FYI: We will know the content of the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation on the 2019 Amazon synod on Wednesday, February 12. Title is “Dear Amazon” (from original Spanish)


My guest in the interview segment this week is Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu as he and the bishops of Region XI – California, Hawaii and Nevada – were recently in Rome to fulfill their ad limina visit. He talks about their 3-hour private encounter with Pope Francis, the visits to various offices of the Roman Curia, and the 10 men in the diocese studying for the priesthood! And he tells us what it is like to be bishop of a diocese spread out over a number of islands. We also learn that Hawaii may have a third saint in addition to St. Damien and St Marianne Cope. So don’t miss those insights!

This photo is from the extraordinary collection of photos taken by Bishop Silva’s vicar general, Msgr. Gary Secor during their pre-ad limina days in Rome and environs as well as the weeklong ad limina visit of all the bishops from California, Nevada and Hawaii.

While in Rome, the bishops celebrate four Masses as a group at the four papal basilicas. In two basilicas, St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s, they pray as a group before the tombs of the apostles. It is very moving to be present at these Masses.

Click here for a truly amazing pictorial account of people and places, churches and chapels. Kudos, Msgr. Gary, for this wonderful pilgrimage!

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on 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 ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)


The Holy Father Friday said poverty, discrimination, climate change, the globalization of indifference and the exploitation of human beings all prevent the flourishing of millions of children, thus his call for all to join forces to achieve a broad educational covenant.

He was addressing participants at the end of a two-day conference in the Vatican entitled “Education. The Global Compact.” The conference was one of a series of events leading up to the signing of a “Global Compact for Education,” promoted by the Pope, to be held in the Vatican on May 14, 2020.

Despite objectives formulated by the UN and other international bodies, Pope Francis said humanity is in need of a renewed educational covenant “aimed at forming mature persons capable of mending the fabric of human relationships and creating a more fraternal world.”

(Vaticannews) Reflecting on how basic education has become a “normative ideal throughout the world,” the Pope praised the progress that has been made in making primary education almost universal while also narrowing the gender gap.

“Nonetheless,” he continued, “each generation needs to consider how best to hand on its knowledge and its values to the next, since it is through education that men and women attain their maximum potential and become conscious, free and responsible.”

Education concerns the future of humanity
Thus, Pope Francis underscored, “concern for education is concern for future generations and for the future of humanity. It is a concern profoundly rooted in hope and it calls for generosity and courage.”

He elaborated on the fact that education is not merely about transmitting concepts and that it demands cooperation on the part of all involved: “the family, the school and social, cultural and religious institutions.”

A state of breakdown
“Today what I have called the “educational compact” between families, schools, nations and the world, culture and cultures, is in crisis, and indeed in a state of breakdown,” he said, noting that it is “serious, and it can only be fixed through a renewed universal effort of generosity and cooperation.”

Thus, Pope Francis said, all members of society are called, in some way, to renew and consolidate their commitment in favour of education.

“To achieve this, there has to be an integration of disciplines, culture, sports, science, relaxation and recreation; bridges have to be built to overcome the forms of enclosure that trap us in our little world and to launch into the global open seas in respect for all traditions,” he said.
Teaching a culture of dialogue and encounter
Francis called for an effort that gives value to traditions and cultures so that future generations may develop “their own self-understanding by encountering and appropriating cultural diversity and change. …This will enable the promotion of a culture of dialogue, encounter and mutual understanding, in a spirit of serenity and tolerance.”

Families, schools, communities
Pope Francis called in particular for a greater participation of families and local communities in educational projects.

Concluding, he praised and upheld the work and responsibility of teachers, pointing out that in a new educational compact, the function of teachers, as educators, must be acknowledged and supported by every possible means: “By their knowledge, patience and dedication, they communicate a way of living and acting that embodies a richness that is not material but spiritual, and creates the men and woman of tomorrow.”


One comment on celibacy at today’s press briefing turned a few heads and sent fingers flying over keyboards when Bishop emeritus Erwin Kräutler of Xingu, Brazil said, in answer to a question if married permanent deacons were the answer to the lack of priests in the Amazon region: “indigenous people do not understand celibacy. They do not understand why a man would not be married, Why does he not have a women by his side who cares for the house and home? It was difficult to explain to people my commitment to the priesthood that included not being married.”

Will that comment get traction in the daily discussions? Stay tuned!

Vocations to the priesthood, celibacy, the permanent diaconate and roles for the laity in the Church, especially women are a fair part of the reflections that have been made so far in the general congregations of the Pan-Amazonia synod. Sunday’s Mass in St. Peter’s basilica presided over by Pope Francis, officially opened the 21-day meeting.

Other issues, as you will see below in my translation of the Vatican-provided summaries of the daily General Congregations, include a great emphasis on ecology and “ecological sins,” human rights, migrations, young people, ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue, meeting the needs of the Amazonian peoples, Indian theology and local traditions, and urban pastoral ministries – and much more.

There are daily press briefings in the Holy See Press Office that are carried live each day starting at 1:30 pm Rome time at


Vatican News – Vatican City

#Amazonsynod. The Church confesses “ecological sins”. Priests should be saints. With the 4th congregation Tuesday afternoon, the second day of work of the Special Synod for the Pan-Amazonian Region ended. 182 Synod Fathers were present at the congregation in the presence of the Pope. (vatican media)

The systematic violation of the rights of the original peoples of the Amazon and the life at risk of the entire region, wounded in its habitat, were at the center of reflections of the fourth congregation of the Synod of Bishops.

‘No’ to indifference, ‘yes’ to responsibility.
A strong appeal that the Church with her authoritative voice in the moral and spiritual sphere will always protect life, denouncing the many structures of death that threaten it. No’ to individualism or indifference that make us look at reality as spectators, as on a screen. ‘Yes’ to an ecological conversion centered on responsibility and on an integral ecology that focuses above all on human dignity, too often trampled.

International community and human rights violations.
The unacceptable situation of environmental degradation in the Pan-Amazon region – it was denounced – must be tackled seriously by the entire international community, which is often indifferent to the shedding of innocent blood. The native populations, custodians of the natural reserves, evangelized with the cross of Christ, must be considered as allies in the fight against climate change in a synodal perspective, that is, a journey “together”, in friendship. In the intervention of a fraternal delegate in this regard, the need to join forces and engage in dialogue was highlighted, because friendship – he said – “respects, protects and cares.” The invitation to the Church to become an ally of the basic social movements has come from many quarters. An ally that offers itself in humble and welcoming listening to the Amazon worldview, in understanding the different meaning, with respect to the Western tradition, given by local cultures to ritual symbols.

Greater knowledge of “ecological sins.”
A sustainable development that is socially just and inclusive and combines scientific and traditional knowledge has been emphasized, because the future of the Amazon region, a living and non-museum reality, is in our hands. Also hoped for is an ecological conversion that would make us see the gravity of the sin against the environment as a sin against God, against our neighbor and future generations. Hence the proposal to deepen and disseminate a theological literature that includes together with the traditionally known sins the “ecological sins.”

Promoting the indigenous permanent diaconate.
Enriching the reflection on ministries was the appeal to join forces in the formation of Amazonian missionaries, lay and consecrated. It is necessary to involve the indigenous peoples more in the apostolate, starting with the promotion of the indigenous permanent diaconate and the enhancement of the lay ministry, understood as an authentic manifestation of the Holy Spirit. It also called for a greater involvement of women in the Church.

Reflection on the priestly vocation.
The theme of the criteria for admission to the ordained ministry returned in more than one intervention. There are those who have urged prayer for vocations, asking for the transformation of the Amazon into a great spiritual sanctuary from which to raise the prayer to the “Lord of the harvest” to send new workers of the Gospel. The numerical insufficiency of priests – it is known – is not only an Amazonian problem, but common to the whole Catholic world. Hence the call for a serious examination of conscience on how the priestly vocation is lived today. The lack of holiness is in fact an obstacle to evangelical witness: pastors do not always carry the scent of Christ and end up driving away the sheep they are called to lead.

The scent of sanctity and the young.
Also highlighted was the shining example of the martyrs of Amazonia, like the two Servants of God killed in Mato Grosso: Salesian Father Rudolf Lunkenbein and a lay person Simão Cristino Koge Kudugodu. In fact, ecological conversion is primarily a conversion to holiness. This has enormous power of attraction among young people, for whom renewed, more dynamic and attentive pastoral care is called for. It was asked that, also through the media, the many witnesses of good priests be emphasized and not just the scandals that today fill so many pages of newspapers. Furthermore, if wounds such as violence, drugs, prostitution, unemployment and an existential void threaten new generations, it should be stressed that there are no lack of positive examples of many young Catholics.

The 4th congregation Tuesday afternoon that was presided over by the Pope opened with the prayer of the whole assembly for Cardinal Serafim Fernandes de Araújo, who died that same day in Belo Horizonte.


Vatican News – Vatican City

#SinodoAmazonico. Proposals for a female lay ministry. The work of the Pan-Amazon Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in the Vatican is continuing. 174 fathers were present this morning during the course of the 5th General Congregation

The integral health of the Amazon was one of the concerns expressed this morning by the synod fathers. The model of development of capitalism that devours nature, the fires that are destroying the region, corruption, deforestation and illegal cultivation in fact threaten both the health of people and that of the territory and of the entire planet.

Protect populations in voluntary isolation.
Attention focused on indigenous populations in voluntary isolation, particularly vulnerable and exposed to genocide. To keep the attention on this issue high, we feel the need to establish an international ecclesial observatory for the protection of human rights and the needs of these communities.

More dialogue: the Church reaches the local populations.
The slowness sometimes registered by the Catholic Church in meeting the needs of the population was highlighted. Sometimes, in fact, it is far from the local peoples and this void is filled by the proposal of the neo-Pentecostal churches.

The ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue remains urgent and indispensable: Respectful and fruitful, (this is) a fundamental dimension for the outgoing Church in the Pan-Amazonian region, marked by a multicultural context. Inter-culturality is more than a challenge. ‘No’ to imposing one’s own culture from above. ‘Yes’ to the acceptance of the other and to a healthy decentralization in a synodal perspective. The Church, without hiding the difficulties, is missionary, has an indigenous face and favors a logic according to which the periphery becomes the center and the center becomes a periphery in a rich movement of mutual transformation.

Ministries respond to the needs of Amazonian peoples.
The appeal to a greater involvement of the laity with the creation of new ministries that respond to the needs of the Amazon peoples is also part of a synodal perspective: May the Church be creative in proposing a multi-faceted ministry between the Indians and the peoples of the forest. Since Vatican Council II, greater efforts have been requested in favor of an inculturation of the liturgy, with celebrations respectful of both the traditions and languages of the local peoples and the integral message of the Gospel. Careful discernment on the part of the bishops is needed so that no solution can be excluded a priori, not even the ordination of married men. The request of many seminarians for an affective formation aimed at treating the wounds caused by the sexual revolution resonated: today many wish to rediscover and know the value of celibacy and chastity. The Church does not keep silent about this, but offers its treasure: the doctrine that transforms hearts.

A lay female ministry.
At the same time, rampant violence against women must be combated. The idea of establishing a lay female ministry for evangelization was launched. It is necessary to promote a more active participation of women in the life of the Church in a Samaritan perspective.

Unity in diversity.
Unity in diversity must be pursued according to the image of a multifaceted stone often suggested by the Pope. There has been a request to pass, in the school of Jesus, from a pastoral visit to a pastoral presence, from listening and proclaiming divine tenderness to promoting the care of the ‘common house’ not only among friends, but also between those who are far away and think differently. The values of universal brotherhood, of integral ecology and of lifestyles inspired by “good living” must be rooted in Jesus as a response to the many egoistic proposals of our times.

Faced with the global climate tragedy, the Synod is a moment of grace and a great opportunity for the Church to promote an ecological conversion and an integral education.

Migration and urban pastoral care.
The issue of migration, whose main causes are socio-political, climatic, economic or ethnic persecution, has also been brought to the attention of the synod fathers. All the above require a specific pastoral approach. The imposition of a Western extractive model affects families and forces young people to move to cities. The Church must promote an urban pastoral care.

Indian theology and local traditions.
The debate focused on the value of Indian theology, with reference to the Pope’s appeal to shape a Church with an indigenous face, capable of re-reading the essential elements of the Catholic universe in an indigenous key. Also underlined is the value of traditional medicine, a valid alternative to Western medicine. Proposal to create more natural reserves to preserve both biodiversity and the plurality of Amazonian cultures.

A special prayer was recited by the Congregation this morning, opened as usual by the recitation of Terce, the Third Hour, for the difficult situation in Ecuador


If you want short but interesting reads about what is going on at the Pontifical Council for Culture, the council sends out periodic emails with links to news about their latest events, gatherings, visitors, etc. To learn more, you may access information and stories at the following links: English and Spanish. As the most recent email from the council said: “We hope it interests you and gives you inspiration for your own work promoting dialogue with the cultures of our time!”


My special guest this week in the interview segment of Vatican Insider is Sister Birgit Dechant, FSO of the International Center of Newman Friends in Rome – an expert on all things Cardinal John Henry Newman who becomes a saint of the Universal Church in Rome on October 13, 2019. We look at so many aspects of Newman’s life this weekend and next weekend – when he will be canonized in Rome – when Sister returns to Vatican Insider and we explore more of his work, writings, influence as an Anglican and then as a Catholic, his legacy and the miracle that led to has canonization and much more!

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on 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 ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)


During a highly symbolic tree-planting ceremony in the Vatican Gardens on Friday, Pope Francis placed the upcoming Synod for the Amazon under the protection of Saint Francis of Assisi.
By Vatican News

The phrase “Everything is connected” recurs often in Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Laudato Sì.

During a unique ceremony in the Vatican Gardens on Friday, signs, symbols and songs ensured that everything really was “connected.”

Saint Francis and ecology
Starting with the timing: October 4 is the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, and closes the “Season of Creation” that began on September 1. This year also marks 40 years since Pope Saint John Paul II proclaimed St. Francis the Patron Saint “of those who promote ecology.” And, in just two days, the Synod for the Amazon will open, the first Synod ever to address the issue of integral ecology.

Organizers and participants
Members of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network, the Order of Franciscan Friars Minor, and the Global Catholic Climate Movement organized the event, while various religious congregations and representatives of the indigenous people of the Amazon Region played important roles in providing color and creativity.

Signs and symbols
The ceremony culminated with the planting of a holm oak from Assisi. The name of the tree is believed to come from the old Anglo-Saxon word for “holly” – “holy.”

Even the soil in which the tree was planted was steeped in significance. There was soil from the Amazon, celebrating the wealth of the bioregion’s cultures and traditions; earth from India, representing countries most vulnerable to the climate crisis, where droughts and floods leave millions devastated; soil representing refugees and migrants, forced to leave their homes because of war, poverty, and ecological devastation. There was earth from places of human trafficking, and from sustainable development projects around the world. And there was more soil from the Amazon, earth bathed in the blood of those who have died fighting against its destruction.

The Canticle of the Creatures
But the tree also stands in soil coming from the places where Saint Francis walked in and around Assisi: a place of encounter with the Creator, where the Saint composed the first part of his “Canticle of the Creatures.” Written in the 13th Century, it is believed to be one of the first works of literature in the Italian language. A musical version of this prayer-poem accompanied the tree planting ceremony in the Vatican Gardens.

Celebrating the Season of Creation
The prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Peter Turkson, was present at the ceremony and described how the “Season of Creation” is “not only a time for prophetic gestures…but a time for wisdom, a season to respond to the ecological crisis.” Pope Francis’ Message for the World Day of Prayer for Creation, said the cardinal, suggests “a time of change: humanity’s turning a new leaf to save the planet.”

(JFL: Pope Francis led the gathering in praying the Our Father, and did not recite his prepared remarks. Click here and scroll down to watch video of Vatican Garden tree-planting ceremony with Pope Framcis:


Pope Francis Friday afternoon presided over Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica and conferred Episcopal ordination on Fr. Michael Czerny SJ, and Msgrs. Antoine Camilleri, Paolo Rudelli and Paolo Borgia.

By Vatican News

Pope Francis began by reflecting on the ecclesial responsibilities to which the new Bishops are called. These responsibilities include perpetuating the Apostolic Ministry of the first Apostles from generation to generation.

Unbroken succession
“The Twelve gathered together collaborators”, said the Pope, and by the laying on of hands, they “transmitted to them the gift of the Spirit received from Christ”. Through the unbroken succession of Bishops in the living tradition of the Church, continued Pope Francis, “this primary ministry has been preserved and the work of the Saviour continues and develops to our times”.

It is Christ
It is Christ, said the Pope, “who in the ministry of the Bishop, continues to preach the Gospel of salvation and to sanctify believers through the sacraments of faith”. It is Christ, he continued, “Who in the wisdom and prudence of the Bishop, guides the People of God on their earthly pilgrimage to eternal happiness”.

Chosen by the Lord
Addressing the new Bishops directly, the Pope told them they are “chosen by the Lord”. “Episcopate”, he said, “is the name of a service, not of an honour”. The Bishop is more responsible for service than for domination.

Pope Francis also told them to announce the Word on every opportune and inopportune occasion: “admonish, reprove, exhort with all magnanimity and doctrine”, he said.

Faithful custodians
The Pope continued his advice to the new Bishops, asking them to be “faithful custodians and dispensers of the mysteries of Christ”, always following the example of the Good Shepherd, “who knows His sheep, is known by them and does not hesitate to give His life for them”.

Love the defenseless
Pope Francis said the Bishops need to love all those God entrusts to them, especially their priests and deacons but also “the poor, the defenseless and all those in need of hospitality and help”.

Watch over the flock
In conclusion, the Pope said they should watch over the whole flock with love. Watch, he said, “in the name of the Father, whose image you make present; in the name of Jesus Christ, his Son, by whom you are made teachers, priests and pastors; in the name of the Holy Spirit who gives life to the Church and who, by His power, sustains our weakness”.


I certainly hope that all the men reading this who are Fathers had a splendid celebration yesterday in the United States. Father’s Day in Italy is a wonderful celebration as it falls on the March 19 feast of St. Joseph! Every Father’s Day since Christmas 1992 when my Dad died, I actually spend a good deal of time going over more than half a century of memories.

Just a few highlights from those memories! Dad worked long hours for his own Dad but the family was all he knew when he came home – time to play with us, help us with homework, etc. He was an engineer and a great repairman and I have very vivid memories of how, as soon as I could walk, I’d follow him around the house to each project. And I always asked a lot of questions! And he always answered with just enough info for whatever age I was so that I’d understand (why, for example does a light bulb go on when you press a switch on a wall several feet away?!)

One of my favorite memories was when he’d occasionally have to go to work at the plant on a Sunday and I’d go with him and he’d teach me songs as we drove there, singing one line which I would then repeat, an so on. He had a wonderful voice, as did my Mom, and played the saxophone. I did not inherit those musical abilities and that’s why I am a lector in my parish, not in the choir!

He tried to reach me to dance when I was a toddler by putting on some danceable music and than I’d stand on his feet (shoeless, of course) and he’d hold my hand and guide each step. Oh, how I cherish that memory!

Dad was a great listener and a great teacher – almost always by example. As I said at the recent award ceremony at my university, I got my PhD at an early age – I got it from my parents: PhD – Passion, Hard work and Dreams. Dad exemplified each of those!

One of the truly unforgettable special memories I have of my Dad is the letter he wrote me on my 21st birthday when I was studying overseas. I still have that letter! He wrote how important it was to be a lady, to be feminine, to dress well, to have a moderated voice when speaking, to be interested in others, even how to use my eyes – it seemed like a how-to-flirt moment!

How great when Fathers have that kind of tenderness but also know how to show tough love!

Now to the news stories I’ve posted….

I guess we should not be surprised at the title and content of today’s first news story below – the publication of the Instrumentis Laboris (IL) or working document of the October 2019 synod for the Amazon. After all, didn’t Cardinal Walter Kasper tell a German publication (Frankfurter Rundschau) in an interview on June 4 that, if the Amazon bishops propose ordaining viri probati, married men of proven virtue, to the priesthood, the Pope would probably accept that in principle. His words traveled widely.

The IL was surely all written and translated by June 4 so the cardinal actually knew what it said. And he seemed to be telling the bishops, “All you have to do now is ask the Pope…he will probably consent.” So a done deal?!

Cardinal Kasper is the former head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. It seems that he, Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro (editor in chief of the Jesuit-affiliated journal La Civiltà Cattolica for the past 8 years) and Andrea Tornielli (editorial director of the Dicastery for Communication) are the three voices that most influence Pope Francis and also speak for him.

As to the second story, I found the title quite telling. Of all the quotes one could have taken from Cardinal Parolin’s address to apostolic nuncios, Tornielli chose “Cardinal Parolin To Nuncios: “We Must Be United With The Pope.”

I am surely not the only one who believes (actually, I feel certain) that those words are a swipe at publications by former nuncio to the United States, Abp. Carlo Maria Vigano!

Read on….


Vatican City, Jun 17, 2019 / 07:30 am (CNA).- The working document for the special assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian region, released Monday, recommends study of the possibility of ordaining married men in remote areas for the priesthood. (Vatican media photo)

“Stating that celibacy is a gift for the Church, we ask that, for more remote areas in the region, study of the possibility of priestly ordination of elders, preferably indigenous … they can already have an established and stable family, in order to ensure the sacraments that they accompany and support the Christian life,” paragraph 129 of the document released June 17 states.

This opens the door for the discussion of the ordination of viri probati — a term referring to mature, married men — during the Special Synod of Bishops from the Pan-Amazonian region to be held at the Vatican Oct. 6-27.

Canon law for the Latin Catholic Church prohibits the ordination of married men to the priesthood, with limited exceptions regarding the ordination of formerly Anglican and Protestant ecclesial leaders who have converted to Catholicism.

The working document, which calls for “a Church with an indigenous face,” further recommends that the synod identify “an official ministry that can be conferred upon women, taking into account the central role they play in the Amazonian church.”

Monsignor Fabio Fabene, Under-Secretary for the Synod of Bishops highlighted the document’s call for new lay ministries.

“In this sense, one wonders what official ministry can be conferred to the woman,” Fabene said at a Vatican press conference June 17.

He continued, “the document does not speak of the female diaconate, since the pope has already expressed himself on the subject in the Assembly of the Superiors General, declaring that the topic needs further study. In fact, the study commission set up in 2016 did not reach a unanimous opinion on the issue.”

The synod working document, entitled “Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology,” is divided into three sections on the Amazonian cultures, environmental and economic problems, and pastoral approaches for the Church in the region.

Calling for “an integral ecological conversion,” the document touches on the issues of migration, deforestation, urbanization, corruption, health, education, and Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation (PIAV).

The document stresses the importance of inculturation of indigenous cultures in the Catholic faith and the liturgy in the region, starting with engagement with indigenous spiritualities.

“It is necessary to grasp what the Spirit of the Lord has taught to these peoples over the centuries: faith in God the Father-Mother Creator, the sense of communion and harmony with the earth, the sense of solidarity with one’s companions … the living relationship with nature and ‘Mother Earth,’ the resilience of women,” paragraph 121 of the document states.

Recommending that the Church “recognize indigenous spirituality as a source of wealth for the Christian experience,” and the document calls for dialogue with “the Amazonian cosmovision” to be included in formation for religious life.

Monsignor Fabene described inculturation in the liturgy in the region as “a better integration of the symbols and celebratory styles of indigenous cultures … taking into account music and dance, languages and native clothes.”

“Recognition and dialogue will be the best way to transform the ancient relations marked by exclusion and discrimination,” paragraph 35 states. In several places, the document refers to “the wounds caused during long periods of colonization.”

“For this Pope Francis asked ‘humbly for forgiveness, not only for the offenses of his own Church, but for crimes against indigenous peoples during the conquest of so-called America.’ In this past, the Church has sometimes been complicit in the colonization and this has stifled the prophetic voice of the Gospel,” paragraph 38 states.

The document also stresses the importance of having greater respect for the dignity and rights of indigenous populations in the area today.

“The Church cannot but worry about the integral salvation of the human person, which involves promoting the culture of indigenous peoples, talking about their vital needs, accompanying movements and joining forces to defend their rights,” paragraph 143 states.

The synod document therefore recommends that Catholics in the region, “join the basic social movements, to prophetically announce a program of agrarian justice that promotes a profound agrarian reform, supporting farming organic and agroforestry.”

Participants in the special synod of the Amazon will include residential bishops and ordinaries of the nine Pan-Amazonian ecclesiastical territories in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, French Guiana, Guyana and Suriname; the presidents of the seven bishops’ conferences of the Pan-Amazonian Region; members for the Roman Curia; the president of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM); and the members of the pre-Synodal Council.

Upon the working document’s publication June 17, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, said:

“The image of a Church with an Amazonian face, courageous in its prophetic proclamation of the Gospel in defense of Creation and of indigenous peoples, is the horizon towards which we are walking under the guidance of Pope Francis.”


In an interview with Vatican Radio the Cardinal Secretary of State speaks of the Pope’s recent meeting with Papal representatives.

By Andrea Tornielli (editorial director of the Dicastery for Communication)

Cardinal Pietro Parolin described Pope Francis’ meeting this week with Apostolic Nuncios and Permanent Observers as having taken place in a simple, positive and fraternal atmosphere.

Asked to assess the encounter, Cardinal Parolin said, “The balance sheet is certainly positive”.

He expressed his opinion that these meetings have a value in themselves because they are a moment of encounter between people who work with the same purpose, with the same spirit and in the service of the Church, and in particular of the Pope, “even if they do so at great distances from each other”.

He remarked on how the themes dealt with aroused much interest on the part of the participants, as manifested by the numerous interventions that took place.

Parolin also recalled a moment of “intense participation for the death of the apostolic nuncio to Argentina, Léon Kalenga, which saw us all united in prayer with the Holy Father during the celebration of the funeral”.

The Cardinal also pointed out that Pope Francis considers these meetings as so fruitful, that in 2013 he expressed his desire they be held every three years, thus the tradition continues.

Decalogue of dos and don’ts
Regarding the content of the Pope’s address to the nuncios during which he issued a series of recommendations, some of which were seen by the media as reprimands, Cardinal Parolin noted that the media are always on the look-out for anything that might appear to contain controversy.

He said he doesn’t personally believe that one should limit oneself to focusing only on some aspects of a whole, and he pointed out that during his words of greeting to the Pope, he expressed the openness of those present to receive “every encouragement and also every correction that can serve to improve our service to the Church, to the Pope and to mankind”.

So, Parolin said, in this sense the Pope’s words must be read in a positive context, just as they were “welcomed and experienced by the participants”.

Unity, freedom, love
Regarding the part of his speech in which the Pope said a nuncio is called to be a “man of God”, a representative of the Church and of the Pontiff, thus it is inherently incompatible with his mission to “criticize the Pope, write blogs or join groups that are hostile to the Pope and to the Church.” Cardinal Parolin said there can never be a total uniformity of thought, and that there are issues that need to be discussed as upheld by the ancient axiom that says in necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas (“unity in necessary things; freedom in doubtful things; love in all things”).

He pointed out that as representatives of the Pope the nuncios feel free to say things to the Pontiff and, he said, Pope Francis is very open and well-disposed to receive comments, observations and reflections on various questions.
At the same time, he said, “we must try to maintain unity, which is the condition for the effectiveness of our action in the world”.

“We will be all the more effective if we are really united in the fundamental things. Therefore, above all as pontifical representatives, we must have this unity with the Pope and this adherence to his teaching that must then be translated concretely into attitudes of sharing his thought and his direction,” he said.

Finally, Cardinal Parolin described the part of dialogue that took place behind closed doors as very “open and frank.”

He said various topics were addressed and said the nuncios appreciated the Pope’s input “because he was not afraid to tackle delicate themes, talking about them with much frankness and openness”.

(JFL: And the Pope enjoyed lunch with the nuncios during their time in Rome – seemed to really enjoy it:


Pope Francis tweeted today: It is the duty of the human family to help free every single person from poverty and hunger.

As a Lady of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, I follow any and all news on the Holy Land because it is that holy part of the world that is the first and main concern of the Order – of our activities, our pilgrimages, our financial help and our prayers. The Franciscans in the Holy Land are celebrating a historic anniversary, and Pope Francis had great praise for the Order as you’ll read below. If you’ve even been on a Holy Land pilgrimage, the Franciscans undoubtedly played a big role in your visit. Remember them in your prayers today!

The big news this weekend was Sunday’s announcement by the Holy Father of a synod for the Pan-Amazon region! The staff of the Synod of Bishops never seems to rest – they are currently working on the October 2018 synod for young people.

Before I move on, here’s a photo I took when I got up this morning. This vessel looked familiar and I remembered I had seen a news story on TV Sunday when I arrived. Here’s a related online news story with video:

Someone in our building told me today the big problem is trying to remove this vessel without harming the reef it is stuck on!


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a letter to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land marking the 800th anniversary of their presence as guardians of the holy sites in modern day Israel and Palestine.

In the letter, published on Tuesday, the pope praises the Franciscans for their vital contribution to life in the Holy Land, in particular their work to accompany pilgrims coming from all over the world. (photo:

The Pope recalls the way that Saint Francis, in May 1217 during the chapter of his recently founded order, decided to send the friars out on mission. The first missionaries to the Holy Land arrived that summer in the town of Acre, near Haifa, in northern Israel and just over a hundred years later, Pope Clement VI confirmed them as the custodians of the holy places.

Sowing peace, fraternity, respect

In the message, Pope Francis notes how the Franciscans live alongside people of different cultures and religions, sowing seeds of “peace, fraternity and respect”. As well as their work as guides for pilgrims, the Pope recalls, they are also committed to biblical and archaeological studies. Franciscans also work closely with the local Churches taking care of the poor, the sick, the elderly and the young people who find it hard to keep up hope amidst the ongoing conflict.

Collection for the Holy Land

The Pope says that the Franciscans are ambassadors for the whole people of God, who support them through the traditional Good Friday collection for the Holy Land and through the Vatican’s Congregation for Oriental Churches, which is currently marking the centenary of its foundation.


(Vatican Radio) Bishop Emmanuel Lafont of Cayenne in French Guyana reacted with joy Monday when he heard Pope Francis’ announcement of a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region.

French Guyana and Suriname are part of the Amazon territory together with Guyana, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru and Brazil. (photo

Pope Francis had announced a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region that will focus on the needs of its indigenous people, on new paths for evangelization and on the crisis of the rain forest. The announcement came on Sunday during the Angelus after a canonization Mass during which he canonized 35 new saints, including three indigenous children martyred in 16th century Mexico.

As well as being an essential ‘lung’ for the entire planet as Pope Francis said when he made the announcement, the six million square kilometers that define the region are home to indigenous tribes and even uncontacted peoples whose cultures and whose very existences are threatened by large-scale logging, mining and other industrial projects as well as by pollution and climate change

Speaking to Vatican Radio Bishop Lafont said he is very grateful to Pope Francis for having called this Synod.

“I am very happy, grateful to the Holy Father for having called this Synod which is most important” he said.

For the benefit of the indigenous peoples

First of all, Bishop Lafont continued “for the benefit of the indigenous people – the First Nations – of the Amazonian region, because they have a long history, for the past 500 years of submission, of exploitation, of misunderstanding.”

For the protection of Creation

The second reason for which he is grateful, the Bishop said, that “the Amazon is one of the most important regions in the world for the protection of Creation” and it is currently facing many challenges. “The Church, he said, ought to speak even more loudly for the protection of the region, and for the sake of the protection of the whole world”.