Is it possible that it has already been six years since Benedict XVI became Pope emeritus!

I think most people over the age of reason remember that day, as they well recall him announcing on February 11 that he would leave the papacy at the end of the month. We all lived history on those days!

In the past six years I have received countless numbers of letters, emails and postings on Facebook from people who have asked me to tell Benedict how much is loved and respected and admired and prayed for – and missed! To the best of my ability I have passed those on.

Now, I offer you a link to our coverage of that amazing 2013 event, a papal resignation, six years ago tonight at 8 pm!

Continue your prayers for our Holy Father emeritus!



Pope Francis continued his weekly general audience catechesis on the Lord’s Prayer, focusing on the words, “hallowed be thy name.”

Greeting the faithful for the first general audience of the year in St. Peter’s Square, Francis began by noting, “In our continuing catechesis on the Our Father, we now turn to the first of the seven petitions, ‘hallowed be thy name.’ Here we see the pattern of all prayer, which is always made, on the one hand, in contemplation of God, and on the other, in a sincere supplication for our needs.

“When we speak to God,” the Holy Father continued, “he already knows us better than we know ourselves, for even if God is a mystery to us, we are not an enigma in his eyes. He is like a mother for whom a simple glance enables her immediately to perceive the condition of her children. A first step in prayer, then, is to entrust ourselves to God and His providence.”

Pope Francis explained that “this leads us to pray: “Hallowed be thy name,” where we not only express our trust in God’s greatness, but also ask that his name be sanctified in us, in our families, our communities and the whole world. We can do this because it is God who sanctifies and transforms us by his love. Prayer casts out every fear, since the Father loves us, the Son lifts up his arms to support ours, and the Spirit works in a hidden way for the redemption of the world.

In greetings to Arabic-speaking pilgrims, Francis said: “I extend a cordial welcome to those present in the Arabic language, especially those from Egypt, Iraq and the Middle East. The invocation of the name of God has the sole objective of sanctifying it and not of exploiting it. ‘Hallowed be your name’ means to commit oneself so that one’s life may be a hymn of praise to the greatness of God; be a concrete manifestation of my faith in him; it means engaging in the way of holiness for others to glorify His holy name. May the Lord bless you and always protect you from the evil one!”

Monsignors who work in the Secretariat of State at the various language desks usually read a summary of the main papal catechesis and translate the Pope’s greetings to language groups as well, doing so in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Arabic and Croatian. The Pope generally gives the main catechesis in Italian and delivers the Spanish summary in his other native language.


The Pope, in a video message, exhorts rulers and all those who have the responsibility in their countries to take the necessary steps towards the total abolition of the death penalty.

Pope Francis sent a video message to the “World Congress Against the Death Penalty” organized by the association “Together against the Death Penalty” ( ECPM) that is meeting in Brussels, Belgium, from February 26 to March 1.

ECPM acts to fight against the death penalty around the world. The association promotes the universal abolition through the creation and dissemination of publications and teaching tools, as part of public campaigns and lobbies governments at both national and international levels.

Click here for video with English translation: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-02/pope-death-penalty-abolition-brussels.html#play



Wednesday 6 – Ash Wednesday Church of Sant’Anselmo, 4.30 pm Statio and penitential procession Basilica of Santa Sabina, 5 pm Holy Mass, blessing and imposition of Ashes

Sunday 10 – First Sunday of Lent – In Ariccia, beginning of the spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia

Friday 15 – Conclusion of the spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia

Friday 29 – Vatican Basilica, Celebration of Penance 5 pm

Saturday 30 and Sunday 31, Apostolic trip to Morocco


Sunday 14 – Palm Sunday and the Lord’s Passion, Saint Peter’s Square 10 am Commemoration of the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem and Holy Mass

Thursday 18 – Holy Thursday of Holy Week, Vatican Basilica at 9.30 Chrism Mass

Friday 19 – Good Friday, Vatican Basilica at 5 pm – Celebration of the Passion of the Lord – Colosseum at 9:15 pm Via Crucis

Saturday 20 – Holy Saturday, Vatican Basilica at 8.30 pm Easter Vigil in the Holy Night

Sunday 21 – Easter Sunday St. Peter’s Square, 10 am Holy Mass of the day – Central Loggia of the Vatican Basilica at 12 noon “Urbi et Orbi” Blessing



In his message for Lent, Pope Francis warns that once God’s law is forsaken, the law of the strong over the weak takes over.

By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)

Pope Francis is calling on the faithful not to let the Lenten season of grace pass in vain, and to live as children of God acknowledging and obeying His law, in particular in regards to our brothers and sisters and to creation. In this year’s Lenten message, the Pope invites believers to prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed, warning that “Sin leads man to consider himself the god of creation, to see himself as its absolute master and to use it, not for the purpose willed by the Creator but for his own interests”.

The Pope’s Lenten message was released on Tuesday during a press conference at the Holy See Press Office. The theme chosen this year is “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God” (Rom 8:19)

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, 6 March, and will conclude on Holy Saturday, 20 April, the day before Easter.

“Let us leave behind our selfishness and self-absorption, and turn to Jesus’ Pasch. Let us stand beside our brothers and sisters in need, sharing our spiritual and material goods with them”.

This is one of the key passages of Pope Francis’ Lenten Message for 2019. Reflecting on a verse from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, the Pope highlights how the season before Easter must be a time to “welcome Christ’s victory over sin and death into our lives”, and attract “its transforming power to all of creation”

Fasting, prayer, almsgiving
Appealing to the faithful to not allow this season of grace to pass in vain, Pope Francis says that if, “the Lent of the Son of God ‘was an entry into the desert of creation to make it become again that garden of communion with God” that it was before the original sin, Christians today are invited “to embody the paschal mystery more deeply and concretely in their personal, family and social lives, above all by fasting, prayer and almsgiving.”

Fasting, the Pope says, means turning away from the temptation to “devour” everything to satisfy our voracity; Prayer teaches us to abandon idolatry and the self-sufficiency of our ego; Almsgiving, whereby we escape from the insanity of hoarding everything for ourselves in the illusory belief that we can secure a future that does not belong to us.

If we follow this journey, he said it “is possible to rediscover the joy of God’s plan for creation and for each of us, which is to love him, our brothers and sisters, and the entire world, and to find in this love our true happiness”.


The path to Easter, therefore, demands that “we renew our faces and hearts as Christians through repentance, conversion and forgiveness” the Pope said pointing out that it is a call that involves the whole of creation.

This “eager longing”, this expectation of all creation, Pope Francis says, will be fulfilled in the revelation of the children of God, that is, when Christians and all people enter decisively into the “travail” that conversion entails.


The following statement was released this morning by the Holy See Press Office:

The Holy See agrees with the statement issued by the President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference regarding the sentence of guilt in the first instance concerning Cardinal George Pell.

This is painful news that, as we are well aware, has shocked many people, not only in Australia. As already expressed on other occasions, we have the utmost respect for the Australian judicial authorities.

Out of this respect, we await the outcome of the appeals process, recalling that Cardinal Pell maintains his innocence and has the right to defend himself until the last stage of appeal.

While awaiting the definitive judgement, we unite ourselves with the Australian bishops in praying for all victims of abuse, and reaffirm our commitment to do everything possible so that the Church might be a safe home for all, especially for children and the most vulnerable.

In order to ensure the course of justice, the Holy Father has confirmed the precautionary measures which had been imposed by the local Ordinary on Cardinal George Pell when he returned to Australia. That is, while awaiting the definitive assessment of the facts, as is the norm, Cardinal George Pell is prohibited from exercising public ministry and from having any voluntary contact whatsoever with minors.


I did post daily news about the abuse summit on Saturday and Sunday, but only on my Facebook page. There were a few exceptional moments, including press briefings, and I have to say that I personally felt that the three best talks of the four-day summit were from three women, Linda Ghisoni, undersecretary for the Dicastery for Family, Laity and Life, Sr. Veronica Openibo from Nigeria,, superior of the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus and celebrated vaticanista (long before the summit!) Valentina Alazraki who has covered the Vatican for 45 years and been on 150 – yes, 150! – papal flights.

Go to facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420 for their words and stories and my comments. I gave Valentina an Oscar – see why! If you had read or heard her talk online, you’d have personally handed her the Oscar!

Also go there to see the question one journalist asked the final day of briefings about Pope Francis and cover up!


The four-day Vatican meeting on the Protection of Minors, called by the Pope to reflect on the “brutality” of the worldwide problem of clerical sex abuse, ended in dramatic fashion with a penitential liturgy on Saturday and Mass on Sunday after which Pope Francis delivered a 3,500 word major address declaring that the Church will lead an all-out battle against abuse.

Earlier, Saturday afternoon in a striking penitential liturgy in the Apostolic Palace’s Sala Regia, there was a collective confession by Pope Francis and Church leaders attending the abuse summit: “We confess that bishops, priests, deacons, and religious in the Church have done violence to children and youth – that we have shielded the guilty – that we have not acknowledged the suffering of many victims – that we bishops did not live up to our responsibilities. … Kyrie eleison. Lord, have mercy.”

Sunday, in his lengthy speech following the summit’s concluding Mass, The Holy Father said, “The meaning behind child sex abuse comes from the present-day manifestation of the spirit of evil,” adding that consecrated persons who commit such crimes become “tools of Satan.” He outlined an 8-point program the Church will undertake to fight abuse.

Abp Mark Coleridge gave the homily at Mass and Pope Francis spoke afterwards

On Sunday at the final press briefing, Fr. Federico Lombardi, conference moderator, announced some concrete initiatives underway in the Vatican, including a new Motu Proprio from the Pope “on the protection of minors and vulnerable persons,” and a Vademecum or manual, to be published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to help bishops around the world clearly understand their duties and tasks.

Also, added Fr. Lombardi, “in a spirit of communion with the universal Church, the Pope has expressed the intention of creating task forces of competent persons to help episcopal conferences and dioceses that find it difficult to confront the problems and produce initiatives for the protection of minors.”


The Holy See Press Office interim director announced today that the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness the Sheikh Abdallah Ben Zayed Al Nahyan, was received today in a private manner at the Casa Santa Marta at 12.30 pm by the Holy Father Francis with whom he stayed and conversed for 45 minutes.

Minister Ben Zayed wanted to tell the Pope of the decisions that the government of the United Arab Emirates has undertaken to promote the application of the intentions of the document on “Human Brotherhood for World Peace and common coexistence” signed by the Holy Father and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahamad al-Tayyib (Abu Dhabi, 4 February 2019), some of which have already been implemented and others being implemented.

The delegation gifted the Holy Father a small box containing some stones with inscriptions in Arabic that express messages related to love, tolerance and brotherhood. The Pope gave a copy of an engraving dating from the 17th century that shows the construction work in St. Peter’s Square, and four large photo albums intended for the president and vice president of the United Arab Emirates, containing a selection of the best images of the visit of the Pontiff in the country earlier this month.

At the end of the encounter the Holy Father had lunch together with the minister and the delegation from the UAE.


By Francesca Merlo (vaticannews)

Despite all of the potential that science has, the accumulation of it all does not always obtain the results hoped for, said Pope Francis as he addressed the çPontifical academy for Life that is marking its 25th anniversary, created by Pope John Paul II in 1994.

All that science could offer

We know the problems our world is facing, said the Pope, and one of them is that we seem to be closing in more and more on ourselves. This underlines a “dramatic paradox”: that at the point in which science could offer the equal well-being that God wished for to all people, “we observe an embittering of conflicts and a growth of inequality.”

There are two sides to technology, said Francis. On the one hand, we cannot go without it; on the other hand, it imposes its logic upon us. “Yet, technology is a human characteristic”.

However, what we must understand, added Francis, is that the artificial devices that simulate human capacities, are in fact, lacking in human qualities. These machines cannot take into consideration the phenomena of experience or that of conscience.

Benefits of science on every person

This must be taken into account, the Holy Father told his guests, when imposing the regulations for the use of these machines and in researching them. In order to work towards a constructive interaction between humans and the most recent versions of these machines, which he says, “are radically transforming the scenario of our existence.” The Pope explained that, “if we are able to make use of these references in practice, the extraordinary potential of new discoveries can radiate their benefits on every person and on humanity as a whole.”

Sharing in order to benefit

Pope Francis noted that the task of the Academy for Life is an honorable one in “the ethical alliance in favor of human life.” Now that we are surrounded by more and more sophisticated machinery, and they directly involve human qualities, both physical and of the psyche, the sharing of information between those working in the field becomes more and more important.

He urges the participants at the plenary assembly to take the example of the faithful masters of this technology “who have wisely and boldly entered into the processes of their contemporaneity, with a view to an understanding of the heritage of faith at the height of a reason worthy of humanity”.


From interim Holy See Press Office director Alessandro Gisotti:

In the Sala Bologna of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, a restricted interdicasterial meeting was held this morning from 9.00 to 13.00, focusing on the fight against child abuse. This meeting is a first concrete effect of the meeting on “The Protection of Minors in the Church” that ended yesterday. Also at the meeting, together with some superiors of the Secretariat of State and the heads of the dicasteries who are particularly committed to this topic,were members of the organizing committee and the moderator of the meeting, Father Federico Lombardi SJ, who focused on the meeting as it unfolded, initial reactions to the meeting and follow-up.

Above all, and unanimously, accent was placed on how necessary the just ended meeting was, so desired by Pope Francis. It was also highlighted that this event must now be followed by concrete measures as strongly requested by the People of God. In this context, the fundamental principles that inspire the documents and task forces, announced in the final press conference of the meeting, were illustrated. These initiatives, it has been affirmed, will have to be communicated in the clearest, most timely and detailed way possible.

In the interventions of the dicastery heads, who reaffirmed their commitment to follow the example of Pope Francis in the fight against abuse, the accent was placed on the need to listen to the victims as a starting point for this commitment. Other points underlined: the greater involvement of the laity on this front and the need to invest in training and prevention, taking advantage of those realities with a consolidated experience in this field. Lastly, it was highlighted that the progress of the follow-up of the meeting should be verified with interdicasterial meetings in the name of synodality and synergy.



In an unusual move, Pope Francis this afternoon spoke in off the cuff remarks after the talk by Dr. Linda Ghisoni, under-secretary of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Faith, the first woman to formally address the meeting, thanking her for her intervention. The Holy See Press Office released his remarks:

“Listening to Dr. Ghisoni I heard the Church talk about herself. That is, we all talked about the Church. In all the interventions. But this time it was the Church herself that spoke. It is not just a question of style: the feminine genius that is reflected in the Church that is a woman.

“To invite a woman to speak is not to enter the mode of an ecclesiastical feminism, because in the end every feminism ends up being a machismo with a skirt. No. Inviting a woman to speak about the wounds of the Church is to invite the Church to speak about herself, about the wounds she has. And this I think is the step that we must do very strongly: the woman is the image of the Church that is a woman, she is a bride, she is a mother. A style. Without this style we would speak of the people of God but as an organization, perhaps a trade union, but not as a family born of the Mother Church.

“The logic of Dr. Ghisoni’s thought was just that of a mother, and ended with the story of what happens when a woman gives birth to a child. It is the female mystery of the Church that is bride and mother. It is not about giving more functions to the woman in the Church – yes, this is good, but this does not solve the problem – it is about integrating woman as a figure of the Church in our thinking. And thinking also of the Church with the categories of a woman. Thank you for your testimony.”

(JFL: For what it’s worth, from the applause I have heard at the end of the various speeches, an applause meter might have declared her the winner)



The news segment this week of Vatican Insider will be unusually brief because the special I have prepared in what is normally the interview segment is unusually long. I am taking a look at the four-day meeting in the Vatican that began on Thursday February 21 and is dealing with the scandal of clerical sex abuse, in particular focussing on the protection of minors. I look at the background, the composition of the organizing committee, the speakers and topics scheduled for each day, the Holy Father’s reason for choosing to have such an event and a look at what the Church, the Pope, and the summit attendees hope to achieve.

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)


Accountability was the main theme of the second day of the protecting minors conference. Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay (Mumbai) was the first to speak in the morning. His talk was entitled “Accountability in a Collegial and Synodal Church.”

He began by saying, “Sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and the subsequent failure to address it in an open, accountable, and effective way has caused a multifaceted crisis that has gripped and wounded the Church, not to speak of those who have been abused. Although the experience of abuse seems dramatically present in certain parts of the world, it is not a limited phenomenon. Indeed, the entire Church must take an honest look, undertake rigorous discernment, and then act decisively to prevent abuse from occurring in the future and to do whatever possible to foster healing for victims.
Finally, he said, we must “be willing to pay the price of following God’s will in uncertain and painful circumstances.”

The cardinal went on: “No bishop should say to himself, “I face these problems and challenges alone.” Because we belong to the college of bishops in union with the Holy Father, we all share accountability and responsibility. Collegiality is an essential context for addressing wounds of abuse inflicted on victims and on the Church at large. We bishops need to return to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council often, in order to find ourselves in the larger mission and ministry of the Church.”

He asked for the clarification of several points in order to make progress:

· For me, this raises the question: do we really engage in an open conversation and point out honestly to our brother bishops or priests when we notice problematic behaviour in them? We should cultivate a culture of correctio fraterna, which enables this without offending each other, and at the same time recognise criticism from a brother as an opportunity to better fulfil our tasks.
· Closely related to this point is willingness to personally admit mistakes to each other, and to ask for help, without feeling the need to maintain the pretence of own perfection
· For a bishop, the relationship with the Holy Father is of constitutive significance. Every bishop is obliged to directly obey and follow the Holy Father. We should ask ourselves honestly, whether on this basis we don’t sometimes think that our relationship with the other bishops is not so important, especially if the brothers have a different opinion, and/or if they feel the need to correct us.
· If in such contexts we ourselves always refer back to Rome, we shouldn’t wonder if a certain Roman centralism does not sufficiently take into account the diversity in our brotherhood, and our local church competencies and our skills as responsible shepherds of our local churches are not appropriately used, and thereby the practically lived collegiality suffers.

Under what he called “The Challenge of sexual abuse in the Church,“ Cardinal Gracias spoke of justice and healing and said, relative to healing: “For effective healing to happen, there must be clear, transparent, and consistent communication from a collegial Church to victims, members of the Church, and society at large. In that communication, the Church offers several messages.”

Those messages are, he explained, “a respectful outreach and an honest acknowledgement of their pain and hurt,” “an offer to heal,” “to identify and implement measures to protect young and vulnerable people from future abuse,” and fourthly, “to society at large.”

On the fourth point he said: “Our Holy Father has wisely and correctly said that abuse is a human problem. It is not, of course, limited to the Church. In fact, it is a pervasive and sad reality across all sectors of life. Out of this particularly challenging moment in the life of the Church, we – again in a collegial context -can draw on and develop resources which can be of great service to a larger world. The grace of this moment can actually be our ability to serve a great need in the world from our experience in the Church.”

For Cardinal Gracias’ full address http://www.pbc2019.org


Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, was the second speaker of the second day of the protection of minors meeting.

He opened his talk by saying, “From what we just heard from Cardinal Gracias, we are to understand our gathering in these days as an exercise in collegiality. We are here, as the universal episcopate in affective and substantive union with the successor of Peter, to discern through spirited dialogue where our ministry as successors of the apostles calls us to confront effectively the scandal of clergy sexual abuse that has wounded so many little ones.

“While we share a unique responsibility in this regard as the college of bishops, it is also imperative that we consider the challenge we face in the light of synodality, especially as we explore with the entire Church the structural, legal and institutional aspects of accountability.”

The cardinal explained that, “For a Church seeking to be a loving mother in the face of clergy sexual abuse, four orientations, rooted in synodality, must shape every structural, legal and institutional reform designed to meet the enormous challenge which the reality of sexual abuse by clergy represents at this moment.”

Those orientations are: radical listening, lay witness, collegiality and accountability.

Cardinal Cupich then outlined what he called a framework for institutional and legal structured for accountability, stating, “The task before us is to focus these principles upon the design of specific institutional and legal structures for the purpose of creating genuine accountability in cases related to the misconduct of bishops and religious superiors, and their mishandling of cases of child abuse.”

The archbishop of Chicago mentioned, “We already, of course, have a guide in the Apostolic Letter Come una madre amorevole, which sets forth procedures that address, among other things, bishops who mishandle abuse cases.”

Looking at the task ahead for the Church and the world’s bishops, the cardinal grouped his remarks under three headings: 1. Setting Standards for Investigation of Bishops, 2. Reporting Allegations and 3. Concrete Procedural Steps.

At this point he made references to mechanisms already in place for reporting allegations of abuse or mishandling of abuse against a bishop, explaining the path normally taken for such reports.

Cardinal Cupich then listed 12 principles that he said should find their way into any proposed legislation in this area.

In conclusion, he said: “We must move to establish robust laws and structures regarding the accountability of bishops precisely to supply with a new soul the institutional reality of the Church’s discipline on sexual abuse.”

For Cardinal Cupich’s full presentation http://www.pbc2019.org


The first woman to give an address to the Meeting for the Protection of Minors, Dr. Linda Ghisoni talked about the importance of all aspects of the Church working together to confront the worldwide crisis of the sexual abuse of children. She is the Undersecretary for the Laity at the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life.

Speaking on the subject of accountability – the theme for the second day of the meeting for the protection of minors – Ghisoni highlighted the aspect of communion vis-a-vis accountability.

With respect to Religious Superiors and Bishops, she said it was important, “to foresee an ordinary procedure of verification that should not be misunderstood as a lack of trust towards the Superior or the Bishop. Rather to be considered as an aid that allows him to focus, first at himself and at the best moment, that is when all the elements are clear and concurrent, the reason for a certain action taken or omitted.

“To say that the Bishop must always give a report of his work to someone does not mean subjecting him to a control or putting him in a priori distrust, but engaging him in the dynamics of ecclesial communion where all the members act in a coordinated way, according to their own charisms and ministries.

“If a priest gives report to the community, to the priests and to his Bishop for his work, to whom does a bishop give a report? What accountability is he subject to?

“Identifying an objective method of accountability not only does not weaken his authority, but values him as shepherd of a flock, in his own function that is not separated from the people for whom he is called to give life. It may also happen, as for each of us, that from “giving report” springs awareness of an error, it becomes obvious that the path taken was wrong, perhaps because at that moment one thought – wrongly – of acting for the good. This will not constitute a judgment from which to defend oneself in order to recover credit, a stain on one’s own honourability, a threat to one’s own ordinary and immediate power.

“On the contrary, this will be the witness of a journey made together, which alone can find the discernment of truth, justice and charity. The logic of communion does not stand an accusation and a defence, but working together (“con-correre” precisely, only in communion) for the good of all. Accountability is therefore a form, today even more necessary, in this logic of communion.”




Posted here are the various talks given today at the Protection of Minors meeting. Each talk is presented in the original and several translations.

If you really want to shudder or read something that will bring tears to your eyes or perhaps leave you breathless with incredulity, click on “pre-recorded testimonies” (EN for English)

FYI – a piece by CNA in Angelus News about abuse victims and their stories in Rome: https://angelusnews.com/news/courtney-grogan/victims-from-africa-asia-at-vatican-to-call-for-zero-tolerance-of-abuse-cover-up