Today is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Here is a special prayer:

O most holy heart of Jesus, fountain of every blessing, I adore you, I love you, and with lively sorrow for my sins I offer you this poor heart of mine. Make me humble, patient, pure and wholly obedient to your will. Grant, Good Jesus, that I may live in you and for you. Protect me in the midst of danger. Comfort me in my afflictions. Give me health of body, assistance in my temporal needs, your blessing on all that I do, and the grace of a holy death. Amen.

I returned yesterday from the States and, although I did not write a column, I did post some things on Facebook and also did some work preparing this week’s edition of “Vatican Insider,” as you will see below.

It was quite an exciting trip back to Rome as the USA Water Polo team was on the plane and one of players, Bret Bonanni, was seated right next to me. As I had done, he “upgraded,” so to speak, to Economy Plus seats on our United flight as these seats give you a bit more leg room. If you’ve ever watched water polo, you know the players are tall, broad-shouldered and long-legged so more room is a must, when possible, on flights.

The team competes in Rome (first game underway as I write), then spends five days in Croatia, followed by matches in Milan and then home to California.

Bret and I had some great time to talk and I learned a great deal about him, the team and water polo. Before yesterday I could have written what I know about this sport on the proverbial head of a pin. His family is Italian, as you can see from the name, and his folks attend every match possible. In fact, they are in Rome and will go to Croatia and they have invited me to dinner on Monday. Bret asked how to attend Mass in St. Peter’s and how the team could see some of the Vatican on their free day next Monday so I am working on that.

Some of the crew – believe it or not! – recognized me from EWTN and we had nice chats about Rome, the Vatican, etc. Years ago, the father of one of the flight attendants arranged, through a fiend, for her to attend a Wednesday general audience and, to her amazement, she was in a special seat and got to meet St. John Paul.  Before the flight was over, several attendants took pix of us with their cell phones.

That’s one way to make a long flight short!


Tune in this week to “Vatican Insider” for the interview segment where I highlight the plight of Christians in Iraq as I talk to my friend, Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region in norther Iraq. Abp. Warda talks about the effects of terrorism, especially ISIS, on the country and on Christians in particular, and the plight of refugees as they flee to Kurdistan for safety.

We spoke in Rome at the Pontifical Oriental Institute after a Chaldean priest defended his doctoral thesis. Just a heads up because we had our conversation in the Insitute’s garden and you’ll hear a bit of background conversation as guests gather for a reception.

Here are some photos I took that evening:  Listening to the defense:


Addressing the future doctoral candidate and panel of judges:



After our interview in the garden:


In the U. S., you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (U.S. stations listed at or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live 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 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives:


Probably because I just returned from a trip to Chicago and spent sone time in airports, I was delighted by Pope Francis’ talk today to chaplains at the 16th World Seminar of Catholic Civil Aviation Chaplains and Chaplaincy Members. Meetings such as this one, now underway in Rome, are promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, The theme this year was: “Evangelii Gaudium: What Support for the Pastoral Care of Airport Chaplaincy?”


The Pope told his guests that the airport chaplaincy is called to be a place of unity in diversity for all categories of people. Airports seem like cities within cities, he said, “where multiple realities intertwine and overlap. As a big city, the airport is cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic and multi-religious and you, chaplains and chaplaincy members, are immersed in the life of this unique community.”

Fr. Mike Zaniolo at interfaith chapel at O’Hare airport:


The Pope said he knows airports are a meeting place for many people who travel for business, tourism or other reasons. He underscored how special care and attention should be shown to transiting migrants and refugees, children and the elderly. Francis also underlined the importance of chaplains in times of tragic situations such as accidents or hijackings when they are called on to provide support, comfort and encouragement.

Even at airports, he noted, “Christ the Good Shepherd wants to take care of his sheep through the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.” He urged chaplains “to work to ensure that airports are places where there is room for love and dialogue, which promotes solidarity between people and preserves a peaceful social climate.”

I discovered a fascinating website for travelers who want a chapel:


In the event you are a soccer fan and have been following the FIFA corruption story, and if you also follow Vatican news and Pope Francis’ establishment of Scholas Occurrentes, here is – in part – an interesting story from Bloomberg:

The Vatican suspended an agreement to receive a donation from the Copa America soccer tournament after FIFA was hit by a corruption investigation that implicated organizers of the event.

Scholas Occurrentes, an educational organization created by Pope Francis in 2013 to promote social integration through sports, put on hold an accord it reached in April with South American soccer’s regional body Conmebol, it said in a e-mailed statement. As per the agreement, Scholas would get $10,000 per goal and saved penalty shot during this year’s edition of South America’s top soccer competition, which Conmebol organizes.

“Scholas will abstain from receiving any funds until the ongoing judicial investigation comes to a conclusion,” the organization said. “We believe the current investigations are important to protect the integrity of the institutions and soccer.”

Conmebol didn’t immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment on the decision. The Pope is from Argentina, which is a 7-4 favorite to win the tournament at U.K.-based William Hill.

Venezuelan Rafael Esquivel, a member of FIFA’s disciplinary committee, was among the nine officials of soccer’s governing body and five corporate executives indicted on May 27 and arrested at the hotel Baur au Lac in Zurich. He was in the Conmebol delegation that signed the per-goal donation agreement on April 21 at the Vatican, according to a Scholas news release at the time.


I posted this on facebook as well – a story fron Vatican Radio:

Abu Dhabi – A new Catholic church dedicated to Saint Paul was inaugurated today, Friday, June 12, in Mussaffah, in the presence of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of State.


The day before, the initial opening ceremony was also attended by the Minister for Culture Nahyan bin Mubarak, who in his speech stressed that the opening of a new church highlights the “religious tolerance” of national leaders, while Cardinal Parolin noticed how the consecration and dedication of a new church also represents “a sign of vitality” of the local church community, and Bishop Paul Hinder, OFM, apostolic Vicar for South Arabia, expressed gratitude “for the stability and the peace that we enjoy in this Country”.

The UAE  – United Arab Emirates – is home to about 900,000 Catholics: the community is made up of immigrant workers who mostly come from other Asian countries, in particular the Philippines and India.

The new Catholic church, the second built in the country – where today Cardinal Parolin celebrated the first Mass, with the rites of consecration and dedication, before thousands of faithful – will offer its pastoral service primarily to the more than 60,000 Catholics residing in the region that includes the towns of Mussaffah, Mohammed bin Zayed City and Khalifa City. The church will celebrate Masses in English, Arabic, Malayalam and Tagalog.

During Mass – concelebrated by Bishops Hinder and Camillo Ballin MCCJ, Apostolic Vicar of North Arabia – Cardinal Parolin also recalled “the good will of past and present rulers, for their generosity in providing the land for the construction of new churches in the country.”

The permission granted by local authorities for the construction of new places of worship – said the Vatican secretary of State – is “a concrete sign of hospitality that the Emirates has now shown towards Christians,” and testifies to their commitment in favor of “a society based on coexistence and mutual respect.” The church was built on land granted by the municipality of Abu Dhabi, on the orders of local authorities.

“The Christians who live in this country – said Cardinal Parolin on Thursday – need opportunities to grow in their faith and witness it. My message to the Christian community is that may they be supported in their desire to grow in faith and to be charitable to others.”