A statement this morning from Matteo Bruni notes this is his first day as the new director of the Holy See Press Office: “Today I begin my appointment as director of the Holy See Press Office after serving there for ten years in a spirit of service to the Pope and the Holy See with the experience and strength at my disposal. I thank my colleague and friend Alessandro Gisotti for having generously and expertly led the press office in recent months. I am aware of the delicate and decisive task of information and I am sure I will find support in my colleagues, whose value and professionalism in these intense years of work for the Holy See I have come to know. I thank the Holy Father for his confidence and the prefect of the Communication Department, Paolo Ruffini, for the support of the dicastery, which I know will not be lacking.


Statement by Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni on Monday, July 22: “This morning in Damascus, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, accompanied by Cardinal Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio in Syria, and by the undersecretary of the aforementioned Dicastery, Fr. Nicola Riccardi, met with President Bashar Hafez al-Assad. During the meeting, the Cardinal prefect presented to the head of State a letter addressed to him by the Holy Father, which expresses the profound concern of His Holiness Pope Francis for the humanitarian situation in Syria, with particular reference to the dramatic conditions of the civil population in Idlib.”


Acts of war and bombardments against defenseless civilians continue to occur in Syria. With dozens of health facilities destroyed or closed in Idlib Province, Pope Francis asks Cardinal Turkson to deliver a letter to the Syrian President.
By Andrea Tornielli

Protection of civilian life, an end to the humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib Province, concrete initiatives for a safe return of displaced persons, the release of detainees and access for families to information regarding their loved ones, and humane conditions for political prisoners. All this and a renewed appeal for a resumption of dialogue and negotiations with the involvement of the international community.

These are the concerns and concrete requests contained in a letter that Pope Francis addressed to Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad. The Pope’s letter, dated 28 June 2019, was delivered only hours ago by Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

The Cardinal, bearing the missive written in English, was accompanied by Fr. Nicola Riccardi, O.F.M., Undersecretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and by Cardinal Mario Zenari, the Apostolic Nuncio to Syria.

Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, the Pope’s primary collaborator, spoke to Vatican News about the content and purpose of the letter.

Q: Your Eminence, why did the Pope decide to write to President Assad?
Cardinal Parolin: “At the heart of this new initiative lies Pope Francis’ and the Holy See’s concern for the emergency humanitarian situation in Syria, in particular in Idlib Province. More than 3 million people live in the area, of which 1.3 million are internally displaced, forced by the long conflict in Syria to find refuge in the area, which last year was declared demilitarized. The recent military offensive has added to the already extreme living conditions they had to endure in the camps, forcing many of them to flee. The Pope follows with apprehension and great sorrow the tragic fate of the civilian population, children in particular, caught up in the bloody fighting. Unfortunately, the war grinds on – it has not ended: the bombings continue, various health facilities have been destroyed in that area, while many others have had to suspend their activities, either completely or partially.”

Q: What is the Pope asking of President Assad in the letter that was delivered?
A: “Pope Francis renews his appeal for the protection of civilian life and the preservation of the main infrastructures, such as schools, hospitals, and health facilities. What is happening is intolerable and inhuman. The Holy Father asks the President to do everything possible to put an end to this humanitarian catastrophe, in order to protect the defenseless population, especially those who are most vulnerable, in respect for international humanitarian law”.

Q: From what you have said, it seems that the intent of the papal initiative is not “political”. Is that true?
A: “Yes, it is. As I have already explained, the concern is humanitarian-based. The Pope continues to pray that Syria may regain a climate of fraternity after these long years of war, and that reconciliation may prevail over division and hatred. In his letter, the Holy Father uses the word ‘reconciliation’ three times: this is his objective, for the good of that country and its defenseless population. The Pope encourages President Bashar al-Assad to carry out significant gestures in this urgent process of reconciliation, and he offers concrete examples. He cites, for example, creating the conditions needed for the safe return of exiles and internally displaced persons, and for all those who wish to return to the country after having been forced to leave. He also mentions the release of prisoners and the access of families to information about their loved ones.”

Q: Another dramatic issue is that of political prisoners. Does the Pope mention this topic?
A: “Yes, Pope Francis is particularly concerned about the situation of political prisoners, to whom – he affirms –humane conditions cannot be denied. In March 2018, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic published a report on this issue, saying there are tens of thousands of people who have been arbitrarily detained. At times – in unofficial prisons and in unknown places – they are allegedly subjected to various forms of torture without any legal assistance or contact with their families. The report notes that, unfortunately, many of them die in prison, while others are summarily executed.”

Q: What then is the purpose of this new initiative by Francis?
A: “The Holy See has always insisted on the need to seek an appropriate political solution to end the conflict, overcoming partisan interests. And this must be done using the instruments of diplomacy, dialogue, and negotiation, along with the assistance of the international community. We have had to learn once again that war generates war and violence incites violence – as the Pope has said many times, and as he repeats also in this letter. Unfortunately, we are concerned about the stalemate in the negotiation process – especially that seen in Geneva – for a political solution to the crisis. That is why, in the letter sent to President Assad, the Holy Father encourages him to show good will and to work towards finding viable solutions, putting an end to a conflict which has lasted far too long and which has led to the loss of numerous innocent lives”.


Pope Francis Sunday at the Angelus recalled the first time a person set foot on the moon, expressing hope that achieving this goal might inspire work toward even greater ones.

By Francesca Merlo (vaticannews)

“Fifty years ago, yesterday”, Pope Francis said on Sunday, “Man set foot on the moon, achieving an extraordinary dream.”

Addressing the crowd gathered in St Peter’s Square, the Pope expressed his hope that the memory of “that great step for humanity” might spark the desire to reach even “greater goals – more dignity for the weak, more justice among peoples, and more future for our common home.”

Pope St. Paul VI, who expressed much interest in space travel and spent lots of time at the Vatican Observatory, was Pope on July 20, 1969. On that night, along with millions worldwide he watched Neil Armstrong become the first man to set foot on the moon.

Fifty years later, Pope Francis has dedicated much of his pontificate to the fight for the rights of those who are most vulnerable in today’s society as well as for the care of our common home.

Francis has expressed, on numerous occasions, in both words and actions, his desire to help those in need: migrants, the poor, the ill, the elderly and our planet – our common home.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic moon landing, therefore, Pope Francis shared his hopes for the future and that people worldwide might be inspired by this historic achievement to pursue these fights, and to reach, as mankind did 50 years ago, other extraordinary dreams.


Two statements were sent out on Saturday, July 20, by Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Holy See Press Office regarding the recent discovery of bones in the Teutonic College, adjacent to the Teutonic cemetery in Vatican City:

Gisotti began: “At 9am this morning, operations began regularly at the Teutonic cemetery as part of the investigative tasks of the Orlandi case. As indicated in the decree of the Promoter of Justice of Vatican City State, the operations concern two ossuaries identified in an area adjacent to the tombs of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe and Princess Carlotta Federica of Mecklenburg.

“The remains were analyzed and studied on site in these hours by Prof. Giovanni Arcudi and his staff in the presence of the trusted expert appointed by the Orlandi family – according to internationally recognized protocols.

“It is not possible to predict, at the moment, the duration of the work to complete the morphological analysis of the remains found in the ossuaries.

“Today, in addition to Prof. Arcudi and his staff, the staff of the Fabbrica di San Pietro are working in the Teutonic Campo Santo for the opening and closing of the ossuaries and the staff of the COS, the Vatican Gendarme Security Operations Center. Present the Promoter of Justice of the Court of the State of the Vatican City, Prof. Gian Piero Milano, and his Deputy Prof. Alessandro Diddi, the lawyer of the Orlandi Family and the Officer in charge of the services of the judicial police of the Corps of the Gendarmerie.

“With this new forensic activity – after the operations of July 11 – the availability of the Holy See to the Orlandi Family is highlighted once again. An availability shown from the outset to accepting the (family) requests for verification (of possible remains) in the Teutonic cemetery, even on the basis of a mere anonymous report.

The second statement this afternoon noted that, “At 3 pm, work in the Teutonic cemetery was concluded as part of the investigative tasks of the Orlandi case. Prof. Giovanni Arcudi and his staff – in the presence of the trusted expert appointed by the Orlandi Family – brought to light the remains present in the ossuaries, which were subjected to an initial evaluation.
“According to the Office of the Promoter of Justice of the Vatican City State Court, the expert operations will continue on Saturday July 27, at 9 am, with an in-depth morphological analysis of the remains contained in the ossuaries.”



I normally announce my weekend Vatican Insider guest on my Friday blog but am trying today to get a bit ahead of myself as I’ll be on the road tomorrow afternoon and you never know what snafus there might be with travel plans. I’ll be going to a piece of heaven that Italians call the Amalfi Coast to join a niece and her beautiful family on Part Two of their Italian vacation. Hope to post some amazing photos just so you can get a glimpse of heaven here on earth.

I urge you to stay tuned after the news segment of Vatican Insider for my conversation with Msgr. Richard Soseman of the diocese of Peoria in Illinois. He is the vice postulator for the cause for canonization of Venerable Servant of God Abp. Fulton Sheen. You won’t want to miss this!

At EWTN studios in Rome:

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on 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 ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)


Pope Francis today made some important appointments in the Vatican’s communications field, naming Matteo Bruni as director of the Holy See Press Office. He also appointed Alessandro Gisotti, interim director for the past 6 plus months, and Sergio Centofanti as deputy directors of the Editorial Directorate at the Dicastery for Communication.

British-born Matteo Bruni becomes the new spokesperson of the Holy See on July 22. He graduated in modern and contemporary foreign languages and literature from Rome’s La Sapienza University. He has been working since July 2009 at the Holy See Press Office, where he has been overseeing the accreditation of journalists and operational communications as coordinator of the accreditation section. In this role, he organized reporters accompanying the Holy Father on papal trips outside Italy. Bruni speaks Italian, English, Spanish and French.

Alessandro Gisotti, interim director until July 22, is a graduate of political science from Rome’s La Sapienza University and a professional journalist. After a stint at the United Nations Office of Information in Rome, he began working at Vatican Radio in 2000. From 2011 to 2016 he was deputy editor-in-chief at the Pope’s radio. In 2017 he became the coordinator of social media of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication.

He has taught journalism at the Jesuit Maximus Institute in Rome and theories and techniques of journalism at the Pontifical Lateran University. (photo of Gisotti in press office from Angela Ambrogetti of ACI Stampa/EWTN)

Thank you, Alessandro! Tante grazie!

Born in Naples, Sergio Centofanti, 59, graduated in literature from Rome’s La Sapienza University in 1986. Starting his career as a journalist in the early ‘80s, he joined Vatican Radio in 1986, working for the first 10 years with the morning edition world news in Italian. He has covered Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis on various Italian and international trips. In 2017 he was called to be part of the Multimedia Editorial Center in charge of coordinating the activities of the various language units of Vatican Radio-Vatican News.




Aid to the Church in Need is sponsoring two new projects to assist Christians living in Syria.

by Vatican News

The Secretary General of the United Nations says the UN “remains deeply concerned over the safety and protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure following continued reports of hostilities in north-west Syria over the last days, including air strikes, shelling and the alleged use of barrel bombs.”

According to the UN, more than 30 civilians have been killed in the area of Idlib since 12 July.

The United Nations is urging “all parties to respect their obligations under International Humanitarian Law, to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, and to exercise restraint.”

Aid for Syrian Christians
Meanwhile, Aid to the Church in Need has launched a new appeal to help Christians in Syria.

“In Syria, the war is not yet over, terrorism has still not been defeated, and our brothers and sisters need our help more than ever,” says Alessandro Monteduro, Director of the Italian branch of Aid to the Church in Need (CAN).

He was speaking at the launch of a new initiative by ACN to support two different projects to assist Syrian Christians.

The first project is centered in Aleppo, where years of conflict have left deep wounds. Responding to a request from the Apostolic Vicar of the city, Bishop George Abou Khazen, CAN will distribute food packages to the poorest Christian families, as well as financial aid to help them acquire gas and heating oil.

In Damascus, the Greek-Melkite Patriarch Youssef Absi has asked for help to obtain medicine and home medical care for seriously ill Christians. In requesting aid, Project Manager Sister Joseph Marie Chanaa writes, “Without your benefactors we would not be able to carry out our mission.”

Keeping up “the light of hope”
From the beginning of the war in Syria in 2011 until the end of 2018, Aid to the Church in Need has donated more than thirty million euros to the local Churches, including approximately 8.6 million euros last year alone. In many areas where the security situation has improved, ACN and has already begun to support a plan for the reconstruction of churches and Christian homes.

Pope Francis, in his Urbi et Orbi message for Easter of this year, described the Syrian people as “victims of an ongoing conflict to which we risk becoming ever more resigned and even indifferent.”

The benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need, says Monteduro, have never given up, and have always fought the “virus of indifference with concrete and generous solidarity.” “With these two projects,” he says, “we want to contribute, once again, to keeping up the light of hope in the country in which our brothers and sisters were called Christian for the first time.”




A top Vatican official welcomed the UK-commissioned Persecuted Christians Review at an event in Rome, and says Christians in certain countries risk being completely purged, while in some democracies they face discrimination for standing up for their beliefs regarding life, marriage, and the family.
By Devin Watkins (Vaticannews)

Released on Monday, the Persecuted Christians Review details a recent surge in violence against adherents to the faith around the world.

The report was commissioned by the UK Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and prepared by Anglican Bishop Philip Mounstephen, of Truro.

Around 215 million Christians faced persecution in 2018 and an average of 250 Christians were killed every month, according to the Foreign Office. Women and children are particularly vulnerable to forms of sexual violence.

Indifference and impunity
The Vatican’s Under-Secretary for Relations with States, Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, spoke at the Rome Launch of the Review, held at the Basilica of St. Bartholomew.

Quoting Pope Francis with language also used in the report, Msgr. Camilleri called persecution against Christians a “sort of genocide caused by general and collective indifference.”

He lamented the impunity surrounding crimes committed on the basis of religion and the limited attention the media gives such discrimination.

“We have witnessed attacks upon individuals and groups of various religious backgrounds by terrorists, extremist groups and religious fanatics who have no respect for the lives of those who have beliefs different from their own,” he said.

Msgr. Camilleri said religious persecution against Christians should worry adherents of other faiths as well, since it hits at the most fundamental human freedom, which is to choose freely a religion.

Occurs in established democracies
The Review focuses mainly on persecution that occurs in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

But Msgr. Camilleri expanded the scope to include other forms of discrimination and persecution that are carried out “even in established democracies”.

There is a growing tendency, he said, “to criminalize or penalize religious leaders for presenting the basic tenets of their faith, especially regarding the areas of life, marriage, and the family.”

He called this type of discrimination “less radical on the level of physical persecution” but “nevertheless detrimental to the full enjoyment of freedom of religion and the practice or expression of that conviction whether in private or public.”

Right to religious freedom
Religion, said Msgr. Camilleri, can help unify societies and promote peace in its quest for the common good.

“The right to religious freedom is rooted in the very dignity of the human person,” he said, “and it is not only an achievement of a sound political and juridical culture but also a condition for the pursuit of truth that does not impose itself by force.”


Vatican City has its own system of collecting and recycling its sorted waste, much of which goes into making compost.

By Robin Gomes (Vaticannews)

The Vatican is growing greener, making strides in heeding to Pope Francis’ call to creating a more environment-friendly world. The smallest state in the world is now ready to do away completely with the sale of single-use plastics, or disposable plastic, according to Rafael Ignacio Tornini, the head of the garden and cleaning services of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

Recycling waste
The Vatican is also moving fast along Europe’s stringent standards with regard to collection and disposal of sorted waste, he told Ansa news agency.

He explained that a dumping center was created in 2016 for special waste disposal inside the Vatican, called “eco-center”. It was restructured and enhanced in 2018 and can now handle about 85 items of the European Waste Codes (EWC) list.

In the first 6 months of this year, the center collected 2% of unsorted waste, or 98% of sorted waste. The target is to reach point zero percent in 2010, Tornini said.

As regards urban waste, he said, the Vatican started with 35% of sorted waste in 2016. Today this stands at 55%. In the next 2 or 3 years, they expect to reach 70-75%.

Vatican City’s garbage, to the tune of some 1000 tons, is collected largely from bins, very little from door to door, such as with cooking oil and kitchen waste.

Five months ago, with the collection of organic waste, the Vatican kicked off what Tornini described as the “circular economy chain”. This consists of recycling organic waste mixed with a large part of pruning, cuttings and mowed grass from the Vatican, which amounts to as much as 400 tons, to make compost soil.

Tornini said they try to minimize as much as possible the amount of waste disposed of in Italy. They are trying to recycle much of the Vatican’s waste possible into good fertilizer for use in the Vatican or at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo. Tornini said that other wastes are disposed of through a private company keeping to regulations as much as possible.

The head of the Vatican’s garden and cleaning services said the problem of plastic is real. They are trying to collect plastics separately and the Vatican has limited its sale of single-use plastics and soon it will be completely stopped.

Unsorted waste collection is a problem particularly in St. Peter’s Square that is open to vast numbers pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. Tornini and his team have set up bins for plastics in the colonnade that collects some 10 kilograms per day.

Tornini and four others in the department said it was a real task to change the mentality in the Vatican, even providing courses to people handling special waste. He said they have taken to heart very much the call of Pope Francis in his 2015 environmental encyclical “Laudato Sii”, to safeguard our common home.

Before Pope Francis, Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor St. Pope John Paul II had also a given boost to the Vatican’s green effort. Both of them have made appeals for the protection of the environment.

A major step in this line came in 2008, under Pope Benedict, when the Vatican switched on its massive solar power plant on the roof of the Paul VI audience hall. The system’s 2,400 photovoltaic panels covering the 5,000-square meter roof provide clean energy for the needs of the hall and several adjoining buildings.

In January, a new environment-friendly and cost-effective LED lighting system in the interior of St. Peter’s Basilica was inaugurated. The German light company OSRAM behind the project, had earlier installed similar lighting system in the Sistine Chapel and in St. Peter’s Square.

Efforts are on to expand into other renewable sources of energy in the Vatican. (Source: ANSA)


For anyone even vaguely interested in the reform of the Roman Curia and what the central administration of the Catholic Church will look like in the future, the analysis below by vaticanista Sandro Magister of L’Espresso magazine is a must read.

The thousands of employees of the offices of the Roman Curia, the tribunals and other organizations linked to the Holy See for years have been avidly following all mention and analysis of the reform of the Curia and its forthcoming constitution, said to be titled “Praedicate Evangelium” (Preach the Gospel), that will replace St. John Paul’s 1988 constitution “Pastor Bonus,” (The Good Shepherd). They have kept their ears to the ground from the very first mention of a reform in the early months of Francis’ papacy.

I still had my show, “Joan Knows” at Vatican Radio when word first came out of a reform and I watched as, over the months and then years, morale among employees sank to an indescribable low. As changes were slowly made in some offices, people wondered on a Monday if they would still have a job on Friday. The Pope asked that people not be fired in the reform but, whether he knows it or not, people were moved around. Staff trained in a specific area with specific skills – such as the multi-lingual, multi-talented people at Vatican Radio – often found themselves transferred to an office for whose work they had no particular skills.

In any case, criticism of the proposed new curial organization has poured in ever since drafts were leaked in various languages. The constitution is now in the hands of Episcopal conferences throughout the world, superiors of religious orders and many others who are being asked to evaluate the document and suggest changes, additions, and/or deletions. (CNA photo)

One of the strongest criticisms so far seems directed to the fact that far greater prominence will be given to the office of evangelization than to the current Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office that safeguards the millennia-old teaching of the Catholic Church. The Secretariat of State will assume increased importance as well.**

I firmly believe that prominence should go to doctrine for the sole reasons that this is the “product” of evangelizers. You have to have sound doctrine first. You don’t open a restaurant without food. You might have an amazing chef and an unparalleled serving staff but they have no value without the food. As a missionary, an evangelizer, the food you bring to people is doctrine, food for the soul.

As I have with other critiques of the draft of the Roman Curia constitution, I found this analysis to be very interesting. Be sure to click on the links that Sandro provides.

By Sandro Magister

Last July 8 Pope Francis previewed another fragment of what will be the future Vatican curia, once its new configuration definitively goes into effect.

He appointed six nuns, all superiors general of their respective orders, among the members of the congregation for religious, breaking with the practice that did not allow women to be part of the curial congregations, until now made up only of bishops and cardinals, or at the most of male superiors general.

Properly speaking, Francis had already made an initial rift in 2014, when he appointed as a member of the congregation “De Propaganda Fide” Sister Irma Luzia Premoli, superior general of the Comboni missionaries. But what was an exception then is now becoming the rule, and it is to be expected that other similar appointments of women will follow in droves.

The cardinals of the “C9” who assist the pope in the governance of the universal Church – in reality now reduced to six – toiled for years over this reform of the curia, to arrive at last in recent months at the composition of a draft that has been shown to a certain number of churchmen at various levels.

Rewritten on the basis of ongoing consultations, the new constitution – which now has the temporary title of “Praedicate Evangelium” – will reportedly “be by September or at the latest before the end of the year in the hands of the pope, who will then take his time for the final approval.”

But to go by the comments published after the draft started making the rounds, it must be radically revised in order to satisfy the critiques that have torn it to shreds. On both the right and the left of ecclesiastical affiliation, practically no one has appreciated the structure of the reform. Suffice it to say that after reading it the Jesuit Thomas Reese, former editor of the magazine of the New York Jesuits “America” and a prominent representative of progressive Catholicism, judged it as “a disaster.” (click to read)

If one wishes to say briefly what are the main new developments in the draft, it is good to start from the general index, which in effect highlights innovations with respect to the previous arrangement of the Vatican curia.

In the draft, what were previously the congregations and – on a lower level – the pontifical councils are equated under the same title of “dicasteries.” And while until now each of them had to be headed “by the cardinal prefect or by an archbishop president,” the draft speaks only of “prefects” without specifying if they should be cardinals or archbishops, and on the contrary establishes that they could also be laymen, as in fact has already happened in the newly created dicastery for communication, which has as its prefect Paolo Ruffini.

Only for the secretariat of state does the draft establish that the head is to be a cardinal, as also for the new council for the economy, the coordinator of which – who is currently German cardinal Reinhard Marx – also takes on the duty of cardinal “camerlengo” between one pontificate and the next.

It is the secretariat of state, in effect, that is the dominant element of the new curia. But already in the general index of the drafts one can also note another substantial change: the downgrading of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith from the top spot among the congregations to the second place on the list of the new dicasteries.

So here is the general index, outlined according to the various chapters of the draft.


** the real big development in the new curia sketched out in the draft is the preponderant role assigned to the secretariat of state, with a centralization in it of powers that has no equal in the past.

And this, in effect, is the development most in the crosshairs of the critiques. Exemplary among these is that of Ed Condon on Catholic News Agency July 2:> Analysis: New Vatican constitution to centralize power in state secretariat

But the critiques are not limited to the canonical aspect alone. Cardinal Gerhard Müller, interviewed by Edward Pentin for the National Catholic Register of July 5, also disputed them on the theological level: “They’re converting the institution of the Curia into simply a bureaucracy, into only functionalism and not an ecclesiastical institute.”



Saturday, July 12, 2019: From interim Holy See Press Office Director Alessandro Gisotti

Following the preliminary investigations started on July 11 at the Campo Santo Teutonico, (Teutonic cemetery) investigations were carried out – both announced and documentary in nature – which showed that – as shown in the Pontifical Teutonic College records – in the 1960s and 1970s, work to enlarge the College were carried out. At that time the work involved the entire cemetery area and the building of the Teutonic College.

Since it was therefore possible that the remains of the two Princesses* had been moved to another suitable place in the Campo Santo, the consequent verifications have been carried out with skilled workers to ascertain the situation of the rooms adjacent to the tombs. These inspections led to the identification of two ossuaries placed under the pavement of an area inside the Pontifical Teutonic College, closed by a trap door. These ossuaries were immediately sealed for subsequent examination and detection of the bone materials lying therein, always within the framework and with the methods required by the preliminary activities.

The Office of the Promoter of Justice of the Tribunal of the State of the Vatican City, in the person of the Promoter Prof. Gian Piero Milano and his Deputy Prof. Alessandro Diddi, has therefore arranged, with a special provision, that these operations take place in the presence of the experts of the Office and those appointed by the Orlandi Family, as well as the specialized personnel of the Gendarmerie Corps and the same workers already employed. The resumption of the survey activities was set for Saturday, July 20, at 9.00.

* “Two Princesses” refers to Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe and Princess Carlotta Federica of Mecklemburg whose tombs in the Teutonic cemetery were opened July 11 and no remains or bones or funerary urns were found.



Join me on Vatican Insider this weekend for Part II of my conversation with Tammie Stevens of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal as we talk about the newly inaugurated CHARIS – Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service – an institution willed by Pope Francis and linked to the Vatican. Who are Charismatics? What is a charism? What is the role of the Holy Spirit in this movement. Tammie helps us clear up some misconceptions about Charismatics. She just finished a period of work in Rome for the movement and talks about that as well.

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on 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 ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)


The investigation at the Teutonic Cemetery inside the Vatican shows the Holy See’s closeness to the Orlandi family
Andrea Tornielli – Vatican City

On the morning of Thursday, July 11, all those present at the opening of the two tombs in the Teutonic Cemetery inside the Vatican were surprised to discover they were empty. There were no human remains, no traces of coffins or urns.

As is known, the Vatican judiciary agreed to carry out this investigation upon the wishes of the family of Emanuela Orlandi, the fifteen-year-old daughter of a Vatican employee who mysteriously disappeared in the centre of Rome in June 1983: an anonymous tip had in fact indicated one of the old tombs of that cemetery as a possible burial place for the remains of the young woman. Two tombs were opened because the Promoter of Justice of Vatican City State, Gian Piero Milano, wanted to verify that that adjacent one, also adorned by an angelic image, contained no remains that could be attributed to the missing girl.

The decision to open both tombs, in the presence of an expert appointed by Emanuela’s family, working according to the most advanced technical standards, is a sign of particular attention and human and Christian closeness to the Orlandi family. It is certainly not – as has been said – an admission by the Vatican of a possible involvement in the concealment of a corpse.

Research has shown that in the said tomb and in the adjacent one, there were no remains of Emanuela. Therefore, the investigation had a foreseeable negative outcome. As was revealed, under the two tombs inscribed with the names of two princesses who both died in the nineteenth century, no remains of human skeletons were found, but only a large empty underground space, presumably closed in the 1960s, without tombstones, inscriptions or other burials.

The fact that the two tombs were devoid of remains has triggered new questions about the resting place of the two noblewomen who died two centuries ago. However, the attempt to shift the focus, aiming to involve the Holy See as regards the whereabouts of those remains is absolutely misleading. The investigation wasn’t about the two princesses. It was to find the remains of a 15-year-old girl who died in 1983. It is therefore worth repeating, first of all, that the investigative hypothesis taken into consideration by the magistrate concerned the possible discovery of the remains of Emanuela Orlandi. And no trace of these remains was found.

Having said this, the Vatican’s judiciary decided to continue its investigation into documents regarding the architectural works carried out in the cemetery area which took place in two phases, the last of which was in the mid-1960s with the construction of the new building of the Teutonic College. The tombs of the two princesses are right next to the supporting wall of this building, and therefore it is probable that during the digging of the foundations the remains may have been moved elsewhere. Possibly, further investigations will be carried out on this front as well.

The accuracy of the investigations and technical surveys, the decision to have DNA tests done on the eventual remains, the technical expertise with which the operations were carried out under the guidance of the Promoter of Justice and the coordination of the Vatican’s Gendarmerie Corps led by Domenico Giani, clearly demonstrate the will of the Holy See to take the family’s request seriously. This desire was implemented despite the fact that the request stemmed from an anonymous tip, and it has been impossible for the Vatican judiciary to verify its reliability.