VATICAN INSIDER: BISHOP ADAM PARKER EXPLAINS AD LIMINA VISITS – ADVENT SERMON: MARY IN THE ANNUNCIATION: BLESSED IS SHE WHO BELIEVED

VATICAN INSIDER: BISHOP ADAM PARKER EXPLAINS AD LIMINA VISITS

Don’t miss Vatican Insider this weekend because Bishop Adam Parker, auxiliary of Baltimore, who is in Rome with U.S. bishops from Regions 4 and 5 of the USCCB for their long overdue ad limina visit, is mt guest this week. Normally these mandatory visits occur every five years but the last time U.S. bishops were here was late 2011 and 2012.

Bishop Parker will explain what the term “ad limina” means, how bishops prepare for their visit, what actually takes place when they are in Rome and what it is like to sit in the presence of the Pope for several hours for a no-holds-barred (Francis’ words) give and take of tough questions, comments, etc.

With Bishop Lori (in back) of Baltimore

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: https://www.ewtn.com/radio/audio-archive (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

ADVENT SERMON: MARY IN THE ANNUNCIATION: BLESSED IS SHE WHO BELIEVED

The Preacher of the Papal Household, Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, gave his first Advent reflection this morning in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel in the Apostolic Palace. His sermon highlighted Mary in the Annunciation, “Blessed is She Who Believed.”

”Every year,” he began, “the liturgy leads us to Christmas with three guides: Isaiah, John the Baptist and Mary, the prophet, the precursor, the mother. The first announced the Messiah from afar, the second showed him present in the world, the third bore him in her womb. This Advent I have thought to entrust ourselves entirely to the Mother of Jesus. No one, better than she can prepare us to celebrate the birth of our Redeemer.

“She didn’t celebrate Advent, she lived it in her flesh. Like every mother bearing a child she knows what it means be waiting for somebody and can help us in approaching Christmas with an expectant faith. We shall contemplate the Mother of God in the three moments in which Scripture presents her at the center of the events: the Annunciation, the Visitation and Christmas.”

To read the rest of Father Cantalamessa’s beautiful reflection, click here: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city/news/2019-12/raniero-cantalamessa-first-advent-sermon-2019-mary.html

POPE: MAKE WORLD MORE HUMAN BY GUARANTEEING THE DIGNITY OF THE DISABLED – HOLY SEE, SANT’EGIDIO COMMUNITY TO BRING REFUGEES TO ITALY FROM LESBOS

Pope Francis this morning met with 37 bishops, including emeritus prelates, and one priest who is the diocesan administrator of Shreveport in Louisiana, from Regions IV and V of the USCCB who are in Rome on their ad limina visit. These mandatory visits normally take place every five years but the US prelates were last in Rome on ad limina in 2011. Region IV includes the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, West Virginia, and the Military Archdiocese. Region V prelates are from Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

POPE: MAKE WORLD MORE HUMAN BY GUARANTEEING THE DIGNITY OF THE DISABLED

On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, December 3rd, Pope Francis recalls how the promotion of the right to participation plays a central role in combating discrimination and promoting a culture of encounter and quality of life.
By Lydia O’Kane

In his message marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Pope Francis notes that “great progress has been made towards people with disabilities in the medical and welfare fields.”

But he highlights the fact that even today there is still a culture of waste with many disabled people feeling that “\”they exist without belonging and without participating.”

Protection of rights
The Pope stresses that “all this calls not only for the rights of people with disabilities and their families to be protected,” but “it also urges us to make the world more human” by removing prejudice.

It is necessary, Pope Francis writes, “to take care of and accompany people with disabilities in every condition of life, also making use of current technologies,” so that they can actively and with dignity participate in both civil and ecclesial communities.

He also says, that the accessibility of places and quality of life need to be promoted, taking into account all the dimensions of the human being.

Hidden exiles
In the message, the Pope emphasizes “the many ‘hidden exiles’ who live in our homes, our families and our societies.”

“I am thinking of people of all ages, especially the elderly who, also because of their disability, are sometimes felt as a burden, as ‘cumbersome presences’, and are in danger of being discarded, of being denied concrete job prospects to participate in the construction of their own future.”

Pope Francis stresses that “we need to develop antibodies against a culture that considers some lives” first or second-class. “This is a social sin,” he says.

A change of mentality needed
On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Pontiff invites people to “have the courage to give a voice to those who are discriminated against because of their disability.”

“Making good laws and breaking down physical barriers is important,” the Pope writes, “but it is not enough, if the mentality does not change.”

Concluding his message, Pope Francis encourages “all those who work with people with disabilities to continue with this important service and commitment, which determines the degree of civilization of a nation.”

HOLY SEE, SANT’EGIDIO COMMUNITY TO BRING REFUGEES TO ITALY FROM LESBOS

A December 2 communique from Apostolic Almsgiver:

“The Holy Father Francis, on the occasion of his trip to the Island of Lesbos in April 2016, brought back to Italy three Syrian families seeking asylum. The Holy See took on the charge of welcoming and sustaining them, while hospitality and integration were assumed by the Sant’Egidio Community.

“Last May, three years after that event, the Pope asked the Apostolic Almsgiver (Office of Papal Charities) to return to the island to renew solidarity with the Greek people and refugees, and he also expressed the desire to make a further gesture of solidarity and host a group of young refugees and some families from Afghanistan, Cameroon and Togo.

“After an intense period of official negotiations between the competent authorities, in order to carry out this new humanitarian corridor the Interior Ministry of the Italian Republic gave final assent to carrying out the operation.

“Therefore today, December 2, the papal Almsgiver* returned to the Island of Lesbos, together with some leaders of the Sant’Egidio Community. They will return to Italy on December 4 with a group of 33 refugees requesting political asylum. This operation will end in December, when another 10 refugees will be accompanied to Italy, thus starting the procedures necessary for the request for international protection.

“Welcoming these refugees will be assumed by the Holy See, through the Apostolic Almsgiving office and by the Sant’Egidio Community.”

A Vaticannews story with the title, “Two families in Luxembourg,” noted that, on November 19 the archdiocese of Luxembourg, led by new Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich who, in May, had participated in the mission of Cardinal Krajewski to Lesbos, also opened its doors to two families of refugees from the same camps on the Greek island, one originally from Kuwait with two children aged 8 and 5 and one from Syria with twins aged almost two years.

* The head of the Apostolic Almsgiving Office (Office of Papal Charities) is Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, also known as the papal almsgiver. (https://www.elemosineria.va/)

POPE FRANCIS IN JAPAN – AMERICAN BISHOPS CONTINUE AD LIMINA VISITS TO ROME

POPE FRANCIS IN JAPAN

The Holy Father has had an amazing trip to Asia, first in Thailand as you saw from the colorful photos and videos and media reports, and now in Japan where he arrived late afternoon on Saturday, November 23. He is due back in Rome tomorrow, November 26, when he will surely visit Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major) and the image he so loves and that is so dear to Romans, Salus Populi Romani (Protectress or salvation of the Roman people).

Pope Francis’ final day in Japan is tomorrow, November 26. His schedule includes Mass with Jesuits in the chapel of Sophia University, followed by breakfast and a private meeting with the Collegium Maximum and a visit of the university. After a ceremony at Tokyo-Haneda airport, the papal plane departs for Rome at 11:35 local time, arriving back in Rome at 5:15 pm Rome time. There is an 8-hour time difference between Tokyo and Rome. The flight to Rome is estimated to take over 12 and a half hours.

Following are links to Vatican news reports of the various stops, visits and events of Pope Francis in Japan (Several have videos). The last Pope to visit Japan was Pope St. John Paul in 1981. The photo slideshow is from vaticannews.va

NOVEMBER 23

Pope to Japanese bishops: witness to the Gospel and protect life
In his first meeting in Japan, Pope Francis encourages Japan’s tiny Catholic community to witness daily to the Lord by protecting life and proclaiming the Gospel of compassion and mercy. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-apostolic-visit-japan-bishops-message.html

NOVEMBER 24
Pope in Nagasaki urges commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons – News Video
Visiting the Peace Memorial in Nagasaki on Sunday morning, Pope Francis confirms that peace and security cannot be guaranteed through false security based on fear and mutual mistrust. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/news-video-pope-nagasaki-urges-nuclear-free-world.html

The Pope’s day in Nagasaki and Hiroshima
A sixty-second video sums up Pope Francis’ poignant day in two Japanese cities that symbolise the tragedy of nuclear warfare: Nagasaki and Hiroshima. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-apostolic-visit-japan-nagasaki-hiroshima-video.html

Pope in Hiroshima: Use and possession of atomic energy for war is immoral
On his first full day in Japan, Pope Francis visits the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and describes it as a place where death and life, loss and rebirth, suffering and compassion have met. He reaffirms that the use and possesson of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-in-hiroshima-use-and-possession-of-atomic-energy-for-war-i.html

NOVEMBER 25
Pope to victims of Japan’s “triple disaster”: We are part of one another
Pope Francis meets with victims of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident that struck the Japanese city of Fukushima in 2011. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-to-victims-of-triple-disaster-we-are-part-of-one-another.html

Pope Francis meets victims of Japan’s “triple disaster” – News Video
On his third day in Japan, Pope Francis meets the victims of the earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear accident of 2011. He reminds us we are all members of one family, and that if one member suffers, we all do. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-meets-victims-of-japan-s-triple-disaster.html

Pope Francis meets with Japan’s Emperor Naruhito
Pope Francis meets with the Emperor of Japan, Naruhito, at the Tokyo Imperial Palace on Monday. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-private-meeting-japan-emperor.html

Pope to young people in Tokyo: ‘Japan needs you, the world needs you!’
One rendezvous Pope Francis never misses during an Apostolic Visit abroad is meeting with young people, “the builders of tomorrow’s society”. That meeting took place on the penultimate day of his visit to Japan, when he took time to meet with the youth in Tokyo. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-tokyo-japan-meeting-young-people.html

Pope at Mass in Tokyo: Gospel of life urges us to be a “field hospital”
Pope Francis celebrates Mass on Monday afternoon at the Tokyo Dome stadium. In his homily, the Pope says we need to get our priorities right, in line with the life of Jesus. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-apostolic-journey-japan-mass-tokyo0.html

Pope to authorities: your heritage is precious, your morals high
Pope Francis addresses members of civil society and the diplomatic corps, in Japan, and urges them to cherish their precious cultural heritage, maintaining solidarity with all members of our human family. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-address-authorities-civil-society-japan.html

Pope receives Scholas Occurrentes on its launch in Japan
On the penultimate day of his November 19-26 Apostolic Journey in Thailand and Japan, Pope Francis met representatives of the Scholas Occurrentes at the Apostolic Nunciature in Japan. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-apsotolic-journey-japan-sholas-occurrentes-inaugura.html

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

AMERICAN BISHOPS CONTINUE AD LIMINA VISITS TO ROME

American bishops from New Jersey and Pennsylvania are in Rome for their ad limina visit. The last time that U.S. prelates were in Rome for an ad limina (they are normally held every five years, the mandatory quinquennial ad limina apostolorum (to the threshold of the Apostles) was in 2011 with Pope Benedict.

New Jersey has 5 Latin rite dioceses and 2 Eastern rite dioceses, Pennsylvania has 8 Latin rite dioceses and 2 Eastern rite. Only Latin Rite bishops are in Rome for this 2019-2020 series of ad limina visits that end in January. New Jersey and Pennsylvania have a total of 32 bishops, including auxiliaries and emeritus bishops.

The bishops will be visiting various congregations, pontifical councils, dicasteries and other Roman Curial offices during the week and will have an audience with Pope Francis on Friday. They are scheduled to be at the Thanksgiving Day festivities on November 28 at the North American College that include a late afternoon Mass to be celebrated by Bishop James Chechhio of Metuchen, New Jersey, former rector of NAC. An abundant turkey dinner for invited guests will follow Mass.

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES – GLORIOUS LIVES, CARDINAL FRANCIS GEORGE

You can follow the US Bishops meeting online at http://www.usccb.org and you might want to check out these twitter accounts: https://twitter.com/HeinleinMichael, https://twitter.com/jdflynn, https://twitter.com/canonlawyered, ttps://twitter.com/NCRegister You might want to see if your bishop is tweeting or has a blog.

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES
(Source: http://www.uscb.org)
Cardinals – There are 14 U.S. Cardinals
5 Cardinals Currently Lead U.S. Archdioceses
§ Cardinal Blase J. Cupich – Chicago
§ Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo – Galveston-Houston
§ Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan – New York
§ Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley – Boston
§ Cardinal Joseph William Tobin, CSsR – Newark

4 U.S. Cardinals Currently Serve in a Another Capacity
§ Cardinal Raymond L. Burke – Patron of the Order of Malta
§ Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell – Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life
§ Cardinal James M. Harvey – Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls
§ Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien – Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem

5 U.S. Cardinals Are Retired
§ Cardinal Roger M. Mahony – Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles
§ Cardinal Adam J. Maida – Archbishop Emeritus of Detroit
§ Cardinal Justin F. Rigali – Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia
§ Cardinal James F. Stafford – Major Penitentiary Emeritus
§ Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl – Archbishop Emeritus of Washington

Eastern Catholic Churches are churches with origins in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa that have their own distinctive liturgical, legal and organizational systems and are identified by the national or ethnic character of their region of origin. Each is considered fully equal to the Latin tradition within the Church in the United States. The curial offices and chanceries of Eastern Catholic Eparchies and Archeparchies are based in a certain city. However, the Eparchies and Archeparchies have jurisdiction over large swaths of the United States (and Canada) based on the breadth of each individual Church.

The Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA provides pastoral care and spiritual services to those serving in the armed forces of the United States, Department of Veterans Affairs facilities, and the dependents of those retired or on active duty. On July 21, 1986 Pope John Paul II reorganized the military vicariate as an archdiocese with its own archbishop and relocated the see to the District of Columbia. The AMS oversees Catholic priests serving as chaplains and has no defined territory. Its jurisdiction extends to wherever American uniformed military members serve including all U.S. Government property, military installations, embassies, and other diplomatic missions.

The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter was established January 1, 2012 to serve former Anglican groups and clergy in the United States who sought to become Catholic. Similar to a diocese though national in scope, the Ordinariate is based in Houston, Texas and includes parishes and communities across the United States that are fully Catholic, while retaining elements of their Anglican heritage and traditions.

The Archdioceses and Dioceses of the United States are divided into 14 geographic regions with the Eastern Catholic Churches constituting their own membership region for the purposes of USCCB proceedings. These regions typically include two or more Metropolitan Archdioceses and several Dioceses across one or more States.

When bishops come to Rome for their ad limina visits, as U.S. bishops have been doing since November 4 and will do to January 2020) they come in numerical order by region, I, II etc.).

Click here to see all the (Arch) dioceses of the United States, bishops and websites: http://www.usccb.org/about/bishops-and-dioceses/all-dioceses.cfm

GLORIOUS LIVES, CARDINAL FRANCIS GEORGE

As I mentioned yesterday, one of the reasons I came to Washington was to be at the presentation last evening at CUA, Catholic University of America, of the documentary “Glorious Lives – Cardinal Francis George,” produced by Shalom World with Mike Stark. It was a most memorable evening with very special guest commentators and moderator, Chad Pecknold, CUA professor of theological, social and political thought.

Bishop Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois was a guest commentator, as were Michael Heinlein who is writing a biography of Cardinal George, Mary Hallan FioRito whose decades in the Chicago archdiocese included a term as the first female vice-chancellor and her great friendship with the cardinal, and Robert Royal of the Faith and Reason Institute, also a friend of the cardinal’s. It was like a mini family reunion for me as I joined those guests, Mike Stark and Fr. Dan Flens, Cardinal George’s longtime secretary and now a very good friend of mine.

The following piece appeared today in the UK’s Catholic Herald. I offer this to all my friends who knew, loved and perhaps even worked for Cardinal George as frosting on the cake that was the film.

The photos are mine.

If you need to be inspired by someone who was truly one of the greats, this will do it for you.

THE CARDINAL WHO SHOWS THE CHURCH HOW TO FACE SUFFERING WITH DIVINE CHARITY
by C C Pecknold

Even while battling cancer, Cardinal George was also leading the bishops in their defense of freedom

Catholic University students were treated last night to a screening of a remarkable new documentary on the life and witness of Cardinal Francis George, OMI. The former Archbishop of Chicago is remembered for raising the intellectual standard of the episcopate, and insisting upon the importance of intelligent evangelization in a secularizing culture. His sharp warnings against a “nation state gone bad, claiming an absolute power, deciding questions and making ‘laws’ beyond its competence,” came to a prophetic head when the 2012 HHS contraceptive mandate made those threats real with the Obama administration’s overt attack on the Church’s liberty. Even while Cardinal George was battling cancer, he was also leading the bishops in their defense of freedom.

Even before the long battle over the contraceptive mandate, Cardinal George had warned a group of priests that as secularization of society increases, so will the suffering of the Church. He told those priests these famous words: “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.” Those words became emblazoned on the minds of many American Catholics, as they faced new hostilities, the idea that they may have to suffer for their faith.

Cardinal George’s hard realism about the trials and tribulations set before the church today, from within and without, were always matched with joyful perseverance and the witness of hope. This documentary doesn’t focus on Cardinal George’s famous words so much as the gift of faith that gave us his most elevated and prophetic words.

Born Francis Eugene George in Chicago on January 16, 1937 as the world was setting to war, he was stricken with polio as a child. The great pain and physical suffering was matched by the difficulties of being told by his own diocese that he could not pursue the priesthood due to his limitations. As the film makes clear, even the young Francis knew how to look at suffering squarely in the face and trust God to find a way through it. He became a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate, became a priest, then Vicar General for his religious community, before becoming bishop of Yakima, Portland, and finally Chicago.

As Pope Pius XI once said of the missionary fortitude of the Oblates, could certainly be said of Cardinal George, he was a “specialist in the most difficult missions of the Church.”

Cardinal George would sometimes collapse at Mass due to post-polio weakness. But then he’d pick himself back up as Christ did with his cross. He never treated his suffering as a burden, though he had every external reason to do so. Why? At the heart of Cardinal George’s faith as an Oblate was oblation. An oblation is an offering to God, but an offering that you are really willing to lose, to have it destroyed in hopes that God will make something holy out of it.

In the Old Testament, one gives “first fruits” as an oblation. Yet Christ makes the perfect offering, the total gift of himself, body, blood, soul, and divinity. In conformity to Christ, faithful are also called to make an offering of themselves, most of all, at Mass — to give oneself completely to God in Christ means to give yourself in a way that you are willing to lose your life, to have something holy made out of it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Watching the inspiring documentary of his life, I saw something new in the man I once met, and admired from afar. I saw more clearly the secret of his life. I saw the secret of his joyful perseverance. Facing suffering in himself with realism, intelligence and joy was possible because this was his oblation, his offering to God through Jesus Christ, meant a suffering life could be transfigured into something holy that heals and elevates a person.

Cardinal George’s non-liberal defense of human dignity inspired me. He once said, “The Church’s social teaching doesn’t begin with the individual, it begins with the family.” He would stress that society is more than politics, and that the Catholic can stress commonality and the common good so powerfully because we have a clear vision that the human person is made for communion. I deeply resonated with his defense of the unborn as integral to our common good.

“When the we took the protection of law away from the unborn,” Cardinal George would say, “we destroyed our constitutional order.” That is precisely right, it seems to me. Yet Cardinal George also had a reputation for praying for women during difficult pregnancies. He did not simply make arguments, he made oblations, offerings, prayers, sacrifices for his flock that bore holy fruit and benefits both temporal and eternal.

Today I think about Cardinal George, and how much we still need his help. The Church is going through great suffering. How must we respond to suffering in our lives as Catholics? How should we respond to suffering in the Church? How are we to respond to the suffering of our neighbors, those in the outer courts, even the suffering of those who would like to inflict suffering upon us? As secularization advances, the Cardinal warned, so will the suffering of the Church. The thought itself can become for us a great burden which causes us to despair, to lose hope, to scatter, and be crushed without being made holy.

Yet Cardinal George would point us to a better hope, an oblative hope, and an intelligent evangelical zeal. He would point us to the blood of the martyrs that becomes the seed of the Church in every age. He would point us to those sacrifices we can make for the love of God and neighbor, the love that picks up the ruined shards of civilization.

Francis Cardinal George suffered greatly throughout his life. Nearing the end, dying of cancer, he said “The lord strips things away from us, sometimes even good things, until there is nothing left but the love of God.” This is the Christian who can teach us how to offer ourselves completely to God, even our suffering, so that we can truly bear joyful witness to Jesus Christ who makes holy our oblations. At the center is always Jesus, the only one who truly gives strength to the weak, who raises up the broken hearted, who gives evangelical hope to the hopeless — and who can set our world on fire with divine charity. I believe Francis George was purified, and made holy, by Jesus Christ — and that he shows that the path of holiness is possible for all of us. I pray his cause advances, and that we ask for his intercession, both for ourselves, and for all the pilgrim Church in her present suffering, especially for our bishops. May the Lord strip away the things which distract us from the love of God, without which nothing endures forever.

Cardinal George, pray for us.

VATICAN INSIDER AND THE VATICAN’S COMMUNICATIONS REFORMATION – LATE VIETNAMESE ARCHBISHOP WAS A “PRIEST OF THE PERIPHERIES”

VATICAN INSIDER AND THE VATICAN’S COMMUNICATIONS REFORMATION

My guest this week on Vatican Insider is Chris Altieri, a former colleague at Vatican Radio. For years, you, my listeners, probably read Chris’ stories on the webpages of English Vatican Radio and heard his voice as he did wonderful commentaries for papal Masses and other events.

This weekend, in the first of two parts, we look at the reform of Vatican communications – what has happened so far, the low morale in the Vatican, what reform means for Vatican personnel in the communications area and what it means for people around the world who listen to a greatly changed Vatican radio – except we are not supposed to use that name anymore!

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. 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.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

LATE VIETNAMESE ARCHBISHOP WAS A “PRIEST OF THE PERIPHERIES”

When I learned Wednesday morning of the sudden and tragic death in Rome a day earlier of the archbishop of HoChiMinh Ville (Saigon), Vietnam. I immediately thought of my very good friend, Msgr. Cuong Pham, who works in the Roman Curia at the Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts. I thought of Cuong because he is the first Vietnamese priest I ever knew and I was sure he knew all of Vietnam’s bishops.

Cuong was born in Vietnam but he is now a U.S. citizen. When he was studying in Rome and living at the Casa Santa Maria, part of the North American College, we met and became fast friends. His life story was so incredibly fascinating that I did a two- part interview with him for Vatican Insider – from the shores in Vietnam with the “boat people” to the shores of the United States to the doors of the Vatican! If his story, his family’s story, was made into a movie, it would be at the top of the charts for weeks!

I was blessed a few years ago to meet his parents and one of his brothers when they were in Rome and offered the hospitality of my home to meet these people who had become heroes to me.

When I was in Vietnam a few years ago, visiting both DaNang and Saigon, Cuong’s relatives and priest friends made my trip exceptional, unbelievably memorable. I’ll never forget our meals together, their help, their stories, their lives, especially the young men studying for the priesthood or those who had been recently ordained.

Something you should know, by the way: Vietnam is second only to the Philippines for the percentage of Catholics in the country. There is a very large Vietnamese presence in Rome including many priests, a number of seminarians and untold numbers of lay faithful.

In any case, after learning of Archbishop Paul Bùi Văn Đọc’s death, I sent Cuong an email to express my condolences to him and, through him, to all the bishops of Vietnam, including Cardinal Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon, archbishop of Hanoi, created a cardinal in 2015 by Pope Francis, the sixth cardinal ever from Vietnam. I briefly met the cardinal at the courtesy visits the afternoon of the consistory in which he became a cardinal and told him I had recently been to his country, but not to Hanoi.

The Vietnamese bishops have been in Rome this week on the mandatory “ad limina apostolorum” (to the threshold of the Apostles) visit all bishops must pay to Rome – usually every five years. During these visits, they meet with the Pope and visit various offices of the Roman Curia.

Here is a video of their meeting with Pope Francis on Monday. You will see the cardinal to the right of the papal chair and then you see the first person to greet Pope Francis and kiss his ring – he announces him name, saying he is the archbishop of Hochiminh Ville: https://www.romereports.com/en/2018/03/05/pope-francis-meets-with-bishops-from-vietnam/

This video was all the more poignant for me after a long phone conversation last night with Fr. Cuong.

I learned that, because he is one of two Vietnamese priests in the Curia, he was put in charge of arranging the entire ad limina visit for the Vietnamese bishops. Obviously he knows Vietnamese, English and Italian and is very familiar with the Vatican, its offices and Vatican City, as he is with the city of Rome. All of that served him well so he could serve the bishops well.

Cuong arranged for lodgings, transport to the Vatican and basilicas of Rome, and coordinated all the meetings with the Holy Father and various officials of the Roman Curia. Working at his own job in the legislative texts council in the meantime!

Because the late archbishop’s name was Paul, Fr. Cuong thought it would be a lovely experience for the Vietnamese prelates to celebrate Mass at the papal basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls and arranged for that to happen Tuesday morning.

It was during Mass, Cuong said, that everyone could see something was obviously very wrong with the archbishop, although he said he could finish Mass. A reception had been planned after Mass with the presence of hundreds of Vietnamese Catholics.

The vans that had brought the prelates to Mass were not parked close to the basilica so the archbishop was brought in a private car to San Camillo hospital, noted for its cardiac unit, where he died after three attempts to revive him when his heart stopped.

Fr. Cuong was at his side when he died. As we spoke last night, we both agreed how extraordinarily beautiful it has to be for a priest to die right after celebrating the Eucharist – after turning the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ!

Cuong told me he had eaten dinner with Archbishop Văn Đọc on Monday night and they were celebrating all the beautiful moments up to that point with the Holy Father and others in the Vatican. The archbishop was a contented person.

The archbishop is still at San Camillo hospital as I write, and Cuong is in the throes of dealing with officials at the Vietnamese embassy and in Italy to see to his transfer back to Vietnam. Hochiminh Ville diocese has two auxiliaries and, according to Canon Law, it would be the first appointed of the two to accompany the late archbishop back to Vietnam.

Fr. Cuong wanted me to know above all what an extremely wonderful priest and human being Archbishop Văn Đọc was.

“He was generous to a fault,” said Cuong. “He was a man of great empathy, of compassion, of mercy – a priest ‘of the peripheries’ as Pope Francis likes to say. The ‘least of these’ are the people he gravitated to, in particular orphans and those with disabilities. He was unique in so many ways and will be sorely missed. God rest his beautiful soul.”

Pope Francis invited Vietnam’s bishops to Mass in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence on Wednesday and shared some special time with them.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of State, will celebrate a memorial Mass in the Canon’s Chapel of St. Peter’s Basilica tomorrow, Saturday, March 10. A large number of Vietnamese faithful are expected to attend and there will probably be an overflow crowd as this lovely chapel (right across from the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in the basilica) cannot accommodate hundreds.

One Vietnamese bishop whom I do know but have not yet seen in Rome is Bishop Joseph Chau Ngoc Tri, now of Lạng Sơn et Cao Bằng, but he was the bishop of DaNang when we met. He was a wonderful guide, friend and host for a number of meals in his residence, just yards from the DaNang cathedral.

I have followed the cause for canonization of Fr. Vincent Capodanno for a number of years and have participated in events in Italy and in Vietnam where he died on a battlefield near DaNang on September 4, 1967, trying to minister to “his men” when he was a chaplain in the Navy. A celebration in DaNang was the reason for my first ever Vietnam trip.

POPE’S DAILY MASS FOR INTENTIONS OF COPTIC POPE TAWADROS II – PAPAL VIDEO MESSAGE ON THE EVE OF TRIP TO EGYPT – THE HOLY FAMILY AND THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT

When I got up this morning I wondered why it was so delightfully quiet outside and then I realized that it’s April 25, Italy’s Liberation Day, a national holiday that commemorates the end of the Fascist regime and the end of the Nazi occupation of Italy This is the 72nd such celebration of the Festa della Liberazione. In Rome this holiday starts with a ceremony at the Altare della Patria, commonly known as the Victor Emanauel monument or Vittoriano, in the presence of the Italian president.  State schools, some private schools, offices and many stores are closed and transportation is reduced. Many places also closed yesterday, Monday, the ponte or bridge, between the two-day weekend and today’s holiday.

Yesterday afternoon in St. Peter’s basilica, Pope Francis celebrated the funeral rites for Cardinal Attilio Nicora, the former president of the Vatican’s Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), who died on Saturday at the age of 80. The funeral rites and homily were delivered by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals. The Holy Father presided at the rites of Commendatio and Valedictio. There are now 221 members of the College of Cardinals, 117 of whom are cardinal electors (those under the age of 80) (photo: news.va)

Today the Holy Father received in audience 22 prelates of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario on their “ad Limina Apostolorum” visit. Canadian bishops are fulfilling the ad limina obligation by region.

POPE’S DAILY MASS FOR INTENTIONS OF COPTIC POPE TAWADROS II

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Tuesday for the intentions of his “brother,” Coptic Patriarch Pope Tawadros II, whom he will be meeting in three days’ time as he makes an apostolic voyage to Egypt.

The day’s Mass commemorates Saint Mark the Evangelist, who is recognized as the founder of the patriarchate of Alexandria. “I offer this Mass for my brother, Pope Tawadros II, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts,” Pope Francis said. He prayed for “the grace that the Lord might bless our two churches with the abundance of the Holy Spirit.

The Cardinal counsellors who make up the C-9 advisory group were among the faithful taking part in the Pope’s daily Mass.

In his homily during the liturgy, Pope Francis said the Gospel must be proclaimed with humility, overcoming the temptation of pride. He spoke about the necessity for Christians to “go out to proclaim” the Good News. A preacher, he said, must always be on a journey, and not seek “an insurance policy,” seeking safety by remaining in one place.

PAPAL VIDEO MESSAGE ON THE EVE OF TRIP TO EGYPT

Following is the text of Pope Francis’ video message to the people of Egypt on the vigil of his April 28-29 apostolic voyage:

Dear people of Egypt! Al Salamò Alaikum! Peace be with you!

With a joyful and grateful heart I will come in a few days’ time to visit your dear homeland: cradle of civilization, gift of the Nile, land of sun and hospitality, where Patriarchs and Prophets lived and where God, Clement and Merciful, the One and Almighty, made His voice heard.

I am truly happy to come as a friend, as a messenger of peace and as a pilgrim to the Country that gave, more than two thousand years ago, refuge and hospitality to the Holy Family fleeing from the threats of King Herod (cfr. Mt 2:1-26). I am honoured to visit the land visited by the Holy Family!

I greet you cordially and thank you for having invited me to visit Egypt, which you call “Umm il Dugna” / Mother of the Universe!

I warmly thank Mr. President of the Republic, His Holiness the Patriarch Tawadros II, the Great Imam of Al-Azhar and the Coptic Catholic Patriarch who have invited me; and I thank each one of you, who make space for me in your hearts. I also thank all those people who have worked, and are working, to make this trip possible.

I hope that this visit will be an embrace of consolation and of encouragement to all Christians in the Middle East; a message of friendship and esteem to all inhabitants of Egypt and the region; a message of fraternity and reconciliation to all children of Abraham, particularly in the Islamic world, in which Egypt occupies a primary position. I hope that it may also offer a valid contribution to interreligious dialogue with the Islamic world, and to ecumenical dialogue with the venerated and beloved Coptic Orthodox Church.

Our world, torn by blind violence, which has also afflicted the heart of your dear land – needs peace, love and mercy; it needs workers for peace, free and liberating people, courageous people able to learn from the past to build a future without closing themselves up in prejudices; it needs builders of bridges of peace, dialogue, brotherhood, justice, and humanity.

Dear Egyptian brothers, young and elderly, women and men, Muslims and Christians, rich and poor … I embrace you warmly and ask God Almighty to bless you and protect your country from every evil.

Please, pray for me! Shukran wa Tahiaì Misr! / Thank you, and long live Egypt!

THE HOLY FAMILY AND THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT

I bought this parchment years ago in Egypt when I visited the site of this celebrated church, Abu Sargah, which is the oldest church in Egypt dating back to the 5th century A.D. In Coptic Cairo, this church (also spelled Abu Sarga) was constructed upon the crypt of the Holy Family during their sojourn in Egypt. On our visit, we could not descend into the crypt as there had been water damage and it was flooded. I framed the parchment between two pieces of glass as this show the details of the work.

The church is dedicated to Saints Sergius and Bacchus who served as soldiers in the Roman Army. They were faithful followers of Jesus, and were martyred in Syria in 296 for refusing to worship the Roman gods.

The Abu Sargah website notes that the church once housed Egypt’s oldest altar which was transferred to the Coptic Museum. The roof is one of the most interesting features of the church and said to have been constructed in the shape of Noah’s Ark.

We read in Matthew 2 about the Flight into Egypt when St. Joseph was warned in a dream after the visit of the Three Magi:

7 Then Herod summoned the wise men to see him privately. He asked them the exact date on which the star had appeared  8 and sent them on to Bethlehem with the words, ‘Go and find out all about the child, and when you have found him, let me know, so that I too may go and do him homage.’

9 Having listened to what the king had to say, they set out. And suddenly the star they had seen rising went forward and halted over the place where the child was. 10 The sight of the star filled them with delight, 11 and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.

12 But they were given a warning in a dream not to go back to Herod, and returned to their own country by a different way.

13 After they had left, suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.’

14 So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until Herod was dead. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: I called my son out of Egypt.

POPE FRANCIS’ PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR MARCH – LENTEN STATION CHURCHES OF ROME: SECOND WEEKEND IN LENT – LENTEN STATION CHURCHES OF ROME: MONDAY OF WEEK 2, SAN CLEMENTE – THERE WAS ALSO THIS…..

As I write, I am awaiting the visit of one of the neighborhood parish priests who is scheduled to visit our building between 6 and 8 pm to bless each home. This is a traditional event during either Lent or at some point in the Easter season. There are two churches that are equidistant from my home so I do not know if it will be a priest from St. Gregory the Great or St. Mary of Graces alle Fornaci. Accompanied by a parishioner, the priest prays with he occupants of the house, gives the blessing and then you chat but very briefly as he has miles to go and many homes to bless before he sleeps tonight. My doorbell is broken so I hope he knocks with energy!

An interesting day for vaticanisti: Pope Francis received Nechirvan Barzani, president of the Council of Ministers of the Regional Government of Iraqi Kurdistan. There was no official press office statement on this audience but it had to be a fascinating visit. Barzani is from the region that I visited on two occasions, staying at the Chaldean seminary in Ankawa, near Erbil,on both occasions.

Pope Francis talks with Iraq's Kurdistan Prime Minister Barzani during a private audience at the Vatican

Almost simultaneously with the papal audience in the Apostolic Palace, there was a preview for the media at a nearby religious house of the Liana Marabini film, “Shades of Truth,”a film about Pope Pius XII, whom Marabini greatly admires. Pius XII, whose cause for beatification took a positive step forward when Pope Benedict approved his predecessor being named “venerable” in 2009, has been maligned by many for decades for supposedly not saying or doing enough during World War II to save the Jews.

In fact, the opposite was true. In this film, we follow the journalist David Milano who, assigned to produce a documentary on the war-time Pope for whom he has always and only felt deep antipathy, takes both a physical journey, visiting Rome, Israel, Germany and Portugal, and a spiritual journey. Written and directed by Marabini, “Shades of Truth” is also a love story between David and Sarah that seems to be taking a bad turn, a story that will be affected by his research on Pope Pius.

The film was inspired not only by Marabini’s love and respect for Pope Pius XII, but also by the work of a close Jewish friend of hers – and mine – Gary Krupp who, with his wife Meredith, has spent years researching documents in the Vatican Archives, talking to fellow Jews who were saved through Pius’ efforts and meeting church men and women who followed the late Pope’s instructions to do all they could to save the Jews fom Hitler and from extermination.  All of this is documented on Gary’s site www.ptwf.com (PTWF stands for Pave the Way Foundation). I’ve interviewed Gary a number of times on “Vatican Insider.”

If you have heard Liana Marabini’s name before, I’ve also interviewed her for “ Insider Insider” and written about her on these pages, especially when she is in Rome for the gala awards dinner each year for the International Catholic Film Festival that she founded.

Marabini calls Pius XII “the Schindler of the Vatican,” noting that he saved over 800,000 Jews. “Shades of Truth” will be presented outside competition at the Cannes Film Festival in May and will be shown in the United States in September at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

EWTN – especially its theology department – played a consultant role on the film.

For a trailer and in-depth look at the film and cast, click here: http://www.condor-pictures.com/filmography/shadesoftruth

(It is 8:20 pm and my home and person were just blessed by a priest from Santa Maria delle Graze – the assistant pastor, from Vietnam. After the prayers and blessing with holy water, we spoke briefly. I told him of my trip to Vietnam last year and we also disovered we have mutual Vietnamese friends in the Vatican!).

POPE FRANCIS’ PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR MARCH

His general prayer intention is: “That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.”

His mission intention is: “That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.”

LENTEN STATION CHURCHES OF ROME: SECOND WEEKEND IN LENT

The weekend Lenten station churches of Rome were St. Peter’s Basilica and Santa Maria in Domnica.

SANTA MARIA IN DOMNICA

Saturday’s station church was St. Peter’s Basilica.  I have tons of photos of the basilica and have been to scores and scores of Masses and papal events there over the years. If time allows tonight, I’ll post some of those photos on Facebook but for now I have a real treat for you!  I am sure you have gone to the Vatican web site (www.vatican.va) and clicked on Papal Chapels and Basilica for information about Mass times, irtual tours, etc. of the papal basilicas. Great stuff…..

….BUT here is the most amazing site you will ever find! It has everything you wanted to know or did not know you could know about St. Peter’s Basilica! http://stpetersbasilica.info

A friend of mine, Alan Howard, put this site together a number of years ago and I’ve interviewed him for Vatican Insider (vi_01302010.mp3)

The Sunday station church was Santa Maria in Domnica, whose titular cardinal is American Cardinal William Levada, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

For the church history, click here:  http://www.pnac.org/station-churches/week-2/sunday-santa-maria-in-domnica/

And for some pretty amazing photos, click here: http://www.paradoxplace.com/Perspectives/Rome%20&%20Central%20Italy/Rome/Rome_Churches/Santa_Maria_in_Domnica/SM_in_Domnica.htm

LENTEN STATION CHURCHES OF ROME: MONDAY OF WEEK 2, SAN CLEMENTE

This stunning church, with layers and layers of history, is everyone’s favorite here – Romans, expats who live here and visitors alike.  As you have seen on this page, many of the station churches in Rome do not have their own website – or, if they do, it is naturally in Italian. However, San Clemente does have its own wonderful site, so click here for an official tour! http://basilicasanclemente.com/eng/

We can also visit this jewel with Brian Lenz of NAC – here is his story (reprinted with his permission) from the 2014 pilgrimage by the NAC priests, deacons and seminarians: http://blenzinrome.blogspot.it/2014/03/monday-of-second-week-san-clemente.html

THERE WAS ALSO THIS…..

THE TRANSFIGURATION, A GLIMPSE OF JESUS’ GLORY VIS) – “On this second Sunday of Lent, the Church shows us the ultimate goal of this itinerary of conversion, or rather, participation in the glory of Christ,” said the Pope before this Sunday’s Angelus prayer upon returning from the week of spiritual exercises. He also recalled that last Sunday’s Gospel passage presented Jesus resisting Satan’s temptations in the desert.

“Today’s Gospel tells us of the event of the Transfiguration, which takes place at the culmination of Jesus’ public ministry. He is on the path to Jerusalem, where the prophecies of the Servant of God will be fulfilled and His redemptive sacrifice will be consummated”. Francis remarked that neither the multitude nor the apostles understood that the outcome of Jesus’ mission of suffering would be His glorious passion, and so He decided to show a glimpse of His glory to the apostles Peter, James and John, to confirm them in their faith and to encourage them to follow him on the path of trial, on the way of the Cross. (For more: http://www.news.va/en/news/angelus-let-us-be-transformed-by-love)

FRANCIS SPEAKS OF “INTOLERABLE BRUTALITY” AGAINST FAITHFUL IN SYRIA AND IRAQ (VIS) – Following today’s Angelus prayer the Pope made an appeal regarding “the dramatic situation in Syria and Iraq, involving violence, abduction and abuse of Christians and other groups. I wish to assure those involved in these situations that we have not forgotten them; rather, we are close to them and pray ceaselessly for a swift end to the intolerable brutality they are subjected to.” He also commented that, along with the members of the Roman Curia, he offered the second Holy Mass of the spiritual exercises (last week) for this intention. He asked all persons, as far as possible, to work to alleviate the suffering of those afflicted, often merely because of the faith they profess. Let us pray for these brothers and sisters who suffer for the faith in Syria and Iraq.”

The Pontiff also commented on the acute tension that Venezuela is experiencing at present. “I pray for the victims and, in particular, for the boy who died a few days ago in San Cristobal. I urge all involved to reject violence and to respect the dignity of every person and the sacredness of human life, and encourage them to undertake a joint path for the good of the country, reopening space for sincere and constructive encounter and dialogue.” (For more: http://www.news.va/en/news/syria-iraq-and-venezuela-in-the-popes-prayers)

HOLY FATHER WELCOMES BISHOPS OF NORTH AFRICA  (VIS) – This morning, the prelates of the Regional Episcopal Conference of North Africa (C.E.R.N.A), which encompasses the dioceses of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya were received in audience by the Pope at the end of their “ad limina” visit. The Holy Father handed them a written address in which he recalls that the history of the region has been marked by many saintly figures from St. Cyprian and St. Augustine, a “spiritual patrimony for all the Church,” to Blessed Charles de Foucauld, who died 100 years ago next year.

“For several years your region has been experiencing significant changes, which offer hope that aspirations to greater freedom and dignity may be fulfilled and which favour greater freedom of conscience”, continues Francis. “But at times these events have led to outbursts of violence. I wish to mention, in particular, the courage, loyalty and perseverance of the bishops of Libya, as well as the priests, consecrated persons and laypeople who stay in this country despite the many dangers. They are genuine witnesses of the Gospel. I thank them with all my heart and encourage them to continue their efforts in contributing to peace and reconciliation throughout the region.” (For more: http://www.news.va/en/news/to-the-prelates-of-north-africa-always-be-men-of-h)