I hope that, wherever you are celebrating St. Valentine’s Day, you are having a blessed day. Hopefully the link to this Jacquie Lawson greeting card will work as there is a message for each one of you – my faithful readers, radio listeners and TV viewers – on the Valentine tree. (Jacquie Lawson cards are marvelous, by the way, for many occasions)


As I watched this e-card play out, I thought of my own childhood and how we celebrated Valentine’s Day. One year, Mom took a shoebox, decorated it with red, white and pink paper and hearts, cut a slit on the middle and put it in the center of our dinner table every February 14. Even as young kids, we bought small greeting cards with our allowance, wrote a message and then addressed the cards to Mom, to Dad and to our siblings, and slipped them in the shoebox. Cards were distributed at dessert time!

As we grew, Mom started a tradition of creating a box for each of us – this time a much bigger box – into which she put our baby books, perhaps a lock of hair, report cards and every single card we gave, whatever our age, to her and my Dad on birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, and so on. I still have “Joan’s Box”!

PS – Did you know that St. Valentine’s skull is in a reliquary in Rome’s Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin!


Vatican City, Feb 14, 2019 / 05:41 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis Thursday nominated a new camerlengo, Irish-American Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, and a former bishop of Dallas.

The responsibilities of camerlengo include overseeing the preparations for a papal conclave and managing the administration of the Holy See in the period between a pope’s death or renunciation and the election of a new pope.

Farrell was one of several bishops about whom questions were raised last summer regarding prior knowledge of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s misdeeds in the dioceses of Metuchen and Newark.

Farrell had served as an auxilary bishop under the former cardinal in Washington, DC, as well as moderator of the curia and vicar general, a chief advisory role to the disgraced archbishop.
Farrell lived together with McCarrick in a renovated parish building in Washington’s Kalorama neighborhood for six years, and many have characterized McCarrick as a mentor to the cardinal.
Last July, Farrell denied having any knowledge of accusations of sexual abuse or harassment against McCarrick.

A former member of the Legion of Christ, Farrell had also previously denied having prior knowledge of sexual abuse on the part of the Legion of Christ’s founder and former general director, Marcial Maciel.

Farrell also caused controversy last summer after he suggested in an interview with the Irish Catholic magazine Intercom that priests lack the necessary experience to provide adequate marriage preparation to engaged couples, saying, “priests are not the best people to train others for marriage.” The comment echoed a statement of his from September 2017, that priests have “no credibility when it comes to living the reality of marriage.”

The office of camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, which is situated within the pontifical household, has been vacant since the death of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran last July.

To take office, Farrell, 71, will take an oath before Pope Francis, who will give him a scepter, a symbol of the authority of the camerlengo. The current scepter, covered in red velvet, dates to the papacy of Benedict XV.

Born in Ireland and ordained a priest in 1978 as a member of the Legion of Christ, Farrell eventually relocated to Washington, DC, serving as director of Washington’s Spanish Catholic Center, before becoming the archdiocese’s finance officer in 1989.

In 2002, he became an auxiliary bishop of Washington, serving as moderator of the curia and vicar general, a chief advisory role, to then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

He was named Bishop of Dallas in 2007, where he served until his appointment as the first prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life in August 2016, which put him in charge of the planning of the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in 2018 and World Youth Day in Panama in January 2019.

Farrell became a cardinal in November 2016.

The camerlengo is one of two head officials of the Roman Curia who do not lose their office while the papacy is vacant. The position of camerlengo, which is regulated by the apostolic constitutions Pastor bonus and Universi dominici gregis, administers Church finances and property during the interregnum.

Paragraph 17 of Universi dominici gregis establishes that “the Camerlengo of Holy Roman Church must officially ascertain the Pope’s death” and “must also place seals on the Pope’s study and bedroom,” and later “the entire papal apartment.”

The camerlengo is also responsible for notifying the cardinal vicar for Rome of the pope’s death, who then notifies the people of Rome by special announcement. He takes possession of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican and Palaces of the Lateran and of Castel Gandolfo and manages their administration.

“During the vacancy of the Apostolic See, the Camerlengo of Holy Roman Church has the duty of safeguarding and administering the goods and temporal rights of the Holy See, with the help of the three Cardinal Assistants, having sought the views of the College of Cardinals, once only for less important matters, and on each occasion when more serious matters arise,” the constitution states.

Only the pope may choose the cardinal to fill the position of camerlengo, though he may also leave it vacant, in which case, the College of Cardinals would hold an election to fill the office at the start of a sede vacante.


Pope Francis tells staff of the International Fund for Agricultural Development that God appreciates their work to eradicate poverty and hunger in rural areas of the world.
By Vatican News
Seventy-five percent of the world’s poor live in rural areas of developing countries. Addressing the 42nd annual Governing Council meeting of IFAD in Rome, on Thursday, Pope Francis pointed out how paradoxical it is that “a good part of the more than 820 million people who suffer hunger and malnutrition in the world, live in rural areas, are dedicated to food production, and are farmers”.

Going against the flow
Following that address, the Pope met with IFAD staff members and thanked them for their work “in the service of such a noble cause as the fight against hunger and poverty in the world”. He also thanked them “for going against the flow”.

“Today’s trend sees a slowdown in the reduction of extreme poverty and an increase in the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few”, he said. “Few have too much and too many have too little”. The Pope described what he called “this perverse current of inequality” as being “disastrous for the future of humanity”.

Competence and sensitivity
Pope Francis acknowledged how “many needy and disadvantaged people, who survive with so much suffering on the peripheries of the world, benefit from your work”. These beneficiaries include disadvantaged children, women, and entire families.

He went on to tell IFAD staff how, “in order to perform this type of service well, it is necessary to combine competence with a particular human sensitivity”. It is important to “cultivate the inner life”, he told them, “the feelings that open the heart and ennoble others”.

Putting God in everything
Pope Francis encouraged everyone working at the International Fund for Agricultural Development, not to lose hope, not to give in to resignation, “thinking that it is only a drop in the ocean”. We can inject enthusiasm into everything we do, “day by day, even in small things”, he said. This means “putting God in what we do”, added Pope Francis: “because God never tires of doing good, of starting again. He never tires of giving hope”.

Looking for faces
Finally, the Pope urged IFAD staff always “to look for a face”, the faces of the people behind the case studies. “It is important not to stay on the surface”, he said, “but to enter into reality, to see the faces”.

The question to be asked, suggested Pope Francis, is “how much love do I put into the things I do now”? Those who love, he concluded, use their imagination: they can see solutions “where others see only problems”.



Join me this weekend for Part II of my conversation with Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation Gregory Polan. Born near Chicago Illinois, Abbot Polan is a linguist, a scripture and theology scholar, a translator and, I have heard, is quite the organist. As abbot primate of the Confederation, he is also the abbot of St. Anselm in Rome and chancellor of the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm and its Pontifical Liturgical Institute.

The 4th American to occupy this post, Abbot Gregory will tell us about the history of the order, his specific ministry as Abbot primate, what it means to be a monk and he looks at the growth of the order in the world.

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An eloquent, impassioned voice for the Catholic Church, particularly for relations between Catholics and Muslims, was silenced yesterday.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, died in the United States on July 5 where he was being treated for Parkinson’s disease. (photo: vaticannnews)

Born in France, this Prince of the Church was at the Vatican for many years, serving in the Secretariat of State in particular. He was secretary of the nunciatures to the Dominican Republic and Lebanon, came back to Rome and over the years participated in special missions in Haiti, Beirut and Damascus and knew the Middle East especially well.

In 1990 he was appointed Secretary for Relations with States, and in 2003 was named Archivist and Librarian of Holy Roman Church. In 2007 Pope Benedict appointed him to head the Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.

Pope Francis on Saturday, December 20, 2014 named French Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran as Camerlengo of Holy Roman Church, replacing Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who had turned 80 on December 2.

On March 13, 2013, as camerlengo, Cardinal Tauran announced the election of Cardinal Bergoglio who took the name Pope Francis:

And this is only the tip of a very large iceberg that is the cardinal’s years of service to the Church.

Cardinal Tauran, a true gentleman and a brilliant scholar, was considered one of the most knowledgeable and capable diplomats of generations of papal diplomats.

A reserved personality, he nonetheless always made a remarkable impact when he was a member or head of a Vatican delegation to international conferences. Cardinal Tauran was a terrific listener and yet, when he spoke in his soft voice, he made his audience become the good listeners. You knew you were listening to someone with vast knowledge of the topic he was speaking about, someone of great authority.

I had the wonderful great luck, in my years at the Vatican Information Service, to have interacted with Cardinal Tauran on a number of occasions. When he was Secretary for Relations with States, VIS was constantly writing news stories about his speeches, his interventions on the international stage, his meetings with foreign leaders and so on.

When he was made a cardinal, he was the first one I went to see during the afternoon courtesy visits.

In May 2004 I was one of six journalists chosen by Cardinal Tauran to join him in Doha, Qatar for the Qatar Conference on Muslim-Christian Dialogue.

Those were amazing days, not just the conference but breaking bread with the cardinal or sitting around in the lobby with my journalist colleagues, chatting away and asking questions of him like mad.

There is much more to say about those days and about Cardinal Tauran and his life and work and I’ll do so next week. I published an interview with him in the National Catholic Register, I did three stories for the Vatican Information Service and in later years, June of 2009, I interviewed him for Vatican Insider. I will re-air that conversation.

I admired and respected so very much about Cardinal Tauran – the man, the diplomat, and the humble priest who found time behind the scenes for personal charities and helping people and institutions. My esteem grew with every encounter.

What was most remarkable about Cardinal Tauran, certainly in these later years, was his indefatigable spirit, his endless love for the Church, for diplomacy, for trying to bring peace to a world that so badly needs it. He never stopped working. He was in his 11th year at the council for Inter-religious Dialogue, He seemed to be tireless, when it came to all things Church, notwithstanding the increasingly devastating effects of Parkinson’s.

And today he is resting in the Lord. RIP!