As I said on my first post today, there was a lot of news about and from the Vatican so I’ll be posting two separate blogs. The first one, as you have possibly seen by now, was all about Pope Francis’ wonderful talk at today’s general audience as he continues a series of  catecheses on the family.

The second story was about the ninth meeting of the C9 – The Council of Cardinals who are papal advisors – and summarizes their work from three days of meeting with the Pope in the Santa Marta residence.

I also wrote about Cardinal Roberto Tucci who died last night at the age of 93.

And now, here are a few Vatican-related stories, one about the terrible tragedy of migrants drowning by the hundreds in attempst to reach Italy from Africa and a final story which is, as I say, “just for fun.”


(ANSA) April 14 – Pope Francis has no personal fear of Islamic State (ISIS) militants but is fearful for the brutal mass murder they are inflicting on Christians, the prefect of the Papal Household, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, said in a TV interview that was aired Tuesday night.

“The Pope has no fear for himself (but) he does for the faithful and these threats must certainly be taken seriously,” Abp. Gaenswein told the Retequattro programme La Strada dei Miracoli (The Road of Miracles). “The pope has spoken of this problem of people being persecuted only because they are Christians; they are killed, burned alive and decapitated. …  That regards the faithful. For himself, I don’t think he has any fear of the fundamentalists.” http://popefrancisnewsapp.com/


(Reuters) – An Apple iPad which belonged to Pope Francis fetched $30,500 at auction on Tuesday, with proceeds going to a school for the poor in Uruguay, the local auction house selling the item said. The Castells auction house in Montevideo said the winning bid was placed by telephone, but declined to disclose the buyer’s identity or nationality.

It is not the first time Pope Francis, who has often criticized orthodox market economics for fostering inequality, has donated a personal belonging. Last year, a Harley-Davidson motorbike he had received as a gift fetched 241,500 euros ($257,681).

“May you do something good with it,” Uruguayan priest, Fr. Gonzalo Aemilius recalled being told by the Argentina-born pope when he handed over the iPad. Aemilius in turn donated the tablet to the Francisco de Paysandu high school, located about 370 kilometers (230 miles)north of the capital, Montevideo. School officials said that after a string of failed attempts to sell the iPad through auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s they were offering the iPad through local auction house Castells.

The device carries the inscription “His Holiness Francisco. Servizio Internet Vatican, March 2013,” and has a certificate signed by the Pope’s personal secretary, Fabian Pedacchio Leaniz. Pope Francis has called the Internet a “gift from God,” but confesses to being a “disaster” with technology.


(ANSA) New York, April 15 – A Turkish hacker repeatedly attacked the Vatican website between Monday night and Tuesday morning following Pope Francis’ remarks denouncing ‘genocide’ of the Armenians in the First World War, US news reports said Wednesday. The hacker subsequently claimed responsibility for the attack and asked the Pope to withdraw his remarks, according to the website The Hill.  The hacker claimed responsibility via Twitter, calling himself THTHerakles and saying he would continue to attack the site http://www.vatican.va.se “if the Holy See does not make official excuses,” the Washington Post said.


(ANSA) April 15 – Almost 10,000 migrants have been rescued in recent days, Coast Guard officials said Wednesday as new waves of people continued to arrive on Italian shores triggering concerns that this spring could set new deadly records for both migrant crossings and deaths. Some 1,511 people were rescued on Tuesday alone in 12 different operations coordinated by the national Coast Guard relief service. That came after 8,480 people were reported rescued in the Mediterranean between Friday and Monday.

The rescues continued amid growing fears that about 400 migrants may have drowned in the sea off Libya after the NGO Save the Children said witnesses had reported a boat capsizing off the Libyan coast. About 144 people were rescued by the Italian Coast Guard from that boat on Monday and nine bodies were recovered.

Among Wednesday’s arrivals were 236 migrants including eight children and many pregnant women brought to Messina in Sicily.


Rome may introduce 3D “augmented reality” glasses for the Roman Forum that would give visitors the possibility of experiencing the ancient Roman ruins with new verisimilitude to the days of Caesar, Trajan and Nerva, Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino said Tuesday. Rome is contemplating experimentation with the ‘immersive’, high definition, virtual reality glasses designed by two young Roman engineers. The first applications for the glasses have been at rock concerts in Rome.     “We are organizing a surprise for April 21 – Christmas in Rome,” said Marino. City sources said that a feasibility test of the project is now being launched. (ANSA)



Tons of news about and from the Vatican today so I’ll be posting two separate blogs. This first one is all about Pope Francis’ wonderful talk at today’s general audience as he continues a series of  catecheses on the family.

The second article from VIS is about the ninth meeting of the C9 – The Council of Cardinals who are papal advisors – and summarizes their work from three days of meeting with the Pope in the Santa Marta residence.

But first a sad note today in the Vatican:  Jesuit Cardinal Roberto Tucci died last night at the age of 93, just five days before what would have been his 94th birthday.

Born in Naples on April 19, 1921, Cardinal Tucci joined the Jesuits and was ordained a priest in 1950 at the age of 29 after having earned his Doctorate in Sacred Theology at the Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University.  He took part in the drafting of some of the documents of the Second Vatican Council and served as director of La Civiltà Cattolica from 1959 to 1973.  His contribution was considered invaluable for the final edition of the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes. (photo: news.va)


He served as director general of Vatican Radio from 1973 to 1985, and also served as the “advance man” and organizer of all Pope John Paul II’s papal visits. He was made a cardinal by Pope St. John Paul II on February 21, 2001.

When I worked at the Vatican Information Service, I interviewed then Father Tucci for an article I was going to write about the behind-the-scenes preparations for a papal trip. He was obviously filled with wonderful facts and tidbits and our conversation was immensely enjoyable. As I was about to leave with a mountain of information, I said, “Father, I never thought about it, but does Pope John Paul have special dietary requirements or needs?”  Without hesitation, he replied, “No ice, no spice.”

Father Tucci explained that if John Paul happened to be served a very cold beverage, he simply wrapped his hands around the glass a bit to warm it up, never inconveniencing any of his hosts.

He also told me that he had traveled so often to so many places for papal trips that when people saw him – even when he was someplace on vacation – they automatically assumed the Pope was coming!


(VIS) – Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the family by dedicating this morning’s general audience to the difference and complementarity between man and woman, recalling first of all that the Book of Genesis insists that both are in the image and likeness of God. “Not only man as such, not only woman as such, but rather man and woman, as a couple, are the image of God. The difference between them is not a question of contrast or subordination, but instead of communion and generation, always in the image and semblance of God”.


“Experience teaches us that for the human being to know him- or herself well and to grow harmoniously, there is a need for reciprocity between man and woman”, said the Pope to the thirty thousand faithful present in St. Peter’s Square. “When this does not happen, we see the consequences. We are made to listen to each other and to help each other. We can say that, without mutual enrichment in this relationship – in terms of thought and action, in personal relationships and in work, and also in faith – the two cannot even fully understand what it means to be a man and a woman”.

“Modern and contemporary culture has opened up new spaces, new freedoms and new depths for the enrichment and understanding of this difference. But it has also introduced many doubts and much scepticism. I wonder, for example, if so-called gender theory is not an expression of frustration and resignation, that aims to cancel out sexual difference as it is no longer able to face it. Yes, we run the risk of taking step backwards. Indeed, the removal of difference is the problem, not the solution. To solve their problems in relating to each other, men and women must instead speak more, listen more, know each other better, value each other more. They must treat each other with respect and cooperate in friendship. With these human bases, supported by God’s grace, it is possible to plan a lifelong matrimonial and family union. The marriage and family bond is a serious matter for all, not only for believers. I would like to encourage intellectuals not to ignore this theme, as if it were secondary to our efforts to promote a freer and more just society”.

“God has entrusted the earth to the alliance between man and woman; its failure makes our emotional life arid and obscures the heaven of hope. The signs are already worrying, and we can see them. I would like to indicate due points, among many, that I believe must concern us with greater urgency”.

“Undoubtedly we must do far more in favour of women, if we want to strengthen to the reciprocity between men and women. Indeed, it is necessary for a woman not only to be listened to, but also for her voice to carry real weight, recognised authority, in society and in the Church. The way in which Jesus Himself regarded women, in a context that was far less favourable than our own, casts a powerful light illuminating a road that takes us far, on which we have travelled only a short distance. It is a road we must travel with more creativity and boldness”.

He added, “a second point relates to the theme of man and woman created in God’s image. I wonder if the crisis of collective trust in God, that is so harmful to us, that causes us to ail with resignation to incredulity and cynicism, is not also connected to the crisis in the alliance between man and woman. In effect, the biblical account, with the great symbolic fresco of earthly paradise and original sin, tells us precisely that communion with God is reflected in the communion of the human couple, and the loss of trust in the heavenly Father generates division and conflict between man and woman”.

“This leads to the great responsibility of the Church, of all believers, and above all of Christian families, to rediscover the beauty of the Creator’s plan that inscribes the image of God also in the alliance between man and woman. The earth is filled with harmony and trust when the alliance between man and woman is lived well. And if men and women seek this together between them and with God, without doubt they will find it. Jesus explicitly encourages us to bear witness to this beauty, which is the image of God”, concluded the Pontiff.


On September 30, 2013,  the Vatican published a Chirograph written by Pope Francis in which he institutes a Council of Cardinals to assist him in the governance of the universal Church and to draw up a project for the revision of the Apostolic Constitution “Pastor bonus” on the Roman Curia.

A chirograph is a papal document or decree that, unlike an apostolic constitution or encyclical, regards some or all parts of the Roman Curia. The papal document begins: “Among the suggestions that emerged from the General Congregations of Cardinals prior to the Conclave, mention was made of the expediency of instituting a limited group of Members of the Episcopate, from various parts of the world, with whom the Holy Father could consult, individually or collectively, on specific matters. Once elected to the See of Rome, I have had the opportunity to reflect on this issue on a number of occasions, and consider that such an initiative would be of significant use in fulfilling the pastoral ministry of Peter’s Successor entrusted to me by my brother cardinals. “For this reason, on April 13 I announced the constitution of the aforementioned group, at the same time indicating the names of those who had been called to participate. Now, following reflection, I consider it opportune that such a group, by means of the present Chirograph, be instituted as a ‘Council of Cardinals’ with the task of assisting me in the governance of the Universal Church and drawing up a project for the revision of the Apostolic Constitution ‘Pastor bonus’ on the Roman Curia.

It will be composed of the same persons previously nominated, who may be called upon, both in Council and singly, on matters that I will from time to time consider worthy of attention. The aforementioned Council that I will compose in the most appropriate way, with regard to the number of members, will constitute a further expression of Episcopal communion and of the aid to the ‘munus petrinum’ that the Episcopate, disseminated throughout the world, may offer.”

The chirograph is dated September 28, 2013, the first year of Francis’ pontificate.


(VIS) – The ninth meeting of the Council of Cardinals (C9), which began on 13 April, was brought to a close this afternoon, according to a briefing by the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J. (ANSA file photo)

C9 Cardinals - ANSA

The Council of Cardinals dedicated the majority its work regarding reform of the Roman Curia to two aspects: reflections on the methodologies to be followed for work during 2015 and 2016 in order to be able to effectively accomplish the task of preparing the new Constitution, and a rereading of the interventions by the Cardinals in relation to reform of the Curia made during the recent Consistory (there were over sixty interventions on this theme with useful indications and cues, both for the prologue of the constitution and for specific aspects of reform).

The orientation towards the constitution of two dicasteries – one competent in fields of charity, justice and peace, the other regarding the laity, families and life – would appear to be confirmed.

The Council also focused on the issue of the reorganisation of Vatican media, following the submission of the final report of the Commission presided over by Lord Chris Patten.

It is expected that the Pope will constitute a Commission to consider how the recommendations of the report can be put into practice. This body will also include members of the Patten Commission, to ensure continuity.

Finally, Cardinal O’Malley, president of the new Commission for the Protection of Minors, under the auspices of the same Commission, has proposed that the Pope and the Council consider the theme of “accountability” with regard to the protection of minors, in order to establish appropriate procedures and methods for evaluating and judging cases of “abuse of office” in this area, especially on the part of persons holding responsibility within the Church.

Further meetings of the Council of Cardinals are scheduled to take place from June 8-10, September 14-16 and December 10-12,  2015