VATICAN INSIDER’S SPECIAL GUEST: BISHOP SILVA OF HONOLULU

VATICAN INSIDER’S SPECIAL GUEST: BISHOP SILVA OF HONOLULU

Tune in this weekend when my guest in the interview segment is Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu. As you know I spent part of my summer vacation in beautiful Hawaii, a place I’ve fallen in love with since my first visit in 2008 to cover the life and times of then Blessed Damein of Molokai who would be canonized in 2009. Subsequent visits were to report on St. Marianne Cope and the astonishing story of a man who worked with both Damien and Marianne, Brother Joseph Dutton. Some first steps are being taken to look into the life of Dutton and a possible cause for canonization.

Among other things, Bishop Larry talks about the renovation of the Honolulu cathedral and some big anniversaries for the Church in Hawaii – the 175th anniversary of the cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, the 100th anniverary of the death of St. Marianane and the 180th anniversary of her birth.

A little piece of trivia about the Hawaiian language: it has all 5 vowels but only 7 consonants – H, K, L, M, N, P and W.

Here are some of the photos I took during an evening visit to the cathedral with Bishop Larry and a priest friend from California. As you’ll hear Bishop Larry explain, there are wonderful plans to renovate parts of this old and lovely church, as well as to create a separate area, a mini chapel, if you will, to house the relics of Saints Damien and Marianne that are currently in the cathedral.

Our Lady of Peace –

Relics of St. Marianne and St. Damien –

I took the following two photos last summer before the altar was moved forward and the pews moved to face the altar.

As shown in this renovation plan, the pews now face the altar –

Here you can see what the cathedral will look like after cleaning and restoration –

The original altar is now behind a see-through screen which will be permanently removed: the current altar has been moved forward from its earlier position in the center of the church:

Bishop Silva’s grandparents were baptized at this font –

In this rendition, you can see the small side chapel that will be built to house the relics of Hawaii’s two saints –

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=

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“THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE” (JN 8:32) FAKE NEWS AND JOURNALISM FOR PEACE

“THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE” (JN 8:32) FAKE NEWS AND JOURNALISM FOR PEACE

“’The truth will set you free’ (JN 8:32). Fake news and journalism for peace” is the theme chosen by Pope Francis for the 2018 World Day of Social Communications.

The text of the Holy Father’s Message for the World Day of Social Communications is traditionally published on the January 24 feast day of Saint Francis de Sales, patron of journalists.

A statement from the Secretariat for Communications notes that the theme chosen for the 52nd World Day of Social Communications 2018 relates to so-called “fake news,” namely, baseless information that contributes to generating and nurturing a strong polarisation of opinions. It involves an often misleading distortion of facts, with possible repercussions at the level of individual and collective behaviour.

In a context in which the key companies of the social web and the world of institutions and politics have started to confront this phenomenon, the Church too wishes to offer a contribution, proposing a reflection on the causes, the logic and the consequences of disinformation in the media, and helping to promote professional journalism, which always seeks the truth, and therefore a journalism of peace that promotes understanding between people.

World Day of Social Communications, the only world day established by Vatican Council II (“Inter Mirifica”, 1963), is celebrated in many countries, by recommendation of the bishops of the world, on the Sunday preceding Pentecost (in 2018, 13 May).

 

RADIO, AN ANTIDOTE TO FAKE NEWS

Many changes are coming to what we know today as Vatican Radio, and I mentioned one of these in yesterday’s column – the disappearance of the 15-minute Italian, French and English-language morning news programs, replaced by Italian commentary and news, and the fact that whoever wants to listen to English news and reports in the evening can only do so via digital radio.

I found this talk today by Msgr Dario Vigano interesting, although he does not refer to any specifics in the ongoing reform of Vatican communications, specifically the radio. I personally know of a number of changes in personnel – people transferred from Vatican Radio to another office someplace in the Vatican, perhaps a pontifical council, even if their skills are in broadcasting. I’ve seen radio people transferred from an office where they have worked for years to another room where there are already personnel and small spaces have to be shared.

Is the building that houses all the offices of the 40 or so languages at Vatican Radio about to be used to house other Vatican offices – perhaps a new entity about to be created by the Pope? Perhaps in the long run we will learn what these changes mean.

RADIO, AN ANTIDOTE TO FAKE NEWS

(Vatican Radio) The prefect of the  Secretariat for Communications, Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò on Thursday addressed a workshop in Milan entitled “Journalism in the age of Fake News. The frontier of radio.”

Facts versus fiction

In remarks prepared for the occasion,  Msgr. Viganò began by stressing the importance of fact and source checking in this era of fake news, saying that it was “worth remembering that the verification of sources is the primary rule of journalism, adding that, in the age of contemporary information truth runs the risk of becoming a secondary aspect.”

The prefect went on to say that, “because of a continuous technological evolution, it is difficult to use the conceptual categories of the past,” and he noted the role of the internet and social media which have played their part in changing the media boundaries that people have become accustomed to.

Msgr. Viganò said that what was required in this era of fake news was “to reiterate the need to recover the foundations of ethics and the ethics of the journalistic profession that are based precisely on the verification of sources as well as on other principles.” He also commented that there was a need for critical thinking on the part of social media users who often share information on their own profiles without paying too much attention to the text.

Radio and Fake news

Turning his attention to radio, he said that in this age of fake news, “…radio is a strategic key to ‘anti fake news’,” which can not only counteract this phenomenon but can facilitate an opposing logic.

By exploiting the new media, he said, “radio has strengthened its identity at all times and has kept its appeal intact both in terms of audience, advertising and economic investments.”

Msgr. Viganò underlined that radio enjoys consistent credibility among young people who put it in pole position among the traditional media, such as TV and newspapers.

In short, he said radio involves an extraordinary narrative immediacy that has a fundamental value.

Msgr.Viganò was participating at the workshop ahead of the 69th edition of Gran Prix Italia, the Rai International Competition dedicated to innovative radio and TV programs and high-quality cultural and artistic programs.

 

POPE FRANCIS INAUGURATES “SHARE THE JOURNEY” CAMPAIGN

An interesting note about Vatican Radio: I tuned in to Vatican Radio this morning, intending to listen to the usual 8:30 am news broadcast in English, a program that follows the 8 am news slot in Italian and the 8:15 program in French. Instead, I heard a commentary in Italian. Seems that, in the continuing “reform” of the Vatican’s communications offices, the morning broadcast in English on VR has disappeared and, additionally, listeners in Rome can no longer hear the evening news broadcast in English unless they happen to have a digital radio. Progress?. Will we need a reform of the reform?!

Here’s a terrific story! But not a surprising one!  The Catholic Church, through Catholic Charities, Caritas and her hospitals and clinics and other institutions, always steps up to the bat when there is need. As Bishop Robert Baker of Birmingham said a few years back when there was a serious storm and flooding situation locally, and EWTN employees were granted some paid time off to help victims, “We do this not because they are Catholic but because we are Catholic.” http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/archdiocese-of-mexico-city-offers-free-medical-care-to-earthquake-victims

Some trivia for people with blue eyes: Researchers from The University of Copenhagen discovered a genetic mutation that happened somewhere between 6,000 to 10,000 years ago in one person, likely in Europe. That person passed along the mutation to their descendants who then passed it on to their children. Thousands of years later, the current 200 million people in the world that have blue eyes are all bound together by this common ancestor.

FYI: The current world population is 7.5 billion people. 200 million is 2.7 percent of that populace, so we blue-eyed people are a distinct, and it seems we can say historical, minority!

POPE FRANCIS INAUGURATES “SHARE THE JOURNEY” CAMPAIGN

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis loudly and clearly welcomed migrants, refugees and asylum seekers while expressing his support and gratitude for the Caritas Internationalis “Share the Journey” campaign.

Speaking during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday, the Pope also had special words of welcome for Caritas representatives gathered to officially launch the two-year campaign aimed at activism and awareness-raising about the plight of migrants,

The campaign encourages people to actually meet with migrants and listen to their stories, rather than treat them as mere numbers and statistics imbued with negative stereotypes.

Opening his arms wide in a powerfully symbolic gesture, Francis said “Christ urges us to welcome our brothers and sisters with our arms truly open, ready for a sincere embrace, a loving and enveloping embrace”.

And pointing to the beautiful Bernini colonnade that encircles St. Peter’s Square, he said our embrace of migrants should mimic the colonnade “which represents mother Church who embraces everyone by sharing in our common journey”.

The Pope thanked Caritas members and other Church organizations for their constant commitment in favour of migrants saying that they are the sign of an “open, inclusive and welcoming Church.”

The campaign launched  on Wednesday aims to challenge negative myths and perceptions regarding migrants through websites featuring the stories of individuals, the true impact of immigration and  explanations of Church teaching on the culture of encounter.

Caritas Internationalis is asking Catholics to take public action in support of migrants, posting pro-immigrant messages on social media and participating in programmes where they can meet migrants and refugees.

In his greetings to all those who work to support and advocate for migrants and refugees the Pope also welcomed a petition that seeks new legislation on migration “which is more pertinent to the current context.”

After the audience, Pope Francis personally greeted a group of some 50 refugees who were in the Square for the occasion.

“Brothers, don’t be afraid of sharing the journey. Don’t be afraid of sharing hope” Pope Francis said.

His appeal to replace prejudice with tolerance was enmeshed in his continuing catechesis on Christian hope during which he reflected on the importance of combatting all that threatens our hope.

And pointing out that it is hope itself that motivates so many of our brothers and sisters forced to leave their homes in search of a better life, Francis said that hope is especially the virtue of the poor.

“God came into this  world among the poor, to bring the good news of our salvation” he said.

And appealing to Christians to never allow themselves to be robbed of hope, he said that hope is also the virtue of the young who risk being deprived of it by an often soulless and materialist society.

Pope Francis concluded reminding the faithful that we are not alone in our fight against desperation and spiritual emptiness: “if God is with us no one will rob us of that virtue which is necessary to look to the future: no one will rob us of hope”.

JFL: Here is my translation of Pope Francis’ words at the end of the weekly general audience about the Share the Journey campaign:

I am happy to receive the representatives of Caritas who are here to launch the “Share the Journey” campaign that I wanted to coincide with this audience. I welcome the migrants, those asking for asylum and the refugees who, together with the staff from Caritas Italiana and other Catholic organizations, are the sign of a Church that seeks to be open, inclusive and welcoming. Thanks to all of you for your tireless service. They all truly merit a great applause!

With your daily commitment, you remind us that Christ himself asks us to welcome our brother and sister migrants and refugees with open arms – precisely in this way, with open arms, ready for a sincere, affectionate and enveloping embrace, a little like this colonnade here at St. Peter’s that represents Mother Church who embraces everyone in this shared journey.

I welcome the representatives of so many organizations of civil society who are involved in helping migrants and refugees and who, together with Caritas, have given their support to the gathering of signatures for a new migration law more in tune with the current context.

The general audience again focused on hope. Following is the English-language summary of the general audience:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on Christian hope, I would now like to reflect on the importance of combating all that threatens our hope. As the ancient story of Pandora’s box teaches us, hope remains as the treasure enabling mankind to face with trust in God’s providence every evil let loose in this world. In our own day, hope motivates so many of our brothers and sisters forced to leave their homes in search of a better life, but also those who welcome them, “sharing the journey” with them and trusting in a better tomorrow. Hope is especially the virtue of the poor. As the mystery of Christmas teaches us, God came into this world among the poor, to bring the good news of our salvation. Hope is also the virtue of the young, who deserve not to be robbed of it by an often soulless and materialist society. Hope’s greatest enemy is spiritual emptiness, the “noon-day devil” that tempts us to stop fighting and to yield to discouragement. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to hope more firmly in his promises, confident that his victory over the world will fill our hearts with joy as we face the future and all that it has in store for us.

CARITAS INSTITUTES MIGRATION AWARENESS CAMPAIGN – POPE FRANCIS TO LAUNCH CARITAS’ “SHARE THE JOURNEY” CAMPAIGN

It is always marvelous to enjoy a quality vacation in beautiful settings and to spend time with family and friends but it is also wonderful to return home and to appreciate once again what we take for granted all year long – the familiar bed and pillow, the sounds and sights of everyday life, a place for everything and everything in its place.

That return also means doing the mundane chores of everyday life, stocking up on groceries, tacking a big pile of snail mail, answering email correspondence that accumultated during two days of travel and, most importantly, re-setting one’s mental gears to work mode! That may be far more difficult that dusting, doing laundry or shopping!

I always keep up with news about the Vatican and the Pope while on vacation but not with the same depth and intensity than I do when sitting at my desk here. That will change tomorrow, as you can see from today’s stories.

To those of you also returning from vacation, welcome back!

To those of you still on vacation – the rest of us are jealous!

CARITAS INSTITUTES MIGRATION AWARENESS CAMPAIGN

Pope Francis Wednesday will launch Caritas Internationalis‘ “Share the Journey” migration campaign, a two-year campaign of action and awareness-raising that to promote the strengthening of relationships between migrants, refugees and communities. This campaign is Caritas’response to Pope Francis’ calls to promote the ‘culture of encounter’ to see people on the move with humanity, to open hearts and minds, to change perceptions. (photo: news.va)

Caritas Internationalis, says a CI communiqué, “will shine light on the challenges and effects of migration at all points on the journey, while harnessing the strength of its more than 160 global members to campaign for a shift in thinking. The campaign will be bolstered by support from ACT Alliance, a network of 145 Christian agencies worldwide and a variety of other religious congregations and civil society groups.”

The press release notes that Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, president of Caritas Internationalis is himself the descendent of a child migrant. The cardinal told CI that, “Through ‘Share the Journey’ we’re making a simple suggestion to people: get in touch with a real migrant. Look them in the eyes, listen to why they left their homes, how their journey’s been, see the real people behind the numbers and scare stories.

“This time of greater interconnection is an invitation to each and every one of us to look at how we can be more united. I hope the global migration and refugee situation will lead the whole world in a corporate examination of consciousness and our value systems.”

Caritas supporters will launch actions in their countries and communities around the world as part of “Share the Journey.”

Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Michel Roy believes change has to come from individuals and governments. “Share the Journey is an opportunity to replace prejudice with tolerance. Caritas is challenging the rise in indifference and rejection, often consequences of the rise of individualism and societies that see people only as consumers, depriving them of their profound humanity.”

“The world is a better place when migrants are understood, welcomed and integrated. Not forced into modern slavery by people traffickers, poorly protected by weak laws and a lack of will and compassion.”

Infographics by CI: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/p7v15sm12qhr44v/AACdJC_aX4WrcOjQQqeiL-YVa?dl=0&preview=Infographic.pdf

POPE FRANCIS TO LAUNCH CARITAS’ “SHARE THE JOURNEY” CAMPAIGN

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is set, this week, to launch a global campaign on migration.

Entitled “Share the Journey,” the two-year Caritas Internationalis campaign aims to promote the strengthening of relationships between migrants, refugees and communities.

It is Caritas’ response to Pope Francis’ call for a culture of encounter and to see people on the move with open hearts and minds.

The campaign will be launched Wednesday in the Vatican and by all members of the Caritas family across the globe.

Caritas Internationalis President, Cardinal Luis Tagle told Vatican Radio’s Alessandro Gisotti that the campaign is asking people to see the real people behind the numbers and statistics.

Cardinal Tagle explains that the primary objective of the campaign is to ‘return to the Bible’, to the spirituality of the Word of God “where God always had a soft spot in his heart for the most vulnerable” and amongst the most vulnerable are the migrants, the foreigners.

“Jesus himself identifies his presence with that of the stranger: ‘when I was a stranger you visited me’, Tagle recalls.

So, what is important with this campaign, he says, is to remind the Christian world – and all of humanity – of this important message.

The cardinal points out that the campaign of action and awareness-raising will promote the social teaching of the Church and it will put “a human face” on migrants who are often seen as mere numbers and statistics.

It embraces the call and the words of Pope Francis “to welcome, to protect, to promote the integral human development and to integrate” forced migrants and refugees.

“Through this campaign we hope to correct some negative myths about migrants and migration and also to address some of the roots of forced migration” as well as influence the global compact to make migration safe for people, Tagle says.

Pointing out that migration has always been part of human history, Tagle says recent trends force us to look at the causes of forced migration, to be aware of the violence to which many are subjected and of the new forms of slavery that have stemmed from the phenomenon.

Especially concerning, he says, is the vulnerability of young people.

“If we do not address this humanitarian crisis with the help of all governments and communities we will see generations of people with their hopes of a future destroyed” he says.

What the Church and Caritas are asking for – Cardinal Tagle explains – is a change of mentality, “a conversion”.

Cardinal Tagle’s video invitation to Share the Journey; https://youtu.be/z7GOduLAWSM

Instead of demonizing migrants and building walls, we must create the basis for a culture of encounter which will ultimately destroy the walls of prejudice.

FOREVER CHANGED …

The date appears as September 12 on this blog, although it is mid-afternoon on September 11 here in Hawaii…..about the time of the attacks 16 years ago in New York, DC and Pennsylvania. My computer must be on Rome time – which is 12 hours ahead of Honolulu.

FOREVER CHANGED …

Nine days after the 9-11 attacks on New York and Washington, I wrote an email to everyone in my address book at that time, family and friends alike. Today, as we commemorate the 16th anniversary of those attacks, I thought about that letter and how I described my feelings, the reactions here in Rome and in Europe, and how people marked September 11th, one of the blackest days in American history.

It was fascinating to re-read that email – which I entitled “Forever changed” – at a distance of 16 years and now I’d like to share it with you:

Dear Family and friends,

I had all the best intentions of writing to you last week, following the horrific, unspeakable events in our nation, but too many things got in the way and time just ran out each day. I had just returned to Rome from the States so there was some jet lag, but mainly a great deal of work as soon as I came back. And then our days became filled with and dominated by nonstop CNN coverage of doubtless the most incredible week in our nation’s history. I am not sure the magnitude of that terrorist attack is truly implanted in my brain yet.

Please sit down and have a second cup of coffee for this will be a long letter. Today I wanted to share with you not only my feelings but life in Rome as of 2:46 p.m. (local time on Black Tuesday.

On September 11, just before 3 p.m. Rome time (9a.m. in NYC), my colleague Alfonso called from his office next to mine and told me to turn on CNN to see something horrendous. I did so and thought for about one minute that I was looking at a horrible plane accident. And then I saw – right there on my screen, bigger than life – a second plane directly hit the other Twin Tower – and I knew it was terrorism. I was riveted to the screen, my brain not yet totally processing what my eyes had seen – and then the news that the Pentagon was burning! And then that a fourth plane, with terrorist commandos, had crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside. Real became surreal. The impossible became possible.

I watched TV in the office for a few hours and then went home. Since my satellite dish has not been working since July, I watched a bit of Italian news and then took a nap, trying to shake off jet lag, and later joined American friends for dinner that night at their house. These were times when one craved the company and comfort of friends, especially American friends.

The next hours and days the TV became like another limb on my body – I could not get through the days without it – especially because we were cut off from America. For a day or two it was tough or impossible to reach New York and Washington via phone and for a number of days there was no physical way to get to the United States from Rome – or anywhere else in the world. You’ll never understand that feeling – although some of you to whom I’m writing live in Rome or abroad so you DO understand.

I know all of you have been watching TV and I am sure you are fully aware of the support for the U.S. around the world – the candlelight vigils and processions, the myriad church services, the flying of flags at half mast, the countless bouquets of flowers laid near embassies or consulates, the Europeans who stopped their American friends – or even strangers – to pat their arms, express their condolences, give them a hug, buy them a meal or ask if they needed someone to be near them. The three young children of an American colleague of mine in the press office all asked Joy if they could donate blood to help the wounded Americans. My friends at ZI GAETANA’s restaurant in Rome helped some of the Americans stranded here last week by offering them their meals. I am sure such stories were repeated throughout Italy – and the world.

I am also sure you saw the extraordinarily moving images of how Europe mourned last Friday when everyone and everything stopped for 3 minutes at noon and stores kept their doors closed for 10 minutes starting at noon.

Whoever they were – simple citizens, government leaders, tourists, salespeople, business men and women – alone, in twos, groups of 10, 100 and 100,000 – and wherever they were at noon – at outdoor markets, in churches, touring, eating lunch in a fancy restaurant or a fast food place, at work in factories, offices and stores – they simply stopped, frozen in their tracks, silent in prayer and reflection for 3 minutes. It was like the biblical story of Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt. To see the images on the Italian news that afternoon and evening was remarkable, moving and unforgettable. One station played “Amazing Grace” for 3 minutes and simply showed images of how Europeans stopped, put their lives on hold for 3 minutes and mourned.

Here in the Vatican the staff members of each office in the Roman Curia prayed the angelus at noon and sang the requiem. I sincerely hope you all saw the unforgettable pictures of an anguished Pope John Paul praying in his private chapel at Castelgandolfo. And, in a first in the history of weekly general audiences, the Holy Father dedicated his weekly catechesis during the September 12 audience in St. Peter’s Square, not to a religious or spiritual theme, but entirely to the attack in the United States. And that is what my show on Vatican Radio that Wednesday was dedicated to – as were many programs in many languages.

Italians have called and written me (and just about every American living in this great country) to express their condolences, horror, indignation, disbelief, anger and support for our country. They have also expressed in recent days their fears that the U.S. will retaliate in such a way that they will stoop to the level of the terrorists and ending up killing innocent people. Europeans, to a man, woman and child, have said they are all Americans now. Every Italian who has spoken to me has said how well they know that their country, that Europe, would not be what it is today had it not been for America during and after World War II – especially the Marshall Plan. “For once in our lives, we can now help America,” is what they tell me.

As the hours, then the days, then the first week passed, feelings have changed very little. If anything they are more profound. The mourning will be lengthy, the anger deep, the revulsion everlasting. All of us STILL want to wake up – because we know this was all just a terrible nightmare and things will be right when dawn comes and the sun rises and warms us and dissipates the darkness that surrounds us.

We have awakened, like it or not, only to discover that this has not been a dream or a nightmare but rather our worst nightmare come true. And the full impact will come in small ways and large: a greater police presence at monuments, embassies, government buildings, military bases and “symbols” such as the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, St. Peter’s, etc. There will be more requests for IDs as we move about, and also a terrific impact on the world of travel – passengers, airline employees, travel agents, airport employees and so on.

I’d like to interject two personal notes here: 1. I don’t mind if some of my rights are abbreviated if the new measures being enacted will help to eradicate terrorism in the world; 2. I do not agree with the media who feel that the public “has a right” to know everything that is going on. We do not have a right – nor do we need to know what the government is planning. I don’t want America to cease being an open society – but we don’t have to know what the CIA, FBI, etc., etc., are doing to entrap and/or capture terrorists, to infiltrate their organizations, to destroy their economic base.

This past Sunday at 10:30 at the church of Santa Susanna here in Rome, the parish for Americans which has been run by the Paulist Fathers since 1922, there was an extraordinarily touching and beautiful Mass for the victims and families and friends of the victims of this attack. American Cardinal Edmund Szoka presided, about 50 priests (one of whom lost a relative) concelebrated and I was honored to be one of the three lectors. There were so many people that they flowed out of the church and onto the adjacent piazza. The new ambassador to the Holy See, Jim Nicholson was there with his wife Suzanne, as well as former Ambassador Thomas Melady and his wife, Margaret. A surprise guest, who found himself stranded in Rome after the attacks, was Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and his wife.

Father Paul Robichaud, our rector, gave a beautiful homily and tried to answer the questions “Where was God?” and “Why did God allow this to happen?” Half of Sunday’s collection will be sent to New York to help the families of the victims.

At the end of Mass Cardinal Szoka offered some stirring reflections in both English and Italian and then Ambassador Nicholson spoke. He had paper in front of him but rarely looked at it – the words came straight from his heart. As we processed out of church, we three lectors were last and Richard Zaccaroli carried the U.S. flag – which received an enormous round of applause. We stood outside the church and sang patriotic songs, reluctant to leave each other.

I know that what we did here in Rome was repeated thousands of time, in tens of thousands of churches, all around the world. Our fears, our hurt and anger, our pride, our solidarity, our patriotism, our hopes, our prayers – the entire spectrum of emotions – you felt and lived these and so did we.

Well, dear family and friends, I think that is it for now. I’m sure I will think of things I missed, but thanks for hanging in there.

A closing note before I leave you: I have a colorful sign on my desk that I’d like to share with you: “Don’t just live the length of your life, Live the width of it as well.”

God bless you one and all! May He protect you and yours – and may He give you an extra big hug today!

CASTELGANDOLFO: FOR ST JOHN PAUL IT WAS “VATICAN TWO”

I leave tomorrow to spend a few days in Chicago, then some time in Hawaii with the multitude of friends I have there – my Hawaiian ohana or family – and then on to southern California to visit family, especially nieces and nephews whom I’ve not seen in a while!

I’m quite excited, as is anyone leaving on vacation, just knowing I will have some time to relax, no deadlines to meet, few alarm clocks, no set daily schedule, etc. I admit it usually takes me a few days to remember that I don’t have a deadline for a TV spot, for the three radio programs I have each week, or for posting a daily blog and adding news and photos to Facebook and Youtube.

In my absence I leave you with a special column and photos of Castelgandolfo, photos I took on a perfect July day a number of years ago when I had a lovely visit to the papal palace and gardens. I have posted this before but for some of you it may be the first time.

However, don’t forget to check in with me on FACEBOOK (https://www.facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420) and YOUTUBE (https://www.youtube.com/user/joansrome) as I will be posting photos and videos, and perhaps even some news. So stay tuned and come with me to Hawaii!

And stay tuned to VATICAN INSIDER! I’ve prepared some special shows. Two weekends are dedicated to interviews with priests who knew Mother Teresa – Saint Teresa of Calcutta – very well, and they tell riveting stories Tune in to hear Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC, Ph.D. the postulator of the Cause of Canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and Fr. Bill Petrie, who spent 25 years with Mother and is now a pastor on the island of Molokai.  She was canonized a year ago on September 4 so these are timely.

I also prepared two Specials on the Vatican Observatory and Castelgandolfo (the audio version of what you can read below). These can be used as podcasts for when you come to Rome and visit Castelgandolfo in person! I hope your weekends will be fruitful!|

CASTELGANDOLFO: FOR ST JOHN PAUL IT WAS “VATICAN TWO”

For your special enjoyment I leave you today with a “Joan’s Rome” travelblogue©. We will visit the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo where Popes John Paul and Benedict vacationed for years but which now is fairly deserted as Pope Francis prefers staying at the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican,

Castelgandolfo is a lovely town in a beautiful part of Italy, and I have had the incredible good fortune to have visited the papal palace on a number of occasions.

The first extended visit was a number of years ago when I was welcomed by the then director of papal villas, Saverio Petrillo, whose book on the papal palace I used to write this story, along with much information he gave me as we spent an afternoon strolling the grounds, the gardens and the pontifical farm!

On several other occasions I spent an entire day in the palace when it hosted the offices, library and classrooms of the papal observatory and offered summer courses in astronomy. Those offices have been transferred to a new location on the papal property but the telescopes are still in the palace – as you will see in one photo.

I hope you enjoy this! Have a great summer, stay well and safe travels.

Above all, may God sit on your shoulder!

CASTELGANDOLFO: HISTORY, BEAUTY, AND PEACE MAKE IT A HOME FOR POPES

Roman Pontiffs have spent summers here for centuries, enjoying stupendous panoramas and a climate that is far cooler than Rome’s, which can be quite torrid in July and August. Pope John Paul affectionately called it “Vatican Number Two.”

I am talking, of course, about the summer papal residence at Castelgandolfo that has a long and colorful history and possesses beauty to rival that of the apostolic palace and gardens in Rome.

Pope Benedict, shortly after his arrival one summer at the Pontifical Villa in Castelgandolfo, said; “Thank you, and good evening to you all, dear friends. I have arrived here to begin my holidays. Here I have everything: the mountain, the lake, … a beautiful church with a recently restored facade and good people. I am so happy to be here. Let us hope the Lord grants us a peaceful holiday. My heartfelt blessing to you all! May Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, bless you. Good evening and thank you.”

Castelgandolfo is one of a number of small towns located on beautiful sprawling hills that surround and overlook Lake Albano, about a half hour drive southeast of Rome. The lake, which fills an old volcanic crater, is 961 feet above sea level. Fed by underground sources and drained by an artificial outlet, said to have been built around 398 B.C., it is about two square miles (5 sq km) in size and has a maximum depth of 558 feet.

Located on what was once known as Alba Longa, a city in ancient Latium, reputedly the birthplace of Romulus and Remus, Castelgandolfo and the cluster of nearby towns are known as the Alban Hill towns. Romans also call these picturesque towns the “Castelli Romani” because of the fortified castles originally built on those hills by noble families, around which small towns grew and flourished. Each “castello” bore the name of the lord of the manor.

Castelgandolfo took its name from the Gandulfi family. Originally from Genoa, they built a small square fortress with crenelated walls, an inner courtyard, several towers and an adjacent garden on the hill where the town that bears their name stands today. The Savelli family later bought the property and owned it until 1596 when, because of a debt they could not pay to Pope Clement VIII (1592-1605), the land became patrimony of the Holy See, forming the nucleus of the papal residence that exists today.

In ensuing centuries, the property underwent many vicissitudes, including the purchase of additional lands, villas and gardens, and renovations and additions to the original palace. Some of the Roman Pontiffs who left their mark on the papal property include Urban VIII (1623-1644), Alexander VII (1655-1667) Clement XI (1700-1721, who bestowed the title “Pontifical Villa” on the property), Benedict XIV (1740), Clement XIII (1758-1769) and Clement XIV (1769-1774).

In 1623 Cardinal Maffeo Barberini was elected Pope, choosing the name Urban VIII (1623-1644). Even before his election he had spent vacations in Castelgandolfo and had even built a small home near the walls of the original castle/fortress. Once he became Pope he decided to make this spot his summer residence, readapting and enlargening the old fortress.

One of those who assisted him in this work was the illustrious Carlo Maderno who, in 1603, after completing the facade of Santa Susanna’s Church in Rome, was named as principal architect of the new St. Peter’s Basilica. Maderno designed both a large wing that overlooked Lake Albano, as well as the left part of the facade as seen today from Castelgandolfo’s main square. A modest garden was also planted at this time.

Pope Urban VIII moved into the Castelgandolfo residence on May 10, 1626, just six months before the completion of St. Peter’s Basilica, following 120 years of work. In 1627, the Pope’s nephew, Taddeo Barberini, acquired land and vineyards near the papal residence. Four years later he acquired yet more land and buildings and the entire complex became known as Villa Barberini. Today this is all an integral part of the pontifical property in Castelgandolfo.

Pope Alexander VII (1655-1667) completed the work begun by Urban VIII, including the long gallery which bears his name, with the assistance of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, noted painter, architect and sculptor. Bernini also designed part of the gardens of the papal residence and they can still be seen today.

Bernini is best remembered for having designed the splendid colonnade of 284 pillars which embraces St. Peter’s Square, one of the fountains in the square, the basilica’s Altar of the Cathedra, the tabernacle in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and the baldachin over the central papal altar. Alexander VII also asked Bernini to design the town’s parish church, which was named after St. Thomas Villanova.

The 19th century saw the unification of Italy, which greatly affected papal holdings, principally the vast Papal States. The Papal States, in fact, under Pope Pius IX were incorporated into the new Italy when the peninsula was unified in 1870. By the by, Pius IX’s 32-year pontificate from 1846 to 1878 was the second longest in history, following that of St. Peter). From the loss of the Papal States to the Lateran Pact between Italy and the Holy See on February 11, 1929, under Pius XI, no Pope ever left Vatican City for a holiday in Castelgandolfo.

With the Lateran Treaty, Villa Barberini now belonged to the Holy See and officially became part of the papal residence complex in Castelgandolfo. Pius XI helped to restore the buildings and land which had been unused for so many years. He even bought several orchards in order to set up a small farm, not only to produce goods for consumption in the Vatican but to underscore the importance of agriculture.

This last acquisition brought the total acreage of the papal property in Castelgandolfo to 136 acres (55 hectares). Vatican City State is 109 acres (44 hectares). In Castelgandolfo, more of the total acreage is dedicated to the farm (62 acres, or 25 hectares) and to gardens than it is to buildings.

The real work of restoration at Castelgandolfo under Pope Pius XI began in 1931. In 1933 the Vatican Observatory, run by the Jesuits, was moved from Vatican City in Rome to Castelgandolfo, because the city lights were too bright for astronomers. Still today, the director of the observatory has an apartment in the palace at Castelgandolfo.

Pius XI also built a new chapel in which he placed a replica of Poland’s Black Madonna of Czestochowa. Between 1918 and 1921, he had been, respectively, apostolic visitator and then nuncio in Poland, and had a predilection for the Black Madonna. This chapel has remained unchanged since his day. The Pope’s first summer visit was in 1934.

His successor, Pope Pius XII, especially loved Castelgandolfo and spent a great deal of time at this residence, except for the years of World War II. However, during some of the worst moments of the war, Pius allowed the inhabitants of Castelgandolfo and nearby towns to take refuge on the papal property, given that it enjoyed the status of extraterritoriality. After the landing at Anzio in 1944, the citizens of Castelgandolfo were allowed to stay at the papal palace whereas those from other towns were allowed sanctuary in the Villa Barberini property. Pius XII’s first postwar visit to the lakeside villa was in 1946. He returned often after that and died there on October 9, 1958.      

Pope John XXIII (1958-1963) also enjoyed sojourns at Castelgandolfo. He started two traditions here as pontiff: praying the Angelus with the faithful on Sundays in the inner courtyard, and celebrating Mass in the parish church of St. Thomas Villanova on the August 15 feast of the Assumption.

Paul VI inaugurated papal trips by helicopter from Castelgandolfo. Continuous use of a helicopter for short papal trips began during the Holy Year of 1975 when Paul VI would return to Rome for the weekly general audiences. He died here on August 6, 1978.

John Paul II, then Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Krakow, Poland, spent several hours here on October 8, 1978. He returned 17 days later as Pope, having been elected on October 16. He spent most of every summer here, and often came for several days after an especially long and arduous foreign trip.

Benedict XVI, as we saw, also enjoyed the beauty, peace and subdued rhythm of summer life at Castelgandolfo, and came here every summer for a couple of months after his election to the papacy in April 2005. He lived here for two months after he resigned and left the Vatican on February 28, 2013.

I earlier mentioned one part of the pontifical property that is called Villa Barberini. Here we find many buildings, including the home of the director of pontifical villas and apartments used by the cardinal secretary of state and by the prefect of the papal household in the summer. The formal gardens, a 62-acre farm, and the remains of Emperor Domitian’s (81-96) palatial 14 square kilometer home are all also part of Villa Barberini.

Dr. Petrillo, former director of the pontifical villas at Castelgandolfo, began to serve the Holy See in June 1958, and was named Director of the pontifical villas in 1986. He authored a book entitled “The Popes at Castelgandolfo,” from which I took much of the information you are reading here. Saverio was an excellent, knowledgeable and discreet guide to the papal property and residences the day we first met.

Dr. Petrillo began his work in Castelgandolfo at the age of 18 when he was asked to take the place of a Vatican employee who was ill. In the ensuing years he familiarized himself not only with the physical property – the farm, gardens and buildings – but with the multi-century history of the villas as well. His office, as well as other administrative offices, was located in one of the buildings of the Villa Barberini part of the pontifical property, and offered splendid views of the Castelli Romani and, in the distance, Rome and the Mediterranean.

Separate from Villa Barberini, but only a short distance away, are the Apostolic Palace and other gardens. The palace – the building overlooking the lake – is where the Pope resides and where the faithful can join him in the courtyard on Sundays for the noon angelus. At Castelgandolfo, Dr. Petrillo told me on my first visit, the Holy Father has the same basic rooms that he has in Rome – a study, private chapel, dining room and library. The rooms, as is the entire palace complex, are on a smaller, more intimate and homey scale. “Everything here,” he said, “is very intimate, warm and family-like. Even the pace of life is slower, more suited to man.”

On our tour of the farm, Saverio Petrillo pointed out that it produces eggs, milk (there are 25 cows) and yogurt on a daily basis: these are brought early in the morning to the apostolic palaces in both Castelgandolfo and Rome and are sold as well in the Vatican City supermarket under the name “Ville Pontificie di Castelgandolfo” – Pontifical Villas of Castelgandolfo. Olive oil is also produced, but in very small quantities. Once Vatican City even had its own bakery!

He told me some 60 people work year round on the papal properties in Castelgandolfo, including gardeners, tree trimmers, those who work at the farm, electricians, other maintenance people, etc. Only 20 people permanently reside in buildings on the property.

The heliport, which is not far from the farm, was first used by Paul VI in 1963 when he visited the cathedral at Orvieto. Continuous use of a helicopter for short papal trips began during the Holy Year of 1975 when Paul VI would return to Rome for the weekly general audiences.

Pope John Paul II, a very athletic pontiff, asked that a swimming pool be installed at Castelgandolfo to be used for health reasons. Although I did not see the 60-foot long pool on my tour of the papal villa and gardens, Dr. Petrillo told the story that when the Pope heard that some people objected to the cost of a pool, he humorously said: “A conclave would cost a lot more.” This was John Paul’s explanation about how effective physical exercise was in helping him bear the strains of a tiring pontificate.

The beautifully maintained and manicured formal gardens of Villa Barberini have been used by Popes through the centuries for long walks and moments of prayer. The flowers, bushes and trees – of many varieties, and trimmed to perfection in geometrical shapes – provide beauty, seclusion and tranquility. Covering many acres, the stunning formal gardens also provide lovely vistas of the Roman countryside. There are statues, fountains, and a labyrinth of walkways and roads, one of which dates to Roman times and is paved exactly like the Old Appian Way.

 One olive tree in the gardens has a special story: Just an olive branch at the time, it was given by King Hussein of Jordan to Pope Paul VI during his trip to Jerusalem in 1964. The late king’s son and heir, now King Abdullah, was able to visit the gardens and saw the fully-grown tree.

Ruins of Emperor Domitian’s villa can be found everywhere and occasionally one will see a niche with a statue from the villa.

The Emperor Domitian, who ruled from 81 to 96, had built a 14-square kilometer villa on this site. Constructed on three levels, the top was for the servants, the middle was for the imperial family and their guests and the bottom was the crypto-portico, which is in near perfect condition nearly two thousand years later.

The crypto-portico, reached now by a staircase built into the gardens, was constructed to provide the emperor and his guests with a cool place to walk, talk, and sit to escape from the summer heat of Rome. Enormous in size, it resembles a tunnel – with one end open and the other closed. The closed end has a raised stage-like level, accessible by a staircase: today there is a large cross here. The ceiling is curved and, on the western wall, there are windows at the top level. These were once covered with alabaster to let in the late afternoon, setting sunlight – but not the heat.

Also at Villa Barberini is the Antiquarium, a museum that houses a small but prized collection of artifacts from Domitian’s villa which were discovered over the past century. Only restricted numbers of scholars are allowed to visit the Antiquarium which includes busts, statues, columns, portals, and tables made of marble and various stones, to mention but a few objects.