A CANDLELIT PROCESSION AND THE ROSARY MARK FEAST OF THE VISITATION

Today, feast of the Visitation, Pope Francis tweeted: Let us learn from the strong and helpful faith of our Mother Mary in order to become living signs of God’s mercy.

On my first visit to the Holy Land, one of the highlights of our trip was an afternoon visit to two lovely shrines not far from Jerusalem in the Judean Hills. We went to the picturesque village of Ein Karem and saw the Church of St. John the Baptist, built over the site where St. John was born, and the Church of the Visitation, built where Mary stayed with her cousin Elizabeth when she was expecting St. John.

We know from St. Luke that, following Angel Gabriel’s Annunciation to Mary, Gabriel also told Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was six months pregnant and that is why she left Nazareth for Ein Karem:

Mary then “went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!  But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (Luke 1:39-45)

Courtyard of the Church of St. John

The Church of St. John

Grotto of birthplace of St. John the Baptist

“Here was born the precursor of the Lord”

Church of the Visitation

A CANDLELIT PROCESSION AND THE ROSARY MARK FEAST OF THE VISITATION

It is a time-honored tradition in the Vatican to hold an evening candlelit procession, with the recitation of the rosary, in the Vatican Gardens on the May 31 feast of the Visitation. In past years the lay faithful were invited to join cardinals, including the Pope’s vicar for Vatican City, bishops, priests, men and women religious and Vatican employees in the procession that starts at the Church of St. Stephen of the Abyssinians (named for St. Stephen Protomartyr, which means “first martyr”), just behind the apse of St. Peter’s Basilica, and ends at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.

In past years, about 9 p.m., the Pope joined everyone at the Grotto and made a brief address. I have posted several columns in the years that I joined in the procession.

During his pontificate, Pope Saint John Paul II participated in the procession every year until 2002, when his poor health made it impossible.

In 2005, just six weeks after his election, Benedict XVI participated in this celebration for the first time as Pope. In remarks at the grotto at that time, he called attention to the Year of the Eucharist, pointing out that “Mary helps us to discover the mystery of Communion.” Noting that the procession always occurs on the feast of the Visitation, he said that Mary’s trip to see her cousin Elizabeth was, in a sense, “the first Eucharistic procession in history,” adding that the faithful have the same role as the Church “unceasingly welcomes Jesus in the holy Eucharist and carries Him to the world.”

In 2008, that ceremony took place in St. Peter’s Square. It was believed the change was made by the then-new papal master of liturgical ceremonies, Msgr. Guido Marini, to allow more faithful to participate. Candles, with durable plastic shields against the wind and a small prayer and song booklet prepared by the Vicariate of Vatican City were placed on each chair for the thousands of religious and lay people, including entire families, who participated in this evocative ceremony.

Cardinal Angelo Comastri, vicar for Vatican City, led the procession of cardinals that year, as he did last year, 2016.

Pope Francis marked the feast of the Visitation in 2013, just months after his election, in St. Peter’s Square. In 2014 he participated in the procession in the Vatican gardens. I could find no record of his participation in 2015 and he was not present for the 2016 commemoration.

 

 

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THE TRUE SHEPHERD KNOWS WHEN TO STEP DOWN FROM HIS CHURCH – CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC RENEWAL MARKS 50 YEARS

I hope all of you had wonderful Memorial Day yesterday, hopefully with family and friends and equally hopefully with good weather. I was able to see President Trump at Arlington Cemetery in the ever-moving ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and his tribute to the fallen of past wars and his visit with families who lost members in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Several years ago I had a very personalized visit to this magnificent cemetery when a retired Navy Capitain friend of mine, a Vietnam war veteran, Ted Bronson, accompanied me for a very extensive visit, a true history lesson. I will never forget the day and one of the things on my bucket list is to some year at Christmas become a volunteer to lay Christmas wreaths at the tombs of our soldiers.

Most of my Memorial Day holiday was spent getting around Rome to electronic stores to look for a new laptop. I am waaaay overdue in replacing my current one which has served me well but is finally on its last legs. I had a list of specs from friends who are tech-savvy, and that helped enormously. I think I have narrowed it down and one of those friends will accompany me when he has some time off.

Now, re the news: I read this morning’s homily (see below) by Pope Francis twice. I was so intrigued by the first sentence, and then the rest of the homily, that I had to re-read it (and perhaps read in between the lines). Is there only one message here – or are there two? Is he talking about bishops who should ‘move on’? By the way, he is the Bishop of Rome. Or is this simply Francis’ reading of that Biblical account?

Pope Francis’ hoped-for trip to South Sudan is off – for now. Holy See Press Office director Greg Burke told journalists today, Tuesday, May 30, that, although the Pope still wishes to travel to South Sudan, hopefully alongside Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby, such a trip is off for this year. The Vatican was tenatively looking at October.

THE TRUE SHEPHERD KNOWS WHEN TO STEP DOWN FROM HIS CHURCH

(Vatican Radio) The true shepherd knows how to step down from his church, because he knows that he is not at the center of history, but is a free man who has served without compromises and without taking control of his flock. That was Pope Francis message during his homily at Mass celebrated on Tuesday in the Vatican’s Santa Marta residence.

“A shepherd must be ready to step down completely from his church, rather than leave in a partial manner” said the Pope.

His words were drawn from the first reading at Mass, where St Paul addressed the church leaders in Ephesus.  The Pope said that this reading could easily be called “A bishop’s leave taking” because Paul has left the Church of Ephesus in order to go to Jerusalem, where the Holy Spirit called him to go.

“All shepherds have to step down. There comes a moment where the Lord says ‘go to another place, come here, go there, come to me.’ And it’s one of the steps that a shepherd must take; be prepared to step down in the correct way, not still hanging on to his position. The shepherd who doesn’t learn how to do this because he still has some links with his sheep that are not good, links that are not purified by the Cross of Jesus” said Pope Francis.

According to the Pope, St Paul had held a council with all the priests of Ephesus and during this council he had demonstrated three “apostolic attitudes.”

The first of these is never turning back. The Pope said that this is the worst of all sins, to turn back. This is the thing which will bring much peace to the shepherd, when he remembers that he is not a shepherd who has led the church through compromising. Pope Francis admitted that this attitude requires much courage.

The second attitude is obedience to the Spirit, without knowing what will happen. A shepherd must know that he is on a journey.

The Pope said that Paul was a shepherd who serves his sheep.

“While guiding the Church he had an uncompromising attitude, at that moment it was the Spirit who asked him to go on his journey, without knowing what would happen to him. And he went because he had nothing of his own, he had not wrongly taken control of his sheep. He had served them. Paul said ‘Now God wants me to leave. I leave without knowing what will happen to me. I know only this – the Spirit had told him this – that the Holy Spirit had testified to me that trials and tribulations are awaiting me from city to city.’ This was what he (St Paul) knew. That I am not retiring. I am going away to serve other churches. The heart is always open to the voice of God, I am leaving this place, I will see what the Lord is asking of me. This is a shepherd without compromises who is now a shepherd on a journey.”

The third attitude is “I do not consider my own life to be precious in any way. I am not the center of history. Whether it’s large history or small history, I am not the center, I am a servant” said the Pope.

“With this most beautiful example, let us pray for our shepherds, for our parish priests, our bishops, the Pope, that their lives will be lives lived without compromise, lives on a journey and lives where they do not believe that they are the center of history and have learned how to step down. Let us pray for our shepherds.”

CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC RENEWAL MARKS 50 YEARS

Big celebrations are set for the coming days when an estimated 35,000 members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement from around the world are set to converge on Rome for a huge series of events, workshops, Masses and a meeting with Pope Francis at the Circus Maximus on Saturday evening, June 3, the vigil of Pentecost. If guests wear the color of Pentecost – the descent of the Holy Spirit as firelike tongue – Rome will be awash in red.

Celebrations start Wednesday, May 31 and conclude Sunday morning in St. Peter’s Square with Mass presided over by Pope Francis to celebrate Pentecost, the birth of the Church.

Following are organizational and events charts from the CCR website (http://www.ccrgoldenjubilee2017.org/pdetails.php?lang=en) (not sure if you can read these (or enlarge) – if not, go to the CCR website)

VATICAN INSIDER EXAMINES EXORCISMS – ARCHBISHOP GETS TO KNOW DIOCESE BY GOING UNDERCOVER

Several things before I post this column before the long Memorial Day weekend….

First, I won’t be posting on Monday as that is one of the holidays I take each year. I hope all of you are able to celebrate in some splendid, memorable way and that, above all, you can do so as a family.

Secondly, in case you are curious about Melania Trump’s Twitter account, here it is: https://twitter.com/flotus  I have really enjoyed following her. And, of course, it is now public knowledge that she is the first Catholic First Lady since Jacqueline Kennedy!

Speaking of the First Lady: she has been in the news these last days, as has First Daughter Ivanka, for their headcovering in both Saudi Arabia and at the Vatican. Both praise and criticism (the latter not deserved as some people did not do their research on the topic) have surfaced and I hope to clarify matters:

RE: Saudi Arabia: head covering such as that worn by Saudi women is not required for foreigners and non-Arab women. I was told that White House staffers had asked about this as preparations for the trip were underway and were told that the women did not have to have their heads covered.

RE: The Vatican: Both women were perfectly dressed, head to toe, per Vatican protocol. I spoke to Vatican officials from the Secretariat of State on Wednesday evening and they assured me that the two women were protocol perfect. Pope Francis is said to be trying to relax some of the protocol but so far, most people, men and women, adhere to the current rules. There is an exception known as the “white privilege” for 7 reigning female Catholic monarchs (and the former queen of Spain) wherein they may wear white or ivory dresses, suits and head covering in the presence of the Holy Father.

Whether one is a visiting dignitary or simply a visiting citizen in a foreign country it is always a wise choice to study some of the culture – how people dress, the dos and dont’s of dressing and eating, what to wear in churches or other places of worship, even the correct use of hand gestures: a thumbs up may mean A-OK in one culture and be an insult in another.

Lastly, I hope you enjoy the rather amazing story about a bishop in the Philippines going undercover!

VATICAN INSIDER EXAMINES EXORCISMS

My special guests this weekend are Kathleen Beckman and Dr. Luis Sandoval from the Diocese of Orange in California. They were recently in Rome to attend a course on exorcism and exorcists at Regina Apostolorum, the Rome seminary of the Legionaries of Christ.

Kathleen is well known to so many as a prolific author, engaging speaker and retreat master and founder of Foundation of Prayer for Priests, to list just a few of her projects. In addition, we recently collaborated on the newly-released book, “When Women Pray.”

Dr. Sandoval, a Santa Ana physician who is board certified in psychiatry and family medicine also serves as an advisor to the Board of Directors for NAMI Orange County – NAMI is National Alliance for Mental Illness. The Diocese of Orange in fact sponsored a forum on mental illness in February this year: “How do we respond to mental illness in  our community?” I ask Dr. Sandoval about any possible connection between mental illness and a person who is possessed and undergoes an esorcism.

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) 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. 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 9:00am (ET). 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 YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml   For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

ARCHBISHOP GETS TO KNOW DIOCESE BY GOING UNDERCOVER

Adding an unusual flavor to his pastoral ministry, a Catholic archbishop in the Philippines went undercover to personally find out how parishes under his jurisdiction deal with the poor.

Weeks before assuming his post as the new head of Lipa, Archbishop Gilbert Garcera disguised himself as a farmer and visited parish offices. The archbishop went to great lengths to make sure he wasn’t recognized, even wearing dirty and ragged clothes.  “I wanted to know how [parish] secretaries are dealing with the poor,” said the prelate. “I went into their offices and I know what is happening there,” he said.

The 58-year old archbishop said he was satisfied by what he saw, but added that some offices continue to face challenges in serving people.  To address issues in his archdiocese, Archbishop Garcera is conducting a survey “to better understand and meet the spiritual needs” of people, especially the youth.  He said the study will involve the clergy and lay people from the archdiocese’s 64 parishes and 40 church-run schools.

“I want to reflect on one question: What are you doing to shape the minds and consciences of our young people today,” said the prelate.  He said the result of the survey “will help us shape how we could continue to find ways to meet the needs of our people.”  The 58-year-old archbishop said he wants to make sure that everyone in his archdiocese finds a home and place in the Catholic Church.

Garcera was bishop of Daet from 2007 until February 2, 2017, when Pope Francis transferred him to Lipa in Batangas.  He was installed on April 21, taking over from Archbishop Ramon Arguelles who stepped down.  At his formal installation at the San Sebastian Cathedral in Batangas, Archbishop Garcera plans to visit the different parishes, besides visiting Catholic schools and parish organizations as well as examining existing programmes and improving services to the faithful.

“To be an archbishop, to be a bishop, to be a priest is not about position… it’s about pastoral charity. According to Pope Francis it’s about service,” Archbishop Garcera said.   He urged for prayers as he took up the reins of one of the largest archdioceses of the Philippines.  (Source: UCAN)

A POPE, A FIRST LADY AND A SLOVENIAN SWEET

A POPE, A FIRST LADY AND A SLOVENIAN SWEET

BIZELJSKO, Slovenia (Dallas News, AP contributing) — Thanks to Pope Francis and the U.S. first lady, a traditional Slovenian dish is hitting the headlines.

As Melania Trump approached and shook hands with the pontiff on Wednesday, Francis asked in Spanish through his interpreter and pointed toward President Donald Trump: “What do you give him to eat? Potica?”

She looked puzzled at first, as did reporters, apparently thinking the pope was talking about pizza.

But then the first lady seemed to understand that he meant potica (pronounced paw-tee’-tzah).

“Potica, ah yes,” the Slovenian-born first lady smiled before stepping aside, still looking a bit confused.

Slovenia’s public broadcaster carried the news on its website in its entertainment section. RTV Slo reported that the pope is a fan of Slovenia’s potica and that he regularly asks visitors from Slovenia about the roll cake.

Potica is a typical highly nutritious Slovenian festive strudel with nuts, poppy seeds, cottage cheese, chocolate, tarragon, leek or honey fillings. It has been prepared for more than 200 years in earthenware baking-dishes or directly in ovens.

Zdravka Balon, a restaurant owner in the small Slovenian town of Bizeljsko not far from Melania’s hometown of Sevnica, said that potica “is probably the most traditional Slovenian dish” besides “Kranjske” sausages.

“It was traditionally served during Christmas or Easter,” she said, adding that after losing some appeal, new versions are topped with chocolate and other additions.

Melania Trump, born Melanija Knavs, left Slovenia in her 20s to pursue an international modeling career. The last time she is believed to have visited her native country was in July 2002, when she introduced Donald Trump to her parents at the lakeside Grand Hotel Toplice in the resort town of Bled over a meal.

THE RECIPE –
Walnut potica
Ingredients: 1 1 / 2 teaspoons of active dry yeast, 1 / 4 cup white sugar, 1 / 4 cup milk lukewarm, 1 cup butter, softened 6 egg yolks, 1 1/3 cups milk, 5 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 cup melted butter, 1 cup honey, 1 1 / 2 cups raisins, 1 1 / 2 cups chopped walnuts, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon.

Preparation: Dissolve yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 3 tablespoons of the flour in warm milk. Mix well, and let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

Cream the butter with the remaining sugar In a large mixing bowl. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the yeast mixture, remaining milk, 4 cups of flour and the salt; mix well. Add the remaining flour, 1 / 2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition.

When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Lightly grease one or two cookie sheets. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll Out to 1 / 4to 1 / 2inch thickness. Spread each piece with melted butter, honey, raisins, walnuts and cinnamon. Roll each piece up like a jelly roll and pinch the ends. Place seam side down onto the prepared baking sheets. Let rise until double in volume. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 60 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Source: Zdravka Balon

POPE CALLS CHILDREN AT GENOA PEDIATRIC HOSPITAL

Today is Ascension Thursday and a holiday in the Vatican, so no news bulletin, no papal meetings, no press conferences, etc. I am betting that a number of you reading this column remember well when the entire Church marked Ascension Thursday on (gasp!) Thursday! It was a holy day of obligation, including Mass.

Today we had a tweet from Pope Francis and piece of papal news from yesterday afternoon.

Pope Francis tweeted today: With the Ascension of Jesus, we participate in the fullness of life with God. Let us carry this in our hearts in our daily lives.

And this piece of news:

POPE CALLS CHILDREN AT GENOA PEDIATRIC HOSPITAL

(Vatican Radio) On Saturday, May 27th, Pope Francis will travel to the northern Italian city of Genoa for a one-day apostolic visit.

One of the highlights of the day will undoubtedly be represented by his meeting with sick children and their families in the “Giannina Gaslini” Paediatric Hospital.

Awaiting Francis’ visit, many of the little patients have been busy preparing small gifts and messages, but meanwhile,  the Pope himself decided to surprise them ahead of time with a personal greeting.

Linking-up live via telephone to a parish radio in Genoa that broadcasts a Wednesday weekly program especially dedicated to the children’s hospital, Pope Francis told the little patients that it is with joy that he is preparing to be with them.

“Dear children of the Gaslini Hospital in Genoa, I greet you all with affection” he said.

The Pope said he is coming to be close to them, to listen to them, and to bring the caress of Jesus.

“He is always close to us especially when we are in difficulty and in need. He always gives us trust and hope” he said.

Pope Francis concluded his call with assurances that he is praying for the sick children and their families, and as he always does, he asked them to pray for him!

 

LIFE, RELIGIOUS LIBERTY, FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE ON AGENDA FOR POPE FRANCIS AND PRESIDENT TRUMP

LIFE, RELIGIOUS LIBERTY, FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE ON AGENDA FOR POPE FRANCIS AND PRESIDENT TRUMP

(CNA/EWTN)After months of anticipation, Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump finally met at the Vatican Wednesday in a friendly encounter which included an emphasis on protection of life and freedom of conscience.

According to a May 24 Vatican communique, Pope Francis and Trump expressed satisfaction “for the good existing bilateral relations between the Holy See and the United States of America, as well as the joint commitment in favor of life, and freedom of worship and conscience.”

The Pope and Trump met at the Vatican May 24, at 8:30a.m., immediately before the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

Trump arrived to Italy May 23 after stopping in both Saudi Arabia and Israel as part of his first international trip. He is also set to attend a NATO meeting in Brussels on May 25 and a G7 summit in Sicily on May 26 before returning to the U.S.

President Trump arrived to the Vatican via the side entrance by Casa Santa Marta around 8:15a.m. and was greeted by a group of Swiss Guards in the San Damaso courtyard. After stepping out of the car, Trump and First Lady Melania greeted Archbishop Georg Ganswein and other Vatican dignitaries before entering the Apostolic Palace. (photos:ansa; CTV)

Pope Francis and Trump smiled as they sat down at the Pope’s desk in the papal library. Pope Francis said, “Welcome!” and Trump responded, “Thank you very much, this is such a great honor.”

Smiling, Francis explained that he doesn’t speak English well and needs a translator, but added that he was “very happy to meet” Trump

After the cameras left the two began the private portion of their conversation, which lasted about 30 minutes. In addition to Pope Francis and Trump, only the Pope’s English translator, Msgr. Mark Miles, was present.

During the “cordial discussions,” the two expressed hope for peaceful collaboration between the government and the Catholic Church in the United States, that it may be “engaged in service to the people in the fields of healthcare, education and assistance to immigrants,” the Vatican communique stated.

Pope Francis and President Trump also exchanged views “on various themes relating to international affairs, the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue, with particular reference to the situation inthe Middle East and the protection of Christian communities.”

After their formal conversation, gifts were exchanged between Francis, Trump and the president’s official delegation. There were 12 people in his entourage, including First Lady Melania Trump; daughter Ivanka, Tump’s assistant and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, his assistant and senior advisor.

Also present for the meeting with Pope Francis were U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs H.R. McMaster and Louis Bono, American Chargé d’Affaires ad interim to the Holy See until Calista Gingrich us officially approved as ambassador.

Despite their differing opinions on climate change, Pope Francis gave Trump a copy of his environmental encyclical Laudato Si’, as well as copies of his 2015 Apostolic Exhortation on the family “Amoris Laetitia” and his 2013 exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium.”

In addition to the customary gift of these three documents, Francis also gave President Trump a copy of his message for the 2017 World Day of Peace, saying: “I signed it personally for you.” Trump responded that he would be reading them.

The Pope also gifted the U.S. President with a medallion he said symbolized peace and unity, which, after the translator explained in English, he added in Spanish: “Have it so that you become an instrument of peace.” In response, Trump said that “we can use peace.”

On his part, President Trump gifted Pope Francis a set of books by Martin Luther King, Jr., saying: “I think you’ll enjoy them, I hope you do.”

Members of the delegation each received a medal and a rosary from the pontiff. When greeting Francis, First Lady Melania told him that she would afterward be visiting the hospital. Joking, the Pope asked her if they had given her potica, a traditional Slovenian dessert, to eat, to which she responded, “yes, potica,” as they both laughed.

Departing with a handshake, Trump said to Francis: “Thank you, thank you, I won’t forget what you said.”

After meeting with Pope Francis, Trump met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, as is customary for heads of state.

Pope Francis went immediately to begin the Wednesday general audience with thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.

After the meeting, First Lady Melania paid a visit to the Vatican-owned Pediatric hospital Bambino Gesu, also known as the “Pope’s hospital.”

Bambino Gesu sits next to the Pontifical North American College on top of Rome’s Gianicolo hill, and is among the most important pediatric hospitals in the world. Founded in 1869 by the Duchess Arabella Salviati, the hospital was donated to Pius XI in 1924, with the aim of giving it a more stable future.

At the same time, Trump’s daughter and high-profile adviser, Ivanka, will make her way to the Roman neighborhood of Trastevere to meet with the Community of Sant’Egidio to discuss efforts to oppose human trafficking.

The Sant’Egidio Community is often praised by Pope Francis for their work with the poor and refugees, in particular.

Ivanka is participating in each of the seven days of Trump’s first trip abroad as president, and was also present for the public portion of his meeting with Francis.

Before leaving with her father on his first international tour, Ivanka hosted an anti-human trafficking roundtable discussion at the White House May 17.

During her meeting with Sant’Egidio, she is expected to meet with several women who are victims of trafficking, and discuss various ways in which the Church and the U.S. government can collaborate on the issue.

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump met in the Vatican on Wednesday, discussing issues of peace, interfaith dialogue and religious freedom, as well as the role of the American Church in education, healthcare and support for immigrants.

The American leader spent half an hour in conversation with the Pope behind closed doors in the Apostolic Palace, before meeting with Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States or foreign minister.

A statement from the Vatican press office said during the course of the cordial encounter, the two men discussed the good bilateral relations that exist between the U.S. and the Holy See. They also spoke of their “joint commitment in favour of life, religious liberty and freedom of conscience”.

The statement expressed the hope for a “serene cooperation between the State and the Catholic Church in the United States”, which is engaged in service to people “in the fields of health care, education and assistance to immigrants”.

Dialogue and negotiations

It said the Pope and the President also exchanged views on international affairs and on the promotion of peace through political negotiations and interfaith dialogue, mentioning especially the situation in the Middle East and the protection of Christian communities.

Trump, who was accompanied by his wife Melania, as well as his daughter and son-in-law, is on the third leg of a nine day presidential tour that has already taken him to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Palestine.

Sistine chapel visit

After the papal audience, Trump was taken on a tour of St Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, before meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and with Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

Melania Trump, meanwhile, visited Rome’s ‘Bambin Gesù’ Children’s Hospital, while the president’s daughter, Ivanka, was scheduled to meet with victims of trafficking together with members of Rome’s Sant’Egidio lay Catholic community.

Please find below the full statement from the Holy See Press Office:

This morning, Wednesday 24 May 2017, the Honorable Donald Trump, President of the United States of America, was received in Audience by the Holy Father Francis and subsequently met with His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by His Excellency Msgr. Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial discussions, satisfaction was expressed for the good existing bilateral relations between the Holy See and the United States of America, as well as the joint commitment in favour of life, and freedom of worship and conscience. It is hoped that there may be serene collaboration between the State and the Catholic Church in the United States, engaged in service to the people in the fields of healthcare, education and assistance to immigrants.

The discussions then enabled an exchange of views on various themes relating to international affairs and the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue, with particular reference to the situation in the Middle East and the protection of Christian communities.

 

MANCHESTER, WE GRIEVE WITH YOU…..

MANCHESTER, WE GRIEVE WITH YOU…..

POPE FRANCIS: Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegram expressing condolences to the victims of Monday night’s bombing of a concert venue in Manchester, England, and condemning the attack, in which at least 22 people were killed and 59 others injured.

His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and tragic loss of life caused by the barbaric attack in Manchester, and he expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this senseless act of violence. He commends the generous efforts of the emergency and security personnel, and offers the assurance of his prayers for the injured, and for all who have died. Mindful in a particular way of those children and young people who have lost their lives, and of their grieving families, Pope Francis invokes God’s blessings of peace, healing and strength upon the nation.”

CARDINAL VINCENT NICHOLS: The President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, has expressed his “shock and dismay” at the horrific attack at Manchester Arena on Monday, 22 May 2017. The following brief sentences were posted as individual tweets:

“My shock and dismay at the horrendous killing of young and innocent people in the Manchester Arena, last night, is I know, shared by all people of good will.

“I know too that Catholics and many others will be praying earnestly for those who have been killed, for the bereaved and for grieving loved ones.

“We pray in support of all those working so hard in response to this tragedy; the police and security forces, hospital staff, neighbours and friends and for all the people of Manchester.

“May God, in His mercy, strengthen and sustain us and keep us firmly united in the face of all evil.”

INDIAN CARDINAL OSWALD GRACIAS has condemned late Monday’s suicide bomb attack at a concert in Manchester, England, as “senseless violence.”  The blast took place as U.S. singer Ariana Grande was ending her concert at an arena in Manchester, killing at least 22 people and injuring many more.  “I am deeply pained by the attack on the innocent people in Manchester (as) most of them were young people and many were children,” the cardinal, archbishop of Bombay and president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) said in a statement to AsiaNews. “We pray for them and entrust our innocent victims to the Merciful Love of God.”

“This senseless violence snatched away so many lives,” Cardinal Gracias grieved, adding, “the Church in Asia mourns the loss of lives, our hearts grieve with the families and we pray that God consoles them.”  While entrusting to “the mercy of God the innocent victims of this tragedy,” the Indian cardinal prayed for the injured.  “We renew our call for prayer for peace to Our Lady of Fatima, that the prayer for peace may arise in our hearts in the struggle between good and evil. Let us pray ever more fervently for Peace in our World”.

Cardinal Gracias prayed that through the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima, God may touch the hearts of those who have perpetrated this violence.  However, he said, “We must never lose our hope for peace; evil never conquers anything;  peace is the only answer – peace, which is a gift of God.  Let us all Prayer for Peace,” the cardinal urged.  (Source: AsiaNews)

ARCHBISHOP EAMON MARTIN, PRIMATE OF ALL IRELAND: The Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, has issued a statement offering condolences to the victims of Monday evening’s terror attack in Manchester, England, and condemning the act of violence in which at least 22 people were killed and 59 others wounded.

“I have sent a message this morning to Bishop John Arnold, Bishop of Salford, to express our shock and sorrow at the horrific bombing in Manchester last night.  Such a violent and brutal attack inflicts terror and long-lasting trauma on children and families and leaves a wound that can only be healed by compassion, love and solidarity. We are praying for the dead, the injured and for all affected by the bombing.  Such an awful attack challenges us all to resolve personally to build peace, solidarity and hope everywhere.  Only in this way can the hearts of those who plan and perpetrate such violent and pointless attacks be changed. I will remember the victims of this attack and their families in my Masses and prayers, and I know that the prayerful solidarity of people across Ireland goes to the people of Manchester at this sad time.”

BISHOP JOHN ARNOLD OF SALFORD, ENGLAND: Bishop John Arnold, has called for prayerful and concrete solidarity in the wake of a deadly terror attack on the 18 thousand-person capacity Manchester Arena in his diocese, where singer Ariana Grande had been performing for a crowd of mostly teenagers and young people.

“We have victims, and we have people traumatized by these events, and we’ve got to take care of them,” said Bishop Arnold in an exclusive interview with Vatican Radio on the morning after the attacks.

The recently-elected Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, for calm and firm resolve. “We are grieving today, but we are strong,” Burnham said. “Today it will be business as usual, as far as possible in our great city.” The Mayor offered condolences and promises of support to grieving families, and praised the local citizenry, many of whom opened their doors to people stranded in the wake of the attack. “[T]his,” he said, “was the best possible message to those who seek to divide us.”

Bishop Arnold echoed Mayor Burnham’s call, saying, “We mustn’t allow our community life to be fractured by these events.”