Today is the first day of summer and the first day of a kind of rebirth. The block-long apartment building in which I live has been shrouded in canvas-covered scaffolding since the start of October 2020 – the front and back façades and the two sides of the building, a huge undertaking. Today, for the first time since then I can see my beloved dome of St. Peter’s Basilica as 90 percent of the scaffolding on the front of the building has come down!

Serious work is now being done on the back of the building where all of our balconies are located. I have three rooms in the back of the building, each of which has a balcony. However, as lovely as that might sound, there is no great view to enjoy and balconies get dirty and dusty so fast that no one ever uses them for just sitting and visiting with friends or sharing a cappuccino or glass of wine.

A downside in the work on the back of the building is that the outside units of my AC have all been covered so, until the work is finished and scaffolding comes down, I can’t turn on the air conditioning. And today it was 92!

As the expression goes, this too will pass!   Another thing to offer the Lord for the poor souls in purgatory!

We did get new elevator in the building renovation process and if nothing else had been done to the building, that was worth the inconvenience! In the old elevator, you opened one outside door and two small doors to enter the cabin. You reversed that once inside. Then you repeated the entire procedure when you got to your floor. So, all told, you opened and closed 12 doors in one trip! And now it is all automatic! Welcome to the 21st century!

Will soon post some photos of the building before and after the reno.

THE POPE’S DAY: Shortly after 8:45 this morning at the Santa Marta residence, Pope Francis met a group of about 20 inmates from Rome’s Rebibbia prison. Accompanied by the prison director, the chaplain and some officials, the group subsequently went to visit the Vatican Museums. (from Holy See Press Office)


The Holy See’s humanitarian arm for the Oriental Churches kicked off its plenary meeting on Monday with ROACO’s attention going to the Holy Land, Ethiopia, Armenia, and Georgia in particular.

By Devin Watkins (Vatican news)

The Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO) began its 94th plenary assembly on Monday afternoon at the Casa Bonus Pastor in Rome.

The annual meeting runs until Thursday.

In a press release today, the Congregation for the Oriental Churches laid out the schedule for the 4-day assembly.

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation and ROACO President, will preside over the opening Eucharist on Tuesday, during which all the agencies donor will be prayed for.

The Mass also serves to entrust “to the Lord and the intercession of the Blessed Mother of God the progress of the scheduled sessions and especially countries which continue to suffer because of violence and social and political instability made worse by the ongoing pandemic.”

Concern for Holy Land

Tuesday morning’s sessions will be dedicated to the situation in the Holy Land, as well as ROACO’s work to assist people in the area. (vatican media photo)

Church leaders presenting on the topic include the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, and the Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University, Br. Peter Bray.

Participants will also be informed about the 2020 Collection Pro Terra Sancta.

Ethiopia, Armenia, Georgia

In the afternoon, ROACO’s attention shifts to the situation in Ethiopia to be presented by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Antoine Camilleri.

Ethiopia’s Tigray region saw a devastating conflict near the end of 2020 and into this year. The UN recently reported that Tigray is home to some 30,000 children who are severely malnourished, with over 400,000 people facing famine in the region.

The afternoon session will also focus on Armenia and Georgia, through an intervention from Archbishop José Avelino Bettencourt, the Apostolic Nuncio to both nations.

Middle Eastern region

On Wednesday, participants in the plenary session will turn their focus to the entire Middle East, concentrating especially on Syria and Iraq.

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, will speak at the assembly, along with the Pope’s representatives in Syria (Cardinal Mario Zenari), Lebanon (Archbishop Joseph Spiteri), and Iraq (Archbishop Mitja Leskovar).