Once again, a very beautiful Friday morning, a day that now ends the work week and starts the weekend on a special note for EWTN personnel for whom Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo celebrates weekly Mass at the altar of Pope St. John XXIII in St. Peter’s Basilica.

EWTN’s German bureau chief, Martin Rothweiler is in Rome and he did the reading today from the Book of Wisdom. Here are a few photos:

After Mass, Msgr. Anthony and I met up with Ben Crockett (who is helping us with some very special projects) in the atrium of the basilica. As soon as I saw these workmen preparing the tapestry for Monday’s Episcopal ordinations by the Holy Father in the basilica, I knew I had to take some “behind the scenes” photos and do a Facebook Live.

I hope the start of your Friday and end of your workweek was as beautiful as ours!

By the way, Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all the Irish – and Irish wannabees! Special wishes and prayers to all the faithful of the new church for American and English-speaking Catholics in Rome – St. Patrick’s! Come see us Sunday on Via Boncompagni 31 and wear green!


My guest again this week on Vatican Insider is Chris Altieri, a former colleague at Vatican Radio. As I noted earlier, you are probably familiar with his name because you surely read Chris’ many stories on the webpages of (what was once) English Vatican Radio and heard his voice as he did wonderful commentaries for papal Masses and other events.

This weekend, in the second of two parts, we look at the reform of Vatican communications – what has happened so far, the low morale in the Vatican, what reform means for Vatican personnel in the communications area and what it means for people around the world who listen to a greatly changed Vatican radio – except we are not supposed to use that name anymore!

Don’t leave town just yet because at the end of next week you will hear the stunning conclusion to the odyssey of the reform of Vatican communications!

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. 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.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: For VI archives:


An email I received today from the Sant’Egidio Community that Pope Francis visited last Sunday to mark its 50th anniversary, had a delightful surprise: It seems that on Tuesday, March 13, Pope Francis welcomed to the Santa Marta residence a group of refugees coming from the Horn of Africa and from Syria, arriving Italy through the Sant’Egidio Humanitarian Corridors. There were also some ill people who are being hosted by the community as well as community president, Marco Impagliazzo.

Pope Francis listened carefully to the different and sorrowful experiences refugees had to face before arriving safe in Italy, according to the email. Francis asked extensively about the operation mode of the Humanitarian Corridors. He remembered his personal intervention in aid of the refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos, and re-stated the urgency to develop this kind of corridor which has welcomed and integrated more than 1,000 in Italy and Europe.

During his recent visit to Santa Maria in Trastevere, Pope Francis said: “Today, more than ever, carry on audaciously on this path … Carry on opening new humanitarian corridors for the refugees of war and hunger. The poor are your treasure!”




The canonical trial in the matter of accusations, including accusations of sexual abuse of minors, brought against the Most Reverend Anthony Sablan APURON, O.F.M.Cap., Archbishop of Agaña, Guam, has been concluded.

The Apostolic Tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, composed of five judges, has issued its sentence of first instance, finding the accused guilty of certain of the accusations and imposing upon the accused the penalties of privation of office and prohibition of residence in the Archdiocese of Guam. The sentence remains subject to possible appeal. In the absence of an appeal, the sentence becomes final and effective. In the case of an appeal, the imposed penalties are suspended until final resolution.



About 10 days ago I saw the following announcement in the online edition of “Wanted in Rome” and it really piqued my curiosity: 15 March. The Gruppo Storico Romano stages an historical re-enactment of the dramatic events that occurred in Rome on the Ides of March, culminating in the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC. The event is being staged at the Largo Argentina archaeological site on Thursday 15 March, at 14.00, followed by a funeral procession to the Temple of Divus Iulius in the Roman Forum. This unassuming site marks the spot where Caesar was cremated, and is located to the eastern side of the central Forum area. Each year people commemorate Caesar’s death by leaving flowers inside the temple. For details of the Ides of March events see the Gruppo Storico Romano website.

How could I miss such an occasion in the Eternal City! Rome offers so many “firsts” and that is why living here is so fascinating. I did learn, however, when I arrived that this is the 15th such re-enactment by this troupe!

When I got off the bus at the Largo Argentina ruins of the Roman Forum – where Caesar was killed in 44 BC – I could not see what I expected to see, that is, a big crowd gathering around the ancient ruins – they are below street level and there are metal barriers on all four sides of the Largo Argentina site.

I started walking around the perimeter and soon saw a crowd gathered around the southeast side of the ruins where there is a tower.

In fact, the full name of this square is Largo di Torre Argentina, The name of the square comes from the Torre or tower which, I learned from wikipedia, takes its name from the city of Strasbourg whose Latin name was Argentoratum. In 1503, the Papal Master of Ceremonies Johannes Burckardt, who came from Strasbourg and was known as “Argentinus,” built in the nearby via del Sudario a palace (now at number 44), called Casa del Burcardo, to which the tower is annexed.

Here are a few photos I took of the Largo Argentina ruins after the drama ended and the actors and onlookers processed to the Roman Forum to the site where Caesar was cremated. There are always a lot of cats who roam these ruins and there is, in fact, a cat hospital here, as you’ll see.


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I found a place about three people in from the rope barrier around the “stage” where the re-enactment would occur. It was not ideal for taking photos or doing a FB Live video because, while Italy is not known for the great height of its men, a number of Rome’s tallest stood right next to and in front of me! Eventually one of them, to whom I explained what I wanted to do, arranged for me to have a fair view of the stage area. He made sure, in fact, that my view was consistently fairly clear and allowed only two youngsters to move in front of us. God bless him!

Before the actual drama began, there were, of course, two political speeches (this IS Italy), one of which bemoaned the fact that Rome’s City Hall had denied permission to re-enact the death of Caesar actually inside the Roman ruins. They hope to have permission next year.

Not easy to take photos and video at same time but here goes….seems the photos appear twice and I do not have time to remedy

I posted a few videos, interrupting myself occasionally because the “finish video” button is located on the phone exactly where one’s fingers would normally be when you hold the phone up to video. And of course I hit that “finish” button two or three times.

Those videos, for better or worse, are on my facebook page (, as is a video I took afterwards of the ancient Roman Forum – I only wish I had explained how Largo Argentina got its name!

I did mid-identify Julius Caesar at one point as I tried to listen to the actors. Their script, by the way, was from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.”

As Shakespeare also wrote: All’s well that ends well! (Speaking of my day, not Caesar’s end)



Released on the 5th anniversary of his Pontificate, a new film entitled “Pope Francis – A Man of His Word” opens a unique window onto the Holy Father’s ideas and his encounters with people from all walks of life.

“Pope Francis – A Man of His Word”, written and directed by three-time Academy Award® nominee Wim Wenders, is intended to be a personal journey with Pope Francis, rather than a biographical documentary about him.

Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, Prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for Communication, set the project rolling when he invited Mr. Wenders to make a film with the Holy Father. The result was a rare co-production between Focus Features and the Vatican.

Pope Francis’ ideas and message are central to the film, which presents his work of reform and his answers to today’s global questions regarding death, social justice, immigration, ecology, wealth inequality, materialism, and the role of the family.

The film’s direct-to-camera visual and narrative concepts place the audience face-to-face with the Pope, creating a dialogue between him and the world. Pope Francis responds to the questions of farmers and workers, refugees, children and the elderly, prison inmates, and those who live in favelas and migrant camps. All of these voices and faces are a cross section of humanity that join in a conversation with Pope Francis.

This “symphony of questions” provides the backbone for the film, which also shows the Holy Father on his many journeys around the world. It features footage of him speaking at the United Nations, addressing the Congress of the United States, and mourning with those gathered at Ground Zero and at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem. He speaks to prisoners in correctional facilities and to refugees in Mediterranean camps.

Throughout the film, Pope Francis shares his vision of the Church and his deep concern for the poor, his involvement in environmental issues and social justice, and his call for peace in areas of conflict and between world religions. There is also a presence of Saint Francis in the film, connecting back to the Pope’s namesake, through accounts of legendary moments in the Saint’s own life as a reformer and ecologist.

In an era of deep distrust of politicians and people in power, Pope Francis – A Man of His Word shows us a person who lives what he preaches and who has gained the trust of people of all faith traditions and cultures across the world.

The film is produced by Mr. Wenders with Samanta Gandolfi Branca, Alessandro Lo Monaco (The World’s Smallest Army), Andrea Gambetta, and David Rosier (The Salt of the Earth). The film is a production of Célestes Images, Vatican Media, Solares Fondazione delle Arti, PTS Art’s Factory, Neue Road Movies, Fondazione Solares Suisse, and Decia Films. (

I contacted and was told the film will be released in the United States on March 18.



We really have to pray for the people in the UK and for the citizens of any country who want their laws to reflect the gender theories we read about in the story about Cardinal Nichols of London!


Pope Francis, at today’s general audience in a (finally!) sunshine-splashed St. Peter’s Square, continued his catechesis on the Mass, focusing on the liturgical rites that follow the Eucharistic Prayer, in particular the Our Father and the “breaking of the bread.

“Dear brothers and sisters,” began Pope Francis, “In our catechesis on the Mass, we now turn from the Eucharistic Prayer to the Communion Rites, which begin with our common recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. Immediately following the Great Amen, the assembly recites together the Our Father, which was taught us by Christ Himself. This, the Pope said, is not just one Christian prayer among many. Rather, it is “the prayer of the children of God,” in which, as Jesus teaches us, we call God Father.”

Putting aside, his prepared remarks, Francis spoke off the cuff and stressed the importance of this prayer, saying several times that “Jesus Himself prayed this way. We must pray like him. We do so when we recite the Our Father. This is Jesus talking to His Father, and this is how we must talk to our Father.” He said, “do you realize these are Jesus’ very words. We must pray like Him.”

“The Our Father,” said the Pope, “recited not only in the Mass, but also in the Morning and Evening Prayer of the Church, gives a Christian character to the whole day, forming in us a filial attitude towards God, and a fraternal relationship with our neighbor. The prayer we offer to the Father as his adoptive children in Christ, disposes us to receive the Lord’s body and blood in Holy Communion.

“We ask the Father for “our daily bread,” Francis continued, “for the forgiveness of our sins and for deliverance from evil. These petitions are then expanded in the following prayers, which invoke God’s peace and unity upon the Church and our world.”

He noted that, “In the exchange of the sign of peace, we demonstrate our commitment to be reconciled with one another, so as to worthily approach the altar to receive the Lord’s gift of himself.

“The rite of the breaking of the bread, accompanied by our invocation of Christ as the Lamb of God, acknowledges the saving presence of the risen Lord among us and implores the peace he won for us on the Cross. May our conscious celebration of these rites help us to experience ever more fully the Eucharist as the sacrament of our communion with God and with all our brothers and sisters.”

In remarks to Polish pilgrims following the catechesis, the Pope emphasized that it is necessary, if anyone has committed a grave sin, to receive absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving Holy Communion – and he reminded the faithful that Lent is a good time to make a good Confession in order to encounter Christ in the Eucharist.

“The Lord’s Prayer also calls us to be reconciled with our brothers and sisters, when we pray for our sins to be forgiven, ‘as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ And so, while we open our hearts to God, the Our Father disposes us also to fraternal love.”


London, England, Mar 13, 2018 (CNA/EWTN News).- Criticizing ideological trends regarding gender identity, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster has said that accepting that one’s biological sex is built-in to humanity helps escape destructive individualism through participation in the human family.

“At a time of great confusion about the rules of sexual behavior, about exploitation and abuse in every part of society, some firm points of reference, that are already built into our humanity at its best, are of vital importance,” Cardinal Nichols told a February meeting of Catholic head teachers.

“In an age of fluidity, even in gender identity, and at a time when the response to ‘difference’ is to become closed in a self-selecting world of the like-minded and reject that which is different, such foundations are so important,” the cardinal continued. These foundations “affirm that there are ‘givens’ which come with birth and with solid identities and which project across generations.”

“They help up keep hold of the reality that we are not single, self-determining individuals but members of a great family, with all its trials, diversities and struggles, and within that family, not alone, will we find our greatest joy,” he said.

Young people need help to develop a sense of justice grounded in an “innate understanding of human nature and its dignity,” not ideology, Cardinal Nichols said.

“The Christian faith is not an ideology,” he said. “An ideology proceeds by destroying what is in its way… An ideology seeks to remove all that is opposed to it and to impose its ‘ideals’, no matter the objective cost.”

According to Cardinal Nichols, the Christian faith looks upon the reality of which it is a part.

“The Christian faith, more than any other, takes the reality of sin seriously, not pretending that we live in a utopia, or on a pathway of endless progress, but rather in a world marked by limitations and distortions.”

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales will consider its response to transgender issues in April.

Heather Ashton with the transgender advocacy group TG Pals said the cardinal’s remarks were “not helpful” and said “a religious bias should not have any impact on a transgender child’s needs,” the Mail on Sunday newspaper reports.

Scotland is considering changes to its Gender Recognition Act of 2004, which is likely to inspire similar changes in England and Wales, the British newspaper the Catholic Herald says.

The change would allow self-declaration to change gender recognized by law. Current law requires assessments for “gender dysphoria” over a two-year period before a person may legally change his or her gender. The proposals would allow 16-year-olds to self-declare a new gender, while those under 16 would be able to change gender without parental consent if they appeal to the courts.



You saw the March 12 story from that I posted on Facebook about a letter from Pope emeritus Benedict XVI to Msgr. Dario Eduardo Vigano, prefect of the Secretariat for Communication in which the former Pope indicates an “interior continuity” between his pontificate and that of Francis.

Msgr. Vigano read two paragraphs of the papal letter to the guests present for the presentation of 11 small volumes entitled “The Theology of Pope Francis.”

The February 7 letter from Benedict XVI was in response to a letter sent to him by Msgr. Vigano on January 12,

That story cited only two paragraphs of Benedict XVI’s response to Msgr. Vigano:

“I applaud this initiative,” writes Pope Benedict. “It contradicts the foolish prejudice of those who see Pope Francis as someone who lacks a particular theological and philosophical formation, while I would have been solely a theorist of theology with little understanding of the concrete lives of today’s Christian.”

“The Pope Emeritus writes that he is grateful to have received the set of 11 books edited by Roberto Repole, President of the Italian Theological Association. Pope Benedict XVI adds that these volumes “reasonably demonstrate that Pope Francis is a man with profound philosophical and theological formation and are helpful to see the interior continuity between the two pontificates, even with all the differences in style and temperament.”

Vaticanista Sandro Magister notes in Italian in his blog post today, Settimo Cielo, that this exchange of letters was only made public on the vigil of the 5th anniversary of Pope Francis’ election “as if it was a grade, a good one” for his successor’s pontificate. He said people can “read into it what they want” about the unpublished fourth and final paragraph of Benedict’s letter.

Magister published the entire letter and the following is my translation from the Italian:

Benedict XVI
Pope Emeritus
Rev. Msgr. Dario Edoardo Vigano
Prefect of the Secretariat for Communication
Vatican City
7 February 2018

Most Rev. Monsignor,

I thank you for your courteous letter of January 12 and for the attached gift of the 11 small volumes edited by Robert Repole.

I applaud this initiative that wishes to contradict the foolish prejudice of those for whom Pope Francis would be a man lacking a particular theological and philosophical formation, while I would have been solely a theoretician of theology who understood little of the concrete lives of today’s Christian.

These small volumes demonstrate, rightly so, that Pope Francis is a man of deep philosophical and theological formation and they help us therefore to see the interior continuity between the two pontificates, even with all the differences in style and temperament.”

In any case, I do not feel like writing about (these volumes) a brief or even dense theological page because, throughout my whole life, it has always been clear that I would have written or would have expressed myself only about books that I have truly read. Unfortunately, also for physical reasons, I am not able to read these eleven little volumes in the near future, and even more so because other commitments that I have already made await me.

I am certain you will understand, and I greet you cordially,

Benedict XVI


Five years ago, almost to the hour I am writing this column, the 2013 conclave ended and we had a new Holy Father, Pope Francis. Five years have passed, amazing years of great change and some continuity, of novel ideas, of an open, almost casual papal style.

As we said five years ago – Habemus papam! A Pope in search of the peripheries, the poor and outcast, the homeless and forgotten, migrants and refugees. Yet sometimes those peripheries are right in the heart of the world’s largest cities.

A Pope who did not wish to travel and yet so far has had 22 international apostolic trips as he does what he wants all of us to do – evangelize!

A Pope who smiles, hugs babies, caresses the ill, the disabled and disfigured and prisoners – and yet one who knows how to admonish, with or without a smile.

A Pope not afraid to dare to be different, and yet a man comfortable, as the saying goes, in his own skin.

A Pope who has tried to tweak some millennia old Church teachings as he reaches out to the faithful, pleasing some and perplexing others.

And so much more!


There are some days in life you’ll never forget, not an hour, not a minute! March 13, 2013 was one of those days, as part of the EWTN team covering the pre-conclave days and then the conclave that eventually elected Pope Francis following the retirement on February 28 of his predecessor, now Pope emeritus Benedict XVI.

It was a very cold, very rainy day in Rome, a long day that started ultra early for me and I don’t even remember when it ended, what time it was when I finally got to bed. I remember about 5 in the afternoon I was hoping to go home for a few minutes (I live a 5-minute walk from St. Peter’s Square) to get some notes I had prepared for the long television evening ahead and perhaps put on some fresh powder and comb my hair!

I was walking underneath the right hand colonnade, tired beyond telling but buoyed every so many yards by running into friends and many of my EWTN fans. I did make it home for a few minutes and then came back into St. Peter’s Square for the evening vote. I was due to be on air live with Fr. Mitch at 8 pm Rome time but then we got the white smoke and I hurried to reach our television location atop the building of the Augustinian Fathers.

It was harder to get out of the square than into the square but I reached our rooftop studio in time for the announcement of the new Pope and his chosen name as Pope.

And, as you will see below, the rest is history!


HABEMUS PAPAM – As EWTN’s coverage began the night of March 13, 2013, it was a guessing game before the evening vote of the elector cardinals of the College of Cardinals – then the (unexpected by many that night) white smoke and shortly afterwards the tumultuous welcome for a man named Francis, the first Jesuit and the first Latin American Pope (2 h.37 minutes)

The World Over – March 14, 2013 – the night after the conclave: Features the late Cardinal Francis George (“A conclave is a very religious experience”…”An exercise in freedom”), Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, Msgr. Anthony Figueredo, and other guests) (50 minutes)

From today:


A month to the day after the February 14 shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and teachers were killed during the most serious school killing in the United States, favored by the extreme ease in acquiring arms, the Sant’Egidio community of Rome announced today in a press release, that they are promoting a prayer vigil on Wednesday, March 14, in the basilica of St. Mary Major to commemorate the victims and express closeness to their families.

Young Romans and American university students enrolled in American universities in Rome will participate in tomorrow’s vigil at 7 pm.. During the vigil the names of the victims will be read and for each one a candle will be lit so that no one is forgotten and a strong message is sent against every type of violence.