GEORG RATZINGER, BROTHER OF POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT, DIES IN REGENSBURG – FABRIC OF ST PETER: THE POPE APPOINTS EXTRAORDINARY COMMISSIONER

I have no words to express my gratitude, my heartfelt THANK YOU, GRAZIE, GRACIAS; MERCI for the hundreds of birthday cards that, even today, continue to arrive! Cards with messages, flowers, videos, photos, prayers, and Masses said for me. Cards from my family and an extended worldwide family of friends and fans, people whom I know well in person and people I feel I know well but have never met. Your words made my already very rich life just that much richer and if I could, I’d respond to each one of you! May the Lord bless you abundantly!

Many thanks to Jim and Joy of “At Home with Jim and Joy” for a beautiful birthday tribute after my appearance from Rome towards the end of Monday’s live show (about minute 23). Included was a cake made by the show’s producer Mark and decorated by his wife, Maria! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPz3aUtmX7s)

Photos of my birthday celebrations to be posted later today or tomorrow due to the commitments I have this afternoon.

GEORG RATZINGER, BROTHER OF POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT, DIES IN REGENSBURG

The elderly Bavarian priest had been hospitalized in Regensburg, in Bavaria, where he lived and where he received his brother Joseph’s final visit, with whom he had been ordained on the same day.

By Vatican News

Georg Ratzinger, the older brother of the Pope emeritus, died Wednesday morning, aged 96. He had been hospitalized in Regensburg, the city where he lived the greater part of his long life. With his death, Joseph Ratzinger – who had desired to make the journey by plane to see his dying brother one last time – remains the only member of the family still alive. The two brothers – one a musician and kappellmeister of a famous choir, the other first a theologian and then a bishop, cardinal, and finally pope – were ordained together on the same day, and were always closely united.

FOR MORE: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2020-07/georg-ratzinger-death-benedict-xvi-brothers.html

FABRIC OF ST PETER: THE POPE APPOINTS EXTRAORDINARY COMMISSIONER

Pope Francis appoints Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Mario Giordana as extraordinary commissioner whose role will be to bring clarity to the administration of the Fabric and update its Statutes.

By Vatican News

Following the recent promulgation of the Motu Proprio “On transparency, control and competition in the procedures for the award of public contracts of the Holy See and Vatican City State,” the Holy Father, on 29 June, appointed Apostolic Nuncio,  Archbishop Mario Giordana as Extraordinary Commissioner for the Fabric of Saint Peter (Fabbrica di San Pietro).

A statement from the Holy See Press office said the Archbishop will be tasked with “updating the Statutes, clarifying the administration and reorganizing the administrative and technical offices of the Fabric.” In this delicate task, the Commissioner will be assisted by a commission.

The press office stated that this choice “also follows a report from the offices of the Auditor General which this morning led to the acquisition of documents and electronic equipment at the technical and administrative offices of the Fabric of Saint Peter.” The latter operation was “authorised by decree of the Court’s Promoter of Justice, Gian Piero Milano, and the Deputy, Alessandro Diddi, after informing the Secretariat of State.”

The Fabric of Saint Peter (in Latin, Reverenda Fabrica Sancti Petri) is the institution created for the management of all the works necessary for the building and artistic construction of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. The Fabric is entrusted with the complex management of the largest church in the world and the structures on the adjacent territory.

 

ROME CELEBRATES HER PATRON SAINTS, PETER AND PAUL – PAPAL MASSES, PALLIUMS, INFIORATA, AND FIREWORKS FOR TWO SAINTS

Today is one of my favorite feast days of the liturgical calendar, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles. There is always a beautiful papal Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica with the pallium ceremony in which new metropolitan archbishops receive the symbol of their authority. In addition, June 29 is one of two days a year (the other is the February 22 feast of the Chair of Peter) when the bronze statue of the saint for whom the basilica is named is adorned with pontifical vestments, the triple tiara and a papal ring.

It is a holiday in the Vatican and in Rome as well, although the rest of Italy goes to work as if it was just another day! I always loved having this day off the years I worked at the Vatican. Usually there are many festive events planned for June 29 but 2020 is an exceptional year in many ways, including traditional celebrations.

EWTN Rome staff takes Italian and Vatican days off but I go with the U.S. calendar of holidays. Even though it was a workday for me, I try to do as little as possible because, inside me, I know June 29th is a holiday, a festive occasion, a celebration – and celebrate is the key word! You’ll see one result of my work when you tune in to “At Home” with Jim and Joy this afternoon! (posted later on Youtube if you miss it). I also slow down on June 29 as I spend time savoring the year past and preparing for another celebration, a new year on June 30!

The first part of the day was not exactly festive. I attended the funeral of a dear Australian friend from my parish who died Friday, so you might say we celebrated a great life. To know Gina was to love her and she graced our parish family for over 40 years so we knew each other almost from day one!

I had lunch outside at a place near my home and it was surreal! I live on what is normally one of the busiest streets in Rome and today, at 2pm, you could have shot a cannon down the middle of the street and not hit animal, vegetable or mineral! Not just because it was a holidays with Romans away at their seaside homes or in the mountains, but this is a city devoid of tourists, especially Americans and Asians.

The day is winding down so I leave you with a bit of news about the papal Mass this morning.

ROME CELEBRATES HER PATRON SAINTS, PETER AND PAUL

Today, June 29 is the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles and patron saints of the City of Rome. It is a holiday in the Vatican and in Rome and usually is a very festive occasion but the Coronavirus has muted the celebrations this year – the pallium ceremony in St. Peter’s, the infiorata along Via della Conciliazione and events planned by the city, for starters.

Normally, on this feast day, in a ceremony during a papal Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, the new metropolitan archbishops, created since last June 29, receive the pallium from the Pope. The pallium is a white woolen circular band embroidered with six black crosses and two hanging pieces, one in front and another in back, that is worn over the shoulders and symbolizes their authority as archbishop and their special bond with the Roman Pontiff.

Five Americans were among the 54 new archbishops who will receive the palliums blessed at the start of Mass today by Pope Francis: Archbishops Etienne of Seattle, Perez of Philadelphia, Hartmayer of Atlanta, Bellisario of Anchorage and Rozanski of St. Louis.

In addition, 85-year old Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, named dean of the College of Cardinals in January this year, received a pallium by virtue of his new office. It was placed on him by the Pope. Today’s papal Mass, in the presence of about 90 faithful, was concelebrated by 10 of the 14 cardinals who are of the Order of Bishops.

For decades the pallium was placed by the Pope on the shoulders of the new metropolitan archbishops, However, in 2015 Francis changed the traditional ceremony, having decided that the public ceremony of investiture of the pallium on metropolitan archbishops would henceforth take place in their home dioceses and not in the Vatican as has been the case under recent pontiffs. The nuncio to the country of the new archbishop places the pallium on his shouldets.

Traditionally there are big festivities in Rome when the new archbishops, in the company of family members and friends, are present to receive the pallium. There are receptions, luncheons, dinnes, etc. offered by embassies and by national seminaries such as the North American College.

PAPAL MASSES, PALLIUMS, INFIORATA, AND FIREWORKS FOR TWO SAINTS

Here’s a great piece with photos from thelocal.it about this very Roman holiday, so read on.

June 29th is the feast of St Peter and St Paul, the two patron saints of Rome, and a public holiday within the capital. But this year, the celebrations are a little different.

While June 29th remains a holiday in Rome in 2020, the usual celebrations have had to be scaled back because of the coronavirus epidemic.

Here’s what you need to know about the history and traditions of St Peter and Paul’s Day.

That’s right, Rome has two patron saints

St Peter, first bishop of Rome and namesake of the world’s largest church, may be the first name that comes to mind, but St Paul is joint patron of the Eternal City. Both apostles were martyred in Rome within three years of each other and both are said to be buried at the two basilicas that bear their names today: St Peter’s at the Vatican, and St Paul’s Outside the Walls, to the south of the historic centre.

Both churches have matching statues of the two saints. You’ll also see them represented together on either side of the bridge leading to Castel Sant’Angelo, the riverside fortress that once protected the popes, St Peter holding the keys to heaven and St Paul the sword.

It’s a public holiday, but only in Rome

The capital celebrates June 29th as an official holiday, so be prepared to find some shops and offices closed and transport running on a reduced schedule.

But you can expect less disruption than you’d find on a nationwide holiday, with intercity transport operating as usual and most museums and visitor attractions remaining open. And if you work in Rome, you might even get the day off.

The celebrations are solemn…

As you’d expect, most of the festivities are concentrated in and around St Peter and Paul’s twin basilicas. They start with special vespers at St Paul’s on the evening of June 28th, followed by masses throughout the next day. The church concludes its celebrations with a solemn procession of the iron chains said to have held Paul as he awaited his death.

FOR FULL STORY: https://www.thelocal.it/20180628/st-peter-st-paul-day-june-29-public-holiday-rome

VATICAN INSIDER TOURS VATICAN CITY STATE – VATICAN NEWS: STORIES FROM THE U.S.

VATICAN INSIDER TOURS VATICAN CITY STATE

Join me again on Vatican Insider on this final weekend of June – unbelievable! As you know by now, in recent months because of Covid-19 and restrictions placed on and by individuals for in-person interviews, I’ve prepared a number of Specials in place of interviews. Last week we visited the final basilica on our tour of Rome’s Seven Pilgrim Basilicas by going to St. Sebastian’s basilica and catacombs.

This week I take you on a tour of Vatican City State – its gardens, fountains, statues, buildings, the mosaic studio, the department store, train station and much more. At the very end I will tell you how to reserve tickets to visit Vatican City, its stunning gardens and even Castelgandolfo –all offered by the Vatican Museums.

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IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

VATICAN NEWS: STORIES FROM THE U.S

MIAMI ARCHBISHOP: CHURCHES SAFE DESPITE US COVID-19 SPIKE

As confirmed Covid-19 infections continue to surge in the US state of Florida, Archbishop Thomas Wenski says Catholic Churches in Miami are taking precautions seriously. “The priests were still offering the people of God the essential service of their prayers, even when they could not be physically with them.” In an interview with Vatican Radio, the Archbishop of Miami, Archbishop Thomas Wenski, described the current situation in the US state of Florida. “Many of our hospitals have reported a growing number of admissions. There are a couple of hospitals that are at their maximum, but there are still hospitals able to receive patients, so we’re not anywhere near the crisis of New York of a few months ago.” CONTINUE: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2020-06/archbishop-wenski-miami-usa-coronavirus-churches.html

US BISHOPS CALL FOR POLICE REFORM

The bishop chairmen of three committees of the United States Bishops’ Conference have written to federal lawmakers in the US, urging them to consider proposals aimed at improving formation of police officers and accountability for police. Released on Wednesday, the letter comes in the wake of the current re-examination of “the evil of racism, both historic and present, and its devastating effects on individuals and society” occasioned by the “terrible and unjust killing of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and so many others.” Archbishop Paul Coakley, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Bishop Mario Dorsonville, chairman of the Committee on Migration; and Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism acknowledge that “law enforcement officers perform a great and needed service” to society, but say “it is clear that there have been too many failures in serving everyone, with tragic consequences.” CONTINUE: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2020-06/us-bishops-call-for-police-reform.html

US BISHOPS ISSUE ANNUAL CHILD AND YOUTH PROTECTION REPORT

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection released its 2019 Annual Report. The conference announced on Thursday that its Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection has released “Findings and Recommendations on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” The 2019 report for the year July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 shows that 4,220 adults came forward with 4,434 allegations of abuse. The figures are a marked increase compared to the previous year. The statement says that the rise is due in part to new complaints that were added during trials, compensation programs and bankruptcy proceedings in progress. The document also shows 37 allegations were made by current minors, of which 8 were substantiated, 7 were unsubstantiated, and 6 were unable to be proven. Twelve allegations are still under investigation, 3 others were referred to religious orders, and 1 was referred to another diocese. CONTINUE: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2020-06/us-bishops-issue-annual-child-and-youth-protection-report.html

NEW DIRECTORY FOR CATECHESIS RELEASED – ‘NO SEGWAYS, NO CROWDS, AND ONLY ITALIAN SPOKEN’: HERE’S WHAT VISITING ROME IS LIKE RIGHT NOW – 10 STATISTICS THAT SHOW HOW IMPORTANT AMERICAN TOURISTS ARE TO ITALY

NEW DIRECTORY FOR CATECHESIS RELEASED

The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization releases a new Directory for Catechesis, providing guidelines for the Church’s mission of proclaiming the Gospel through catechesis and evangelization.

By Vatican News

The long-awaited updated Directory for Catechesis was released in the Vatican on Thursday. It was drafted under the direction of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. It was approved by Pope Francis on 23 March – the liturgical memorial of Saint Turibius of Mongrovejo, a 16th century saint who gave a strong impetus to evangelization and catechesis. This latest edition comes as a follow-up to the “General Catechetical Directory” of 1971, and the “General Directory for Catechesis” of 1997, both   issued by the Congregation for Clergy.

The new Directory seeks to highlight the close link between evangelization and catechesis. It underlines that every baptized person is a missionary called to find new ways of communicating the faith with commitment and responsibility. In this regard, the new Directory proposes three major principles of action: Witnessing, Mercy and Dialogue. The new Directory containing over 300 pages, and is made up of 3 parts divided into 12 chapters.

FOR MORE DETAIL: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city/news/2020-06/vatican-publishes-new-directory-for-catechesis.html

‘NO SEGWAYS, NO CROWDS, AND ONLY ITALIAN SPOKEN’: HERE’S WHAT VISITING ROME IS LIKE RIGHT NOW

With tourism into Italy still limited, those living in the country have a unique opportunity to see the sights without the usual crowds. Mark Hinshaw, an American writer in Italy, reports back on a particularly magical weekend in Rome.

I did not think it possible to go to Rome and not once hear English spoken. Yet, on a recent trip over several days, we heard nothing but Italian. It was nothing less than astonishing.

During past trips to that city I usually found myself dodging lumbering tour buses, being shoved off sidewalks by phalanxes of tourists, and stepping around stationary couples holding folded maps upside down or squinting at their cell phones in the sun. Once, I was stuck walking behind a gaggle of American teenagers loudly complaining that they couldn’t find a McDonalds.

We live about four hours northeast of Rome. Last week we visited Rome to experience this historic moment that is unlikely to be repeated in our lifetimes.

Due to a lack of customers, many hotels were closed, as were some shops and restaurants. Many of those that had opened were closed by 10pm.

In order to see the Sistine Chapel, one now needs an appointment, as the Vatican Museum limits the number of people inside at any one time. We arrived at 10 for our appointment and were called to the door a few minutes later.

After a security and temperature check, we were in. Everyone wore masks. For the next two hours, we enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the many luxuriant corridors and galleries containing art and artifacts. When we finally entered the Sistine Chapel it was occupied by only a handful of people. And there it was, the famous work by Michelangelo, the glorious ceiling with the finger of God touching the finger of man.

FOR MORE: https://www.thelocal.it/20200624/we-heard-nothing-but-italian-spoken-what-its-like-visiting-rome-right-now

10 STATISTICS THAT SHOW HOW IMPORTANT AMERICAN TOURISTS ARE TO ITALY

As US citizens wait to find out when they’ll be allowed to travel to Italy again, we look at just how important American tourism is to Italy and its economy.

Customers enjoy a drink and the sunshine at the terrace of Cafe Quadri on St. Mark’s Square by the basilica in Venice on June 12, 2020 as the country eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. (Photo by ANDREA PATTARO / AFP)

Italy was the first European country to allow tourism (and all types of non-essential travel) from within Europe to restart on June 3rd. But other visitors, including from the US, are still barred from entering the country for all but the most urgent reasons.

No date has yet been confirmed for travel to restart from the US.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Americans will be among those allowed entry to the EU when the bloc starts to reopen its borders on July 1st, according to the latest reports.

With Italy’s tourism sector now in crisis due to the shutdown, travel businesses are of course keen for non-EU visitors to return as soon as possible. But if Americans are unable to visit this summer, their absence will be felt profoundly.

Here are a few statistics that show just how important US tourists are to Italy.

5.6 million

The number of Americans who visited Italy in 2019 according to Italian government figures. The US is second only to Germany (with 12.1 million) when it comes to the number of tourists coming to Italy annually.

FOR MORE: https://www.thelocal.it/20200624/10-statistics-that-show-how-important-american-tourists-are-to-italy

www.thelocal.it also offers: Ten must-see places within reach of Rome; This weekend you can visit Italy’s hidden ‘green heritage’; The parts of Italy that are offering incentives to tempt tourists back.

POPE FRANCIS: WE ARE NEVER ALONE IF WE BRING OUR LIVES TO GOD IN PRAYER – JOHN THE BAPTIST TEACHES US TO BEAR WITNESS TO JESUS

Italians today celebrate the feast day of St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of many Italian cities whose name has also been given to countless churches in this country and around the world, including Rome’s cathedral, St. John Lateran. Often Italians celebrate their “onomastico” – their name day – with greater fervor and more gifts and parties than they do birthdays. So if your name is John, Joan or a derivative thereof, then “Buon onomastico” – Happy Name Day!

Covid has muted what are usually great celebrations in Rome on this day, especially the traditional musical festivals in and around St. John Lateran.

POPE FRANCIS: WE ARE NEVER ALONE IF WE BRING OUR LIVES TO GOD IN PRAYER

At the weekly general audience, Pope Francis reflected on how King David prayed while shepherding God’s people with his poet’s soul.

By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

Pope Francis focused his catechesis at the Wednesday general audience on the Biblical figure of King David.

“Favored by God even from his youth, he is chosen for a unique mission that would play a central role in the history of the people of God and in our own faith.”

Jesus, said the Pope, is called “son of David” and fulfilled the ancient promises of “a King completely after God’s heart, in perfect obedience to the Father.”

David’s own story, said Pope Francis, begins in Bethlehem, where he shepherds his father’s flock. “He worked in the open air: we can think of him as a friend of the wind, of the sounds of nature, of the sun’s rays.”

The Pope said David is first of all a shepherd. He defends others from danger and provides for their sustenance. In this line, Jesus called Himself “the good shepherd,” who “offers His life on behalf of the sheep. He guides them; He knows each one by name.”

Later in life, when David goes astray by having a man killed in order to take his wife, he immediately understands his sin when the prophet Nathan reproves him. “David understands right away that he had been a bad shepherd,” said the Pope, “that he was no longer a humble servant, but a man who was crazy for power, a poacher who looted and preyed on others.”

Pope Francis went on to reflect on what he called David’s “’poet’s soul’ …He has only one companion to comfort his soul: his harp; and during those long days spent in solitude, he loves to play and to sing to his God.”

David, said the Pope, was not a vulgar man. He often raised hymns to God, whether to express his joy, lamentation, or repentance. “The world that presented itself before his eyes was not a silent scene: as things unraveled before his gaze, he observed a greater mystery.”

Prayer, said Pope Francis, arises from “the conviction that life is not something that takes us by surprise, but a stupefying mystery that inspires poetry, music, gratitude, praise, even lament and supplication in us.”

Biblical tradition, he noted, holds that David was the great artist behind the composition of the Psalms.

David, said the Holy Father, dreamed of being a good shepherd. He was many things: “holy and sinful, persecuted and persecutor, victim and murderer.”

Like him, events in our own lives reveal us in a similar light. “In the drama of life, all people often sin because of inconsistency.”

Pope Francis said that, like David, there is one golden thread that runs through all our lives: prayer.

“David teaches us to let everything enter into dialogue with God: joy as well as guilt, love as well as suffering, friendship as much as sickness,” he said. “Everything can become a word spoken to the ‘You’ who always listens to us.”

David, concluded Pope Francis, knew solitude but “was in reality never alone! This is the power of prayer in all those who make space for it in their lives. Prayer makes us noble: it is capable of securing our relationship with God who is the true Companion on the journey of every man and woman, in the midst of life’s thousand adversities.”

JOHN THE BAPTIST TEACHES US TO BEAR WITNESS TO JESUS

By Vatican News

In his greetings to the Italian-speaking faithful at the weekly general audience, Pope Francis recalled the liturgical solemnity of the day, noting that, “Today is the feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. Let us learn from the one who was the forerunner of Jesus the ability to bear witness to the Gospel with courage, beyond our own differences, while preserving the harmony and friendship that form the basis of any credible proclamation of the faith.”

The Pope also said, in his address to the Spanish-speaking faithful, that both Saint John the Baptist and King David knew how to draw people’s attention to the true God.  He prayed that their example might be a source of encouragement for the faithful, so that “we may seek God’s friendship through prayer, and our example might help bring God to men and women, and men and women to God.”

Turning his thoughts towards the current temperate season in the Northern Hemisphere, Pope Francis expressed hopes that the summer might be “a time of serenity and a beautiful opportunity to contemplate God in the masterpiece of His creation.”

He prayed that, despite the Covid-19 crisis, the holiday season might be “a peaceful time of rest, enjoyment of the beauty of creation, and strengthening of the ties between us and God.”

THE REAL STARS IN THE WAR ON VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN, TRAFFICKING, EXPLOITATION

THE REAL STARS IN THE WAR ON VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN, TRAFFICKING, EXPLOITATION

Two ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, Callista Gingrich of the United States and Britain’s Sally Axworthy this morning co-chaired an online symposium about women religious on the frontlines in the wars on human trafficking and exploitation, on violence against children, often sold into slavery or prostitution, and how they are challenged in a world dominated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The hour-long program, conducted online via Zoom, allowed participants toward the end to ask questions of or make comments about the presentations by three amazing, women religious: Sr. Stan Terese Mario Mumuni spoke of her work in Ghana, Sr. Imelda Poole, a Sister of the Blessed Virgin Mary spoke of her work with victims of human trafficking in Albania, and native Italian, Sr. Alicia Vacass, a Comboni Sister working in Jerusalem who told the story of how her community in Bergamo was affected by the Coronavirus.

This was one of the most riveting hours I have spent in recent weeks. I was glued to my screen as each nun told her particular story and the most riveting part was that they never saw themselves as the center of the story. These unsung heroines – and there are tens of thousands of them around the world – focused on the people they were trying to help, mostly women and children. They focused on the challenges and difficulties that societies and governments (and now the pandemic) brought to their work. If they had a degree of success in their work, they said, it was because of community, because of solidarity and, in many cases, because of the help they received from laypeople.

If you have time – or are willing to make time – you can spend an hour that might change you in a number of ways, the first being a new awareness of the horrible scourge of human trafficking, a new awareness of violence (including murder) inflicted on children in certain societies simply because they were born with a birth defect or born blind or born without a limb (Sr. Mumuni may well leave you in tears). Click here for the video encounter: https://www.facebook.com/holysee.usembassy/

The stories are not told with bitterness or rancor. They reflect the love these sisters have for their faith, for their calling, and for their fellow religious but above all, their love of humanity, of their brothers and sisters around the globe who need their help and, when they receive it, can offer nothing in return, except perhaps love.

The following brief biographies are from vaticannews.va. I took the pictures from my iPad screen during the symposium.

Frontline work amid pandemic
Sr. Stan Terese Mario Mumuni spoke of her work in Ghana.

In 2009 she opened an orphanage for children with birth defects who would otherwise have been killed. The work that she and her sisters do is also recognized by the Muslim population, she said. The pandemic caught them by surprise. All of a sudden one day the Sisters were called to pick up the children they care for from the schools where they receive education. All of their support systems fell apart overnight due to the pandemic. Now the Sisters are trying to feed and support the children round the clock. Some are blind, others are deaf, others have spinal and other defects…. They continue to get calls from people who beg them to come and take in children who would otherwise be killed. Sister Stan said that they rely completely on God’s Providence and marvelled at what they are able to do with next to nothing.

Human trafficking
Sr Imelda Poole, a Sister of the Blessed Virgin Mary spoke of her work with victims of human trafficking in Albania.

The NGO she founded, called Mary Ward Loreto, addresses the root causes of human trafficking. In her work with RENATE (Religious in Europe Networking Against Trafficking and Exploitation), she sees three shifts that have taken place since the lockdown began. RENATE is now working 70-80% online, which includes counseling victims, she said. This, Sr Imelda said, is vital to people who have become victims to human trafficking. The second major shift she cited is a massive increase of starvation and hunger, and the third is an explosion of children going online leading to an increase in sexual exploitation. “Together we need to break the chains of the exploiters,” she said. “We call on the governments to ensure that law is implemented at this time”. Her organization is also, therefore, in touch with law enforcement responsible for human trafficking crimes and encouraging them not to lower their guard in this area.

Helping friends in need
A Comboni Sister working in Jerusalem, Sr Alicia Vacas recounted the story of how her community in Bergamo was affected by the Coronavirus.

She and other sisters who are nurses traveled there to help. Sr Alicia said that about 45 sisters and staff out of a total of 55 or 60 sisters were sick with the virus. Their main concern, she said, was lack of protection. This need was met by others religious communities, one as far away as Hong Kong, who sent material and protection. Even a contemplative community in Bergamo helped them. As a Comboni Sister, Sr Alicia underlined it is part of their DNA to share the tragedies that others go through. Being able to communicate care, affection and gratitude to her older sisters was a blessing, she said. She also spoke of what other Comboni sisters are doing to care for people in mission territories. “They are bearing the burdens of their people”, she said. “They live witnessing to the love that God has for all his children”.

Sr Jolanda Kafka, President of the Union of Superiors General, closed the event saying that the examples the sisters recounted are touching, and have brought us to touch concrete reality and persons. About 650,000 sisters are working at the grass roots providing sisterly and motherly care, she noted. “This is what consecration means”, she said, “giving our lives and serving Him through humanity.”

Here are links to the opening remarks by Ambassadors Callista Gingrich and Sally Axworthy:

https://va.usembassy.gov/ambassador-gingrichs-opening-remarks-at-women-religious-on-the-frontlines-symposium/

https://va.usembassy.gov/british-ambassador-to-the-holy-see-sally-axworthys-remarks-at-women-religious-on-the-frontlines-symposium/

DINING AL FRESCO: THE BEAUTY OF PIAZZA NAVONA

Well, summer is here, it is hot and it is hard to wear a mask when it is in the mid 80s, I have discovered. I was on a bus today and had to stand because of few seats being available. It seemed to be warmer in the bus and all I could think of, for some reason, was what my Mom told us to do in difficult moments or during disappointments: “Offer it up for the poor souls in purgatory!”

That was very ingrained in us as children and it has honestly always been part of my life. The idea of “offering something up” for someone I did not know in purgatory was challenging to me as a child but then one day I was consoled when someone told me, “think of all the souls who will be praying for you when they get out of purgatory!”   We can also “offer something up” for people we do know – people who are ill or unhappy or undergoing trials or perhaps just received some terrible news.

I have to share something with you. I’ve noticed that, many of the times I have offered up some pain or physical suffering, it seemed to lessen just a bit! Was a soul in purgatory working on that?

Now, when I see my mask, it will be an occasion “to offer something up for a poor soul!”

DINING AL FRESCO: THE BEAUTY OF PIAZZA NAVONA

Over the weekend I did something I’ve wanted to do for many months – return to a spot that is one of my favorites in all of Italy – Piazza Navona. I called the restaurant to see if indeed they were open and reserved a table. Several big restaurants were still closed but those that were open seemed to be doing OK There were quite a number of people in the square but nothing like it would be on a normal June Saturday evening!

I took just a few pics with my cell phone during the course of dinner.

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Most of the people seemed to be families or couples. I saw more children last Saturday than I have in months – children, laughing and playing and enjoying themselves immensely! It was a great tonic! Is there anything better than a child’s laughter!

I got to Navona about 8 – by 9 or a bit after, families were on their way home and those who remained were couples and yes, a few tourists, mostly Italian. I think they know this will be the best time of their lives to visit their own beautiful nation without the mega-busses and huge crowds and long lines, etc.

I wanted to enjoy the evening and not be afraid to go out so I took all the necessary precautions, wearing a mask except during dinner, making sure hands were clean, keeping all the right distances – but the restaurants themselves are doing that – the tables many feet apart, masks and gloves for waiters, etc.

THREE NEW TITLES ADDED TO LITANY OF BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

THREE NEW TITLES ADDED TO LITANY OF BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

From the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments:

LETTER TO THE PRESIDENTS OF CONFERENCES OF BISHOPS ON THE INVOCATIONS “MATER MISERICORDIÆ”, “MATER SPEI”, AND “SOLACIUM MIGRANTIUM” TO BE INSERTED INTO THE LITANY OF LORETO

Vatican City, 20 June 2020, Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Your Eminence, Your Excellency,

The Church which walks along the pathways of history as a pilgrim towards the heavenly Jerusalem and enjoys inseparable communion with Christ her Spouse and Saviour, entrusts herself to her who believed in the word of the Lord.

We know from the Gospel that the disciples of Jesus had in fact learned from the very beginning to praise her as “blessed amongst women” and to count on her maternal intercession.

The titles and invocations which Christian piety has reserved for the Virgin Mary over the course of the centuries, as the privileged and sure way to an encounter with Christ, are innumerable.

Even in this present moment which is marked by feelings of uncertainty and trepidation, devout recourse to her, which is full of affection and trust, is deeply felt by the People of God.

Discerning this sentiment and welcoming the desires expressed, the Supreme Pontiff, Pope FRANCIS, wishes to provide that in the formulary of the litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, called “The Litany of Loreto”, the invocations “Mater misericordiæ”, “Mater spei” and “Solacium migrantium” should be inserted.

The first invocation shall be placed after “Mater Ecclesiæ”, the second after “Mater divinæ gratiæ”, while the third shall be placed after “Refugium peccatorum”. With every good wish and kind regard, we wish to entrust this notification to you for your information and application.

Sincerely in the Lord,

Robert. Card. Sarah Prefect +

Arthur Roche Archbishop Secretary

VATICAN INSIDER: ST. SEBASTIAN BASILICA AND CATACOMBS – POPE BENEDICT XVI CELEBRATES MASS WITH HIS ILL BROTHER ON FEAST OF THE SACRED HEART

I am so happy to share the lovely news of the two Ratzinger brothers – Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and Msgr. Georg – saying mass together in Regensburg, Germany. And this just days before the June 29 anniversary of their priestly ordination in the cathedral of Freising on that day in 1951!

Msgr. Georg lives in this building on Luzengasse in Regensburg.

I took this photo in September 2006 when Benedict made a visit to his beloved Bavaria. Wednesday, September 13, was set aside as a day for the two brothers to spend together – no public activities for Benedict XVI – and the Munich Tourism Office offered several possible day or half-day trips for the media. I signed up for a trip to visit all the places of the pope’s childhood and youth and to this very day, it was one of the best travel memories I ever had in Germany.

When I returned to Rome I bought a photo printer, took perhaps 24 of the best photos I had taken during my trip and made copies from the memory card. I bought a beautiful photo album, put one picture on each page with a one-word description of each place (not that I thought it would be necessary!) and gave that album to Pope Benedict!

Maybe some day I’ll do a slideshow of some of the enchanting places associated with the pope’s childhood and youth.

VATICAN INSIDER: ST. SEBASTIAN BASILICA AND CATACOMBS

As you know, because of the COVID-19 crisis and restrictions imposed on and by people for in person interviews – at least up to now – in recent weeks I have filled what is normally the interview segment of Vatican Insider with Specials. So far, I’ve explored 6 of the 7 Roman basilicas known as the Pilgrim Basilicas – St. Peter’s, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, St. Paul’s outside the Walls, Holy Cross in Jerusalem, and St. Lawrence al Verano. Come with me this weekend as we go to the basilica of St. Sebastian that was built above the catacombs of the same name and is dedicated to the third-century saint who was twice martyred.

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So tune in for some fascinating facts and when you come to Rome, you’ll have this podcast as your guide to St. Sebastian!

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

POPE BENEDICT XVI CELEBRATES MASS WITH HIS ILL BROTHER ON FEAST OF THE SACRED HEART

The brothers celebrated Mass together at the house in Regensburg and the pope emeritus then travelled to the diocesan seminary in the afternoon to rest.

Catholic News Agency

REGENSBURG, Germany — Pope emeritus Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass with his ailing brother on the feast of the Sacred Heart during his first full day in Germany Friday.

A June 19 statement from the Diocese of Regensburg said that after Pope Benedict XVI arrived from Rome at noon on Thursday he immediately visited his 96-year-old brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger.

The brothers celebrated Mass together at the house in Regensburg and the pope emeritus then travelled to the diocesan seminary in the afternoon to rest. In the evening, he returned to see his brother.

The diocese said: “For the first morning in his old homeland, an authentic Bavarian breakfast awaited the pope emeritus in the seminary. There were pretzels, which Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who accompanied him, was also pleased about.”

“In the course of the morning the two brothers will celebrate together a high mass for today’s feast of the Sacred Heart.”

The diocese added that “afterwards there will be apple strudel,” a popular pastry in Bavaria and Austria.

FOR MORE: https://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/pope-benedict-xvi-celebrates-mass-with-his-ill-brother-on-feast-of-the-sacr

 

POPE EMERITUS AT BEDSIDE OF HIS BROTHER IN GERMANY

POPE EMERITUS AT BEDSIDE OF HIS BROTHER IN GERMANY 

From AciStampa:

A state flight from Ciampino airport brought Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to Munich and then to Regensburg this morning. The Pope Emeritus joined his seriously ill brother Georg with a decision that once again surprises everyone.

Around 12.30 Benedict landed in Munich and then went to his brother’s residence.  Before getting into the car to get to the diocesan seminary where the Pope emeritus is staying, he blessed little Kostantin, two weeks old. Despite his 93 years the Pope emeritus was in good shape and energy.

Monsignor Ratzinger is 96 years old and the bond between the two brothers has always been very strong. The Pope Emeritus was accompanied by Archbishop Gänswein, his personal secretary.

The decision was made quickly after his brother’s health had rapidly deteriorated in recent days, although he remained in his residence.  Because of the pandemic, Monsignor Georg had not been able to be in the Vatican as always at Easter.

Benedict was received by Bishop Georg Bätzing. Prior to his departure Benedict received a visit from Pope Francis.