Remember the disputed presidential election returns in Florida in 2000 when people were called in for a recount and results seemed to depend on what “hanging chads” said about a vote – the chad being that part of a ballot that was to have been punched out of the paper ballot by a machine so that the space next to a candidate’s name was clearly marked. Was the “chad” really punched out of the ballot and the candidate chosen – or was it “hanging” as a result of error?

As I mentioned Tuesday, election day in the U,S., there is no patron saint of elections, although the story did circulate that St. Chad – yes, there is a real St. Chad of Lichfield, England – was the patron of the disputed 2000 U.S. elections. He died March 2, 672.

There is a now a recount in Florida – will people be turning to St. Chad?!

As to “VATICAN INSIDER” this weekend, tune in for sure when I bring you the latest news updates and, in the interview segment, I talk to a Polish priest who speaks about a friend of his – St. John Paul!

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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 http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

By Devin Watkins

Pope Francis signed a Common Statement on Friday with Mar Gewargis III, Catholicos and Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, in which they appealed for an end to the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

The two religious leaders signed the statement at the end of their meeting in the Vatican, following a moment of prayer for persecuted Christians in the Middle East. (photo vaticanmedia)

In the statement, the Pope and the Patriarch encourage their ongoing theological dialogue and call for an end to violence against Christians in the Middle East, saying it is impossible to imagine a Middle East without Christians.

“This conviction is founded not simply on religious grounds, but also on social and cultural realities, since Christians, with other believers, greatly contribute to the specific identity of the region: a place of tolerance, mutual respect and acceptance.”

Christians risk leaving the region, they note, if peace is not restored through dialogue. “A truce maintained by walls and displays of power will not lead to peace, since genuine peace can only be attained and preserved through mutual listening and dialogue.”

Pope Francis and Patriarch Gewargis also appealed to the International Community to put in place “a political solution that recognizes the rights and duties of all parties involved.”

Finally, the two leaders affirm the need for inter-religious dialogue “grounded in an attitude of openness, truth, and love.”

Dialogue, they say, “is also the best antidote to extremism, which is a threat to the followers of every religion.”


Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State responded to journalists asking about the bones found in the Vatican nunciature to Italy in Rome at the end of October.

“There has been no connection made with Emanuela Orlandi by the Holy See,” Cardinal Parolin stated. He went on to say, “I do not know who connected this case with Orlandi.”

Journalists representing SIR (Servizio Informazione Religiosa, a news organization supported by the Italian Episcopal Conference) followed up, asking why the Vatican Secretariat of State immediately involved the Italian authorities. Cardinal Parolin explained that it was “simply done in order to be transparent—so that there would not be any accusation that the Holy See wanted to hide something. Things are being done with greater openness and transparency. Human remains were found, there’s the desire to get to the bottom of what was done, whose [bones] they are. And so help was asked of Italy.” (vaticannews)

(JFL: As I wrote in an October 31 post about the finding of the bones at the nunciature, media here immediately surmised that the bones might be those of Emanuela Orlandi, the 15-year-old daughter of a Vatican employee who went missing in 1983, or of Mirella Gregori, another minor who disappeared that same year.

Investigators will be comparing the cranium and teeth with DNA of the two girls in their possession. Orlandi’s disappearance has been one of Italy’s biggest mysteries for the past 35 years. There have been as many theories as to why she disappeared – or was kidnapped – as there are Agatha Christie novels.

Emanuela’s father worked for IOR, the Institute for Works of Religion, commonly known as the Vatican bank. The family lived inside Vatican City. The Orlandi family, Vatican officials, including the gendarmes and Rome police have followed every lead that came to them over the years, including numerous reports of sightings of Emanuela, both in Italy and abroad.)