The Italian news agency ANSA reported this morning that, according to Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, Pope Francis’s audiences for Thursday have been cancelled because the 79-year-old pontiff has a high temperature. Fr. Lombardi said the pope had a “slight indisposition, nothing serious” adding that, as usual, Francis celebrated Mass at the Santa Marta residence where he lives inside the Vatican on Thursday morning. “For the moment he is resting,” Lombardi said. “He usually recovers quite quickly. Anyway, we’ll see.”

Most of my day has been outside of the office, including getting ready to be with Jim and Joy AT HOME this evening. Be sure to tune in!

The book with Pope Francis’ answers to 31 questions from children around the world was presented this morning in its Italian version, one of the 16 languages in which the book has been published. The Italian-language book is called Before the World, Love. The English version is set to debut March 1 and is titled Dear Pope Francis. Prepared by Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro, the book presents 31 letters and drawings selected from those presented by 296 students from Jesuit-run schools and institutions in 26 countries. A percentage of the sales will be given to the JRS, Jesuit Refugee Service. (More about this, along with a few photos, tomorrow).



This morning I read, and then posted, Vatican’ Radio’s report by Philippa Hitchens entitled, “Father Lombardi’s lasting legacy at Vatican Radio.”

The piece starts: Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi steps down as Director General of Vatican Radio at the end of February, in the context of a major overhaul of the Holy See’s media and communications organisations.

When I got to the final paragraph, it sounded like what was not going to last was Vatican Radio itself, at least not the name! After 85 years! A name it has had since day one – February 12, 1931.

Here is what that paragraph says: Fr Lombardi’s departure from the Palazzo Pio headquarters marks the end of an era for the Jesuits too, whom Pope Pius XI entrusted with the running of the Radio back in 1931. Pope Francis has made clear he wants the order to continue working in communications, though it’s not yet clear how that service may take shape. The name – Vatican Radio – will also cease to exist in the coming months, as it becomes more closely incorporated into a combined output of TV, newspaper, web and social media production. What Fr Lombardi says he hopes will remain at the heart of the new media operation is the dedication of those committed to their mission of sharing the Good News with those on the margins of today’s ‘throwaway culture’. 

In addition to this bombshell piece of news, I read this at the end of today’s edition of VIS (Vatican Information Service): NOTICE TO VIS SUBSCRIBERS Vatican City, 25 February 2016 (VIS) – From Tuesday 1 March 2016, the Vatican Information Service newsletter will not be transmitted …

We’ve all know there would be some changes in the communications structure since last June when the Pope instituted the Secretariat for Communications. A certain amount of streamlining was expected, although indications were given that taking care of personnel working for the Vatican’s communication offices (Vatican Radio, CTV, Press Office, VIS, L’Osservatore Romano, Pontifical Council for Social Communications) was a high priority.

To a person, the people I have spoken to today, when I told them of the news that the name “Vatican Radio” would soon disappear told me I was mistaken, that could not happen, I had heard or read the story incorrectly, no one would change history, what I was saying had no sense, and so on.

I am still stunned by this announcement. To be honest, I first heard Philippa’s account on Vatican Radio this morning as I was preparing for an appointment, Absolutely sure I had misunderstood her final words, I went online to find the story – there it was, I had no misheard at all.

My heartbeat quickens as I wonder what is down the road for Vatican communications after learning of such a shocking change for the historic Vatican Radio. What will disappear next? What is the rationale behind such changes, behind a “major overhaul”? Perhaps this is what interests me (and others) most.

Here is the link to the entire Philippa Hitchen story: