FRANCIS VISITS POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT XVI – PASCHAL TRIDUUM IS CENTER OF OUR FAITH AND VOCATION – FROM THE PASSION TO PENTECOST AND BEYOND, CHRIST’S MISSIONARIES OF HIS WORD

I learned something new and interesting a few years ago when a priest friend, having read my column about Holy Week in Rome, asked me if I knew what the other name was for Wednesday of Holy Week. I did not know and looked it up and learned the answer was Spy Wednesday.

As I looked it up in the EWTN Q&A area, I found this from Father John Echert: “Spy Wednesday is the name given to Wednesday of Holy Week, marking the fact that on this day, Judas agreed with Jewish officials to betray our Lord, for the price of 30 pieces of silver. And while we do not give much attention to this in our own Country, in Poland there is a tradition by which an effigy of Judas is cast down from a height, dragged through the streets while being stoned, and then “drown” in a river or pond.”

This column will be silent for a few days as I celebrate Holy Week liturgies in New York, arriving in the Big Apple early afternoon tomorrow. However, I’ll be back on these pages after Easter. EWTN allows its staff time off during these days so that we can participate in Holy Week liturgies.

I hope you all have a beautiful and Blessed Easter and that you feel renewed in your spiritual life and in your knowledge of God’s love for you!

Just a quick note: No guest this weekend in the interview segment of VATICAN INSIDER. Rather, I bring you a special that is about facts and figures, monuments and moments, things to see and do, places to visit in and around the Vatican. Some fun trivia as well!

FRANCIS VISITS POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT XVI

Tuesday afternoon, Pope Francis met Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at his Mater Ecclesiae Monastery residence in the Vatican and offered him best wishes for Easter.


Earlier Tuesday, he visited the Vatican Secretariat of State where some 300 persons are employed. In particular, he visited and blessed the offices of the new Third Section, which was set up in November for the diplomatic personnel of the Holy See. He then personally greeted all the officials and employees, wishing them Happy Easter and thanking them for their work. The last time Pope Francis met the officials and staff of the Secretariat was in April 2013.

PASCHAL TRIDUUM IS CENTER OF OUR FAITH AND VOCATION

The Holy Father presided at the weekly general audience today in St. Peter’s Square and dedicated his catechesis to the upcoming Easter celebrations. “Tomorrow,” he said, “begins the Church’s celebration of the Paschal Triduum, in which we re-live the great mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection. It is thus the center of our faith and vocation.”

The Triduum – meaning “three days” – begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening and ends on Easter Sunday. The Holy Father said Christians are called to live the mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection as “the matrix of their personal and communitarian lives.”

“Dear brothers and sisters,” began Francis. “The Gospel message that Jesus died for our sins and rose to new life is a source of joy and hope for all the world. At the same time, it is a summons to our responsibility and mission as the Lord’s followers to proclaim the victory of the Risen Jesus by our lives.

Francis explained that, “in Baptism, we were given a share in Christ’s passover from death to life. Each of us has been called to live fully this new life in union with him and in imitation of his loving concern for the least of our brothers and sisters. In the poor, the suffering, the lonely and all those in need, we are asked to see the face of Jesus, and to become, in him, a means of redemption and hope, life and resurrection for our world.”

The Holy Father prayed, “May Mary, who knew both the sufferings of the cross and the joy of the resurrection, obtain for us the grace to be united ever more fully to the Risen Lord and to reflect in our lives the reconciling and transforming power of his divine love.

In language greetings after the catechesis in Italian and summaries in seven languages, the Pope said, “I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience, particularly those from England, Ireland, Finland, the Netherlands, Ghana, South Africa, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines and the United States of America. I offer a special greeting to the delegates taking part in the Seminar organized by the Vatican Observatory in preparation for the forthcoming UNISPACE+50 Conference. May this Holy Week lead all of us to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with hearts purified and renewed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. God bless you!”

Click here and scroll down to see Vatican media images from today’s general audience:
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-03/pope-general-audience-easter-triduum-catechesis.html

FROM THE PASSION TO PENTECOST AND BEYOND, CHRIST’S MISSIONARIES OF HIS WORD

Following is the homily given yesterday afternoon by Cardinal Edwin O’Brien in St. Peter’s basilica at the Mass marking the second anniversary of the death of Mother Angelica.

He offered some reflections on Holy Week, starting with the sadness of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, and, noting that, “In every age and culture Christ’s disciples have preached the word, often at critical times for his Church,” Cardinal O’Brien moved on to reflections about the life and work of Mother Angelica.

Here is that homily:

The Liturgy of this solemn Tuesday of Holy Week focuses upon the tragic betrayal of Judas as the Church moves closer to the Passion and Death of Jesus. The sad event begins the spiral of the disciples into confusion and despondency as the capture and trial of Jesus immediately follow.

There is a light of hope, however, to balance the Gospel’s foreboding and we find it in the first reading.

The Babylonian captivity of the Jewish people has come to an end, and Isaiah is speaking in the name of the newly liberated Jews. Israel and her every member has from of old been called to be a prophetic people, commissioned by Yahweh to spread the Word of God.

While for all these years of captivity, and before, God’s eternal word – God’s sharp edged sword and polished arrow have been concealed, mute and ineffective. Now, Israel is inspired by new strength as she hears the Lord’s promise: Not only, will I grace you with my word to revive my despondent nation. “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

And Pentecost was the answer: From the Cenacle, God’s eternal word speaks in the language of every nation: the throng were all amazed and bewildered because each one heard them speaking in his own language.

In every age and culture Christ’s disciples have preached the word, often at critical times for his Church. Think of Augustine of Canterbury, Cyril and Methodius, Francis and Dominic, Loyola and Xavier, John Paul II, surprising and often unexpected missionaries of the word.

And when we speak of the millions who hear his eternal word, might not Canton Ohio’s Rita Antoinette Rizzo come to mind! A worldly-wise contemplative, a handicapped hobbler, an unsophisticated, but highly intelligent charismatic voice still touching the hearts of millions around the world, Mother Mary Angelica would surely be an unexpected choice to enable God’s word to reach to the ends of the earth.

Some years ago, Time magazine profile called her “an improbable superstar of religious broadcasting and arguably the most influential Roman Catholic woman of America.”

Started with $200 in 1981, the Eternal World Television Network now transmits to more than 261 million homes in 150 countries, energizing 400 dedicated lay workers. Not to mention Mother’s founding along the way of communities of men and women religious, two shrines of the Blessed Sacrament visited annually by tens of thousands of pilgrims at the very heart of Baptist country.

Her accomplishments could go on-and-on. But did I say “her accomplishments”? In saying that, I fear I’d be victim of one of her patented scowls – and rightly so! All this, she insists has not been her work. “This network doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to God.”

Her every living moment was spent in a scrupulous discernment of God’s will in her life – an active life of contemplation guided by the Eucharist and that well-worn Bible always clutched in her arms.

Throughout her life Mother suffered greatly – physically, for sure, but also what she called interior suffering, a sometimes greater cross. Her steel-willed, tenacious determination resulted in amazing achievements but could bring about a confrontation or two which could go too far. She once admitted: Lord, there were people in my path who touched off painful weaknesses in my soul – weaknesses I did not want to see…. Give to those I have offended many graces; make them holy. Bless those who have offended me and forgive them.”

But of all the trials this active contemplative experienced, the most difficult challenge was yet to come. A series of serious strokes left her physically powerless the last 15 years of her life and, more frustrating for this great communicator, speechless. As never before she now realized the life of a true contemplative. Now, words written earlier for others’ inspiration resonated in her very own mind and heart:

“Love speaks loudly in silence and that silence touches our souls. The Voice of Jesus sounds in our hearts like the voice of mighty waters, cleansing the debris collected during the storms of life. Our parched souls, tired of the journey, find refreshment in the living water flowing from the tabernacle… His silent presence hidden in the tabernacle, says to each of us, Come to me all you who labor and I will refresh you.”

Can we doubt that Jesus would have abandoned this faithful servant of his without strong graces of perseverance and insights into the Cross of his suffering and death for the sake of the world! And we can but imagine what graces which those years of silent suffering have won for the spread of the eternal word, even as we speak.

For that we give thanks to the Lord as we continue to commend her soul to God’s mercy.

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REMEMBERING MOTHER ANGELICA

REMEMBERING MOTHER ANGELICA

Mass this afternoon in the Chapel of the Choir (aka Chapel of the Canons) in St. Peter’s Basilica on the second anniversary of the death of Mother Angelica. Cardinal Edwin O’Brien presided at the concelebration and gave a very beautiful homily about Mother Angelica, her life, her dreams, her pain – and EWTN!

Took these with my phone and can’t wait to buy a new camera – my terrific Samsung Galaxy died in Chicago at Christmas. It is just frozen – cannot do anything except turn it on and off!

POPE CONDEMNS TERRORIST ATTACK IN FRANCE – PAPAL CONDOLENCES FOR VICTIMS OF FIRE IN SIBERIA

I cannot let this day pass without writing to all of you – so many of you! – who contacted me via email or commented on my Facebook post, “For Whom the Bell Tolls: The Death of a Radio.”

I was overwhelmed with your sentiments and prayers and feelings of gratitude for the work done by Vatican Radio in general and my program, “Joan Knows,” in particular. This late, great radio gave us countless hours of special news reports and feature programs – so many it is almost impossible to calculate – and they will be missed. The last ones air Easter Sunday, April 1.

In the meantime, please know I intend to be with you a loooong time via EWTN! I not only have this daily column, I report to you twice weekly with televised segments from Rome for “At Home with Jim and Joy,” and, of course, we get together again during my weekend radio show, “Vatican Insider.”

I’m going to find a way to bring you audio reports a few times a week as part of this daily blog, “Joan’s Rome.” With today’s technology that should be a breeze – at least I hope so.

And naturally there’s the other “Joan’s Rome” – my videos. I’ve done 59 so far, most from the Vatican and Rome but 14 were filmed in Assisi. In April I’ll be filming about a dozen more videos and will alert you when those are done and ready for airing!

Again, heartfelt thanks for your friendship and gratitude for my work!

The beat goes on!

By the way, you will be remembered in my prayers as the staff of EWTN in Rome gathers this afternoon in the Chapel of the Canons in St. Peter’s Basilica for Mass in memory of Mother Angelica on the anniversary of her death. Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre will celebrate Mass.

POPE CONDEMNS TERRORIST ATTACK IN FRANCE

Pope Francis has sent a telegram of condolences to Bishop Alain Planet of Carcassone and Narbonne in southwest France where four people were killed and 15 injured in a terrorist attack on March 23rd. The Pope said he entrusts to God’s mercy all those who lost their lives and assured their loved ones of his closeness. In particular, he recalled Arnaud Beltrame’s “generous and heroic” gesture as he gave his life to protect the lives of others.

“I renew my condemnation for such acts of violence that cause so much pain and fervently ask the Lord for the gift of peace, invoking on the affected families and on all the people of France God’s blessings.”

The attacker was shot dead by police after the shooting spree that included taking hostages at a supermarket in the town of Trèbes.

PAPAL CONDOLENCES FOR VICTIMS OF FIRE IN SIBERIA

Pope Francis also sent a telegram of condolences for the 64 people killed in a deadly fire that swept through the Winter Cherry shopping and entertainment complex in the Siberian city of Kemerovo. Many of the victims were children as the complex is a popular place for family entertainment.

Local media said smoke and flames engulfed a children’s trampoline room and a cinema on the fourth floor. Witnesses said emergency exits were blocked and officials are searching for a security officer who is suspected of turning off a Public Announcement system after he was alerted to the blaze. Four people have been detained for questioning, including the owner of the complex and the head of the company that manages the shopping center.

The telegram, sent in the Pope’s name by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, said, “His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the fire which struck the Winter Cherry complex in Kemerovo, and he offers heartfelt condolences to all those affected by this tragedy. Entrusting the deceased, especially the many children who lost their lives, to the merciful love of God Almighty, His Holiness offers the assurance of his prayers for all who mourn their loss. With the assurance of his spiritual closeness to the authorities and emergency personnel as they assist the injured and continue their search for the missing, Pope Francis invokes upon all the divine blessings of peace and consolation.” (vaticannews.va)

IT SEEMS “VATICAN NEWS IS EVERYWHERE”

IT SEEMS “VATICAN NEWS IS EVERYWHERE”

I had dinner Saturday night at one of my new favorite places in Rome, “Terrazza Borromini” (entrance Via Santa Maria dell’Anima, 30). The chef is Francesco Grasso whom many of you met on visits to Rome when he was the chef at La Scaletta, right across the street from the entrance to Terrazza Borromini (he is the Bill Murray lookalike – when Murray was about 45). He was hired away from La Scaletta about a year ago and now works his kitchen magic at the Borromini.

I walked through Piazza Navona after dinner on my way to Corso Vittorio Emanuele to get a bus home. And this is what greeted me on the east side of the square as soon as I entered –

The ad says: LET’S BRING FRANCESCO TO THE WORLD – So Many Languages – Every Day – Just One Story

This Vatican News ad is on a canvas that covers Our Lady of Sacred Heart church as its façade is being restored. Many buildings that undergo cleaning and/or restoration are covered by similar canvases, and often the facade of the building or church is painted on the canvas.

Also quite often, as you can see here, publicity adorns the canvas. The usual practice is for the company that is advertising to pay a fee to the owners of the building (in this case, a church). Over time, I have seen buildings covered by canvas ads for as long as a couple of years! Samsung is quite big on doing this and its canvas publicity covers some Vatican buildings at the end of Via della Conciliazione and on Pza. Pio.

I was curious about this ad – and doubly so when I saw the identical ad Sunday from a bus as I was retuning home from Mass at St. Patrick’s. It covered a huge canvas on the building known as the Palazzo della Cancelleria, a Vatican building on Corso Vittorio Emanuele that houses the tribunals of the Vatican. The basilica of San Lorenzo in Damaso is also encompassed by this building.

I’ve now seen this ad two times, and both times on a church or church-owned building so I am guessing (hoping) there is no revenue involved.

In any case, I find it fascinating that the Vatican has chosen this method to advertise (in Italian) its (beta version) news site.

Makes me think of the EWTN publicity, “EWTN is everywhere!”

PALM SUNDAY: THE STORY OF A SAILOR, AN OBELISK AND A PAPAL PROMISE

PALM SUNDAY: THE STORY OF A SAILOR, AN OBELISK AND A PAPAL PROMISE

It is time once again to tell you the marvelous story of how a sailor from Liguria saved an obelisk from falling and extracted a papal promise for an honor for his native city. This is a story I tell all my family and friends when they come to Rome and we are in the very magical St. Peter’s Square.

In 1586, Pope Sixtus V, wanting to complete the design of St. Peter’s Square, ordered architect Domenico Fontana to place in the center of the square a giant Egyptian obelisk that had been brought to Rome in 39 A.D. by Emperor Caligula. For centuries it has been in the emperor’s circus in what today is Vatican City, and moving the obelisk from that point to the center of St. Peter’s Square would be a Herculean task.

The obelisk had been in the Vatican gardens, near the first Constantinian basilica (dedicated in 326), and had lain there, forgotten, for many years under layers of mud and stagnant water. Giacomo della Porta was asked by Sixtus V to recover the obelisk and, struck by its majestic beauty, the Pope asked that engineers study a project to raise the obelisk in St. Peter’s Square.

On September 10, the 85-foot high, 350-ton obelisk was transported to the square by 900 workers, 140 horses and 44 winches. Benedetto Bresca, a ship’s captain from the Italian Riviera area of San Remo-Bordighera, was present in the large crowd who had gathered to watch the raising of the obelisk.

The head engineer had told Pope Sixtus that total silence was needed to raise the obelisk, once it was in the square. Thus, the Pope announced to the huge crowd that had assembled to watch the manoeuver that anyone who spoke during the delicate and risky operation would face very severe penalties.

As work was underway, the ropes used to raise the obelisk gave signs of fraying and weakening and the obelisk itself began to sway. However, Benedetto, as a sailor, knew what the problem was  and how to solve it and so, notwithstanding the pontiff’s ultimatum, he shouted, “acqua alle corde, acqua alle corde (water on the cords, water on the cords).” The head engineer realized the sailor was right, the cords were watered, they became taut and strong and the obelisk was raised, without further danger to anyone.

Instead of punishing the audacious sailor, Pope Sixtus rewarded him by giving Benedetto and his descendants the privilege of providing the Vatican with the famous Ligurian palms used for Holy Week ceremonies in the Vatican. And so it has been for over four centuries, with only a few brief interruptions.

Known as parmureli, the leaves from date palm trees in San Remo and Bordighera are woven and braided into intricate sculptures, some only inches high, while others are perhaps two meters high. Some years, more than 200 of the six-foot high parmureli are sent to the Vatican from Liguria for Palm Sunday – for the Pope, cardinals, archbishops, etc.

FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS – THE DEATH OF A RADIO

FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS – THE DEATH OF A RADIO

Today was a bittersweet day for me because I taped my final “Joan Knows” program at Vatican Radio after 20 years at the radio with this show and, in earlier years, especially when I worked at the Vatican Information Service, by participating in some form in an English language news program once a week.

The sweet part embraced those 20 years of covering both amazing news stories and everyday events in the life of the Pope and the Universal Church, of covering three pontificates, of making lifelong friends with my terrifically talented colleagues at Vatican Radio – colleagues of different languages and backgrounds but we were bound together by our vocation (almost a ministry), our friendship and our love of the Church and papacy.

I lived some heady moments and times and events and learned more than I could ever put in a book, much less one daily column.

And poof, in a flash, with one decision, that is all gone. That was the bitter part of my day.

As part of the reform of the Vatican communications, in particular at the radio, “Joan Knows” and other similar feature programs will be discontinued in English, as they have been or will be in other of the radio’s 40 plus languages, as of April 1.

The death of a radio as we all knew it for 87 years– as did millions around the globe! – on Easter Sunday but no resurrection in sight.

This is the historic radio set up by Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of the radio, for Pope Pius XI in 1931. In fact, on February 12, 1931, he spoke these historical words at the inauguration of the radio: “I have the highest honor of announcing that in only a matter of seconds the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Pius XI, will inaugurate the Radio Station of the Vatican City State. The electric radio waves will transport to all the world his words of peace and blessing.”
To be honest, we were not supposed to use the name “Vatican Radio” as of early 2017. We all did in any case. After all, it was a radio and it was the Vatican’s radio so what else could we call it!

The name, as of last year, was to be strictly confined to “Radio Vaticana Italia” as this was part of a communications reorganization that was to be Italian-centric, at least in the beginning and for the most part.

I will not today speak of the reform in the rest of the Roman Curia where I have a ton of friends whom I’ve known for years and am also aware of the changes in their offices, the low morale in the Vatican, etc. My intent is only to write about the reform in Vatican communications – an initial look at this today because I could probably write a small volume on the topic.

When Pope Francis expressed the desire to reform the world of Vatican communications (Vatican Radio, CTV, the television, Publishing House, press office, L’Osservatore Romano newspaper, Pontifical Council for Social Communications), several commissions looked into and studied the matter, made recommendations to the Holy Father and subsequently he established the Secretariat for Communications, appointing a prefect and several initial board members. Later consultors were appointed.

In addition to consolidating some operations, one of the main objectives of the reform was to find ways to save money without, however, firing people or letting anyone go. It was a well-known published fact that Vatican Radio, for one, was always in the red. How to remedy that was to be uppermost in the minds of the reformers.

Most everyone in these Vatican offices knew there had to be, should be, some kind of consolidation. For example, why should six different offices be responsible for translating a papal homily or Angelus remarks into English or any other language? That’s understandable. And so on.

It was expected – perhaps just hoped for – that the new SPC (Secretariat for Communications) would invite, for example, two persons each from the above communications offices – people with experience in TV, radio, the written word, publishing, etc. – to be part of the new structure. People who could honestly critique their own office and suggest ways to merge activities, streamline functions and perhaps even get a better use of personnel.

That did not happen.

Outsiders were brought in, including a PR firm Accenture. Its specific recommendations, combined with the recommendations of the commissions that studied reforms, can only be guessed at – but perhaps not. Maybe all that is needed is to look at the results.

The biggest move for the radio was to go all digital. This has left millions of people around the world out in the cold. Believe it or not, not everyone on the planet has a computer, tablet or cell phone. There are parts of the world that do not have cell phone towers, where wi-fi is not readily available, areas where people still use home radios for short wave, car radios, small transistors. They will no longer be able to listen to Vatican Radio.

The six principal languages of the Vatican are Italian, English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish. While you can still find the former Vatican radio website online – http://www.radiovaticana.va/ – these six language are available on the new news site – vaticannews.va – the most visible result of the communications reform.

As you read each news story, there is a link to the audio version by the author of that same story. The idea eventually is to have all of the 40 plus languages of (the former) Vatican Radio on a vaticannews.va webpage. Right now, if you want Slovenian, for example, you can access that language page and find photos and print stories and audio files in that language. Soon that will no longer exist – it will be part of a vaticannews.va webpage.

So, it is not radio per se but rather a webpage with audio files (is that too fine a distinction?)

Vaticannews.va does say at the top of each language page that this is the BETA VERSION. I am waiting for the betah (better!) version – more on that later.

With the disappearance of what were known as Feature Stories, it seems there will be no more exciting behind the scenes reports, no profiles of people or organizations or institutions, no more “and today let’s explore the papal palace of Castelgandolfo”, the types of stories that good radio journalists bring to their medium and that listeners enjoy. Staff members still hope they will be allowed to be creative, to really be journalists.

Let’s wait and see.

The reform throughout the Curia, not only at Vatican radio, has meant that very often staff members, instead of being let go, are transferred to other offices for work in which they have no training whatsoever, or perhaps a minimal knowledge. Others have been let go. Yet others do not know from Monday to Friday if they have the same job they’ve had for years or will be asked to go to a new office or take a different direction in their work.

How would you like it if, after 20 plus years at the radio as a professional journalist, you now had to sit in a cubbyhole or small desk in a crowded room and be told to archive programs, photos, CDs?! Or be transferred to a pontifical council whose work was not familiar to you?

In the last two years, as I have talked to friends throughout the Curia and have gone to the radio to tape my weekly show, I have watched and seen things evolve. I have felt so much sadness and bewilderment and anxiety. Capable people who now feel challenged, who are questioned about what they do, who say they have never been asked for input or listened to in this transition period.

This is surely not the first column you have seen on this topic. Other very qualified people have also written about the reform of the Roman Curia, the reform of Vatican communications, citing many of the same issues I have mentioned. Perhaps you heard my two-part interview on EWTN’s Vatican Insider with Chris Altieri, a former colleague at Vatican Radio who left of his own will (as others have in recent months) after 12 years. Chris spoke of all these issues with me and in other interviews as well.

Staff are asking: Do we really have to burn down the whole house to build a new room? Wasn’t there a solid foundation to build on? Why can’t Vatican Radio be called Vatican Radio? Is CTV no longer Vatican Television? Will L’Osservatore Romano newspaper (born in 1861) disappear as well? Is everything now one entity known simply as “Vatican media”?

Why, they ask, would you throw the baby out with the bath water? Or, as one person commented: Vatican Radio has died and they don’t know what to do with the body.

Today is bittersweet because it is an ending, the finale to a terrific journey with marvelous people. Rest assured of one thing, however: I am not bitter. I’m puzzled and sad, but not bitter.

I have so much to thank the Lord for, especially my colleagues and wonderful friends from so many Vatican offices that I’ve known over the decades I have been here. I’m sure they are among the Lord’s favorite children. I pray for them daily, hoping they find fulfilment and continued happiness in serving the Church.

Thank you, my wonderful friends! No names – you all know who you are and what you mean to me!

As I often end this column: God sit on your shoulder!

VATICAN INSIDER: AN IRAQI BISHOP SPEAKS OF HIS ABDUCTION

VATICAN INSIDER: AN IRAQI BISHOP SPEAKS OF HIS ABDUCTION

My amazing guest in the interview segment this week is Bishop Saad Sirop Hanna, auxiliary of the Chaldean Patriarchate of Baghdad, and the Apostolic Visitor for Chaldeans Residing in Europe. He was in Rome to talk about his book “Abducted in Iraq” and graciously made time for an interview with “Vatican Insider.”

Bishop Hanna has advanced degrees in aeronautical engineering (Baghdad University), theology (Pontifical Urbaniana University) and a doctorate in philosophy (Pontifical Gregorian University).

Ordained to the episcopacy in 2014, he previously served as Director of Studies for Philosophy and Theology and at the Pontifical Babel College.

Bishop Hanna is a master linguist with fluency in Arabic, Aramaic, Italian, English, German and is also versed in classical Latin, Greek and Hebrew. He is a prolific writer of academic articles on Christianity and contemporary cultural challenges as well as ethical and anthropological questions in modern philosophy.

Bishop Hanna is author and translator of several books including his latest Abducted in Iraq: A Priest in Baghdad .

Abduction” is the firsthand account of his kidnapping in his hometown of Baghdad on August 15, 2006 by a militant group associated with al-Qaeda. As a young parish priest at the time and visiting lecturer on philosophy at Babel College near Baghdad, Fr. Hanna was kidnapped after celebrating Mass on August 15 and released on September 11. He was beaten because he would not become Muslim. He escaped but was soon captured once again. After a month in captivity, he was finally released and found his way back to his family.

Hanna’s plight attracted international attention after Pope Benedict XVI requested prayers for the safe return of the young priest.

“Abduction” is his inspiring tale of faith – in God and mankind – and courage and his insights on the future of Christianity in Iraq.

I felt I was in the presence of a very saintly man as we spoke and this is a do-not-miss interview.

As I was writing this introduction I received an email from Bishop Hanna (a letter to members of the media) stating: “I wanted to share with you the good news received this morning from University of Notre Dame that My book “Abducted in Iraq” was selected as a ForeWord Reviews Indies Award Finalist in the Religion Category. I thank God for his Love and Blessings. I pray for you all and for your families.”

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 http://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=