As you are about to read, Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, presented Pope Francis’ Message for the 55th World Day of Peace at a press conference today in the Vatican. That conference was carried on the Vaticannews website and Youtube page.

Starting December 17, rumors circulated that Cardinal Turkson had offered his resignation to Pope Francis. No confirmation was forthcoming from either the Vatican or the dicastery.

It was the Ghanaian cardinal himself who cleared things up in a December 19 tweet: In Vatican mandates of Office-Heads expire at death/resignation of Pope or expiry of 5yr term of office. One surrenders mandate for Pope/new Pope to renew/extend mandate or reassign. Turkson surrendered in 2013 Francis renewed 5yr mandate in 2016. Now must await new action of Pope!

According to the press office’s daily list of audiences, Cardinal Turkson was received by Pope Francis yesterday, December 20.

In the Q&A segment that followed the presentation of the papal Peace Day message this morning, it was expected that the first question asked of the cardinal would be about his rumoured resignation.

And it was.

Asked if he would be around in 2022 to present the papal peace message, he basically reiterated what he tweeted: that his term was about to end and it was up to the Pope to accept – or not – his resignation.

Cardinal Turkson did specify that other mandates of his had been renewed: “During the year, I received letters renewing my mandate from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for Catholic education, for Christian unity, and for Propaganda Fide (the congregation for evangelization).”

The cardinal did not comment on nor was he asked about his audience yesterday with Pope Francis.

He said today he was simply awaiting Pope Francis’ decision.   He is known to be one of the Holy Father’s most trusted advisors, in particular because of the role he and his staff play in the section of his dicastery dedicated to migrants and refugees.


Several Vatican officials presented Pope Francis’ message for the upcoming World Day of Peace, and recalled that peace is the work of every person and that it must be rooted in human dignity and justice.

By Devin Watkins

The Holy See Press Office hosted a press conference on Tuesday to coincide with the release of Pope Francis’ message for the 55th World Day of Peace, marked annually on January 1.

The Pope’s message is title: “Dialogue Between Generations, Education and Work: Tools for Building Lasting Peace.” (Intergenerational dialogue, education and work at heart of Pope’s Peace Day message – Vatican News)

Three Vatican officials presented the message at the Press Office, along with an activist for migrant worker’s rights in Italy.

Yearning for peace in creativity

Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, was the first to present his thoughts on Pope Francis’ message. He offered a reflection on the Biblical roots of the message that begins with the prophet Isaiah: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace” (Is 52:7).

The cardinal said humanity – in the footsteps of ancient Israel – yearns for peace, especially in moments of societal upheaval and political disaster, adding that our world today mirrors several aspects of life for Israel during the exile. These include the lack of moral or ethical fiber and the political will to commit to life-saving measures in the face of the pandemic and climate change, as well as a short-term focus on profits at the expense of long-term stability.

Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of Peace, said Cardinal Turkson, highlights the need for every person to play a creative role in the project for peace, building the “architecture” of peace.

Peace, he added, is both a gift of God and the fruit of a culture of dialogue and encounter.

Young people engaged in climate crisis

Sr. Alessandra Smerilli, interim secretary of the Dicastery for Human Development, also offered her reflections on how the Church speaks with the prophet Isaiah in favor of peace.

She gave voice to the “cry of the earth and of the poor” that laments the war which the current economic system has declared on the environment.

Young people, she added, are the intended recipients of the Pope’s message, since they – more than other generations – long to carry through on promises to tackle the issue of climate change.

An intergenerational alliance is needed so that young people and adults can team up to push back against environmental destruction, said Sr. Smerilli.

Work also plays an important role in promoting peace through human dignity and justice. “Work is much more than a means for earning a living: it is an expression of our identity and dignity, of our social and relational vocation, and of our caring and tilling the earth, with God and with others,” she said.

Earth crying out for peace

Fr. Fabio Baggio, under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section, focused his remarks on the ecological aspect of Pope Francis’ Peace Day message.

He said the world is more interconnected than ever before, a fact that has both positive and negative consequences as seen in climate change and the pandemic.

The survival of our common home, he added, rests on peace among the human family, so that we can face our challenges together.

Fr. Baggio highlighted the three tools that the Pope offered to achieve the goal of dialogue and peace: sincere communication, education, and work.

These three, he said, “are not the only tools to build a lasting peace, but they undoubtedly represent an excellent toolkit for the journey which awaits us.”

Discovering the spiritual roots of peace

Dr. Aboubakar Soumahoro, an Ivorian-born labor activist, president of the Farmworkers League, and spokesman for Invisibles in Motion, joined the three Vatican officials to offer a unique perspective on Pope Francis’ message.

Peace, he told reporters, is a crucial value in our world that “languishes in evil” and has pulled a blanket of blindness over the minds of our contemporaries.

The world needs a “spiritual revolution” in order to rebuild the sense of belonging which humanity has lost.

“The peace that we need,” said Dr. Soumahoro, “is not that which the world gives, but the perfect peace that can give repose to our souls and spirits, as well as courage and strength to overcome every challenge.”


As a result of the recent visit of Pope Francis to Cyprus, the government of Cyprus is donating vaccines for the Covid-19 pandemic in two African countries, Mozambique and the Central African Republic, in collaboration with the DREAM program of the Sant’Egidio Community, which has been active for years for the treatment and prevention of AIDS in Africa.

News sites reporting the decision of both Cyprus and Sant’Egidio, said the decision was taken following the historic visit of Pope Francis, his expressions of solidarity with refugees and migrants and his strong appeal in favor of refugees on the island, who come largely from the African continent, all of which caused a favorable response by the Cypriot people.



A Note sent out today by the Dicastery for Integral Human Development explains that Holy Father has allowed this new Vatican office more time to fulfill the re-organization requirements of moving from four pontifical councils to becoming one single office. The Note was dated January 26, 2017.

This communiqué notes that this Dicastery came into being last August 2016 with Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter motu proprio Humanam progressionem. This was accompanied by what was called “an experimental Statute” that would “guide and orient its activity.”

On January 1, 2017, the new Dicastery was to “enter into function,” at which time the four pontifical councils, whose duties were taken over by the Dicastery, would cease to exist. Those councils were Justice and Peace, Cor Unum, Ministry for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples and the Ministry for Health Care Workers. It was noted that, “within the new Dicastery a section was created that deals specifically with matters concerning refugees and migrants that is in contact with and receives instructions from the Holy Father.” (ANSA photo of Pope and migrants on Lampedusa island)


“Given that the time allowed for this reorganization was very narrow,” continues the Note, “the Holy Father has extended the time, granting until Easter 2017 for the full activation of the statute.”

The Note explains that the Dicastery “is presided over by a Prefect, assisted by a Secretary and at least one Under-secretary, who can also be faithful lay people.” The prefect for this Dicastery is Cardinal Peter Turkson. Two under-secretaries have been nominated, “whose specific duty is to accompany the section for migrants and refugees. Until others are named, Cardinal Turkson has decided to main, in the vest of ‘delegates’ those who had headed the four councils. Thus, at least temporarily, categories for “secretary delegate” and under-secretary delegates” have been created.


The Dicastery communiqué indicates that, at least in a transitory fashion, the offices occupied by the four councils in the San Callisto building in Trastevere or on Via della Conciliazione continue to function, as do the current phone numbers, fax numbers, email addresses and social profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube channels (which the Note listed). A general email address has been activated. All of this will be gradually modified in coming months as a single office is eventually formed.


The Pope’s audience catechesis today on children was just marvelous. He reminds us that we are all children, even if no longer tiny children.

If you have children, given them an extra hug today and tell them what a treasure they are. Tell them that Pope Francis said so!


Having spoken in previous general audiences of the various members of families – mothers, fathers, children, siblings, and grandparents – Pope Francis concluded this first section of catechesis on the family by talking about children. Today he focused on what a great gift children are for humanity, and next week he will speak about wounds that damage childhood.

Interrupted by the applause of the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square when he affirmed that “children are a gift to humanity,” Pope Francis thanked them and exclaimed: “but they are also greatly excluded because they are even not allowed to be born. A society can be judged, not only morally but also sociologically, on how it treats its children, if it is a free society or a slave society of international interests.”


The Pope Francis recalled the many happy children he met during his recent journey to Asia, children brimming with life and enthusiasm, noting that, on the other hand, he thinks of the countless children throughout our world who are living in poverty and need.

The Holy Father noted that “children remind us that we all, in the first years of life, are totally dependent on the care and kindness of others. The Son of God was not spared this stage. This is the mystery that we contemplate every year at Christmas time. The manger scene is the icon that communicates this reality in the most simple and direct way.”

Francis explained that, “God has no difficulty in being understood by children and children have no trouble in understanding God. It isn’t by chance that in the Gospels Jesus speaks beautiful and strong words about the ‘little ones’.” The Pope noted that this term “little ones,” indicates all those who depend on the help of others, particularly children.  He said, “Children, therefore, are a treasure for humanity and also for the Church because they constantly remind us of the necessary condition for entering into the Kingdom of God: that we must not consider ourselves self-sufficient, but in need of help, of love, and of forgiveness.”

Children also remind us that we are always children even when we become adults or if we become parents; beneath it all we keep our identity as a child. “And this always leads us back to the fact that we are not given life, but that we have received it,” the Pope said.

“The great gift of life is the first gift we have received. Sometimes we risk forgetting about this, as if we were the masters of our existence, while instead we are radically dependent. In fact, it is a source of great joy to hear that at every age in life, in every situation, in every social condition, we are and remain sons and daughters. This is the main message that children give us with their presence: with just their presence they remind us that each and every one of us is a child.”

Listing some of the other gifts that children bring to humanity the Pope highlighted their way of seeing reality, “with a confident and pure gaze. Children have a spontaneous trust in mom and dad and they have a spontaneous trust in God, in Jesus, and in the Madonna. At the same time, their inner gaze is pure, not yet tainted by malice, duplicity, and the ‘incrustation’ of life that harden one’s heart. We know that even children have original sin, that they can be selfish, but they retain a purity and an inner simplicity. Children are not diplomats: they say what they feel, they say what they see, directly. And many times they make parents uncomfortable, saying in front of other people: “I don’t like this because it’s ugly.” But children say what they see. They aren’t split persons; they still haven’t learned that science of duplicity that we adults have unfortunately learned.”

Francis underscored how children also bring with them the ability to receive and to give affection. “Tenderness is having a heart ‘of flesh and not of stone’, as the Bible says. Tenderness is also poetry. It is feeling things and events, not treating them as mere objects only to use them because they they’re useful.”

“The ability to smile and to cry is another gift that children bring us, one which we grown-ups often block out. Many times our smile becomes a cardboard one, something lifeless and cold or even an artificial, clown’s smile. Children smile and cry spontaneously. It always comes from the heart, and often our hearts are closed and we lose this ability to smile and to cry. Children, then, can teach us how to smile and how to cry again. This is why Jesus invites his disciples to become like children because the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

“Children bring life, joy, hope, even troubles. But life is like that. They certainly also bring worries and, at times, many problems. But a society with these worries and problems is a better one than a society that is sad and gray because it is childless! And when we see a society with a birthrate of just one percent,” he concluded, “we can say that that is a sad and gray society because it is without children.” Great applause followed this comment.

Francis inviting everyone to “welcome and treasure our children, who bring so much life, joy and hope to the world.”

On greeting pilgrims from English-speaking countries, the Pope was warmly hailed by students from The Catholic University of America and Loyola University Maryland who are studying in Rome for the semester. (source: VIS)


Pope Francis on Wednesday received in audience Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. During the audience, the Holy Father authorized the congregation to promulgate decrees concerning several causes for saints. Most notably, the Pope has approved a decree recognizing a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Louis Martin and Blessed Marie-Azélie Guérin, the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

The congregation also promulgated decrees of heroic virtue for seven individuals who are on the path to canonization. The Servants of God whose heroic virtues were recognized on Tuesday are: Fr. Francesco Gattola (Italian); Pietro Barbarić (Bosnia Herzegovina); Mary Aikenhead (Irish); Elisabetta Baldo (Italian); Vincenza of the Passion of the Lord (née Edvige Jaroszewska, Polish): Giovanna of the Cross (Spanish); and Maria Orsola Bussone (Italian).

With the papal decree, these holy men and women are now referred to as Venerable.

For complete information, click here:,_heroic_virtue/1130266


Archbishop Bernadito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, spoke Tuesday during a meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women and speaking for the Holy See, called for the promotion of inclusive and equitable economies to advance the status of women in the world. (photo


“Notwithstanding the fact that women constitute the majority of the poor and are affected by the burden of poverty in very specific ways, they are nevertheless courageously at the forefront in the fight to eradicate extreme poverty,” he said.  “From this perspective, the fight for the advancement of women must also mean assuring them equal access to resources, capital and technology.”

Archbishop Auza said studies have demonstrated that fragile family structures and the decline of marriage among the poor are very closely linked to poverty among women.

“Single mothers are left alone to raise children. Many mothers in situations of distress fail to send their children to school, thus entangling them in the vicious circle of poverty and marginalization,” he said.

“While Governments and society do not create families, they have crucial roles to play in supporting healthy families and fostering parenting,” said Archbishop Auza.

“We are thus called to foster that atmosphere in which men and boys – and women  and girls themselves  –  can better appreciate the full greatness of woman, which  includes not just the aspects she shares in common with man, but also the unique  gifts that pertain to her as woman, like her capacity for motherhood understood  not just as a reproductive act, but as a spiritual, educational, affective, nurturing  and cultural way of life.”

“This work of fostering a wholesome atmosphere is ever more urgent, because we’re  living  in a  time when the unique value and dignity of motherhood in some societies  is  insufficiently  defended,  appreciated  and  advanced,  leaving  women  culturally  and  legally  in  a  position  to  choose  between  their  intellectual  and  professional  development and their personal growth as wives and mothers.”

“Studies  indicate  that  behind  cases  of  juvenile  delinquency  and  children  in  distressed and distressing situations is often a weak or a broken family. In this sphere, Pope Francis expressed appreciation for the contribution of so many  women who work within the family, in the areas of teaching the faith, and in all  areas  of  social,  education  and  cultural  development.  He  affirmed  that  “women  know how to embody the tender face of God, his mercy, which is translated into a  willingness to give time rather than to occupy space, to welcome rather than to  exclude.”

Full text here:


Pope Francis has given €500,000 ($531,183) to provide humanitarian assistance to those affected by the Ebola crisis in West Africa, especially Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. The fund is being distributed by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. (photo: Vatican Radio)


Cardinal Peter Turkson, council president, said the fund has many objectives, including improving existing health care structures, offering psychological help for families affected by the Ebola crisis, and to aid local dioceses and parishes to develop sacramental practices which minimize the risk of transmitting the virus.

Justice and Peace is currently seeking additional donors to add to the fund, and has doubled the amount of the original papal donation, but Cardinal Turkson said he hopes to have 2 or 3 million euros before distributing funds to Catholic organizations battling the crisis.

“The applications [for grants] have started coming already, but want to reach a decent level before we start treating applications,” Cardinal Turkson told Vatican Radio.

The council has limited initial grants to €30,000 ($31,868), and is encouraging larger projects to get matching funds before applying.



Today is the feast of St. Blaise – have you had your throat blessed?


Blaise of Sebastea – also known as Blase, Blasien, Biagio; Died c. 316.

Catholics might remember Saint Blaise’s feast day, February 3, because of the Blessing of the throats that takes place on this day. Two candles are blessed, held slightly open, and pressed against the throat as the blessing is said.  Very few facts are known about Saint Blaise. It is believed he was a bishop of Sebastea in Armenia who was martyred under the reign of Licinius in the early fourth century.  Saint Blaise is the patron of physicians, sick cattle, wax- chandlers, woolcombers, and of wild animals because of his care for them and of those with throat maladies.   He is invoked against afflictions of the throat. As one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, Saint Blaise was much venerated throughout Central Europe.


Pope Francis this morning, in a meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, authorized the congregation to promulgate the decree of martyrdom for Servant of God Oscar Arnulfo Romero Galdamez (El Salvador, 1917-1980), archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador, killed in hatred of the faith on 24 March 1980.

He also authorized decrees for martyrdom for Servants of God Michal Tomaszek (Poland, 1960) and Zbigniew Strazalkowski (Poland, 1958), professed priests of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, and Alessandro Dordi, Italian diocesan priest, killed in hatred of the faith in Peru on 9 and 25 August 1991, as well as a decree for heroic virtues of Servant of God Giovanni Bacile, Italian priest (1880-1941).

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, postulator of the cause for Archbishop Romero, will hold a press briefing in the Vatican at noon Wednesday. On January 9 it had been announced by the congregation that Abp. Romero was killed “in odium fidei” (in hatred of the faith), a necessary requirement for beatification as a martyr. Congregation members voted unanimously for martyrdom of the slain archbishop of San Salvador, who was assassinated by a sniper on March 24, 1980, while celebrating Mass because of his vocal opposition to El Salvador’s military dictatorship.


Pope Francis said Mass in St Peter’s Basilica on Monday afternoon to mark the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the World Day for Consecrated Life, exactly one year ahead of the close of the Year for Consecrated Life, which opened on the First Sunday of Advent.

The blessing of the candles, a sign and symbol of that Light which is Christ, preceded the liturgy which then began with a candle-light procession into the basilica, as the choir intoned the antiphon: “Christ, light unto the Nations, and glory God’s people, Israel.”


Pope Francis focused his homily on the virtue of obedience, calling it the keystone of religious life. He spoke of Mary’s and Joseph’s obedience to the law when presented Jesus in the Temple, and also highlighted Jesus’ obedience to the will of His Father.

“Before our eyes we can picture Mother Mary as she walks, carrying the Baby Jesus in her arms, She brings him to the Temple; she presents him to the people; she brings him to meet his people. … The Mother walks, yet it is the Child who goes before her. She carries him, yet He is leading her along the path of the God who comes to us so that we might go to Him. Jesus walked the same path as we do, and shows us the new way… . For us, consecrated men and women, this is the one way which, concretely and without alternatives, we must continue to tread with joy and perseverance.”

Francis continued, “Fully five times the Gospel speaks to us of Mary and Joseph’s obedience to the ‘law of the Lord’. Jesus came not to do His own will, but the will of the Father. … In the same way, all those who follow Jesus must set out on the path of obedience. … For a religious, to advance on the path of obedience means to abase oneself in service, that is, to take the same path as Jesus, who ‘did not deem equality with God a thing to be grasped’. By emptying himself he made himself a servant in order to serve”.

For consecrated persons, this path “takes the form of the rule, marked by the charism of the founder. For all of us, the essential rule remains the Gospel, yet the Holy Spirit, in His infinite creativity, also gives it expression in the various rules of the consecrated life which are born of the sequela Christi, and thus from this journey of abasing oneself by serving.”

In the account of Jesus’ Presentation in the Temple, wisdom is represented by two elderly persons, Simeon and Anna: “persons docile to the Holy Spirit, led by Him, inspired by Him,” said the Holy Father. He noted that, on this occasion, it is the elderly, rather than the young, who are creative: “the young, like Mary and Joseph, follow the law of the Lord, the path of obedience. The elderly, like Simeon and Anna, see in the Child the fulfillment of the Law and the promises of God. And they are able to celebrate: they are creative in joy and wisdom.

Francis said that “obedience and docility is not something theoretical; it too is subject to the economy of the incarnation of the Word: docility and obedience to a founder, docility and obedience to a specific rule, docility and obedience to one’s superior, docility and obedience to the Church. It is always docility and obedience in the concrete.”

In persevering along the path of obedience, “personal and communal wisdom matures, and thus it also becomes possible to adapt rules to the times; indeed, true ‘renovation’ is the fruit of wisdom forged in docility and obedience. The strengthening and renewal of consecrated life are the result of great love for the rule, and also the ability to look to and heed the elders of one’s congregation.

Pope Francis concluded his homily with an exhortation, directed especially to all those in consecrated life: “Let us bring others to Jesus, but let us also allow ourselves to be led by him.  This is what we should be: guides who themselves are guided.” (Source: VIS, Vatican Radio)


The Vatican Tuesday presented the first International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking that will be held on February 8, the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese slave who, after being freed, became a Canossian Sister and was canonized in 2000. This special day, promoted by the Pontifical Councils for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, the “Justice and Peace” council and the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), will have as its theme, “A light against human trafficking.”

Presenters at today’s press conference included Cardinals Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life; Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples; and Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace.” The other speakers were Sister Carmen Sammut, MSOLA, president of the International Union of Superiors General; Sister Gabriella Bottani, SMC, coordinator of Talitha Kum (the International Network of Consecrated Life against Trafficking in Persons); Sister Valeria Gandini, SMC; and Sister Imelda Poole IBVM, coordinator of the European Talitha Kum network.

Cardinal Turkson, speaking in English, reiterated , “millions of people today – children, women and men of all ages – are deprived of freedom and are forced to live in conditions akin to slavery. For those who cry out – usually in silence – for liberation, St Josephine Bakhita is an exemplary witness of hope. We, victims and advocates alike, could do no better than be inspired by her life and entrust our efforts to her intercession.”

“The Holy Father,” he added, “invites us all to recognize that we are facing a global phenomenon that exceeds the competence of any one community or country. In order to eliminate it, we need a mobilization comparable in size to that of the phenomenon itself.”

The cardinal explained that the International Day against Human Trafficking constitutes “a mobilization of awareness and prayer on a global scale. Our awareness must expand and extend to the very depths of this evil and its farthest reaches … from awareness to prayer … from prayer to solidarity … and from solidarity to concerted action, until slavery and trafficking are no more.”

On the occasion of this first day of prayer and reflection, all dioceses, parishes, associations, families and individuals are invited to reflect and pray in order to cast light on this crime, as indicated by the theme of the initiative. In addition, prayer vigils will be held in different countries, culminating in the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square on February 8.

On that day, the faithful are invited to recite the following prayer:

“O God, when we hear of children and adults, deceived and taken to unknown places for purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labor, and organ ‘harvesting’, our hearts are saddened and our spirits angry that their dignity and rights are ignored through threats, lies, and force.

We cry out against the evil practice of this modern slavery, and pray with St. Bakhita for it to end. Give us wisdom and courage to reach out and stand with those whose bodies, hearts and spirits have been so wounded, so that together we may make real your promises to fill these sisters and brothers with a love that is tender and good.

Send the exploiters away empty-handed to be converted from this wickedness, and help us all to claim the freedom that is your gift to your children. Amen”. (Source VIS)


(UCANEWS – Manila) – Pope Francis has apologized for rushing his visit to Leyte province last month during his apostolic visit to the Philippines. In a letter to Archbishop John Du of the Archdiocese of Palo, the pontiff said he was “deeply saddened” that a weather warning forced him to cut short his visit by four hours.


“This prevented a more relaxed visit with your people and in the cathedral later that afternoon,” said Pope Francis. “I ask your forgiveness for any impatience on my part at that time,” he added.

Heavy rains and strong winds brought by Typhoon Mekkhala forced the pope to depart Leyte for Manila four hours ahead of schedule.

Some 130,000 people braved the weather to attend the January 17 Mass celebrated by the pope for survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan that killed at least 7,500 people and affected millions of others when it made landfall in the Philippines in November 2013.

“Returning to Rome, I wish to convey with these words my profound gratitude for your hospitality in the Archdiocese of Palo. May the Lord repay you abundantly for your goodness,” read the pope’s letter.

Pope Francis thanked Archbishop Du “for the witness of faith and endurance which your people showed me in the midst of trials.” The pope’s letter was dated January 21 but was only made public by the Archdiocese of Palo on Tuesday.

Pope Francis visited the Philippines from January 15 to 19.


I hope each one of you can someday experience December 8, the Immacolata, the day devoted to the Immaculate Conception, in Rome. This solemnity is a national holiday and hugely important for Italian families. There were tons of visitors in Rome and I don’t remember when I saw so many families visiting monuments, at the papal Angelus, filling the tables at local restaurants, and so on.

Several main streets in the center of Rome were closed for Pope Francis’ visits, first to St. Mary Major basilica in mid-afternoon and then to the Spanish Steps, Pza. di Spagna, to crown the image of Mary there. Traffic went, as the Romans love to say, “in tilt,” but the closed streets made for great walking around Rome’s historic center and shopping area.

This famous square in the heart of Rome is named for the Palazzo di Spagna, a magnificent building on the piazza that has housed the Spanish embassy to the Holy See since 1647. Every year, early in the morning of December 8, Roman firemen place a garland atop the statue of Mary Immaculate and by day’s end, thousands of Romans will have followed in their footsteps, offering floral homages to Mary. Single flowers as well as bouquets are placed on a table at the foot of the column bearing the statue and Conventual Franciscan Friars and Minim Friars arrange them in an orderly fashion, often creating elegant wreaths.

The ancient Roman column of cipolin marble was found in 1777 in the monastery of Our Lady of the Conception in central Rome and brought to Piazza di Spagna in 1856 to celebrate the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception two years earlier.

Sunday, on my blog and my Facebook page, I posted photos and videos of Pearl Harbor to mark the 73rd anniversary of the “day of infamy,” December 7, 1941. These were pictures and videos that I took at Pearl Harbor this summer and last summer.

I took the day off yesterday, but just from writing. I went to Mass and had lunch at the Pontifical North American College as the Immaculate Conception is the seminary’s feast day. In fact, exactly 155 years ago yesterday, a dozen young men entered the first campus of our new national seminary at 30 Via dell’Umiltà, the 410-year old building that was originally a convent for Dominican Sisters, and given by Pope Pius IX to the American bishops for use as their Rome seminary.

Today, the Casa Santa Maria, as it is known, houses the U.S. Bishops Office for Visitors to the Vatican where many people, on Tuesday afternoons, pick up the tickets that they had previously requested via email for the Wednesday papal general audience.

After a wonderful lunch in very special company at NAC, I came home briefly, only to leave again about 5:45 to join the Marian Fathers and invited guests at their generalate for vespers and dinner on this, the feast day of the order. I have been invited to this for a number of years now and it is always a joy to help the Marians mark their feast day. I am sure most of you know one of the Marians – Fr. Joseph Roesch –from his appearances on EWTN, especially for the feast of Divine Mercy.


Pope Francis recently gave an interview to the Argentine newspaper, “La Nacion,” touching on a wide variety of subjects including the recent synod, the reform of the Curia and Vatican bank, nominations, his health, futured travels, and other issues. Following is a Vatican Radio summary of the topics treated, after which I have placed two links to the full interview, translated in to English, in two parts.

In the interview, Pope Francis describes the recent Extraordinary Synod on the Family as “an open space, protected by the Holy Spirit”. It is not a parliament, he said, and it is a “simplification” to say that the Synod Fathers were divided into two opposing factions. What was important, said Pope Francis, was to “speak with clarity and listen with humility”.

Responding to a question about how the topic of homosexuality was dealt with at the Synod, the Pope said no one at the gathering had spoken about gay marriage. What was discussed, he said, involved families that include a homosexual son or daughter and, therefore, how to assist these families. “We spoke about the family and about homosexual persons in relation to their families”, said Pope Francis, “because this is a reality we encounter in the confessional”. He also stressed that people should not allow themselves to be influenced by what they read in individual news reports or articles concerning the Synod, but should go back and read what was actually said there. What really matters, he said, “is the post-synodal report, the final message and the Pope’s discourse”. “We must not be afraid”, he added, “to go forward guided by the Holy Spirit”.

Referring to his closing speech at the Synod, Pope Francis confirmed what he’d said regarding “not touching any item of Church doctrine on marriage”. There are many pastoral difficulties related to divorced and remarried Catholics, he said, but “it is not a solution if we give them Communion. This alone is not a solution: integration is the solution”. “It’s true they are not excommunicated, but they cannot be baptismal godparents, they cannot be readers at Mass, they cannot distribute Communion, they cannot teach catechism classes, so it appears they are, in fact, excommunicated”. This is why, said the Pope, “we need to open the doors a little”. Pope Francis made the comparison of allowing a “corrupt politician” to act as a godparent simply because he or she has been “married in Church”. Responding to those who speak about creating confusion, the Pope said: “I constantly make speeches and give homilies, and this is the Magisterium”. This, he said, “is what I think and not what the newspapers say I think…Evangelii Gaudium is very clear”.

Pope Francis also spoke about the reform of the Curia, describing it as “a slow process” and not one that will conclude in 2015. One of the proposals includes combining the Council of the Laity with that of the Family and with the Council for Justice and Peace, he explained. But the most important reform, said the Pope, is a spiritual one, “the reform of hearts”. He also anticipated that he is preparing a special Christmas message for members of the Curia and another for Vatican employees and their families who he will meet in the Paul VI Audience Hall. Meanwhile, economic reforms are “moving ahead well”, he said, and the Vatican Bank, or IOR, “is working extremely well”.

Responding to a question about his health, Pope Francis said he feels the usual aches and pains of someone his age “but I am in God’s hands and until now I’ve managed to keep up a relatively good rhythm of work”. “God has given me a good dose of recklessness”, he said.

Finally, the Pope mentioned a series of possible apostolic trips: “perhaps to Argentina in 2016” and other visits to three countries in Latin America and Africa next year. With upcoming elections in Argentina, the Pope said he would not be receiving politicians from that country in audience so as not to “interfere” with the democratic process. He also clarified reports concerning the so-called dismissal of the Commander of the Vatican Swiss Guard recently, confirming his personal admiration for the Commander and how he had been replaced after the normal conclusion of his mandate to that position.


For the full stories from Monday, December 8, feast of the Immaculate Conception and today, Tuesday, December 9, click here:

AT THE DECEMBER 8 ANGELUS, Pope Francis said the message of the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is, “Everything is given freely by God, all is grace, all is a gift of His love for us. He spoke from the window of his study to pray the noon Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square. He explained that, in the Annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel called Mary “full of grace,” since “in her there was no space for sin: God had always chosen her as the mother of Jesus, and so He protected her from original sin. Mary corresponds to this grace and abandons herself to it, saying to the Angel, ‘Be it done to me according to your word’. She does not say ‘I will do it according to your word’, but rather, ‘Be it done to me…’.” He stressed that, “None of us can buy salvation. Salvation is a free gift from the Lord! A free gift from God that arrives in us and lives within us. As we have received freely, so we are called to give freely, in imitation of Mary. … Because, if everything has been given, everything must be given b

PAPAL MESSAGE TO CONFERENCE ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS: Pope Francis’ message to Sebastian Kurz, Austrian federal minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration, was read Tuesday at the two-day conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons that began on December 8 in Vienna, Austria. It said, in part: “The humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are predictable and planetary. While the focus is often placed on nuclear weapons’ potential for mass killing, more attention must be given to the ‘unnecessary suffering’ brought on by their use. …. To prioritize such spending is a mistake and a misallocation of resources that would be far better invested in the areas of integral human development, education, health and the fight against extreme poverty. When these resources are squandered, the poor and the weak living on the margins of society pay the price.” Noting that, “the desire for peace, security and stability is one of the deepest longings of the human heart,” the Pope “encouraged sincere and open dialogue between parties internal to each nuclear state, between various nuclear states, and between nuclear states and non-nuclear states.”

POPE FRANCIS SENDS TELEGRAM OF CONDOLENCES to Alejandro Jaime Mejia for the death of his brother, Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia, archivist and librarian emeritus of the Holy Roman Church, at the age of 91. The Pope wrote that the cardinal dedicated “long years of service with fidelity and competence to various organs of the Holy See,” and assured his prayers for the deceased, to whom he was joined in “a long friendship,” so that the Lord may grant peace to the Cardinal, who demonstrated “such intense and generous commitment to the Church.”

THE GENERAL SECRETARIAT OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS Tuesday issued a press release regarding the publication of the Lineamenta of the next Ordinary General Synod of Bishops, to take place in Rome from October 4-25 on the theme, “The vocation and the mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world.” The Lineamenta, the first document for the 2015 synod, as indicated by Pope Francis in his concluding speech of the October 2014 synod, are constituted essentially by the Relatio Synodi, drafted by the same Assembly. To facilitate the reception of the synodal document and to allow its themes to be considered in depth, the Relatio is accompanied by a series of questions that help to further the Synod’s progress on the path it has undertaken, and to assist in the preparation of the subsequent Instrumentum laboris for the next Ordinary Synod. The text of the Lineamenta in Italian may be consulted on the Vatican website:

TUESDAY MORNING, CARDINAL PETER TURKSON, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace,” presented the international online bullying awareness campaign, “Stop Threats on the Internet,” in the context of the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The presentation in the Holy See Pres Office also included Fr. Fortunato Di Noto, president of the Associazione Meter; Olivier Duval, president of the BICE (Bureau International Catholique de l’Enfance), Laetitia Chanut, a former victim of cyber-bullying and witness for the campaign, and Flaminia Giovanelli, under secretary of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace.” Presenters confronted the issues of Internet bullying, “a new form of violence,” the question of adolescents and young people living in a condition of being continually “connected,” the sociological studies that examine the risks linked to the rapid development of information and communication technology, a phenomenon that requires parents to act as mediators of the technological experience for their children, and family relationships in an Internet-connected, globalized world


The Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR, Institute for Works of Religion, popularly known as the Vatican Bank,) confirmed Saturday in a press release that “it pressed charges against two former managers and a lawyer some months ago, underlining its commitment to transparency and zero tolerance, including with regard to matters that relate to a more distant past.

The charges submitted to the Vatican’s law enforcement authorities relate to circumstances recorded between 2001 and 2008 that have emerged in the internal review process initiated in early 2013. The accounts held by the concerned individuals at the IOR have recently been seized by order of the Promoter of Justice.

“We are very pleased that the Vatican Authorities are taking decisive action,” said Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, President of the IOR Board of Superintendence. Given the ongoing judicial enquiry, the IOR will refrain from further public statements.