So much news today – the nuncio to Hungary speaks on the Holy Father’s weekend visit to Budapest, the end of the two-day meeting of the new C9 (the Council of Cardinals who are advisers to the Pope), the announcement that lay people and women will be able to vote in the October synod (historical!), the weekly general audience and a speech by Francis to the Chicago-based Catholic Extension Society!

I especially enjoyed the interview with a longtime friend of mine, Abp. Michael Banach, a luminary of Vatican diplomacy whom I’ve known for many years, now the Vatican nuncio to Hungary.

It was also interesting to read the Pope’s remarks to the Catholic Extension Society, an institution I learned about as a child as various relatives dedicated philanthropic resources to this body. Last night, after dinner at Taverna Agape in Pza. San Simeone I was walking on Via dei Coronari to a nearby taxi stand and ran into Cardinal Cupich from Chicago. He said he was in town for today’s meeting with the Holy Father. I’ve also known Extension President, Fr. Jack Wall, for a few years and he has been a dinner guest of mine.

As I always do in IN BRIEF, I’ll give just a few lines about each story and then the link to read the full piece, should it interest you.


HUNGARIANS LOVE POPE FRANCIS’ JOY AND SINCERITY: The Apostolic Nuncio to Hungary, Archbishop Michael Wallace Banach, insists that Hungarians love Pope Francis’ joy and sincerity, and appreciate his maintaining his promise to return to visit them after his brief 12 September 2021 stay in Budapest for the closing Mass of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress. In an interview granted to Vatican News – Vatican Radio for the occasion of the Holy Father’s Apostolic Journey to the country, the long-serving American diplomat, who has served in several continents, granted his insight into the realities for the faithful in the country and the meaning of the Pope’s return to Hungarian soil, marking his 41st Apostolic Journey abroad. Apostolic Nuncio: Hungarians love Pope Francis’ joy, sincerity – Vatican News

THE VATICAN ANNOUNCED WEDNESDAY THAT THERE WILL BE LAY PEOPLE PARTICIPATING AS VOTING MEMBERS IN THE SYNOD ON SYNODALITY’S OCTOBER ASSEMBLY, a break with past custom, which allowed laypeople to participate without the right to vote. Pope Francis will also approve every member in advance. The general assembly of the Synod on Synodality will take place in two sessions, in October 2023 and October 2024. After the vote on a final document for the assembly, the pope alone decides whether to take any actions based on the recommendations in the final text or whether to adopt it as an official Church document…According to the synod leadership, it is requested that “50% of [the selected people] be women and that the presence of young people also be emphasized.” Vatican announces laypeople, including women, will vote in Synod on Synodality assembly | Catholic News Agency

NEW COUNCIL OF CARDINALS ENDS TWO-DAY MEETING. Vatican news announced today the end of a two-day meeting of the new C9, Council of Cardinals, stating the next meeting will be in June, without specifying a date. (I listed the cardinal members, new and returning, here: POPE PRESIDES OVER THE FIRST MEETING OF THE NEW COUNCIL OF CARDINALS – ARCHBISHOP PAGLIA CLARIFIES STANCE ON ASSISTED SUICIDE | Joan’s Rome ( Past meetings, since the first one in 2013, usually took place over three days, with the Pope always participating, except on Wednesday mornings when he presided over the general audience. Summaries of those meetings, released on the final day, Wednesday, usually went on at some length in describing the topics discussed. Today’s announcement, much briefer, was summarized by Vatican news: Council of Cardinals discusses ongoing wars and need for peace-building – Vatican News

“IN OUR CONTINUING CATECHESIS ON APOSTOLIC ZEAL,” SAID POPE FRANCIS AT THE GENERAL AUDIENCE IN ST. PETER’S SQUARE, “we now turn to the example of the saints of every age, beginning with those who embraced the monastic life. Their witness of following Christ in poverty, chastity and obedience was combined with unceasing intercessory prayer for the spread of the Gospel and the growth of the Church. Today we consider Saint Gregory of Narek, a medieval Armenian monk and Doctor of the Church, whose writings embody the profound Christian tradition of the Armenian people, the first to embrace the Gospel. In the hiddenness of his monastery, Gregory sensed a profound solidarity with the whole Church and her mission of preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ to all nations and peoples. Identifying with sinful humanity, he devoted his entire existence to interceding for sinners, the poor and those in need of the Lord’s healing and forgiveness. The example of Saint Gregory of Narek reminds us of our responsibility to cooperate, by our own intercessory prayer, in the Church’s mission of proclaiming the Gospel message of reconciliation, redemption and peace for the entire human family. General Audience – Activities of the Holy Father Pope Francis |

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“I OFFER A CORDIAL WELCOME TO ALL OF YOU FROM THE CATHOLIC EXTENSION SOCIETY WHO HAVE GATHERED THIS WEEK IN ROME,” said the Holy Father. “Your presence gives me the opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude for your efforts in providing assistance to missionary Dioceses, particularly in the United States, and in caring for the needs of the poor and most vulnerable. I thank you, too, for your valuable contributions to the rebuilding of the Church and the broader society in Puerto Rico, following the various hurricanes and earthquakes which brought such devastation to the island in recent years….In striving to build up the Body of Christ, the Church, by giving a voice to those who are frequently voiceless, you bear witness to the God-given dignity of every person. …I encourage you as well to continue to express ‘God’s style’ in the work that you do. God’s style is never distant, detached or indifferent. Instead, it is one of closeness, compassion and tender love. This is God’s style: closeness, compassion and tender love. God is like this, this is his style.” To a delegation from the “Catholic Extension Society” – Activities of the Holy Father Pope Francis |



I was delighted to learn that a friend, Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, will return to Rome after an absence of several years as an apostolic nuncio to a number of different countries. Pope Francis today named him the new Secretary of the Dicastery for Evangelization, as part of the Section for First Evangelization and the New Particular Churches.

We first met in late 2007 when he began serving in the Vatican as the Chief of Protocol of the Secretariat of State. In 2012, Benedict XVI had named him nuncio to Nicaragua and in ensuing years he served as nuncio to Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, and Guyana, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Bahamas, Suriname, and Belize.

The Nigerian-born prelate speaks English, Italian, German, French, Spanish, and Arabic. These languages definitely served him well in the protocol office where he met leaders from many nations around the world.


Pope Francis, at today’s general audience, held in St. Peter’s Square for the second week in a row, told the pilgrims in the square, “In our continuing catechesis on missionary zeal, we now consider the apostolic dimension of evangelization. In the Creed, we profess that the Church is ‘apostolic’.”

He explained that, “an ‘apostle’ is literally one who is ‘sent’. In the Scriptures, we read that Jesus chose the twelve Apostles, called them to himself and then sent them forth to proclaim the Gospel. After his resurrection, he appeared to the Twelve and said: ‘As the Father has sent me, so now I send you’, breathing upon them the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins.”

Francis asked, “But are we aware that being apostles concerns every Christian? Are we aware that it concerns each one of us? Indeed, we are required to be apostles – that is, envoys – in a Church that, in the Creed, we profess as apostolic.

“The experience of the Twelve apostles and the testimony of Paul also challenges us today,” continued the Holy Father. “They invite us to verify our attitudes, to verify our choices, our decisions, on the basis of these fixed points: everything depends on a gratuitous call from God; God also chooses us for services that at times seem to exceed our capacities or do not correspond to our expectations; the call received as a gratuitous gift must be answered gratuitously.”

He then explained that the Christian vocation “is a great thing because, although by the will of Christ some are in an important position, perhaps, doctors, ‘pastors and dispensers of mysteries on behalf of others, yet all share a true equality with regard to the dignity and to the activity common to all the faithful for the building up of the Body of Christ’.”

Francis, in concluding remarks, said, “Those who are ordained have received the mission of teaching, governing and sanctifying in Jesus’ name and authority, yet all the members of the faithful, as sharers in the Lord’s priestly, prophetic and regal office, are called to be missionary disciples, ‘apostles in an apostolic Church’. May the recognition of our common dignity and equality inspire us to ever greater unity and cooperation in proclaiming, by word and example, the good news of our salvation in Christ.”


Rest in Peace, Queen Elizabeth! I somehow never thought I’d be using the past tense with Queen Elizabeth! She’s been queen most of my life, as she has been for anyone 70 and under!

She met Pope Pius XII as a princess and, as queen, she met Popes John XXIII, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis.

Though not a Catholic, she was deeply Christian and I find it lovely she died on the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

We await, as I write, a papal message.


Every three years, a Pope receives as a group the Holy See’s representative to the States of the world. Known as apostolic nuncios, they are, with only one exception, archbishops: that exception is Cardinal Mario Zenari, the nuncio to Syria, whom the Pope made a cardinal in 2016.

In recent weeks, even months, the Holy Father has been receiving many of the nuncios one by one, in private audiences. I have always imagined such conversations to be among the more fascinating ones a Pope can have as a nuncio recounts life in the country to which he is accredited – the lights, the shadows, the situation of the Church or, as in Cardinal Zenari’s case, the description of a warn torn and impoverished country.

The Holy See’s nuncios are some of the best-trained diplomats in the world, and in most cases are the dean of the diplomatic corps in the country where they are serving. Many nuncios, like Cardinal Zenari, have spent their entire career in the Vatican’s diplomatic service. One of the more signal traits of the Holy See diplomatic corps is that most all nuncios are pluri-lingual, speaking their native language, in addition to Italian and one or two others. art of their training as diplomats is studying the language of the country to which they are assigned before their departure from Rome, and then learning it in situ.

The Church’s diplomatic service is actually one of the oldest on the planet and can be traced to the years 325 when Pope Sylvester I sent his personal representatives to the first Council of Nicea. The exchange between papal representatives and those of other nations has continued uninterruptedly since then, with the main vicissitudes being the birth of new nations, the disappearance of others, or a breakup within a nation to form new ones (such as happened with the fall of the Berlin Wall and other historical moments).

There are, of course, notable exceptions. The Holy See, for example, does not have, full diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China or Vietnam. Where diplomatic ties do not exist, however, there may be a counsellor, a priest or monsignor, assigned by the Vatican to be present in the country.

The Holy See is also represented at 25 international organizations such as the United Nations.

The diplomats are trained in Rome at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. Founded in 1701 as the Pontifical Academy of Ecclesiastical Nobles, its first seat was the building in Rome known today as Villa Taverna, now the residence of the U.S. ambassador to Italy. In 1706, the Academy was transferred to Palazzo Severoli on Pza. Della Minerva, its actual seat today. The interior of the building was renovated under Pope St. John XXIII

Popes Clement XIII, Leo XII, Leo XIII, Benedict XV and St. Paul VI were among the academy alumni.

Birmingham, Alabama-born Archbishop Joseph Marino has headed the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy since his appointment by Pope Francis in October 2019. He has been in the Holy See’s diplomatic service since 1988.


Pope Francis held a triennial meeting with pontifical representatives in the Vatican, and called attention to the Holy See’s efforts to seek peace amid a “third world war fought piecemeal,”

By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

The Pope’s representatives in nations across the globe met with the Holy Father on Thursday as part of their triennial encounter in the Vatican.

The group includes 91 Apostolic Nuncios and 6 Permanent Observers, while 5 Pontifical Representatives were unable to attend due the health reasons or other impediments.

Pope Francis spoke to his representatives about various global issues affecting nations and the Church in the world.

World shaken by war

The Pope noted that this encounter comes in the wake of the pandemic.

“The tempest of the Covid-19 pandemic forced various constraints on our daily lives and pastoral activities,” he said. “Now it seems the worst may be behind us, and thank God we are able to meet.”

However, added Pope Francis, the spectre of war has descended on Europe and the world.

“Unfortunately, Europe and the entire world are shaken by a particularly serious war, due to the violation of international law, the risks of nuclear escalation, and the grave economic and social consequences.”

Pope’s closeness amid world war

The Pope added that a “third world war fought piecemeal” has gripped the globe, and that Pontifical Representatives are present in the countries involved in the various conflicts.

He thanked them for bringing his closeness to peoples who are suffering.

“You bring the Pope’s closeness to peoples and the Church. You are points of reference in moments of extreme bewilderment and turbulence.”

Focusing on mission

Pope Francis urged his representatives to entrust their work to the Lord, as they labor in the “today of the Church and world.”.

He noted that the Church is currently journeying through the Synod on synodality, while the Roman Curia seeks to apply the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium.

The Pope also recalled two apostolic nuncios who died while in office: Archbishop Joseph Chennoth and Archbishop Aldo Giordano.

“Our brothers have preceded us in our journey, and they invite us to keep our gaze fixed on the path ahead and on the heavens.”




Responding to questions from journalists, interim director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, stated the following:

“I can confirm that the Holy See renounces jurisdictional immunity enjoyed by the Apostolic Nuncio in France, Msgr. Luigi Ventura, by virtue of the Vienna Convention of 18 April 1961 on diplomatic relations, for the purposes of criminal proceedings concerning him.

“This is an extraordinary gesture that confirms the will of the Nuncio, expressed from the beginning of the story, to collaborate fully and spontaneously with the French judicial authorities, competent for the case. In order to take this decision, the Holy See awaited the conclusion of the preliminary phase of the procedure – communicated to it at the end of June – in which Msgr. Ventura has freely participated. The Holy See’s decision was officially communicated to the French authorities last week.”


Monday is, of course, Memorial Day and it a holiday for EWTN employees so this page may be dark that day but I hope to have something special for you on Tuesday. Wednesday, I depart for Chicago and will explain the special nature of that trip on Tuesday as well. In the meantime, have a lovely holiday weekend, stay warm and dry and safe and drive safely!

As you will see in the story below, Pope Francis today had some very special words about the value of life when he addressed members of the Institute Hospitals of the Innocents based in Florence, Italy. Papal words on life are always much-needed in today’s world and I just wish we had had similar pronouncements, specifically about being pro-life in a pro-abortion world, from the Holy Father or Italian prelates for last Saturday’s 9th Italian March for Life. Not a word from anyone a week ago. However, as they say, “Better late than never!”


This weekend on Vatican Insider, my guest in the interview segment is Abp. Francisco Javier Lozano, former apostolic nuncio or papal ambassador. We continue a conversation begun last weekend in VI. Ordained a priest in Rome in 1968, the archbishop has Doctorates in Theology, Philosophy and Canon Law. He was called to Rome to study at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy of Rome and in his early years worked in the nunciatures of Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Yugoslavia and Guatemala.

From 1984 to 1994 he was Head of the Latin America-Spain Department of the Vatican’s Secretary of State under Pope John Paul II. Abp. Lozano was eventually Apostolic Nuncio in Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Croatia, Romania and Moldova. He speaks Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, English, Serbo-Croatian, German, Russian and Romanian. Listen to learn more about the Vatican’s celebrated diplomatic corps.

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)


Pope Francis on Friday met with members of the Institute Hospitals of the Innocents based in the Italian city of Florence as it marks its 600th anniversary. In his prepared remarks the Pope stressed that “we need a culture that recognizes the value of life.”

The Hospital of the Innocents was built by Filippo Brunelleschi in the fifteenth century and is located in the historic city of Florence. It was the first institution of its kind in Europe designed to care for and raise orphaned or abandoned children.

Today, it is an institute that promotes the rights of children and adolescents through a number of services and activities. In addition to residential and educational activities, the Institute also carries out the most recent research and monitoring activities on the condition of children.

In the Vatican on Friday, Pope Francis met with members of the Institute of the hospital and in prepared remarks to those gathered, he stressed that the best of care should be given to the poor, the vulnerable and those living on the peripheries of society.

Among the most vulnerable people, the Pope added, “we must take care of the many rejected children, robbed of their childhood and their future; minors who face desperate journeys to escape from hunger or war.”

He emphasized the plight of mothers whose children do not see the light of day because they “are subject to economic, social and cultural conditioning that pushes them to renounce that wonderful gift that is the birth of a child.”

“How much we need a culture that recognizes the value of life”, the Pontiff said, “a culture that recognizes in every face, even the smallest, the face of Jesus.”

The Pope underlined the importance making sure that “no mother finds herself in the position of having to abandon her child.”

We must also ensure, he continued, “that in the face of any event, even tragic, that may separate a child from his parents, there are facilities and paths of care in which the child is always protected and cared for…”


Check your local listings for EWTN’s coverage tomorrow, Saturday, May 18, of Italy’s 9th March for Life

Here’s a lovely story: Before the terrorist attack, Sri Lankan Catholics were remembered for their beautiful religious art. Five hundred years ago, the Christian converts of Sri Lanka earned considerable respect from the Portuguese missionaries. This was partly due to their enthusiasm for the new faith, but mostly because of their creative skills.

PS. Did you know that Sri Lanka (Serendib as it used to be, then Ceylon) gave its name to the English word “serendipity”?


My guest this week in the interview segment is Archbishop Francisco Javier Lozano, apostolic nuncio or papal ambassador. Ordained a priest in Rome in 1968, he has Doctorates in Theology, Philosophy and Canon Law. He was called to Rome to study at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy of Rome and in his early years worked in the nunciatures of Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Yugoslavia and Guatemala.

In his Rome home with many of his famous Russian icons –

From 1984 to 1994 he was Head of the Latin America-Spain Department of the Vatican’s Secretary of State under Pope John Paul II. Abp. Lozano was eventually Apostolic Nuncio in Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Croatia, Romania and Moldova. He speaks Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, English, Serbo-Croatian, German, Russian and Romanian.

This is a bike that Pope John Paul gave him after his apostolic voyage to Uruguay, Chile and Argentina March 31-April 12, 1987:

Biking, tennis and golf were his sports preferences!

Listen to Part I to learn more about the Vatican’s celebrated diplomatic corps.

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)


POPE FRANCIS MET WITH PARTICIPANTS IN THE SOCIETY OF AFRICAN MISSIONS ongoing General Assembly, and praised their “courageous missionary zeal.” The Society of African Missions is a missionary order of priests who serve Catholics in Africa, often in rural areas, as well as communities of African origin in other parts of the world. Francis urged them to persevere in serving victims of war and human trafficking, and he prayed with the priests for Fr. Pierluigi Maccalli, who was abducted last year in Niger. The Pope thanked the missionaries for their “great work of evangelization” in places where the Christian community is still fragile and for their special attention to migrants. “These new pastoral horizons are a sign of the vitality of the Holy Spirit at work in you.”

THE HOLY FATHER RECEIVED MEMBERS OF THE CATHOLIC ASSOCIATION OF HEALTH CARE WORKERS on the 40th anniversary of its founding. “I am pleased to meet you,” said Francis, “and to share with you the intent to defend and promote life, starting from those who are most defenseless or in need of assistance because they are sick, or elderly, or marginalized, or because they face existence and ask for be welcomed and looked after. To all of them, in different ways, you provide an irreplaceable service whenever, as health workers, you offer them the care they need or the closeness that sustains them in their fragility.”


“The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith communicated on January 29, 2019 the resignation of Rev. Fr. Hermann Geissler, FSO, to the office at the same Congregation and the request of the same (person) that the canonical process be continued, deeming the accusation against him not true. At the Apostolic Signatura, to which the Holy Father, at the request of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had entrusted that cause, the administrative penal process was celebrated. A College was formed consisting of five Members of the Supreme Tribunal itself, who, meeting on May 15th, issued the decree of acquittal of the accused, not having been proven with due moral certainty, after a careful examination of the matter, the configuration of the alleged serious crime.”

(JFL: The Apostolic Signatura is one of the Church’s three tribunals and is similar to a supreme court as it is the highest judicial authority in the Church, although the Pope “is the supreme ecclesiastical judge and final point of appeal for any ecclesiastical judgment.” The responsibilities of this tribunal are laid out in Pope John Paul’s 1988 Apostolic Constitution “Pastor Bonus”:
Pope Francis and his cardinal advisors are currently writing a new constitution, and it will be interesting to see of the competencies of the Signatura remain or if they are in some way changed or added to)



The Apostolic Nuncio to Korea Archbishop Alfred Xuereb comments on the outcome of the summit.

The Apostolic Nuncio to Korea and Mongolia, Archbishop Alfred Xuereb hailed Tuesday’s “truly historic” summit between the US President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. He said the Church is “full of hope and confidence” but warned, “we’re still at the beginning of a long process.”

Long and arduous road

Speaking from Seoul in an interview with Vatican News, Archbishop Xuereb said that the Korean people and the local Church had been anxiously awaiting “these truly historic events.” He described the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as “marking an important page at the beginning of a long and arduous road” (towards peace).

At the same time, said Archbishop Xuereb, “we are hopeful because this beginning was very positive, very good” and we’ve moved from rhetoric and words like “fire and fury” and “the complete devastation of North Korea” to more conciliatory words that speak about peace.

Novena for peace

Saying the Church in Korea is living these events “with great faith,” the Nuncio described how the Catholic Cathedral in Seoul has been holding special prayers for peace and reconciliation every Tuesday. He also said the Catholic Bishops of Korea have proposed a novena from the 17th to the 25th of June to pray for peace, reconciliation and unity on the Korean peninsula.

In the wake of this historic summit and the more conciliatory climate engendered by it, Archbishop Xuereb said the Church prays for the evangelization of North Korea.

“The Holy See wishes to offer its support to any initiative in favour of dialogue and reconciliation and also take advantage of this to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to North Korea,” he said.


The Catholic Church in Korea has proposed a novena for peace and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula as a series of summits and declarations mark the way for new diplomatic relationships between the two Koreas and with the United States.
By Linda Bordoni

The Catholic Church in Korea has proposed a novena from 17 to 25 June to pray for peace, reconciliation and unity on the Korean peninsula.

As leaders of the United States and North Korea held an historic Summit in Singapore on June 12, the Korean Church called for a novena of prayer and organized a conference for reconciliation and unity between the two Koreas who technically are still at war since the Korean Armistice Agreement signed in 1953.

Singapore Summit

After the Singapore Summit, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un signed a “comprehensive” document, promising a new relationship between the nations and committing North Korea to work towards “the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

Just over a month ago the leaders of North and South Korea, Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un signed an agreement in which they agreed to pursue talks on a peace treaty as well as denuclearization.

Panmunjom Agreement

In the 27 April Panmunjom Agreement, the two leaders committed to bring a swift end to the Cold War relic of longstanding division and confrontation, to boldly approach a new era of national reconciliation, peace and prosperity, and to improve and cultivate inter-Korean relations in a more active manner.

The Catholic Bishops of Korea have indicated a different prayer intention for each day: For healing following the separation of the Korean people; for families who have been separated by the Korean war; for the brothers and sisters who live in the North; for refugees from the North who currently live in the South; for politicians of the North and the South; for the evangelization of the North; for the promotion of exchange and dialogue between South and North; for true reconciliation between the two nations; for the peaceful reunification of the peninsula.

A Conference on the future of the Korean peninsula

The Bishops are also promoting a Conference on 21 June to take place at the Major Seminary of the Archdiocese of Daegu. Dedicated to a new future of the Korean peninsula thanks to fruitful exchanges between South and North, the event foresees the participation of the Bishops of Uijeongbu and Daegu as well as a panel of experts.


My second news item today is one I am delighted to offer – a story today about a longtime friend, Abp. Michael Banach whom I first met a number of years ago when both of us were working for the Roman Curia – I for the Vatican Information Service and Michael for the Secretariat of State.

The third story is from Vatican Radio and concerns a matter of great interest to Americans in particular as they consider the hot button but also humane issue of migrants, especially in an election year.

And the final story is simply to bring a smile to your face! We really need these good news stories more often!

TODAY’S PAPAL TWEET: New forms of slavery such as human and organ trafficking, forced labor, and prostitution are true crimes against humanity.

Today is the International Day for Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.


Pope Francis sent two ‘thank you’ notes to the Church in Poland, addressing one letter to Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki, president of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, and another to Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, the host diocese for the recent World Youth Day celebrations:

To “Venerable brother,” Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki, archbishop of Poznan,

Having returned from the Apostolic Journey to Poland, I want to renew the expression of my lively gratitude to you, Bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful, for your warm welcome and for the zeal with which my visit was prepared. I am deeply moved by your strong faith and the unwavering hope that you have kept in spite of difficulties and tragedies, and by your fervent love, which animates your human and Christian pilgrimage.

The memory of the moving Eucharistic celebration at the Shrine of Czestochowa, for the 1050th anniversary of Poland’s Baptism, and the moment of prayer in the concentration camp at Auschwitz is especially dear to me. I find great joy in remembering the encounter with the young people who came from different nations.

I assure you of my prayers so that the Church in Poland may continue advancing on its path with perseverance and courage, showing the Lord’s merciful love to all. Please, also pray for me. I heartily bless you all.

With fraternal greetings, Francis

To His Eminence, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Archbishop of Krakow

Having returned from my Pastoral Visit to Krakow, during which I had the occasion to express my grateful remembrance of my Venerable Predecessor Saint John Paul II, to live moments of deep communion with your Diocesan Community, and to experience the enthusiasm of faith of the immense crowd of young people from different continents, I wish to express to you, to the priests, the consecrated persons and the entire Diocesan Community my sincere gratitude for the warm welcome in your home, and for the great kindness you showed to me and my collaborators. The memory of the moving liturgical celebrations, characterized by profound participation and animated by lively Faith, are still very present in my heart.

I thank you, the staff of the archdiocesan office, all your collaborators, and those who have worked to ensure the smooth running of these unforgettable days of faith and prayer. I am grateful also for the deep affection for the Successor of Peter, expressed by various ecclesiastical and civil circles, as well as by individual believers: all of this is a sign of love for the Church, in the wake of the perpetual and reverential affection for Pope John Paul II.

While encouraging the Archdiocese of Krakow to perseveringly advance on its path, constantly bearing witness to God’s mercy, I pray, through the intercession of Mary, the Lord for an abundance of gifts and graces for you and all who are entrusted to your pastoral care, especially for the young, that they may grow in an increasingly solid commitment to the Gospel. With these sentiments, I also ask you to pray for me, and I again give to all my Apostolic Blessing.

Fraternally, Francis


(CNA/EWTN News) – On Monday Pope Francis appointed U.S. Archbishop Michael W. Banach as Apostolic Nuncio to Guinea-Bissau, marking the latest in a string of American nuncio appointments so far this year. The announcement that Archbishop Banach, previously nuncio to several other countries, will now be overseeing the Holy See’s relations with Guinea Bissau came in an Aug. 22 communique from the Vatican.

Designated Titular Archbishop of Memphis in 2013, Archbishop Banach was named nuncio to Senegal and apostolic delegate to Mauritania March 19, and as nuncio to Cape Verde July 9. He will continue to hold these positions in addition to his new appointment as nuncio to Guinea Bissau, all of which sit along the Northwest coast of Africa.


Born in Worcester, Mass. and ordained a priest for the diocese in July 1988, Archbishop Banach, 53, was originally made a Vatican ambassador in 2013 when he was named apostolic nuncio to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. His transfer to the four West African nations this year comes amid a string of other appointments by Pope Francis of U.S. Vatican diplomats to the African continent.

In February, the Pope appointed Msgr. Peter Bryan Wells, the highest ranking American in the Vatican Secretariat of State, as both archbishop and his new ambassador to South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho and Namibia. In July he was also appointed nuncio to Swaziland. Aside from the move of Wells and Banach, in March Pope Francis appointed Msgr. Paul Russell, at the time the head of the Vatican nunciature in Taiwan, as nuncio to Turkey and Turkmenistan – an important post given recent tensions between Turkey and the Holy See over Pope Francis’ use of the term “genocide” during a 2015 Mass commemorating the Armenian martyrs, as well as his recent visit to the country.

While there aren’t too many Vatican ambassadors from the U.S., most of them seem to be making their way to the world’s peripheries.


(Vatican Radio)  A report by UNICEF says thousands of children from Central America are trying to reach the United States, with Mexico being used as their final transit zone.

Mexican border residents march in protest on a road towards a detention center for migrants at the border between the U.S and Mexico – Reuters:


The UNICEF report says that in the first six months of this year almost 26,000 unaccompanied children were detained at or around the U.S. Border.

Mexican authorities confirm they apprehended more than 16,000 of these migrant children and youngsters. Thirty thousand families of undocumented migrants were also discovered in this region.

Most come from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, which are ravaged by extreme poverty and criminal gangs which recruit by force, and indoctrinate children as young as eight.

Those children who refuse to obey are often murdered. These three countries have some of the worst homicide rates in the world.

Non-governmental organizations estimate that as many as 20,000 Central American would be migrants annually vanish in Mexico on their way to their so called ‘El Dorado’.

They’re often abducted by drug cartels and criminal gangs. And then there’s the option of their families paying a ransom, them joining the cartel, or death. From USA Today


(USA Today) Youngsville, La. — The day before Carson Boutte’s 9th birthday Saturday, his mom asked what he wanted as a present. He said he wanted lunch — but not for himself.” He said, ‘Really, I know all the poor people whose houses flooded, … what I would really like to do is bring them lunch,’ said his mom, Lanie Boutte. “I suggested sandwiches and chips, and he added cookies. Later that night, the thought of making maybe 500 lunches herself was overwhelming, .“so my husband suggested pizza,” she said. “I said I would spend $100 since that’s what I was going to spend on Carson’s present. I decided to post it on Facebook in case any of my family wanted to chip in, too.”

And the rest is history – click here:


Is today’s papal tweet the Holy Father’s answer to fans and critics of Amoris Laetitia? – To understand, forgive, accompany and integrate. That is the mindset which should prevail in the Church.

I am very excited about the final story today. I have many good friends in Jordan, very active wonderful Catholics, whom I manage to see on trips to Jordan and when they come to Rome. I am also an admirer of King Abdullah as an individual and as the ruler of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. His book, “Our Last Best Chance, The Pursuit of Peace in a Time of Peril,” is a must read for anyone who wishes to remotely understand the Middle East. I bought it on my last trip to Jordan and found it to be a page turner. I would love to think people in our State Department have read this, and hopefully they know that Jordan and King Abdullah are very important, trustworthy allies in this part of the world. What’s more, few, if any, leaders in the Middle East have done what King Abdullah has done for Christians living in his country, not to mention the huge number of refugees.


The Apostolic Exhortation “is a precious gift for our Church, as well as families and society in Asia,” especially since it comes in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. This Card Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai and President of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, said when speaking to AsiaNews about Amoris Laetitia. (photo:


For the cardinal, who holds a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Urbaniana University and a diploma in jurisprudence from the Pontifical Gregorian University, “Amoris laetitia outlines clearly that marriage is joy, and blessing, a gift from God.” Indeed, the Holy Father “speaks of the beauty and the integrity of this sacrament.

The document, which weaves together the deliberations of the two Synods on the family celebrated in 2014 and 2015, “endorses the social doctrine of the Church” in continuity with the “magisterium of John Paul II and Benedict XVI”. Under no circumstances does it represent a break with Catholic teaching.

It is also “an invitation to apply the medicine of mercy and tenderness,” by promoting an inclusive pastoral ministry that “seeks out those who live on the margins.”

“Citing Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, the pontiff notes that “love is more than a mere feeling’ (n. 94), but is instead a wilful commitment to embark on a definite path by addressing challenging things – being patient, putting aside envy and rivalry, caring about each other . . .”

In Asia, “families are traditionally very united. It is heartening that the pope connects family concerns with social concerns. He argues that families can only flourish if our societies are set up to support them.”

“It is essential that the Church in Asia get into the heart of this document. Bishops and priests can have a positive impact on our pastoral approach.”

“I would like to see our seminarians study this document, and undergo a change in mind-set and heart. Including rather than excluding is the heart of Jesus – a gift for Asia and India.” (AsiaNews)

(Cardinal Gracias is one of the C9 cardinals, the Council of Cardinals that advises the Pope.)


Pope Francis on Tuesday appointed Archbishop Christophe Pierre as the new Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America. Archbishop Pierre, a native of France, was previously Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico. He replaces Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who reached the age of retirement earlier this year. (photo:


Born January 30, 1946 in Rennes, France, he was ordained a priest in April 1970 and ordained a bishop in 1995. He was named apostolic nuncio to Haiti in 1995, and subsequently to Uganda and Mexico. In that last post, he was charged with organizing Pope Francis’ recent visit to Mexico.

Abp. Pierre succeeds Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò just months after the latter, having turned 75, offered his resignation to Pope Francis. Last Thursday, April 7, the archbishop received the Rector’s Award at the North American College’s annual Rector’s Dinner.


(Vatican Radio)  Jordan’s King Abdullah II will fund the restoration of Christ’s Tomb in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre.


Bishop William Shomali, Latin Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem, warmly welcomed the decision of King Abdullah: “This is excellent news, news of a highly symbolic character, since the Holy Sepulchre is the most sacred place for Christians of all confessions. This decision shows the kindness of the King towards Christians and his constant concern to preserve the heritage of Christianity, including his role as guarantor of the Holy Places, Christian and Muslim, Jerusalem, according to the Wadi Araba agreement.” (photo:


Jordan’s Royal Court informed the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem of the “makruma” (Royal Benefaction) in a letter addressed to His Beatitude Theophilos III on 10 April. For his part, the Orthodox Patriarch praised the generosity of King Abdullah, recalling how His Majesty remains the faithful guardian and custodian of Muslim and Christian Holy Places of Jerusalem.

The Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Latin Custody of the Holy Land announced during Holy Week that restoration works on Christ’s Tomb would begin soon after the Orthodox Easter solemnities. The Holy Sepulchre, also known as the Basilica of the Resurrection, has been the holiest site of Christian pilgrimage since the 4th century. The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem reports that the restoration work was needed because scientific studies had revealed grave problems of moisture from the “condensation of the breath of visitors,” and oxidation due to candle smoke.

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem says the aedicule, the place of burial and Resurrection of Christ, will be the object of the restoration.  It has remained untouched since 1947 when the British put in place steel support beams as part of a restoration project that never took place. The funds offered by His Majesty for the project will be entrusted to a Greek team led by Professor Antonia Moropoulou of the National Technical University of Athens.

The three main Christian denominations that worship at the Church include the Greek Orthodox, Latin and Armenian Churches.  All have agreed to cooperate for the realization of the restoration effort.