Today is the 52nd anniversary of the priestly ordination of Pope Francis, ordained in Argentina on December 13, 1969. Many best wishes, Holy Father!

Pope Francis will also mark another big day this week – his 85th birthday on December 17!   Tanti auguri, Papa Francesco!


Today, December 13, is also the feast of St. Lucy, patron saint of the blind and is also invoked against hemorraghes, diseases of the eye, and throat infections.

painting by Francesco del Cossa

I visited the church in Venice where she is buried and and only find two of my photos at the moment.

The church’s website states: According to tradition, the remains of Saint Lucy were taken from Constantinople in 1204 by the Venetian doge Enrico Dandolo, along with those of Sant’Agata during the Fourth Crusade. Lucy’s remains were first laid to rest in the church of San Giorgio Maggiore.  After a tragic accident on Saint Lucy’s day in 1279, where pilgrims were drowned partly because of the numbers visiting Lucy, the Senate decided that the relics should be transferred to a city church, to allow better access. So, on 18 January 1280, led by a solemn procession, the body was brought to the church of Santa Maria Annunziata (or the «Nunciata») in the sestiere of Cannaregio.(the website:

She is one of my favorite saints and has brought me through many eye surgeries. For the very first one in December 2011, a detached retina in one eye and laser surgeries in the other, I entered the eye hospital precisely on her feast day, December 13, and remained for 9 days.

Here’s a great story on how she is celebrated in Italy:  How and why Italy celebrates Santa Lucia on December 13th (


The Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments says “the publication of the Rite of Institution of Catechists offers a further opportunity for reflection on the theology of ministries in order to arrive at an organic vision of the distinct ministerial realities.”

By Salvatore Cernuzio

Accipe hoc fídei nostræ signum, cáthedram veritátis et caritátis Christi, eúmque vita, móribus et verbo annúntia – “Receive this sign of our faith, cathedra of the truth and love of Christ, and proclaim it with your life, your conduct and your word.”

Beginning on 1 January 2022, this will be one of the Latin formulas with which laymen and laywomen “of profound faith and human maturity” will be instituted as catechists by their bishop during a liturgical celebration.

The new Rite

After formally instituting the ministry of the catechist with the motu proprio Antiquum ministerium, Pope Francis has approved and published an Editio typica [typical edition] that introduces a specific Rite of Institution of Catechists. This is the base text that will then be translated and adapted by the various Bishops’ Conferences around the world.

The conferences will have the task of clarifying the profile and role of catechists, offering them suitable formation and helping the various communities grasp the meaning of the ministry, so that it will not be confused with other roles in the Church.

The Rite of Institution can take place during a Mass or a celebration of the Word of God; the Editio also indicates the readings from the Old and New Testaments to be used in the celebration. The Rite will follow a precise format, beginning with an exhortation to the candidate, followed by an invitation to prayer, a blessing, and the handing over of the crucifix.

A further step

The introduction of a Rite of Institution of Catechists marks a further step in the general reflection on ecclesial ministries, following up on the motu proprio Spiritus Domini, issued on 10 January 2021, which modified Canon Law on women’s access to the ministries of lector and acolyte; and the aforementioned Antiquum ministerium, issued on 10 May 2021.

In a letter accompanying the publication of the Editio typica, Archbishop Arthur Roche, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, emphasizes that the new Rite “offers a further opportunity for reflection on the theology of ministries in order to arrive at an organic vision of the distinct ministerial realities.”

The letter, addressed to the presidents of the various bishops’ conferences, proposes some indications concerning the ministry of catechist.

Nature of the ministry

First of all, the letter clarifies the nature of this ministry, quoting Pope Francis’ description of it as “a stable form service rendered to the local Church.” It is above all a “lay ministry based on the common baptismal state” and therefore “essentially distinct” from the ordained ministry.

Archbishop Roche explains that, “catechists, by virtue of their Baptism, are called to be co-responsible in the local Church for the proclamation and transmission of the faith, carrying out this role in collaboration with the ordained ministers and under their guidance.”

To avoid misunderstandings, the Prefect of Divine Worship clarifies that the term “catechist” indicates different realities in relation to the ecclesial context: “Catechists in mission territories,” for instance, “differ from those working in churches of long-standing tradition.”

In the great variety of forms, however, one can distinguish – “though not rigidly” – two main types: catechists with the specific task of catechesis, and others who participate in the different forms of the apostolate, such as leading community prayer; assisting the sick; celebrating funerals; training other catechists; coordinating pastoral initiatives; and helping the poor.

Ministry of catechist and other ecclesial roles

In his letter, Archbishop Roche says that since this ministry has “a definite vocational aspect” which requires “due discernment” by the bishops, not all those who are called “catechists” or who carry out a service of pastoral collaboration should be formally instituted in the ministry of catechists.

In particular, he says, “it is preferable” that certain classes of people not be instituted as such. These include: candidates for the diaconate and the priesthood; men and women religious, regardless of whether they belong to Institutes whose charism is catechesis; teachers of religion in schools; and those who perform a service aimed exclusively at members of an ecclesial movement, to whom this “precious” function is entrusted by the leaders of the movements and not by the bishop.

As for those who accompany the initiation of children and adults, they too do not necessarily have to be instituted in the specific ministry, but should receive at the beginning of each catechetical year “a public ecclesial mandate entrusting them with this important function.” However, this does not detract from the fact that some of them may be instituted as Lectors or Catechists, on the basis of their pastoral abilities and needs.

Defining the roles of catechists

The letter then specifies that it is the task of the individual Bishops’ Conferences to clarify the profile, role, and the most coherent forms for the exercise of the ministry of catechists. The Conferences are also called to define suitable formation programmes for candidates, and to prepare their communities to understand the meaning of this ministry.

Archbishop Roche notes that canon law provides for the possibility of entrusting to a lay person “a share in the exercise of pastoral care in a parish,” but says it is necessary “to form the community so that it does not see the Catechist as a substitute for the Priest or Deacon, but as a member of the lay faithful who lives their baptism in fruitful collaboration and shared responsibility with the ordained ministers, so that their pastoral care may reach everyone.”

The Prefect also explains the requirements for catechists, referencing Antiquum ministerium.

The ministry of catechist is open to men and women “of profound faith and human maturity active participants in the life of the Christian community, capable of welcoming others, being generous and living a life of fraternal communion,” with “suitable biblical, theological, pastoral and pedagogical formation,” who have received the sacraments of Christian initiation. Each candidate must first present his or her bishop with a “freely written and signed” petition seeking institution as a catechist.



From the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments:


Vatican City, 20 June 2020, Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Your Eminence, Your Excellency,

The Church which walks along the pathways of history as a pilgrim towards the heavenly Jerusalem and enjoys inseparable communion with Christ her Spouse and Saviour, entrusts herself to her who believed in the word of the Lord.

We know from the Gospel that the disciples of Jesus had in fact learned from the very beginning to praise her as “blessed amongst women” and to count on her maternal intercession.

The titles and invocations which Christian piety has reserved for the Virgin Mary over the course of the centuries, as the privileged and sure way to an encounter with Christ, are innumerable.

Even in this present moment which is marked by feelings of uncertainty and trepidation, devout recourse to her, which is full of affection and trust, is deeply felt by the People of God.

Discerning this sentiment and welcoming the desires expressed, the Supreme Pontiff, Pope FRANCIS, wishes to provide that in the formulary of the litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, called “The Litany of Loreto”, the invocations “Mater misericordiæ”, “Mater spei” and “Solacium migrantium” should be inserted.

The first invocation shall be placed after “Mater Ecclesiæ”, the second after “Mater divinæ gratiæ”, while the third shall be placed after “Refugium peccatorum”. With every good wish and kind regard, we wish to entrust this notification to you for your information and application.

Sincerely in the Lord,

Robert. Card. Sarah Prefect +

Arthur Roche Archbishop Secretary



The following decree from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments was published today by the Holy See Press Office:

DECREE In time of Covid-19 (II)

Considering the rapidly evolving situation of the Covid-19 pandemic and taking into account observations which have come from Episcopal Conferences, this Congregation now offers an update to the general indications and suggestions already given to Bishops in the preceding decree of 19 March 2020.

Given that the date of Easter cannot be transferred, in the countries which have been struck by the disease and where restrictions around the assembly and movement of people have been imposed, Bishops and priests may celebrate the rites of Holy Week without the presence of the people and in a suitable place, avoiding concelebration and omitting the sign of peace.

The faithful should be informed of the beginning times of the celebrations so that they can prayerfully unite themselves in their homes. Means of live (not recorded) telematic broadcasts can be of help. In any event it remains important to dedicate an adequate time to prayer, giving importance above all to the Liturgia Horarum.

The Episcopal Conferences and individual dioceses will see to it that resources are provided to support family and personal prayer.

1 – Palm Sunday. The Commemoration of the Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem is to be celebrated within sacred buildings; in Cathedral churches the second form given in the Roman Missal is to be adopted; in parish churches and in other places the third form is to be used.

2 – The Chrism Mass. Evaluating the concrete situation in different countries, the Episcopal Conferences will be able to give indications about a possible transfer to another date.

3 – Holy Thursday. The washing of feet, which is already optional, is to be omitted. At the end of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper the procession is also omitted and the Blessed Sacrament is to be kept in the tabernacle. On this day the faculty to celebrate Mass in a suitable place, without the presence of the people, is exceptionally granted to all priests.

4 – Good Friday. In the Universal Prayer, Bishops will arrange to have a special intention prepared for those who find themselves in distress, the sick, the dead, (cf. Missale Romanum). The adoration of the Cross by kissing it shall be limited solely to the celebrant.

5 – The Easter Vigil: Is to be celebrated only in Cathedral and parish churches. For the “Baptismal Liturgy” only the “Renewal of Baptismal Promises” is maintained (cf. Missale Romanum).

Seminaries, houses of clergy, monasteries and religious communities shall follow the indications of this decree.

Expressions of popular piety and processions which enrich the days of Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum can be transferred to other suitable days in the year, for example 14 and 15 September, according to the judgement of the Diocesan Bishop.

De mandato Summi Pontificis pro hoc tantum anno 2020.

From the offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 25 March 2020, on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.

Robert Card. Sarah Prefect
Arthur Roche Archbishop Secretary


Dispositions issued today from the Congregation for Eastern Churches:

Considering the rapid evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, including in many countries where faithful of the Eastern Catholic Churches live, the Congregation for the Eastern Churches invites the Heads of all the Churches sui iuris to issue norms in accordance with the measures established by the civil authorities for the containment of the contagion and to encourage such conduct with the other Christian Churches, Catholic and non-Catholic, present on the same territory. Considering the different ritual traditions and the Easter celebrations according to their respective calendars, it is not possible to issue a unitary provision that would cover all the uses present in each Church sui iuris.

Nevertheless, it seems appropriate to share the following recommendations:

– The feasts are strictly to be kept on the days foreseen by the liturgical calendar, broadcasting or streaming those celebrations that are possible,so that they can be followed by the faithful in their homes.

– Consideration should be given to the adaptations that will be made necessary by limited presence at the liturgical service. The participation of the choir and ministers expected by some ritual traditions is not possible at the present time when prudence advises avoiding gathering in significant numbers.

– Those parts of the celebrations connected to some rite outside the church are omitted.

– Remind the faithful of the value of personal and family prayer, which is authentic ecclesial prayer and an important means of transmitting the content of the faith between generations. Also arrange, and distribute through the means of social communication, aids that allow an adult of the family to explain to the little ones the mystagogy of the rites that under normal conditions would be celebrated in the church with the assembly present.

– The riches of the Paschal celebrations, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, can also be valorised by suggesting that part of them be prayed at home and in families, with the aids to participation that are usually made available in each community every year.

– Priests who cannot celebrate the liturgy on their own pray the hours of the office, especially the psalms and those prayers that do not require a response from the choir and the faithful.

– On Holy Thursday, in the liturgical celebration of the morning, some Churches sui iuris celebrate the consecration of the Holy Myron. This celebration, not being linked in the East to this day, can be moved to another date.

– On Good Friday, encourage use – alone or with the family – of the precious texts that the oriental traditions present on this day for prayer around the Cross and the tomb of Christ.

– On the night of Pascha, families may be invited, where possible through the festive sound of the bells, to gather to read the Gospel of the Resurrection, lighting a lamp and singing some troparion or songs typical of their tradition that the faithful often know by memory.

Any baptisms scheduled for Easter are postponed to another date.

The provisions issued by the March 19 decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary remain valid. Since many faithful are accustomed to confessing in the period before Easter, where it is not possible to do so, let pastors indicate to the faithful the recitation of some of the rich penitential prayers from the oriental tradition, to be recited with a spirit of contrition.

Sincerely yours, ✠ Leonardo Card. Sandri Prefetto

Fr. Flavio Pace Sotto-Segretario


Does excommunication remain a viable option in today’s Catholic Church?
Join EWTN’s Vice President of Theology Colin Donovan & the Roundtable crew as they discuss the use of sanctions, such as excommunication, to protect the unity of the People of God, this Friday on Theology Roundtable, 3:00 PM Eastern on the EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network.


As traditionally happens after a Pope has been on an apostolic journey, Francis dedicated his weekly audience catechesis to his just-completed trip to the UAE – the United Arab Emirates.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” he began, “I have just completed a brief visit to the United Arab Emirates, brief but important, for it marked a step forward in inter-religious dialogue and in the commitment to promoting peace in the world.”

He explained that his trip “was the first papal visit to the Arabian peninsula and took place eight hundred years after Saint Francis of Assisi visited Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil. The providence of God wished to see a Pope named Francis make such a journey, and I thought often of the Saint for it helped me keep the Gospel and the love of Jesus Christ close to my heart.”

He then thanks his many hosts, “the Crown Prince, the President, the Vice President and all the Authorities who welcomed me, and Bishop Paul Hinder for preparing the event with the Catholic community. My affectionate thanks go to the priests, religious and lay faithful who enliven the Christian presence in that land.

“Beyond all the speeches,” the Holy Father went on, “one further step was taken in Abu Dhabi when the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and I signed the Document on Human Fraternity. There we affirm the common vocation of all men and women to be brothers and sisters as children of God, we reject every form of violence – especially that committed in the name of religion – and we dedicate ourselves to defending authentic values and peace in the world. Let us pray that the seeds sown during the visit may bear much fruit according to his holy will.”

After summaries of the papal catechesis and greetings in many languages to the faithful, Pope Francis issued an appeal:

“Last Saturday, near the archipelago of the Bahamas, a boat sank with dozens of migrants coming from Haiti and looking for hope and a future of peace. My affectionate thought goes to the families suffering from the pain, as well as to the Haitian people struck by this new tragedy. I invite you to join my prayer for those who have disappeared so dramatically and for the injured.”


From the offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 25 January 2019, on the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle.
Signed by Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect, + Arthur Roche, Archbishop Secretary:

The decree published today began by noting that “Jesus Christ, the fullness of humanity, living and working in the Church, invites all people to a transforming encounter with Him, who is “the way, the truth and the life”. This is the journey of the Saints. Paul VI made it following the example of the Apostle whose name he assumed at the moment when the Holy Spirit chose him as Successor of Peter.” (CNA photo)

It went out to outline the saintly life and work of Paul VI, and continued: “God, the Shepherd and Guide of all the faithful, entrusts his pilgrim Church through the ages, to those whom he himself has established as Vicars of his Son. Among these, Paul VI shines out as one who united in himself the pure faith of Saint Peter and the missionary zeal of Saint Paul. His consciousness of being the Successor of Peter is evident when we recall that on 10 June 1969, during a visit to the World Council of Churches in Geneva, he introduced himself by saying “My name is Peter”. Nevertheless, he also acknowledged by the name he chose the mission for which he had been elected…..”

The substance of the decree states: “Having considered this Pope’s holiness of life, witnessed to by his works and words, and having taken account of the great influence of his apostolic ministry for the Church throughout the whole world, Pope Francis, assenting to the petitions and desires of the People of God, has decreed that the celebration of Pope Saint Paul VI, should be inserted into the Roman Calendar on 29 May with the rank of optional memorial.

“This new memorial will be inserted into all Calendars and Liturgical Books for the celebration of the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours; the liturgical texts to be adopted, attached to this Decree, must be translated, approved and, after the confirmation of this Dicastery, be published by the Episcopal Conferences.”


The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Develoment today announced the release of its website that contains news, information, publications and useful tools related to the Dicastery’s activities and mission.

It provided link to two videos the dicastery has produced aimed at introducing and spreading the Church’s understanding of Integral Human Development. “We are proud to share them both with you,” said the dicastery announcement, “with the hope that you will like and share them through your social media.”

Here are the links that you can enjoy, “like” and “share”!



This morning, in keeping with the tradition for the January 21 liturgical memory of St. Agnes, two lambs, blessed earlier in the morning in the Roman basilica named for this saint, were presented to Pope Francis. The lambs are raised by the Trappist Fathers of the Abbey of the Three Fountains. When their wool is shorn, the Sisters of St. Cecelia weave it into the palliums that, on the June 29th feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, are given to new metropolitan archbishops as signs of their office.


The pallium is a white woolen circular band embroidered with six black crosses which is worn over the shoulders and has two hanging pieces, one in front and another in back. Worn by the Pope and by metropolitan archbishops, it symbolizes authority and expresses the special bond between the bishops and the Roman Pontiff. In a 1978 document, “Inter Eximina Episcopalis,” Pope Paul VI restricted its use to the Pope and metropolitan archbishops. Six years later, Pope John Paul decreed that it would be conferred on the metropolitans by the Pope on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Usually in attendance at the January 21 ceremony in the Apostolic Palace are 21 people, including two Trappist fathers, several nuns, two canons of the Chapter of St. John, the dean of the Roman Rota, and two officials from the Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, and a number of other invited guests.

The baby lambs, under one year of age, are normally tucked into wicker baskets, and both lambs and baskets are adorned with red and white ribbons and flowers, white to symbolize purity and red to signify the blood of a martyr. In 2004 St. John Paul II blessed the lambs during a general audience in the Paul VI Hall as both the audience and St. Agnes’ feast day occurred on a Wednesday.


Agnes died about 305 and is buried in the basilica named for her on Rome’s Via Nomentana. Historical accounts vary about the birth, life and manner of death of Agnes but generally it isrecounted that, in order to preserve her virginity, she was martyred at a very young age, probably 12. She is usually depicted with a lamb because the Latin word so similar to her name, agnus, means “lamb.” The name Agnes is actually derived from the feminine Greek adjective hagné meaning “chaste, pure.”

A couple of years ago I was intrigued by the January 21 press office communiqué about this event. It had been slightly altered since the announcement the previous day that the Pope would bless “two live baby lambs.” Naturally it was the word “live” that intrigued me – as if he might bless lambs that were no longer alive. That word did not appear the day of the blessings!

In 2011, L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican paper, carried an interview with Sr. Hanna Pomniaowska, one of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth who prepares the lambs every year for their Vatican visit. This order of nuns has been preparing the baby lambs for over 130 years and it was their founder, Blessed Frances Siedliska, who started this custom in 1884. Up to that date another order of nuns had prepared the lambs but it became difficult when the nuns began to age. At that time the Sisters of the Holy Family took over the duties.

Two lambs are brought to the sisters on January 20 by the Trappist Fathers of Tre Fontane (Three Fountains). The nuns then bring the lambs to the top floor of their residence where there is a terrace with a laundry room where the lambs are washed with delicate soap usually used for children until their wool is white as the driven snow and they are dried with a hair dryer that, in recent years, has replaced the towels they once used.

The nuns are careful to completely dry the lambs so that, at their tender age, they do not fall sick. The room is well heated. After the lambs are dried they are placed in a tub that is covered with straw and closed with canvas so they don’t catch cold. A meal of straw is fed to the lambs who then spend the night in the laundry.

The morning of January 21, the nuns place two small capes on the lambs, one is red to indicate St. Agnes’ martyrdom and the other is white to indicate her virginity. There are also three letters on each mantle: S.A.V. (St. Agnes Virgin) and S.A.M. (St. Agnes Martyr). The sisters weave crowns of interlocking red and white flowers, place them on the baby lambs’ heads, and then put the lambs in a decorated basket. The lambs are tied so they don’t escape. In fact, one of them did escape a few years back, jumping up and running from the altar at St. Agnes basilica.

In the morning the lambs are brought to St. Agnes Basilica where they are placed on the altar and blessed. Following this ceremony, two papal sediari or chair bearers bring the lambs in a van to the Vatican where they are presented to the Holy Father. It is usually the sisters who are celebrating a jubilee of religious vows who are present in the papal residence.


(VIS) – The Holy Father has written a letter, dated 20 December and published today, to Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in which he decrees that from now on, the people chosen for the washing of the feet in the liturgy of Holy Thursday may be selected from all the People of God, and not only men and boys.

The Pope wrote that he has for some time reflected on the “rite of the washing of the feet contained in the Liturgy of the Mass in Coena Domini, with the intention of improving the way in which it is performed so that it might express more fully the meaning of Jesus’ gesture in the Cenacle, His giving of Himself unto the end for the salvation of the world, His limitless charity”.

“After careful consideration”, he continues, “I have decided to make a change to the Roman Missal. I therefore decree that the section according to which those persons chosen for the Washing of the feet must be men or boys, so that from now on the Pastors of the Church may choose the participants in the rite from among all the members of the People of God. I also recommend that an adequate explanation of the rite itself be provided to those who are chosen”.

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has today published a decree on the aforementioned rite, dated 6 January 2016, the full text of which is published below:

“The reform of the Holy Week, by the decree Maxima Redemptionis nostrae mysteria of November 1955, provides the faculty, where counselled by pastoral motives, to perform the washing of the feet of twelve men during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, after the reading of the Gospel according to John, as if almost to represent Christ’s humility and love for His disciples.

In the Roman liturgy this rite was handed down with the name of the Mandatum of the Lord on brotherly charity in accordance with Jesus’ words, sung in the Antiphon during the celebration.

In performing this rite, bishops and priests are invited to conform intimately to Christ who ‘came not to be served but to serve’ and, driven by a love ‘to the end’, to give His life for the salvation of all humankind.

To manifest the full meaning of the rite to those who participate in it, the Holy Father Francis has seen fit to change the rule by in the Roman Missal (p.300, No. 11) according to which the chosen men are accompanied by the ministers, which must therefore be modified as follows: ‘Those chosen from among the People of God are accompanied by the ministers’ (and consequently in the Caeremoniale Episcoporum No. 301 and No. 299 b referring to the seats for the chosen men, so that pastors may choose a group of faithful representing the variety and unity of every part of the People of God. This group may consist of men and women, and ideally of the young and the old, healthy and sick, clerics, consecrated persons and laypeople.

This Congregation for Divine Worship and the Disipline of the Sacraments, by means of the faculties granted by the Supreme Pontiff, introduces this innovation in the liturgical books of the Roman Rite, recalling pastors of their duty to instruct adequately both the chosen faithful and others, so that they may participate in the rite consciously, actively and fruitfully”.



The C9, the Council of 9 Cardinals who are advisors to the Holy Father, are in the second of three days of meetings in the Santa Marta residence to continue discussions on the reform of the Roman Curia and other urgent matters that may have come up since their seventh meeting last fall.

The Council, a permanent body instituted by Pope Francis, is made up of the following members: Cardinals Pietro Parolin, secretary of State; Giuseppe Bertello (the only Italian and the only Curia member in the C8 as head of Vatican City State); Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa (the group’s only emeritus member); Oswald Gracias of Bombay; Reinhard Marx of Munich und Freising (recently nominated coordinator of the Council for the Economy made up of cardinals and lay financial experts); Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa; Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston, George Pell (the former archbishop of Sydney who was recently nominated “Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy) and Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Maradiaga is also the group’s coordinator, while Albano’s Bishop Marcello Semeraro is the C9 secretary.

C9 Cardinals - ANSA

Topping the agenda during this eighth meeting of the C9, as it has most of the previous ones, is the reform of the Roman Curia, including a possible reduction in the number of pontifical councils (or amalgamating them into two new congregations), and a review of the Vatican media. Pope Francis has been present at all meetings.

Today, Tuesday, Fr Federico Lombardi, head of the Holy See Press Office, briefed journalists, and said that the first morning meeting was dedicated to the preparation of a presentation on the Curial reforms for a meeting of the full college of cardinals which will take place on Thursday and Friday this week. On Saturday the Pope will create 20 new cardinals as members of that College.

On Monday afternoon, said Fr. Lombardi, the C9 group held talks with Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, regarding the future of that office within the broader reform program. On Tuesday morning the group heard an interim report from Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Commission charged with the reorganisation of all the Vatican media offices. That 12-member Commission, headed by Britain’s Lord Patten, is expected to complete its work later this spring.


According to Fr. Federico Lombardi, head of the Holy See Press Office, the Holy See is following attentively the situations of crisis in various parts of the world, including the eastern regions of Ukraine. In the presence of an escalation of the conflict that has claimed many innocent victims, the Holy Father Francis has renewed his appeal for peace on several occasions. By these interventions, while inviting the faithful to pray for those who have been killed and injured as a result of the hostilities, the Pope also underlined the urgency of resuming negotiations as the only possible way out of the logic of mounting accusations and reactions.

Faced with differing interpretations of the Pope’s words, especially those of Wednesday February 4, I consider it useful to specify that he has always wished to address all the interested parties, trusting in the sincere efforts of each one to implement agreements reached by common consent and invoking the principle of international law, to which the Holy See has referred several times since the beginning of the crisis. As St. John Paul II often repeated, humanity must find the courage to substitute the right to force with the power of law.

The Holy Father joyfully awaits the Ad limina visit of the Ukrainian Episcopate, scheduled for the days 16-21 February. This will constitute a further occasion to meet those brother Bishops, to be directly informed on the situation of that dear country, to console the Church and those who suffer and to evaluate together paths for reconciliation and peace.


In a press conference Tuesday morning, Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, presented the “Homiletic Directory” drawn up by the congregation during the mandate of his predecessor, Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera. The cardinal was accompanied by Archbishop Arthur Roche and Fr. Corrado Maggione, S.M.M., respectively secretary and under secretary of the Congregation.

“Often,” explained the cardinal, “for many faithful, it is precisely the homily, considered as good or bad, interesting or boring, that is the yardstick by which the entire celebration is judged. Certainly, the Mass is not the homily, but it represents a relevant moment for the purpose of participation in the holy Mysteries, that is, listening to the Word of God and the communion of the Body and Blood of the Lord.”

He said that, the aim of the Directory “is to respond to the need to improve the service of ordained ministers in liturgical preaching. He noted that during the 2005 Synod of Bishops, ordained ministers were asked to prepare their homilies carefully, and basing them on adequate knowledge of the Sacred Scripture. “This is the first fact to bear in mind,” he underlined: “that the homily is directly linked to the Sacred Scriptures, especially the Gospel, and is enlightened by them.”

During the same Synod, it was also requested that in the homily, “the great themes of the faith and the life of the Church should resound throughout the year,” in order to “help demonstrate the nexus connecting the message of the biblical readings with the doctrine of the faith as expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church”.

The bishops returned to this issue in the Synod on the Word of God, and Benedict XVI in his Apostolic Exhortation “Verbum domini., While repeating that preaching appropriately with reference to the Lectionary was “truly an art that must be cultivated,” the exhortation also indicated that it would be opportune to compile a directory on the homily, so that preachers might find help in preparing for the exercise of their ministry.

Cardinal Sarah continued: “The way was thus prepared and the Congregation initiated the project,” and he underscored how “Pope Francis reserves 25 points to this theme in his Apostolic Exhortation ‘Evangelii gaudium’: 10 to the homily and 15 to its preparation.”

“The homily,” said the congregation prefect, “is a liturgical service reserved to the ordained minister, who is called upon by vocation to serve the Word of God according to the faith of the Church and not in a personalized fashion. It is not a mere discourse like any other, but rather a speech inspired by the Word of God that resounds in an assembly of believers, in the context of liturgical action, with a view to learning to put into practice the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Archbishop Roche said, “the homilist leads his brothers and sisters to savor and understand Sacred Scripture, opens their minds to thanksgiving for the wonders wrought by God, strengthens the faith of all present in that word which in the course of the celebration will become a sacrament by the power of the Holy Spirit, and, finally, prepares them for a fruitful reception of Communion and calls upon them to accept the demands of the Christian life.”

“Even if he is an entertaining speaker,” added Abp. Roche, “the homilist who does not bring about these effects will be a bad preacher. The good preacher, on the other hand, even if he is not the most gifted speaker, can do precisely these things: he can guide us to a better understanding of God’s revelation, he can open our hearts to give thanks to God, he can strengthen our faith, he can prepare us for a fruitful sacramental Communion with Christ, and he can effectively exhort us to live the Christian life in a genuine manner.

He concluded by noting that, “this text was presented to each of the Fathers of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and was reviewed and approved at the Ordinary Sessions of February 7 and May 20, 2014. It was then presented to Pope Francis, who approved the publication of the Homiletic Directory.”

He added that, while available now in English and Italian, “translations into the principal languages have been undertaken by this congregation, while translations into other languages remain the responsibility of the concerned Conferences of Bishops.” (added source: VIS)