Yesterday, I wrote about the courtesy visits that take place after a consistory in which new cardinals are created, visits at which the new red hats, as they are often called, receive family and friends. It is a chance for all those who are visiting one cardinal in particular to walk around and meet other cardinals, if they so wish. This can be fun, especially if one speaks several languages!

Before I even entered the Paul VI Hall for these visits, I was drawn by the immense numbers of Nigerians in town for Cardinal Peter Ebere Okpaleke of Ekwulobia, in the courtyard and in the atrium. There must have been a square acre of the red fabric you see here because every man, woman and child from Nigeria wore the same clothing!

As I mentioned yesterday, I first met the new U.S. prelate, Cardinal Robert McElroy of San Diego in the atrium of the Paul VI Hall. Sunday he celebrated Mass at my Rome parish, St. Patrick’s. There was a sizeable delegation of Californians at that Mass – might have rivalled the Nigerians in number.

As I met each new cardinal, I introduced myself, mentioned how long I had lived in Rome, added I had worked many years at the Vatican and was now with the EWTN Rome bureau. I also gave them my card. In such visits there is very little time for a conversation because of the numbers of people wanting to visit each cardinal, but such moments are nonetheless memorable and potentially important.

In the atrium, I also met Cardinal Filipe Neri Antonio Sebastiao do Rosario Ferrao of Goa and Damao, India. I was told by an assistant that he had the longest name of all the new cardinals (probably of the entire College of Cardinals – I will check).

We spoke about the honor given to his native land in this consistory as India is home to a very small number of Catholics but received a second red hat in Cardinal Anthony Poola of Hyderabad. The 20 million Catholics in India are about 1.5 percent of the total population. The Catholic Church is the largest Christian church in India.

Cardinal Poola, 60, is the first Dalit to become a cardinal. Dalit is Sanskrit and is another name for those in India known as “untouchables,” a people said to belong to the lowest level of castes in India. By the time I got around the Paul VI Hall, he had left so we did not meet.

I next met Cardinal William Goh of Singapore, He asked if I had ever travelled there and I said I had not but a few years ago had welcomed 6 Singapore Patrons of the Vatican Museums to my home for dinner, part of the 28-member delegation in Rome. He said he knew of the Patrons group.

I then met Cardinal Virgilio do Carmo da Silva of Dili, East Timor who, as soon as he heard I was with EWTN, smiled broadly and told me he is a huge fan! “I watch so many of your programs, and enjoy them all.” I said I had read that Catholics were the majority religion, and he said, “a big majority.” (in fact, 97% of the 1.3 million population is Catholic). The cardinal said I should come and visit the “wonderful” Church in East Timor. Who knows!

Across the room was Italian-born Consolata missionary, Cardinal Giorgio Marengo who, at 48, is the youngest member of the College of Cardinals. He is the apostolic prefect of Ulaanbataar, Mongolia, a missionary jurisdiction that includes the entire country. He brought a number of his staff with him to Rome, as you see in these photos.

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When I told Cardinal Marengo I had been in Rome for 42 years, we both had a laugh as I pointed out that he would have been 6 years old when I came to Italy.

The last cardinal I met Saturday was Cardinal Jorge Carvajal, emeritus of Cartagena, Colombia. I congratulated him, we chatted briefly in English and Spanish, and when he saw my card, he told me, with a broad smile, that he once met Mother Angelica in Birmingham!


A brief note from the Holy See Press Office this afternoon stated that the two-day meeting of the College of Cardinals with the Pope to discuss the new Apostolic Constitution on the Roman curia, Praedicate Evangelium,, has ended.  The meeting was described as “having taken place in a fraternal atmosphere, (and) attended by just under 200 cardinals, Eastern patriarchs and superiors of the Secretariat of State. The work in linguistic groups and the discussions in the Hall gave way to freely discuss many aspects relating to the document and the life of the Church. The final afternoon session was dedicated to the 2025 Jubilee on Hope.”  The note said that Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica with Pope Francis and all the cardinals officially concludes the private consistory, after which each participant will return to their own diocese.


The following statement was released today by the Holy See Press Office:

In the context of the war in Ukraine, there have been numerous interventions by the Holy Father Francis and his collaborators in this regard. They have the main purpose of inviting Pastors and faithful to prayer, and all people of good will to solidarity and efforts to rebuild peace. On more than one occasion, as well as in recent days, public discussions have arisen on the political significance to be attributed to such interventions. In this regard, it is reiterated that the words of the Holy Father on this dramatic question must be read as a voice raised in defense of human life and the values ​​connected to it, and not as political positions. As for the large-scale war in Ukraine, initiated by the Russian Federation, the interventions of the Holy Father Francis are clear and unambiguous in condemning it as morally unjust, unacceptable, barbaric, senseless, repugnant and sacrilegious.

In the event you have not been following the news stories of reaction to Pope Francis’ words last week on Ukraine at the August 24 general audience, he referred to a bomb that went off near Moscow killing a young woman: “I think of that poor girl blown up by a bomb under her car seat in Moscow. The innocent pay for war, the innocent! Let us think about this reality and say to each other: war is madness,”

In reality, the women was the daughter of a politician close to Putin, both of whom approved of the Ukraine invasion. Her father was to have been in the car that was bombed but they had switched cars. To understand why the Vatican felt it necessary to issue this statement: here is more background: Vatican: Pope Francis’ Ukraine War comments not a ‘political stance’ | Catholic News Agency



Following the consistory ceremony Saturday in which the new cardinals were created, the new red hats welcomed family and friends in what are known here as courtesy visits, most of which took place in the Paul VI Hall, with several in the Hall of Blessings in the Apostolic Palace.

The Hall of Blessings or Aula delle Benedizioni is a very grand hall above the atrium of St. Peter’s Basilica – the room behind the five large windows and the central loggia or balcony on the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica.

I have been here many times but the first was the most special. It was March 1961. I was spending an academic year studying French in Fribourg, Switzerland and our spring break was six weeks long, including three in Italy. Our time in Rome included a papal audience with Pope John XXIII who held occasional audiences in the Hall of Blessings. The Paul VI Hall, of course, was only built by John’s successor, Paul, and named for him.

In the atrium of the Paul VI Hall, I met Cardinal McElroy of San Diego who, on Sunday at 5 pm, presided at Mass at St. Patrick’s in Rome, the church for Catholic Americans and English-speaking Catholics. He was joined by American Cardinals Edwin O’Brien, Wilton Gregory, Roger Mahony, Blasé Cupich, Daniel diNardo and Joseph Tobin. Numerous bishops were present as well.

Several of us on the parish council were asked to welcome guests to St. Patrick’s for the Mass, including a very large contingent of Catholics from all parts of California. Of all the cardinals present, the only one I did not know before the weekend was Cardinal McElroy. I have known all of the American cardinals now in Rome for the consistory for many years. (Cardinal McElroy celebrates Mass of Thanksgiving in Rome | Catholic News Agency)

Saturday at the courtesy visits, I had some fascinating encounters with a number of cardinals and I wanted to bring those stories to you today, along with photos. However, recently I’ve had huge problems uploading photos to my laptop and do not know if it is the fault of the laptop or my phone. I’ll bring you that report tomorrow.


Sunday, Pope Francis went to L’Aquila in central Italy to preside at Mass and open the Holy Door of Santa Maria di Collemaggio basilica for the 728th edition of the Celestine Pardon, an annual August celebration that dates to Pope Celestine V who is buried in this church. One of the final acts in his 5-month papacy was to issue an edict stating that Popes could resign. And Celestine did so promptly upon publishing this edict in December 1294.

Pope opens Holy Door (EWTN-CNA image Daniel Ibanez)

Forward a bit: 719 years later Benedict XVI resigned, having prayed at Celestine’s tomb in 2009 after the L’Aquila earthquake, leaving his pallium atop the tomb. In some of the most moving moments of his visit to L’Aquila, Francis also prayed for some time Sunday before his predecessor’s tomb.

Earlier at Mass, in his homily, Pope Francis recounted off the cuff how that morning, the helicopter pilot could not land the plane as planned due to fog and that, after circling many times, he “finally found a small opening in the fog” and landed. Remarking on that incident, Francis suggested that even when fog seems to shroud our lives, God will find a hole, an opening.

I found the Holy Father’s homily beautiful but also intriguing (as you will see below), especially his remarks on Pope Celestine’s resigning the papacy, an act that Francis called “one of humility.”

Is that something to think about? If the Pope resigns, is that an act of humility? And if he does not resign?

POPE IN L’AQUILA: “FAITH ILLUMINATES PAIN AND DRIVES EFFORT TO REBUILD”:  Pope Francis travelled 100 kilometers to the central Italian city of L’Aquila 13 years after a devastating earthquake killed 309 people, and he encouraged residents to continue rebuilding their lives with faith in God. He kicked off his pastoral visit by meeting civil authorities and families of the victims of the 2009 earthquake, which struck in the middle of the night on April 6, 2009. Around 66,000 people were left homeless and 309 people were killed in the wake of the quake and subsequent tremors. On Sunday, Pope Francis followed in the footsteps of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who made a visit less than a month after the earthquake, on 28 April 2009. The Pope also visited the ruins of the Cathedral of St. Maximus, which was partially destroyed by the 6.3-magnitude earthquake. (Pope in L’Aquila: ‘Faith illuminates pain and drives effort to rebuild’ – Vatican News

POPE FRANCIS AT MASS:  During Mass in the central Italian city of L’Aquila for the occasion of the “Celestinian Pardon,” Pope Francis recalled God’s power to accomplish all things, along with the courageous witness, often misunderstood, of Pope Celestine V who resigned in 1294. Noting that he celebrates Mass on “a special day,” that of “the Celestinian Pardon,” the Holy Father explained that the relics of Pope Celestine V… are preserved in L’Aquila. He said that Pope Celestine “humbled himself,” finding favour with God. “We erroneously remember Celestine V as he ‘who made a great refusal’, according to the expression Dante used in his Divine Comedy. But Celestine V was not a man who said ‘no’, but a man who said ‘yes’.” In fact, the Pope noted, there is no other way to accomplish God’s will, than to assume the strength of the humble. (Pope at Mass in L’Aquila: ‘God can accomplish all things’ – Vatican News)


This is a longer than usual column but I think you’ll be quite intrigued. Whatever time of the day it is when you start reading this, make sure you have a coffee – or perhaps a prosecco – at your side!


Starting Saturday, August 27, the Vatican will host four days of big events, perhaps even historic ones, when Pope Francis creates 20 new cardinals, visits L’Aquila in Italy’s central Abruzzo region, and meets behind closed doors with the entire College of Cardinals on the 29th and 30th. He called them to Rome in May to discuss his document on the reform of the Roman Curia, Praedicate Evangelium. On August 30, Francis will celebrate Mass with the entire College of Cardinals, including the new ones.

It was at the May 29 Angelus that Pope Francis announced that he would create new cardinals in a consistory on a distant August 27th. Normally these consistories for new cardinals take place a month after the announcement of the names of the new cardinals. He also announced the meeting of the full College of Cardinals. No explanation was every given for the three-month delay.

Sixteen of the new cardinals are under the age of 80 and thus eligible to vote in a future conclave. Today the College has 116 cardinal electors from 65 countries. On August 27, there will be 132 electors, 12 over the ceiling set years ago by Paul VI of 120.   Francis is not, however, the first Pope to go over the magic number of 120.

Three of the new cardinals hold office in the Vatican. Fourteen nationalities are represented, including the curial cardinals.

A consistory is a particular kind of assembly of the College of Cardinals, called by the Pope and conducted in his presence.   Consistories are either public – at which the Pope and Cardinals gather in the presence of others for some important purpose – or private – at which only the Pope and cardinals are present.

This is only the third private consistory Francis has held in his papacy, the last one being in 2015.

A public ordinary consistory allows the Pope to create new cardinals in the presence of the entire College of Cardinals. As I said, the identities of the cardinals-to-be are generally announced some time in advance, but only at the time of the consistory does the elevation to the cardinalate take effect, since that is when the Pope formally publishes the decree of elevation. Some men have died before the consistory date, and if a Pope dies before the consistory all the nominations are voided.

There will actually be a second public consistory on August 27 in which cardinals will be asked to assent to the canonizations of Blesseds Giovanni Battista Scalabrini and Artemide Zatti. Popes hold several of these public ordinary consistories regarding future Blesseds and Saints every year.

As I said, on August 29th and 30th, the Pope will meet privately with all members of the College of Cardinals. As I write, there are 206 members of the college. On August 27, members will number 226, 132 of whom will be electors.

The Pope indicated that the focus of this private consistory would be to discuss the new constitution on the Roman Curia, Praedicate Evangelium. Given that this papal document is a done deal, one wonders what kind of input the cardinals will have. Or will they merely ask questions about the new and improved Roman Curia?

It is more than likely, however, that the world’s cardinals – who barely know each other except for the region they live in – the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa – will have a lot of questions to ask the Pope about matters other than the constitution.

The Pope has written many documents recently, mostly motu proprios, that deal with Opus Dei, the Order of Malta, the liturgy – especially the TLM, Traditional Latin Mass – Vatican tribunals, modifications in Canon Law, the new structure of the former Congregation, now dicastery, for the Doctrine of the Faith and Vatican finances!

In fact the cardinals may have many questions about the dicasteries and especially what seems to be, in the constitution, a more prominent place given to Evangelization than to Doctrine. How does one evangelize without first having doctrine?

Another point, for example: In the past, the heads of congregations were always cardinals and the heads of councils were either cardinals or archbishops. As of June 5, lay people may assume those posts. Could a lay person head the dicastery for priests or dicastery for bishops? Lots of questions to answer here but that’s just one example of a questionable change in the constitution.

The cardinals may have questions about the Pontifical Academy of Life and what seems to be its openness to changing Church teaching on certain ethical issues.

Since many of the cardinals have never met each other, their questions will be a way for their fellow cardinals to learn how they feel about Church teachings and current issues. Just how a question is asked on ethical or moral principles or the liturgy, for example can reveal a lot about the person asking the question.

I am sure all of the cardinals will use every minute of their time in Rome to get to know each other – to chat over coffee breaks or to share meals together, perhaps even a stroll in the Vatican gardens or the beautiful piazzas of the Eternal City.

It’s only a guess but I feel confident that each cardinal has also, since the May 29 announcement of the consistory, since the news of the Pope’s health and somewhat reduced activities, since the papal interviews where Francis indicates that resigning is not off the table – wondered if the College is perhaps being called together to hear a resignation.

Although no explanation was ever given for the three-month delay between the May 29 announcement of the names of cardinals-designate and the August 27 consistory to create them, in recent months many have wondered if the Holy Father has not been using that the three-month span to tie up loose ends of his pontificate.

Is there a deadline only he knows of?

Looking back over the past months, we see that the Pope has made a slew of appointments (for many, a larger number than usual). He has received an impressive number of groups and individuals, religious and civil leaders, heads of State and government, apostolic nuncios, bishops, etc.

He has made an impressive number of video messages for groups and organizations and some that commemorated important events. Given his mobility issues, videos require less of a Pope, allowing him to sit in his study rather than spend more time in a private audience he would meet and greet people, shake hands, etc.

Earlier, I mentioned the slew of documents, mostly motu proprios, that deal with Opus Dei, the Order of Malta, the liturgy – especially the TLM, Traditional Latin Mass – Vatican tribunals, modifications in Canon Law, the new structure of the former Congregation, now dicastery, for the Doctrine of the Faith and Vatican finances!

Relative to Vatican finances: Just today, August 23rd, the Pope issued what is known as a rescript that clarified, in answer to questions raised, that IOR, the Institute for the Works of Religion, aka the Vatican bank, has exclusive competence for managing all of the Holy See’s movable and liquid assets. Thus, all financial assets of all Holy See dicasteries and entities are to be transferred to IOR.

Another possible sign of a papal deadline…

One thing that puzzled those of us who cover the Pope and Vatican was the March 19th release of Praedicate Evangelium.

Published on the Vatican news website with absolutely no fanfare, no press conference, no leaks by anyone in the Vatican, the new Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium – Preach the Gospel – caught everyone by surprise -employees of Vatican City State, the Roman Curia and the media!

Other than the constitution being a stunning surprise for everyone– even though it has been in the planning for 9 years! – we know that Popes always look for significant dates to publish a document. In this case, March 19 is the Solemnity of St. Joseph – beloved by Pope Francis – and also the anniversary of the start of his pontificate. That could easily have been a date to intuit the publication of this Constitution…but no one intuited!

Another remarkable fact: Praedicate Evangelium was published only in Italian! It took a while but it has since been translated into the other traditional Vatican languages for documents: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Polish and Arabic.

Looking back, can we now ask: Was this hurried publication (there were even errors that had to be corrected!) because the Pope had a deadline only he knew of and absolutely wanted the defining work of his papacy to be released?

Of all that I’ve written so far, the August 28 papal visit to L’Aquila will surely be – for the media at least – the most spotlighted event of these four days in the Vatican.

On June 4, days after the May 29 announcement about new cardinals, the Vatican announced that, “Pope Francis will make a pastoral visit to L’Aquila on August 28 for the annual ‘Celebration of Forgiveness’, held in the city in the central Italian region of Abruzzo which was devastated by a massive earthquake in 2009.”

This celebration was established by Pope Celestine in 1294 with his papal Bull of Forgiveness that grants a plenary indulgence to anyone “who, confessed and communicated and visited the basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio from the vespers of August 28 to those of August 29.”

An interesting fact about L’Aquila and Celestine, who is buried there: In 1294, Celestine V was elected Pope, ending a two-year impasse. Among the only surviving edicts he issued as Pope, was the confirmation of the right of the Pope to abdicate. In fact, immediately after publishing this edict he resigned, having reigned for only five months from July 5 to December 13, 1294.

Only one Pope has resigned in the 719 years since 1294: Benedict XVI.

On April 29, 2009, after the massive earthquake, Benedict XVI went to L’Aquila and visited the tomb of this medieval Pope named Celestine in the basilica of Santa Maria de Collemaggio. After a brief prayer, he left his pallium, the symbol of his own episcopal authority as Bishop of Rome, on top of Celestine’s tomb. Four years later he resigned the papacy.

Much was read into this when the Vatican announced Pope Francis’ August 28 visit.

This June 4 announcement by the Vatican led many, myself included, to speculate on a possible resignation by Pope Francis, either at Mass in L’Aquila or when he is with the entire College of Cardinals, 132 of whose members can vote in a conclave. If the Pope resigned, the cardinal electors would already be in Rome for a conclave to elect his successor.

Pope Francis for months has suffered debilitating pain, including a fracture in a bone in his right knee. He is being treated for that quite assiduously but has been using a wheel chair publicly since May 5, and has been unable to fully preside at Mass. He did travel to Canada in July and there were restrictions, and he is set to go to Kazakhstan for an inter-religious prayer event in mid-September.

Other physical ailments have been hinted at in the media but there has been nothing from anyone in the Vatican, except a few words on the Pope’s knee problem. Most of what we have learned about his knee, in fact, we have learned directly from Francis in interviews.

However, in those same interviews with the media in recent months, Francis has not shied away from the idea of resigning. He has indicated he would live in Rome, probably at the Lateran, and would like to devote time to confessing people, among other things. He said he’d prefer the title of Bishop of Rome emeritus, adding that Benedict XVI was the model for resignation.

If you want to align the stars for a resignation, this could be it: We are looking at 20 new members of the College of Cardinals (and 16 additional electors). We are looking at a visit by Pope Francis to the shrine of the last Pope to retire before Benedict XVI and we are looking at meetings that will bring all cardinals to Rome, as if for a conclave.

By the way, Celestine was 85 when he resigned. Benedict XVI was 85 when he resigned. Pope Francis is 85 years old.



Be sure to tune in to Vatican Insider this weekend, yet another tropical August weekend in so many parts of the world. I hope you can be in a cool place, perhaps with an iced drink, as you listen to the latest news from the Vatican, and a Special I have prepared in place of the interview segment.

Next weekend, the final weekend of August, will be a big one, perhaps even historic, as the Pope will create 20 new cardinals, visit L’Aquila in Italy’s central Abruzzo region, celebrate Mass with all members of the College of Cardinals, including the new ones and meet behind closed doors with the entire College to discuss his document on the reform of the Roman Curia, Praedicate Evangelium. I look at each of those events – and maybe beyond!

I hope my overview of what is about to happen in the Vatican on the last four days of August will help you follow those events with a greater understanding.

There may also be some big surprises so stay tuned!

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on 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 ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: go to and write the name of the guest for whom you are searching in the SEARCH box. Below that, will appear “Vatican Insider” – click on that and the link to that particular episode will appear.








The following telegram of condolences, signed by Pope Francis, was sent to Cardinal Jozef De Kesel, archbishop of Malines-Bruxelles upon the death today of his predecessor Cardinal Godfried Danneels at the age of 85:

“Having learned with emotion of the death of Cardinal Godfried Danneels, archbishop emeritus of Mechelen-Brussels, I send my deepest condolences to you and to his family, the Bishops of Belgium, the clergy, the consecrated persons and all the faithful affected by this mourning. This zealous pastor served the Church with dedication, not only in his diocese, but also at the national level as president of the Conference of Bishops of Belgium, while being a member of various Roman dicasteries. Attentive to the challenges of the contemporary Church, Cardinal Danneels also took an active role in various Synods of Bishops, including those of 2014 and 2015 on the family. He has been called to God at this time of purification and of walking toward the Resurrection of the Lord. I ask Christ, victor over evil and death, to welcome him in His peace and joy. As a pledge of comfort, I offer a special apostolic blessing to you and to the relatives of the deceased Cardinal, the pastors, the faithful and all those who will take part in the funeral.

The Vatican also provided a biography of the late cardinal:

The telegram did not appear on the site until after 7 pm. It did appear in the daily press office bulletin at


With the death of Cardinal Danneels, the College of Cardinals is now composed of 222 members, 122 of whom are cardinal electors, that is, under the age of 80 and eligible to enter into conclave to elect a new pope. One hundred cardinals are over the age of 80 and thus ineligible to vote in a conclave. (from

Of the electors, 18 were created by St John Paul, 47 by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and 57 by Pope Francis.

The 122 cardinal electors are thus distributed geographically:
Europe: 52
North America 16
Central America 5
South America 13
Africa 16
Asia 16
Oceania 4

Cardinals who will turn 80 and become non-electors through the rest of 2019:
Edwin O’BRIEN (April 8); Stanislaw DZIWISZ (April 27); John TONG HON (July 31); Sean Baptist BRADY (August 16); Laurent Pasinya MONSENGWO (October 7); Zenon GROCHOLEWSKI (October 11): Edoardo MENICHELLI (October 14) and Telesphore Placidus TOPPO (October 15).

Interestingly enough the picture was a bit different in the 2013 conclave. There were 115 electors for that conclave but two never made it to Rome for illness. The countries with the greatest number of cardinal electors were Italy (twenty-eight), the United States (eleven) and Germany (six).

There were 11 electors from Africa, 20 from North America, 13 from South America, 10 from Asia, 60 from Europe and 1 from Oceania.

The Vatican did not list Central America separately in 2013, as they have in 2019 statistics.


As I indicated above, the Vatican today provided a biography of the late cardinal Danneels from its own website:

Vatican obituaries rarely, if ever, comment on or explain or list the teaching, opinions, writings and works of the cardinals whose portraits they paint. That is usually left to official biographers and secular and religious media – and they are out in full force today, many repeating what they have been writing for years, apparently to deaf ears in Rome.

The National Catholic Register’s Edward Pentin posted a blog about the cardinal soon after the release in 2015 of an official biography and just before the start of the October 2015 synod on the family to which the cardinal had been invited.

That story starts:

Cardinal Danneels Admits to Being Part of ‘Mafia’ Club Opposed to Benedict XVI

New authorised biography also reveals papal delegate at upcoming synod wrote letter to Belgium government supporting same-sex “marriage” legislation because it ended discrimination against LGBT groups

Further serious concerns are being raised about Cardinal Godfried Danneels, one of the papal delegates chosen to attend the upcoming Ordinary Synod on the Family, after the archbishop emeritus of Brussels confessed this week to being part of a radical “mafia” reformist group opposed to Benedict XVI.

It was also revealed this week that he once wrote a letter to the Belgium government favoring same-sex “marriage” legislation because it ended discrimination against LGBT groups.

The cardinal is already known for having once advised the king of Belgium to sign an abortion law in 1990, for telling a victim of clerical sex abuse to keep quiet, and for refusing to forbid pornographic, “educational” materials being used in Belgian Catholic schools.

He also once said same-sex “marriage” was a “positive development,” although he has sought to distinguish such a union from the Church’s understanding of marriage.

Click here to read the blog:


As I post this column, the consistory in St. Peter’s is about to start. When the embargo on the talk by Cardinal Sako and the homily by Pope Francis is over, I will publish those in a separate post.


The Holy See Press Office published data on the ordinary public consistory that Pope Francis announced on Pentecost Sunday, May 20, 2018 at the Regina Coeli. Following are Francis’ words at that moment, including the names of the new cardinals, how a consistory unfolds and where the new cardinals may be seen in the late afternoon, traditional post-consistory “Courtesy Visits” hosted by the Vatican.

Regina Coeli, Sunday, May 20, 2018

Dear brothers and sisters,

I am glad to announce that on 28th June I will hold a Consistory for the appointment of fourteen new cardinals. Their origins express the universality of the Church, who continues to announce God’s merciful love to all men on earth. Moreover, the insertion of the new cardinals in the diocese of Rome, expresses the inseparable link between the See of Peter and the particular Churches throughout the world.

These are the names of the new cardinals:

1. His Beatitude Louis Raphaël I Sako, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans;
2. H.E. Msgr. Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.I., prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith;
3. H.E. Msgr. Angelo De Donatis, vicar general of Rome;
4. H.E. Msgr. Giovanni Angelo Becciu, Substitute for the General Affairs of the Secretariat of State and special delegate to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta;
5. H.E. Msgr. Konrad Krajewski, apostolic almoner;
6. H.E. Msgr. Joseph Coutts, archbishop of Karachi;
7. H.E. Msgr. António dos Santos Marto, bishop of Leiria-Fátima;
8. H.E. Msgr. Pedro Barreto Jimeno, S.I., archbishop of Huancayo;
9. H.E. Msgr. Désiré Tsarahazana, archbishop of Toamasina;
10. H.E. Msgr. Giuseppe Petrocchi, archbishop of L’Aquila;
11. H.E. Msgr. Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda, archbishop of Osaka.
Along with them, I will join with the members of the College of Cardinals an archbishop, a bishop and a religious who are distinguished for their service to the Church:
12. H.E. Msgr. Sergio Obeso Rivera, archbishop emeritus of Xalapa;
13. H.E. Msgr. Toribio Ticona Porco, prelate emeritus of Corocoro;
14. Rev. Fr. Aquilino Bocos Merino, Claretian.
Let us pray for the new cardinals, so that, confirming their following of Christ, merciful and faithful Supreme Priest (cf. Heb 2: 17), they may help me in my ministry as bishop of Rome for the good of all the faithful Holy People of God.

As of the June 28 consistory the College of Cardinals will have 226 members:
– 77 created by Pope St. John Paul
– 75 created by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI
– 74 created by Pope Francis

As of June 28, there are 125 cardinal electors (that is, under the age of 80) (5 electors over the ceiling set by Blessed Pope Paul VI:)
– 19 were created by Pope John Paul II
– 47 created by Benedict XVI
– 59 created by Francis

Of the 226 total members of the College of Cardinals:
– Europe has 107 cardinals (of whom 53 electors, **)
– North America has 26 (of whom 17 electors)
– Central America has 8 (5 electors)
– South America has 27 (13 electors)
– Africa has 26 cardinals (16 electors)
– Asia 26 cardinals (17 electors)
– Oceania 6 cardinals (4 electors)
– ** Italy alone has 44 cardinals, of whom 22 are electors



16:00 p.m. St. Peter’s Basilica – Ordinary Public Consistory for the creation of new Cardinals

18:00 – 20:00 p.m. COURTESY VISITS to the new Cardinals:



1. His Beatitude Louis Raphaël I Sako 2. His Excellency Msgr. Joseph Couttsi 3. His Excellency Msgr. Sergio Obeso Rivera 4. His Excellency Msgr. Toribio Ticona Porco 5. Reverend Father Aquilino Bocos Merino, C.M.F.


6. His Excellency Msgr. Angelo De Donatis 7. His Excellency Msgr. António Augusto dos Santos Marto 8. His Excellency Msgr. Pedro Barreto Jimeno, S.I. 9. His Excellency Msgr. Désiré Tsarahazana 10. His Excellency Msgr. Giuseppe Petrocchi 11. His Excellency Msgr. Thomas Aquino Manyo Maeda


“Regia” Room

12. His Excellency Msgr. Giovanni Angelo Becciu

“Ducale” Room

13. His Excellency Msgr. Mons. Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.I. 14. His Excellency Msgr. Konrad Krajewski


I – The rite (JFL file photo)

On Thursday, June 28, 2018 at 16:00 p.m. in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis will hold an Ordinary Public Consistory for the creation of 14 new Cardinals. A Consistory for the creation of new Cardinals contains the following points:

– The Greeting; Prayer; Epistle

– At the opening of the celebration the first of the new cardinals (Louis Raphaël I Sako) then addresses the Holy Father, on behalf of everyone.

– Allocution of the Holy Father

– The Pope reads the formula of creation, and solemnly proclaims the names of the new cardinals.

“Dear brothers and sisters, we are about to carry out an agreeable and solemn task of our sacred ministry. It chiefly concerns the Church of Rome, but it also affects the entire ecclesial community: we will call certain of our brethren to enter the College of Cardinals, so that they may be united to the Chair of Peter by a closer bond our apostolic ministry. Having been invested with the sacred purple, they are to be fearless witnesses to Christ and his Gospel in the City of Rome and in faraway regions. Therefore, by the authority of Almighty God, of Saints Peter and Paul and our Own, we create and solemnly proclaim Cardinals of Holy Roman Church these brothers of ours…”

– The Profession of Faith and the oath of fidelity by new cardinals:. “I, N., Cardinal of Holy Roman Church, promise and swear, from this day forth and as long as I live, to remain faithful to Christ and his Gospel, constantly obedient to the Holy Apostolic Roman Church, to Blessed Peter in the person of the Supreme Pontiff, become members of the Roman clergy and cooperate more directly in Francis and his canonically elected successors, always to remain in communion with the Catholic Church in my words and actions, not to make known to anyone matters entrusted to me in confidence, the disclosure of which could bring damage or dishonour to Holy Church, to carry out diligently and faithfully the duties to which I am called in my service to the Church, according to the norms laid down by law. So help me Almighty God.”

– Each new cardinal then approaches the Holy Father and kneels before him to receive the cardinal’s biretta, the cardinalatial ring and the name of his title or deaconry:

– The Pope places the biretta on his head and says, in part: “(This is) scarlet as a sign of the dignity of the cardinalate, signifying your readiness to act with courage, even to the shedding of your blood, for the increase of the Christian faith, for the peace and tranquillity of the people of God and for the freedom and growth of Holy Roman Church.

– The Pope gives the cardinalatial ring: “Receive the ring from the hands of Peter and know that your love for the Church is strengthened by the love of the Price off the Apostles.”

– The new cardinals are assigned a church of Rome (“Title” or “Deaconry”), as a sign of their participation in the pastoral care of the Pope for the City.

– The Holy Father hands over the Bull of the Creation of Cardinals, assigns the Title or Deaconry and exchanges a kiss of peace with the new members of the College of Cardinals.

– The cardinals also exchange such a sign among themselves.

– The rite is concluded with the Lord’s Prayer.


9:30 a.m. St. Peter’s Square – Blessing of the Pallia (Palliums) – Holy Mass

12:00 p.m. Angelus Domini



My day has been so crammed with activities, meetings and appointments that when I finally got home just before 6 I felt breathless – like I’d been given only 10 minutes between flights!

About 9:15 I got on a bus to go to a 10am appointment in the center of Rome. Traffic was so bad I got out midway and got into a taxi. Five minutes into that ride I got 2 phone calls – one from EWTN saying our appointment with Iraqi cardinal-elect Patriarch Sako was at noon where he is staying in Rome. The second call was from our doorman who said the Italgas people had come and wanted to start their work to connect new gas pipes in my apartment! Finally – it’s only been 28 days! Gas won’t be on, of course, till all the apartments have been retro-fitted and the new outdoor gas pipe is actually connected to the gas main beneath the sidewalk. Pazienza!

I told the taxi driver to turn around and bring me home.

Although I had fixed an appointment to interview Patriarch Sako on Friday at 5 pm, I was now back home with enough time, I hoped, to finish the interview questions and put that, my recorder and a camera in my bag…..just in case the cardinal changed his mind and was available today. Minutes before we were all to meet, the Italgas technician finished his preliminary work and I was able to get to our meeting on time.

It was a great reunion – we have known each other for eight years. I also met one of his auxiliary bishops and his secretary with whom we’ve been communicating like mad the past 2 weeks. And we did confirm that our interview on Friday!

More appointments after that and a brief lunch in a restaurant – something I rarely do on a workday!

The best part of your day will be when you read the following story about someone I’ve known for years and admire and respect beyond words. I saw him today in the Vatican and congratulated him – Papal Almoner and Cardinal-elect Konrad Krajewski. Great story by a friend, Carol Glatz.


June 26, 2018 (CNS) – Carol Glatz

ROME – Realizing he could no longer minister directly to poor people as he used to in Buenos Aires, a newly elected Pope Francis found another secret “street priest” to act in his place – Cardinal-designate Konrad Krajewski.

For years, this Polish assistant to St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI walked Rome’s streets offering meals and assistance, often accompanied by volunteers from the papal Swiss Guard.

“My arms have been shortened,” he said Francis remarked when explaining why he was naming him papal almoner.

“If we can make my arms longer with your arms, I will be able to touch the poor of Rome and in Italy. I can’t leave. You can,” the pope explained.

By elevating him to the College of Cardinals June 28, the pope is elevating the office of papal almoner, the 54-year-old liturgist told Vatican News May 20. This honor “is for the poor and the volunteers. I can take no credit,” he said.

“I only did what the Holy Father wanted,” he explained, which was to be the pope’s eyes, ears and hands, looking out for and offering direct assistance to those in need, as well as spiritual comfort and prayers.

Every morning he reads requests for help forwarded from the pope with a comment that says, “You know what you must do.”

“And so I try to think, what would Francis do if he were here?” he told the Italian magazine, Il Mio Papa.

As papal almoner, the Polish cardinal-designate distributes charitable aid from the pope; but he has taken the job to a whole new level, getting a dormitory, showers, a barbershop and laundromat set up near the Vatican for homeless people. He handed out 1,600 prepaid phone cards to refugees who survived a dangerous journey by boat to Lampedusa to let their families know they were safe. He’s also organized special private tours for poor and homeless people to the Vatican Gardens, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.

Receiving the red hat should not make a big difference in his day-to-day dealings, he told Vatican Insider. He already had enough clout just being the pope’s almoner. “When they give me donations for the poor, they have trust because they trust the pope,” he said.

Krajewski said Francis told him to sell his desk when he was hired because his job wasn’t to wait for people to come ringing, but to go out and look for those in need. The cardinal-designate went a step further, giving up his apartment for a time to a Syrian refugee family.

He said the pope wanted him to do what he had been free to do in Buenos Aires: to seek out, share with, and be there for people.

“‘You will see,’ he told me, ‘I have entrusted you with the most beautiful part’” of being a priest, the cardinal-designate said.

Born in Lodz, Poland, Nov. 25, 1963, the cardinal-designate studied in Poland and Rome, where he earned degrees in theology and sacred liturgy. He served as a hospital chaplain in Rome before returning to Lodz to teach liturgy at local seminaries and become prefect of the diocesan seminary.

He returned to Rome in 1998 to work in the Vatican’s office of papal liturgical celebrations and master of liturgical ceremonies from 1999 to 2013 when he could be seen at the side of St. John Paul and Pope Benedict assisting during papal Masses.

He was appointed papal almoner August 2013 and consecrated a bishop the next month, taking the Latin word for “mercy” as his motto.

He told journalists in late November 2013 that he had been one of the four men who dressed St. John Paul after he died, in preparation for his lying-in-state and funeral.

“Perhaps this is why I never devoted myself to praying intensely for his beatification because I had already begun to take part in it,” he said, speaking of his fellow-countryman, whom he had served for seven years.

A former recreational skier and swimmer in his native Poland – like the pope-saint – the cardinal-designate said he also tried to emulate St. John Paul with a strong life of prayer so as to be close to God. He celebrates Mass at the late pope’s tomb once a week and prays the rosary and hears confessions every day at a nearby church dedicated to the Divine Mercy.

He said Francis once told him to never stop hearing confessions because that, too, is a kind of alms.

Despite always being in the thick of things – delivering food or sleeping bags, visiting the infirm and families in crisis – Krajewski said he prefers to stay off the radar and avoid giving interviews.

“I’d like to stay hidden, without any ruckus,” he told the Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana in 2014, explaining why he was turning them down for an interview request. “Poverty is something serious; it’s not there to give oneself publicity.”

But what he does not hide is his faith. “It is helpful for the Church when we do not hide God, but we reveal him with our lifestyle,” he told the magazine reporter. Doing good “is contagious,” he said.



On this first weekend of June, Vatican Insider, in place of an interview, will feature a Special I have prepared on the College of Cardinals, given that the universal church will be welcoming new cardinals into the College on Thursday, June 28. I look at the history of the college, its make up, the duties of the college and individual cardinals and so on. (photo

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. 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.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: For VI archives:


This morning at the Holy See Press Office, the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life presented its latest document entitled “Giving the Best of Yourself.” In addition to this document on sports, the Vatican released Pope Francis’ Letter to Cardinal Farrell, prefect of this dicastery, upon publication of the document.

The Holy Father wrote that, “Sports is a meeting place where people of all levels and social conditions come together to reach a common aim. In a culture dominated by individualism and the gap between the younger generations and the elderly, sports is a privileged area around which people meet without any distinction of race, sex, religion, or ideology, and where we can experience the joy of competing to reach a goal together, participating in a team, where success or defeat is shared and overcome; this helps us to reject the idea of conquering an objective by focusing only on ourselves.”

He also noted that “Sports is also a formative vehicle. Perhaps today more than ever, we must fix our gaze on the young, because the earlier the process of formation begins, the easier the person’s integral development through sports will be. We know how the new generations look at sportsmen and are inspired by them! The participation of all athletes of every age and level is, therefore, necessary; because those who are part of the sports world exemplify virtues such as generosity, humility, sacrifice, constancy, and cheerfulness.”

In conclusion Francis wrote, “I would like to emphasize the role of sports as a means for the mission and sanctification. The Church is called to be a sign of Jesus Christ in the world, also through the sports practiced in oratories, parishes, schools, and associations.”

“Giving the Best of Yourself” has 5 chapters. The first chapter explains the reasons for the Church’s interest in sport and the need for a pastoral approach to sport- In the second chapter, the document outlines the salient features of sport as a phenomenon and its contextualization in current society.

In chapter three, the theme of the meaning of sport for the person is explored. The fourth chapter is dedicated to open challenges, to the desire to contribute through sport to the promotion of authentic values that may provide to any sportsperson a patrimony to confront the many dangers that modern sport often has to face, such as doping, corruption and violent fans. The fifth and final chapter is dedicated to the role of the Church as a protagonist in this path of humanization through sport.

For further information and to download the digital document, please consult:



After praying the Regina Coeli with an estimated 30,000 pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square on Pentecost Sunday, Pope Francis announced he would create new cardinals at a consistory on June 29, feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.

The Holy Father said the places from which the new cardinals come “express the universality of the Church, which continues to announce the merciful love of God to all men and women on earth.”

As of Friday, there were 213 members of the College of Cardinals, of whom 115 are cardinal electors, that is, under the age of 80 and eligible to participate in a conclave. The ceiling set by Blessed Paul VI for the number of cardinal electors is 120. The 11 new cardinals under 80 will bring that number to 126 on June 29.

Universality of Church


The men who will receive their red hats from the Pope include bishops from Iraq, Pakistan, Portugal, Peru, Madagascar, Italy and Japan. The list also includes Polish archbishop Konrad Krajewski, who serves as the papal almoner, Italian archbishops Angelo De Donatis, vicar general of the Rome diocese, Giovanni Becciu, the Substitute of the Secretary of State and Special Delegate for the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and Giuseppe Petrocchi of L’Aquila. He also named Spanish Jesuit Archbishop Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Pope Francis said their nominations “manifest the unbreakable bond between the See of Peter and the local Churches throughout the world.”

Pope Francis also nominated to the College of Cardinals a retired archbishop of Mexico, a retired bishop of Bolivia and a priest from the Claretian order, all of whom, he said, “have distinguished themselves for their service to the Church.”

The Cardinals-elect are:

His Beatitude Louis Raphaël I Sako – Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon
His Excellency Luis Ladaria –Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
His Excellency Angelo De Donatis – Vicar General of Rome
His Excellency Giovanni Angelo Becciu – Substitute of the Secretary of State and Special Delegate for the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
His Excellency Konrad Krajewski – Almoner of the Office of Papal Charities
His Excellency Joseph Coutts – Archbishop of Karachi
His Excellency António dos Santos Marto – Bishop of Leiria-Fátima
His Excellency Pedro Barreto – Archbishop of Huancayo
His Excellency Desiré Tsarahazana – Archbishop of Toamasina
His Excellency Giuseppe Petrocchi – Archbishop of L’Aquila
His Excellency Thomas Aquinas Manyo – Archbishop of Osaka

Those over 80:
His Excellency Sergio Obeso Rivera – Emeritus Archbishop of Xalapa, 87.
His Excellency Toribio Ticona Porco – Emeritus Bishop of Corocoro, 81 .
Claretian Father Aquilino Bocos Merino – former Superior General of the Claretians, turned 80 on May 17..


After his Regina Coeli address in St Peter’s Square on Pentecost Sunday, Pope Francis told the faithful in St. Peter’s Square announced that he continues to pray for the Middle East and expressed his hopes for Venezuela. (Vatican media photo)

by Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

“Pentecost brings us at heart to Jerusalem,” Pope Francis began after reciting the Regina Coeli with the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square on Pentecost Sunday.
Prayer for Peace in the Middle East

The Pope went on to say that he had followed spiritually a prayer vigil for peace held in Jerusalem on the Vigil of Pentecost. “Let us continue to pray today,” he invited those gathered, “that the Holy Spirit might arouse the desire for and gestures of dialogue and reconciliation in the Holy Land and in the entire Middle East.”

Beloved Venezuela

Pope Francis then turned his thoughts to Venezuela*, calling that nation “beloved”. He prayed that the Holy Spirit might give all the people of Venezuela “the wisdom to find the path of peace and unity.” He ended this thought praying for the inmates who died during a prison riot on Saturday night.

*Venezuelans are electing a new president today.



For the fourth time in his four year papacy, Pope Francis today held the fourth Public Ordinary Consistory for the creation of 5 new Cardinals. The ceremony, which is not a liturgy, includes the the imposition of the scarlet zucchetto and beretta, the presentation of the ring and the assignment of a Title or Diaconia to a church in Rome.

The consistory began with a greeting by Cardinal Omella Omella of Barcelona, one of the five new eminences, then a prayer, and reading a passage of the gospel according to Mark. Pope Francis read the formula of creation of a cardinal in Latin, solemnly proclaiming the names of the new cardinals. The cardinals then recited the profession of faith in Latin as well as the oath of fidelity and obedience to Pope Francis and his successors.

One by one, the new cardinals ascended the steps to the main altar, ascending in the order in which they were named last May 21 by Pope Francis. As they knelt before the Pope, he placed the zucchetto or skull cap and the cardinal’s beretta, a square cap with three raised peaks, followed by the cardinalatial ring.

The final act by the Holy Father was to assign to each cardinal a church of Rome as a sign of participation in the pastoral care of the Pope in the diocese of Rome. This was followed by the exchange of peace between the Pope and the new cardinals.

Cardinal Jean ZERBO, Title of Sant’Antonio da Padova in Via Tuscolana (St. Anthony of Padua in Via Tuscolana)

Cardinal Juan José OMELLA OMELLA, Title of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (Holy Cross in Jerusalem)

Cardinal Anders ARBORELIUS, O.C.D., Title of Santa Maria degli Angeli and Martiri (St. Mary of the Angels and Martyrs)

Cardinal Louis-Marie Ling MANGKHANEKHOUN, Title of San Silvestro in Capite (St. Silvester in Capite)

Cardinal Gregorio ROSA CHÁVEZ, Title of Santissimo Sacramento a Tor de’ Schiavi (Most Holy Sacrament at Tor de’ Schiavi)

Following is the homily given during the consistory by Pope Francis. It was similar in content to much the general audience held earlier in the morning in St. Peter’s Square on the catechesis of Christian hope:

“Jesus was walking ahead of them”. This is the picture that the Gospel we have just read (Mk 10:32-45) presents to us. It serves as a backdrop to the act now taking place: this Consistory for the creation of new Cardinals.

Jesus walks resolutely towards Jerusalem. He knows fully what awaits him there; on more than one occasion, he spoke of it to his disciples. But there is a distance between the heart of Jesus and the hearts of the disciples, which only the Holy Spirit can bridge. Jesus knows this, and so he is patient with them. He speaks to them frankly and, above all, *he goes before them*. He walks *ahead *of them.

Along the way, the disciples themselves are distracted by concerns that have nothing to do with the “direction” taken by Jesus, with his will, which is completely one with that of the Father”. So it is that, as we heard, the two brothers James and John think of how great it would be to take their seats at the right and at the left of the King of Israel (cf. v. 37). They are not facing reality! They think they see, but they don’t. They think they know, but they don’t. They think they understand better than the others, but they don’t…

For the reality is completely different. It is what Jesus sees and what directs his steps. The reality is the cross. It is the sin of the world that he came to take upon himself, and to uproot from the world of men and women. It is the innocent who suffer and die as victims of war and terrorism; the forms of enslavement that continue to violate human dignity even in the age of human rights; the refugee camps which at times seem more like a hell than a purgatory; the systematic discarding of all that is no longer useful, people included.

This is what Jesus sees as he walks towards Jerusalem. During his public ministry he made known the Father’s tender love by healing all who were oppressed by the evil one (cf. Acts 10:38). Now he realizes that the moment has come to press on to the very end, to eliminate evil at its root. And so, he walks resolutely towards the cross.

We too, brothers and sisters, are journeying with Jesus along this path. I speak above all to you, dear new Cardinals. Jesus “is walking ahead of you”, and he asks you to follow him resolutely on his way. He calls you to look at reality, not to let yourselves be distracted by other interests or prospects. He has not called you to become “princes” of the Church, to “sit at his right or at his left”. He calls you to serve like him and with him. To serve the Father and your brothers and sisters. He calls you to face as he did the sin of the world and its effects on today’s humanity. Follow him, and walk ahead of the holy people of God, with your gaze fixed on the Lord’s cross and resurrection

And now, with faith and through the intercession of the Virgin Mother, let us ask the Holy Spirit to bridge every gap between our hearts and the heart of Christ, so that our lives may be completely at the service of God and all our brothers and sisters.