Monday night, the Pontifical North American College was the site of the Rome premiere of the film, “Mother Teresa, No Greater Love,” on the life and heroic times of a diminutive woman who was a giant when it came to loving, St. Teresa of Calcutta.

Present at the premiere were a number of Missionaries of Charity, those wonderful sisters who follow in this saint’s footsteps, doing the same loving. heroic work that she did, day in and day out.

Cardinals Timothy Dolan and Edwin O’Brien, former rectors of the North American College were also present, as were numerous seminarians, Jonathan Roumie who portrays Jesus in the series, “The Chosen,” Patrick Kelly, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus and David Naglieri, writer and director of “No Greater Love.”

Teresa of Calcutta’s love was a no-holds-barred love that embraced all of God’s children but absolutely above all, “the least of God’s children,” the heart-wrenchingly poor and destitute, the forgotten and rejected ones such as the disabled, victims of leprosy, the starving, those who were left to die in the hovels they called home or on the streets of their villages or towns, on the peripheries of large, well-to-do urban centers where people truly did not care about the “people they could not see.”

One of the most powerful films I have ever seen, “No Greater Love” was produced by the Knights of Columbus to mark the 25th anniversary of her death on September 5, 1997.

As the official website says: “Twenty-five years have passed since the death of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, sparking a renewed interest in this spiritual giant of the 20th century. Filmed on 5 continents and featuring unprecedented access to both institutional archives and the apostles of the missionaries of charity, this film reveals not just who a Mother Teresa was, but how her singular vision to serve Christ in the poor continues to be realized through the missionaries of charity today This is far more than a documentary film it is at once a soaring tribute To a spiritual icon, a powerful witness of authentic Christian charity command charity, and a guidepost for all who seek hope in our turbulent times.”

There are so many heart-stopping moments in this brilliantly and tastefully done documentary. Moments that make you understand what heroic virtues and sainthood really mean. Moments that make you seriously reflect on what it means to love, without question, without hesitation, without limits. Moments that make you ask yourself: Could I ever do that?

You start to realize that it is was an abundance of God’s grace that enabled this humble woman to hug a victim of leprosy, embrace a person whose body is wracked by sores and disease or simply to hold the emaciated hand of a dying man. After all, more than once Mother Teresa said what she did was not about her – it was about those she loved and helped.

In one scene, as Mother Teresa was entering a room of a place in New York soon to be one of her centers, a woman who had benefited from Teresa’s love and care, remarked how a room changed with Teresa walked in.

What came to my mind in that moment was the Transfiguration, a powerful encounter, a pivotal man-meets-God meeting that transformed the apostles. And, while not going into the deep theological significance of the Transfiguration, I couldn’t help but think that a powerful encounter, a pivotal moment, was what happened when Mother Teresa walked into a room.

The movie will be shown in 940 theaters in the United States for two days only, Monday, October 3 and Tuesday, October 4. Go here for tickets: Mother Teresa: No Greater Love | Fathom Events

The official website (where you can watch a trailer): Mother Teresa: No Greater Love Film – HOME (motherteresamovie.com)


Pope Francis’ September Prayer intention: For Abolition of the Death Penalty Pope’s September prayer intention: For abolition of the death penalty – Vatican News

The Vatican paper today dedicated a portion of the front page to a large photo of former Russian leader Mikhail Gorbaciov who has died at the age of 91. Calling him “a humanistic visionary,” L’Osservatore Romano reflected on his role in the history of Russia that led to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and to the two meetings that Pope John Paul had with Gorbaciov in 1989 and 1990.

I had only been working at the Vatican for several months in November 1990 but I was invited to be part of a small group of people to be present when John Paul and Gorbaciov met. We were in a hall near the papal study and I can remember today what I felt when a door opened and, not 8 feet from where I was standing, stood Pope John Paul and Gorbaciov! I knew I was living an extraordinary moment of history and was thrilled to be in the presence of two men who had brought about that moment, the events that truly changed so much of the world.

I was not a photojournalist so did not always have a camera at my beck and call like we do today. No cell phones in those days, so no personal photos – just my mind’s eye image of that moment in time.


Pope Francis began the weekly general audience by explaining that, “today we begin a new series of catecheses dealing with discernment, the process of making sound decisions about the meaning and direction of our lives.”

“In the Gospels,” he said, “Jesus uses everyday discernment practised by fishermen and merchants to teach the importance of wisely choosing to live a life in accordance with God’s will.” Jesus highlights how fishermen know how to choose – to discern – the better fish and how a merchant will know how to select – to discern – the better pearl.

“Authentic discernment,” stated the Holy Father, “calls for knowledge, insight and experience but also the wisdom of the heart, firm commitment and unremitting effort. … One chooses food, clothing, a course of study, a job, a relationship. In all of these, a life project is realized, and so is our relationship with God.”

“Discernment involves hard work. According to the Bible, we do not find set before us the life we are to live. God invites us to evaluate and choose. He created us free and wants us to exercise our freedom. Therefore, discerning is demanding.”

“As an exercise of our God-given freedom, spiritual discernment seeks to know our place in the Creator’s plan for ourselves and for our world. For our decisions, good or evil, can make the earth either, as God intends, a magnificent garden or a lifeless desert.”

The Pope noted how, “true discernment, born of our loving relationship with God and our human freedom, brings with it a deep spiritual joy and fulfilment. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten and guide us in our daily efforts to live lives of holiness, wisdom and fidelity to the saving truth of the Gospel.

He added that making the best choice between a set of options also involves our emotions, since a well-made choice can bring us great joy.


In the various language greetings that always follow the weekly audience catechesis, Pope Francis spoke off the cuff to Polish pilgrims today, saying, “Tomorrow you will remember the anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, which so painfully marked the Polish nation. And today we are experiencing the Third. May the memory of past experiences push you to cultivate peace in yourselves, in families, in social and international life.” “May Mary support you,” he added, “in your daily choice of goodness, justice and solidarity with the needy, generating hope, joy and interior freedom in your hearts. I bless you with all my heart.” And he invited them to pray in a special way for Ukraine.

Many times in the past, speaking of wars and outbreaks of violence in different part of the world, Pope Francis has used the expression “World War III,” saying this is happening in “bits and pieces.”

Also Remembering Iraq

At the end of the general audience catechesis, the Holy Father said, “I am following with concern the violent events in Baghdad in recent days. Let us ask God in prayer to give peace to the Iraqi people. Last year I had the joy of visiting, and I felt at first hand the great desire for normality and peaceful coexistence among the different religious communities that make it up. Dialogue and fraternity are the way to face the current difficulties and reach this goal.”




Yesterday, I wrote about the courtesy visits that take place after a consistory in which new cardinals are created, visits at which the new red hats, as they are often called, receive family and friends. It is a chance for all those who are visiting one cardinal in particular to walk around and meet other cardinals, if they so wish. This can be fun, especially if one speaks several languages!

Before I even entered the Paul VI Hall for these visits, I was drawn by the immense numbers of Nigerians in town for Cardinal Peter Ebere Okpaleke of Ekwulobia, in the courtyard and in the atrium. There must have been a square acre of the red fabric you see here because every man, woman and child from Nigeria wore the same clothing!

As I mentioned yesterday, I first met the new U.S. prelate, Cardinal Robert McElroy of San Diego in the atrium of the Paul VI Hall. Sunday he celebrated Mass at my Rome parish, St. Patrick’s. There was a sizeable delegation of Californians at that Mass – might have rivalled the Nigerians in number.

As I met each new cardinal, I introduced myself, mentioned how long I had lived in Rome, added I had worked many years at the Vatican and was now with the EWTN Rome bureau. I also gave them my card. In such visits there is very little time for a conversation because of the numbers of people wanting to visit each cardinal, but such moments are nonetheless memorable and potentially important.

In the atrium, I also met Cardinal Filipe Neri Antonio Sebastiao do Rosario Ferrao of Goa and Damao, India. I was told by an assistant that he had the longest name of all the new cardinals (probably of the entire College of Cardinals – I will check).

We spoke about the honor given to his native land in this consistory as India is home to a very small number of Catholics but received a second red hat in Cardinal Anthony Poola of Hyderabad. The 20 million Catholics in India are about 1.5 percent of the total population. The Catholic Church is the largest Christian church in India.

Cardinal Poola, 60, is the first Dalit to become a cardinal. Dalit is Sanskrit and is another name for those in India known as “untouchables,” a people said to belong to the lowest level of castes in India. By the time I got around the Paul VI Hall, he had left so we did not meet.

I next met Cardinal William Goh of Singapore, He asked if I had ever travelled there and I said I had not but a few years ago had welcomed 6 Singapore Patrons of the Vatican Museums to my home for dinner, part of the 28-member delegation in Rome. He said he knew of the Patrons group.

I then met Cardinal Virgilio do Carmo da Silva of Dili, East Timor who, as soon as he heard I was with EWTN, smiled broadly and told me he is a huge fan! “I watch so many of your programs, and enjoy them all.” I said I had read that Catholics were the majority religion, and he said, “a big majority.” (in fact, 97% of the 1.3 million population is Catholic). The cardinal said I should come and visit the “wonderful” Church in East Timor. Who knows!

Across the room was Italian-born Consolata missionary, Cardinal Giorgio Marengo who, at 48, is the youngest member of the College of Cardinals. He is the apostolic prefect of Ulaanbataar, Mongolia, a missionary jurisdiction that includes the entire country. He brought a number of his staff with him to Rome, as you see in these photos.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When I told Cardinal Marengo I had been in Rome for 42 years, we both had a laugh as I pointed out that he would have been 6 years old when I came to Italy.

The last cardinal I met Saturday was Cardinal Jorge Carvajal, emeritus of Cartagena, Colombia. I congratulated him, we chatted briefly in English and Spanish, and when he saw my card, he told me, with a broad smile, that he once met Mother Angelica in Birmingham!


A brief note from the Holy See Press Office this afternoon stated that the two-day meeting of the College of Cardinals with the Pope to discuss the new Apostolic Constitution on the Roman curia, Praedicate Evangelium,, has ended.  The meeting was described as “having taken place in a fraternal atmosphere, (and) attended by just under 200 cardinals, Eastern patriarchs and superiors of the Secretariat of State. The work in linguistic groups and the discussions in the Hall gave way to freely discuss many aspects relating to the document and the life of the Church. The final afternoon session was dedicated to the 2025 Jubilee on Hope.”  The note said that Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica with Pope Francis and all the cardinals officially concludes the private consistory, after which each participant will return to their own diocese.


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

In the context of the war in Ukraine, there have been numerous interventions by the Holy Father Francis and his collaborators in this regard. They have the main purpose of inviting Pastors and faithful to prayer, and all people of good will to solidarity and efforts to rebuild peace. On more than one occasion, as well as in recent days, public discussions have arisen on the political significance to be attributed to such interventions. In this regard, it is reiterated that the words of the Holy Father on this dramatic question must be read as a voice raised in defense of human life and the values ​​connected to it, and not as political positions. As for the large-scale war in Ukraine, initiated by the Russian Federation, the interventions of the Holy Father Francis are clear and unambiguous in condemning it as morally unjust, unacceptable, barbaric, senseless, repugnant and sacrilegious.

In the event you have not been following the news stories of reaction to Pope Francis’ words last week on Ukraine at the August 24 general audience, he referred to a bomb that went off near Moscow killing a young woman: “I think of that poor girl blown up by a bomb under her car seat in Moscow. The innocent pay for war, the innocent! Let us think about this reality and say to each other: war is madness,”

In reality, the women was the daughter of a politician close to Putin, both of whom approved of the Ukraine invasion. Her father was to have been in the car that was bombed but they had switched cars. To understand why the Vatican felt it necessary to issue this statement: here is more background: Vatican: Pope Francis’ Ukraine War comments not a ‘political stance’ | Catholic News Agency



Following the consistory ceremony Saturday in which the new cardinals were created, the new red hats welcomed family and friends in what are known here as courtesy visits, most of which took place in the Paul VI Hall, with several in the Hall of Blessings in the Apostolic Palace.

The Hall of Blessings or Aula delle Benedizioni is a very grand hall above the atrium of St. Peter’s Basilica – the room behind the five large windows and the central loggia or balcony on the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica.

I have been here many times but the first was the most special. It was March 1961. I was spending an academic year studying French in Fribourg, Switzerland and our spring break was six weeks long, including three in Italy. Our time in Rome included a papal audience with Pope John XXIII who held occasional audiences in the Hall of Blessings. The Paul VI Hall, of course, was only built by John’s successor, Paul, and named for him.

In the atrium of the Paul VI Hall, I met Cardinal McElroy of San Diego who, on Sunday at 5 pm, presided at Mass at St. Patrick’s in Rome, the church for Catholic Americans and English-speaking Catholics. He was joined by American Cardinals Edwin O’Brien, Wilton Gregory, Roger Mahony, Blasé Cupich, Daniel diNardo and Joseph Tobin. Numerous bishops were present as well.

Several of us on the parish council were asked to welcome guests to St. Patrick’s for the Mass, including a very large contingent of Catholics from all parts of California. Of all the cardinals present, the only one I did not know before the weekend was Cardinal McElroy. I have known all of the American cardinals now in Rome for the consistory for many years. (Cardinal McElroy celebrates Mass of Thanksgiving in Rome | Catholic News Agency)

Saturday at the courtesy visits, I had some fascinating encounters with a number of cardinals and I wanted to bring those stories to you today, along with photos. However, recently I’ve had huge problems uploading photos to my laptop and do not know if it is the fault of the laptop or my phone. I’ll bring you that report tomorrow.


Sunday, Pope Francis went to L’Aquila in central Italy to preside at Mass and open the Holy Door of Santa Maria di Collemaggio basilica for the 728th edition of the Celestine Pardon, an annual August celebration that dates to Pope Celestine V who is buried in this church. One of the final acts in his 5-month papacy was to issue an edict stating that Popes could resign. And Celestine did so promptly upon publishing this edict in December 1294.

Pope opens Holy Door (EWTN-CNA image Daniel Ibanez)

Forward a bit: 719 years later Benedict XVI resigned, having prayed at Celestine’s tomb in 2009 after the L’Aquila earthquake, leaving his pallium atop the tomb. In some of the most moving moments of his visit to L’Aquila, Francis also prayed for some time Sunday before his predecessor’s tomb.

Earlier at Mass, in his homily, Pope Francis recounted off the cuff how that morning, the helicopter pilot could not land the plane as planned due to fog and that, after circling many times, he “finally found a small opening in the fog” and landed. Remarking on that incident, Francis suggested that even when fog seems to shroud our lives, God will find a hole, an opening.

I found the Holy Father’s homily beautiful but also intriguing (as you will see below), especially his remarks on Pope Celestine’s resigning the papacy, an act that Francis called “one of humility.”

Is that something to think about? If the Pope resigns, is that an act of humility? And if he does not resign?

POPE IN L’AQUILA: “FAITH ILLUMINATES PAIN AND DRIVES EFFORT TO REBUILD”:  Pope Francis travelled 100 kilometers to the central Italian city of L’Aquila 13 years after a devastating earthquake killed 309 people, and he encouraged residents to continue rebuilding their lives with faith in God. He kicked off his pastoral visit by meeting civil authorities and families of the victims of the 2009 earthquake, which struck in the middle of the night on April 6, 2009. Around 66,000 people were left homeless and 309 people were killed in the wake of the quake and subsequent tremors. On Sunday, Pope Francis followed in the footsteps of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who made a visit less than a month after the earthquake, on 28 April 2009. The Pope also visited the ruins of the Cathedral of St. Maximus, which was partially destroyed by the 6.3-magnitude earthquake. (Pope in L’Aquila: ‘Faith illuminates pain and drives effort to rebuild’ – Vatican News

POPE FRANCIS AT MASS:  During Mass in the central Italian city of L’Aquila for the occasion of the “Celestinian Pardon,” Pope Francis recalled God’s power to accomplish all things, along with the courageous witness, often misunderstood, of Pope Celestine V who resigned in 1294. Noting that he celebrates Mass on “a special day,” that of “the Celestinian Pardon,” the Holy Father explained that the relics of Pope Celestine V… are preserved in L’Aquila. He said that Pope Celestine “humbled himself,” finding favour with God. “We erroneously remember Celestine V as he ‘who made a great refusal’, according to the expression Dante used in his Divine Comedy. But Celestine V was not a man who said ‘no’, but a man who said ‘yes’.” In fact, the Pope noted, there is no other way to accomplish God’s will, than to assume the strength of the humble. (Pope at Mass in L’Aquila: ‘God can accomplish all things’ – Vatican News)



Welcome to Vatican Insider on this final weekend of August and what a weekend it promises to be in Rome! My guest this week in the interview segment is Msgr. Tom Powers, the new rector of the Pontifical North American College and a wonderful friend of many years! In Part I of our talk, he tells how he was invited to be rector, looks back a bit at his own years in Rome as a seminarian under two rectors, now Cardinals, Edwin O’Brien and Timothy Dolan and explains exactly what the duties of a rector are.

The new seminarians had just arrived and Msgr. Powers spoke about how they all met and exchanged inspirational vocation stories. He spoke of the vocation stories as “moments of God’s grace.” He said “my work here, our work here, is to form men to the heart of Christ.” Among his powerful remarks were his words on answering the call this past spring to become the rector, saying: “My priesthood has been one of saying yes to the Church.”

Photo taken in rectory where he was pastor before coming to Rome:

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at 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 www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: go to https://www.ewtn.com/radio/audio-archive and write the name of the guest for whom you are searching in the SEARCH box. Below that, will appear “Vatican Insider” – click on that and the link to that particular episode will appear.


Pope Francis speaks to a local news publication of L’Aquila ahead of his pastoral visit on Sunday, and says it is harder to forgive than to make war, in reference to the Celestinian Pardon that he will inaugurate while in the central Italian city.

By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

“It takes more strength to forgive than to wage war… Forgiveness is the only possible weapon against all war.”

Pope Francis offered that message on Friday in an interview with “Il Centro”, a local news publication in L’Aquila.

He is scheduled to make a pastoral visit to the central Italian city in the Abruzzo region on Sunday morning, where he will open the holy door of the annual Celestinian Pardon.

Overcoming evil with good

Referring to the war in Ukraine and other conflicts, the Pope recalled that “evil is never overcome by evil, but only with good.”

Forgiveness, he said, requires great interior and cultural maturity, as well as a culture of peace.

“Without this effort,” said the Pope, “we will remain stuck in the logic of evil, which is beholden to the promotion of the self-interests of those who take advantage of conflicts to enrich themselves.”

Pope Celestine V, who instituted the Celestinian Pardon in 1294, “knew how to promote humility and love for the poor,” he said, adding that our contemporary society can learn much from these attitudes.

Mystery of suffering

Asked about the devastating earthquake of 2009 that killed 309 people, Pope Francis recalled that, “pain and suffering are always a mystery.”

“Jesus Himself experienced this darkness of feeling alone and defeated. But at the same time, he taught us that it is precisely in these moments when everything seems lost that we can make an unexpected gesture: entrust ourselves to the Lord!”

The Pope added that there can be no rebirth in the wake of destruction without the act of entrusting ourselves to the Lord.

However, he said, our interior certitude in God’s mercy is a gift which must be requested and “protected from everything that would seek to snuff it out.”

Praising a Church close to the poor

Pope Francis then praised the many ways in which the local Church in L’Aquila has reached out to support the poor and those who have suffered due to the earthquake.

Many houses and buildings still need to be rebuilt in the city, including the Catholic Cathedral.

“I thank the city’s pastors,” said the Pope. “And I especially thank all priests and men and women religious who, along with lay people, have sought to rebuild, an effort which involves not only homes but also the soul itself of the people.”

“We cannot go very far if we walk alone. Unity alone can allow us to make truly difficult changes. We must leave behind all those things which divide us and hold up instead everything which unites us.”

Encouragement in the faith

Pope Francis concluded the interview with “Il Centro” by saying that he comes to encourage the people of L’Aquila in their faith.

“Humility, love, closeness, forgiveness, and mercy truly are the best way to proclaim the Gospel to the men and women of today and of all times.”


Pope Francis has expressed willingness to visit North Korea, asking the regime to invite him to the country.

In an interview with KBS at the Vatican’s Paul VI Audience Hall on Wednesday, the pontiff said he is willing to travel to North Korea upon receiving the invitation, which he will not reject.

Pope Francis, the 266th head of the Roman Catholic Church, has repeatedly indicated that he is willing to visit North Korea, but it is rather unusual that he has requested an invitation from North Korea using such direct and strong rhetoric.

The pope devoted a considerable part of the 30-minute interview to the subject of war and peace, while citing weapons production a major concern.

He prayed that God will be with all people, both in South and North Korea. He asked South Koreans, in particular, to work for peace as they are well aware of what a war is like, having experienced the pain of armed conflict.

The interview will air on KBS 1 TV at 8:30 p.m. on Friday and at 10 p.m. on September 1. (source: Pope Francis Asks for Invitation to Visit N. Korea l KBS WORLD)


Pope Francis this morning had quite a number of private audiences including President Katalin Novak of Hungary and Mr. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, former president of the Republic of East Timor, in Rome for the August 27 consistory in which East Timor will get a cardinal in the person of Virgilio do Carmo da Silva of Dili.

The Holy Father also received two groups in audience, including participants in the World Conference of Secular Institutes and members of the International Catholic Legislators Network. As you will see, his remarks to Catholic legislators are important, current and much-needed in today’s world.


Pope Francis urges members of the International Catholic Legislators Network to work for a more just, fraternal and peaceful world through legislative processes that promote the good of all and address situations of inequality in society.

By Benedict Mayaki, SJ (vaticannews)

Pope Francis met Thursday with participants at a meeting promoted by the International Catholic Legislators Network.

In his prepared address, he greeted the organizers and those present for the event, thanking in particular Cardinal Christoph Schonborn and Dr. Alting von Geusau for their words of greeting. He also acknowledged the presence of Ignatius Aphrem II, patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church.

The Pope then offered his reflections on three keywords: justice, fraternity and peace.

He said he hopes these three themes can guide the discussions of the meeting that is being held to consider the important theme of advancing justice and peace in the current geopolitical situation, marked by conflicts and division which affects many areas of the world.


The first word – justice, said the Pope, is defined “as the will to give to each person what is his or her due”, though, according to the Biblical tradition, it also involves “concrete actions aimed at fostering right relationships with God and with others, so that the good of individuals as well as the community can flourish.”

In our world where many people cry out for justice, particularly the vulnerable who look to civil and political authorities to protect their fundamental human rights through effective public policy and legislation, the Holy Father reminded the lawmakers of their duties.

“Yours is the challenge of working to safeguard and enhance within the public sphere those right relationships that allow each person to be treated with the respect, and indeed the love, that is due to him or her,” said the Pope.

Here, the Pope extended his thoughts toward the poor, migrants and refugees, the sick and elderly, victims of human trafficking and those “who risk being exploited or discarded by today’s throw-away culture.” (Vatican media photo)


“A just society cannot exist without the bond of fraternity – without a sense of shared responsibility and concern for the integral development and well-being of each member of our human family,” Pope Francis stressed.

For this reason, a global community of fraternity based on the practice of social friendship “calls for a better kind of politics, one truly at the service of the common good.”

So, in order to heal the world from rivalries and violence that result from a desire to dominate rather than serve, we need not only responsible citizens but also “capable leaders inspired by a fraternal love directed especially towards those in the most precarious conditions of life.”

In this regard, the Pope encouraged ongoing efforts on national and international levels for work for the adoption of policies and laws “that seek to address, in a spirit of solidarity, the many situations of inequality and injustice threatening the social fabric and the inherent dignity of all people.”


Pope Francis then went on to add that the effort to build our common future demands the constant search for peace.

Peace, he added, “is not merely the absence of war”. Rather, the path to lasting peace calls for cooperation, especially on the part of those charged with greater responsibility, in pursuing goals that benefit everyone.

He further explained that peace results from an “enduring commitment to mutual dialogue, a patient search for the truth and the willingness to place the authentic good of the community before personal advantage.”

To achieve this, the Pope highlighted the importance of lawmakers and political leaders, noting that true peace can only be obtained through far-sighted political processes and legislation in order to build a social order founded on universal fraternity and justice for all.

Concluding, the Holy Father prayed that the Lord enable the Catholic legislators to become “a leaven for the renewal of civil and political life and witnesses of political love for those most in need.”

He further prayed that their zeal for justice and peace, nourished by a spirit of fraternal solidarity, continue to guide them “in the noble pursuit of contributing to the advancement of God’s kingdom in our world.”



Every so often on my weekend radio show, “Vatican Insider,” I offer a Special Report in what is normally the interview segment, in particular when events assume an importance that can overshadow the content of an otherwise great interview. Much of the background information I researched for the Special I did last weekend about upcoming events in the Vatican, led to the blog that I posted yesterday, “Four Days in the Vatican: An August Surprise? If you want to listen to the full Special Report – which has even more info than I posted on my blog – click here: EWTN Audio & Radio Library Archive – Search & Listen Now | EWTN

Another thing I could have mentioned in my list of signs that could point to a resignation were all of Pope Francis’ recent general audience catecheses on the value and beauty of old age.

There had been 14 catecheses on this theme when, at the final weekly audience on June 22 (the 15th catechesi)s – and just before his July break and a pause in general audiences – the Pope announced the end of these catecheses.

However, he did resume talking about old age this month, with his 16th catechesis on this topic on August 10, then August 17 and now today, the 18th and final catechesis. The recent catecheses have been about old age and death and life after death, as you will see below in my summary of the general audience.

If old age is a diamond, even a diamond in the rough, the Holy Father looked at all the myriad, mesmerizing facets of this diamond, of this period of life, including himself in many of his reflections, often saying “we elderly.”

I could ask: Have these catecheses been an underpinning for Francis’ life and legacy, a solid foundation built to support, even strengthen, that legacy? We will all be there some day – old age – or we are now or we are on our way. Has Francis spent all these months giving the elderly a positive way to frame old age, a way to balance joys and sufferings without losing one’s balance?

Is he looking back at life and yet looking to the future at the same time?

He tweeted today: As we approach the end of our lives, the essentials of life that we hold most dear become definitively clear to us. Our whole life appears like a seed that will have to be buried so that its flower and its fruit can be born.


Pope Francis, at today’s general audience in the Paul VI Hall, began his remarks by noting that, “We recently celebrated the Assumption into heaven of the Mother of Jesus. This mystery illuminates the fulfilment of the grace that shaped Mary’s destiny, and it also illuminates our destination, doesn’t it? The destination is heaven. With this image of the Virgin assumed into heaven, I would like to conclude the cycle of catecheses on old age.”

He emphasized that, “Our Lady’s assumption, body and soul, into heaven is intimately bound to the resurrection of Jesus her Son and to its promise of our own bodily resurrection at the end of time. … In the divine act of reuniting Mary with the Risen Christ, the normal bodily corruption of human death …is not simply transcended, the bodily assumption of the life of God is anticipated. … This is our destiny: to rise again.”

“Just as, in the moment we come out of our mother’s womb, we are still ourselves,” said the Pope, “the same human being that was in the womb; so, after death, we are born to heaven, to God’s space, and we are still ourselves, who walked on this earth.”

Francis explained that, “When Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God, he describes it as a wedding feast; as a party, that is, like a party, a party with friends awaits us; as the work that makes the house perfect, and the surprise that makes the harvest richer than the sowing.” (Photos by EWTN-CNA’s Pablo Esparza)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Holy Father, addressing “my dear contemporaries,” pointed out that “in our old age, the importance of the many ‘details’ of which life is made — a caress, a smile, a gesture, an appreciated effort, an unexpected surprise, a hospitable cheerfulness, a faithful bond — becomes more acute. The essentials of life, which we hold most dear as we approach our farewell, become definitively clear to us. …. And the life of the risen body will be a hundred and a thousand times more alive than we have tasted it on this earth.”

Francis then told the story of how “the Risen Lord, not by chance, while waiting for the Apostles by the lake, roasts some fish and then offers it to them. This gesture of caring love gives us a glimpse of what awaits us as we cross to the other shore. Yes, dear brothers and sisters, especially you elderly, the best of life is yet to come. ‘But we are old, what more is yet to come?’ The best, because the best of life is yet to come. Let us hope, let us hope for this fullness of life that awaits us all, when the Lord calls us.”

Pope Francis recognized that there is “a little bit of fear, because I don’t know what this passage means, and passing through that door causes a little fear – but there is always the hand of the Lord that carries us forward, and beyond the door there is the party.”

So, concluded Pope Francis, “Let us be attentive, dear old people, contemporaries, let us be attentive. He is expecting us. Just one passage, and then the party!”


This is a longer than usual column but I think you’ll be quite intrigued. Whatever time of the day it is when you start reading this, make sure you have a coffee – or perhaps a prosecco – at your side!


Starting Saturday, August 27, the Vatican will host four days of big events, perhaps even historic ones, when Pope Francis creates 20 new cardinals, visits L’Aquila in Italy’s central Abruzzo region, and meets behind closed doors with the entire College of Cardinals on the 29th and 30th. He called them to Rome in May to discuss his document on the reform of the Roman Curia, Praedicate Evangelium. On August 30, Francis will celebrate Mass with the entire College of Cardinals, including the new ones.

It was at the May 29 Angelus that Pope Francis announced that he would create new cardinals in a consistory on a distant August 27th. Normally these consistories for new cardinals take place a month after the announcement of the names of the new cardinals. He also announced the meeting of the full College of Cardinals. No explanation was every given for the three-month delay.

Sixteen of the new cardinals are under the age of 80 and thus eligible to vote in a future conclave. Today the College has 116 cardinal electors from 65 countries. On August 27, there will be 132 electors, 12 over the ceiling set years ago by Paul VI of 120.   Francis is not, however, the first Pope to go over the magic number of 120.

Three of the new cardinals hold office in the Vatican. Fourteen nationalities are represented, including the curial cardinals.

A consistory is a particular kind of assembly of the College of Cardinals, called by the Pope and conducted in his presence.   Consistories are either public – at which the Pope and Cardinals gather in the presence of others for some important purpose – or private – at which only the Pope and cardinals are present.

This is only the third private consistory Francis has held in his papacy, the last one being in 2015.

A public ordinary consistory allows the Pope to create new cardinals in the presence of the entire College of Cardinals. As I said, the identities of the cardinals-to-be are generally announced some time in advance, but only at the time of the consistory does the elevation to the cardinalate take effect, since that is when the Pope formally publishes the decree of elevation. Some men have died before the consistory date, and if a Pope dies before the consistory all the nominations are voided.

There will actually be a second public consistory on August 27 in which cardinals will be asked to assent to the canonizations of Blesseds Giovanni Battista Scalabrini and Artemide Zatti. Popes hold several of these public ordinary consistories regarding future Blesseds and Saints every year.

As I said, on August 29th and 30th, the Pope will meet privately with all members of the College of Cardinals. As I write, there are 206 members of the college. On August 27, members will number 226, 132 of whom will be electors.

The Pope indicated that the focus of this private consistory would be to discuss the new constitution on the Roman Curia, Praedicate Evangelium. Given that this papal document is a done deal, one wonders what kind of input the cardinals will have. Or will they merely ask questions about the new and improved Roman Curia?

It is more than likely, however, that the world’s cardinals – who barely know each other except for the region they live in – the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa – will have a lot of questions to ask the Pope about matters other than the constitution.

The Pope has written many documents recently, mostly motu proprios, that deal with Opus Dei, the Order of Malta, the liturgy – especially the TLM, Traditional Latin Mass – Vatican tribunals, modifications in Canon Law, the new structure of the former Congregation, now dicastery, for the Doctrine of the Faith and Vatican finances!

In fact the cardinals may have many questions about the dicasteries and especially what seems to be, in the constitution, a more prominent place given to Evangelization than to Doctrine. How does one evangelize without first having doctrine?

Another point, for example: In the past, the heads of congregations were always cardinals and the heads of councils were either cardinals or archbishops. As of June 5, lay people may assume those posts. Could a lay person head the dicastery for priests or dicastery for bishops? Lots of questions to answer here but that’s just one example of a questionable change in the constitution.

The cardinals may have questions about the Pontifical Academy of Life and what seems to be its openness to changing Church teaching on certain ethical issues.

Since many of the cardinals have never met each other, their questions will be a way for their fellow cardinals to learn how they feel about Church teachings and current issues. Just how a question is asked on ethical or moral principles or the liturgy, for example can reveal a lot about the person asking the question.

I am sure all of the cardinals will use every minute of their time in Rome to get to know each other – to chat over coffee breaks or to share meals together, perhaps even a stroll in the Vatican gardens or the beautiful piazzas of the Eternal City.

It’s only a guess but I feel confident that each cardinal has also, since the May 29 announcement of the consistory, since the news of the Pope’s health and somewhat reduced activities, since the papal interviews where Francis indicates that resigning is not off the table – wondered if the College is perhaps being called together to hear a resignation.

Although no explanation was ever given for the three-month delay between the May 29 announcement of the names of cardinals-designate and the August 27 consistory to create them, in recent months many have wondered if the Holy Father has not been using that the three-month span to tie up loose ends of his pontificate.

Is there a deadline only he knows of?

Looking back over the past months, we see that the Pope has made a slew of appointments (for many, a larger number than usual). He has received an impressive number of groups and individuals, religious and civil leaders, heads of State and government, apostolic nuncios, bishops, etc.

He has made an impressive number of video messages for groups and organizations and some that commemorated important events. Given his mobility issues, videos require less of a Pope, allowing him to sit in his study rather than spend more time in a private audience he would meet and greet people, shake hands, etc.

Earlier, I mentioned the slew of documents, mostly motu proprios, that deal with Opus Dei, the Order of Malta, the liturgy – especially the TLM, Traditional Latin Mass – Vatican tribunals, modifications in Canon Law, the new structure of the former Congregation, now dicastery, for the Doctrine of the Faith and Vatican finances!

Relative to Vatican finances: Just today, August 23rd, the Pope issued what is known as a rescript that clarified, in answer to questions raised, that IOR, the Institute for the Works of Religion, aka the Vatican bank, has exclusive competence for managing all of the Holy See’s movable and liquid assets. Thus, all financial assets of all Holy See dicasteries and entities are to be transferred to IOR.

Another possible sign of a papal deadline…

One thing that puzzled those of us who cover the Pope and Vatican was the March 19th release of Praedicate Evangelium.

Published on the Vatican news website with absolutely no fanfare, no press conference, no leaks by anyone in the Vatican, the new Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium – Preach the Gospel – caught everyone by surprise -employees of Vatican City State, the Roman Curia and the media!

Other than the constitution being a stunning surprise for everyone– even though it has been in the planning for 9 years! – we know that Popes always look for significant dates to publish a document. In this case, March 19 is the Solemnity of St. Joseph – beloved by Pope Francis – and also the anniversary of the start of his pontificate. That could easily have been a date to intuit the publication of this Constitution…but no one intuited!

Another remarkable fact: Praedicate Evangelium was published only in Italian! It took a while but it has since been translated into the other traditional Vatican languages for documents: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Polish and Arabic.

Looking back, can we now ask: Was this hurried publication (there were even errors that had to be corrected!) because the Pope had a deadline only he knew of and absolutely wanted the defining work of his papacy to be released?

Of all that I’ve written so far, the August 28 papal visit to L’Aquila will surely be – for the media at least – the most spotlighted event of these four days in the Vatican.

On June 4, days after the May 29 announcement about new cardinals, the Vatican announced that, “Pope Francis will make a pastoral visit to L’Aquila on August 28 for the annual ‘Celebration of Forgiveness’, held in the city in the central Italian region of Abruzzo which was devastated by a massive earthquake in 2009.”

This celebration was established by Pope Celestine in 1294 with his papal Bull of Forgiveness that grants a plenary indulgence to anyone “who, confessed and communicated and visited the basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio from the vespers of August 28 to those of August 29.”

An interesting fact about L’Aquila and Celestine, who is buried there: In 1294, Celestine V was elected Pope, ending a two-year impasse. Among the only surviving edicts he issued as Pope, was the confirmation of the right of the Pope to abdicate. In fact, immediately after publishing this edict he resigned, having reigned for only five months from July 5 to December 13, 1294.

Only one Pope has resigned in the 719 years since 1294: Benedict XVI.

On April 29, 2009, after the massive earthquake, Benedict XVI went to L’Aquila and visited the tomb of this medieval Pope named Celestine in the basilica of Santa Maria de Collemaggio. After a brief prayer, he left his pallium, the symbol of his own episcopal authority as Bishop of Rome, on top of Celestine’s tomb. Four years later he resigned the papacy.

Much was read into this when the Vatican announced Pope Francis’ August 28 visit.

This June 4 announcement by the Vatican led many, myself included, to speculate on a possible resignation by Pope Francis, either at Mass in L’Aquila or when he is with the entire College of Cardinals, 132 of whose members can vote in a conclave. If the Pope resigned, the cardinal electors would already be in Rome for a conclave to elect his successor.

Pope Francis for months has suffered debilitating pain, including a fracture in a bone in his right knee. He is being treated for that quite assiduously but has been using a wheel chair publicly since May 5, and has been unable to fully preside at Mass. He did travel to Canada in July and there were restrictions, and he is set to go to Kazakhstan for an inter-religious prayer event in mid-September.

Other physical ailments have been hinted at in the media but there has been nothing from anyone in the Vatican, except a few words on the Pope’s knee problem. Most of what we have learned about his knee, in fact, we have learned directly from Francis in interviews.

However, in those same interviews with the media in recent months, Francis has not shied away from the idea of resigning. He has indicated he would live in Rome, probably at the Lateran, and would like to devote time to confessing people, among other things. He said he’d prefer the title of Bishop of Rome emeritus, adding that Benedict XVI was the model for resignation.

If you want to align the stars for a resignation, this could be it: We are looking at 20 new members of the College of Cardinals (and 16 additional electors). We are looking at a visit by Pope Francis to the shrine of the last Pope to retire before Benedict XVI and we are looking at meetings that will bring all cardinals to Rome, as if for a conclave.

By the way, Celestine was 85 when he resigned. Benedict XVI was 85 when he resigned. Pope Francis is 85 years old.



I’ve been working on a number of projects today and, given that it has been quiet all day at the Vatican, I have no special news for Joan’s Rome. However, I will soon be publishing a column on the events this coming weekend when Rome will host all the members of the entire College of Cardinals, including the 20 new cardinals that Pope Francis will create on Saturday, 16 of whom will be, in an eventual conclave, cardinal electors as they are under the age of 80.

You might want to tune in to “At Home with Jim and Joy” when it airs at 1.30 pm today, ET. As I do every Monday at that hour I offer Vatican news and updates, and this week will be talking about the Vatican events scheduled for the final four days of August. I think you’ll really want to hear my take on that so be sure to tune in. If you miss it, each At Home show remains on Youtube (especially if you listened to “Vatican Insider,” my radio show, this past weekend.)

Speaking of videos, here is a link to a ten-minute video produced by the Paulist Fathers to mark their 100th anniversary in Rome as shepherds to the Catholic American community and English-speaking Catholics at St. Patrick’s church in the Eternal City (and at Santa Susanna for over 9 decades before arriving at St. Pat’s in 2017. (1) Paulist Fathers celebrate 100 years in Rome! – YouTube



Be sure to tune in to Vatican Insider this weekend, yet another tropical August weekend in so many parts of the world. I hope you can be in a cool place, perhaps with an iced drink, as you listen to the latest news from the Vatican, and a Special I have prepared in place of the interview segment.

Next weekend, the final weekend of August, will be a big one, perhaps even historic, as the Pope will create 20 new cardinals, visit L’Aquila in Italy’s central Abruzzo region, celebrate Mass with all members of the College of Cardinals, including the new ones and meet behind closed doors with the entire College to discuss his document on the reform of the Roman Curia, Praedicate Evangelium. I look at each of those events – and maybe beyond!

I hope my overview of what is about to happen in the Vatican on the last four days of August will help you follow those events with a greater understanding.

There may also be some big surprises so stay tuned!

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at 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 www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: go to https://www.ewtn.com/radio/audio-archive and write the name of the guest for whom you are searching in the SEARCH box. Below that, will appear “Vatican Insider” – click on that and the link to that particular episode will appear.