This week, in the interview segment of “Vatican Insider,” I present a real ‘insider’ story – that of my colleague in the EWTN Rome bureau, Alexey Gotovsky who hails from Kazakhstan. Learn about his childhood in a country flanked by India, China and Russia and hear about his road to Rome and EWTN.

I could tell so many similar, interesting stories if my only interviews were with the staff of our Rome bureau and other EWTN offices throughout Europe – amazing, talented, very bright people who, on screen or behind the scenes in video and audio editing studios, bring you into the Catholic Church and bring the Church to you!

Here we are in one of our audio studios –

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: go to and write the name of the guest for whom you are searching in the SEARCH box. Below that, will appear “Vatican Insider” – click on that and the link to that particular episode will appear.


In his address to the Roman Rota for the opening of the judicial year, Pope Francis says proclaiming the “Gospel of the Family” is one of the essential tasks of the Church.

By Christopher Wells (Vatican news)

There is a “strong need” in the Church and in the world, “to rediscover the meaning and value of the conjugal union between man and woman on which the family is founded,” Pope Francis said on Friday.

Addressing the auditors of the Roman Rota at the beginning of the Church’s judicial year, the Holy Father said the Church has the mission to proclaim the Good News, which includes “illuminating and sustaining the ‘great mystery that is conjugal and family love.’”

Marriage is a gift

The Pope explained that, according to Christian revelation, marriage is more than a ceremony or social event; it is not a mere formality or an abstract ideal, but instead “is a reality with its own precise consistency.”

Given that reality, and the fact that marriage takes place between real men and women with all their limitations and failings, the Pope asked how marriages can be engaging, faithful, and permanent.

The answer, he said, lies in the fact that all true marriages, even non-sacramental marriages, are a gift from God to the spouses.

“Marriage is always a gift! Conjugal fidelity rests on divine fidelity; conjugal fruitfulness rests on divine fruitfulness.”

For this reason, marriage cannot “be reduced to a sentimental plane or to mere selfish satisfactions,” that is, one must reject the idea that a marriage lasts only so long as romantic love does.

Instead, Pope Francis said, “marital love is inseparable from marriage itself, in which fragile and limited human love meets divine love, which is always faithful and merciful.”

We can fulfill Jesus’ command that we “love one another” – which also pertains to marriage – because “it is He Himself who sustains spouses with His grace.”

Marriage is good

Having elaborated on marriage as a gift from God, Pope Francis went on to emphasize that marriage is good – and, in fact, “a good of extraordinary value for everyone,” not just spouses and children, but other families, the Church, and the whole world.

He also emphasized that, “in the Christian economy of salvation, marriage constitutes first and foremost the high road to holiness, a holiness lived out in ordinary life.”

This, the Pope said, “is an essential aspect of the Gospel of the family.”

Turning to the question of marriages in crisis, Pope Francis said the Church must accompany spouses facing difficulties with love and support. The Church’s pastoral response, he said, must involve helping renew the awareness of marriage as an “irrevocable gift.” Without ignoring the contributions of social sciences, this “light on one’s marriage is an essential part of the journey of reconciliation” within marriages.

The Pope recognized that marriage always involves “fragility” – but, he said, “with the help of the Holy Spirit,” difficulties in married life need not lead to a definitive rupture.




POPE SAYS DIGNITY OF WOMEN AND GIRLS MUST BE PROTECTED: He emphasized this when addressing participants in the international conference “Women Building a Culture of Encounter Interreligiously,” organized by the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations and the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue at Rome’s Pontifical Urbaniana University, from January 25 to 27. “The fact that your Conference is devoted to listening to the experiences and perspectives of women is all the more valuable, since our quest for peace must increasingly involve…women. Because women bestow care and life upon the world: they are themselves a path towards peace.” The Holy Father encouraged their important work of sharing insight and best practices. “I am grateful to you for your commitment and effort to foster the dignity of women and girls in particular.” Pope: Dignity of women and girls must be protected – Vatican News

NEVER KEEP UP ON PEACE, POPE TELLS researchers and experts of the European Institute for International Studies in Salamanca.   The Institute’s work in education in international relations aims to prepare leaders to make a difference in the building of a better world. “Peace among men is an essential good for which we must work zealously and fervently beseech God,” Pope Francis said, reiterating his belief that “every war leaves the world worse off than it found it.” Reflecting on the concept of peace, the Pope said peace is a challenge “that it is not simply based on balances of power or on silencing the just demands of the less favoured”; but is instead an “essential good for which we must work zealously and fervently beseech God.” “War is a failure of politics and humanity, a shameful surrender, a defeat in the face of the forces of evil.” Pope Francis: Never give up the struggle for peace – Vatican News

POPE TO PHILANTHROPISTS: PROMOTE INTEGRAL GOOD OF THE PERSON – Greeting members of the Assifero Association, an Italian Association of Foundations and Philanthropic Bodies on its 20th anniversary, Pope Francis congratulated the members for the “clearly Christian-inspired approach with which you have structured your activities.” Francis noted that the Association brings together many private foundations in Italy and abroad that work in various fields “promoting the person and developing healthy and supportive social and economic models. …I would like to recommend that you pay particular attention in your programmes to three important values that, moreover, you already have in mind: the promotion of the integral good of the person; listening to local communities; and closeness to the least, never forgetting that one of God’s values is closeness.” Pope to philanthropists: Promote integral good of the person – Vatican News




To watch solemn vespers at the end of the January 18 to 25 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in the basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls with Pope Francis, click here at 5:30 pm Rome time: Solemnity of the Conversion of Saint Paul – Celebration of Second Vespers – Activities of the Holy Father Pope Francis |


AT GENERAL AUDIENCE, POPE FRANCIS CONTINUES CATECHESES ON APOSTOLIC ZEAL. Pope Francis told the faithful that “each day is a time of grace” and “new opportunity” for those who follow Christ. He explored how Jesus himself chose to present His message, noting that, in the synagogue of Nazareth, at the very beginning of his public ministry, the Lord revealed that, fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy, He came to proclaim Good News to the poor and a year of favor from the Lord. The Pope said Jesus communicated with certain essential elements, especially joy, freedom, light, healing and awe.  “One cannot speak of Jesus without joy, because faith is a wonderful love story to be shared…” “The Gospel of Jesus Christ is, as the prophet foretold, a saving message that brings contagious joy, authentic freedom, the promise of spiritual rebirth as God’s beloved sons and daughters, and definitive healing from the oppression of sin and death.” Pope at Audience: Every day is a time of grace – Vatican News

POPE THANKS FAMILIES HOSTING YOUTHS PARTICIPATING IN WYD 2023: Pope Francis sent a video message to Portuguese families who will welcome in their homes the thousands of youths expected at WYD Lisbon 2023, saying their generous hospitality also shows openness to other horizons. Following his video message addressed last week to young people preparing to participate in World Youth Day in Lisbon, Pope Francis has also thanked Portuguese families who will welcome them in their homes during the event. Over 400,000 young people from across the world have already registered to take part in the WYD on 1-6 August 2023. In a video message released Wednesday, the Pope remarked that by welcoming young people in their homes, families not only show generosity, but, most importantly, openness to people of other cultures and to new horizons. Pope thanks families hosting youths participating in WYD 2023 – Vatican News

POPE TO DELEGATION OF THE UKRAINIAN COUNCIL OF CHURCHES AND RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS. Pope Francis thanked members of the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (UCCRO) for their work by describing their witness as a “concrete testimony of peace in a country suffering from war.” Addressing a UCCRO delegation before the general audience on Wednesday, the Pope upheld the collaboration of the member groups, whom he said, together support those in need, defend the rights of the faithful of all denominations and advocate for the respect of human rights. “I give thanks to God because this meeting enables me, in some way, to have close contact with the Ukrainian people, who have always been present in my prayers during these months.” Pope upholds Ukrainian interfaith efforts as concrete testimony of peace – Vatican News



January 24 is the feast day of St. Francis de Sales, patron of journalists. The communications office of the diocese of Rome traditionally celebrates the liturgical memory of the saint with a Mass for members of the media at Santa Maria in Montesanto, one of the so-called “twin churches” on Rome’s famed Piazza del Popolo.

This basilica (featured on the left) is also known to Romans as “the church of artists” because, for the last 70 years on Sundays a Mass is celebrated that usually involves people from the world of culture and art. The basilica on the right is Santa Maria dei Miracoli.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, pro-prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization, presided at today’s Mass, and delivered the homily to a packed church.

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Though cold, it was such a lovely, sunny day that, after so much rain, I decided to do something extravagant (and usually not on my agenda on a work day!) and have lunch outdoors at Rosati’s, one of the two high end café/restaurants on Pza. del Popolo.

A table with a view…

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What I try to do every day I live in Rome!

(Vatican News provided a summary of Pope Francis’ Message for the 57th World Day of Social Communications to take place on May 21, 2023, The papal message is traditionally released on the feast of St. Francis de Sales. The theme this year is “Speaking with the heart. ‘The truth in love’” (Eph 4:15): : Pope: Communicating with the heart can curb escalation of war – Vatican News



( – Though leprosy scared off most people in 19th-century Hawaii, that disease sparked great generosity in the woman who came to be known as Mother Marianne of Molokai. Her courage helped tremendously to improve the lives of its victims in Hawaii, a territory annexed to the United States during her lifetime (1898).

Mother Marianne’s generosity and courage were celebrated at her May 14, 2005, beatification in Rome. She was a woman who spoke “the language of truth and love” to the world, said Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the of Saints. Cardinal Martins, who presided at the beatification Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, called her life “a wonderful work of divine grace.” Speaking of her special love for persons suffering from leprosy, he said, “She saw in them the suffering face of Jesus. Like the Good Samaritan, she became their mother.”

Just a few of the photos I took on an early visit to the peninsula of Kalaupapa on the island of Moloka’i. It was here that victims of leprosy were exiled to live (and there are still a few living here today). The heroes of Kalaupapa became saints – Damien and Marianne – and a third one, Joseph Dutton, has had his cause for canonization opened. Damien died of leprosy in 1889.

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On January 23, 1838, a daughter was born to Peter and Barbara Cope of Hessen-Darmstadt, Germany. The girl was named after her mother. Two years later the Cope family emigrated to the United States and settled in Utica, New York. Young Barbara worked in a factory until August 1862, when she went to the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis in Syracuse, New York. After profession in November of the next year, she began teaching at Assumption parish school.

Marianne held the post of superior in several places and was twice the novice mistress of her congregation. A natural leader, three different times she was superior of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse, where she learned much that would be useful during her years in Hawaii.

Elected provincial in 1877, Mother Marianne was unanimously re-elected in 1881. Two years later the Hawaiian government was searching for someone to run the Kakaako Receiving Station for people suspected of having leprosy. More than 50 religious communities in the United States and Canada were asked. When the request was put to the Syracuse sisters, 35 of them volunteered immediately. On October 22, 1883, Mother Marianne and six other sisters left for Hawaii where they took charge of the Kakaako Receiving Station outside Honolulu; on the island of Maui they also opened a hospital and a school for girls.

In 1888, Mother Marianne and two sisters went to Molokai to open a home for “unprotected women and girls” there. The Hawaiian government was quite hesitant to send women for this difficult assignment; they need not have worried about Mother Marianne! On Molokai she took charge of the home that Saint Damien de Veuster had established for men and boys. Mother Marianne changed life on Molokai by introducing cleanliness, pride, and fun to the colony. Bright scarves and pretty dresses for the women were part of her approach.

Awarded the Royal Order of Kapiolani by the Hawaiian government and celebrated in a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson, Mother Marianne continued her work faithfully. Her sisters have attracted vocations among the Hawaiian people and still work on Molokai.

Mother Marianne died on August 9, 1918, was beatified in 2005, and canonized in 2012.


The government authorities were reluctant to allow Mother Marianne to be a mother on Molokai. Thirty years of dedication proved their fears unfounded. God grants gifts regardless of human shortsightedness and allows those gifts to flower for the sake of the kingdom.


In a message to participants in a seminar on Hansen’s disease (or ‘leprosy’) and other neglected tropical diseases, Pope Francis says we must ask ourselves, “Will we bend down to touch and heal the wounds of others?”

By Christopher Wells

“We must not forget these brothers and sisters of ours” who are afflicted by Hansen’s disease.

Pope Francis offered that invitation in a message to an international symposium focusing on serving those afflicted by leprosy and other neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

The two-day “Leave No One Behind” symposium is underway in Rome (January 23-24) and is sponsored by the French Raoul Follereau Foundation, Italy’s Amici di Raoul Follereau (“Friends of Raoul Follereau”), and the Sasakawa Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) Initiative, in collaboration with the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. The symposium is focused on achieving the goal of “zero leprosy” in the world and establishing societies where no one is left behind due to Hansen’s Disease and other NTDs.

Will we bend down to help others?

In his message Monday, Pope Francis noted that, “the stigma attached to leprosy continues to cause serious human rights violations in various parts of the world.” He insists that we must not ignore a disease that still affects hundreds of thousands of people around the world, especially “in more deprived social contexts.”

Basing his appeal on “the human family’s vocation to fraternity,” Pope Francis calls on everyone to ask, “Will we bend down to heal the wounds of others? Will we stoop to carry one another on our shoulders?” “This is the present challenge, of which we should not be afraid.”

Building an inclusive society

Pope Francis then goes further, urging people to “seize the occasion of World Leprosy Day [the last Sunday in January] to review our models of development and to seek to correct the discrimination they cause.” He added, “This is a propitious occasion to renew our commitment to building an inclusive society that leaves no one on the margins.”

Returning to the specific question of Hansen’s disease, the Pope said we must ask ourselves “how best to work with people with leprosy, treating them fully as persons and recognizing them as the main players in their struggle to participate in basic human rights and live as full members of the community.”

“I hope that this conference will help gather voices from around the world and discuss measures that can be taken to further promote respect for human dignity.”

Pope Francis expressed his sympathy for those suffering from Hansen’s disease, and encouraged them in their efforts to secure spiritual support and medical care. At the same time, he invited Christian communities to allow themselves to be evangelized “by these brothers and sisters” and to be at the forefront of efforts aimed at promoting their full integration into society.



If you’ve been to Italy and had some of its fabulous coffee (in one of many forms and combinations), you will love this story. Even if you haven’t been to Italy, you’ll love this story! How Italy came to be Europe’s coffee capital (

Why else should you come to Italy? Well, here’s why: Rome is world’s top food destination: Tripadvisor – Wanted in Rome


In this week’s interview segment, Vatican Insider welcomes back Fr. Christopher Pearson, pastor of Most Precious Blood parish in London. As I mentioned last week in Part I of our conversation, we’ve been friends for over a dozen years, as you will hear in the amusing start of our conversation, and Fr. Christopher was in Rome to concelebrate at the January 5 funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

What links us in friendship is one of Pope Benedict’s major achievements – the creation in 2009 of the Personal Ordinariate, a canonical structure within the Catholic Church established to enable “groups of Anglicans” to join the Catholic Church while preserving elements of their liturgical and spiritual patrimony. Fr. Chris was an Anglican pastor for 15 years and talks about his becoming a Catholic priest. He highlights Benedict’s great desire for Christian Unity, citing the Ordinariate as one example of how that can be achieved.

Fr. Christopher, Maggie McDaniel of Catholic Faith Journeys and I shared a great meal at Taverna Agape while they were in Rome.  Fr. Chris was in Rome to concelebrate Pope emeritus Benedict’s funeral Mass.

Fr. Christopher is always a total delight to be with and you always learn a great deal from him. I am blessed that we are friends! And now Maggie knows him – maybe she’ll do a pilgrimage to the UK and the Ordinariate of Walsingham!

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: go to and write the name of the guest for whom you are searching in the SEARCH box. Below that, will appear “Vatican Insider” – click on that and the link to that particular episode will appear.





Yesterday marked the start of the weeklong period in January known as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, during which the Pope receives delegations from different Christian denominations and, in their presence, celebrates vespers in St. Paul’s Outside the Walls on the January 25th feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.

That will again be the case this year as ecumenical delegations arrive in Rome to mark this week. Today, for example, Pope Francis received a delegation from Finland, and focussed his remarks on “one baptism,” and on the importance of working for Christian unity and reconciliation among Christians and in the world.

“Having received the one baptism, we, as believers, are called above all to give thanks because, starting with the waters of baptism, our very existence has been reconciled with God, with others, and with all creation. As reconciled sons and daughters, we are called to work tirelessly for reconciliation among ourselves, and to be agents of reconciliation in our world.”

Francis also noted that, “As witnesses of faith in Christ, who immersed Himself in the frailty of our human condition, we are duty bound to immerse ourselves in the wounds of all those in need. And to do this together.”

The Holy Father announced this week at the January 15 Angelus, saying, “From 18 to 25 January the traditional Week of prayer for Christian Unity will be held. The theme this year is taken from the prophet Isaiah: “Learn to do good; seek justice” (1:17). Let us thank the Lord who guides his people towards full communion with faithfulness and patience, and let us ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten us and sustain us with his gifts.”

Francis also explained that, “The path towards Christian unity and the path of the synodal conversion of the Church are linked. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to announce that on Saturday 30 January, in Saint Peter’s Square, an Ecumenical Prayer Vigil will take place, with which we will entrust to God the work of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. For the young people who come to the Vigil there will be a special programme throughout the weekend, organized by the Taizé Community. As of now, I invite all brothers and sisters of all the Christian denominations to participate in this gathering of the People of God.”

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is coordinated by the World Council of Churches with the participation of member Churches.


Something to ponder: An interesting read about the Francis papacy in the post-Benedict XVI era: MondayVatican – Vatican » Pope Francis, what kind of a future has just begun? | MondayVatican


Pope Francis began today’s general audience by noting, “In our continuing catechesis on apostolic zeal, the desire to share with others the joy of the Gospel, we now look to its model and source: the example of Jesus himself. As the eternal Word of God, made flesh for our salvation, Jesus’ entire life was devoted to communicating and dialoguing with others, first with his heavenly Father in profound prayer, and then with others, especially the poor, the outcast and sinners.!

Francis explained that Jesus “proclaimed the coming of God’s Kingdom not only by his preaching, but also by his ministry of healing, reconciliation and forgiveness. As the Good Shepherd, the model for all pastors in the Church, Jesus was completely committed to the welfare of his flock, protecting the fold yet also setting out in search of the lost sheep.

“And when we hear that someone has left the Church, what do we want to say? ‘Let them work it out?’ No. Jesus teaches us to have nostalgia for those who have left. Jesus does not feel anger or resentment but pure longing for us. Jesus feels nostalgic for us and this is God’s zeal.

The Holy Father said he wondered “we, do we have similar sentiments? Perhaps we see those who have left the flock as adversaries or enemies. ‘And this person? Hasn’t he gone to the other side? She lost her faith…. They are going to hell…’ and we are serene.!

“When we meet them at school, at work, on the streets of our city,” he continued, “why don’t we think instead that we have a beautiful opportunity to witness to them the joy of a Father who loves them and has never forgotten them? Not to proselytize, no! But that the Word of the Father might reach them so we can walk together. … Because the Word, Jesus, asks this of us – to always draw near to everyone with an open heart because he is like that.”

Pope Francis concluded: “Following his example, may we, in our daily lives, draw joy and strength from our union with the Father in prayer, allow our hearts to be shaped by pastoral zeal for the word of God, and strive, in all our words and actions, to share with others its saving message.”

During greetings to English-language pilgrims the Pope said, “I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims taking part in today’s audience, especially the groups from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Australia and the United States of America. I offer a special greeting to the many student groups present.

“I ask all of you to join me in praying for Father Isaac Achi of the Diocese of Minna in northern Nigeria, who was killed last Sunday in an attack on his rectory. So many Christians continue to be the target of violence: let us remember them in our prayers! Upon all of you, and upon your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!

The terrorists set fire to the rectory and Fr. Achi burned to death. They shot and wounded the assistant priest as he tried to flee.

Francis also highlighted Ukraine, as he has done in every public address for almost a year. He asked everyone to pray for Ukrainians who need “our closeness, consolation, and above all peace.”


As you know, Pope Francis leaves on January 31 for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and then South Sudan. We are now learning, via a report from Reuters, that the government in Kinshasa is clearing the city’s streets of vendors so that the Pope sees a sanitized city, much as happened when U.S. President Biden recently visited El Paso, Texas, a city that has been overwhelmed by massive numbers of migrants in the last two years. Biden saw no migrants, no crowded housing facilities, no make-shift tents on El Paso streets.

The January 17 Reuters story starts: “Before dawn, sanitary police armed with crowbars and a bulldozer set about demolishing makeshift trader stalls crowding downtown streets in the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo ahead of a four-day visit by Pope Francis starting Jan. 31. Kinshasa has 17 million people. Police demolish trader stalls in Congo capital ahead of Pope visit | Reuters



Yesterday was Martin Luther King Day in the U.S. and was a holiday for EWTN staff so I had a day off and it was wonderful, as days off should be! The entire Rome EWTN bureau celebrated the exceptional work undertaken in the week of Benedict XVI’s death and funeral and the Epiphany with a wonderful buffet lunch in one of the larger meetings rooms available for such events.

It is always great to spend time with the extremely talented people of the Rome bureau, to catch up on family news, children and new babies, impending weddings, interviews and documentaries planned, and so on. So many of these people are always behind the cameras. They are the people you don’t see but the ones who bring all the great images and stories that you do see on EWTN.

Before I move on, I want to share something with you that is considered an important part of Pope Benedict’s legacy:


Pope Francis is scheduled to leave for Africa on January 31st, visiting the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DCR) and South Sudan. In South Sudan, it will be an ecumenical pilgrimage as he will be joined by the archbishop of Canterbury and by the moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The trip, originally scheduled for July 2022, had to be postponed on advice of the papal doctors.

Monday, in a telegram, the Pope decried an attack on a Pentecostal church in the DRC that killed at least 14 people and wounded over 40 others. Vatican news reported that the so-called Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, and the Congolese army blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which is allied to ISIS. The telegram, sent by Cardinal secretary of State Pietro Parolin in the Pope’s name, was addressed to Rev. André Bokundoa-Bo-Likabe, President of the Church of Christ in Congo.

In an interview with Vatican News following the bombing, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Archbishop Ettore Balestrero, said the attack sent a worrying signal, “even more so because it confirms the involution of the situation on the ground.” People of DR Congo await ‘healing’ from Pope’s upcoming visit – Vatican News

(Vatican news also reported that Pope Francis has expressed his condolences for the deaths of at least 70 people who were killed on Sunday in a plane crash in the South Asian nation of Nepal)


Earlier, I posted on FB and Twitter a Vatican News report with a few photos of the funeral Mass this morning in St. Peter’s Basilica presided over by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, dean of the College of Cardinals. What I wrote there, I re-post below, along with some photos by CNA photographer Alan Koppschall.

Pope Francis this morning met with the staff, faculty and seminarians of the North American College: Here is a report: Pope encourages future priests to become prophetic witnesses of the Gospel – Vatican News


Speaking personally, today was a very moving morning! So many people came for Cardinal Pell’s funeral Mass…dignitaries and diplomats, men and women religious, friends and family of the Cardinal as well as simple acquaintances…that the ushers had to add rows of chairs to the pews that accommodate several hundred faithful at the celebrated Altar of the Chair in the apse of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Scores more remained standing during the funeral Mass, at the end of which Pope Francis appeared for the final commendatio and valedictio, delivered in Latin. As the archbishops and cardinals processed in for Mass, it was hard not to see the sadness on the face of Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, secretary for two decades to the late Benedict XVI, a prelate now bereft of two friendships.

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An interesting note that I learned this morning. One of the people who came to pay their respects to the cardinal as he lay in state yesterday in the small and historic church of Santo Stefano degli Abissini was a homeless man who, at night, slept on or near the small square where Cardinal Pell lived. Over the years, it seems, they apparently became friends and I would not be surprised to learn that the cardinal invited him one day to coffee and cornetto at his favorite cafe on the piazza. That would be the cardinal so many of us know!

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re’s homily summarized in Vatican News: Cardinal Re: Faith sustained late Cardinal Pell in difficult final years – Vatican News