movement: from top to bottom and from bottom to top.”

“To emerge better from a crisis, the principle of subsidiarity must be enacted, respecting the autonomy and the capacity to take initiative that everyone has, especially the least,” the Pope said elaborating on the fact that this principle “allows everyone to assume his or her own role for the healing and destiny of society.”

He decried the fact that many people are unable to participate in the reconstruction of the common good because they are marginalised, excluded or ignored.

“Certain social groups do not succeed in making a contribution because they are economically or socially suffocated. In some societies, many people are not free to express their own faith and their own values,” he said.

Elsewhere, he continued, “especially in the western world, many people repress their own ethical or religious convictions: This is no way to emerge from the crisis, or at least to emerge from it better.”

Pope Francis said that it is right that the highest levels of society, such as the State, should intervene to provide the necessary resources to progress. He noted that public institutions are trying to help through appropriate interventions; however, he continued, society’s leaders must respect and promote the intermediate or lower levels.

The decisive contribution of all
“The contribution of individuals, of families, of associations, of businesses, or every intermediary body, and even of the Church, is decisive,” he said.

The Pope said that we all need to assume responsibility in the process of healing the society of which he or she is a part, but the injustice of exclusion happens often “in those places where huge economic and geopolitical interests are concentrated.” He recalled the reality in the Amazon region, for example, where he said the voices of the indigenous peoples, their culture and world visions are not taken into consideration.

The hegemony of large multinational companies
“Today, this lack of respect of the principle of subsidiarity has spread like a virus. Let’s think of the grand financial assistance measures enacted by States. The largest financial companies are listened to rather than the people or the ones who really move the economy,” he said.

He also turned his thoughts to the current race for a cure for the new coronavirus noting that “the large pharmaceutical companies are listened to more than the healthcare workers employed on the front lines in hospitals or in refugee camps. This is not a good path.”

Reflecting on St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, in which the apostle says that all the parts of the body are necessary and that those parts that may seem the weakest and least important, in reality, are the most necessary (1 Cor 12:22), Pope Francis said that only by implementing the principle of subsidiarity will we all be able to assume our role for the healing and destiny of society.

“Implementing it gives hope in a healthier and more just future. Let’s construct this future together, aspiring to greater things, broadening our horizons and ideals,” he said.

Pope Francis recalled previous catecheses in which solidarity was upheld as a way out of the crisis, but he pointed out “this path of solidarity needs subsidiarity. In fact, there is no true solidarity without social participation, without the contribution of intermediary bodies: families, associations, cooperatives, small businesses, and other expressions of society.”

During the lockdown, he recalled, the spontaneous gesture of applauding for doctors and nurses began as a sign of encouragement and hope.

Let’s extend this applause, he said, to every member of the social body, for their precious contribution, no matter how small. He also had special words of thanks and gratitude for the millions of volunteers who have given their all during the crisis.

“Let’s applaud the elderly, children, persons with disability, workers, all those who dedicate themselves to service,” he said. “But let’s not stop only at applauding.”

Hope is audacious
Pope Francis concluded by looking ahead, beyond the crisis, with the invitation to be hopeful:

 Hope is audacious,” he said. “Let’s encourage ourselves to dream big, seeking the ideals of justice and social love that are born of hope,” trying not to reconstruct an unjust and unhealthy past, but a future in which mutual enrichment allows the beauty and the wealth of smaller groups to flourish, and “where those who have more dedicate themselves to service and give more to those who have less.”

For the video of the audience:




In one of the largest such ceremonies in history, Pope John Paul II canonized Padre Pio of Pietrelcina on June 16, 2002. It was the 45th canonization ceremony in Pope John Paul’s pontificate. More than 300,000 people braved blistering heat as they filled St. Peter’s Square and nearby streets. They heard the Holy Father praise the new saint for his prayer and charity. “This is the most concrete synthesis of Padre Pio’s teaching,” said the pope. He also stressed Padre Pio’s witness to the power of suffering. If accepted with love, the Holy Father stressed, such suffering can lead to “a privileged path of sanctity.”

Many people have turned to the Italian Capuchin Franciscan to intercede with God on their behalf; among them was the future Pope John Paul II. In 1962, when he was still an archbishop in Poland, he wrote to Padre Pio and asked him to pray for a Polish woman with throat cancer. Within two weeks, she had been cured of her life-threatening disease.

Born Francesco Forgione, Padre Pio grew up in a family of farmers in southern Italy. Twice his father worked in Jamaica, New York, to provide the family income.

At the age of 15, Francesco joined the Capuchins and took the name of Pio. He was ordained in 1910 and was drafted during World War I. After he was discovered to have tuberculosis, he was discharged. In 1917, he was assigned to the friary in San Giovanni Rotondo, 75 miles from the city of Bari on the Adriatic.

On September 20, 1918, as he was making his thanksgiving after Mass, Padre Pio had a vision of Jesus. When the vision ended, he had the stigmata in his hands, feet, and side.

Life became more complicated after that. Medical doctors, Church authorities, and curiosity seekers came to see Padre Pio. In 1924, and again in 1931, the authenticity of the stigmata was questioned; Padre Pio was not permitted to celebrate Mass publicly or to hear confessions. He did not complain of these decisions, which were soon reversed. However, he wrote no letters after 1924. His only other writing, a pamphlet on the agony of Jesus, was done before 1924.

Padre Pio rarely left the friary after he received the stigmata, but busloads of people soon began coming to see him. Each morning after a 5 a.m. Mass in a crowded church, he heard confessions until noon. He took a mid-morning break to bless the sick and all who came to see him. Every afternoon he also heard confessions. In time his confessional ministry would take 10 hours a day; penitents had to take a number so that the situation could be handled. Many of them have said that Padre Pio knew details of their lives that they had never mentioned.

Padre Pio saw Jesus in all the sick and suffering. At his urging, a fine hospital was built on nearby Mount Gargano. The idea arose in 1940; a committee began to collect money. Ground was broken in 1946. Building the hospital was a technical wonder because of the difficulty of getting water there and of hauling up the building supplies. This “House for the Alleviation of Suffering” has 350 beds.

A number of people have reported cures they believe were received through the intercession of Padre Pio. Those who assisted at his Masses came away edified; several curiosity seekers were deeply moved. Like Saint Francis, Padre Pio sometimes had his habit torn or cut by souvenir hunters.

One of Padre Pio’s sufferings was that unscrupulous people several times circulated prophecies that they claimed originated from him. He never made prophecies about world events and never gave an opinion on matters that he felt belonged to Church authorities to decide. He died on September 23, 1968, and was beatified in 1999.


Referring to that day’s Gospel (Matthew 11:25-30) at Padre Pio’s canonization Mass in 2002, Saint John Paul II said: “The Gospel image of ‘yoke’ evokes the many trials that the humble Capuchin of San Giovanni Rotondo endured. Today we contemplate in him how sweet is the ‘yoke’ of Christ and indeed how light the burdens are whenever someone carries these with faithful love. The life and mission of Padre Pio testify that difficulties and sorrows, if accepted with love, transform themselves into a privileged journey of holiness, which opens the person toward a greater good, known only to the Lord.” (source:

I think you’ll enjoy this EWTN production on Padre Pio as well over 230,000 have so far!




“Samaritanus bonus” (The Good Samaritan), a newly published letter by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, approved by the Pope, reiterates the condemnation of any form of euthanasia and assisted suicide, and advocates support for families and healthcare workers.

By Vatican News

On Tuesday, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith announced the publication of a Letter approved by Pope Francis on 25 June and entitled Samaritanus bonus (“The Good Samaritan”): On the Care of Persons in the Critical and Terminal Phases of Life”. It bears 14 July as its publication date, in honor of St Camillus de Lellis, the patron saint of the sick, hospitals, nurses and physicians.

“Incurable cannot mean that care has come at an end” – those who are terminally ill have the right to be welcomed, cured, loved. This is affirmed in Part One of Samaritanus bonus. The Letter aims to provide concrete ways to put into practice the parable of the Good Samaritan, who teaches us that “even when a cure is unlikely or impossible”, medical care, nursing care, psychological and spiritual care “should never be forsaken”.

Incurable, never un-care-able

“To cure if possible, always to care”[1]. These words of Pope Saint John Paul II explain that incurable is never synonymous with un-care-able. To provide care until the very end; to “be with” the sick person; to accompany, listen to, make him or her feel loved: this is how loneliness and isolation, the fear of suffering and death can be avoided. The entire document is focused on the meaning of pain and suffering in the light of the Gospel and of Jesus’ sacrifice.

Inalienable dignity of life

“The uninfringeable** value of life is a fundamental principle of the natural moral law and an essential foundation of the legal order”, the Letter states. “We cannot directly choose to take the life of another, even if they request it”. Citing Gaudium et spes, the document reiterates that “abortion, euthanasia and wilful self-destruction poison human society” and “are a supreme dishonor to the Creator” (no. 27).

Obstacles that obscure the sacred value of human life

The document cites several factors that limit the ability of apprehending the value of life, such as when life is considered “worthwhile” only if certain psychic and physical conditions are present. One of these obstacles the Letter notes is a false understanding of “compassion”. True compassion, it explains, “consists not in causing death”, but in affectionately welcoming and supporting the person who is sick, and providing the means to alleviate his or her suffering. Another obstacle it lists is a growing individualism that provokes loneliness.

The teaching of the Magisterium

It is a definitive teaching that euthanasia represents “a crime against human life”, and, therefore, is “intrinsically evil” in every circumstance. Any “formal or immediate material cooperation” constitutes a grave sin against human life that no authority can “legitimately recommend or permit”. Those who approve laws in favor of euthanasia “become accomplices” and are “guilty of scandal” because these laws contribute to the malformation of consciences. The act of euthanasia must always be rejected. However, the Letter acknowledges that the desperation or anguish of the person requesting it might diminish or even make “non-existent” his or her personal responsibility.

No to aggressive treatments

The document also explains that protecting the dignity of death means excluding aggressive medical treatments. Therefore, when death is imminent and inevitable, “it is lawful…to renounce treatments that provide only a precarious or painful extension of life”, without, however, interrupting necessary ordinary treatments the patient requires, such as food and hydration “as long as the body can benefit from them”. Palliative care is a “precious and crucial instrument” with which to accompany the patient. Palliative care must never include the possibility of euthanasia, the Letter emphasizes, but should include the spiritual assistance of both the person who is sick and the members of their families.

Support for families

It is important in caring for a sick person that he or she is not made to feel like a burden, but that they “sense the intimacy and support of their loved ones. The family needs help and adequate resources to fulfil this mission”. State governments need to “recognize the family’s primary, fundamental and irreplaceable social function (…) [and] should undertake to provide the necessary resources and structures to support it.”

Care in the prenatal and pediatric stages

From the moment of conception, children affected by malformation or other chronic illnesses are to be accompanied in a “manner respectful of life”. In cases of “prenatal pathologies…that will surely end in death within a short period of time”, and when no treatment exists to improve the child’s condition, the child “should not be left without assistance, but must be accompanied like any other patient until they reach natural death”, without suspending food and hydration. The Letter states that “recourse to prenatal diagnosis” is “obsessive” in today’s society and notes that it sometimes results in the choice for abortion or other “selective purposes”. Both abortion and the use “prenatal diagnosis for selective purposes” are “unlawful”, the Letter asserts.

Deep sedation

To alleviate pain, medication is used that may “induce the loss of consciousness”. The Letter affirms that it is morally licit to sedate “to ensure that the end of life arrives with the greatest possible peace and in the best internal conditions”. This also applies to types of sedation that hasten “the moment of death (deep palliative sedation in the terminal stage)”. But it is not acceptable that sedation be administered that “directly and intentionally causes death”, something the Letter defines as a “euthanistic practice”.

The vegetative state

Even in the case when the patient is not conscious, he or she “must be acknowledged in their intrinsic value and assisted with suitable care”, which includes the right to food and hydration. There may, however, be cases in which “such measures can become disproportionate” because they are no longer effective or because the means of administering them “create an excessive burden”. In this case, the Letter states that “adequate support must be provided to the families who bear the burden of long-term care for persons in these states”.

Conscientious objection

The Letter requests that locals Churches and Catholic institutions and communities “adopt a clear and unified position to safeguard the right of conscientious objection” in contexts where morally grave practices are allowed by law. It also invites Catholic institutions and healthcare personnel to witness to the values the Church professes regarding life issues.

Specifically in the case of euthanasia, the document states that, “there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection”. It is important that doctors and healthcare workers be formed in accompanying the dying in a Christian way. The spiritual accompaniment of a person who chooses to be euthanized requires that of “an invitation to conversion”, and never any gesture “that could be interpreted as approval”, such as remaining present while the euthanasia is being performed.

[1] John Paul II, Address to the Participants in the International Congress on “Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemmas”.

(** JFL: I had never read the word uninfringeable until today. While I had an idea of its meaning, I looked at several other language translations of this word and every one I saw used “inviolable”)


What a beautiful meeting today with ASD children and their caregivers! If any of you have – or had in the past – a child in your family with a disorder, disability or other special needs, you will love this story.   I lost a nephew in 2001 when he was 20 of double pneumonia. He was a twin and his sister is just fine and has her own family today.

Christopher was brought to many doctors over the years but nary a one defined what he had (or was) by name. He never spoke a word, never was self-sufficient and seemed to delight in colors and noise and movement. He was ambulatory but that was about it. A number of us did feel that, although he could not verbalize it, he did recognize various people as he’d smile in recognition when certain people walked into the room and spoke his name. Only one doctor made an allusion to autism, saying Christopher had certain autistic traits but he (the doctor) would not call him autistic.

I believe the family members who care for children with disabilities are among the most amazing people on earth – saints in the making. And the same goes for professional staff and other caregivers.


Pope Francis on Monday received in the Vatican a group of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), who are being treated at a clinic in St. Polten, Austria. He thanked all for the wonderful work for the youngsters.

By Robin Gomes

The Pope expressed his delight at meeting the group of 42, including children with ASD, their parents and the staff of Ambulatorium Sonnenschein where they are treated.

“Welcome to the Vatican! I am happy to see your faces, and I read it in your eyes that you too are happy to be here with me for a while,” he told the group.

The children undergo therapy at Ambulatorium Sonnenschein or the Sunshine Outpatient Clinic, which was established in 1995.  The treatment combines diagnosis, advice and therapy for children and adolescents with special needs under one roof.

Flowers in a meadow
“Your house is called ‘Sunshine’, a beautiful name!” the Holy Father said, adding, there is a reason behind it.  “It is because your house is like a magnificent blooming meadow in the sunshine and you are the flowers of this ‘Sunshine’ house!”  He explained that God created the world with a great variety of flowers of all colors, and every flower has its beauty, which is unique.

“Each of us,” said Francis, “is also beautiful in God’s eyes, and God loves us.  Hence, we need to thank God for it.”

“Thank you for the gift of life, for all creatures! Thank you for mom and dad! Thank you for our families! And thank you also for the friends from the ‘Sunshine’ center!” the Pope said.  Gratitude, he explained, is a beautiful prayer that is pleasing to God.

He told the children they can also ask Jesus to help their parents with their work or comfort the grandmother who is a bit sick.  They can ask Jesus to help children around the world who have nothing to eat or even help the Pope to lead the Church well.  “If you ask with faith, the Lord will surely hear you,” the Pope assured them.

For Jesus
Pope Francis concluded his meeting, thanking all those present, including the clinic staff.  “Thank you for this beautiful initiative and for your commitment to the little ones entrusted to you,” he said, adding, “Everything that you have done for one of these little ones, you have done it to Jesus!”



Weekly English edition of L’Osservatore Romano: VATICAN INSIDER ON


This week, after a look at the news headlines of the last week and a Q&A, I will bring you on a mini-pilgrimage to a much loved, very celebrated Italian shrine, Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii, a half hour south of Naples, which has a beautiful and even touching story. It is a shrine that has a special place in my heart and I’ll tell that amazing story at the end of our time together.

Destroyed on August 24, 79 AD by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii as we know it today is the result of a promise made by Blessed Bartolo Longo, a lawyer and devout laymen, a promise that became a reality in 1875 when work began on the construction of the church dedicated to our Lady of the Rosary. The church, and the buildings housing the charitable works associated with it eventually led to the birth of the city, the new Pompeii. In 1897 he founded the Dominican Sisters of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii.

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From the Holy See Press Office: Today the Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, Father Juan Antonio Guerrero, S.J., and Alessandro Cassinis Righini, ad interim Auditor General, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the fight against corruption. The two authorities of the Holy See will collaborate even more closely in identifying the risks of corruption and for an effective implementation of the recently approved rules on transparency, control and competition of public contracts of the Holy See and the Vatican City State.

From Vaticannews: Commenting on the MoU, Alessandro Cassinis said, “This is yet another concrete act that demonstrates the Holy See’s desire to prevent and fight against the phenomenon of corruption inside and outside of Vatican City State, which has already borne important results in the past months.”

On his part, Father Guerrero emphasized that, “in addition to representing a moral obligation and an act of justice, the fight against corruption also makes it possible to combat waste in such difficult times caused by the economic consequences of the pandemic affecting the whole world, but in particular the weakest, as Pope Francis has recalled several times.”

Last June, a single procedure regarding contracts was issued for both the Holy See and Vatican City State. The law covers the transparency and control of contracts, as well as competition in awarding public contracts in view of improving the management of resources as well as reducing the danger of corruption.

The new Statutes of the Office of the Auditor General in the Vatican were approved by Pope Francis in January 2019. Those statutes elevated the Auditor General’s Office to an Anti-Corruption Authority.


This papal message was a reminder to me about the importance of the elderly and retired priests in our lives, and it should be a reminder of how they have dedicated and sacrificed many decades of their lives to bringing Christ to the world and into our lives to make us better Christians. We might want to say a heartfelt “Thank You” to the next retired or elderly priest we meet! And perhaps also to young priests and seminarians as they look forward to ordination and to years of being there for us and with us!

To those friends of mine who are priests and bishops: Tante grazie! God sit on your shoulder!


The Holy Father sent a message to those participating in the Day of Prayer and Fraternity for elderly and sick priests in the Italy’s Lombardy region.

By Vatican News

In the message addressed to “brother priests,” the Pope thanks the Episcopal Conference of Lombardy, which for six years has organized the Day of Prayer and Fraternity with elderly and sick clergy.

File photo of Francis with elderly priests –

Pope Francis writes, “the attention that is shown to those priests who are physically more fragile is beautiful.”

The Pope expresses his delight that elderly and sick priests were able to travel with their bishops to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Caravaggio, despite restrictions due to the coronavirus.

The Shrine is located in the Italy’s Lombardy region and is dedicated to Our Lady of the Fountain.

In the message, Pope Francis thanks his “dear confreres” for their witness of faithful love to God and the Church. “Thank you,” he writes, “for the silent proclamation of the Gospel of life. Thank you because you are a living memory to draw from in order to build the Church’s tomorrow.”

The Pope notes that in recent months, many people have experienced a number of restrictions due to the pandemic. “The days, spent in a limited space, seemed endless and always the same,” he says.

He goes on to say, “we felt the lack of affection from those dear to us, as well as friends; the fear of contagion reminded us of our own vulnerability.” He also points out that many priests got to experience what their elderly brothers are encountering on a daily basis.

Pope Francis expresses the hope “that this period will help us to understand that, much more than occupying space, it is necessary not to waste the time that is given to us; that it will help us to enjoy the beauty of the encounter with the other, to heal from the virus of self-sufficiency.”

“Let us not forget this lesson,” he says.

Quoting from scripture, the Pope says, “also in our priestly life, fragility can be ‘like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap,’ which, raising us up to God, refines and sanctifies us. We are not afraid of suffering: The Lord carries the cross with us.”

Concluding his message, the Pope entrusts sick and elderly priests to the Virgin Mary and remembers in prayer the many priests who have died because of the virus and those who are facing the path of rehabilitation.



At mid-afternoon today the Holy See Press Office released a statement noting that, “The Encyclical ‘Brothers all’ on fraternity and social friendship will be released on Sunday October 4, 2020, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, at 12.00 (Rome time). The text of the Encyclical is to be considered under absolute embargo until that moment.”

As was announced days earlier, Pope Francis will travel to Assisi in Saturday, October 3, to say Mass at the tomb of the saint known here as ‘il Poverello’ (the Little Poor One) where he will then sign the encyclical. Thus, the encyclical itself, in one or more languages, will not be made public until noon the following day by the media who will have received an embargoed copy.


It was fun to watch Pope Francis today in his inter-action with the 500 faithful attending his third weekly general audience in the San Damaso courtyard following six months of live-streamed weekly catecheses from the papal library of the Apostolic Palace. For just over 20 minutes the Holy Father mingled with the faithful – individuals, couples, families, religious sisters and brothers and priests – as they sat in the two areas set off by railings in the courtyard. The chairs were placed at the correct social distance but that distancing ended when the Pope arrived and people began to crowd close to the barriers.

As he has generally done over the years, Francis did not shake hands – though many were held out for that purpose – or hold babies but he did bless people and objects. At one point he received a white zucchetto from a young man, took off his own, wore the new one for maybe 30 seconds, even asking “how do I look?” and then placed the gift zucchetto on the young man’s head. You could see the smiles on people’s faces and on occasion hear the laughter of these exchanges.

San Damaso is indeed a more informal setting than either the Paul VI Hall or St. Peter’s Square, so such inter-action is understandable and enjoyable. (photos by EWTN’s Daniel Ibanez)

Continuing his reflections on the current pandemic in the light of the Church’s social doctrine, Pope Francis began Wednesday’s lesson by saying, “we have seen the vital role played by the many people who generously care for others, especially the sick, elderly and most vulnerable. We have also recognized our responsibility to care for the natural world, whose beauty is all too often ignored and its resources squandered.”

Highlighting the importance of contemplation, he noted that, “in order to regain a proper sense of our place within God’s creation, and of our call to respect and care for the earth and one another, we need to learn anew the art of contemplation. For when we enter into silence and contemplate our interconnected world, we come to appreciate the true meaning and value of all creatures, for each in its own way reflects something of God’s infinite wisdom, goodness and beauty.

“Contemplation,” said Francis, “teaches us how integral we all are to the whole of creation, our calling to be faithful stewards of its riches, and our need to preserve it for future generations.” 

After the general audience catechesis and summaries in seven languages, the Holy Father had some very special words for Polish pilgrims present in the square or listening to the audience through the media. “I cordially greet the Poles,” said Francis. “Today, as we speak of the contemplation of creation, the words of St. John Paul II come to mind: ‘I contemplate the beauty of this land […]. The blue of the sky, the green of the woods and fields seem to speak with exceptional power, the silver of lakes and rivers. […] And all this testifies to the love of the Creator, the life-giving power of his Spirit and the redemption wrought by the Son for man and for the world’. This may the way of living the relationship with creation be for all of us a source of commitment in favor of safeguarding it! I bless you from my heart.” 


Pope Francis also had some moving words about the tragic murder of an Italian priest whose whole life was dedicated to helping the poor.

Vaticannews reported that prior to greeting the Italian-speaking faithful present, Pope Francis paused to recall a priest of the diocese of Como, Italy, who was murdered on Tuesday morning. Fr. Roberto Malgesini’s body was found near the rectory where he lived. Numerous stab wounds were visible, including one on the neck that caused his death.

According to investigators, Fr Malgesini had begun his normal morning routine distributing breakfast to the needy. It appears that the man who murdered him was lying in wait just outside the rectory. Fr Malgesini not only knew this man, who was homeless, but had been providing him assistance. They are said to have been on good terms. However, as Pope Francis himself alluded to in his words during the general audience, the man may have been mentally ill.

Pope Francis said he joins “the sorrow and the prayers of his relatives and to the community” of Como. Then the Pope gave voice to the same sentiments already expressed by the Bishop of Como: “I give praise to God for the witness, that is, for the martyrdom of this witness of charity toward the poorest.”

 The Pope then asked everyone to pause a moment in prayer, both for Fr. Malgesini and for “all the priests, sisters, lay faithful who work with the needy and those society casts away.”