EWTN television carried the papal visit to the Sant’Egidio community live yesterday, for which I did the English-language commentary. It was a lot of work and also very instructive to research Sant’Egidio about which I knew a fair amount but learned a lot more over the weekend – its founders, its history, its work in Rome and the world, and the countless opportunities it offers all of us as volunteers to give aid to the homeless, the unemployed, prisoners, the very ill, those who live alone and are lonely, migrants and refugees.

I had never searched the name Egidio but the websites notes that Egidio is Giles in English.

I also researched the very beautiful basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere – a church I know from many visits – in order to provide an account of its history, architecture, unique features and also its relationship to Sant’Egidio – what we call “color commentary” or background.

Trastevere is a very old neighborhood of Rome (many say only the Roman Forum area of Rome is older!) but I’ve often wondered if the thousands of visitors who have had a meal or two or three here know what the name Trastevere means! Tras means ‘across’ and Tevere means ‘Tiber’!

Fortunately the Vatican provided the papal speech in both Italian and English – a gift to those of us doing a commentary. However, the seven speeches by Impagliazzo, Riccardi, Santa Maria’s pastor and the four witnesses were all in Italian so that part of the coverage was a translation marathon.

I wish I had time now to give a detailed account of the amazing work done by the Sant’Egidio community, a group of people who are truly revered in Rome. I hope they are well known throughout the world given their countless initiatives for what Pope Francis calls the “three Ps” – – Prayer, the Poor, Peace.

Here is a link to their website:

You can probably watch a replay on EWTN’s Youtube page.


Here is a link to a video realized yesterday, Sunday, March 11 by Vatican media:

Pope Francis arrived at Trastevere’s famed Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere a bit after 4:30 in the afternoon and made brief, off the cuff remarks under a tent-like structure given the rain that was falling. In fact, part of the ceremony was to take place in the square and part in the beautiful and historical basilica by the dame name but most of the event was moved inside due to the inclement conditions.

The president of Sant’Egidio, Marco Impagliazzo, welcomed the Holy Father, Following his remarks, the Pope and the official party processed into the basilica, accompanied by a choir. The Liturgy of the Word was celebrated, the pastor of Santa Maria in Trastevere spoke and the faithful prayed the Our Father and exchanged a sign of peace.

At this point, four people gave very moving testimonies about the Sant’Egidio community’s work in Rome, where it was founded 50 years ago by Andrea Riccardi and some high school classmates, and around the world in 70 countries. The four included an eloquent 80-year old Roman grandmother, Giovanna La Vecchia, 15-year old Jafar, a Syrian Palestinian from Damascus who arrived Rome two years ago aided by Sant’Egidio, Laura Guida, 23, a member of the community’s Youth for Peace group and Mauro Garofalo, 41, head of international relations for Sant’Egidio.

Andrea Riccardi then addressed the Holy Father who, in turn, addressed the assemblage. I have not, as I write, found his address at – only the video link.


Pope Francis has sent a telegram of condolences to Bishop Peter Kohlgraf of Mainz, following the death of Cardinal Karl Lehmann on Sunday, 11 March. He paid tribute to the stature of the late cardinal, recalling his fruitful activity as theologian, bishop and president of the German Episcopal Conference.

Religious and political leaders mourn the death of Cardinal Karl Lehmann (photo: ANSA)

In a telegram addressed to the current bishop of Mainz, the town where Lehmann served as bishop until 2016, the Pope described the Cardinal as having “contributed to shaping the life of the Church and of society, always open to the issues and the challenges of the time and committed to offering answers and orientations stemming from Christ’s message.”

Cardinal Lehmann, Francis went on to say, was someone who was ever present to accompany people in their lives, always “seeking the thread that unites and overcomes the boundaries drawn by different confessions, certainties or States.”

He assured his heartfelt prayers for those who are grieving the loss of the Cardinal whom, he said, the Lord has called to Himself following a grave illness and much suffering. The Pope concluded his message imploring Jesus to give his faithful servant fulfillment in the Kingdom of heaven. (


Bernice Albertine King visits Pope Francis while in Italy to receive an award recognizing her commitment to non-violence and peace.

By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp (

Pope Francis received in audience this morning the daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr, Bernice Albertine King who presented the Holy Father with the sixth volume of the series entitled “The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr: Advocate of the Social Gospel, September 1948-1963”.

Bernice King was awarded an International Prize recognizing women involved in non-violence and peace initiatives. Gabriela Lio, a Baptist pastor says that, “In the present racist and xenophobic climate, giving an award to Bernice King puts the spotlight on Martin Luther King’s legacy of non-violence, by recovering the courage of a faith that welcomes, encounters, and dialogues, which in this moment cannot but be interreligious. The legacy of which Bernice King is an authoritative spokesperson reconnects these aspects of the faith as a lesson of consistency between what is believed, what is preached, and what is practiced.”

The award ceremony took place on March 10 in Monteleone di Puglia in the Province of Foggia and was organized by the Gandhi Centre located in Pisa, and Rocco Altieri, a pacifist and an authority on the issue of non-violence.



A two-day Ethics and Action Workshop entitled “Modern Slavery, Human Trafficking and Access to Justice for the Poor and Vulnerable” opened today in the Vatican gardens in the delightful and historical Casina Pio IV, home to the Pontifical Academy of Science and the Academy of Social Sciences.

The following link from the Holy See Press Office provides an idea of the agenda, the guest speakers and the topics to be discussed:

Former Australian ambassador to the Holy See and chair of the Sydney Archdiocesan Anti-Slavery Taskforce, John McCarthy published the talk he gave today to the assembly.

He began by noting that “tomorrow is the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Francis to the Chair of St Peter. He will receive messages of support and best wishes, especially messages offering prayers and spiritual support, from throughout the Church and around the world.

“For the same reason,” he continued, “tomorrow is also a milestone for the anti-slavery movement in the contemporary world. From Rome during the past five years the Church and the world have heard a constant flow of statements and exhortations by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, in respect of the eradication of modern slavery and human trafficking. He is perhaps the greatest anti-slavery campaigner in our world today. This is a cause dear to his heart and always high in his priorities. He has declared human trafficking to be ‘an open wound on … contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ’ and ‘a crime against humanity’.”

McCarthy said that, “Pope Francis is firm and consistent in his belief that we will be victorious over modern slavery and human trafficking. He exhorts the contemporary world and the contemporary Church to provide the will and the organisation to defeat modern slavery in all its manifestations in this generation.”

Thus, McCarthy said, “a thunderous salute to Francis comes from the peripheries; from far away Australia. The Archdiocese of Sydney and its Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, present to the Holy Father a framework for a comprehensive anti-slavery strategy that signals that Pope Francis has been heard loud and clear.”

The former ambassador then highlighted some of the chilling statistics about trafficked people: “When we consider the estimated 40 million people who are enslaved in our world today we note that the majority of these men, women and children are held in forced labour conditions. Modern slavery touches every country and every industry sector. …. Moreover, when we appreciate that 80% of trade goes through global supply chains and consider the sheer extent of the supply chains of Catholic institutions (such as schools, hospitals and universities) we can see that our possible exposure to modern slavery is enormous. So, too, is our capacity to effect change.”

McCarthy went on to explain in detail the Anti-Slavery Taskforce set up by the archdiocese of Sydney, and offered two proposals for the Church:

“Our proposal for the global Church is based on the sure fact that Catholic institutions and communities the world over interface with modern slavery each and every day through their supply chains. We therefore propose that Catholic organisations with procurement functions (such as Catholic educational facilities, health systems and financial institutions) adopt effective anti-slavery supply chain strategies which implement human rights due diligence throughout all tiers of their supply chains.

“We also propose that priests, parishes and the wider Catholic community are equipped and empowered about how they can contribute to ending modern slavery through ethical purchasing. And we propose that, in its engagement with governments, the Church worldwide adopt a policy position that prioritises anti-slavery supply chain legislation and ethical public procurement.”

McCarthy concluded: “Like Pope Francis, we truly believe that it is possible to eradicate modern slavery in this generation. Like Pope Francis, we also believe that the Church throughout the world must demonstrate the will and the determination to effect positive change in the lives of the many millions enslaved for the goods and services our world consumes. And we imagine, for example, next year’s anniversary gift to Pope Francis being an international conference on Catholic supply chains held in Rome which would educate and equip the global Church to carry out this work.