I would like to wish all of you – my family, my friends, my online family of blog and Facebook readers, my radio listeners and television viewers – a blessed, happy and healthy Thanksgiving! And I wish safe travels for all who will be driving or flying to join family for this beautiful holiday!

I’ll be off for two days, Thanksgiving and “Black Friday,” but check these pages anyway! You never know when there may be breaking news or a wonderful story or some great photos!


Tune in this weekend to “Vatican Insider” for Part II of my conversation with Dr. Dan Guernsey, director of K-12 programs at the Cardinal Newman Society. He is an educator who has worked at every level of Catholic education for 25 years from K-12 to university president. We spoke when he was in Rome for the World Congress organized by the Congregation for Catholic Education to commemorate two Vatican Documents on Education. The congress theme was “Educating today and tomorrow: a renewing passion.”

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:


Tuesday evening, the vigil of his 11th foreign apostolic trip and his first ever trip to Africa, Francis traveled to St. Mary Major Basilica to pray for the success of his trip to Africa.  As is customary before he travels, he prayed before the ancient image of image of Mary, Salus Populi Romani, invoking the protection of the Virgin Mary on his travels and upon the peoples he will visit in Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic. His most recent visit to this Roman Basilica was on September 28, 2005, upon return from his apostolic visit to Cuba and the United States. This is his 27th visit to St. Mary Major

Wednesday morning, at the Santa Marta residence, shortly before going to Fiumicino Airport, the Holy Father received eleven women and six children from a refuge house for victims of domestic violence and trafficking for the purposes of prostitution. According to the announcement from the Apostolic Almoner, the women were Italian, Nigerian, Romanian and Ukrainian. They are currently housed in a structure managed by a religious congregation in a village in the Lazio region.

At 8 am this morning, Pope Francis and his entourage boarded an Alitalia plane at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport amid tight security and departed shortly thereafter. The plane arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya at 3:00 p.m. (Rome time) for the beginning of Pope Francis’ six-day Apostolic Visit to three African nations. One in six of the world’s Catholics are in Africa.

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is named after Kenya’s first president. Kenya’s current President Uhuru – whose name means “freedom” in Swahili – is Jomo Kenyatta’s son and he was on the tarmac to meet the Pope, together with Nairobi’s Archbishop, Cardinal John Njue, the president of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops and a small group of faithful who sang and danced for the Pope as he set foot for the very first time on African soil.


After the brief welcome ceremony at the airport, Pope Francis was taken to the State House, where he was formally and officially welcomed with full military honors and the twenty-one gun salute.

Afrter a greeting by President Uhuru, Pope Francis spoke to the Kenyans, addressing them in English.

Thanking the president and people for their warm welcome, Francis said, “I look forward to my stay among you. Kenya is a young and vibrant nation, a richly diverse society that plays a significant role in the region. In many ways, your experience of shaping a democracy is one shared by many other African nations. Like Kenya, they too are working to build, on the solid foundations of mutual respect, dialogue and cooperation, a multiethnic society that is truly harmonious, just and inclusive.”

To great applause the Pope said, “Yours too is a nation of young people. In these days, I look forward to meeting many of them, speaking with them, and encouraging their hopes and aspirations for the future. The young are any nation’s most valuable resource. To protect them, to invest in them and to offer them a helping hand, is the best way we can ensure a future worthy of the wisdom and spiritual values dear to their elders, values which are the very heart and soul of a people.”


Addressing one of the main topics of his encyclical Laudato si, He noted that, “Kenya has been blessed not only with immense beauty, in its mountains, rivers and lakes, its forests, savannahs and semi-deserts, but also by an abundance of natural resources. The Kenyan people have a strong appreciation of these God-given treasures and are known for a culture of conservation that does you honor. The grave environmental crisis facing our world demands an ever-greater sensitivity to the relationship between human beings and nature.”

“In effect,” added Francis, “there is a clear link between the protection of nature and the building of a just and equitable social order. There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature, without a renewal of humanity itself. To the extent that our societies experience divisions, whether ethnic, religious or economic, all men and women of good will are called to work for reconciliation and peace, forgiveness and healing. In the work of building a sound democratic order, strengthening cohesion and integration, tolerance and respect for others, the pursuit of the common good must be a primary goal.

“Experience shows that violence, conflict and terrorism feed on fear, mistrust, and the despair born of poverty and frustration. Ultimately, the struggle against these enemies of peace and prosperity must be carried on by men and women who fearlessly believe in, and bear honest witness to, the great spiritual and political values that inspired the birth of the nation.”

The Pope concluded his talk by referring to the Kenyan “tradition for young schoolchildren to plant trees for posterity. May this eloquent sign of hope in the future, and trust in the growth which God gives, sustain all of you in your efforts to cultivate a society of solidarity, justice and peace on the soil of this country and throughout the great African continent. Mungu abariki Kenya! God bless Kenya!