As I wrote yesterday, you cannot escape the Amalfi coast – every breathtaking view, every hill, every mountain, every bend on the tortuous roads, every port and harbor and spectacular small cove, every bougainvilla-covered wall or terrace, every tiled roof and patio and church dome – without taking a thousand photos.

Yesterday I offered a slide show of some of the reasons that people travel to Sorrento, Positano and beyond – ice cream, limoncello, amazing cuisine, wonderful leather goods, enticing fruit markets and stunning fashions for all ages.

Today I get serious! Here are a few of my travelblogue © photos of the beauties of this region of God’s unparalleled creation! Someday I will count the photos I’ve taken over years of visits to Sorrento, Positano and Ravello – thousands for sure!

One slide show today is dedicated to just Ravello as it is so spectacular, especially the gardens of the historical Villa Ruffolo!



I have no idea of the audio link of Andy Williams singing “There’s a Summer Place” will work but here it is!



Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi and Ravello are probably the main reasons why people are drawn to the stunningly beautiful Amalfi Coast. There are smaller but no less exciting towns nearby, up and down the coast, such as Praiano and Sant’Agata, Minori and Maiori, that welcome visitors, many of which are places where Italians have summer homes.

I returned to Rome from the Amalfi Coast last week after five days of both work and vacation with my niece Christie, her husband Bryan and their four wonderful kids – Brogan, 1, Cole, 13, Emory 11 and Cece (Cecilia) 9. More memories, more fun times, more exploring, more relaxing, more terrific meals – and more photos!

You cannot escape the Amalfi coast – every breathtaking view, every hill, every mountain, every bend on the tortuous roads, every port and harbor and spectacular small cove, every bougainvilla-covered wall or terrace, every tiled roof and patio and church dome – without taking a thousand photos.

Today, just for fun, I offer a slide show of many of the reasons that people travel to Sorrento, Positano and beyond.

Tomorrow I will get serious – travelblogue© photos of the beauties of this region of God’s unparalleled creation!




There is a stunning story from India, as you will read below. I cannot wrap my mind around these numbers! How does one even help this many people! They need homes, food, clothing, medicine, sanitary facilities and a ton of other things, I am sure, but all I could think of as I read this report is that we absolutely must pray for the displaced and for those trying to help them.


From Holy See Press Office: This morning in the Santa Marta residence, the Holy Father received a pilgrimage of faithful from Papua New Guinea, led by Fr. Martin Prado, an IVE missionary and their parish priest. During the audience, the pilgrims spoke of the situation in their country and performed some songs of their land. At the end of the meeting the Pope gave them his blessing. (Vatican media photo)


Pope Francis visited an elderly nun at the Daughters of Charity’s house in Rome on Sunday, a gesture of kindness for her years of service at the Casa Santa Marta.
By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

Sister Maria Mucci spent many years serving Pope Francis, as well as numerous Vatican visitors, at the Casa Santa Marta.

Having fallen ill, she is now in the infirmary at her congregation’s house in Rome, the Regina Mundi House. So, on Sunday evening, Pope Francis popped in for a quick visit to the ailing nun.

He also paused for a picture with members of the Daughters of Charity community staffing the residence, along with employees and guests. At the end of his visit, the Holy Father gave them all his blessing.

Fr. Tomaž Mavrič, CM, the Order’s Superior General, announced the news on his Facebook page.

Venerating his predecessor’s relic
Another special moment occurred when Pope Francis contemplated a relic of his predecessor, Pope St. John Paul II. The relic is the bloodstained shirt worn by the Polish Pope when he was shot by a gunman in St. Peter’s Square on 13 May 1981.

Gemelli Hospital, having treated Pope John Paul II after the assassination attempt, later gifted his bloodied shirt to the Regina Mundi House, where it is now venerated.

127 KILLED, 8 MILLION DISPLACED IN FLOODS IN INDIA, Bhopal, India -July 30, 2019 – At least 127 people were killed and an astounding eight million displaced after rivers in Nepal burst their banks in the latest monsoons and swept through villages in the eastern Indian state of Bihar.

Catholic social work departments in the area are struggling to provide basic amenities to the affected such as temporary shelter, drinking water and sanitation facilities.

“Millions have been badly hit after the flood situation worsened over the past week,” said Bishop Cajetan Francis Osta of Muzaffarpur, the worst affected area.

Eleven of the 13 flood-hit districts are in the area of Muzaffarpur, which has been working with Caritas India.

“Our social work department is doing its best to provide tarpaulins, mosquito nets, bedsheets, soap and drinking water,” said Bishop Osta.




At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis remembered migrants who drowned in a shipwreck earlier this week.
By Christopher Wells (vaticannews)

Pope Francis has once again called on the international community “to act with speed and decisiveness” to address the issue of migration. His appeal came during the Sunday Angelus, when he prayed for victims of a shipwreck in the Mediterranean earlier this week.

Scores of migrants are feared drowned after a boat carrying migrants from Libya sank about 8 km from the coast of Libya on Wednesday. It is believed to be the worst shipwreck on the Mediterranean this year. Authorities said at least 115 are missing, while 134 were rescued. One body was recovered.

According to the UN refugee office, a total of 164 people had already died on the route between Libya and Europe in the first four months of 2019.

In his remarks on Sunday, Pope Francis called for action “to avoid a repetition of such tragedies, and to ensure the security and dignity of all.” He concluded his appeal by asking those present “to pray with me for the victims and for their families… and also, from the heart, to ask: ‘Father, Why?’”


At the Angelus, Pope Francis reflected on the Our Father, “one of the most precious gifts” Jesus has left us.
By Christopher Wells (vaticannews)

In his reflection on Sunday’s Gospel, Pope Francis said that the disciples wanted “to experience the same ‘quality’” of prayer was present in Jesus’ relationship with the Father. “They could see that prayer was an essential dimension in the life of their Master,” he said, noting that, “each of His important actions was characterized by extended periods of prayer.” They recognized, too, that Jesus “did not pray like the other masters of the time,” rather, “His prayer is an intimate link with the Father.”

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, the Pope said, the Lord did not simply “give an abstract definition of prayer, or teach an effective technique for praying in order to ‘obtain’ something.” Instead, Jesus shared with them His own experience of prayer, “putting them directly in contact with the Father, and arousing in them a longing for a personal relationship with Him.”

This, Pope Francis said, “is the novelty of Christian prayer: It is a dialogue between people who love one another, a dialogue based on trust, sustained by listening, and open to the commitment to solidarity.”

The prayer Jesus taught them, the Our Father, “is one of the most precious gifts left to us by the divine Master during His earthly mission,” the Pope said. With this prayer, Jesus teaches us “to enter into the Fatherhood of God, and shows us the way to enter into prayerful and direct dialogue with Him, through the way of filial trust.” The Our Father, he said, “is the synthesis of every prayer, and we always address it to the Father in communion with our brothers and sisters.”


The Vatican released communications on Sunday, July 28, on the work done over the weekend in Vatican City’s Teutonic cemetery to analyze bone fragments found in two ossuaries to see if any bones or fragments belong to Manuela Orlando, the daughter of an Italian employee and citizen who disappeared on June 22, 1983, never returning home after a music lesson.

The Vatican has been examining graves and ossuaries since July 11, following an anonymous letter that arrived at the Orlandi home in the summer of 2018 that suggested Manuela’s remains could be found in the Teutonic cemetery where there was an angel and the words “requiescat in pace (rest in peace).”

Workers survey bones taken from an ossuary at the Teutonic cemetery in this image released by the Vatican July 27, 2019. The bones were inspected in the hope of finding the missing remains of a German princess and duchess and possibly the remains of Emanuela Orlandi, who disappeared in 1983. The Vatican announced that none of the bones postdate the 1800s. (CNS photo/Vatican Media) See VATICAN-BONES-ORLANDI July 29, 2019. 

Sunday’s Vatican statement said, “At 9.15 am this morning, as indicated yesterday, the morphological analysis of the findings discovered in the ossuaries in the Teutonic cemetery was resumed, as part of the investigative tasks of the Orlandi case. Present were Prof. Arcudi and his staff, the staff of the Fabbrica di San Pietro and the COS, the Operative Security Center of the Vatican Gendarmerie, the Promoter of Justice of Vatican City State Court, Prof. Gian Piero Milano, and his deputy, Prof. Alessandro Diddi, the lawyer and expert appointed by the Orlandi family and the officer in charge of the Judicial Police of the Vatican Gendarmerie Corps.

“At 12.30 the work in the cemetery was concluded. as part of the investigative tasks of the Orlandi case. Professor Giovanni Arcudi, assisted by his staff – in the presence of a trusted expert appointed by the Orlandi Family – completed the morphological analysis of the contents of the ossuaries (several hundred partially intact bone structures and thousands of fragments). During the forensic anthropological investigations, Prof. Arcudi did not find any bone structures that date back to a later period than the end of 1800.

“The consultant (for the family) requested a laboratory check on about seventy bone findings; Prof. Arcudi and his team did not endorse the request because the same bony structures have very ancient dating characteristics. For these reasons, the samples were collected and kept at the Gendarmerie Command available to the Promoter of Justice.

“In communicating these operations, the Holy See confirms its desire to seek the truth of the story of the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi and categorically denies that this attitude of full cooperation and transparency can in any way mean, as some people sometimes say, an implicit admission of responsibility.

“The search for truth is in the interest of the Holy See and the Orlandi family. The transparent will of the Holy See has already emerged, in addition to the investigations and examinations in progress at the Teutonico cemetery as in those carried out by Italian authorities following a report by the Vatican gendarmerie, at the headquarters of Villa Giorgina, the nunciature in Italy. A request for dismissal by the Public Prosecutor’s Office at the Court of Rome was communicated on 3 July.

“As to Villa Giorgina: bones found there July 25, 2018, were ascertained by Italian authorities to date back to a period between 90 and 230 AD. This belies any connection with the painful disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi.”



Welcome to “Vatican Insider” on this final weekend of July! Where has this month gone!
As you know, I start the program with a summary of the news highlights of the past week at the Vatican, usually followed by a Q&A when time allows.
This week, I urge you to stay tuned after the news segment of Vatican Insider for Part II of my conversation with Msgr. Richard Soseman of the diocese of Peoria in Illinois. He is the vice postulator for the cause for canonization of Venerable Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen. You won’t want to miss this!

Photos taken during recent Rome visit:

At one point we talk about the miracles required for canonization: one is required for beatification and a second one for canonization but that second miracle must occur after the announcement of the future beatification of a person.

Msgr. Soseman noted that, at a July 5 audience with Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Pope Francis announced that a miracle attributed to the intercession of Archbishop Sheen could be promulgated, thus moving him a step closer to beatification.

Thus, said the vice postulator for the Sheen cause for canonization, a second miracle for the canonization of Abp. Sheen must occur after that July 5 date.

He also told me – thus the listeners of Vatican Insider – that if anyone knows of an alleged miracle due to the intercession of Abp, Sheen, they should contact him by writing to: Msgr. Richard Soseman, 1109 Pulaski Street, Peru, Illinois 61354.

By the way, in many cases, including Pope John Paul II and Abp. Sheen, miracles have been reported to have occurred during the person’s lifetime. However, even though well documented and meeting all criteria for a miracle, they may not be used toward the cause of canonization for a person.

Here is a link to Part I of our conversation that aired last weekend:

And here’s a link to the story about the miracle that led to Sheen’s beatification:

One last point: If you know of someone who is very ill – man, woman or child – and in need of prayers, why not start praying to Abp. Sheen today to intercede for that person? And why not ask that person’s family member and friends to also pray to Venerable Sheen!

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on 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 ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)


It fills my heart with joy to report this story!


Local media today reported on the surprise visit last evening of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI to the famed Castelli Romani hills towns, including the papal palace at Castelgandolfo, one of his favorite spots to vacation. Castelgandolfo, in fact, has been a favorite spot for Popes over the centuries, especially in the summer as the Castelli hill towns often have cooler temperatures than Rome.

The citizens were thrilled to learn that the Pope emeritus would once again grace their small, enchanting town overlooking picturesque Lake Albano, site of an extinct volcano.

They loved it when Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI stayed weeks or months in the papal palace. Not only did they cherish the person of the Pope but also the fact that a Pope in residence drew visitors to the town, helping restaurants and other businesses to flourish.

All that changed with the election of Pope Francis who, as is well known, prefers working vacations in the Santa Marta residence to spending time at Castegandolfo. The townspeople not only miss having “their Pope” in residence, they miss the visitors and tourists that a pontifical presence attracts.

Yesterday was the first time in four years that Benedict had gone to Castelgandolfo. He had been invited by Pope Francis to spend some time in the palace in the summer of 2015.

Benedict arrived in a Mercedes Benz sedan with darkened windows, accompanied by his dear friend, personal secretary and prefect of the papal household, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein. Castelgandolfo was the first of three stops yesterday afternoon. Benedict first spent 90 minutes in the papal palace, even briefly visiting the gardens he so loved to walk in and pray the rosary. (file photo – public domain)

Afterwards he visited the shrine of the Madonna del Tufo in Rocca di Papa and then on to Frascati, another beautiful castelli romani hill town. Here he was welcomed by Bishop Raffaello Martinelli for a short private visit and light supper.

Everyone will remember how Benedict XVI travelled by helicopter from Vatican City to Castelgandolfo the evening of February 28, 2013, to spend a few months in the papal summer residence before retiring to the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in Vatican City.

Upon his arrival that late February afternoon, he went to the palace balcony overlooking the town’s main square and spoke his last public words as Supreme Pontiff: “Thank you. Thank you all. Dear Friends, I am happy to be with you, surrounded by the beauty of Creation and your kindness, which does me so much good. Thank you for your friendship and your affection. You know that this day is different for me from the preceding ones. I am no longer the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, or I will be until 8:00 this evening and then no longer. I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth. But I would still, thank you, I would still—with my heart, with my love, with my prayers, with my reflection, and with all my inner strength—like to work for the common good and the good of the Church and of humanity. I feel greatly supported by your kindness. Let us go forward with the Lord for the good of the Church and the world. Thank you. I now wholeheartedly impart my blessing. May Almighty God bless us, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Good night! Thank you all!



Pope Francis has named Cristiane Murray as the new deputy director of the Holy See Press Office.

Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1962, she is married and has two children. Murray graduated in Business Administration and Marketing from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio. She joined Vatican Radio in 1995 and since then has been part of the Brazilian team that broadcasts daily programs throughout the country. She has also been in charge of the Vatican News portal in Portuguese, as well as the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube accounts.

Over the last 10 years, Cristiane Murray has devoted particular attention to the commitment of the Church in the Amazon. She participated as a correspondent in several papal trips and in April 2018 began to collaborate with the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in the preparation of the upcoming synodal assembly for the Pan-Amazonian Region (October 6-27, 2019). She is Portuguese-Italian bilingual, and fluent in English, Spanish and French.

In a statement issued this morning, Murray said: “I accept this appointment with emotion. For journalists and colleagues in the communication department it is a great recognition of our daily work in bringing to the world the Gospel, the message of the Pope and the Church. I first and foremost want to express thanks to the Holy Father – mine and that of all of us, especially women – for having chosen me for this important task. I thank the Prefect, Paolo Ruffini, the Editorial Director, Andrea Tornielli, and the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops led by Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, with whom I have worked for over a year for the preparation of the synodal assembly for the Amazon. I guarantee my commitment and my enthusiasm to the press office Director, Matteo Bruni, and to everyone in the press office at the service of the Holy See.”

Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni said: “The press office gratefully welcomes the appointment by the Holy Father of Cristiane Murray as deputy director of the Holy See Press Office. I am sure that her professionalism and the experience gained over the years of service to the Church and the Holy See will be extremely valuable in this new position. On behalf of the press office staff, I extend a warm welcome and best wishes for good work.”

Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, also released a statement: “With the Holy Father’s appointment of Cristiane Murray as deputy director of the Holy See Press Office, the fundamental structure of the communication department is completed. The choice of a woman with roots in Brazil and an open view to the world testifies to the desire to build a team that can speak the language of those who listen to us. I am sure that Cristiane, who has been working in the Vatican media for so many years, and whose professionalism and humanity have always been appreciated, will make a fundamental contribution of intelligence, sensitivity, memory and project in the service we all try to offer to the Church.”

An additional statement was released this morning by Andrea Tornielli, editorial director of the Dicastery for Communication: “I am grateful to the Holy Father for having chosen the Brazilian colleague Cristiane Murray as vice director of the Holy See Press Office. To date, Cristiane has been an important resource for Radio Vaticana-Vatican News and is alsopreciated by the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops where she served for over a year collaborating in the preparation of the synodal assembly for the Pan-Amazonian Region. Once again, professionalism is recognized within the Vatican media and I am certain that Cristiane’s competency will be invaluable for the work of the Holy See Press Office.” (source:


I just got back from Sorrento with my niece Christie and her husband Bryan and their four magnificent kids and wanted to be in touch today, after being unable to get to my computer yesterday. We really lucked out today as we had already decided to hire a car and driver to take us to Rome and that was before we knew there was a transportation strike in Italy today!

Our days down south included touring the Amalfi Coast (Positano, Amalfi and stupendous Ravello), visiting Capri over the weekend, and enjoying many other great pleasures this part of the world provides. One of my favorite pastimes is discovering new churches and visiting the ones I know well and love such as the Cathedral of Sts. Philip and James and Our Lady of Carmel. I now have a new favorite – Our Lady of Graces (more later, along with some photos).

I found some time to keep up with Vatican events and post some news when they went on a few excursions that I did not join. They went to Pompeii on Sunday and, as I had already been there a number of times and it was amazingly hot and humid, I stayed in Sorrento to relax and spend an afternoon on the computer for stories breaking over the weekend.

Monday morning they went to a place near Sorrento for snorkeling, swimming and a boat ride back to the Sorrento port and I used that time in Sorrento to research and write. It actually has been fairly quiet at the Vatican with the Holy Father in the last week of his working vacation in the Vatican. In fact, even the web site has accumulated news and stories from around the Catholic world to write about in lieu of daily papal stories.

One of those stories is below. This is so wonderfully inspiring! IF you need some good news and need a smile, this will do it!


The Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb live in the centre of France. They are the first contemplative community in the world to welcome into consecrated life people with Down Syndrome, or trisomy 21.

By Cyprien Viet (Vaticannews)

The community, which has a special devotion to Saint Benedict and Saint Theresa of Lisieux, first got the idea in the 1980’s. It started with a friendship. Line was on a spiritual search of her own and felt a calling to work with children. Véronique is a young woman with Down syndrome who felt a vocation to the consecrated life.

Line is now Mother Line, Superior of the Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb (Petites Soeurs Disciples de l’Agneau). She explains: “I visited several communities that welcomed people with disabilities, but I saw they could not find their place in these communities because they were not suitable for them”. “It was the encounter with Véronique, a girl with Down syndrome that gave us the idea for a new beginning. I told myself I had to help her realize her vocation”.

Véronique wanted to respond to her vocation to serve the Lord, but was refused by all the communities she approached because she has Down syndrome. Canon Law and monastic rules do not provide for the admission of people with mental disabilities to religious life. It took Line and Véronique 14 years to get the statutes of this special community, with its own original style, recognized

Gradual recognition by the Church
Line and Véronique began their community of two in 1985 in a small apartment, a council house. Later, another girl with Down syndrome joined them. In 1990, they asked the future Cardinal and Archbishop of Tours, Jean Honoré (1920-2013), to recognize them as a public association of lay faithful. It was the support of Cardinal Honoré, who defended their case in Rome, which allowed this small community to be recognized.

In 1995, the growing number of “associates” obliged the Little Sisters to move. They settled in Le Blanc, a town of 6,500 inhabitants in the Diocese of Bourges. Pierre Plateau (1924-2018), Archbishop of this diocese in central France, welcomed them warmly. His intervention helped make further progress for them in Rome, with a view to obtaining the status of a contemplative religious institute. This they obtained in 1999.

“Plateau was really a father to our community”, says Mother Line, “he was very close to people with Down syndrome”. The sisters gradually developed the priory and the chapel and in 2011 obtained the definitive recognition of their statutes, thanks to the intervention of Archbishop Armand Maillard, who added his support to the community, considering it a source of life and joy in the area.

A community of life
There are currently 10 Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb: eight of them have Down syndrome. The community hopes to welcome more sisters, as those with Down syndrome need assistance and support. Even though, according to Mother Line, they are mostly independent “because the contemplative life allows them to live at their own pace. For people with Down syndrome, changes are difficult, but when life is very regular they manage well,” she says.

That regular lifestyle unfolds in daily functions and tasks. Holy Mass is celebrated every Tuesday in the chapel, and the various activities include weaving and pottery workshops and, most recently, the creation of a garden of medicinal plants. Ultimately, this extraordinary vocation is expressed in the ordinary things of life, in the humility of service, following the “little path” revealed by Saint Teresa of Lisieux, whose spirituality is the source of their inspiration.

“34 years have passed since I heard the call of Jesus”, says Sr Véronique. “I have tried to know Jesus by reading the Bible and the Gospel. I was born with a disability called Down syndrome. I am happy. I love Life. I pray, but I am sad for the children with Down syndrome who will not feel this same joy of living. For those who felt called to live, like Saint Teresa, the vocation to love, the journey was long but her patience and her faith gave their fruits. Jesus made me grow in His love”.

After facing rejection by other communities, Sr Véronique describes experiencing her greatest joy on 20 June 2009 when she made her perpetual vows in the Institute of the Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb, and became “the bride of Jesus”.

Let love unfold
“At a time when society lacks points of reference, no longer finding meaning in life or giving it value, our community wants to reaffirm the sacred character of life and the human person through the simple witness of our life consecrated to God”, say the Little Sisters.

The Little Sisters extend an open invitation to a period of discernment to all young women who feel “touched by the spirit of poverty and devotion, and who are ready to offer their lives serving Christ in the persons of their little sisters with Down syndrome”.

Young women with Down syndrome, who feel called to consecrated life, go through the same period of discerning their vocation. Mother Line explains how the Lord calls when we come to understand who we are, and what we want. “It is just like for any other vocation”, she says. They understand perfectly well if it is not authentic.

The gift of friendship with Jesus
Mother Line says she has discovered great spiritual strength in her sisters with Down syndrome. “They know the Bible, the lives of the saints, and they have a fabulous memory”, she says. “They are souls of prayer, they are very spiritual, very close to Jesus”.

Mother Line sees in their simplicity a prophetic sign for our time. “Their souls are not disabled! On the contrary, they are closer to the Lord, they communicate with Him more easily. The other sisters of the community admire their ability to forgive, to encourage their sisters by finding the right phrase from the Bible that helps give meaning to the day”.

In 2013, the community was shaken by the premature death of Sr Rose-Claire at the age of 26. Her sisters describe her as having an aura of holiness similar to that of Saint Teresa of Lisieux, whom she loved very much. Mother Line recounts the reaction of the Little Sisters with Down syndrome who embraced their sister’s passing with great serenity, placing everything under the gaze of God. “When I went to their room to talk to them the next morning, one of them told me: ‘It is the desire of Heaven’. Another encouraged me, saying: ‘We must be strong. We have faith’”.

To some, the experience of this community may seem unusual. To others, it responds to an anthropological challenge in a world obsessed with efficiency and productivity. A world in which there appears to be no place for people with Down syndrome. According to Mother Line, however, their capacity to love and to be close to the Lord produces surprising fruits. Theirs is a world to be discovered, she concludes. “They bring joy to society and, above all, they bring love to the world. A world that needs it so much”.


A statement this morning from Matteo Bruni notes this is his first day as the new director of the Holy See Press Office: “Today I begin my appointment as director of the Holy See Press Office after serving there for ten years in a spirit of service to the Pope and the Holy See with the experience and strength at my disposal. I thank my colleague and friend Alessandro Gisotti for having generously and expertly led the press office in recent months. I am aware of the delicate and decisive task of information and I am sure I will find support in my colleagues, whose value and professionalism in these intense years of work for the Holy See I have come to know. I thank the Holy Father for his confidence and the prefect of the Communication Department, Paolo Ruffini, for the support of the dicastery, which I know will not be lacking.


Statement by Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni on Monday, July 22: “This morning in Damascus, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, accompanied by Cardinal Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio in Syria, and by the undersecretary of the aforementioned Dicastery, Fr. Nicola Riccardi, met with President Bashar Hafez al-Assad. During the meeting, the Cardinal prefect presented to the head of State a letter addressed to him by the Holy Father, which expresses the profound concern of His Holiness Pope Francis for the humanitarian situation in Syria, with particular reference to the dramatic conditions of the civil population in Idlib.”


Acts of war and bombardments against defenseless civilians continue to occur in Syria. With dozens of health facilities destroyed or closed in Idlib Province, Pope Francis asks Cardinal Turkson to deliver a letter to the Syrian President.
By Andrea Tornielli

Protection of civilian life, an end to the humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib Province, concrete initiatives for a safe return of displaced persons, the release of detainees and access for families to information regarding their loved ones, and humane conditions for political prisoners. All this and a renewed appeal for a resumption of dialogue and negotiations with the involvement of the international community.

These are the concerns and concrete requests contained in a letter that Pope Francis addressed to Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad. The Pope’s letter, dated 28 June 2019, was delivered only hours ago by Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

The Cardinal, bearing the missive written in English, was accompanied by Fr. Nicola Riccardi, O.F.M., Undersecretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and by Cardinal Mario Zenari, the Apostolic Nuncio to Syria.

Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, the Pope’s primary collaborator, spoke to Vatican News about the content and purpose of the letter.

Q: Your Eminence, why did the Pope decide to write to President Assad?
Cardinal Parolin: “At the heart of this new initiative lies Pope Francis’ and the Holy See’s concern for the emergency humanitarian situation in Syria, in particular in Idlib Province. More than 3 million people live in the area, of which 1.3 million are internally displaced, forced by the long conflict in Syria to find refuge in the area, which last year was declared demilitarized. The recent military offensive has added to the already extreme living conditions they had to endure in the camps, forcing many of them to flee. The Pope follows with apprehension and great sorrow the tragic fate of the civilian population, children in particular, caught up in the bloody fighting. Unfortunately, the war grinds on – it has not ended: the bombings continue, various health facilities have been destroyed in that area, while many others have had to suspend their activities, either completely or partially.”

Q: What is the Pope asking of President Assad in the letter that was delivered?
A: “Pope Francis renews his appeal for the protection of civilian life and the preservation of the main infrastructures, such as schools, hospitals, and health facilities. What is happening is intolerable and inhuman. The Holy Father asks the President to do everything possible to put an end to this humanitarian catastrophe, in order to protect the defenseless population, especially those who are most vulnerable, in respect for international humanitarian law”.

Q: From what you have said, it seems that the intent of the papal initiative is not “political”. Is that true?
A: “Yes, it is. As I have already explained, the concern is humanitarian-based. The Pope continues to pray that Syria may regain a climate of fraternity after these long years of war, and that reconciliation may prevail over division and hatred. In his letter, the Holy Father uses the word ‘reconciliation’ three times: this is his objective, for the good of that country and its defenseless population. The Pope encourages President Bashar al-Assad to carry out significant gestures in this urgent process of reconciliation, and he offers concrete examples. He cites, for example, creating the conditions needed for the safe return of exiles and internally displaced persons, and for all those who wish to return to the country after having been forced to leave. He also mentions the release of prisoners and the access of families to information about their loved ones.”

Q: Another dramatic issue is that of political prisoners. Does the Pope mention this topic?
A: “Yes, Pope Francis is particularly concerned about the situation of political prisoners, to whom – he affirms –humane conditions cannot be denied. In March 2018, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic published a report on this issue, saying there are tens of thousands of people who have been arbitrarily detained. At times – in unofficial prisons and in unknown places – they are allegedly subjected to various forms of torture without any legal assistance or contact with their families. The report notes that, unfortunately, many of them die in prison, while others are summarily executed.”

Q: What then is the purpose of this new initiative by Francis?
A: “The Holy See has always insisted on the need to seek an appropriate political solution to end the conflict, overcoming partisan interests. And this must be done using the instruments of diplomacy, dialogue, and negotiation, along with the assistance of the international community. We have had to learn once again that war generates war and violence incites violence – as the Pope has said many times, and as he repeats also in this letter. Unfortunately, we are concerned about the stalemate in the negotiation process – especially that seen in Geneva – for a political solution to the crisis. That is why, in the letter sent to President Assad, the Holy Father encourages him to show good will and to work towards finding viable solutions, putting an end to a conflict which has lasted far too long and which has led to the loss of numerous innocent lives”.


Pope Francis Sunday at the Angelus recalled the first time a person set foot on the moon, expressing hope that achieving this goal might inspire work toward even greater ones.

By Francesca Merlo (vaticannews)

“Fifty years ago, yesterday”, Pope Francis said on Sunday, “Man set foot on the moon, achieving an extraordinary dream.”

Addressing the crowd gathered in St Peter’s Square, the Pope expressed his hope that the memory of “that great step for humanity” might spark the desire to reach even “greater goals – more dignity for the weak, more justice among peoples, and more future for our common home.”

Pope St. Paul VI, who expressed much interest in space travel and spent lots of time at the Vatican Observatory, was Pope on July 20, 1969. On that night, along with millions worldwide he watched Neil Armstrong become the first man to set foot on the moon.

Fifty years later, Pope Francis has dedicated much of his pontificate to the fight for the rights of those who are most vulnerable in today’s society as well as for the care of our common home.

Francis has expressed, on numerous occasions, in both words and actions, his desire to help those in need: migrants, the poor, the ill, the elderly and our planet – our common home.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic moon landing, therefore, Pope Francis shared his hopes for the future and that people worldwide might be inspired by this historic achievement to pursue these fights, and to reach, as mankind did 50 years ago, other extraordinary dreams.


Two statements were sent out on Saturday, July 20, by Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Holy See Press Office regarding the recent discovery of bones in the Teutonic College, adjacent to the Teutonic cemetery in Vatican City:

Gisotti began: “At 9am this morning, operations began regularly at the Teutonic cemetery as part of the investigative tasks of the Orlandi case. As indicated in the decree of the Promoter of Justice of Vatican City State, the operations concern two ossuaries identified in an area adjacent to the tombs of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe and Princess Carlotta Federica of Mecklenburg.

“The remains were analyzed and studied on site in these hours by Prof. Giovanni Arcudi and his staff in the presence of the trusted expert appointed by the Orlandi family – according to internationally recognized protocols.

“It is not possible to predict, at the moment, the duration of the work to complete the morphological analysis of the remains found in the ossuaries.

“Today, in addition to Prof. Arcudi and his staff, the staff of the Fabbrica di San Pietro are working in the Teutonic Campo Santo for the opening and closing of the ossuaries and the staff of the COS, the Vatican Gendarme Security Operations Center. Present the Promoter of Justice of the Court of the State of the Vatican City, Prof. Gian Piero Milano, and his Deputy Prof. Alessandro Diddi, the lawyer of the Orlandi Family and the Officer in charge of the services of the judicial police of the Corps of the Gendarmerie.

“With this new forensic activity – after the operations of July 11 – the availability of the Holy See to the Orlandi Family is highlighted once again. An availability shown from the outset to accepting the (family) requests for verification (of possible remains) in the Teutonic cemetery, even on the basis of a mere anonymous report.

The second statement this afternoon noted that, “At 3 pm, work in the Teutonic cemetery was concluded as part of the investigative tasks of the Orlandi case. Prof. Giovanni Arcudi and his staff – in the presence of the trusted expert appointed by the Orlandi Family – brought to light the remains present in the ossuaries, which were subjected to an initial evaluation.
“According to the Office of the Promoter of Justice of the Vatican City State Court, the expert operations will continue on Saturday July 27, at 9 am, with an in-depth morphological analysis of the remains contained in the ossuaries.”