POPE FRANCIS: Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegram expressing condolences to the victims of Monday night’s bombing of a concert venue in Manchester, England, and condemning the attack, in which at least 22 people were killed and 59 others injured.

His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and tragic loss of life caused by the barbaric attack in Manchester, and he expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this senseless act of violence. He commends the generous efforts of the emergency and security personnel, and offers the assurance of his prayers for the injured, and for all who have died. Mindful in a particular way of those children and young people who have lost their lives, and of their grieving families, Pope Francis invokes God’s blessings of peace, healing and strength upon the nation.”

CARDINAL VINCENT NICHOLS: The President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, has expressed his “shock and dismay” at the horrific attack at Manchester Arena on Monday, 22 May 2017. The following brief sentences were posted as individual tweets:

“My shock and dismay at the horrendous killing of young and innocent people in the Manchester Arena, last night, is I know, shared by all people of good will.

“I know too that Catholics and many others will be praying earnestly for those who have been killed, for the bereaved and for grieving loved ones.

“We pray in support of all those working so hard in response to this tragedy; the police and security forces, hospital staff, neighbours and friends and for all the people of Manchester.

“May God, in His mercy, strengthen and sustain us and keep us firmly united in the face of all evil.”

INDIAN CARDINAL OSWALD GRACIAS has condemned late Monday’s suicide bomb attack at a concert in Manchester, England, as “senseless violence.”  The blast took place as U.S. singer Ariana Grande was ending her concert at an arena in Manchester, killing at least 22 people and injuring many more.  “I am deeply pained by the attack on the innocent people in Manchester (as) most of them were young people and many were children,” the cardinal, archbishop of Bombay and president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) said in a statement to AsiaNews. “We pray for them and entrust our innocent victims to the Merciful Love of God.”

“This senseless violence snatched away so many lives,” Cardinal Gracias grieved, adding, “the Church in Asia mourns the loss of lives, our hearts grieve with the families and we pray that God consoles them.”  While entrusting to “the mercy of God the innocent victims of this tragedy,” the Indian cardinal prayed for the injured.  “We renew our call for prayer for peace to Our Lady of Fatima, that the prayer for peace may arise in our hearts in the struggle between good and evil. Let us pray ever more fervently for Peace in our World”.

Cardinal Gracias prayed that through the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima, God may touch the hearts of those who have perpetrated this violence.  However, he said, “We must never lose our hope for peace; evil never conquers anything;  peace is the only answer – peace, which is a gift of God.  Let us all Prayer for Peace,” the cardinal urged.  (Source: AsiaNews)

ARCHBISHOP EAMON MARTIN, PRIMATE OF ALL IRELAND: The Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, has issued a statement offering condolences to the victims of Monday evening’s terror attack in Manchester, England, and condemning the act of violence in which at least 22 people were killed and 59 others wounded.

“I have sent a message this morning to Bishop John Arnold, Bishop of Salford, to express our shock and sorrow at the horrific bombing in Manchester last night.  Such a violent and brutal attack inflicts terror and long-lasting trauma on children and families and leaves a wound that can only be healed by compassion, love and solidarity. We are praying for the dead, the injured and for all affected by the bombing.  Such an awful attack challenges us all to resolve personally to build peace, solidarity and hope everywhere.  Only in this way can the hearts of those who plan and perpetrate such violent and pointless attacks be changed. I will remember the victims of this attack and their families in my Masses and prayers, and I know that the prayerful solidarity of people across Ireland goes to the people of Manchester at this sad time.”

BISHOP JOHN ARNOLD OF SALFORD, ENGLAND: Bishop John Arnold, has called for prayerful and concrete solidarity in the wake of a deadly terror attack on the 18 thousand-person capacity Manchester Arena in his diocese, where singer Ariana Grande had been performing for a crowd of mostly teenagers and young people.

“We have victims, and we have people traumatized by these events, and we’ve got to take care of them,” said Bishop Arnold in an exclusive interview with Vatican Radio on the morning after the attacks.

The recently-elected Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, for calm and firm resolve. “We are grieving today, but we are strong,” Burnham said. “Today it will be business as usual, as far as possible in our great city.” The Mayor offered condolences and promises of support to grieving families, and praised the local citizenry, many of whom opened their doors to people stranded in the wake of the attack. “[T]his,” he said, “was the best possible message to those who seek to divide us.”

Bishop Arnold echoed Mayor Burnham’s call, saying, “We mustn’t allow our community life to be fractured by these events.”



The choir of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. this year marks its 50th anniversary and, as part of those celebrations, the choir has scheduled several concerts in Rome.

The choir arrived Rome October 3, dedicating their first full day in the city to rehearsals and some sightseeing. Family members and shrine benefactors are accompanying the choir on their five-day stay in the Eternal City.

A special Mass for Pope Francis and his intentions was celebrated yesterday morning in a chapel of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the Pope’s cathedral as bishop of Rome, with the choir providing the music. I have known choir director Peter Latona, as well as Msgr. Walter Rossi, director of the shrine and Callista Gingrich, a member of the choir, for years and was invited to the Mass and to speak to the choir afterwards about my work and my life here in Rome.

Last evening was the choir’s first public concert in Rome. They sang at the extraordinarily beautiful church of San Antonio dei Portoghesi (St. Anthony of the Portuguese) in the center of Rome. This is the Portuguese national church in Rome and is truly a jewel.



The Portuguese ambassador to the Holy See was present, and the rector of the church, Msgr. Agostinho Borges, briefly addressed the crowd, reminding us all that the beloved saint we call St. Anthony of Padua was actually born in Portugal. He also reminded us that San Antonio dei Portoghesi offers concerts every Sunday evening at 6:30.



The choir sings again this evening at the Italian embassy to the Holy See and I’ll try to record some music from that concert. For now I just offer a few photos from last night’s event.



After the concert I met a young couple from Lisbon, Luis and Maria Levezinho, who are huge fans of EWTN. We spoke at length after the program and they specifically mentioned how much they enjoy Joan’s Rome and At Home with Jim and Joy! I now have a standing invitation to return to Portugal, especially next year for the 100th anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima!