As I write these words, it is Wednesday and I leave tomorrow morning for a wedding in New Orleans – will be back here on Tuesday. I will not have news for you today about the Pope’s encyclical “Laudato si” as it goes on the Vatican website this evening at 6 under embargo for journalists accredited to the Holy See Press Office. The official presentation is Thursday morning so you will learn the content, the real, final content, of this encyclical quite soon.

I know you’d have to perform a super-human feat to try and forget what you’ve read online in past days of the excerpts fron the leaked, early draft of the encyclical, but try anyway. The final, complete, official version is the one coming out tomorrow. I hope very much that you will seek out trustworthy news sources (EWTN news, CNA, CNS, National Catholic Register,,, etc – there is a long list of orthodox sites).

The problem for those who read and reported on the draft version is that, if they are doing their job well and thoroughly, they will have to read the final copy of “Laudato si” as well and will have to, of necessity, compare the two side by side to know what the Pope really said!  Quite a task! I’ve heard the document is 191 pages long (in English).

The embargoed copy will be online in a few hours here in Rome for access for those of us accredited to the Holy See Press Office. I mistakenly wrote yesterday that it would go online last night. I’ve been so busy, I was a day ahead of myself. I’ll try to read it on the plane.


My two guests this week on the interview segment are from the North American College – Deacon George Elliott, to be ordained a priest later this month, and soon-to-be-ordained a deacon, Greg Gerhart – both from Texas. They are the co-founders of CATHOLIC BYTES, a new Catholic podcast that launches June 29th and will offer short – 5 to 10 minutes – dynamic talks about the faith. A truly fascinating conversation with two special men. (Greg Gerhart L and Deacon George Elliott R)


A press release about Catholic Bytes notes that each episode offers listeners a variety of themes ranging from faith fundamentals, Scripture, dogma, morals, liturgy, spirituality, saints, Church history, and personal testimonies. They offer listeners the expertise and experience of faith-filled priests, seminarians, and laity from across the world who are currently studying at various pontifical universities throughout Rome.

GREG GERHART - Catholic Bytes

All podcasts will be offered for free and can be accessed through the website: The website will launch with a ‘pre-release’ that can be accessed from June 15, 2015 until June 26, 2015. More information can also be accessed on Facebook ( and Twitter ( starting on June 15, 2015.

So tune in this weekend and, at the end of the program, say a prayer for our future priest and deacon!

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live 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 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives:


Pope Francis held his weekly general audience on Wednesday in a sun-splashed St. Peter’s Square where he continued his series of catechetical reflections on the family. He devoted this week’s meditation to the theme of loss in the family: the pain and suffering that the passing of a family member can bring, and the duty we have to comfort and console those who mourn.

“In our ongoing catechesis on the family,” began the Pope, “I wish to reflect on one of the more dramatic and painful events that every person, without exception, has to deal with, namely, the death of a family member.  Jesus has compassion on those who mourn, as today’s Scripture reading reminds us, because the death of a loved one is never without pain for families; this is especially true of parents who lose a child.”

The Holy Father observed that, “Jesus’ presence with the widow at Na’in assures us that He is with us in our darkest moments and that He is with us in our loss and mourning. Through faith in Him, in His Resurrection and His abiding presence, we can face our loss, ‘the sting of death’, as Saint Paul calls it, make sense of it, and have confidence that death does not have the last word.”

Pope Francis urged the faithful to, “with Christ-like tenderness and compassion, know how to be close and offer consolation to families suffering the loss of a loved one. Above all, may we always be witnesses to the love which Christ revealed through his cross and resurrection, a love stronger than death. Let us also be grateful for our faith in him, which is the only adequate response to our deepest needs in the face of the death of a loved one.”

After the catechesis, the Pope renewed his call on the international community to take effective action on behalf of refugees. “We pray for the many brothers and sisters who seek refuge far from their native lands, who seek a home where they can live without fear: that they might always be respected in their dignity.” His appeal was made ahead of the UN-sponsored World Refugee Day, which is marked each year on June 20th.