An interesting article today by Vatican News on the background of weekly papal general audiences. Pope Frances resumed this weekly encounter today at the end of his brief working vacation in the Vatican. As he has done for months because of Covid-19, the catechesis was live-streamed from the papal library in the Apostolic Palace. Following that piece is a summary of Francis’ new weekly catechesis on “Healing the World.”

Come spend several minutes with me as we go to Assisi to celebrate today’s feast of St. Clare of Assisi. We visit the church named for her and venerate her perfectly preserved remains: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZkyGvWcJrE


By Vatican News

Pope Francis’s summer break is over. As of Wednesday, August 5th, Pope Francis resumed his weekly general audiences, which he suspends annually in July. The last public general audience held in the Paul VI audience hall took place on March 7.

These audiences begin at 9:30 local Rome time and last for about one hour. After public general audiences, Pope Francis customarily greets a number of people.

After the last public audience in March, the Vatican moved the audiences from St. Peter’s Square to the library of the Apostolic Palace in order to comply with measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. On March 18, for the first time, Vatican News began offering an English commentary for the general audience.

As Pope Francis again picks up his weekly general audience, it will be his 318th catechesis. The only other time outside of July (vacation) that general audiences are suspended are during the papal trips. As soon as Pope Francis returns from such a trip, he always recaps his journey. Sometimes this happens the day following his return.

During the general audience, the Pope gives a catechesis on the Christian faith. Short summaries of these catecheses are translated into 7 languages: French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Polish. Longer summaries of these catecheses are published on Vatican News and full texts can be found on the official Vatican web portal.

The general audiences can be viewed live with playback available on the various language channels of the Vatican Media YouTube channel.

So far, Pope Francis has completed 15 catechesis series. The first series was on the Creed, a theme he took up from his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. Themes that followed this series were on: the Sacraments, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Church, the family, mercy, Christian hope, the Ten Commandments, the Our Father, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Beatitudes. The last cycle he began is on Christian prayer.

Sometimes, Pope Francis makes appeals at the conclusion of the general audience. Some of these appeals call for peace in areas ravaged by war and terror, others remind us of the plight of persecuted Christians, some appeal for Christian solidarity with victims of natural disasters, or draw attention to tragedies such as migration, unemployment or poverty. In his General Audience prior to the summer break, he prayed for the victims of an earthquake in Mexico. On June 10, he took the opportunity to condemn the tragedy of child labor.

Pope Paul VI held the weekly general audience in St Peter’s Basilica. When the Vatican audience hall was inaugurated on June 30, 1971 Pope Paul VI said: “We inaugurate this beautiful and large hall that We wanted to build above all for two reasons: to free St. Peter’s Basilica from the large and vivacious crowds that had become normal, and to offer Our visitors an even more suitable place for large gatherings.”

In 1963, Pope Paul VI commissioned the building of what would later become known as the Paul VI Hall. It seats 6300 people and is still used for general audiences in extreme cold or when it rains. In 2007, solar panels were installed on its roof.

With Pope John Paul II’s pontificate, attendance at the weekly general audience went beyond the capacity of Paul VI Hall. To deal with the huge crowds who wanted to attend them, the venue was moved St. Peter’s Square. In fact, as Pope John Paul II was entering St. Peter’s Square for the general audience of May 13, 1981 that an attempt was made on his life.

The coronavirus pandemic has now made this impossible. However, through radio, television and digital platforms, the Pope’s general audience is made available to millions of the faithful throughout the world with simultaneous commentary in French, German, English, Spanish and Portuguese.


Live streaming once again from the papal library in the Apostolic Palace, as he has done throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis today began a new series of weekly catecheses and announced the themes for coming weeks as well.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” began the Holy Father, “In responding to the grave challenges caused by the present pandemic, we Christians are guided by the wisdom and strength born of the virtues of faith, hope and love. As God’s gifts, these virtues heal us and enable us in turn to bring Christ’s healing presence to our world.”

He then noted that these theological virtues, “can inspire in us a new and creative spirit to help us face today’s deeply rooted physical, social and spiritual infirmities and change the unjust and destructive behaviors that threaten the future of our human family.”

Francis said that, “today the Church seeks to continue the Lord’s healing ministry, not only to individuals but also to society as a whole. She does this by proposing a number of principles drawn from the Gospel that include the dignity of the human person, the common good, the preferential option for the poor, the universal destination of goods, solidarity, subsidiarity and the care for our common home.”

Pope Francis concluded his catechesis by noting the themes for future weekly encounters: “In coming weeks, I will reflect on these and other themes of the Church’s social doctrine, confident that they can shed light on today’s acute social problems and contribute to the building of a future of hope for coming generations.”

At the end of language greetings to pilgrims tuning in to the audience, Pope Francis prayed for Lebanon in the aftermath of the explosion in Beirut on Tuesday.

“Yesterday in Beirut, near the port, there were massive explosions causing dozens of deaths, wounding thousands and causing serious destruction. Let us pray for the victims, for their families; and let us pray for Lebanon so that, through the dedication of all its social, political and religious elements, it might face this extremely tragic and painful moment and, with the help of the international community, overcome the grave crisis they are experiencing.”

According to local authorities, the explosion was caused by tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse in the port of Lebanon’s capital.