Pope Francis on Thursday met participants of the Fifth International Course of Formation of Catholic Military Chaplains on International Humanitarian Law. He tells them to spare no effort to make sure the norms of international humanitarian law are accepted in the hearts of those entrusted to their pastoral care.

Greeting the participants of this week’s formation course entitled, “The Loss of Personal Freedom in the Context of Armed Conflicts: The Mission of the Military Chaplain,” Pope Francis began by reiterating the need “to reject the temptation of viewing the other as merely an enemy to be destroyed, and not as a person endowed with intrinsic dignity, created by God in his image.”

The violation of rights
He added that, “often, persons detained in the context of armed conflicts are victims of violations of their fundamental rights.”

How many civilians, the Pope said, “have been kidnapped, forcibly disappeared and killed. Among these, we can count numerous men and women religious of whom we hear nothing more…”

Pope Francis pointed out that “respect for the dignity and physical integrity of the human person, in fact, cannot depend upon the actions they have done, but is a moral duty to which every person and every authority is called.”

During his address, the Pontiff encouraged the ordinaries and military chaplains present, to spare no effort to make sure the norms of international humanitarian law are accepted in the hearts of those entrusted to their pastoral care.

Educational commitment
The Pope stressed in particular the need for “an educational effort alongside that of families and Christian communities.” He further described how this “involves instilling the values of friendship, understanding, tolerance, goodness, and respect for all persons.” He also said, it meant, “forming young people who are sensitive to other cultures and their richness and committed to a global citizenship, in order to promote the growth of the one great human family.”

Geneva Convention
Concluding his address, Pope Francis highlighted the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.

He said that on this 70th anniversary, he wanted to “reaffirm the importance the Holy See gives to international humanitarian law and to express the hope that its norms will be respected in every circumstance. …The latter should be further clarified and reinforced where appropriate, especially with regard to non-international armed conflicts, and in particular with regard to the protection of persons deprived of freedom because of these conflicts.” (Vatican News)


The following decree was issued today by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments:

DECREE on the celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto to be inscribed in the General Roman Calendar

Since the Middle Ages veneration for the Holy House of Loreto has been the origin of that particular shrine which still today is visited by many faithful pilgrims in order to nourish their faith in the Word of God made flesh for us.

This shrine recalls the mystery of the Incarnation, leading all those who visit it to consider “the fullness of time”, when God sent his Son, born of a woman, as well as to meditate both on the words of the Angel announcing the Good News and on the words of the Virgin in response to the divine call. Overshadowed by the Spirit, the humble handmaid of the Lord so became the dwelling place of divinity, the purist image of the holy Church.

Closely bound to the Apostolic See this shrine, praised by Popes and known throughout the world, has, over the years and no less than Nazareth in the Holy Land, been able to illustrate powerfully the evangelical virtues of the Holy Family.

In the Holy House, before the image of the Mother of the Redeemer and of the Church, Saints and Blesseds have responded to their vocation, the sick have invoked consolation in suffering, the people of God have begun to praise and plead with Mary using the Litany of Loreto, which is known throughout the world. In a particular way all those who travel via aircraft have found in her their heavenly patron.

In light of this, Pope Francis has decreed, by his own authority, that the optional memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto should be inscribed in the Roman Calendar on 10 December, the day on which the feast falls in Loreto, and celebrated every year. This celebration will help all people, especially families, youth and religious to imitate the virtues of that perfect disciple of the Gospel, the Virgin Mother, who, in conceiving the Head of the Church also accepted us as her own.

Therefore the new memorial must appear in all Calendars and Liturgical Books for the celebration of Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours; the relative texts are attached to this decree and their translations, approved by the Episcopal Conferences, will be published after confirmation by this Dicastery.

Anything to the contrary nothwithstanding.

From the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 7 October 2019, the memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Rosary.

Robert Card. Sarah, Prefect – +Arthur Roche Archbishop, Secretary



“At 10.30 am today, during a ceremony in the Governorate of Vatican City State, the former commander of the Gendarmerie Corps, Domenico Giani, was awarded the title of Knight Grand Cross of the Pian Order, the highest honor reserved for the laity by the Holy See.

“The decoration was given to him on behalf of the Holy Father by His Eminence Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, in the presence of the Deputy Secretary of State Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, the Secretary of the Governorate, Bishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, the new Commander of the Corps of the Gendarmerie, Gianluca Gauzzi Broccoletti, and the Deputy Commander, Davide Giulietti.

“During the ceremony, Cardinal Bertello expressed his appreciation for the work done by Domenico Giani and the gratitude of the Holy Father, the Governorate and the Secretariat of State, for the long years of faithful service to the Church and to the Successor of Peter.”

(JFL: This order of papal knighthood is also known as the Order of Pope Pius IX. The Ordine Piano (Pian Ordine) was originally founded by Pope Pius IV in 1560, fell into disuse and was re-established by Pope Pius IX in 1847. In November 1993, Pope John Paul allowed that it be also granted to women.)

Last evening, October 29, in the Sala Regia of the Apostolic Palace, there was a presentation of a volume by Dominique Henneresse that is the first compendium of all decorations and honors given by the Holy See. The book, in French, is entitled “Orders and Decorations of the Holy See.”

In an interview with Vatican News, the volume was described by a specialist in phaleristics (JFL: the science devoted to the study and collecting of the insignia of orders of chivalry and of merit; medals and other decorations), Fabio Cassani Pironti, who underlined the choice of the cover image, the collar of the Pian Order, the highest honor of the Holy See at this time, “the only one that does not represent a cross” so that it also may be granted to heads of State and governments of countries of non-Christian religion.

He emphasized that the volume, “Ordres et décorations du Saint-Siège” is absolutely “the first work that collects all the decorations that have been granted by the Popes since the beginning of the second millennium” and “collects many medals that they had never been catalogued.” In fact, for chivalrous orders there are many publications but “for medals such a complete work had never been done, with 1900 images.”


If you attended this morning’s weekly general audience, you heard Pope Francis deliver a catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles and St. Paul’s travels and appeal to Iraqis to pursue dialogue in the face of violence in their country and saw him bless two statues of Our Lady of Lujan, one for the UK, a second for Argentina.


Pope Francis during his weekly General Audience says the Holy Spirit is the protagonist of the Church’s mission.

By Lydia O’Kane (vaticannews)

Despite pilgrims and tourists having their umbrellas to the ready for Wednesday’s general audience, the brief drizzle that descended on St Peter’s Square eventually turned into a clear sky as Pope Francis reflected on his continuing catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles.

He told those gathered that in this book, one can see how “the Holy Spirit is the protagonist of the Church’s mission: it is He who guides the journey of the evangelizers showing them the path to follow.”

St Paul’s missionary journey
The Pope said this can be clearly seen when the Apostle Paul, having come to Troad, receives a vision begging him to come to Macedonia and help the people there. The Apostle, said Pope Francis, has no hesitation; he leaves for Macedonia, sure that it is God Himself who sends him, and arrives in Philippi.

The conversion of Lydia
The Pontiff explained to those present that the power of the Gospel is directed above all to the women of Philippi, in particular to Lydia, a merchant dealing in purple dye, and a believer in God to whom the Lord opens her heart “to adhere to the words of Paul”.

Lydia, continued Pope Francis in fact, “welcomes Christ by receiving Baptism together with her family and welcomes those who belong to Christ, hosting Paul and Silas in her house. … Here we have the witness of the arrival of Christianity in Europe: the beginning of a process of inculturation that still lasts today.” he said.

The Pope went on to describe how, after having received hospitality at Lydia’s house, Paul and Silas then find themselves having to deal with the harshness of prison. He remarked that they go from the consolation of this conversion of Lydia and her family, to the desolation of prison where the key is thrown away for having healed a slave girl in the name of Jesus.

Speaking off the cuff, the Pope said that this slave’s masters made much money out of getting her to tell people’s fortunes.

Even today, Pope Francis commented, “there are people who pay for this” recalling that in his former diocese, in a very large park, there were more than 60 tables where fortune tellers read palms and people believed and paid.

Prison and a jailer’s baptism
By praying fervently to the Lord, said the Pope, “Paul and Silas are freed of their chains by a sudden earthquake. This prompts their jailer to ask how he too can be saved, and after hearing the word of the Lord, he receives baptism together with his family.”

Concluding his catechesis, the Pope underlined how “in these events we see the working of the Holy Spirit and the unchained power of the Gospel.”


Pope Francis appeals to all citizens of Iraq to pursue the path of dialogue and reconciliation in search of solutions, after nearly a week of renewed anti-government protests that have left hundreds of people dead.
By Devin Watkins (vatcannews)

At least 250 people have died throughout Iraq in connection with massive anti-government protests during the month of October.

On Monday, masked gunmen murdered 18 protesters and wounded over 800 others in the Shiite holy city of Karbala. Protesters said they were unsure if the gunmen were special forces, riot police, or militias backed by Iran.

Dialogue and reconciliation

Pope Francis sent his thoughts to all Iraqis on Wednesday and appealed for both the government and protesters to pursue the path of dialogue. He was speaking at the end of the weekly general audience.

“As I express my condolences for the victims and my closeness to their families and the wounded, I invite the authorities to listen to the cry of the people who are asking for a dignified and peaceful life,” said the Pope. “I urge all Iraqis, with the support of the international community, to pursue the path of dialogue and reconciliation and to seek the right solutions to the challenges and problems of the country.”

Pope Francis also assured the nation’s people of his constant prayer that they “may find peace and stability after so many years of war and violence, in which they have suffered so much.”

“Where are Iraq’s riches?”
Bishop Shelmon Warduni, the president of Caritas Iraq, voiced his appreciation for the Pope’s appeal, in an interview with Vatican Radio.

The emeritus auxiliary bishop of Baghdad called on Iraq’s leaders to stop protecting their own interests and “their own pockets” but rather to think about their citizens who are poorly treated.

He urged the international community to pay attention to those poor people “who studied hard but can’t find work.” Bishop Warduni said Iraqis are protesting to demand that their rights be respected by “a government that exploits its own people. … How is it possible for Iraq to be so rich – so rich – but the people are still forced to cry out for work?”

Corruption breeding discontent
Widespread discontent over economic hardship and corruption sparked the first wave of protests earlier in October in which 149 people were killed. A second wave of anti-government demonstrations began on Friday. At least 73 people have died since then.

The unrest is centered in Shiite-majority areas, and most of the anger seems directed at Shiite political parties and militias, which are often supported by neighboring Iran.


During the general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis met bishops of the Armed Forces – the military ordinariate – from both the UK and Argentina where they exchanged a replica of the statue of Our Lady of Luján, which was brought to the UK by British troops during the Falkland War in 1982.

During the ceremony in St Peter’s Square, two copies were blessed by Pope Francis.

The statue of the Virgin Mary, Patroness of Argentina, will be returned to its native country. A replica will be presented to the Catholic Military Cathedral of St. Michael and St. George in Aldershot, England.

After his installation as bishop of the Armed Forces, Bishop Mason was contacted by Bishop Olivera, who asked if the statue could be returned.

The offer of a replica for the Aldershot Cathedral was also made, which Bishop Paul was more than happy to accept.

The story goes that when Argentinian troops invaded the Falkland Islands in April 1982, they brought with them the statue, a copy of the 1630 original, which is located in the Basilica of Lujan in Argentina.

St. John Paul II visited the original statue in Luján in 1982.

The statue which was left behind in a Church in Port Stanley was then packed up on a military transport to the UK and ended up at the Catholic Military Cathedral of St Michael and St George in Aldershot.

It has stayed there since as a focus for prayer offered for the fallen of both sides of the Falklands conflict.


I started to prepare this piece some time ago and, with the avalanche of news from and about the Amazon synod and a host of friends and family members in town, dining out, etc. time just ran out to finish what I had started. Tuesdays are often quiet in the Vatican as the Pope prepares his Wednesday general audience catechesis, and there is little or no news from Vatican offices, so today seemed like a good time to share a pretty amazing story. Enjoy the slide show!


The celebrated Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University has many fans, supporters and cheerleaders throughout the world and one such very enthusiastic group is the Gregorian University Foundation with offices in Canada, the U.S. and Rome. Members usually come to Rome once a year and I have been privileged to join these wonderful sponsors over the last two years.

The annual agenda usually includes the Mass that open the university’s academic year, several other Masses in some of the Eternal City’s most famous churches, meetings with the Greg’s (the university’s nickname) students, staff and faculty, and meetings with Vatican officials as well. Naturally there are some lovely luncheons, dinners and receptions on the agenda!

I joined the GUF members on Monday, October 7 for the Mass to open the academic year at 4:30 in the church of St. Ignatius. There was a huge presence of Jesuit priests, faculty, staff and students at this Eucharistic celebration and the liturgy itself was beautiful – SRO when all was said and done. A reception at the nearby Bellarmine College followed Mass, after which Foundation members were to celebrate a special dinner just yards down the street from Sant’Ignazio.

Anyone who knows me knows that ‘speechless’ is not usually a term used to describe me!

Well, you should have been next to me as we entered the Oratory of St. Francis Xavier where our catered dinner was served! I have lived here for decades and somehow missed this jewel of a church – but then there are over 450 churches in Rome!

I was speechless because we were dining in a divine location. I was speechless at the beauty and speechless that I had never been here before. Actually we were all without words!

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No one seemed to know the history so I went to wikipedia and here is part of its description:

The Oratory of San Francesco Saverio del Caravita (St. Francis Xavier “del Caravita”) is a 17th-century baroque oratory in Rome near the Church of Sant’Ignazio (St. Ignatius) in the Pigna neighborhood. It is home to the Caravita Community, an international English-language Catholic community in Rome.

The current oratory was built by the Jesuit Pietro Gravita from 1631-1633 with the financial support of a number of noble families who resided in the neighborhood near the Pantheon. Construction was inaugurated on 8 September 1631 with the blessing of Bishop Emilio Altieri, an alumnus of the Collegio Romano and Bishop of Camerino, La Marche, from 1627-1666.

Created a cardinal in 1669, Bishop Altieri was elected Pope Clement X in 1670.
The oratory was originally dedicated to Santa Maria della Pietà (Our Lady of Pity) in addition to the great Jesuit missionary Saint Francis Xavier. It was the first nocturnal oratory in Rome.

Father Gravita was from Terni, and the difference in dialect was apparently enough that the Romans changed the pronunciation of his name to ‘Caravita’. After his death in 1658, the oratory also became known as the oratory “of the Caravita”.

One of the first purposes of the Oratory of St. Francis Xavier was the Missione Urbana, a Jesuit outreach funded by charitable donation, focused on the evangelization and catechesis of farmers and others who came into the Roman markets from the outlying farmlands, which lacked proper pastoral care.

In 1773, with the suppression of the Society of Jesus, the oratory was under the care of the Fathers of the Holy Faith (later called “Fathers of the Faith of Jesus”) who attempted to maintain the Ignatian vision and mission strategy in the absence of the Jesuits. After the restoration of the society in 1813, the Oratory was used as the center of activity for all Jesuit lay associations in Rome, until falling into disuse in 1925.

Of particular interest are the seventeenth century benches along the wall that are of sculpted walnut.




With an Apostolic Letter motu proprio dated October 22, 2019 and released today by the Vatican, Pope Francis has changed the name of the Vatican Secret Archives to the Vatican Apostolic Archives.

The motu proprio starts: “Historical experience teaches that every human institution, even born with the greatest care and with vigorous and well-founded hopes of progress, fatally touched by time and yet, wanting to remain faithful to itself and to the aims of its nature, feels the need, not to change its proper appearance, but rather to bring its inspiring values into different eras and cultures and to make those updates that are convenient and sometimes necessary.”

The Apostolic Letter then outlines a history of the Vatican library, the archives, their mission and purpose and the priceless service both have given to the Church over the centuries:

“This long service rendered to the Church, to culture and to scholars all over the world has always earned the Vatican Secret Archives esteem and gratitude, growing all the more growing from Leo XIII to our day, and because of the progressive ‘openings’ of the documentation made available to the consultation (which from next March 2, 2020, at my disposal, will extend until the end of the pontificate of Pius XII), both because of the increase in researchers who are admitted to the Archive on a daily basis and helped in every way in their research.”

Pope Francis then writes: “However, there is one aspect that I think may still be useful to update, reaffirming the ecclesial and cultural goals of the Archive’s mission. This aspect concerns the very name of the institute: Vatican Secret Archives.

“Born, as mentioned, from the Bibliotheca secreta of the Roman Pontiff, or rather from the part of codes and scriptures more particularly owned and under the direct jurisdiction of the Pope, the Archive was first titled Archivum novum, then Archivum Apostolicum, then Archivum Secretum (the first attestations of the term date back to around 1646).

“The term Secretum, which came to form the proper denomination of the institution, prevailed in the last few centuries and was justified because it indicated that the new Archive, wanted by my predecessor Paul V around 1610-1612, was none other than the private archive, separate, reserved by the Pope. So this is how Popes wanted to define it and scholars today still call it, without any difficulty. This definition, moreover, was widespread, with a similar meaning, in the courts of the sovereigns and princes, whose archives were properly defined as secret.”

Thus, writes the Holy Father, “Solicited in recent years by some esteemed prelates, as well as by my closest collaborators, I also heard the opinion of the Superiors of the same Vatican Secret Archive, (and) with this my Motu Proprio, I decide that: from now on the current Vatican Secret Archives, while changing nothing in its identity, its structure and its mission, is called the Vatican Apostolic Archives.”

Francis closes the Apostolic Letter by noting that, “the new name highlights the close link of the Roman See with the Archive, an indispensable tool of the Petrine ministry, and at the same time underlines its immediate dependence on the Roman Pontiff, thus as already happens in parallel for the name of the Vatican Apostolic Library.”


Representatives of the Abrahamic monotheistic religions condemn euthanasia and assisted suicide, and encourage palliative care everywhere and for everyone.

By Robin Gomes (vatiannews)

“We oppose any form of euthanasia – that is the direct, deliberate and intentional act of taking life – as well as physician-assisted suicide – that is the direct, deliberate and intentional support of committing suicide -because they fundamentally contradict the inalienable value of human life, and therefore are inherently and consequentially morally and religiously wrong, and should be forbidden without exceptions.”

Representatives of the Abrahamic religions made the statement in a position paper that they signed and released in the Vatican on Monday regarding end-of-life issues, such as euthanasia, assisted suicide and palliative care.

The term, Abrahamic monotheistic religions, derives from the Old Testament biblical figure Abraham who is recognized by Jews, Christians, Muslims and others.

Euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide – morally and religiously wrong
“Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide,” they declared, “are inherently and consequentially morally and religiously wrong and should be forbidden with no exceptions.” As such, they categorically condemned any pressure upon dying patients to end their lives by active and deliberate actions.

They wrote, “Care for the dying, is both part of our stewardship of the Divine gift of life when a cure is no longer possible, as well as our human and ethical responsibility toward the dying (and often) suffering patient.”

“Holistic and respectful care of the person,” they said, “must recognize the uniquely human, spiritual and religious dimension of dying as a fundamental objective.”

The person behind the declaration is Rabbi Avraham Steinberg of Israel who proposed the idea to Pope Francis, who in turn entrusted it to the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life. Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the president of the Academy, involved and coordinated a mixed inter-faith group to draft the declaration.

After the release of the position paper, the 30 signatories were received in audience by Pope Francis in the Vatican. Among them were some cardinals, rabbis, including David Rosen and Syamsul Anwar of Indonesia’s second-largest Islamic organization, Muhammadiyah.

Palliative care for all
The Abrahamic religions encouraged and expressed support for qualified palliative care everywhere and for everyone. “Even when efforts to continue staving off death seems unreasonably burdensome,” they wrote, “we are morally and religiously duty-bound to provide comfort, effective pain and symptoms relief, companionship, care and spiritual assistance to the dying patient and to her/his family.”

While calling for laws and policies that protect the rights and the dignity of the dying patient to avoid euthanasia and promote palliative care, they committed themselves to involve other religions and all people of goodwill.

Archbishop Paglia stressed the importance of the ecumenical and interreligious dimension of the joint initiative. He said it allowed them to discover areas of convergence and bring fruits of communion in order to render a service to all people in whom “we all see sons and daughters of God”.



At 7 this evening, the Holy See Press Office released a summary in Italian of the work this afternoon of the 15th general congregation of the Amazon Synod. Here is my English translation:

#SinodoAmazonico. In the presence of Pope Francis, the 15th General Congregation of the Special Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian Region was held in the afternoon of October 25 and saw the presentation of the Final Document and the election of members of the post-synod council. 182 Synod Fathers were present.

Vatican News – Vatican City

There are 13 members of the Council for the implementation of the Special Assembly of the Amazonia who were elected this afternoon by an absolute majority. Their names represent the main countries that make up the Region: 4 from Brazil, 2 from Bolivia, 2 from Colombia, 2 from Peru, 1 from the Antilles, 1 from Venezuela and 1 from Ecuador. To these elected members will be three more of pontifical appointment. The council will have the task of proceeding with the implementation of the Synod’s instructions.

Presentation of the Document. Immediately after the vote, the 15th Congregation saw the General Relator of the Synod as well as the president of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, present the final work document in the hall. In introducing the text, the cardinal highlighted the great work carried out by the Commission for the drafting of the document, as well as by the Minor Circles that presented numerous amendments. The text, he said, is inserted into a moment of ecological emergency in which it is necessary to act and not postpone. The preservation of the Amazon is fundamental, he added, for the health of the planet and the Church is aware of this, aware of the fact that an integral conversion is needed for an integral ecology. The Church, in fact, listens to the cry of the peoples of Amazonia and the cry of the earth, which are the same cry, an expression also of great hope. The Synod, the cardinal concluded, serves to reach ecclesial communion, with Peter and under the guidance of the Pope.

Tomorrow the vote. On the morning of Saturday 26 October, the Synod Fathers will be able to dedicate themselves to an individual re-reading of the text, while in the afternoon, during the 16th General Congregation, the vote will proceed. Finally, according to the tradition of the Synodal Assemblies, the Pope offered a special gift to all the Synod participants: the medal of his pontificate for the year 2019 depicting the Amazon.



Following is a communique from the Holy See Press Office with a transcription of words pronounced off the cuff by Pope Francis this afternoon during the 15th General Congregation at the end of the prayer:

“Good afternoon, I would like to say a word about the statues of the pachamama that were removed from the Traspontina church which were there without idolatrous intentions and were thrown to the Tiber. First of all this happened in Rome and as a bishop of the diocese I ask forgiveness from the people who have been offended by this gesture.

I want to announce that the statues, which have created so much media hype, have been found in the Tiber. The statues are not damaged. The commander of the Italian carabinieri asked that he be informed of this news before it became public. At the moment the news is confidential and the statues are kept in the office of the Italian carabinieri commander.

The carabinieri commander will be happy to follow up on any indication regarding how the news is published and about other initiatives in this regard, for example, “the display of the statues during the closing Mass of the Synod.” We will see. I delegate the Secretary of State to respond to this. This is good news, thanks.