Although he is on a working vacation, Pope Francis does preside on Sundays in July at the Angelus from his study in the Apostolic Palace. Yesterday he reflected on the day’s Gospel story of Jesus who is welcomed by Martha and Mary into their home. They each offer their hospitality in different ways. Martha scurries around and is busy preparing things whereas Mary is content to sit at Jesus’ feet to listen to his words. When Martha asks Jesus if he is not upset that she is doing everything alone and Mary isn’t helping, he reminds her, as Pope Francis said, “that in order to welcome him many things are not necessary; indeed, only one thing is necessary, to listen to Jesus.”

Thus, the Holy Father was stressing two essential points: “the importance of hospitality, a real Christian virtue, but one which at times the world neglects,” and “the importance of dedicating more time to listening because the root of peace is in the capacity to listen.”


With those words in mind, I want to tell you that I start my vacation tomorrow, and will be enjoying the hospitality of family in California and dear friends in Hawaii. I hope I can be Mary to their Martha while on vacation.

I’m always excited about visiting family because I’m part of such a terrific family! I have 9 nieces and nephews and 21 great-nieces and -nephews, a number of whom I will see in California, while others live in Arizona, Oregon, Illinois and Wisconsin (my next visits!)

Hawaii is a vacation unlike any other! It is beautiful beyond description – I don’t feel like a wordsmith when I am there, in fact, I lack for words. Even photos don’t seem to do justice but I will be posting a number on Facebook as I travel.

I could write an entire blog about each of my very special friends, from Jan and Trip, retired Navy (at least two blogs about this amazing couple), to Maria, a doctor at Tripler Medical Center who works with veterans returning from war zones, to Sister Davilyn ah Chick, OSF, principal of Our Lady of Pepetual Help school who wears about a dozen other hats, to Sister Malia Dominica Wong, OP, adjunct professor at Chaminade University in Honolulu, who also wears numerous hats (and both nuns are prolific writers), to Sister Marykutty Kottuppallil, a Missionary Sister of Mary Help of Christians (an order founded in 1942 in Guwahati northeast India in 1942, as part of the family of Salesian orders (superior of a small group of these sisters in Honolulu), to Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu.

In a category all by herself is Audrey Toguchi, our mutual friend, the person who “connects the dots” (her favorite saying), that is, brings people together. I was introduced to Audrey and her story in July of 2008 when I flew to Honolulu on a very quick “reconnaissance” mission. I had been alerted by Linda Cacpal, a fellow member of Audrey’s parish, St. Elizabeth in Aiea, that Audrey was the person whose miraculous cure of lung cancer was due to the intercesssion of Damien of Molokai and led to his canonization in October 2009.

I was in California in July 2008 for a nephew’s wedding. Linda and I had been emailing back and forth about the news from Rome days earlier about a miraculous cure leading to Damien’s canonization. She told me about Audrey and said, “you really should come to Hawaii and meet her.” Well, I did just that. I got on the Internet on Saturday, found airfare and a hotel and was on a plane for Honolulu Monday.

Audrey was the first person I met of what is now this circle of friends – my Hawaiian ohana or family. I interviewed her for my radio show and we struck up a friendship that has lasted and deepened to this day.

Hawaii - 2008 004

Audrey and her husband Yuki (a magical gardener – I think he could grow orchids from stone)

Hawaii - 2008 006

Linda also told Bishop Larry I was in town and his office called and we met for a visit and have seen each other every summer since. We’ve also met in Rome with Hawaii pilgrims for the 2009 Damien canonization and the 2012 St. Marianne Cope canonization.

Linda was fascinated by my blog and what she could learn about Rome, the Pope, the Vatican, etc. We had become pen pals not long after my first column appeared in 2006. She gave me my first ever orchid lei when I arrived in Honolulu in 2008 and we saw each other at least on most of my visits. Our last visit was the summer of 2014. She died in December of that year.

Hawaii - 2008 202

As the local Catholic paper wrote: Linda Cacpal was a lay person, a retired state employee, a convert, a parish minister with a love for the church so total that the bishop was moved to preside at her funeral. “This dear sister of ours dedicated her life to God completely,” Bishop Larry Silva told those who came to say goodbye to their friend in Christ, Jan. 12, at St. Elizabeth Church in Aiea. Eight priests concelebrated. Three deacons assisted.

Cacpal died on the day after Christmas in the home of her godchild and caregiver Leila Tee after suffering through a number of illnesses. She was 62. She worked in a variety of parish and diocesan ministries. She was a Secular Franciscan. And several years ago, Bishop Silva put her on the Diocesan Pastoral Council, his mostly lay advisory panel.

Now you have an inkling of why I get so excited when I plan my Hawaii trip. I love to see and do the Shaka, aka “Hang loose,” a Hawaiian hand gesture meaning take it easy, relax, chill out. It can also be shown to someone as a sign of approval, welcome or goodbye – aloha.

Make a fist, then extend your thumb and little finger, and lightly shake your hand in an up nand down, see-saw motion with your thumb and finger.

Now, “hang loose” on your vacation!

As I re-read what I’ve written, I began to mentally list the names of family and friends I will see and I think I have enough to make five decades of the rosary, each bead a beloved relative or friend.


Throughout the year, but especially during the Easter season and in the summer, I get avalanches of emails asking for travel tips. People want suggestions on sites to see in Rome and throughout Italy. I am asked for guides, how to procure tickets to events (or train tickets), for help with hotels and convents and rental cars or private drivers. I am asked for all kinds of shopping tips.

I could probably answer any or all of those questions if I was a full time travel agent but I am not – not do I have time to explore a lot of areas that, I admit, I wish I had time for!

But this is why I prepared the link on my blog: CLICK HERE FOR PRACTICAL INFORMATION ON VISITING THE VATICAN

Not every single question will be answered but a lot will. I write about convents. I explain why I cannot advise people on hotels. I DO, however, list some great restaurants!

Do you need a ticket to a papal Mass or weekly audience (the Angelus does not require a ticket)? Go to: Prefectrure of the Papal Household: http://www.vatican.va/various/prefettura/en/biglietti_en.html

Want to avoid the long lines and reserve tickets to the Vatican Museums? Click here: http://mv.vatican.va/3_EN/pages/MV_Home.html

Often just a simple search on the Internet to sites beyond what I have listed will provide you with all the information you need.

Pass this information on to friends and family members who will be travelling to Rome – you will help me and you will help them!


What a terrific event this will be once again. I’ve been to a number of WYDs and always come home the richer person. Krakow will be immensely meaningful in the grand scheme of youth days because it was the diocese led for many years by Pope John Paul, who instituted WYD, and is now led by the late Pope’s secretary and confidante for 40 years. Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz.

St. John Paul and St. Faustina Kowalksa are the co-patrons of this special World Youth Day.

To track what is happening and what awaits you if you are about to leave for Poland, visit the official website: http://www.krakow2016.com/en/

And, of course, EWTN will have enormous coverage – television, radio, our website, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.




Heartfelt condolences to the citizens of France as they mourn the deaths of 84 people – peoples whose lives were cut short by a despicable act of terrorism last night in Nice, France, as the French were celebrating their national holiday, la fete de la Bastille! I add prayers to my condolences!



We awoke this morning to this message from Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi: “Throughout the night we have followed with great concern the terrible news from Nice. On behalf of Pope Francis, we join in solidarity with the suffering of the victims and of the entire French people this day that should have been a great holiday. We condemn in the strongest way every demonstration of senseless violence, of hatred, terrorism and any attack against peace.”


Pope Francis sent a telegram to Bishop Andre Marceau of Nice, France in which he condemned the July 14 terror attack and expressed his profound sadness and spiritual closeness to the French people. The telegram was sent on his behalf by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

The message noted that, as France was celebrating Bastille Day, its national day “blind violence has once again hit the nation,” whose victims include many children. Pope Francis once again “condemned such acts” and expressed his “profound sadness and his spiritual closeness to the French people.”

The Holy Father “entrusts to the Mercy of God those who have lost their lives” and he shares “the pain of the bereaved families” and also expressed his sympathy to those wounded.  The Pope concluded by imploring from God the gift of “peace and harmony” and invoking “divine blessings on the families affected by this tragedy and all the people of France.”


Welcome to Vatican Insider on this mid-July weekend! After the news and Q&A, stay tuned for the interview segment when I present Part II of my conversation with Deacon Dan Borné of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was in Rome for the Jubilee of Deacons and I invited Dan and his wife Lissette, who was a reader at the papal Jubilee Mass – to my home for a mini-Jubilee along with three other deacons and their wives. We all learned a lot that night and I hope you learn more about the permanent diaconate as you listen to Dan explain it.

I also want to tell you that I’m leaving on vacation on July 19 for a few weeks. However, you will not be bereft of entertainment or information as I’ve prepared “The Best Of….” Vatican Insider for the period I’m gone!

By the way, if you are already on vacation, enjoy every moment. Relax, enjoy family and friends, and perhaps even slow down on social media use – it is amazing how much fuller and more enjoyable life becomes when eople, not gadgets, are first!

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 www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 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 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=



To all my French friends, Happy Bastille Day!


(Vatican Radio) Caritas Europa and its local partners have called on the French and Italian governments to take action to respect the human dignity and fundamental rights of migrants stuck in the Italian border town of Ventimiglia. Caritas says more than a thousand migrants are stranded in “dire conditions” in Ventimiglia, having being denied entry into France by border police. The standoff has escalated tensions between the two neighbouring countries over the free movement of migrants to northern Europe. Marie Tempesta is the Policy and Advocacy Officer for Caritas Europa and she spoke to Susy Hodges about this issue.

Stranded in Ventimiglia with no proper reception centre, Tempesta said most of the migrants are having to sleep out in the open in what she described as “almost disastrous conditions” and they include pregnant women, children and babies.  The fortunate ones are being housed in a local Catholic Church which has some showers in its basement but it’s not nearly enough to cater for the needs of all those stranded in the border town. Most of the migrants were from Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia but Tempesta said they include some asylum seekers from Syria. She described how the local Caritas partners were helping to distribute hygiene kits containing the bare essentials.


EU seeks to “externalise” migrant crisis

Asked about the attitude of European Union nations towards the migrants and asylum seekers and how to solve the issue, Tempesta said showing “solidarity” towards these vulnerable people is the only “effective, long-term solution” for tackling this crisis. She criticized what she called moves to “externalize” the migrant crisis in Europe by persuading third party countries to take in the migrants and prevent them from coming to the EU in the first place.

Following is a press release from Caritas Europa on its appeal for Italy and France to take action on this issue:

“Caritas Europa, together with its members Secours Catholique-Caritas France and Caritas Italy, calls on the EU and in particular on the French and Italian governments to take action to respect the human dignity and fundamental rights of migrants stuck in Ventimiglia, Italy.

On 24 June, at Caritas Ventimiglia-San Remo’s 25th anniversary celebrations, the youngest person in the audience was Sharifa Maria, a baby girl only a few days old. She is the first baby born in the “camp” opened by Caritas Ventimiglia-San Remo to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in Ventimiglia. But she will certainly not be the last one as several pregnant women live in the camp.

Migrants, mostly Sudanese, Eritreans and Ethiopians, arrived in Ventimiglia from Sicily with the hope of continuing their journey to France and northern Europe. However, they were blocked at the border between Italy and France. Stuck in Ventimiglia, with no access to any type of services or any proper reception centres, the families, pregnant women, children and babies are forced to sleep outside.

On 31 May, Mons. Suetta opened the church Sant’Antonio to provide a safe haven for 5,000 exhausted migrants, a place of respite for the people before they reattempt to cross the border. To further ease their suffering, Caritas Ventimiglia-San Remo, with the support of the Nice delegation of Secours Catholique-Caritas France, Caritas Monaco and other Christian and Islamic organisations, is distributing food, hygiene kits and clothes. The migrants also have access to a few showers in the basement of the church. In addition, Caritas has successfully advocated for the reopening of the reception centre in order to cover the basic needs and ensure respect for the human dignity of the migrants. The centre will finally open in a few days.

Yet, the situation remains dire and requires immediate action. Caritas Europa, Caritas Italy and Secours Catholique-Caritas France urge the EU and the Italian and French authorities to:

  • Provide for the basic needs of migrants, including those in transit, to guarantee their human dignity and refrain from using arbitrary detention or arrest;
  • Guarantee solidarity and responsibility-sharing among EU Member States and between the EU and non-EU countries; Italian and French governments must agree on a common response to the situation, respecting the fundamental rights of migrants;
  • Give priority to protecting people instead of protecting borders, with particular attention to women and children;
  • Open more safe and legal paths to come to Europe



Pope Francis has sent a telegram of condolences to Msgr. Jean-Marie Mate Musivi Mupendawatu, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Health Workers following the death today of Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the same dicastery, at the age of 67. The Pope noted that he died, “after a long and painful illness, lived in a spirit of faith and Christian testimony.” (news.va photo ANSA)


“I wish to express my spiritual participation in mourning with the dicastery and, while I recall his generous ministry, first as pastor of the diocese of Radom and then in the service of the Holy See, I raise fervent prayers to the Lord for the his soul, entrusting him to the maternal intercession of the blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Poland. With these sentiments I invoke for the departed collaborator the eternal reward promised to faithful servants of the Gospel, and I gladly impart to you, to the staff and collaborators of the Pontifical Council, and to the relatives of the dear prelate, the comfort of my apostolic blessing”.

Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers, died overnight at the age of 67 after a long illness.

He was born in Kupienin, Poland, April 7, 1949; and was ordained a priest on May 25, 1973.

Pope St. John Paul II appointed Zimowski bishop of the Diocese of Radom, Poland, on 28 March 2002; and he was appointed President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers by Pope Benedict XVI on April 18, 2009.

In 2014, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.


Two days after naming American Greg Burke as director of the Holy See Press Office, Pope Francis named yet another American, a woman, as a member of the Secretariat for Communications. Kim Daniels, an attorney, has served as spokesperson for the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and is the director of Catholic Voices USA.

Daniels joins the ranks of 15 other new members of the secretariat in a sign that the Holy Father is further internationalizing this dicastery.

Following are the newly-appointed Members of the Secretariat for Communication: Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon; Cardinal John Njue, archbishop of Nairobi, Kenya; Cardinal Chibly Langlios, bishop of Les Cayes, Haiti; Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar; Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches; Cardinal Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy; Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Ireland; Archbishop Gintaras Grušas of Vilnius, Lithuania; Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, Italy; Bishop Stanislas Lalanne of Pontoise, France; Bishop Pierre Nguyên Văn Kham of My Tho, Vietnam; Bishop Ginés Ramón García Beltrán of Guadix, Spain; Bishop Nuno Brás da Silva Martins, auxiliary of Lisbon, Portugal; Dr. Kim Daniels, advisor to the Episcopal Conference of the United States of America for the ad hoc Commission on religious freedom; Dr. Markus Schächter, professor of ethics of mass media and in society in the Jesuit faculty of philosophy in Munich, Germany; and Dr. Leticia Soberón Mainero, psychologist and expert in communication, formerly advisor to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (Mexico and Spain).

Bishop Marcello Semeraro is also the Secretary of the C9 Council Cardinals that advises Pope Francis.

The Secretariat is led by Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, former head of CTV, Vatican Television Center.

Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter Issued Motu Proprio “For The Establishment Of The Secretariat For Communications,” was promulgated on June 27, 2015.

The Motu proprio begins:

“The current context of communications, characterized by the presence and development of digital media, by the factors of convergence and interaction, demands both a rethinking of the Holy See’s information system, and a commitment to reorganize it, while appreciating what has been developed historically within the framework of communications of the Apostolic See, certainly moves towards a unified integration and management.

“For these reasons I believe that all of the realities which, in various ways up to the present have dealt with communications, should be incorporated into a new Dicastery of the Roman Curia, which will bear the title Secretariat for Communications. In this way, the Holy See communications system will respond ever better to the needs of the mission of the Church.

“Therefore, after having examined the reports and studies submitted, having recently received the study on its feasibility, and having heard the unanimous opinion of the Council of Cardinals, I institute the Secretariat for Communications and establish it as follows.

Art. 1

The Dicastery, according to what was presented by the Vatican Media Commission, instituted on 30 April 2015, will combine the following Bodies within the set time limit: the Pontifical Council for Social Communications; the Holy See Press Office; the Vatican Internet Service; Vatican Radio; the Vatican Television Centre; L’Osservatore Romano; the Vatican Printing Press; the Photo Service; and the Vatican Publishing House.

Art. 2

Such Bodies, from the date of publication of the present Motu Proprio, shall continue their respective activities, observing however, the indications provided by the Secretariat for Communications.

Art. 3

The new Dicastery, in accord with the Secretariat of State, will assume responsibility for the Holy See’s institutional website: www.vatican.va, and the Twitter service of the Supreme Pontiff: @pontifex.

Art. 4

The Secretariat for Communications will begin its proper functions on 29 June 2015, having as its provisional headquarters Palazzo Pio, Piazza Pia, 3, 00120 Vatican City State.

All that I have determined with this Apostolic Letter, issued Motu Proprio, I prescribe that it be observed in all its parts, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, even if worthy of special mention, and I dispose that it shall be promulgated by publication in the daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, and thereafter in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegram of condolences to the local archbishop after Tuesday’s deadly train collision in southern Italy.

At least 25 people were killed and around 50 were wounded in the crash, some of them critically. (news.va photo)


In Tuesday’s telegram addressed to Archbishop Francesco Cacucci of Bari-Bitonto, and signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pope expressed “his warm and heartfelt participation in the suffering” of the families affected by the tragedy.

The Pope assured them of his “fervent prayer of intercession for those tragically killed and,” and prayed for the “swift healing of the wounded.”

Finally, Pope Francis bestowed his apostolic blessing, and entrusted all those affected by the tragedy to the “Maternal protection of the Virgin Mary.”

The crash occurred at around 11:30 in Southern Italy’s Puglia region, tearing apart three carriages and sending debris into the surrounding olive groves.

The two trains collided while on the same track connecting the small towns of Corato and Andria.

There was no immediate indication of the cause of the crash, but the government has promised a full and swift investigation.

Tuesday’s incident is Italy’s worst railway disaster in recent years.

The last major rail disaster in Italy was in 2009 when a freight train derailed the central Italian town Viareggio, killing more than 30 people living close to the tracks in the subsequent fire.


EXPERIMENTAL THIRD ENTRANCE DESIGNED TO REDUCE LINES INTO COLOSSEUM. A third entrance to the Colosseum, at the Via Labicana corner of the amphitheatre, will be in operation on a trial basis from 15 July until 31 October. The entrance will be reserved for groups of up to 50 people that have booked tours with accredited guides. Visitors coming through the new entrance will enter directly onto the arena floor, with daily numbers estimated at between 1,800 and 2,400, depending on the opening hours of the season. Culture officials say the experimental measure is designed to reduce the queues while maintaining current safety standards, which limit the number of visitors to 3,250 at any one time. The news comes ten days after Italy pledged €18 million of state funds to rebuild the Colosseum’s central arena floor, by the end of 2018.

THE TEATRO DELL’OPERA SUMMER SEASON AT THE BATHS OF CARACALLA. The three operas in the Teatro dell’ Opera di Roma summer season at the Baths of Caracalla are Nabucco (9 July-9 Aug), Il Barbiere di Siviglia (18 July-10 Aug) and Madame Butterfly (19 July-8 Aug). Nabucco is a new production by the Teatro dell’ Opera, conducted by John Fiore and directed by Federico Grazzini. Grazzini is young, talented and a graduate of Milan’s prestigious Piccolo Theatre. He won considerable praise for his lively modern interpretation of Rigoletto at the Marcerata opera festival last year. Baths of Caracalla, www.operaroma.it.

RETAKE ROMA, THE VOLUNTEER MOVEMENT that tackles urban decay in the capital, is holding an event aimed at Rome’s international community, in Piazzale Appio on Monday 18 July from 17.30-20.30. In addition to removing illegal graffiti and stickers, the Midsummer Chillout and Retake involves aperitivi at LeFoodie, art, live music and English conversation. Throughout the event Rome-based artist Katherine Krizek will turn rubbish cans into street art and Italian singer songwriter Francesco Bolognesi will perform live. The clean-up is supported by the group American Free Exchange and the U.S. Mission to the UN agencies in Rome, together with refuse management agency AMA Roma and the Roman police décor section PICS.  (The three preceding stories are from www.wantedinrome.com)




(Vatican Radio) As tens of thousands of people are displaced by violence in Juba, the capital city of South Sudan, the Catholic Church and other faith-based groups are doing their best to offer protection and aid despite a total lack of means. (AP photo news.va)


Fighting erupted four days ago in Juba between followers of President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, the former rebel leader who became vice president under a deal to end a two-year civil war.

Speaking to Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni just moments after meeting with South Sudan’s Vice President and other top government officials, the Archbishop of Juba, Paulino Lukudu Loro said the humanitarian situation is so desperate “this is the moment, for anyone that can, to step in and save lives”.

Archbishop Lukudu also said that on a political level the cessation of hostilities agreed on Monday evening seems to be holding, and that now the government needs to recompose and take decisions for the good of the nation which risks sliding back into all-out war.

Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro says the Vice-President had just informed him of the situation confirming the cessation of hostilities across the nation and that all military personnel have been ordered to report back to their own garrisons.

The Archbishop confirmed that there has been no fighting since 6pm on Monday evening and he said the government will now have to re-gather, recompose and talk.

However he talks of a dramatic humanitarian situation in Juba where the UN has said there are some 36,000 people displaced by violence.

“In our Catholic Churches and communities we have more than 16,000 displaced people with many more in Mosques and in other faith based communities” he said.

Archbishop Lukudu said the people being sheltered are calm “but they are not going back home because they are not sure the decision taken will hold.”

Many, he pointed out, cannot go home because their houses have been shelled and looted and they are afraid to leave the Churches or places of displacement.

“The situation is calm, but on the ground the humanitarian situation is one of misery” and support is urgently needed, he said.

The Archbishop said he has no first hand evidence but he has heard the Red Cross is delivering some aid. The Church itself – he said – has no means.

“I do not know how I can make myself understood and comprehended very well, but our situation is very difficult” he said.

And with a heartfelt appeal he continued: “if there is anyone at all that can help us, this is the moment to save lives”.

If the people of Juba and of South Sudan do not receive assistance “a lot of us will die”.

His appeal, the Archbishop said, is “to the whole world, to our own brothers and sisters in faith in our humanity, if they can at all help us in this particular moment” which has been imposed on us “we shall be very grateful and thankful to them that they will save lives”.

The Archbishop says the UN is present in Juba running refugee camps but UN personnel is  not able to travel freely in the city to help all the people sheltered in Churches, in Mosques and in other communities.

Archbishop Lukudu says all the faith-based organizations in the country are engaged in dialogue with the leaders.

And he points out that the desperate people fleeing violence turn to faith-based groups without fear “and so we are doing our best, sharing what we have”.

Archbishop Lukudu concludes: “I know there are many sufferings in the world but ours – in this moment – was not expected and if we can be rescued and helped, we would be very grateful, and I want to thank anybody who will do that”.


Fr. Shynan Job, a young priest originally from India but who is now working in South Sudan, was an intern at EWTN. He sent this story to the network which I have permission to publish:

“For the past few days have been harrowing with heavy shootings and constant flow of refugees into our church compound. By yesterday afternoon we had over three thousand (3,000) people accommodated in our church and primary school. We tried our best to provide them with basic necessities of shelter, medical care and food. Since the start of crisis the roads are closed the food supply and other basic necessities are completely cut-off.

“A very positive aspect in this moment of crisis was the involvement of the community. All the members of the community (Salesian fathers, brothers, aspirants, volunteers and staff members) rise to the occasion and put their heart and soul in the disaster management effort.

“Another big blow to all our effort to ease the situation came last evening with some heavy shootings just around the mission compound. The whole Gumbo village and the surrounding villages rushed to the church compound to save their life. It was an exodus of people who just gathered their family and whatever they could pick it up as they rushed out of their homes. The church compound was filled with over 15,000 (fifteen thousand) people within short time.

“The trauma and fear of being hit by the bullets that are flying all around and the basic instinct to save one’s life and of the dear ones was unimaginable. The Salesian fathers after keeping the brothers and volunteers into a safer zone went to accommodate the sea of people into various facilities of the mission. The secondary school, Salesian Sisters Primary school, etc. were opened to accommodate the incoming crowd.

“Those few hours of uncertainty and alarm prepared us not only to meet the Lord but also to experience the trauma with our people. Finally, around 11.00 pm the shootings died down and people felt bit more secure. The irony was that the President had decreed ceasefire in the evening (around 6.00 pm) and the other factions also agreed to end hostilities and abide with ceasefire.

“This morning the situation is quite calm and peaceful so the people from the nearby villages are returning to their homes. But still the church compound is swollen with a sea of people not less than five thousand to eight thousand. Probably in the evening the people will return to the church to find a safe place to spent the night.

“The community of Gumbo, would like to thank our friends and well-wishers for their prayers and closeness in this moment of crisis and kindly request you to continue to support us with your prayers until the country restores law and order, peace and stability.

P.S: I reached South Sudan after my studies in India on Monday 4th July and the unrest started on Thursday 7th July. I am grateful to God for bringing me back to my people to be with them in this moment of pain and trauma. We count on the prayers of EWTN family.

The following was going to be my lead news in today’s column but all that changed with the appointment of a new director for the Holy See Press Office – see that story below. However, I think it is noteworthy that the world’s oldest priest turns 107 today! Here is a Reuters story from Belgium:

NALINNES, Belgium (Reuters) – A strict daily routine is the recipe for a long life, according to the world’s oldest priest, Belgian Jacques Clemens, who will celebrate his 107th birthday on Monday.

Clemens, who has also celebrated his 80th anniversary as a Catholic priest, gets up every morning at 5.30 a.m. and goes to bed at 9.00 p.m.

When Clemens was about to retire at 75, his bishop asked him to remain in service until they found a successor – he only stopped holding regular church services at his parish in the southern Belgian village of Nalinnes last year.

At Mass yesterday –

Father Jacques Clemens attends a mass at St. Benoit church in Nalinnes, Belgium, July 10, 2016.   REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Father Jacques Clemens attends a mass at St. Benoit church in Nalinnes, Belgium, July 10, 2016. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Happy Birthday, Fr. Clemens!


Today’s big news story at the Vatican is the nomination of a new director for the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, a long time friend and colleague, and the naming of a female laywoman, also a journalist, to be the assistant director. History in the making in Vatican communications.

Pope Francis has named American journalist Greg Burke as the new director of the Holy See Press Office, effective August 1st. In another big appointment at a Vatican communications office, Francis also named a laywoman, Spanish journalist Paloma Garcia Ovejero, as assistant director of the press office. (N C Register photo)


The press office was headed by another Opus Dei numerary, Joaquin Navarro Valls, for 22 years during the papacy of John Paul II. Named in 1984, Navaro-Valls served as the papal spokesman until July 2006. Burke is thus the second layperson to head the press office but today’s nominations indicate the first time that two lay people head the sala stampa.

Paloma Garcia Ovejero –


Pope Francis has spoken for several years about women having a bigger role in the Church had many have noted that he had done little to implement that in the Roman Curia. Today’s nomination changed that perception, at least a little.

Another perception that the Pope changed in some way with Burke’s nomination is the idea there has been an anti-American feeling in the Curia. In fact, a number of Americans have been given other positions and moved out of the Roman Curia while none have been appointed to high-ranking positions inside the Vatican as they were with St. John Paul and Benedict XVI. At one point, Americans were second only to Italians in the Curia in numbers.

Both Burke, a native of St. Louis, and Garcia Ovejero speak multiple languages. She was the Vatican correspondent for the Spanish broadcaster COPE, and has ties to the Spanish Episcopal Conference.

I have known Greg since the mid-1980s when I was covering the Vatican as the Rome Bureau Chief for the National Catholic Register. I had that position until returning to the U.S. in December 1985, at which point Greg’s was a name I suggested to my superiors at the Register as someone who could succeed me.

Most of the news stories today about these appointments point to Greg Burke’s last position before being tapped as a communications consultant for the Secretariat of State – his work as the Fox News correspondent in Rome. He had also been a correspondent for TIME magazine.

I remember hearing Greg’s name being bandied about as a successor to Joaquin Navarro- Valls in May 2006 during Pope Benedict’s trip to Poland to honor his late predecessor, John Paul II. I mentioned it in either a blog or on air and did hear from Greg rather quickly – where had I heard that, he asked. I told him that, with the imminent departure of Navarro-Valls, his name had come up among journalist colleagues as an able, affable, competent, unflappable successor to the popular Spaniard who held the office for so long.

Exactly ten years ago, on July 11, 2006, a little over a month after Benedict’s Poland trip, the Pope named Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi as the successor to Navarro-Valls.

And now we have that able, affable, competent, unflappable successor to Fr. Federico Lombardi!

Will there be a successor to Greg Burke as a senior communications adviser in the Secretariat of State? Will there still be that office? Burke was the first to occupy that newly-created position four years ago. He was named deputy director of the press office in January 2016.

I cannot close without praising Fr. Lombardi’s leadership at the helm where he sailed a ship for ten years in waters that would have capsized a better boat!

He has been such a wonderful presence over the years – his calm, his knowledge, his availability, his extraordinary thoroughness on any topic he had to tackle – his truly encyclopedia knowledge! He had the knack of telling the world – especially vis-a-vis Pope Francis – what the Pope meant to say when his words created doubt or confusion, without every saying “What the Holy Father meant was…..”

I wonder if anyone else at the Vatican has lost as much sleep – and surely countles meals! – as Fr. Lombardi!

These words are altogether too few to express ny heartfelt thanks to this great and very humble man who has been our guide, guardian and mentor for ten years!



Almost every coffee bar, pub and restaurant that has tables outdoors has featured large TV screens to attract clients for the 2016 Euro Cup soccer match. I was at La Scaletta, just behind Pza. Navona, last night and this was the scene. Not only were clients dining at the tables, cheering for France vs. Portugal (I was a Portugal fan!), passers-by gathered to watch what they could on this sweltering night. In fact, at a certain point, La Scaletta set up a table and provided water for the fans. CONGRATS Portugal on your victory! Way to go!


Still shots –




Is it hot where you are? It certainly is in the Eternal City!

This is the time of year when I say extra prayers for all the men and women religious who have to don religious habits, even if some are made of lighter material, but there is always a layer or two, a black suit jacket for priests, long skirts and dresses for the sisters, etc.

These days in Rome, if there is a square foot of shade somewhere, someone will be standing in it. It might be the shade of a tree or the colonnade in St. Peter’s Square or the shady side of a street. It might even be a light post that casts a very slim shadow on a sidewalk – a shadow perhaps 12 inches across but if you see this at or near a bus stop, you will see 4 people standing on that shadow to get out of the sun! Saw that a few days ago and I should have taken a picture!

At one bus stop near my home there are two small trees that create some shade and it is amazing how many people can fit into that space! Whenever I see that I think of the words on the state of Liberty: “…. give me your huddled masses!”

But on to cooler topics….


Hopefully, as you listen to my news wrap up and weekly interview on “Vatican Insider,” you are in a cool setting! My guest this weekend is Deacon Dan Borne of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was in Rome for the Jubilee of Deacons with his wife Lissette who was, by the way, a reader at the papal Jubileee Mass!

Dan and Lissette are friends and they were at my house when I hosted a mini-Jubilee for four permanent deacons and their wives. We talk about that get-together, about who and what a deacon is, what deacons do, what they cannot do, etc. Really worth tuning in!

At the mini-Jubilee – with Deacon Harold –


Here’s the other hat that Dan wears – announcer at LSU Tigers football games!



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 www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 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 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=


Reproductions of rare Vatican manuscript to be presented to project donors

I think this is such an interesting story that I wanted to share it with you. I went to the site and found the English version: https://support.digitavaticana.org/supporters/?language=en

Definitely something to follow. By the way, the Vatican Library Twitter account is: https://twitter.com/@vaticanlibrary  – Library English-language website is: https://www.vatlib.it/home.php?ling=eng&res=1188×668

The Twitter account tells you that the Library is open until July 15 and then closes for a month. Not many offices in the Roman Curia close for an entire month but curia staff generally take (are given!) fairly long vacations during those months and activity is greatly reduced in many offices. When I worked at VIS, there were so few of us on staff that even one person taking their annual vacation caused work burdens on the others. It thus made good sense to close for the entire months of August when Popes were usually on vacation in Castelgandolfo and the work rhythm was reduced.

The full article is much longer (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/reproductions-rare-vatican-manuscript-presented-070000913.html). I’ve chosen to highlight just a few paragraphs.

TOKYO & ROME–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Vatican Apostolic Library, Digita Vaticana, NTT DATA Corporation and Canon Inc. today announced their agreement to present special faithful reproductions of a rare 1,600-year-old manuscript to the first 200 people/organizations who donate 500 euros or more to support an ongoing project that is using NTT DATA technology to digitally archive thousands of manuscripts at the Vatican Library. The reproductions will give the beholders the impression of looking at the original masterpiece. Donations should be made to Digita Vaticana (www.digitavaticana.org), a nonprofit organization that raises funds for the Library’s digitization project. Beginning today, reproductions, certified by the Library, can be booked by making a donation, and Digita Vaticana will distribute this special gift to donors and supporters of the project in September.

About the Digital Archiving Project of the Vatican Apostolic Library

In April 2014, the Vatican Apostolic Library and NTT DATA began working on the project of digitally archiving manuscripts of the Library, with plans to digitize approximately 3,000 handwritten manuscripts by 2018. The Library’s overall project is intended to digitally archive all manuscripts preserved in the Library, amounting to some 82,000 manuscripts and 41 million pages. High-definition images are observable at the Library’s website, DigiVatLib (http://digi.vatlib.it), using a special viewer built with NTT DATA’s digital archive solution technology, AMLAD™. On May 17, 2016, the website was renewed to provide access to the Library’s full archive of digitized manuscripts and incunabula. DigiVatLib complies with the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF), an open standard for easy access by researchers worldwide.

About the Vatican Apostolic Library

The Vatican Apostolic Library, also known as the “Popes’ Library,” is located in Vatican City. It was founded by Pope Nicholas V Parentucelli (1447-1455) in the Palace of Popes. In the late 16th century it was moved to the Sistine Hall by Pope Sixtus V Peretti (1585-1590), on the top floor of a new building built to delimit northward the Belvedere Court. The current seat, which began with Pope Leo XIII Pecci (1878-1903), includes adjacent buildings into which the Library was expanded to accommodate additional acquisitions and donations during its long history. The Library documents the history and thinking of humankind through arts and literature, mathematics and science, and law and medicine, from the early Christian era to the present day. It encompasses works of numerous languages and cultures ranging from the Far East to pre-Columbian America. The collection encompasses 82,000 manuscripts, 100,000 archival units, 1.6 million printed books (including 8,700 incunabula printed before 1501), 400,000 coins and medals, 100,000 prints, drawings and matrices, and 150,000 photographs.

About Digita Vaticana

Digita Vaticana Onlus is a non-profit organization founded in 2014 to promote the conversion of 82,000 Vatican Library’s manuscripts into digital format. It conducts fundraising activities to support this digitization initiative, and it is developing communication channels to disseminate and articulate the immeasurable value of these irreplaceable historical documents. For details, and to book a limited-edition copy of the reproduction, visit www.digitavaticana.org.


World Youth Day in Krakow is just around the corner. As you know, I was there a few weeks ago and finally have a little time to more of the many photos I took, pictures I hope will give you some idea of the pulsating heart of this beautiful and ancient city that perhaps a million – maybe more – young people will experience at the end of July.


Kraków is a wonderful pilgrim city with a walkable Old Town and major shrines within the City. The Krakow official World Youth Day website says, “While you are there, be sure to visit these points of interest”:

Main Market Square (Rynek Glowny)

It’s the center of Kraków’s community life, bustling with activity and festivals. Within this main market square you will see:  St. Adalbert, St. Mary’s Basilica, Cloth Hall, and the Town Hall tower.







St. Mary’s Basilica

The current basilica, with stunning Gothic architecture, is from the 14th century, although a church stood on the site more than 100 yrs even before that.  The top left tower has a crown, representing royalty and Mary as the Queen of Heaven and of Poland. Listen for the Hejnal, a bugle song, which is played from the tower every hour.  It commemorates the watchman who long ago sounded this song to alert Krakow during a Tartar invasion. His alarm was broken midway as an enemy arrow pierced his throat.  Every hour it is played by firemen who man the tower in 24-hour shifts, and it always ends abruptly mid tune, in remembrance of the watchman who gave his life. Look at how WYD and number of days to its start are indicated on the basilica façade.



St. Adalbert

This is the oldest church in Kraków, dating from the 10th century.  It may look crooked to the square, but it is not.  It is built facing east as all churches traditionally were.  In that time the priest led the faithful in Mass, all facing east toward the rising sun, looking toward the Second Coming of the Son and our final judgment day. In this estimation, it is the square that is crooked, not the church.


Cloth Hall

This is a great market for traditional Polish wares, and a prime place for souvenirs, tourists, and pickpockets alike.  It has been a permanent structure since the 14th century, as a place for merchants. This structure however is from the 16th century built after a fire leveled the previous one.  The “S” in the entry gable is for King Sigismund the Old, who built this “new” structure in the Italian Renaissance style.  You can see marks of his renovations throughout the nation in the same style.



Town Hall Tower

This is all that remains of the 14th century town hall after the fire that also leveled the first Cloth Hall (in background of last photo).

The old and the new:


An office just before entering Market square – if you know your history, you know what Solidarnosc is!


Some of the fascinating architecture in Krakow:


Off the Market Square (no photos):

Wawel Hill

A symbol of Polish royalty and independence, it is the most visited site in the nation.  A castle has stood here since the beginning of Polish history, and was the seat of the kings for over 500 years. The Wawel Cathedral was the site of most of the royal coronations and funerals for the last 1000 years.  It houses the tombs of nearly all of Poland’s most important rulers and historical figures, including the tomb of the first Polish Saint, St. Stanislaus (directly beneath the altar).

The cathedral is very eclectic with centuries of additions, unique to the style of the times. There is 12th century Romanesque, 14th century Gothic, 16th century Renaissance, 17th century Baroque, and 18th/19th century Neo Classical.  One can still see bits of the original Romanesque structure made of white limestone.

Much of this area is free to enter, including the main level of the Cathedral, the inner courtyard of the castle, and the field of ruins from earlier structures. There are also several areas and museums for which there is an entrance fee, such as: the crypt and the John Paul II Cathedral Museum, the Sigismund tower, and the castle interior and exhibits.

Campus Misericordiae – the final site for WYD Events: World Youth Day Vigil on Saturday and the papal Mass on Sunday will be held at “Campus Misericordiae,” (Field of Mercy), a special site designed specifically for these events: It is about 15km southeast of central Krakow in Brzegi, Poland, between Nowa Huta and Wieliczka. This site was chosen to facilitate travel from the city of Krakow and outlying areas where youth and their leaders will be lodged, busses parked etc.




(Vatican Radio) A Spanish priest and an Italian lay woman at the heart of the so-called Vatileaks 2 trial have been given jail sentences for leaking confidential documents, while two journalists also on trial were cleared by the Vatican court on Thursday.

Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda was sentenced to eighteen months in prison, while Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, who has a three-week old son, was given a suspended ten months sentence.

The two Italian journalists, Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, who wrote best-selling books based on the leaked documents last year, were cleared by the court on the grounds that the Vatican judiciary has no jurisdiction over them.

A fifth defendant, Nicola Maio, an assistant to Vallejo, was found innocent at the end of the eight-month trial.