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.



It has really been an event-filled end of June here at the Vatican, as you probably know from EWTN’s television coverage, Facebook pages, etc.

On June 28 there was the consistory in which the Pope created 14 new cardinals, and that was followed by courtesy visits to the new Eminences who welcomed visitors in the Paul VI Hall and the Apostolic Palace.

That same day, Polish papal almoner Konrad Krajewski, one of the new cardinals, celebrated receiving the red hat by offering a dinner for several hundred poor in the Vatican cafeteria. Pope Francis surprised everyone by dropping in and he chatted with guests, joined the guests at table and interacted with children.

Friday, June 29, the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, patron saints of Rome, the Pope celebrated a mass in St. Peter’s Square during which there was the blessing of the palliums that are given on this day every year to the new metropolitan archbishops named since last June 29. The pallium indicates the archbishop’s authority and also his link to the See of Peter, to the Pope.

There was an interesting break with tradition at the June 29th Mass. For decades, palliums were placed on the shoulders of the new metropolitan archbishops by the Pope on this feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. In 2015 Francis changed the traditional ceremony, deciding that he would hand the palliums to the new archbishops in Rome but the public ceremony of placing the pallium on their shoulders would henceforth take place in their home dioceses with the nuncio bestowing the pallium. During Mass this year, Pope Francis did bless the palliums worn by metropolitan archbishops but, in a surprising departure, the palliums were handed in a box to the new metropolitans, not by the Pope but by a Vatican official.

Yesterday, Sunday, July 1 the Holy Father recited the noon Angelus with the 20,000 faithful in St. Peter’s Square. Technically, yesterday was the first day of a monthlong working vacation for the Holy Father. His only scheduled public appearances in July – at least for now – will be the Angelus. No weekly audiences will take place this month. However, the press office did publish his schedule today, which included some private audiences. Pope Francis has admitted he does not know how to take a real vacation and has said that work actually relaxes him.


“Birthdays are good for you! Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest!”

That little tidbit is printed on a magnet that is placed prominently on my fridge. I’ve also seen another version: “Birthdays are good for your health: the more you have, the longer you live.”

I’ve always loved birthdays and this year the celebrations were just phenomenal, beginning on Friday, the vigil of the big day, and ending last night with another amazing dinner.

Friday I met my good friend Marie for a prosecco on the terrace of the Paul VI Residence. This amazing hotel and terrace overlooks the left hand colonnade of St. Peter’s and all the adjacent buildings, the basilica, etc. Absolutely stunning! Marie works for Air Canada and gets to Rome fairly often, especially given her linguistic skills. We took photos of the view and the table being prepared for a luxurious al fresco dinner but not one of either of us! Dinner afterwards at La Vittoria.

Saturday, June 30 I had lunch with two terrific friends from Wisconsin, Bill and Vicki Thorn at the only place I celebrate a birthday lunch – La Vittoria. The owner Claudio and his wife Palmerina (whom many of you know) gave me a gorgeous orchid plant – Claudio said he personally chose it. I don’t think the photo does it justice.

Later, a drink at a café on Pza. Navona with Janet Morana, a mutual friend of ours, Geoffrey Strickland and Janet’s sister in law Teresa preceded dinner in a truly heavenly spot – I’ve written about it and posted photos – the Terrazza Borromini that overlooks Pza Navona. We were joined by U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See and my longtime friend, Callista Gingrich and by EWTN’s own (and my longtime friend!), Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo.

Superlative menu, spectacular views and, best of all, unbeatable and scintillating conversation! As you can see…

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By the way, the chef is my longtime friend Francesco Grasso, stolen away from La Scaletta over a year ago because of his culinary skills.

And the celebrations continued yesterday! Newt and Callista Gingrich and I met up at Mass last night and I was invited to join them and four friends from the States, whom I’ve also known for a few years, for drinks and dinner. We went to the Paul VI Residence for a prosecco and then to La Matriciana for dinner.

I was unable to copy the video link to this column but here’s a photo that Callista took when I was surprised with a chorus of Happy Birthday, obligingly sung by the waiters and any diners who wanted to join it.

It was late when I got back home but, as I often do after a particularly wonderful moment or event in my life, I like to find some quiet time to think about that moment or event or, in this case, the previous 48 hours.t was late when I got back home but, as I often do after a particularly wonderful moment or event in my life, I like to find some quiet time to think about that moment or event or, in this case, the previous 48 hours.

The richness of my life is indescribable. I looked at the past two days and was really overwhelmed– the friends and fun and laughter and joy and craziness and amazing food and wine just to celebrate a birthday. The sharing – sharing friends, sharing important moments and personal thoughts and feelings and stories, the things that are the essence of life.

And when I look back on so many decades that have been filled with the same richness – the richness of having been born into a wonderful, beautiful, loving, caring and sharing family. The richness of a life filled with family and friends but above all, a beautiful faith, the faith that is my beating heart, the center of my life. The richness of a life with amazing work experiences, enriching travels and so very many unique moments.

After faith, it’s all about people when you come right down to it. Our families gave us the foundation of our being, our personality, our character, but everyone else who enters our lives – for long periods, for short ones, perhaps just a few minutes – every single one of them will have given us something indelible.

And I felt that when I read the hundreds of emails and FB messages I received, reading many with tears in my eyes. Words of thanks, of blessings, of thanksgiving, of gratitude for the work I do, gratitude for the lives I am told I have touched and changed and helped. There were photos and flowers and balloons and songs and GIFs and beautiful words! Wow! Heartfelt thanks and prayers for each of you!

So how could my birthday have been anything less than phenomenal!



The Vatican today released the papal schedule of liturgical celebrations for June, July and August. There are a few notable changes in June.

This coming Sunday, June 3, solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ – Corpus Christi – Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in the seaside town of Ostia, not at St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome as has been customary. Mass will be at the church of St. Monica and the Corpus Christi procession from that church to Our Lady of Bonaria for the Eucharistic Benediction.

A note from the vicariate of Rome relative to this year’s celebration of Corpus Christi says: “’For more than 40 years Corpus Christi has been celebrated at St. John Lateran,’ writes the bishop responsible for the southern quarter of the diocese of Rome. ‘One tradition is interrupted but another resumes. In fact, until 1978, with Paul VI this feast took part in various parts of the city and it was precisely in 1968 that Pope Montini celebrated it in Ostia’.”

JUNE 28 – CONSISTORY TO CREATE NEW CARDINALS: Although Pope Francis announced June 29 as the day he would hold a consistory to create new cardinals, that consistory will now be held on Thursday, June 28 at 4 pm in St. Peter’s Basilica.

In the past, a consistory to create new cardinals has taken place in the morning and the traditional courtesy visits to the new cardinals take place that afternoon. We’ll have to see what the Vatican has in mind for these visits.

JUNE 29 – PALLIUMS BLESSED FOR NEW METROPOLITAN ARCHBISHOPS:  What will take place on June 29, solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, is the traditional papal Mass and blessing of the palliums that the new metropolitan archbishops named in the last year will receive. The palliums will be formally placed on the shoulders of the metropolitans in their home dioceses at a date to be determined.



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

(by Vaticannews.va)

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.




Tomorrow, June 28, as you know, Pope Francis will hold a consistory to name 5 new cardinals, bringing the members of the College of Cardinals to 225. Of these, 121 are under 80 years and can participate in a conclave.  The ceiling for the number of cardinal electors is 120 but popes have gone over that number a handful of times.

The new cardinals are from Mali, Spain, Sweden, Laos and El Salvador.

After Wednesday’s consistory, the 4th of Francis’ papacy, of the cardinal electors, 19 will have been appointed by St. John Paul II, 53 by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and 49 by Pope Francis.  Compared to the College of Cardinals in March 2013 when Francis was elected, today there are fewer cardinals from Europe and North America and slightly more in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Oceania.  Italy still has the greatest number of cardinal electors with 24. Next, with 10 electors, is the United States, then France with 5, and Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Poland and India, with four each.

I was privileged to interview one of the new cardinals this afternoon, Sweden’s Cardinal Anders Arborelius. He is a lovely, down to earth person whom you feel you have known for a long time, and he speaks six languages! He has been the bishop of Stockholm since 1998. He is not only the first ever cardinal from Sweden, he is the first ever cardinal from Scandinavia.

He was born in Switzerland of Swedish parents, grew up Lutheran, converted to Catholicism, wanted to be a diocesan priest but became a Discalced Carmelite, after reading Saint Therese of Lisieux’s autobiography, The Story of a Soul.

KTLA photo of Pope and Bishop Arborelius during visit to Sweden – Mass at Swedbank:

I’ll let you know when that interview will air on “Vatican Insider”!!


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Tuesday morning in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace, together with the members of the College of Cardinals present in the city, in order to mark the 25th jubilee of his ordination to the episcopacy.

The Dean of the College of Cardinals offered greetings and best wishes to Pope Francis on the occasion, recalling the words of St. Paul the Apostle in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, “Make room for us in your hearts,”

Cardinal Sodano said. “Holy Father, you need not tell us to make room for you in our hearts,” pledging all the love and reverence due the Successor to Peter.

In remarks following the Readings of the Day, the first of which was taken from the Book of Genesis, recounting the episode in which Abraham and Lot part ways, Pope Francis focused on the three imperatives that God gives the Father of Faith: “Arise!” “Look out!” “Be hopeful!”

“When Abraham was called, he was more or less our age,” Pope Francis said to the elder statesmen of the Church. “He was going to retire, to go into retirement for some rest – he started out at that age.” “An old man,” the Pope continued, “with the weight of old age, old age that brings pain, illness – but [God said to him], as if he were a young man, ‘Get up, go, go! As if he were a scout: go! Look and hope!’”

The Holy Father went on to say that the message God gave to Abraham in that day, He also gives to each of those present in this day: to be on the way, about the journey; to look toward the ever-retreating horizon, and to hope without stint, despite it all.

“There are those, who do not love us, who say that we are the ‘Gerontocracy’ of the Church. This is mere mockery. Whoever says so knows not what he says. We are not tired old fools [It. geronti]: we are grandfathers. And if we do not feel this, we must ask the grace to feel that it is so. We are grandfathers, to whom our grandchildren look – grandparents who, with our experience, must share with those grandchildren a sense of what life is really about – grandparents not closed off in melancholy over our salad days, but open to give this [gift] of meaning, of sense. For us, then, this threefold imperative: ‘Arise! Look outward! Hope!” is called ‘dreaming’. We are grandfathers called to dream and to pass on our dream to today’s youth: they need it, that they might take from our dreams the power to prophesy and carry on their work.”

After the Mass, the Holy Father greeted the Cardinal-concelebrants one-by-one. He also greeted members of the household staff and the professional staff of the Secretariat for Communications, who had done the live Vatican Radio commentary for the liturgy in several languages, including English.