I hit a double-header this morning when I went to Rome’s Spallanzani hospital for the booster dose of the Moderna anti-Covid vaccine. They were also offering the flu vaccine and I said ‘si’ faster than you can say ‘si’! Spallanzani is Italy’s premier research center and home to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases.

I was able to celebrate that good news by joining colleagues at the EWTN Rome bureau for another celebration – the 500th episode of “Vaticano”! A multi-flavored crostata was enjoyed by all (photo by bureau chief Andreas Thonhauser)

A very interesting Covid-related story comes from Austria whose bishops were due in Rome next Sunday for the start of their ad limina visit. According to the Catholic agency Kathpress, in an article that quotes the president of the Episcopal mconference, Archbishop Franz Lackner of Salzburg, the bishops have asked to postpone the ad limina visit because of the severity of the Covid pandemic and resulting full national lockdown. Their ad limina will now take place sometime in 2022.

All the bishops have been fully vaccinated. However, with travel so severely restricted now, it was considered prudent for them to remain in Austria, especially when citizens are limited in their movements.

According to a local website, Austria has paused leisure travel during its new national lockdown and will no longer accept PCR tests for entry. In Austria, due to the current Coronavirus infection situation, a temporary lockdown is in effect from 22 November until 13 December at the latest. Travel to Austria for touristic purposes will only be possible again after this period. Latest Information on the Coronavirus Situation in Austria

From the BBC: (Nov. 22) – Austria has returned to a full national lockdown as protests against new restrictions aimed at curbing Covid-19 infections spread across Europe. From midnight, Austrians have been asked to work from home and non-essential shops have closed.

Last week Austria became the first European country to make Covid vaccination a legal requirement, with the law due to take effect in February. Politicians in neighbouring Germany are debating similar measures as intensive care units there fill up and case numbers hit fresh records.


Pope Francis, through Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, sent a telegram of condolences and prayers to Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee, for the tragedy that occurred Sunday in Waukesha, a Milwaukee suburb: “The Holy Father asks you kindly to convey the assurance of his spiritual closeness to all affected by the tragic incident that recently took place in Waukesha. He commends the souls of those who died to Almighty God’s loving mercy and implores the divine gifts of healing and consolation upon the injured and bereaved. He joins you in asking the Lord to bestow upon everyone the spiritual strength which triumphs over violence and overcomes evil with good.”

Sunday afternoon in Waukesha, during what was to have been a festive Christmas parade, a man driving a red SUV sped through the parade of marchers, musicians, a group called Dancing Grannies and many young people, killing 5 and leaving more than 40 injured.

The driver, Darrell Brooks, now in custody, has a long criminal record and is a registered sex offender. He had recently been released from jail on a $1,000 bail.

On Monday, November 22, Archbishop Listecki released a video message about the Waukesha tragedy a day earlier, saying, “when confronted with the shock and the grief encountered by our brothers and sisters in Waukesha, it is now important for us to turn to our faith, which offers us God’s loving presence and consolation.”

The archbishop noted that, “among the injured are one of our Catholic priests, as well as multiple parishioners and Waukesha Catholic school children. …I know that people of every faith and tradition will call their communities together and offer to God, their sense of confidence in his ability to guide us through this difficult period and offer hope and healing.”