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

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

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

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

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

And it was.

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

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

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

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


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

By Devin Watkins

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

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

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

Yearning for peace in creativity

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

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

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

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

Young people engaged in climate crisis

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

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

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

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

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

Earth crying out for peace

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

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

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

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

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

Discovering the spiritual roots of peace

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

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

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

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


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

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


It is not my intention in these days to be a one-person reporter for Pope Francis’ jam-packed schedule for his ongoing visit to Cyprus and then his weekend departure for and visit of Greece. EWTN news has interesting reports and photos, as does the Vatican news portal. For photos and videos of the papal, trip, here are links to events from today: Pope at Holy Synod: Differences are not irreconcilable – Vatican News and Pope at Mass in Cyprus: Only together can we be healed from blinding darkness – Vatican News

What I will bring you today in my feature report of the papal trip are bits and pieces of history, and some astonishing facts about the places that the Holy Father has visited so far. It’s a kind of “everything you wanted to know about Cyprus but were afraid to ask”!

When the Vatican prepares a papal trip, that preparation includes an amazing booklet for the media that is an encyclopedia of information – a thousand facts, small and large, about people, places, buildings, etc, the time difference between Rome and the locale visited, the time differences that might occur within a given country, info on all the people involved in a visit – civil and religious leaders, diplomats, etc.

I have used a lot of that detailed information in my report below, as well as some information and photos from when I was in Cyprus for Pope Benedict’s trip in June 2010.

Probably the only thing the booklet leaves out is a list of good restaurants! But then, finding those restaurants is the fun part for the media (if and when they even have time for a decent meal)!


This week, in what is normally the interview segment. I present part II of my special on St. Peter’s Basilica. You will remember that November 18th we celebrated the liturgical feast of the dedication of the basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul’s Outside the Walls. Two weeks ago I guided you through the basilica of St. Paul’s and last week, in Part I, I explored the equally historical and stunning St. Peter’s Basilica. Today we continue that visit.

I usually post photos at this point when I announce a guest or a Special in the interview segment but I am spending time today on photos from Cyprus in the following article. I’ll pay you back in future days with some pretty special pictures taken on a day when I spent over an hour exploring the basilica in relative calm with very few, in fact hardly any, visitors.

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 serarching in the SEARCH box. Below that, will appear “Vatican Insider” – click on that and the link to that particular episode will appear.


Cyprus, of course, is the island intimately associated with Sts. Paul and Barnabas and, as you will discover, St. Lazarus! It is featured a number of times in the Bible and is, though not everyone knows it, part of what we call the Holy Land.

Following are some of the more interesting facts about people and places in Cyprus that you may not have known about. As I wrote above, these are taken from the Vatican’s booklet for the media on the papal trip and from information I learned in 2010 when I covered Benedict XVI’s trip to Cyprus.

The small island republic of Cyprus with 850,000 inhabitants has been independent since 1960 but has been divided since 1974 when Muslim majority Turkey invaded and occupied the northern 37 percent of this Mediterranean island. The rest of Cyprus – 81 percent – is Christian: about 78 percent are Orthodox and only 3 percent are Catholic. Either question – the religious one or the political one – at both national and international levels – is complex. The Turkish occupied part of the Republic of Cyprus is known as the Turkish northern Republic of Cyprus but only and solely to Turkey – not the UN or any other country. Pope Benedict visited in 2010. This is still the scenario – in a very small nutshell – for the papal trip. Cyprus is a member of the European Union.

There has been is a UN peacekeeping force since 1964 on Cyprus in what is known as the UN buffer zone between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot parts of the island. After the 1974 events, the U.N. extended and expanded the mission to prevent a possible war, in addition to just trying to keep the military status quo. For decades the U.N. and others have tried to find a diplomatic solution for the divided island.

The capital Nicosia is right in the center of the island of Cyprus, the third largest island in the Mediterranean. In 1974, after the invasion of the Turks, it found itself divided into two parts, Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot, by a Green Line, a demarcation boundary consisting of barbed wire and some sections of walls, within which there is an area patrolled by the U.N. Blue Helmet peacekeeping force. Capital since 965, Nicosia is the only divided capital city in all of Europe.

During the Third Crusade in 1187, Nicosia ​​was defeated by Richard the Lionhearted and sold to the Knights Templar who controlled it until the revolt of the Nicosians in 1192. Later, the capital was ruled by the Lusignan kings until 1489, by the Venetians (1489-1571), by the Ottoman Empire (1571-1878) and by the British from 1878 until 1960, the year in which Cyprus achieved independence. In 1974, a Greek military junta attempted a coup d’état, trying to overthrow the government of Cyprus and annex the island to Greece. Turkey responded by invading the country and taking control of the northern part of the island and the northern part of Nicosia. In 1983, the Turks of the north proclaim independence: the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is born, recognized by the Ankara government but not by the international community.

The papal plane landed at Larnaca airport yesterday, December 2, at 3 pm, local time. Interestingly enough, the first bishop of Larnaca was Jesus’ friend St. Lazarus, who settled in the city after the miracle of his resurrection. His tomb is located in the church named for him and built in the eighth century by Emperor Leo VI the Wise.

The Pope is staying at the apostolic nunciature, as is traditional on papal trips. The nunciature was established on February 13, 1973 with Pope St. Paul’s brief “Id semper fuit.” It is located in the Holy Cross Franciscan Convent complex owned by the Custody of the Holy Land, whose friars have been working since the 13th century century on the island, and includes the only Latin Catholic church in Cyprus, the parish church of Holy Cross. The building is located in the so-called “no man’s land, “a United Nations controlled area, located along the “green line”, between the lines of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot military personnel.

This morning, Friday, December 3, the Holy Father went to the Orthodox archbishopric to pay a courtesy visit to Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos I of Cyprus. In an interesting bit of history, the archbishop’s palace was built between 1956 and 1960 by archbishop Makarios III who, honored with a marble statue in the palace courtyard. became the first president of Cyprus!

Pope Francis this afternoon went to Holy Cross church for a meeting with migrants.

I was outside this church in 2010 for Pope Benedict’s visit and it has an interesting story. It is just east of the Paphos Gate, inside the ancient city walls of Nicosia, and its rear wall borders the United Nations buffer zone that separates the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot parts of Cyrpus. Built on a previous church of 1642, the first stone of the current building was placed on April 8, 1900 thanks to the Spanish Royal Family and the Franciscan Friars. Inside,on the ceiling, is the Spanish royal coat of arms and, under the rose window. the coat of arms of the Custody of the Holy Land.

I learned today from colleagues in Cyprus with the papal trip that the scenario for Franis’ visit to Holy Cross was basically the same today as it was 11 years ago for Pope Benedict: U.N. peacekeeping forces keeping a strict vigil over the church and environs given that it is located in the so-called “no man’s land,” the U.N.-controlled buffer zone between the northern Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus (and of the city of Nicosia) and the Greek Cypriot part of the island.

The media not on the papal plane had to remain outside the gated and protected and surveiled square in front of Holy Cross church. As ecclesial guests arrived, they were checked into the compound by guards. I am guessing it was the same today. Here are 20 of the photos I took then, just to give you an idea:

As Pope Francis moves from place to place in Cyprus that I have seen, I am re-living my unforgettable 2010 adventure. I’ve re-read all of the blogs I posted and have seen every one of my hundreds of photo, including many wonderful close-ups of Pope Benedict.




As you probably know, at 3pm today, local time, Pope Francis landed in Cyprus for the start of a 5-day trip to Cyprus and Greece. Pope Benedict XVI visited this island in June 2010.

Yesterday, as is his habit before an apostolic trip, the Holy Father went to St. Mary Major basilica to pray for the successful outcome of his trip before the beloved image of Salus populi romani. The Vatican provided a photo:

This morning, before leaving the Casa Santa Marta residence in the Vatican, Pope Francis greeted about 12 refugees accompanied by the papal almsgiver, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski. The migrants, now residing in Italy, are from Syria, Congo, Somalia and Afghanistan. They had spent some transitional time in the Lesbos camp that Pope Francis had visited in 2016 and when they arrived Rome they were welcomed and cared for by the Sant’Egidio Community. Among them, some had come to Rome with the Pope on the papal plane from the Greek island of Lesbos in 2016.

After leaving the Vatican, enroute to the airport, the Pope stopped at the parish of Santa Maria degli Angeli near Fiumicino Airport, where he prayed in front of the image of Our Lady of Loreto and met about 15 refugees hosted from the parish. Our Lady of Loreto is the patron saint of pilots and airline workers.

Francis today travelled for the first time on the new Italian state airline ITA, after the demise in October of Alitalia, the national airline that had accompanied popes on trips for decades. Written on the side of the plane in large lettering were the words “Born in 2021!”

Aboard the plane, press office director Matteo Bruni told the Pope that the 77 journalists accompanying him, including 7 from Cyprus and Greece, were happy to be travelling with him again, to which Francis replied: “Thank you! Good morning and thank you very much for your company. It is a beautiful journey, and we will also touch some sores. I hope we can all welcome all the messages we find. Thank you very much for your company!”

After a private welcome ceremony Thursday afternoon at Larnaca airport, the Holy Father went to the capital of Nicosia where he met with religious, deacons, catechists and ecclesial associations and movements in the Maronite cathedral of Our Lady of Graces.   The Maronites have been on Cyprus since 686. At 6 pm local time (Cyprus is one hour ahead of Rome), the Pope went to the presidential palace for a meeting with civil authorities and members of the diplomatic corps.

(All segments of the papal trip can be followed online at the Vatican site News from the Vatican – News about the Church – Vatican News This includes live video during an event. Tomorrow’s schedule includes: 8:30 am COURTESY VISIT TO THE ORTHODOX ARCHBISHOP OF CYPRUS CHRYSOSTOMOS II at the Orthodox Archbishopric of Cyprus; 9 am, MEETING WITH THE HOLY SYNOD at the Orthodox Cathedral in Nicosia; 10 am, MASS at the “GSP Stadium” in Nicosia and, at 4 pm, ECUMENICAL PRAYER WITH MIGRANTS at the parish church of the Holy Cross in Nicosia. Calculate the time difference between where you live and the local time in Cyprus and Greece. EWTN will be transmitting a number of events)



Having four days off in a row is such a special time, more so, of course, when it occurs because of an important holiday such as Thanksgiving.

This past Thursday I had so many great joys. The day started with Mass at St. Patrick’s and, at the end of Mass, the chargé d’affaires at the U.S. embassy to the Holy See, Patrick Connell, read President Biden’s Thanksgiving Proclamation. Seeing so many friends on a Thursday, a work day here, of course, was wonderful!

After Mass I went to Homebaked for brunch and picked up an entire Thanksgiving dinner that I had ordered days earlier from Jesse. Most of this week he spent baking all sorts of pies and blueberry muffins, filling orders for family turkey dinners and planning a lot of single Thanksgiving dinners such as the one I ordered.

If you don’t prepare a turkey dinner at home, you don’t have leftovers and, for me at least, leftovers are implicit in Thanksgiving! So I had my second turkey dinner on Friday (although I always eat fish on Fridays but made an exception). It was pouring rain and turning cold and so staying home with turkey and stuffing was the logical choice.

At 5pm I went to NAC, the North American College, for the first time in almost 21 months!! The seminarians, at the start of the Covid outbreak last year had gone back home to the U.S. or Australia, and then, throughout 2020 and up to this Thanksgiving Day, all events that involved guests – Thanksgiving Day, the December 8 celebration of the Immaculate Conception and the annual springtime Rector’s Dinner – were cancelled. As were the weekly Wednesday lunches to which guests are invited.

Mass in NAC’s beautiful chapel started the Thanksgiving celebrations. The rector, Fr. Peter Harman, in fact, in brief remarks at this turkey dinner, stressed the excitement everyone felt at finally being able to invite guests to the College! And it was indeed a special evening, a superb dinner and the magnificent pumpkin pies, paraded in by the fifth year students. I was seated at the California table. On Thanksgiving Day, tables are arranged by states with seminarians at NAC. Sometimes two states may share a table.

We’ve had rain here every day since Thanksgiving and the greyness is starting to weigh on people. The temps have gone down quite a bit and all of a sudden it is winter coat weather.   The positive side of rain and this kind of weather, however, is that it is conducive to taking care of a lot of projects around the house (and a few errands outside) and even to finding some extra time for something like reading! Sitting down for an hour or two and not feeling guilty because of other things on your daily agenda, including work!

Thanksgiving Day, as I was waiting at the bus stop outside our apartment building, I saw something fascinating on what is always advertisement space. Seems there is a campaign to provide people with something to read as they wait for or travel on a bus. I clicked on the QR code and downloaded a short story by one of the Grimm brothers! As you can see, it is supposed to be a 20-minute read. What a great idea! Or should I say, what a novel idea!

As I went out for dinner Saturday night, I read a new sign posted inside our building that said our doorman Carlo had Covid! Our building is being renovated, as you know, and all of the perhaps two dozen workers – with whom Carlo interacts daily – had to have Covid tests as did Vittorio at the nearby tabacchi store where Carlo and Francesco, another doorman, and several others gather daily.

Sunday, of course, was the start of Advent, a season I’ve always loved, a season of anxiety but also joy as we await the birth of our Savior, Jesus. I usually spend Sunday afternoons preparing a brief segment for each Monday’s edition of “At Home with Jim and Joy.” I either focus on their topic of the week or bring them breaking news from the Vatican. Tune in on a Monday and drop me a line!

The big news this week will be Pope Francis’ trip to Cyprus and Greece that starts Thursday, December 2 with his flight to Nicosia. I’d love to be reporting on that as I have terrific memories of my time in June 2010 to cover Pope Benedict’s trip to Cyprus, and in fact, just re-read several of my blogs on that apostolic journey. I also reported several times a day for EWTN’s Open Line radio program and did TV coverage as well.

Just a few post -Thanksgiving thoughts….





POPE RECEIVES CROATIAN PRESIDENT ZORAN MILANOVIĆ: Pope Francis on Monday received Zoran Milanović, president of the Republic of Croatia, who also met Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States. A Vatican statement said, “ During the cordial discussions, the parties expressed their appreciation for the good existing bilateral relations, and the intention to further develop collaboration. They also discussed several international and regional issues, including the situation of the Croatian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina.” (source: vaticannews)

POPE CALLS SECULAR FRANCISCANS TO CLOSENESS, COMPASSION, TENDERNESS: Pope Francis addressed the Secular Franciscan Order in Rome for their General Chapter, expressing his hope that they might fight for justice, work for an integral ecology, collaborate in missionary projects, and become artisans of peace and witnesses of the Beatitudes. He also “recalled some elements proper to your vocation and mission” such as “the universal call to holiness.” Francis noted that secular Franciscans are “men and women committed to living in the world according to the Franciscan charism,” and expressed his hope that “your secularity be full of closeness, compassion, and tenderness,” and they be “men and women of hope,” committed to “living” their secularity, but also ”organising it, translating it into the concrete situations of every day, into human relationships, into social and political commitment; nourishing hope in tomorrow by alleviating the pain of today.”

ITINERARY RELEASED FOR PAPAL TRIP TO CYPRUS, GREECE: Pope Francis will be travelling to Cyprus and Greece from December 2 to 6, embarking on his next international apostolic journey to the two nations. The Holy See Press Office released his planned schedule over the five days that includes a busy schedule of meetings with local authorities, Church leaders, liturgical celebrations and ecumenical encounters. The Pope will also return to Greece’s Lesbos island to visit with migrants. For full vaticannews story: Itinerary released for Pope’s journey to Cyprus and Greece – Vatican News

POPE TO VISIT FLORENCE TO MEET BISHOPS AND MAYORS OF THE MEDITERRANEAN: The Vatican announced today that Pope Francis will travel to Florence, Italy on February 27, 2022, for a meeting dedicated to issues and dynamics that are particularly relevant and of impact for cities, towns, and communities bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The meeting will include mayors, the highest-ranking officials of Mediterranean cities. Francis will also meet with families of refugees and migrants. Francis previous to Florence was in 2015 when he participated in the V National Convention of the Italian Bishops’ Conference. Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, expressed “deep gratitude” to the Pope for “this gesture of attention towards the initiative that involves the ecclesial and civil communities of the Mediterranean.” (source:vaticannews)