I wanted to post this column on Monday, following an important pro-life event here in Rome on Saturday but some big news – the naming of new cardinals! – grabbed my attention and I spent time writing about that, as well as the celebration of Pentecost and the newly celebrated memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church. Yesterday I updated that news with bios and photos of the future cardinals.

Last Saturday was the eighth edition of Italy’s March for Life and our very own – Priests for Life’s very own – Janet Morana was a headline speaker at the gathering. This annual event has grown from just a few hundred people in the first years to an estimated 15,000 this people this year, including priests and nuns, parish groups, students, large and small families, mayors of many Italian cities and representatives of international pro-life movements. Janet’s visit to Rome took place just days after she participated in the Canadian March for life.

Here’s a great video from the Register’s website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=31&v=mdoMvH7Uw9Y

God bless her, Janet addressed the marchers in Italian at Pza. Venezia at the end of their long but joy-filled walk on a warm afternoon. Her talk followed weeks of study and some heavy tutoring by a mutual friend of ours. I posted a video of her speech a few days ago.

To many cheers, Janet said, in part: “We stand and march today for the greatest and most urgent human rights cause of our day. Nothing in our world takes more lives than abortion! No one is more defenceless than the child in the womb. If you take away a child’s right to life, you cannot credibly claim to care about its right to an education, housing, healthcare, immigration or anything else. Unless you are safely born, you cannot exercise any other right!”

This year’s March for life took place just days before the 40th anniversary of Italy’s legalization of abortion on May 22, 1978. Italy legalized abortion through the first 90 days of pregnancy or later in cases of life-endangering circumstances for the mother or child.

Saturday evening, Janet, our mutual friend and her tutor, Geoffrey Strickland, who studies in Rome and helps out Priests for Life on occasion, and I celebrated her milestone with a wonderful dinner at the every amazing Terrazza Borromini.

Here are some of the photos I took that evening, as the sun set and into the evening. If Rome is not magical, no place is!

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Pope Francis’s catechesis on Wednesday focused on the Sacrament of Confirmation. He was addressing the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly General Audience. Here is the official English Summary of his address:

Dear brothers and sisters: In these days following the Church’s celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, our catechesis turns to the sacrament of Confirmation, which “confirms” the grace of our Baptism and “anoints” us with the Spirit to bear witness to Christ before the world. Jesus himself, filled with the Holy Spirit, carried out his mission as the Lord’s Anointed, and after his death and resurrection, bestowed the Spirit upon his disciples, who went forth from the Upper Room to proclaim God’s mighty works (cf. Acts 2:11). As Christ was anointed by the Spirit at his baptism in the Jordan, so at Pentecost the Church received the Spirit in order to carry out her mission of preaching the Gospel to the ends of the earth. In Confirmation, Jesus fills us with his Spirit and makes us sharers in his own life and mission, in accordance with the Father’s saving plan. May this sacrament strengthen us to be ever docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, as we strive in all our actions and words to live fully the new life received in Baptism and to advance the Church’s mission in the world.


Pope Francis, at the end of the general audience Wednesday in St. Peter’s Square, asked for prayers for Chinese Catholics.

By Linda Bordoni

Pope Francis has appealed to all Christians to be spiritually close to Catholics who live in China, and to pray they may live their faith in full communion with the Holy See. Speaking during the general audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope recalled that Thursday, May 24, is the Feast Day of “Mary Help of Christians,” and noted that she is particularly venerated at the Sanctuary of Sheshan, in Shanghai.

He said this observance invites us to be spiritually close to all Catholic believers who live in China and asked for prayers so that they “may live their faith with generosity and serenity” and “be able to make concrete gestures of fraternity, harmony and reconciliation in full communion with the Successor of Peter.”

“Dear disciples of the Lord in China, the Universal Church prays with you and for you, so that even amid difficulties, you may continue to entrust yourselves to God’s will,” he said.

Pope Francis concluded his appeal saying that Our Lady will never deprive them of Her help and that She will look over them with the love of a mother.



The Holy See Press Office issued a statement last night, May 22, that Pope Francis, from June 1 to 3 in the Vatican, will meet with a second group of Fr, Fernando Karadima’s victims of abuse – or that of his followers – from the parish of Sagrado Corazón de Providencia (“El Bosque”) in Chile.

By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

Among the group are 5 priests who were victims of “abuse of power, of conscience and sexual abuse,” as well as 2 additional priests who “have assisted the victims throughout the juridical and spiritual process, and 2 lay people involved in this suffering.” The group will be provided hospitality in the Santa Marta residence where the Pope lives.

The communique reported that most of those coming also took part in the meetings that took place in Chile with Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Bishop Jordi Bertomeu in February. Others collaborated in the weeks after their visit.

This upcoming June meeting was scheduled a month ago because, said the statement, “Pope Francis wants to demonstrate his closeness to the abused priests, to accompany them in their pain and listen to their valuable opinion so as to improve preventive measures and the fight against abuse in the Church.” This will conclude the first phase of the meetings that Pope Francis wanted to have with the victims from Sagrado Corazón de Providencia parish.

The meetings will be conducted “in an atmosphere of trust and confidentiality.” On Saturday morning, June 2, the Pope will celebrate Mass privately at Casa Santa Marta. In the afternoon, a meeting with the group is scheduled which will be followed by individual meetings.

The communique concluded: “The Holy Father continues to ask the faithful of Chile, and especially the faithful of the parishes where these priests have exercised their pastoral ministry—to accompany them with prayer and solidarity during these days.”



I had a very interesting experience this morning at an Italian post office near my home. Almost 100 percent of the time I post letters, etc., at the ultra-reliable Vatican post office but the Italian p.o. was just yards from where I was going on another errand at 12:30.

I entered, made way for three people who were leaving, got a number from a machine near the door and was about to wait my turn in line when I noticed there was no one else inside, except the four post office employees behind the counter. I was delighted at not having to wait in line, and immediately went to the window where I saw the Number 58.

I need to back up a little ……

You must first understand that an Italian post office has multiple windows but also multiple functions, and the one for mailing or picking up letters and packages usually seems to be the least trafficked. You can get your pension at the post office, pay your utility bills, buy and pay for insurance and perform a number of other functions. The machine that gives out numbers for waiting in line has a special button for each function. I had pressed the button for mail services, and got ticket number O49.

When I looked at the numbers above each of the employees, I went to the number closest to mine, even though it was above mine. I did wonder how O58 could have been called before O49!

I gave the gentleman my numbered slip and he said I had to wait until that number was called!

I responded: “But there’s no one else here, I’m the only person in the post office. Also, how did you get to 58 if I have Number 49?”

He said I had to wait until 49 was called. I said, as politely as I could manage, “You are kidding me, aren’t you?!”

He said he was not kidding. He waited a few seconds and then he pressed a button (buttons?) to his left and number 49 appeared on the screen!

He weighed the letter, I paid €2.31 and did not say another word before I left.

All I could think about was writing this column, telling a story about life in Italy!


Vatican City, May 22, 2018 – The Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) publishes its 2017 Financial Statements and its Annual Report. The Financial Statements have been audited by the independent auditing firm Deloitte & Touche S.p.A.

Click here for report in English: http://www.ior.va/content/dam/ior/documenti/ComunicatiStampaNotizie/2018/inglese/Comunicato%20Stampa%20Bilancio%202017%20-%20ENG%20FINALE.pdf



Biographical sketches on the 14 cardinals-designate announced by Pope Francis on Sunday, May 20, at the Regina Coeli (Catholic Herald, CNS, The Tablet, Catholic Canada).

Their names are listed in the order Pope Francis announced them.

I took photos from the Internet, except for those of Patriarch Sako, whom I know. I took the photos you will see below in a blog I wrote during a visit to Kirkuk when he was archbishop.

— Iraqi Cardinal-designate Louis Raphael I Sako, the Chaldean Catholic patriarch, was ordained a bishop eight months after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He witnessed the exodus of the country’s native Christians and ministered to the beleaguered and martyred people who remained. After his installation as head of the Chaldean Catholic Church in 2013, he said the church must be a sign of hope, witness and communion, despite the difficulties, and work together with all Iraqis to defend human dignity and peaceful coexistence based on equal rights.

The 69-year-old cardinal-designate was born July 4, 1948, in Zakho. After studies in Mosul, Rome and Paris, he returned to Mosul in 1986 and served as pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish and, during the U.S.-led embargo of Iraq, he and several physicians and pharmacists opened a dispensary for the poor.

He was rector of the patriarchal seminary in Baghdad before the Chaldean bishops’ synod elected him archbishop of Kirkuk in 2002 — an election approved by St. John Paul II in 2003. He was elected to lead the Chaldean Church in early 2013, and Pope Benedict XVI formally recognized the election soon after.

Iraq’s Christian population, believed to number up to 1.4 million in the late 1990s, now is believed to be significantly fewer than 500,000. Almost two-thirds of Iraqi Christians belong to the Chaldean Catholic Church.

— Spanish Cardinal-designate Luis F. Ladaria, 74, was born in Manacor, Mallorca, April 19, 1944, and earned a law degree at the University of Madrid before entering the Society of Jesus in 1966. After theology and philosophy studies in Spain and Germany, he was ordained to the priesthood July 29, 1973.

He earned a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1975 and began teaching dogmatic theology at the Pontifical University Comillas in Madrid. Nine years later, he returned to the Gregorian to teach, and he served as vice rector of the university from 1986 to 1994.

Pope Benedict XVI made him an archbishop and appointed him secretary of the doctrinal congregation after having worked with him as a member of the International Theological Commission from 1992 to 1997, as a consultant to the doctrinal congregation from 1995 to 2008 and as secretary general of the theological commission from 2004 until being named congregation secretary.

Pope Francis promoted Cardinal-designate Ladaria to prefect of the congregation in 2017. As prefect, he is responsible for promoting the correct interpretation of Catholic doctrine and theology; his office also is responsible for conducting investigations of clergy accused of sexually abusing minors.

— Cardinal-designate Angelo De Donatis, 64, a well-known retreat master and spiritual director, was chosen by Pope Francis in 2014 to lead his first Lenten retreat as pope. In 2015, Pope Francis named him an auxiliary bishop of Rome, and in 2017, tapped him to be his vicar for the Diocese of Rome.

Born Jan. 4, 1954, in Casarano, Italy, he earned a licentiate in moral theology from Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University. Ordained to the priesthood in 1980 for the Diocese of Nardo-Gallipoli, he was incardinated as a priest of the Diocese of Rome in 1983.

He ministered in a number of parishes and worked in the offices of the Rome vicariate before becoming the archivist for the College of Cardinals, a position he held from 1989 to 1991. For six years, he was director of the Rome diocesan office for clergy and, from 1990 to 2003, served as the spiritual director of the Rome diocesan seminary.

— Cardinal-designate Giovanni Angelo Becciu, 69, has served since 2011 as “substitute for general affairs” in the Vatican Secretariat of State, a position often described as being the pope’s chief of staff, the one who deals with daily Vatican affairs. As Pope Francis said when announcing the new cardinals, Cardinal-designate Becciu also has served as the pope’s special delegate with the Knights of Malta since February 2017.

A career Vatican diplomat, he was named to his current position by now-retired Pope Benedict XVI in 2011 after a two-year stint as nuncio to Cuba. Before being sent to Havana in 2009, Cardinal-designate Becciu served at Vatican diplomatic posts in the Central African Republic, Sudan, New Zealand, Liberia, Great Britain, France, the United States, Angola, Sao Tome and Principe.

Born in Pattada, Italy, June 2, 1948, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1972 and earned a degree in canon law, before entering the Vatican diplomatic service. St. John Paul II named him an archbishop in 2001.

— Once an assistant at liturgies for both St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal-designate Konrad Krajewski became Pope Francis’ eyes, ears and hands for identifying the needs of Rome’s poor and offering them direct assistance.

As papal almoner since 2013, the Polish cardinal-designate distributes charitable aid from the pope, but he has taken the job to a whole new level, getting a dormitory, showers, a barbershop and laundromat set up near the Vatican for the homeless. He has also organized special private tours for the poor and homeless to the Vatican Gardens, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.

Cardinal-designate Krajewski said Pope Francis told him to sell his desk when he was hired, since his job was to go out and look for those in need. However, the cardinal-designate also gave up the apartment where he was living so Syrian refugee families could live there.

Born in Lodz, Poland, Nov. 25, 1963, the 54-year-old cardinal-designate studied in Poland and Rome, where he received degrees in theology and liturgy. He served as a hospital chaplain in Rome before returning to Lodz to teach liturgy at local seminaries and become prefect of the diocesan seminary.

Returning to Rome, he worked in the Vatican’s office of papal liturgical celebrations from 1999 to 2013 and could be seen at the side of the pope during celebrations of Mass.

— Cardinal-designate Joseph Coutts of Karachi, 72, will be the second cardinal from Pakistan in the church’s history. The first, Cardinal Joseph Cordeiro of Karachi, died in 1994.

Cardinal-designate Coutts has served as president of the bishops’ conference of Pakistan and of Caritas Pakistan. His episcopal motto is “Harmony,” and he is known for his efforts in promoting Christian-Muslim dialogue in a nation where less than 2 percent of the population is Christian. He has been a leading voice for the reform of an anti-Islam blasphemy law, which he criticizes as being easy to manipulate for personal gain and to harass non-Muslims.

Born July 21, 1945, in Amritsar, India, he studied at Christ the King Seminary in Karachi and was ordained to the priesthood in Lahore in 1971. After graduate studies in Rome, he served as a professor at Christ the King Seminary and later served as rector of a minor seminary in Lahore.

St. John Paul II named him coadjutor bishop of Hyderabad in 1988, and he became head of the diocese two years later. He served as bishop of Faisalabad from 1998 to 2012, when Pope Benedict XVI named him archbishop of Karachi.

— Cardinal-designate Antonio dos Santos Marto of Leiria-Fatima, Portugal, 71, was born in Chaves, May 5, 1947, and studied at the minor seminary of Vila Real before entering the major seminary at Porto and studying at the Portuguese Catholic University.

Seven years after his priestly ordination in 1971, Cardinal-designate Marto earned a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He was appointed an auxiliary bishop of Braga in 2000 and bishop of Viseu in 2004 by St. John Paul II.

In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Cardinal-designate Marto to lead the Diocese of Leiria-Fatima, where the famed apparitions of Mary occurred in 1917.

In an interview with Radio Renascenca in 2017, Cardinal-designate Marto admitted that he is “a convert,” who, as a priest, was initially skeptical of the Marian apparitions in Fatima.

“I was a skeptic. I didn’t care; I did not take an interest, nor did I take a position. I understood it as something for children,” Cardinal-designate Marto said.

The skepticism changed into belief after attending a conference on the apparitions and reading the memoirs of Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the children who saw Our Lady of Fatima. He told the radio station, “I was deeply impressed, both by the authenticity of the testimony she gave and by the seriousness of the problems she dealt with. I read her memoirs three times to find the historical and ecclesial context” of the apparitions.

— Cardinal-designate Pedro Barreto of Huancayo, Peru, 74, was born in the Peruvian capital, Lima, Feb. 12, 1944. After entering the Society of Jesus in 1961, he studied philosophy and theology in Spain and Peru.

He served as pastor in several parishes before he was named apostolic vicar of Jaen in 2001 by St. John Paul II and was ordained a bishop in January 2002. Four years later, he was appointed archbishop of Huancayo by Pope Benedict.

He also served as director of department for justice and peace of the Peruvian bishops’ conference.

Years before Pope Francis was to release his encyclical on the environment, Cardinal-designate Barreto was an outspoken advocate for responsible mining practices and the dangers that pollution posed for the poor and their surroundings.

He was also known for his public criticism of smelting operations in La Oroya, which was considered one of the world’s most polluted places in 2007 by the Blacksmith Institute.

— When Cardinal-designate Desire Tsarahazana of Toamasina, Madagascar, spoke at the special Synod of Bishops for Africa in 2009, he talked of the need for the church to make a greater effort in helping laypeople live their faith in politics, saying a changed mentality, a conversion of heart, was a great challenge for Africa.

The 63-year-old cardinal-designate leads a diocese serving more than half a million Catholics — some 30 percent of the population of nearly 2 million people. Born in Amboangibe, June 13, 1954, he studied theology and was ordained a priest in 1986. St. John Paul II named him bishop of Fenoarivo Atsinanana in 2001. Pope Benedict XVI named him bishop of Toamasina in 2008 and elevated him to archbishop in 2010. He was elected president of the bishops’ conference of Madagascar in 2012 and confirmed for a second term in 2015.

— Named by Pope Francis to be archbishop of L’Aquila in 2013, Cardinal-designate Giuseppe Petrocchi had to lead an archdiocese still trying to rebuild and recover from a deadly earthquake in 2009. He has been credited with revitalizing the church’s pastoral outreach and resolving the local curia’s economic problems.

Born in Ascoli Piceno, Aug. 19, 1948, the 69-year-old cardinal-designate taught religion, philosophy, pedagogy and psychology in local public high schools after becoming a priest in 1973. He directed a diocesan vocational center, served as parish priest, was chief editor of the diocesan bulletin, worked as a psychologist for the diocese’s family counseling services and was active in diocesan youth programs.

He was named bishop of Latina-Terracina-Sezze-Priverno in 1998.

— Japanese Cardinal-designate Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda of Osaka is the vice president of the bishops’ conference of Japan. Born March 3, 1949, in Tsuwasaki, Kami-Goto, he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Nagasaki in 1975. Over the years, he served as a parish priest, editor of the diocesan bulletin and directed the the diocese’s commission for social communications.

He served as secretary general of bishops’ conference from 2006 until 2011, when he was made bishop of Hiroshima. Pope Francis appointed him to lead the Archdiocese of Osaka in 2014.

— Archbishop Sergio Obeso Rivera, the 86-year-old retired archbishop of Xalapa, Mexico, was born in 1931 in the same city he served as archbishop.

He entered the seminary in 1944 and, after obtaining his degree in humanities in Mexico, he earned his doctorate in theology at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University. He was ordained a priest in 1954.

He returned to his native Xalapa and taught philosophy and theology at the seminary and eventually served as spiritual director and rector.

In 1971, Blessed Paul VI named him bishop of Papantla, where he served for nearly three years before the pope appointed him coadjutor bishop of Xalapa. He became archbishop of his home diocese in 1979.

Cardinal-designate Obeso also served as president of the Mexican bishops’ conference for two consecutive terms, from 1983 to 1988, and was elected again in 1995. He retired in 2007.

— Cardinal-designate Toribio Ticona Porco, retired bishop of Corocoro, Bolivia, 81, was born in Atocha April 25, 1937. He never knew his father and was raised by his mother, who worked tirelessly to support him and his younger brother. In a 2016 interview with the Bolivian news site Iglesia Viva, the future cardinal said he worked several jobs as a child, including shining shoes and selling newspapers.

“I did it all out of love for my mother,” Cardinal-designate Ticona said. As a young man, he also worked as a bricklayer’s assistant, an auto mechanic and, for a time, at a local brewery.

After the arrival of Belgian missionaries in 1955, he entered the Catholic Church. The missionaries encouraged him to enter the seminary, and he was ordained in 1967.

He dedicated his priestly life ministering to and working alongside with local miners in in the small town of Chacarilla. The town of 2,000 people had no local government structure, so Cardinal-designate Ticona served as mayor for 14 years, attending to local matters during the week and celebrating Mass on the weekends.

He was named auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Potosi in 1986 and as head of the Territorial Prelature of Corocoro in 1992 by St. John Paul II. Pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation in 2012.

After years of physical and spiritual work, Cardinal-designate Ticona saved enough money to buy a plot of land in Cochabamba for his mother; she is buried there, and he has said he hopes to be buried alongside her.

“I came to this world very humble and poor, and I want to die poor as well,” he told Iglesia Viva.

— Cardinal-designate Aquilino Bocos Merino is the 80-year-old former superior general of the Claretian religious order and a prolific writer and speaker on the theology of religious life.

Born May 17, 1938, in Canillas de Esgueva, Spain, he began studying with the Claretians at the age of 12 and made his religious profession as a member of the order in 1956. He was ordained a priest in 1963.

With a degree in philosophy from the Pontifical University of Salamanca and a diploma in clinic psychology, he served as spiritual director at a Maronite seminary in Salamanca and for his own order. He is a former director of a Spanish journal on religious life and co-founder of the Theological Institute of Religious Life in Madrid. In 1991, he was elected superior general of his order and was elected to a second six-year term in 1997.


I wrote yesterday about the 14 prelates that Pope Francis announced would be elevated to the College of Cardinals next month. I said that on June 29, those under 80 and eligible to vote would be 6 over the ceiling of 120 set by Pope Paul VI. However, Cardinal Angelo Amato turns 80 before that date so there will be 125 electors, only five over the limit.

Here’s an article with more details and analysis by Register correspondent, and a good friend and talented observer of the Church scene, Matthew Bunson, on the new cardinals that Pope Francis will raise to the red hat on June 29 (the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, is also the same day the Pope traditionally hands the palliums to the new metropolitan archbishops):


I’ve been asked quite often about the mosaic of Mary that is located fairly high up on the exterior of the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square – about 1 o’clock if the basilica is noon. Many have noted it did not seem to fit in with the architecture of the building. In fact the apostolic palace is a complex of buildings with over 1,000 rooms and halls that date from various historical periods, many of which are, however, from the Renaissance.

The mosaic is indeed more modern and has quite a lovely story. For the story, we enter St. Peter’s Basilica and walk down the left aisle to the very end where we will find the Chapel of the Column. It is just beyond the Prayer Door entrance to the basilica and, most unfortunately, is not available to visitors as this area has been roped off.

Over the altar in the Chapel of the Column is an image of the Blessed Virgin painted on a column from the old basilica. In 1607 the image was placed on this altar designed by Giacomo Della Porta and is framed by stunning marble and priceless alabaster columns. On November 21, 1964, Pope Paul VI bestowed on this image the title of “Mater Ecclesiae” – Mother of the Church.

John Paul II had a mosaic reproduction of it set on the external wall of the palazzo facing St. Peter’s Square. St. John Paul’s motto – Totus tuus – all yours – is on this mosaic. He had always wondered how on earth Mary – whom he dearly loved – was not among the 140 statues atop the basilica facade and the monumental colonnades that were designed by Bernini.

When he was shot in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981, the Pope credited the hand of the Virgin – his mosaic Mary – with deflecting the bullet that would have killed him.


The Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, on February 11, 2018, feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, promulgated a decree stating that the ancient devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of Mother of the Church, be inserted into the Roman Calendar. The liturgical celebration, B. Mariæ Virginis, Ecclesiæ Matris, will be celebrated annually as a Memorial on the day after Pentecost.

Images of Mary, Mater Ecclesiae, mother of the Church, by EWTN’s Daniel Ibanez:

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the congregation, said shortly afterwards that the Pope’s decision took account of the tradition surrounding the devotion to Mary as Mother of the Church, adding that Francis wants to promote this devotion in order to “encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety.”

That decree outlined the history of Marian devotion, especially Mary seen as Mother of the Church:

“As a caring guide to the emerging Church Mary had already begun her mission in the Upper Room, praying with the Apostles while awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14). In this sense, in the course of the centuries, Christian piety has honoured Mary with various titles, in many ways equivalent, such as Mother of Disciples, of the Faithful, of Believers, of all those who are reborn in Christ; and also as “Mother of the Church” as is used in the texts of spiritual authors as well as in the Magisterium of Popes Benedict XIV and Leo XIII.

“Thus the foundation is clearly established by which Blessed Paul VI, on 21 November 1964, at the conclusion of the Third Session of the Second Vatican Council, declared the Blessed Virgin Mary as “Mother of the Church, that is to say of all Christian people, the faithful as well as the pastors, who call her the most loving Mother” and established that “the Mother of God should be further honoured and invoked by the entire Christian people by this tenderest of titles”.

“Therefore the Apostolic See on the occasion of the Holy Year of Reconciliation (1975), proposed a votive Mass in honour of Beata Maria Ecclesiæ Matre, which was subsequently inserted into the Roman Missal. The Holy See also granted the faculty to add the invocation of this title in the Litany of Loreto (1980) and published other formularies in the Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1986). Some countries, dioceses and religious families who petitioned the Holy See were allowed to add this celebration to their particular calendars.”


By Vatican News

“The Church is feminine,” Pope Francis said in his homily on Monday, “she is a mother.” When this trait is lacking, the Pope continued, the Church resembles merely “a charitable organization, or a football team”; when it is “a masculine Church,” it sadly becomes “a church of old bachelors,” “incapable of love, incapable of fruitfulness.”

That was the reflection offered by Pope Francis during the Mass celebrated in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta for the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. The feast is being celebrated this year for the first time, after the publication in March of the decree Ecclesia Mater (“Mother Church”) by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Pope Francis himself decided the feast should be celebrated on the Monday immediately following Pentecost, in order “to encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety.”

The “motherliness” of Mary

In his homily, Pope Francis said that in the Gospel, Mary is always described as “the Mother of Jesus,” instead of “the Lady” or “the widow of Joseph”: her motherliness is emphasized throughout the Gospels, beginning with the Annunciation. This is a quality that was noted immediately by the Fathers of the Church, a quality that applies also to the Church.

The Church is feminine, because it is “church” and “bride” [both grammatically feminine]: it is feminine. And she is mother; she gives life. Bride and Mother. And the Fathers go further and say that even your soul is the bride of Christ and mother.” And it is with this attitude that comes from Mary, who is Mother of the Church, with this attitude we can understand this feminine dimension of the Church, which, when it is not there, the Church loses its identity and becomes a charitable organization or a football team, or whatever, but not the Church.

No to a Church of old bachelors

Only a feminine Church will be able to have “fruitful attitudes,” in accordance with the intention of God, who chose “to be born of a woman in order to teach us the path of woman.”

The important thing is that the Church be a woman whot has this attitude of a bride and of a mother. When we forget this, it is a masculine Church. Without this dimension, it sadly becomes a church of old bachelors, who live in this isolation, incapable of love, incapable of fecundity. Without the woman, the Church does not advance—because she is a woman. And this attitude of woman comes from Mary, because Jesus willed it so.

The tenderness of a mom

The virtue that primarily distinguishes a woman, Pope Francis said, is tenderness, like the tenderness of Mary, when she “gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger.” She cared for Him, with meekness and humility, which are the great virtues of mothers.

A Church that is a mother goes along the path of tenderness. It knows the language of such wisdom of caresses, of silence, of the gaze that knows compassion, that knows silent. It is, too, a soul, a person who lives out this way of being a member of the Church, knowing that he or she is [like] a mother [and] must go along the same path: a person [who is] gentle, tender, smiling, full of love.



After praying the Regina Coeli with an estimated 30,000 pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square on Pentecost Sunday, Pope Francis announced he would create new cardinals at a consistory on June 29, feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.

The Holy Father said the places from which the new cardinals come “express the universality of the Church, which continues to announce the merciful love of God to all men and women on earth.”

As of Friday, there were 213 members of the College of Cardinals, of whom 115 are cardinal electors, that is, under the age of 80 and eligible to participate in a conclave. The ceiling set by Blessed Paul VI for the number of cardinal electors is 120. The 11 new cardinals under 80 will bring that number to 126 on June 29.

Universality of Church

(by Vaticannews.va)

The men who will receive their red hats from the Pope include bishops from Iraq, Pakistan, Portugal, Peru, Madagascar, Italy and Japan. The list also includes Polish archbishop Konrad Krajewski, who serves as the papal almoner, Italian archbishops Angelo De Donatis, vicar general of the Rome diocese, Giovanni Becciu, the Substitute of the Secretary of State and Special Delegate for the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and Giuseppe Petrocchi of L’Aquila. He also named Spanish Jesuit Archbishop Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Pope Francis said their nominations “manifest the unbreakable bond between the See of Peter and the local Churches throughout the world.”

Pope Francis also nominated to the College of Cardinals a retired archbishop of Mexico, a retired bishop of Bolivia and a priest from the Claretian order, all of whom, he said, “have distinguished themselves for their service to the Church.”

The Cardinals-elect are:

His Beatitude Louis Raphaël I Sako – Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon
His Excellency Luis Ladaria –Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
His Excellency Angelo De Donatis – Vicar General of Rome
His Excellency Giovanni Angelo Becciu – Substitute of the Secretary of State and Special Delegate for the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
His Excellency Konrad Krajewski – Almoner of the Office of Papal Charities
His Excellency Joseph Coutts – Archbishop of Karachi
His Excellency António dos Santos Marto – Bishop of Leiria-Fátima
His Excellency Pedro Barreto – Archbishop of Huancayo
His Excellency Desiré Tsarahazana – Archbishop of Toamasina
His Excellency Giuseppe Petrocchi – Archbishop of L’Aquila
His Excellency Thomas Aquinas Manyo – Archbishop of Osaka

Those over 80:
His Excellency Sergio Obeso Rivera – Emeritus Archbishop of Xalapa, 87.
His Excellency Toribio Ticona Porco – Emeritus Bishop of Corocoro, 81 .
Claretian Father Aquilino Bocos Merino – former Superior General of the Claretians, turned 80 on May 17..


After his Regina Coeli address in St Peter’s Square on Pentecost Sunday, Pope Francis told the faithful in St. Peter’s Square announced that he continues to pray for the Middle East and expressed his hopes for Venezuela. (Vatican media photo)

by Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

“Pentecost brings us at heart to Jerusalem,” Pope Francis began after reciting the Regina Coeli with the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square on Pentecost Sunday.
Prayer for Peace in the Middle East

The Pope went on to say that he had followed spiritually a prayer vigil for peace held in Jerusalem on the Vigil of Pentecost. “Let us continue to pray today,” he invited those gathered, “that the Holy Spirit might arouse the desire for and gestures of dialogue and reconciliation in the Holy Land and in the entire Middle East.”

Beloved Venezuela

Pope Francis then turned his thoughts to Venezuela*, calling that nation “beloved”. He prayed that the Holy Spirit might give all the people of Venezuela “the wisdom to find the path of peace and unity.” He ended this thought praying for the inmates who died during a prison riot on Saturday night.

*Venezuelans are electing a new president today.