President Trump at March for Life: In a first for the American presidency, President Trump will address tomorrow’s 47th March for Life in Washington, D.C. This annual march is the largest pro-life event in the world. Trump will be the first sitting president to address the March for Life.


Pope Francis has named Bishop Nelson Perez, currently the Bishop of Cleveland (USA), as Metropolitan Archbishop of Philadelphia. He succeeds Archbishop Charles Chaput, whose resignation was accepted by the Holy Father. (Vaticannews)

Biography of Bishop Nelson Jesus Perez

Nelson J. Perez was born in Miami, Florida, on June 16, 1961 to David and Emma Perez and is the brother of the late Dr. David Perez and Louis Martin Perez. He was raised in West New York, NJ. Bishop Perez earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Montclair State University in 1983. He taught at Colegio la Piedad, a Catholic elementary school in Puerto Rico, prior to entering Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, where he earned Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Theology degrees in 1988 and 1989, respectively.

Bishop Perez’s first assignment after ordination to the priesthood was as parochial vicar of Saint Ambrose Parish, Philadelphia (1989-1993). He also served as assistant director of the Office for Hispanic Catholics (1990-1993), founding director of the Catholic Institute for Evangelization (1993-2002), Pastor of Saint William Parish, Philadelphia (2002-2009), and Pastor of Saint Agnes Parish, West Chester, PA (2009-2012).

His work in education included teaching courses in psychology and religious studies at LaSalle University, Philadelphia (1994-2008). Bishop Perez also taught Developmental Psychology at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary (Fall, 2011), in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. In 1998, he was named Chaplain to His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, with the title of Monsignor. In 2009, he was named a Prelate of Honor by Pope Benedict XVI.

Pope Benedict XVI appointed Reverend Monsignor Nelson J. Perez Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre in New York on June 8, 2012. He was ordained a bishop on July 25, 2012 in Saint Agnes Cathedral, Rockville Centre, NY by Bishop William F. Murphy.

As Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, NY, Bishop Perez served as Episcopal Vicar for the Eastern Vicariate, representing the Diocesan Ordinary and overseeing sixty-six parishes. He served as the Episcopal Vicar for Hispanic Ministry, overseeing fifty-four parishes with pastoral ministry to Hispanics; Formation Programs, and Ecclesial Movements.

In addition, Bishop Perez served as a member of the Diocese of Rockville Centre’s Priest Personnel Board, Presbyteral Council, corporate member of Catholic Health Services; vice-chair of Catholic Charities Board of Directors and member of its Executive and Governance Committees, member of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, chair of the Diocesan V Encuentro Planning Committee, chair of the Diocesan Advisory Committee for Hispanic Ministry, and was formerly a member of the Diocese’s TeleCare TV Board.

As a part of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Perez serves as Chair of the Bishops’ Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, a member of the Administrative Committee of the USCCB, and a member of the Bishops’ Committee of Religious Liberty. He is former Chair of the Bishop’s Sub-Committee for Hispanic Affairs and former member of the Bishop’s Sub-Committee for the Campaign for Human Development.

He speaks English and Spanish.


Following is the statement released today from the President of the Vatican’s AIF, Financial Information Authority, Carmelo Barbagallo:

“I am pleased to announce that, last night, the President of the Egmont Group, Mr Mariano Federici, decided to revoke the decision taken on 13 November 2019 to suspend the Financial Information Authority (AIF) from the international information circuit, Egmont Secure Web. This is a very important step, one which demonstrates the confirmed trust of the Egmont Group in the financial information system of the Vatican. This decision follows the explanations provided by AIF to Egmont concerning the extraordinary nature of the facts that gave rise to the suspension and AIF’s assurances that the information received from the Egmont circuit will be treated in a manner that is consistent with the rules that apply to that circuit, partly thanks to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Promoter of Justice. The decision to revoke the suspension makes it possible for AIF to resume its collaboration with foreign financial intelligence units in full transparency and in the spirit of active cooperation.”

Vaticannews: The President of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority, Carmelo Barbagallo, announces the lifting of the suspension placed on it by the Egmont Group, and says it can now resume its collaboration with its peers in other countries.

In a statement released on Thursday, the President of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority announced that a previous suspension of its participation in the Egmont Group, had been lifted:

“I am pleased,” President Barbagallo said in his statement, “to announce that, last night, the President of the Egmont Group, Mr Mariano Federici, decided to revoke the decision taken on 13 November 2019 to suspend the Financial Information Authority (AIF) from the international information circuit, Egmont Secure Web.”

Barbagallo called this news “a very important step” and said it expresses “the confirmed trust of the Egmont Group in the financial information system of the Vatican.”



As I entered St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls yesterday afternoon to attend Mass offered by the bishops of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, in Rome for their ad limina visit, I glanced at one of the side altars and noticed a beautiful glass case that held the body of someone clad in red vestments. It had not been there last week when I went to another Mass with U.S. bishops.

Mass was about to start so I did not explore any further but I did go back afterwards and was astonished and delighted to see that the figure was St. Timothy, one of St. Paul’s most beloved followers and disciples! I sat and prayed a while and took some pictures and, as I was about to leave, I saw that a number of priests were hearing confession and, on my way to a confessional, I saw an entire exhibit on St. Timothy whose body is on loan from its resting place in the cathedral of Termoli, Italy.

A gentleman from Termoli (nicknamed the Timothean City) who had accompanied the body and the exhibit, told me the story and gave me two small booklets about Timothy.

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I remarked that the saint had not been in the basilica last week and he said it had only been a few days and that this Sunday, January 26, St. Timothy will be in St. Peter’s Basilica for Pope Francis’ Mass for the first Sunday of the Word of God. It will stay in the basilica for a brief period so if you are in Rome as you read this column, go as soon after Sunday as you can (or go Sunday afternoon).

Tuesday was a day of real grace in so many ways, including confession, my last act of the day.

Here is Timothy’s story from the Termoli website:

Timothy, martyr Saint and Patron of Termoli, together with St. Basso, was a disciple of the Apostle St. Paul. The life of St. Timothy is described in the same sources that narrate the life of St. Paul. Its relics, together with the relics of St. Basso, are housed in the Cathedral of Termoli and there is no doubt about their authenticity.

For more than seven centuries, the Church of Termoli has honored St. Timothy and venerated the relic of the skull preserved in the bishop’s palace. He is still a little-known Saint, although he has been cited many times in the New Testament, especially in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles of Paul, who also addressed to him, according to tradition, two letters.

Paul remained attached to Timothy for the rest of his life, considering him as a person capable of representing him in delicate circumstances of the life of some young Christian communities (Thessaloniki, Macedonia, Corinth) to correct errors and suppress controversy, teaching them the effectiveness of divine inspiration. From about 35-40 years old, he was also bishop of Ephesus, the most populous capital of the Roman province of Asia on the western coast of Turkey, where he died a martyr because he was opposed to the vulgarities and disadvantages of some pagan cults; for this reason it is often represented with the palm of victory received from God.

On May 11, 1945, a small burial recess was found during work in the crypt of the Cathedral of Termoli. The burial recess, covered by a marble tombstone, was placed near the right apse of the church. On the lower side of the commemorative plaque there was the following Latin inscription: “In the name of Christ. Amen. In the year of the Lord 1239. Here rest in peace the body of the blessed Timothy disciple of the blessed Apostle, hidden by the venerable Bishop Stephen together with the Chapter of Termoli”.

Studies and research recognized the relics of St. Timothy as authentic. In honor of the Saint a church was also erected in the center whose main entrance is on Corso Fratelli Brigida. The church of St. Timothy was built by the Bishop Oddo Bernacchia in 1954. It has a neogothic structure with a single nave and it was built on the design of engineer Ugo Sciarretta. The church was one of the first churches built in reinforced concrete without central columns, for this it is cited also in the history books of art. The central location of the church in the city suggests to inhabitants and visitors the possibility of spiritual comfort every time (they visit). In fact, during the summer time the church remains open until midnight to give the opportunity to visit the exhibition about Timothy.

The celebration in honor of St. Timothy takes place on May 11. In 2017, in order to highlight the closeness between the diocese of Termoli-Larino and the Orthodox religion that Timothy venerated, there was also an Orthodox celebration. Like all the years, the event ended with the procession along the streets of the city and the joint participation of Orthodox bishops who arrived in Termoli specifically for the celebration.



This is a follow up to my Monday post on what seemed to be a big change in procedure for requesting tickets to papal events and liturgies. These changes were indicated in a recent letter sent out by the Prefecture of the Papal Household to dozens of parishes, seminaries, hotels, travel agencies and other Church-related institutions, that said henceforth all tickets requests had to come directly to the prefecture.

Having received the prefecture letter, our parish secretary nonetheless did what she had done for 20 years on Tuesday mornings: she went to the prefecture for tickets. She told me she got “roughly” 200 tickets (a few less than requested) in addition to another copy of the prefecture letter! She asked if there had been changes in the procedure and was told ‘no’. She asked if, under the new rules, she could return next week for tickets and was told ‘yes.’

However, she was told to tell all those who request tickets at our parish that they must now write directly to the prefecture! (http://www.vatican.va/various/prefettura/index_en.html). I am still trying to figure that out!


As he began the general audience this morning in the Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis announced a new catechesis, having concluded his reflections on the Acts of the Apostles last week.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” he said. “Today’s catechesis occurs in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, whose theme this year – on hospitality – was prepared by the Christian communities of Malta and Gozo.

Francis explained that, “the theme is based on Saint Paul’s dramatic experience of being shipwrecked at Malta, and the welcome he and his companions received there. Indeed, in contrast to the sea’s violence, the survivors received ‘unusual kindness’ as we saw in Acts 28:2, reflecting God’s love for them. This hospitality was then repaid when Paul healed many sick people, thus revealing God’s merciful love.”

The Pope continued his reflections by noting that, “hospitality is an important ecumenical virtue, which is open to listening to the experience that other Christians have of God. When we welcome Christians of a different tradition we reveal God’s love to them and receive the gifts that the Holy Spirit has sown in them.

“In this way,” he said, “we Christians are challenged to overcome our divisions and to show Christ’s love more effectively to others, especially the many migrants who, like Paul, face danger at sea, as they flee from peril. Working together like this will make us both better disciples of the Lord and more united as the People of God.

“Today,” underscored the pontiff, “the sea on which Paul and his companions were shipwrecked is, once again, a dangerous place for the lives of other sailors. All over the world migrant men and women face risky voyages to escape violence, to escape war, to escape poverty.”

As he greeted the English-speaking pilgrims present, the Pope said, “I offer a special greeting to the students from the Bossey Ecumenical Institute. I also greet the priests of the Institute for Continuing Theological Education of the Pontifical North American College. Upon all of you and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. May God bless you!”


At the end of his general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis greeted all those who mark the lunar new year according to the traditional Chinese calendar. He urged prayers for peace, dialogue and solidarity among nations.
By Robin Gomes (vaticannews)

Also referred to as the Spring Festival in mainland China, the Chinese New Year is one of the several Lunar New Years of Asia. It is celebrated by ethnic Chinese and non-Chinese people worldwide.

It begins with the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends on the first full moon of the lunar calendar, 15 days later. The New Year is dedicated to the Rat.

At the end of the general audience the Pope noted that on “January 25, in the Far East and in various other parts of the world, many millions of men and women will celebrate the Lunar New Year.”

“I send them my cordial greetings, wishing them in particular to be places of education in the virtues of welcome, wisdom, respect for each person and harmony with creation,” he said. “I invite all to pray also for peace, dialogue and solidarity among nations: gifts which are so necessary in the world today.”



Big changes are coming from the Prefecture of the Papal Household.

As you know from the many times I have posted information on how to get tickets for papal events such as the Wednesday general audience, Masses, Holy Week liturgies, etc., I have always given the link to the Prefecture of the Papal Household as this office is the one charged with both organizing papal events in Vatican City and distributing tickets for those events and liturgies.

Anyone who wrote directly to this office was told how, the day before the event, they could pick up their ticket(s) by going to the Bronze Gate, where Swiss Guards would direct them to the Apostolic Palace.

For many years, decades in some instances, parishes in Rome, seminaries and other institutions and travel agencies have made these tickets available to people by arranging to get tickets from the Prefecture and then distributing them to the people who requested them via email or some other type of correspondence.

For example, the North American College offers this service to visitors to Rome and, in fact, has an office near Trevi Fountain on Via dell’Umilta 30, called the Bishops’ Office for US Visitors to the Vatican. The College website gives an email address to which people can write who wish tickets to a general audience or papal Mass or liturgy. The tickets are then made available to those who wrote in, requesting a ticket.

The same holds true for St. Patrick’s, the parish in Rome for Catholic Americans and other English-speaking Catholics. The website and the Sunday bulletin note that, upon request, tickets for a papal event will be available at a specific time in the church vestibule the day before that event.

Tickets for papal events are always entirely free. Absolutely no papal event ever has a charge linked to the ticket.

Some events do not require a ticket (though you will still have to go through security): the Sunday Angelus and the Good Friday Way of the Cross at the Colosseum, for example. If someone tries to sell you a ticket for these, it is a scam.

Up to now the procedure has been for parishes, seminaries or other institutions that distribute such tickets to contact the Prefecture of the Papal Household with the number of tickets they will need to distribute, based on specific requests. Someone from the parish, etc picks the tickets up in the Vatican at the Prefecture on Tuesday mornings for the Wednesday audience, for example. Those tickets are then distributed by the seminary, the parish, etc. on Tuesday afternoon.

All that seems to have changed.

Parishes, etc, have been informed that, as of January 1, 2020, tickets will no longer be made available to them, rather all individuals who wish to attend a general audience, etc. must write in person to the Prefecture at least one week before the event.

One of the reasons behind this change is the fact that many hotels and travel agencies were charging for papal tickets – sometime exorbitant prices, as I know from email correspondence with people! Thus, in an effort to avoid a so-called middleman (seminary, parish, travel agency), all tickets must now be requested only through the prefecture. It seems the prefecture is also looking at crowd control.

The big test for this change will probably be seen tomorrow morning when representatives of parishes, etc. go to the Vatican to pick up requested tickets. They will either get them, as they have for years, or the new policy will be put into effect.

My question is this: If the thousands of people who up to now got their tickets through a “middleman” have to personally go to the Vatican the day before the event, won’t that create a huge crowd in or near St. Peter’s Square? Or will the Vatican establish additional pick-up points?

I’ll keep you posted.

By the way, if you want tickets for a papal event:


The Holy Father today received 26 bishops of the dioceses of Region X of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as they spend the week in Rome for their ad limina visit. The prelates were from the ecclesiastical province of San Antonio, comprising the west and north of the state of Texas, the ecclesiastical province of Galveston-Houston, comprising the east and southeast parts of the state of Texas and the ecclesiastical province of Oklahoma City, comprising the states of Arkansas and Oklahoma (diocese of Little Rock and diocese of Tulsa).


Pope Francis today received a delegation from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, recalling his visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, and condemning anti-semitism in every form.
By Vatican News

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre is a global human rights organization that, according to its mission statement, researches “the Holocaust and hate in a historic and contemporary context”.

Respecting human dignity
The Pope welcomed a delegation from the Centre to the Vatican on Monday and noted how it actively “seeks to combat all forms of antisemitism, racism and hatred towards minorities”.

Pope at Wailing Wall –

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre has maintained contacts with the Holy See for decades, said the Pope, “in a shared desire to make the world a better place in respect for human dignity. This dignity is due to every person in equal measure, regardless of his or her ethnic origin, religion or social status,” he added. “It is essential to teach tolerance, mutual understanding and freedom of religion, and the promotion of peace within society”.

Remembering the Holocaust
January 27 will mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Pope Francis recalled visiting the camp in 2016 “to reflect and to pray in silence.” “In our world, with its whirlwind of activity, we find it hard to pause, to look within and to listen in silence to the plea of suffering humanity,” he said.

The Pope reflected on how our consumerist society squanders words: “how many unhelpful words are spoken, how much time is wasted in arguing, accusing, shouting insults, without a real concern for what we say. Silence, on the other hand, helps to keep memory alive. If we lose our memory, we destroy our future”, he added.

“May the anniversary of the unspeakable cruelty that humanity learned of seventy-five years ago serve as a summons to pause, to be still and to remember,” said Pope Francis. “We need to do this, lest we become indifferent.”

Condemning antisemitism
Expressing his firm condemnation of antisemitism in every form, the Pope described “an increase in selfishness and indifference” in many parts of the world. “This creates a fertile ground for the forms of factionalism and populism we see around us, where hatred quickly springs up”, he said.

We need to address the cause of the problem by committing ourselves to “tilling the soil in which hatred grows and sowing peace instead”, said Pope Francis. “For it is through integration and seeking to understand others that we more effectively protect ourselves”.

This means reintegrating those who are marginalized, reaching out to those far away, and assisting those who are victims of intolerance and discrimination, said the Pope.

Sowing seeds of peace
Pope Francis concluded with a prayer to “make the earth a better place by sowing seeds of peace.” We need to put the “rich spiritual patrimony that Jews and Christians possess” at the service of others, he said. “Not to take the path of distance and exclusion, but that of proximity and inclusion; not to force solutions, but to initiate ways of drawing closer together.”

“If we do not do this”, asked Pope Francis, “then who will?”


Monday is Martin Luther King Day in the United States and a holiday for EWTN staff. Except for an appearance on “At Home with Jim and Joy,” I will be taking the day off but, as always, if there is big breaking news, I’ll be here!


My guest this week in Vatican Insider’s interview segment is Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas. He talks to us about the ad limina visit in Rome of bishops from Regions 8 and 9 in the United States – why there are such visits, what bishops do when they are in Rome, how and where they celebrate morning Mass and much, much more, including some insight into their lengthy visits with Pope Francis. Some good stories about his time with the Holy Father! Not to miss!

Here is a photo of Bishop Naumann as he spoke to EWTN News Nightly after Mass Wednesday in the basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls:

By the way, you will also want to listen to the Q&A this week as I look at what materials can be used in chalices at Mass (some people may be surprised at the answer!)

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://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 http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)


(vaticannews) Friday morning, in addition to several private audiences, the Holy Father received a delegation from the Lutheran Church of Finland, in Rome for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. He highlighted the importance of journeying in communion of faith “so as to encourage one another and to strengthen one another in Christian discipleship.”

The group was in Rome as part of a customary ecumenical pilgrimage celebrating the feast of Saint Henrik, believed to have been an English-born Bishop of Uppsala who was martyred in the mid-12th century. He is venerated by Catholics and Lutherans, as well as several Protestant Churches and the Anglican Community.

In his remarks, the Pope looked ahead to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that begins on Saturday, January 18 on the theme “They showed us unusual kindness.” The words are those of the Apostle Paul, and refer “to the inhabitants of the island of Malta, who received him, together with hundreds of shipwrecked people, with hospitality,” said Francis.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity esch year prepares background information for the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. For 2020, the council notes that, “the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which usually takes place from 18–25 January, in some parts of the world is celebrated at Pentecost.”

The council made available the texts for the 2020 Week of Prayer with a link: texts for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2020

These texts were prepared by the Christian Churches of Malta and Gozo, says the website, together with an international committee comprising representatives of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches.

On the theme “They showed us unusual kindness” (Acts 28:2), the texts are based on the biblical passage describing the shipwreck of Saint Paul in Malta (Acts 27:18–28,10). This passage led the group to reflect on the trust of Saint Paul in divine providence and on the ecumenical virtue of hospitality. In the liturgy and reflections for the Week of Prayer, other themes are highlighted, including reconciliation, discernment, hope, trust, strength, hospitality, conversion and generosity.

Additional material is available on the website of the Archdiocese of Malta: http://thechurchinmalta.org/en/posts/325/ecumenical-commission.

For more on this pontifical council: http://www.christianunity.va



Pope Francis spent nearly three hours this morning meeting with American bishops from Region IX who are in Rome for their ad limina apostolorum visit. Region IX includes the dioceses of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. In these meetings with bishops, occasionally saying something in English but mostly through a translator, Pope Francis has always let it be known that the bishops can say anything they want and ask anything they want – a “no holds barred” encounter, as he said in one of his earlier meetings.

You will learn more about the U.S. bishops’ ad limina visits this weekend on Vatican Insider when I talk with Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas. He was present at the papal encounter this morning.

Re: the saga of the book on the priesthood and celibacy co-authored by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and Cardinal Robert Sarah: I only want to reiterate the last part of the Register story that I posted yesterday:

“The Register asked both Archbishop Gänswein and Nicolas Diat ** or comment. Archbishop Gänswein has yet to respond, but on Jan. 15 Diat confirmed to the Register Cardinal Sarah’s summary of events, most notably stressing that the cardinal showed Benedict in person a draft copy of the cover during a private audience.

“Cardinal Sarah sent a confidential letter [to Benedict] on Nov. 19 with the full text. The proofs were complete: introduction, the two texts, and the conclusion,” Diat explained. “Then, on Dec. 3, he showed the draft cover during an audience with Benedict XVI.”

Diat also maintains that as recently as last Thursday, Jan. 9, Archbishop Gänswein spoke with Davide Cantagalli who is working on the Italian edition, and that during their conversation Archbishop Gänswein “gave his support for all the work Italian editors were doing.” Cantagalli told the Register that Diat’s comments regarding him were “false” but would not offer further details when asked.

**Nicolas Diat, a French journalist and author who has worked with Cardinal Sarah on his previous three books (God or Nothing, The Power of Silence and The Day Is Now Far Spent) and assisted in editing the current book, “From the Depths of our Hearts.”

The French publisher Fayard, has this photo of the book on their website:

U.S. publisher Ignatius Press offers this cover:

Ignatius said in a January 14 statement: “Ignatius Press published the text as we received it from the French publisher Fayard. Fayard is the publisher with whom we have collaborated on three other Cardinal Sarah titles. The text we received indicates the two authors are Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah. That text also indicates that Benedict XVI co-authored an introduction and a conclusion with Cardinal Sarah, as well as his own chapter on the priesthood, wherein he describes how his exchanges with Cardinal Sarah gave him the strength to complete what would have gone unfinished.”