I received an email today from the Pauline multimedia store in Rome: “We would like to inform you that the new book written by Cardinal Sarah with the contribution of Pope Benedict XVI, ‘From the Depths of Our Hearts,’ is available for pre-order now.”

I presume that refers to the English-language edition of the book. This seems to answer in part the question of who authored the book, although Benedict XVI is not referred to as “Pope emeritus.”

I also received great news about a friend in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State!


(Vatican News) – Pope Francis has appointed Dr. Francesca Di Giovanni, currently an official of the Secretariat of State, as under-secretary for the Section for Relations with States. She will be responsible for the multilateral sector.

Born in Palermo in 1953, Dr. Di Giovanni has worked in the Secretariat for 27 years and holds a law degree. After completing practicum as a notary, she worked in the juridical-administrative area at the International Centre of the Work of Mary (Focolare Movement). On 15 September 1993 she began work as an official in the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State. Di Giovanni has served in the multilateral sector, especially in the areas of migrants and refugees, international humanitarian law, communications, private international law, the status of women, intellectual property, and tourism.

With the appointment of Dr. Di Giovanni, the Section for Relations with States has two under-secretaries: Di Giovanni will work alongside Monsignor Mirosław Wachowski, who will continue to work primarily in the area of bilateral diplomacy.

Vatican News and L’Osservatore Romano interviewed Dr Di Giovanni:

Were you surprised by the appointment as under-secretary?
Yes, absolutely! For several years now we have been thinking about the need for an under-secretary for the multilateral sector: a delicate and demanding sector that needs special attention, because it has its own procedures, in some ways different from those of the bilateral sphere. But I sincerely never would have thought the Holy Father would have entrusted this role to me.

It is a new role and I will try to do my best to live up to the Holy Father’s trust, but I hope not to do it alone: I would like to count on the harmony that has characterized our working group so far.

What exactly is the “multilateral sector”?
Simply speaking, you can say that it deals with relations between inter-governmental organisations at the international level and includes the network of multilateral treaties, which are important because they embody the political will of States with regard to the various issues concerning the international common good: this includes development, the environment, the protection of victims of conflicts, the situation of women, and so on.

What does your work consist of?
I will continue to deal with what I have been following up to now in the Section for Relations with States, although in this new role, I shall be responsible for coordinating the work in this area.

You are the first woman to hold a position at this level in the Secretariat of State…
Yes, actually, it’s the first time a woman has had a managerial position in the Secretariat of State. The Holy Father has made an unprecedented decision, certainly, which, beyond myself personally, represents an indication of an attention towards women. But the responsibility is connected to the job, rather than to the fact of being a woman.

In your opinion, what can the specific contribution be of a woman in this field?
I cannot fail to recall the words of the Holy Father in his homily on 1 January, in which he presented — we could say — a “tribute” to the role of women, saying that, “women are givers and mediators of peace and should be fully included in decision-making processes. Because when women can share their gifts, the world finds itself more united, more peaceful”.

I would like to be able to contribute to the realization of the Holy Father’s vision, with my other colleagues who work in this area of the Secretariat of State, but also with other women — and there are many of them — who are working to build fraternity in this international dimension too. It is important to emphasize the Pope’s attention to the multilateral sector, questioned today by some, but which has a fundamental function in the international community.

A woman may have certain aptitudes for finding commonalities, healing relationships with unity at heart. I hope that my being a woman might reflect itself positively in this task, even if they are gifts that I certainly find in my male colleagues as well.

In his recent address to the Diplomatic Corps, the Pope spoke about the multilateral system, calling for its reform…
In the international community, the Holy See also has the mission of ensuring that the interdependence between people and nations be developed in a moral and ethical dimension, as well as in the other dimensions and various aspects that relations are acquiring in today’s world. One must never tire of encouraging dialogue at all levels, always seeking diplomatic solutions.

For example, in his recent speech to the Diplomatic Corps, the Pope recalled, among other things, the many positive results of the United Nations, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. We want to continue seeing the UN as a necessary means for achieving the common good, even if this does not exempt us from asking for changes or reforms where deemed necessary.


Today’s general audience began about 9:15 in the Paul VI Hall as an enthusiastic crowd of pilgrims greeted the Holy Father. After shaking hands and waving to people, Francis settled into the papal chair and began his audience catechesis by announcing he was concluding his months-long series on the Acts of the Apostles

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” he began. “Today we conclude our catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles with Paul’s arrival in Rome, in chains, to appeal his case to Caesar. As we have seen, Saint Luke’s account of the spread of the Gospel largely coincides with Paul’s missionary journeys.”

He noted that, “In Rome, Paul is welcomed by the Christian community and permitted to remain under house arrest. Luke ends the Book of Acts not with Paul’s martyrdom but by describing his tireless proclamation of the Gospel, showing the power of God’s word that can never be chained. Paul’s missionary journeys, culminating in this city, reveal the power of God’s grace to open hearts to the Gospel and its saving message.”

“Having in these past months followed the spread of the Good News throughout the world,” concluded Francis, “let us ask the Holy Spirit to renew in each one of us the call to be courageous and joyful missionary disciples of Christ. In this way, we – in the footsteps of Paul – will fill our world with the Gospel and make our communities places of fraternity where all can encounter the risen Lord.

The Pope then greeted the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience,”especially the groups from Finland and the United States of America. Upon you and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. May God bless you!”

Later, he spoke to a group after the catechesis was summarized in Arabic: “I cordially welcome the Arabic-speaking pilgrims, especially those from the Middle East! Dear brothers and sisters, the joy of the Gospel comes from the encounter with Jesus. It is when we meet the Lord that we are flooded with that love of which he alone is capable, and therein lies the source of evangelizing action. So let us not be afraid of making mistakes and fear of taking new paths, because our poverty is not an obstacle, but a precious tool, because the grace of God loves to manifest himself in weakness. The Lord bless you!”


Did you know that….

– Today is the 41st anniversary of St. John Paul’s election to the papacy in 1978 (I was in Cairo, Egypt when he was elected!)

– Mother Giuseppina Vannini, foundress of the Daughters of St. Camillus, is the first Roman to become a saint in over 400 years: St. Francesca Romana was canonized in 1608.

– Cardinal John Henry Newman is the 1st English person born after the 17th century to be canonized.

On another topic….

I found the Holy Father’s words in today’s general audience catechesis to be remarkably similar – if not identical – to words he has used several times in the synod, especially at the October 6 Mass to open the Pan-Amazonian synod about being open to the “creativity” of the Holy Spirit.

At the opening Mass, Francis said: “We cannot spend our days (in the synod) “defending the status quo. Jesus did not come to bring a gentle evening breeze, but to light a fire on the earth, … a fire that is the Holy Spirit. …. Saint Paul tells Timothy: ‘God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power and love and prudence’. Paul places prudence in opposition to timidity … which the Catechism defines as ‘the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it’.”

Those words pronounced October 6 and today’s general audience catechesis sounds like the Pope is gently alerting us to be open to big changes in the Church after – or because of – the synod. Are we being alerted to this possibility – or warned!


At the weekly general audience held in St. Peter’s Square this morning, the Holy Father continued his catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, and noted how the first Pope, St. Peter opened his mind and heart to the creativity of the Holy Spirit.

“Dear brothers and sisters,” began Francis. “In our catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, we have seen how the outpouring of the Holy Spirit led the early Church to realize that God’s offer of salvation in Christ is intended for people of every nation.”

He added that, “a critical moment in this process takes place when, in a dream, Saint Peter is told that henceforth no food is unclean in God’s eyes. Almost immediately, a Gentile, the Roman centurion Cornelius, comes to Peter and, while hearing him preach the Gospel, receives, together with his household, the gift of the Holy Spirit and is baptized.”

The Pope explained that, “these events led Peter to open his mind and heart to the “creativity” with which God was extending to all people the blessings promised to Israel. Peter’s discernment of God’s universal saving will was the mark of a true evangelizer, who desires to share the joy of the Gospel with everyone.

Pope Francis concluded by noting that, “Peter’s example also challenges us to examine our own openness to the surprising creativity with which the Holy Spirit is even now drawing all people to salvation in the Risen Lord.”



Pope Francis resumed his weekly general audiences by presiding at the first audience of August in the air-conditioned Paul VI Hall. He continued his catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, urging the faithful to trust in the Lord, and to act in His name, as the Apostles did.

The Holy Father focused his catechesis on the first account of healing in the Book of Acts of the Apostles: Peter and John’s healing of the Paralytic.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” began Francis. “In our continuing catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, we now see how the Apostles preached the Gospel of salvation not only in words but in concrete actions. The first account of healing in Acts bears witness to this.”

He explained that, “Peter and John encounter a man born lame at the entrance to the Temple. This poor beggar, who represents the excluded and discarded members of society, is looking for alms. The two Apostles fix their gaze on him, inviting him to a different way of seeing things.”

Francis emphasized that “Peter and John do not offer him not silver or gold, but the greatest gift of all: the salvation to be found in Jesus Christ. They create a relationship with him, for this is how God desires to reveal himself: through a loving encounter between people.

“Saint John Chrysostom saw in this act of raising up a lame person an image of the resurrection. It is also an image of the Church, called to look for those in need and to lift them up,” said the Pope, whose predilection for the poor, homeless and oppressed is well known.

“As we also strive to help others, let us, like Peter and John, always recognize our own need for that greatest treasure, which is our relationship with the Risen Lord.” (Source: Vaticannews)


The online edition of The Guardian today published an article noting that tourists who actually down and rest on Rome’s celebrated Spanish Steps at Piazza di Spagna may face a fine of €250 due to new laws being promulgated by Rome’s city government. Resting on the steps has been a time-honored tradition since they were first built in the early 18th century but all that may be over for visitors who just want to rest in the almost tropical heat of Rome or at the halfway point of climbing the 136 steps.

The Guardian story ends on this note:

As Rome and other Italian cities continue their crackdown on “uncouth” behavior, you might get in trouble if you do any of the following:

· “Messy eating” or “camping out” on piazzas or the steps of monuments.
· Singing, while drunk, on public transport.
· Wrapping your mouth around the nozzle of a drinking fountain.
· Walking around bare-chested.
· Dragging wheeled suitcases and buggies down historic staircases.
· Jumping into fountains.
· Dipping your toes into a canal in Venice.
· Feeding pigeons in Venice.
· Building sandcastles in Eraclea, a beach town near Venice.

FOR FULL STORY: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/07/rome-spanish-steps-fascist-style-measures-against-tourists


I heard this story for the first time in my life in a homily during Mass a few weeks back at St. Patrick’s in Rome – an astronaut who had communion on the moon! I had watched the moon landing all those decades ago on television in New York as I was getting ready the following day to sail to Europe. The 50th anniversary is next month! https://www.history.com/news/buzz-aldrin-communion-apollo-11-nasa

I never did sleep because, in addition to being riveted by the moon-landing story, I had to grade the final test papers of my four French classes at the Academy of the Holy Names and place all the grades and tests in a big envelope to mail the next morning to the academy. I had received special permission to take the tests off of school property given the proximity of the final school day to my sailing date for Europe.

The scary part of that hot July night was never the moon landing. It was when I checked into the hotel and realized the huge folder with all my test papers had been left in the taxi! I think I prayed a novena of thanksgiving for that honest taxi driver who remembered at what hotel he had dropped me off!

FYI: For those hungry for news from the Pontifical Council for Culture (soon to be merged with who knows what other Vatican office to then become a dicastery, according to rumors about the overhaul of the Roman Curia), here you go:

Click to access newsletter25.pdf

FYI 2: Today’s weekly general Wednesday audience was the last one until early August as July is the month in which Pope Francis has been traditionally reducing his schedule vis a vis private audiences and general audiences. He is, however, scheduled to appear at his study window on Sundays for the noon Angelus in July.

FYI 3: The news about the papal trip to Japan in November has not been confirmed by the Holy See but I’m sure it will be soon. I have been to a number of events recently where the Japanese ambassador to the Holy See was present. At one event, about 4 or 5 weeks ago, when asked about a possible trip, he said he knew only that the Pope wanted to go to Japan but did not know specific dates.


This morning, before going to a sun-splashed and very hot St. Peter’s Square for the weekly general audience, Pope Francis stopped by the Paul VI Hall to greet those pilgrims who were ill and could not be in the square.

“Today,” said Francis, “you came here because it’s too hot outside, too hot … It’s quieter here and you can see the audience well on the (television) screen. There will be two communities: that of the square, together with you. You are definitely attending the audience! Surely they will accommodate you to be able to see the screen well. And now, I give you my blessing, to everyone.”

Later, in the square, the Holy Father began the weekly catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, noting that, “we now consider the way of life of the first Christian community. Saint Luke presents the Church of Jerusalem, gathered in response to the Apostles’ preaching, as the paradigm of all Christian communities. As brothers and sisters in Christ, the first believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

“Luke,” the Pope explained, “portrays a community united in prayer, fraternity, charity and concern for those in need. In every age, the Church is called to be the leaven of a reconciled humanity and the foreshadowing of a world of authentic justice and peace. In this way, she is enabled to live an authentic liturgical life, experiencing the Risen Lord’s presence in prayer and in the Eucharist, in order then to bring that saving love to the world.

Francis concluded by saying, “like the early Church gathered around the Apostles, may our communities increasingly become places of deep prayer, encounter with the Lord and fellowship with our brothers and sisters, doors that open to the communion of the saints and the heavenly Jerusalem!”

In greetings following the English language summary of the papal catechesis, the Pope acknowledged visitors from England, Scotland, Wales, Australia, Japan, Guam and the United States. Archbishops from Australia, the United States and Guam are scheduled to receive the pallium this coming Saturday, feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.


Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) – Pope Francis will visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki on November 24, on the occasion of his four-day apostolic trip to Japan. The pontiff will offer prayers for the victims of the atomic attacks on the two cities, which took place in 1945 at the hands of US aviation during the Second World War. The Japanese media reported this, citing sources close to the organization of the trip.

Last January 23, it was Francis himself who announced the trip, on the flight that was taking him to Panama for the celebration of the 34th World Youth Day (WYD). A few days after the announcement of the apostolic journey, Japanese Catholics invited the pope to launch a message against nuclear weapons from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

According to rumors, the Pope plans to meet the atomic bomb survivors on the second day of his visit, which opens on November 23rd. Francis’ journey will be the second of a pontiff to the Land of the Rising Sun after John Paul II in February 1981. The pontiff will meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, and will celebrate Mass at the Tokyo Dome stadium on November 25th.

Government sources report that the Pope sent letters to the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and to the governor of the Hiroshima prefecture last May, promising to offer prayers for their citizens. Officials had extended the invitation to visit the two cities during an audience in the Vatican.

(for more: http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Pope-Francis-in-Hiroshima-and-Nagasaki-on-November-24th-47382.html)


Here’s something interesting from the Pro-Life Action League: “On Friday, June 28, small teams of pro-life volunteers will take up stations on highway overpasses in 50 cities throughout the United States for the second annual National Pro-Life Bridges Day. These volunteers will display banners declaring “Abortion takes a human life” to commuters in both directions of highway traffic during rush hour. Over one million highway commuters are expected to be reached with this pro-life message.”


Thousands of pilgrims flocked to St. Peter’s Square Wednesday morning for the traditional weekly general audience held by Pope Francis. As is also customary at these audiences, people arrived very early to go through the long security lines. The audience today began at 9 am, a half hour earlier than usual, given the very hot temperatures of recent days.

The Holy Father continued his catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, noting that, “we now turn to the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles gathered in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, in the Upper Room.”

He said that, “On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit came, in fulfillment of Christ’s promise, accompanied by violent wind and tongues of fire. These signs evoke God’s majestic self-manifestation to Moses in the burning bush and the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai.”

“The Church was thus born from the fire of God’s love and the power of his word,” exclaimed Francis. “Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, immediately inaugurates the Church’s mission of evangelization, proclaiming the Risen Jesus before the crowds and calling them to faith and conversion.”

The Holy Father then described the Holy Spirit as “the creator of communion, the artist of reconciliation who knows how to remove barriers between Jews and Greeks, slaves and freedmen.”

He explained that the Holy Spirit “makes the Church grow by helping it to go beyond human limitations, sins and scandals. Only the Spirit of God has the power to humanize” and to create connections, “beginning with those who receive Him.”

Francis went on to say that, “the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost reveals that the heart of the new and eternal Covenant is no longer the written word of the Law, but the living presence of the Spirit, who renews all creation, dwells in our hearts, builds unity from diversity, and everywhere brings about reconciliation and communion.

“May the same Spirit,” he said in conclusion, “lead us to experience a new Pentecost and to become joyful and convincing witnesses to the Risen Christ in our world.”

(Click here to see video of Pope arriving in St. Peter’s Square and to listen to the catechesis: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/papal-audience/2019-06/video-pope-francis-general-audience-19-june-2019.html#play


The Vatican inaugurated a new website today for Vatican City State, the first update since 2012. The graphics, videos, and photos are wonderful but when I looked for other language versions (es for Espanol, fr for Francais, etc) I could find none. However, I did a little test: in the link, I substituted /en for /it and found English. Here’s the original link: http://www.vaticanstate.va/it Here’s English: http://www.vaticanstate.va/en However, you have to go to the top right of the homepage and click on the 3 lines (the index to content) to actually get the English content. I hope that’s clear!

I posted a link this morning on my Facebook page to the Washington Post interview with Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. The archbishop is clear and very detailed in his answers to the Post’s 40 questions, He did write n/a to several persons questions (such as where he is living) when he deemed it ‘not applicable’ to answer. Here is a link to the full article – an absolutely fascinating read! https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/this-archbishop-called-on-the-pope-to-resign-now-hes-in-an-undisclosed-location/2019/06/09/bb69c346-71b5-11e9-9331-30bc5836f48e_story.html?utm_term=.b1f061c7b277


Pope Francis continued his new Wednesday general audience catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, telling the faithful in St. Peter’s Square today, “we have seen that the Church’s evangelizing mission begins with the resurrection of Christ. As the disciples, together with Mary, waited in the Upper Room for the fulfilment of Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit, they were united in prayer. From the beginning, the Church appears as a communion, a community, the People of God. Christ’s choice of twelve Apostles shows the continuity between the Church and the people of Israel.

“After the defection of Judas,” continued the Pope, “the Apostles were conscious that his place in the Twelve had to be taken by another. Guided by Peter, the community as a whole joined in prayer to discern the Lord’s choice of Matthias. Jesus had told his disciples that they would be known by their love for one another (Jn 13:35).

Francis said, “the visible communion of the Apostles was their first form of witness to the Risen Lord and his saving love. May we too bear witness to the reconciling power of that love by our unity, which triumphs over pride and divisiveness, and creates from diversity the one People of God.”


In greetings to Polish pilgrims attending today’s general audience, Pope Francis said “I know that many of you and thousands of your countrymen took part in the life parades last Sunday, bringing the message that life is sacred because it is a gift from God. We are called to defend it and serve it from conception in the womb to age advanced, when it is marked by infirmity and suffering.

“It is not permissible to destroy life,” stated the Holy Father, “to make it the object of experimentation or false conceptions. I ask you to pray that human life will always be respected, thus witnessing to Gospel values especially in the context of the family. From my heart, I bless you and your loved ones.”


The Vatican Wednesday issued a decree that recognized “the heroic virtues of Servant of God Augustine Tolton, diocesan priest, born in Brush Creek, (USA) April 1, 1854 and died in Chicago July 9, 1897.”

Fr. Tolton (Ave Maria Press)

The decree announcing Fr. Tolton’s heroic virtues was one of eight similar decrees announced Wednesday by the Vatican. The Pope authorized their publication in a meeting yesterday with Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Icon of Fr. Tolton

The Missouri-born priest was the first African American ordained as a Catholic priest. Born of slaves, and a former slave himself, Augustus was reared as a Catholic and named Augustine when he was baptized. He studied in Rome where he was ordained at St. John Lateran basilica on Easter Sunday, 1886. Fr. Tolton was assigned to the diocese of Alton, today the diocese of Springfield, and actually worked in his home parish of Quincy, Illinois. He was eventually assigned to Chicago where he helped build St. Monica’s Church which became home to black American Catholics.

A site is dedicated to Fr. Tolton in the diocese: https://tolton.archchicago.org/