Among the many news stories I have been following with great interest is the news from Tonga, in particular because I know Cardinal Soane Patita Mafi, archbishop of Tonga. We’ve corresponded and met several times since he was named a cardinal in 2015, including in Honolulu in the fall of 2017 for a Catholic conference at Hawaiì’s convention center at which we were both speakers. (Hawaii Catholic photo)

I wrote Cardinal Mafi yesterday but have no real hope of hearing from him or even thinking he got my email. I assured him of prayers, for one thing, and the prayers will re-double for all the inhabitants of Tonga until we get some updated news.

Tonga now has widespread areas covered in ash from the after effects of an underwater volcanic eruption and is cut off from the world because of the rupture in an undersea fiber-optic communications system. I read that the repair of Tonga’s critical 514-mile fibre-optic link to Fiji depends on the arrival of a specialized ship that is currently in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea.

There are so many tragedies in the world, both man-made and natural, that it is hard to know where to start praying. Today, put Tonga and its people on your list!


The Vatican press office this morning announced that Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has Covid with “very light symptoms” and Abp. Peña Parra, his deputy or substitute, has Covid but is asymptomatic. Both are in quarantine.

Just recently stricter rules came into force in the Vatican to try and prevent the spread of Covid and the Omicron variant: Employees must be vaccinated to enter their offices and have documents – the famous Green Pass – proving vaccination or that they had Covid and recovered. They must also wear the FFP2 mask, now obligatory to enter most venues, travel on busses, trains and planes, etc. in Italy as well.

Un-vaccinated employees will be considered absent from work and will forfeit their salary until the meet Vatican requirements. Visitors to the Vatican must also show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid and must wear the FFP2 mask.

According to Edward Pentin, in an email to the National Catholic Register about exemptions from vaccination, “Cardinal Parolin said Vatican employees seeking to be exempt from the Vatican’s new vaccine mandate because they oppose the vaccine’s link to abortion ‘seems not to be justified’ as it was only tested rather than produced using the cell lines of aborted fetuses.”

He added that, “In Jan. 9 written comments to the Register, the Vatican Secretary of State said that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine administered at the Vatican does not use such ‘cell cultures’ in its composition or production but ‘only in the preliminary stages of vaccine testing in the laboratory. On the other hand, other vaccines (Astra Zeneca, Johnson & Johnson) are actually produced from cell cultures that were donated about 40 years ago for scientific purposes.”


Pope Francis has sent €100,000 to the Philippines for the devastation wrought on vast parts of the island nation by typhoon Rai, according to a communiqué from the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, responsible for disbursing the funds. United Nations sources say 8 million people in 11 regions have suffered extraordinary consequences.

Monies will be sent to the Apostolic Nunciature in the Philippines, which has also received aid and financial support from many organizations such as Caritas, other Catholic charities and organizations and Episcopal conferences worldwide.

According to the dicastery communiqué, Pope Francis is also sending a contribution of €100,000 “in favor of groups of migrants stranded between Poland and Belarus and in aid of Caritas Polska to deal with the migratory emergency on the border of the two countries, due to the situation of conflict that has been going in for over 10 years.”


The Laudato Si’ Special Anniversary Year was announced on May 16 by the Dicastery for Integral Human Development. Here is a link to their website and events scheduled for the year, including today’s commemoration, that opened May 24, 2020 and will run to the same date in 2021. A summary of the Papal message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and the Season of Creation follows and includes a link to the full message.


In his message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and the Season of Creation, Pope Francis reflects on the Biblical significance of the Jubilee, as evoked by the theme of the Season of Creation, “Jubilee of the Earth”.

By Vatican News

As the September 1 World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation kicks off the month-long Season of Creation, Pope Francis offers a profound reflection on respect for the earth, its resources, the evils caused by man’s greed and the need for “restorative justice” such as debt cancellation for poor countries.

This decisive moment
In his message, the Pope notes that, “the pandemic has brought us to a crossroads”.  “We must use this decisive moment,” he says, “to end our superfluous and destructive goals and activities, and to cultivate values, connections and activities that are life-giving.” “We must examine our habits of energy usage, consumption, transportation, and diet.  We must eliminate the superfluous and destructive aspects of our economies, and nurture life-giving ways to trade, produce, and transport goods.”

Listen to the land and creation
The Pope reminds us that, “we cannot live in harmony with creation if we are not at peace with the Creator who is the source and origin of all things”.  The Jubilee is a time for thinking once again of our fellow human beings, especially the poor and the most vulnerable, to share the common heritage of creation in a “spirit of conviviality, not in competitive scramble but in joyful fellowship, supporting and protecting one another”.

The Jubilee is also a time to listen to the land, to hear the voice of creation and return to our rightful place in the natural created order, remembering that we are part of this interconnected web of life, not its masters.

“The disintegration of biodiversity, spiralling climate disasters, and unjust impact of the current pandemic on the poor and vulnerable,” the Pope says, are a “wakeup call in the face of our rampant greed and consumption”.

A jubilee, the Pope says, is a time to set free the oppressed such as the indigenous people who face injustice and others who are subjected to various forms of modern slavery, such as trafficking in persons and child labour.

Debt cancellation
Stressing that the Jubilee is a time for “restorative justice”, the Pope renews his “call for the cancellation of the debt of the most vulnerable countries, in recognition of the severe impacts of the medical, social and economic crises they face as a result of Covid-19”.

This also calls for ensuring that the recovery packages being developed and deployed at global, regional and national levels be regeneration packages.  Policy, legislation and investment must be focused on the common good and guarantee that global social and environmental goals are met.

Restoring the Earth
Alarmed by the climate emergency, the Pontiff warns that “we are running out of time”, and unless we take action it “will prove catastrophic, especially for poor communities around the world”. He thus invites all nations to adopt more ambitious national targets to reduce emissions.

Lamenting the unprecedented loss of species and degradation of ecosystems, he urges for “restoring the earth to be a home of life in abundance, as willed by the Creator”.

Indigenous rights
The principle of “restorative justice”, the Holy Father continues, calls for restoring the right of indigenous communities to regain control of the usage of the land on which they have lived for generations.

“Indigenous communities,” he says, “must be protected from companies, particularly multinational companies, that ‘operate in less developed countries in ways they could never do at home”, through the destructive extraction of fossil fuels, minerals, timber and agro-industrial products.”

He denounces as a “new version of colonialism” the corporate misconduct of shamefully exploiting poorer countries and communities that are desperately seeking economic development.

Joining hands
The Pope admits, “We are aware that the cries of the earth and of the poor have become even louder and more painful in recent years.”  Yet it is a reason for joy to witness how the Holy Spirit is bringing individuals and communities around the world together to rebuild our common home and defend the most vulnerable.

Young people, communities and indigenous communities are on the frontlines in responding to the ecological crisis.  They are calling for a Jubilee for the earth and a new beginning, aware that “things can change”.

The way the “Laudato Si’ Special Anniversary Year” is unfolding is another reason to rejoice.  The numerous initiatives at local and global levels for the care of our common home and the poor during the year, the Pope says, should lead to long-term action plans to practise integral ecology in our families, parishes and dioceses, religious orders, our schools and universities, our healthcare, business and agricultural institutions, and many others as well.

Faith communities are coming together to create a more just, peaceful and sustainable world, and the Season of Creation is becoming a truly ecumenical initiative.

Please follow the link to read the full text of Pope Francis’ “Message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.”


Belarusian border authorities deny Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Minsk Mogilev entry into the country. Appealing to the faithful, he urges them not to let this latest development “aggravate tensions” currently rocking the nation.

By Vatican News

Belarusian border authorities barred Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz from entering into the country on Monday as he sought to return after a trip to Poland.

In a written appeal to the faithful on Tuesday, the 74-year-old Archbishop of Minsk Mogilev explained that he was stopped at the Bruzhi border crossing “without explanation of any reasons” even though the guards “behaved very politely.”

The Archbishop said that he did not want the “incomprehensible and challenging decision of the border authorities to aggravate tensions” given the “current political crisis” taking place in Belarus, reminding everyone that he has always called for “dialogue and peace.”

Invoking his citizenship rights, the Archbishop said that the border officials’ grounds for refusing him entry were not clear to him, and he pointed out that article No. 49–3 of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus of 20 September 2009 states: “The right of citizens to enter into the Republic of Belarus can’t be limited.”

Besides, the Archbishop continued, the ban on entry interferes with his “pastoral plans as the ordinary of the Minsk-Mogilev Archdiocese and as the Chairman of the Catholic Bishops of Belarus.”

Expressing hope that the “annoying misunderstanding” will soon be corrected, he said that he had made an official request to the nation’s State Border Committee to clarify the situation.

Concluding, Archbishop Kondrusiewicz invited everyone to pray for his return home and for a “peaceful solution to the acute socio-political crisis” in Belarus. He also entrusted the nation and its people to Our Lady and to the intercession of Archangel Michael, the patron of Belarus.

Belarus protests
Protests in Belarus broke out after President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus for 26 years, declared victory in presidential elections in early August with around 80% of the vote. Thousands have taken to the streets in massive protests over the past three weeks denouncing the results and calling for a free and transparent vote.

The protests have persisted despite a crackdown that has left many injured and at least six people dead.

In the wake of the protests, Archbishop Kondruziewicz has continuously called on Belarusians to embrace peace and dialogue. He has also spoken against the crackdown on protesters by the nation’s security forces.