I have visited the basilica of San Lorenzo in Damaso several times but have never attended Mass there until this morning when I went to the Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit ((Red Mass) occasioned by the Australian Bar Association Conference in Rome. Mass by presided over by Cardinal Raymond Burke, who heads the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s Supreme Court. San Lorenzo basilica is part of the huge complex known as the Cancelleria, a building that houses the various Vatican tribunals.

I was invited by Australian ambassador to the Holy See, John McCarthy who, before being appointed ambassador last year, was a Queens Counsel at the New South Wales Bar and lawyer in Sydney. It was a very beautiful Mass, with many Australians in attendance, some of whom live in Rome, others just visiting.

After Mass and some work in my office, I joined my friends Linda and Jack Del Rio for lunch in the Trastevere area of Rome, afterwards visiting St. Cecilia Basilica. Over lunch, they watched my “Joan’s Rome” video about this basilica on Linda’s iPhone so as to be somewhat familiar with the basilica’s history and the story of this young saint.

The three of us explored not only the basilica but the absolutely amazing crypt area which, in all my years in Rome, I had never seen! This is also where St. Cecilia’s tomb is. I’ll go back on a quiet summer day when Pope Francis is, so to speak, on vacation, and bring you some images and video of this historical and lovely basilica.


The following communique was issued in English by the Holy See Press Office late Monday afternoon:

IOR-Director Paolo Cipriani and Deputy Director Massimo Tulli have offered their resignations from their current positions. After many years of service both have decided that this decision would be in the best interest of the Institute (IOR: Institute for Works of Religion) and the Holy See. The Oversight Council and the Commission of Cardinals have accepted their resignations and asked President Ernst von Freyberg to assume the functions of the General Director ad interim with immediate effect. The Vatican regulator AIF has been informed accordingly. The Special Commission appointed on June 26, 2013 has acknowledged the decision.

Ernst von Freyberg will be supported by Rolando Marranci as acting Deputy Director and Antonio Montaresi in the newly created position as acting Chief Risk Officer with the remit of overseeing compliance and special projects. Previously Rolando Marranci served as Chief Operating Officer at a leading Italian bank in London. Antonio Montaresi has served as Chief Risk and Chief Compliance Officer with various banks in the US.

“In the name of the Oversight Council I thank Mr. Cipriani and Mr. Tulli for their personal dedication over the past years,” said President Ernst von Freyberg. “I welcome Rolando Marranci and Antonio Montaresi as outstanding professionals,” he said. “Since 2010, IOR and its management have been working hard to bring structures and processes in line with international standards for anti-money laundering. While we are grateful for what has been achieved, it is clear today that we need new leadership to increase the pace of this transformation process. Our progress is in no small measure due to the continued support from the governing bodies of the Institute and its personnel.”

The Oversight Council has also initiated a selection process with the aim of appointing a new General Director and Deputy Director in the near future.

Elizabeth McCaul, Partner-in-charge of the New York Office and Chief Executive Officer of Promontory Europe and Raffaele Cosimo, Chief Operating Officer of Promontory Europe were mandated this past May by the President of the Oversight Council to strengthen the Institute’s anti-money laundering program in seven work streams including conducting a forensic review and screening its client relationships. Mr. von Freyberg has also asked Elizabeth McCaul and Raffaele Cosimo to serve as Senior Advisors to support the management. Previously, Ms. McCaul served as New York Superintendent of Banks and is considered a leader in regulatory circles. Mr. Cosimo is an expert in bank governance and operations.

About IOR:

The “Istituto per le Opere di Religione” (IOR) is an institute founded in 1942 by papal decree. IOR’s purpose is to serve the Holy See and in the Catholic Church throughout the world, as set out in its Statutes. IOR safeguards the assets of a clearly defined group of legal and natural persons who have an affiliation to the Catholic Church defined by Canonical or Vatican Law. A Cardinals’ Commission, a Prelate, an Oversight Council and a Directorate constitute the IOR’s corporate governance structure. IOR, which has 114 employees, is exclusively situated on the sovereign territory of the Vatican City State.


The Italian news agency ANSA has reported that the cardinals and bishops who are members of the Congregation for Causes of Saints and who met today in plenary session have approved a second miracle attributed to the intercession of John Paul II, a miracle needed to make him a Saint. On June 18 it had been announced that the theologians and medical doctors who must investigate and approve such miracles, had approved the second one and it then went to the cardinals for endorsement. Final approval rests with Pope Francis.

Reports say the second miracle was the immediate healing of a woman (without specifying the illness) the very evening of the late Pope’s beatification on May 1, 2011. Several possible dates have been mentioned for the canonization ceremony. Traditionally canonizations take place twice a year in Rome, the second such ceremony usually occurring on the third Sunday of October. Reports today mention December 8, after the conclusion in November of the Year of Faith celebrations.

Pope Francis is the Pope of surprises – so stay tuned.


According to the Vatican newspaper, “L’Osservatore Romano,” thereare more than seven million followers of the papal twitter account @pontifex.

Pope Francis inherited the @Pontifex account on the social network Twitter from his predecessor Pope Benedict XVIm who inaugurated it in October 2012.. “Pope Francis’s presence on the social network is attracting an increasing number of people, especially the young, who are the Internet’s major users,” said the Vatican daily.

The largest group of followers – 2,736,800 – subscribe to the Pope’s feed in Spanish. In second place is English, with 2,637,600 followers: Then, in descending order: Italian (859,000 followers); Portuguese (425,230), French (153,536) German (115,100), Polish (96,822) and Arabic (68,200).


According to Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops), the latest 110-page ruling by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on its health care mandate that was issue June 28th requires time for analysis. He did, however, express gratitude for the five-month extension on implementing the complex proposal.

The effective date of the rule had been set for August 1, 2013, but last Friday’s decision moves the date to January 1, 2014 for some nonprofit entities.

“We have received and started to review the 110-page final rule on the HHS mandate,” Cardinal Dolan said. “We appreciate the extension of the effective date by five months, which is readily apparent in the rule,” he said. “The remainder of the rule is long and complex. It will require more careful analysis. We will provide a fuller statement when that analysis is complete.”

The HHS mandate requires that almost all employers, even those with moral objections to contraception, abortion and sterilization, provide employees contraceptives, including those that cause abortion, and sterilization, free of charge as part of services for women under the new health care law.


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