When I got the official Holy See Press Office bulletin today listing the individuals and groups the Pope received in the morning, I was very surprised to see the first name on the list of people whom the Pope would formally receive was Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu.

I was surprised because, since September 2020, the cardinal has been a “persona non grata” in the Vatican. On September 24, 2020, the Holy See Press office released this statement: “Today, Thursday, Sept. 24, the Holy Father accepted the resignation from the office of Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and related rights of the Cardinalate, presented by His Eminence Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu.”

No explanation was given for the resignation that, it turned out, was at the Pope’s request. Becciu has not been eligible since then to enter into conclave to elect a new Pope.

Once the second most powerful prelate in the Vatican when he was “sostituto” in the Secretariat of State from 2011 to 2018 and then appointed prefect of the Congregation for Causes of Saints and made a cardinal, Becciu is now one of 10 people on trial in the Vatican for, among other accusations of fiscal malfeasance, embezzlement and fraud.

The Pope and the cardinal have met informally several times since September 2020.

In fact, on Holy Thursday, April 1, 2021, instead of celebrating the usual Mass of the Lord’s Supper at a prison, as is his wont, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the chapel of Becciu’s apartment. This only became public knowledge when one of the guests at that Mass and dinner published it on their web page. The Vatican’s Holy See calendar had listed a substitute for the Pope on Holy Thursday but gave no reason why.

Becciu participated in events in August 2022 when Pope Francis named new cardinals and also called the entire college together to discuss the new constitution on the Roman Curia. According to Becciu, they have spoken on the phone about the cardinal’s alleged involvement in the fraud case regarding Vatican monies.

This is only the tip of the iceberg relative to the life and times of Cardinal Becciu but it does make one wonder:   Does Becciu’s formal audience with the Pope this morning mean the healing of a breach with Pope Francis? Is he about to be re-instated as a cardinal? If so, what does that mean for the accusations against him in the Vatican trial?

More questions at the moment than answers.


ADDRESSING MEMBERS OF AN AMATEUR SPORTS ASSOCIATION (Associazione Dilettantistica Sportiva) in the Vatican on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Vatican Football League, Pope Francis noted that since the first football match in the Belvedere Courtyard in 1521 in the presence of Pope Leo X, the Association now includes other sports disciplines.  The Holy Father told those present that when they travel for championships they are “called upon to bear witness to your bond with the Holy See”. He explained that healthy athleticism is an activity that can contribute to the maturation of the spirit, and outlined three fundamental rules for an athlete: training, discipline and motivation. Pope Francis says sport is a metaphor for life – Vatican News

MEETING PHYSICIANS AND THE SICK AHEAD OF THE UPCOMING WORLD DAY OF THE SICK, Pope Francis told the doctors to never be discouraged, for it is the face of Jesus, in those they serve, and that the Lord is closest to those in fragility. The Holy Father offered these comforting reminders as he addressed representatives of the medical area of the Health Pastoral Office of the Diocese of Rome on Thursday in the Vatican. The annual World Day is marked on 11 February, it was introduced by Pope St. John Paul II as a way for believers to offer prayers for those suffering from illnesses. Thanking all those committed to healthcare ministry, the Pope recalled the meeting takes place in the context of the World Day of the Sick, which this year, in the context of the synodal journey, has as its theme the Gospel motto ‘Take care of him’ from the Gospel according to St. Luke. Pope to Doctors: Don’t be discouraged – Vatican News





ChurchPOP, part of the EWTN network, is an online Christian brand that’s fun, informative, and inspiring with editions in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. It is under the spiritual patronage of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Brantly C. Millegan is the founder and editor-in-chief of ChurchPOP and you can learn more about him on his personal website brantlymillegan.com.

I have posted stories from ChurchPOP before and offer one today – the third story below – that I think you’ll find fascinating.

POPE FRANCIS TWEETED DECEMBER 6: Jesus gives meaning to my life here on earth and hope for the life to come.


Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin this afternoon read a Message from Pope Francis to participants in the XXI Joint Meeting of the Pontifical Academies as they ponder the meeting’s theme, “Sparks of beauty. Giving a more human face to our cities.” Participants met in the Apostolic Chancery on Tuesday afternoon to explore this theme chosen by the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi.

The Holy Father wrote, “Taking care of people, starting with the smallest and weakest, and their daily needs necessarily also means taking care of the environment in which they live. Small gestures, simple actions, small sparks of beauty and love can heal, ‘mending’ the often lacerated and divided human fabric [of society], as well as that of a city and of the environment, representing a concrete alternative to indifference and cynicism.”


The papal Message was addressed to Cardinal Ravasi, who also serves as president of the Coordinating Committee for the Pontifical Academies and who opened Tuesday’s gathering.

There are eleven Pontifical Academies whose aim is to further research and encourage dialogue within and among scientific, artistic, professional and cultural disciplines.


(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors [PCPM] is launching a new website to provide information on the Commission and its Mission.

The website –currently in a ‘beta’ format – has resources divided into four categories: “Healing and Care”, “Guidelines”, “Education”, and the “Day of Prayer [for the Victims and Survivors of Sexual Abuse]”.



It also provides news and information about the Commission in an easily accessible format.

Pope Francis formally appointed the first eight members of the “Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors” on March 22, 2014 upon the suggestion of the Council of Cardinals.

In a ‘Chirograph’ issued the same day, the Holy Father wrote that the Commission’s task is to advise the Roman Pontiff on effective policies for the protection of minors and vulnerable adults and educational programs for all who are involved in this work.

The website – www.protectionofminors.va – is currently available in English, but will be expanded to Spanish, Italian, French, and Portuguese in the near future.


Is this hard evidence of the Resurrection?

As you may have heard, a team of scientists were recently permitted to open up the place believed to have been the tomb of Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The slab had been sealed off long ago and hadn’t been opened – even partially – since the early 19th century.

There was at least one, possibly two, astounding discoveries made.

First, for the unconfirmed discovery: there are rumors that the scientists immediately smelled a sweet aroma when they opened the tomb. Those rumors haven’t been confirmed, but something similar was reported the last time the tomb was opened in 1809.

Second, and this is the most incredible: Marie-Armelle Beaulieu, editor-in-chief of the french magazine Terre Sainte, has received confirmation from a scientist from the team that the tomb had a strong, unexplainable electromagnetic field that messed up their equipment.

“The phenomenon was confirmed by one of the scientists authorized to access the tomb,” Aleteia reports. “Later, one of the heads of the building and construction team, Antonia Moropoulou, indicated that it is really hard to imagine that someone would be willing to put in danger his or her reputation just because of a “publicity stunt.” Moreover, the journalist testifies to the scientists’ surprise during the opening of the slab: they hoped that the grave would be much lower than it was. Their conclusion: previously performed analyses with the instruments seemed to have been distorted by an electromagnetic disturbance.”

The website uCatholic speculates that this electromagnetic field may lend credence to one theory that the Shroud of Turin was created by an impossibly strong electromagnetic burst.

So maybe the Resurrection left behind an electromagnetic field?


Here are links to stories by National Geographic whose photographers were allowed to chronicle the restoration of the tomb of Christ:



Today, February 2, the Church celebrates the World Day for Consecrated Life. As I write, Pope Francis is presiding the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to mark this world day that takes place within the Year of Consecrated Life that began November 30, 2014, and will conclude February 2, 2016.

February 2 is also the feast of the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the temple. It has been tradition for several decades in the Vatican to dismantle both the Christmas tree and the nativity scene in St. Peter’s on this feast day, thus ending the Christmas season. This photo shows the dismantling but tomorrow I’ll bring you pix I took just days ago. Today, however, I still saw some nativity scenes in Vatican offices

Dismantliny Nativity Scene 2015

I have decided I like the Vatican’s Christmas calendar and so am on their time. My tree and the Christmas decorations in my home came down yesterday.


After praying the Angelus Sunday with the faithful in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis made the surprise announcement that he will make a one-day trip to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina on June 6:

“Dear brothers and sisters,” he began. “I would like to announce that on Saturday, June 6th, God-willing, I will go to Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia Herzegovina. I ask today that you pray so that my visit to that dear population be an encouragement for the Catholic faithful, lead to good gestures and contribute to the consolidation of brotherhood and peace, of inter-religious dialogue and friendship.”

This will be Pope Francis’ eighth international trip in almost two years of pontificate, following his trip in 2013 to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day, his 2014 travels to the Holy Land, South Korea, Albania, France and Turkey, and his January 2015 trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

In coming months he is scheduled to visit Naples on March 21, Turin on June 21 on the occasion of the exposition of the Shroud of Turin and then in September he will travel to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families, having recently added New York and Washington to that U.S. visit.

The first Pope to visit Sarajevo was John Paul II who, against all advice to the contrary, given the extremely difficult political situation and continuing threats of violence, traveled there on April 12-13, 1997. Plans for a Sarajevo trip had actually begun two and half years earlier but the Pope was forced to cancel for security reasons as Bosnian Serbs shelled the city. Though he was to make more international trips before his death in 2005, the Sarajevo visit was considered to be one of the most difficult of John Paul’s papacy.

The Bosnian War, an international armed conflict that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina from April 1992 to December 1995 was one of the results of the breakup of Yugoslavia. The main parties to this particular conflict were the forces of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina against those of the self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat entities within Bosnia and Herzegovina. After the Croatian and Slovenia secessions from Yugoslavia, the multi-ethnic Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence on February 29, 1992, a move that gained international recognition, but not internally by the different parties. At that time Bosnia-Herzegovina was inhabited by Muslim Bosniaks (44 percent), Orthodox Serbs (31 percent) and Catholic Croats (17 percent).  The war spread and was marked by ethnic cleansing of the Muslim Bosniak and Croat population, especially in eastern Bosnia and throughout the Srpska Republic.

More than 100,000 people died in this period and people are still being investigated today for war crimes.

When John Paul visited, at every stop he decried the violence of war and begged for peace. At the Sarajevo Airport, he said; “Never again war! Never again hatred and intolerance! This is the lesson taught by this century and this millennium that are now drawing to a close. This is the message with which I begin my Pastoral Visit. The inhuman logic of violence must be replaced by the constructive logic of peace.”

He told the Serbian Orthodox community: “After the years of the deplorable fratricidal war, at the approaching dawn of a new Christian millennium, we all feel the urgent need for a new reconciliation between Catholics and Orthodox, so that, with a new heart and a new spirit, it might be possible to resume the journey of an ever more perfect following of Christ, the High Priest and sole Shepherd of his flock.”

And to the Catholic bishops of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the future saint said: “The Church, at the end of this millennium and now at the threshold of the next, must continue perseveringly in her mission of proclaiming the Good News, so that ‘all men will be saved’ (1 Tm 2,4). May the three-year period of preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 find you zealous in your preaching, according to the program that I myself have set forth in the Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente. In following these objectives, you build up the body of Christ (cf. Eph 4,12) in these lands, in communion with the whole Church.”

And during the Angelus in Kosovo Stadium, he said: “From Sarajevo, the city symbolizing this 20th century as it draws to a close, may all the peoples of Europe hear the call for a united commitment on the path to peace! May the new millennium now at our doorstep open with a determined resolve to build an era of social growth in harmony, with the contribution of the particular gifts, with which each nation, in the course of its history, has been enriched by God, the Lord and Father of all peoples!”

In fact, Sarajevo has been called the “Jerusalem of Europe”[ and the “Jerusalem of the Balkans.” One author noted that, until late in the 20th century, Sarajevo was the only major European city to have a mosque, Catholic church, Orthodox church and synagogue within the same neighborhood.

It was in Sarajevo, of course that Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated on June 28, 1914, the event that sparked World War I. During the Bosnia War, Sarajevo was under siege for 1,425 days, apparently the longest siege of a city in the history of modern warfare.

The city and shrine town of Medjugorje is located in southern Bosnia-Herzegovina, about 60 miles south of Sarajevo. No mention of a side trip was made by Pope Francis Sunday in his Angelus announcement of a trip to Sarajevo.

On January 18, 2014, Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, confirmed that the international commission investigating the events in Medjugorje, including reported Marian apparitions, had held its last meeting a day earlier. The commission, created by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is presided by Cardinal Camillo Ruini. It had reportedly completed its work and was to submit the outcome of its study to the congregation. The results of that study have not yet been made public. The investigative comission was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in March 2010.


Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, today presented the upcoming plenary assembly of the council as it meets for four days on the theme, “Women’s cultures: equality and differences.” Joining him were four women, including the president of RAI, Italy’s state-owned television, the director of RAI 24 News, the actress Nancy Brilli, and a sociology professor at Rome’s LUMSA university.

Culture plenary 1

The plenary had attracted widespread attention before today’s presentation because the council website – in addition to posting the document that will be used by plenary members – had featured a video made predominantly by Italian women with Nancy Brilli that had to be withdrawn because of the number of people, including bishops, who had objected to it. Brilli asks women to contribute 60-second videos about their lives to be featured at the plenary. Italians who previewed the video approved but not so the English-speaking world, especially North America. The objection was more to Brilli, who comes off as almost flirtatious, than it was to what she was asking of women. (She is on the far right on this photo)

Culture plenary   2

Four themes are the focus of the document that will be used as a working guidline in the plenary assembly that starts Wednesday afternoon: Between equality and differences: the search for an equilibrium; “Generativity” as a symbolic code; The feminine body: between culture and biology, and Women and religion: a flight or new ways of participating in the life of the Church?

Topics included in the document – and that will be discussed at the plenary – include domestic violence, women’s role in generating life (“the body of the woman is the starting point of each human person”), and the pressures women face – far more than men – regarding their appearance, so much so they can become the victims of eating disorders and even plastic or other unnecessary surgeries.

Also to be discussed are selective abortion, infanticide, genital mutilation, crimes of honor, forced marriages, trafficking of women, sexual molestation, and rape as “some of the deepest injuries inflicted daily on the soul of the world, on the bodies of women and of girls, who become silent and invisible victims.”

The document says, “Plastic surgery that is not medico-therapeutic can be aggressive toward the feminine identity, showing a refusal of the body in as much as it is a refusal of the ‘season’ that is being lived out.” It said,  ‘Plastic surgery is like a burqa made of flesh’ according to one woman who gave us this harsh and incisive description. …Having been given freedom of choice for all, are we not under a new cultural yoke of a singular feminine model?”

The plenary document starts by noting that, “the expression ‘women’s cultures’ does not imply any division from men’s cultures, but shows our awareness that there is a women’s ‘perspective’ on the world and all that surrounds us, on life and on experience. This perspective is a normal part of the fabric of all cultures and societies; we can see it in the family and in work, in politics and the economy, in study and decision-making, in communications and literature, in art and sport, in fashion and cuisine, etc.”

It continues: “At the dawn of human history, societies divided roles and functions between men and women rigorously. To the men belonged responsibility, authority, and presence in the public sphere: the law, politics, war, power. To women belonged reproduction, education, and care of the family in the domestic sphere. In ancient Europe, in the communities of Africa, in the most ancient civilisations of Asia, women exercised their talents in the family environment and personal relationships, while avoiding the public sphere or being positively excluded. The queens and empresses recalled in history books were notable exceptions to the norm.

“From the latter part of the 19th century onwards, especially in the West, the division of male and female ‘spaces’ was put into question. Women demanded equality; they no longer accepted the role of the deuxième sexe, but wanted the same rights, such as that of voting, access to higher education, and to the professions. And so the road was opened for the parity of the sexes.

“This step was not, and is not, without problems. For, in the past (but only in the past?) women had to fight to exercise their professions or take on decisional roles that appeared to be exclusively meant for the male world. … In this globalised and strongly dialectical horizon, there is an urgent need to find answers. Our Plenary is engaged in discovering and understanding the feminine specificity in considering themes such as function, role, dignity, equality, identity, liberty, violence, economy, politics, power, autonomy etc.”

Discussion turns at length to the topics mentioned earlier, and the document ends with “A Look to the Future. The terrain, as we know, is plagued by prejudices and preconceptions from ancient positions and is rendered more inflammable by the fire of tradition and an excess of male presence often afraid of any encounter. It is no longer time for an automatic classification of all feminine requests in a great pool of feminism, in which claims that are more or less shared are thrown together.”

“It is not a question of bringing about a revolution against tradition. … A realistic objective could be that of opening the doors of the Church to women so that they can offer their contribution in terms of skills and also sensitivity, intuition, passion, dedication, in full collaboration and integration with the male component.

–   What spaces are proposed to women in the life of the Church? Do we welcome them, bearing in mind specific and changing cultural, social and identity sensitivities? Do we, perhaps, propose ways of participation based on schemes that are of no interest to them?

–   Have we ever asked ourselves what type of woman the Church needs today? Is the way they participate thought of and worked out together with them? Or are we handing them preconceived models that either do not meet their expectations or respond to questions that have already been superseded?

–   Are women deserting the Church? Perhaps in some cultural areas this is true, other geographic zones could suggest invaluable elements to be proposed and new horizons towards which our eyes can be turned. Could not the pastoral debate between different experiences, in which women are able to let their voices be heard and to offer their availability to serve, become a new “synodal” way of experiencing the faith and of living in the Church?

–  What are the characteristic ways in which women are present in different societies and cultures, from which we can take inspiration for a pastoral renewal so that women may play a more active part in the life of the Church?





The Holy Father has sent a message to Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia who will chair the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the 20 Countries (G-20) scheduled to take place November 15-16 in Brisbane. The G-20 agenda will focus on efforts to relaunch sustained and sustainable growth of the world economy and the fundamental imperative – which emerged from the preparatory work – of creating dignified and stable employment for all.

Pope Francis began his message by asking “the G20 Heads of State and Government not to forget that many lives are at stake behind these political and technical discussions, and it would indeed be regrettable if such discussions were to remain purely on the level of declarations of principle. Throughout the world, the G20 countries included, there are far too many women and men suffering from severe malnutrition, a rise in the number of the unemployed, an extremely high percentage of young people without work and an increase in social exclusion which can lead to criminal activity and even the recruitment of terrorists. In addition, there are constant assaults on the natural environment, the result of unbridled consumerism, and this will have serious consequences for the world economy.

“It is my hope,” says the papal message, “that a substantial and productive consensus can be achieved regarding the agenda items. I likewise hope that the assessment of the results of this consensus will not be restricted to global indices but will take into account as well real improvements in the living conditions of poorer families and the reduction of all forms of unacceptable inequality.”

Francis noted that, “the G20 Summits, which began with the financial crisis of 2008, have taken place against the terrible backdrop of military conflicts, and this has resulted in disagreements between the Group’s members.” He wrote that, thankfully, those disagreements have not prevented genuine dialogue within the G20” but “more is required. These conflicts leave deep scars and result in unbearable humanitarian situations around the world. I take this opportunity to ask the G20 Member States to be examples of generosity and solidarity in meeting the many needs of the victims of these conflicts, and especially of refugees.”

“The situation in the Middle East,” said the Holy Father, “has revived debate about the responsibility of the international community to protect individuals and peoples from extreme attacks on human rights and a total disregard for humanitarian law.”

He highlighted “ the need to protect citizens of all countries from forms of aggression that are less evident but equally real and serious. I am referring specifically to abuses in the financial system such as those transactions that led to the 2008 crisis, and more generally, to speculation lacking political or juridical constraints and the mentality that maximization of profits is the final criterion of all economic activity. A mindset in which individuals are ultimately discarded will never achieve peace or justice. Responsibility for the poor and the marginalized must therefore be an essential element of any political decision, whether on the national or the international level.”


The Vatican today announced the creation of a new judicial body, a college, created within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) whose purpose will be to deal with the most serious crimes, such as sexual abuse of minors and abuses of the sacrament of Penance. It will also act as an appeals court for clergy accused of such offenses.

The Vatican released the following today:

St. John Paul II’s Motu Proprio Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela (SST), published on April 30, 2001 and implemented on May 21, 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI, defines the offenses reserved to the competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (cf. Art. 1-6), in accordance with Art. 52 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith judges these offenses by penal or administrative procedures (cf. Art. 21 paras 1 and 2, No. 1 SST), taking into account the possibility of submitting the decision directly to the Supreme Pontiff in the most serious cases (see Art. 21 para. 2, No. 2 SST). Crimes against faith remain, in the first instance, within the sphere of competence of the Ordinary or the Hierarch (cf. Art. 2 para. 2 SST).

Due to the number of appeals and the need to guarantee that they are examined more rapidly and following detailed reflection, in the Audience granted to Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin on 3 November 2014, the Holy Father Francis decreed the following:

  1. A special college is to be instituted within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, composed of seven cardinals or bishops, who may either be members of the Dicastery or external to it;
  2. The President and the members of the aforementioned College are to be appointed by the Pope;
  3. The College is a provision made by the Ordinary Session of the Congregation to enable greater efficiency in processing appeals in accordance with Art. 27 SST, without substantive modification to its competences as established in the same Art. 27 SST;
  4. Should the offender be of episcopal dignity, his appeal shall be examined by the Ordinary Session, which will also be able to decide specific cases according to the Pope’s judgement. Other cases to be decided by the College may also be deferred to the Ordinary Session;
  5. The College shall periodically report its decisions to the Ordinary Session;
  6. Specific internal regulations shall determine the working methods of the College.


A conference entitled, “’Music: Listening and Vision” was held Monday’ at Rome’s MAXXI museum as part of the Vatican’s Cortile dei Gentili – Courtyard of the Gentiles – initiative that was created by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture. Cortile dei Gentili has the aim of promoting dialogue between believers and non-believers on the great issues facing the modern world and such gatherings have been held in many cities in Italy and Europe. The council invites notables in the arts, politics, religion and education to participate.

Rap and rock artists attended Monday’s conference in an attempt to bring together young believers and non-believers alike for a meeting on spirituality. In particular, said an ANSA report on the conference, students heard from Italian musicians on the spiritual power of music. Hosting the conference with Cardinal Ravasi was MAXXI Foundation president, former Italian culture minister Giovanna Melandri.

Renowned composer Nicola Piovani, who won an Oscar for his work on the soundtrack to the film “Life is Beautiful,” joined Rome singer-songwriter Antonello Venditti, Dire Straits guitarist Phil Palmer, and Italian rapper Er Piotta, who received the most applause from the student audience. The event was hosted by Cardinal Ravasi and MAXXI Foundation president, former Italian culture minister Giovanna Melandri.

The cardinal said a dialogue around music is fundamentally about addressing communication. “The issue of language is fundamental, as shown by the effectiveness of a Pope like Francis, who is connected not only to the message but also to how it’s communicated,”