Since so many of you – family members, friends and fans – have been in touch with me these many weeks and months with questions about the trip to Italy that you had to postpone from this spring, or a trip you have on your agenda for this fall, I am trying to follow events in both Italy and Europe as much as I can to bring you the latest news and updated information on travel.
When possible I will do so on a daily basis (see below). And, of course, anything can change on a daily basis. A number of airlines, for example, do not yet know when they can resume direct service to Italy.
I really am looking forward to saying WELCOME in coming months, to sharing a cappucino in Pza. Navona or a glass of red wine and a delicious dinner al fresco in one of Rome’s many splendid restaurants!
GENERAL AUDIENCE: THE INTERCESSORY PRAYER OF MOSES
As has been the case for months now, this week’s general audience took place at 9:30 in the library of the Apostolic Palace, and Pope Francis dedicated his ongoing catecheses series on prayer to the prayer of Moses.
He delivers the principal catechesis in Italian and summaries are then given by multi-lingual staff members of the Secretariat of State, as are language greetings by the Pope.
The Holy Father began by noting, “In our continuing catechesis on prayer, we now consider the prayer of Moses. The book of Exodus portrays Moses – from a human point of view – as a failure. Yet at a certain point in his life, he encounters God in the wilderness.
“From a burning bush,” said Francis, “the Lord calls Moses to return to Egypt in order to lead his people to freedom. But Moses, faced with the majesty of Almighty God and his demands, resists the call, protesting his unsuitability for such a great task.
“Nevertheless,” explained the Pope, “God entrusts him with the responsibility of conveying the divine law to the people of Israel, and Moses becomes their great intercessor, especially when they are tempted or have sinned.”
Stating that we too can become intercessors, Pope Francis concluded: “With hands outstretched to God, Moses makes of himself a kind of bridge between earth and heaven, pleading for the people when they are most in need. In this way he prefigures Jesus, our great intercessor and high priest. We Christians are also called to share in this type of prayer, interceding for those who need God’s help, and for the redemption of the whole world.”
FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE MUST BE RESPECTED ALWAYS AND EVERYWHERE
Marking the Day of Conscience, inspired by the witness of Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes, Pope Francis appeals that freedom of conscience be respected always and everywhere.
By Vatican News
During his general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis recalled that June 17 marks the “Day of Conscience”.
The day was inspired by the testimony of Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes, who, eighty years ago, decided to follow his conscience, and in doing so, saved the lives of thousands of Jews and many others who were being persecuted.
In his words on Wednesday, the Pope appealed that “freedom of conscience always and everywhere be respected”. “May every Christian”, he said, “give an example of the consistency of an upright conscience enlightened by the Word of God.”
Aristides de Sousa Mendes’ act of conscience was deeply embedded in his Catholic faith. It led him to disregard the direct orders of his government to help those in need.
During the Second World War, de Sousa Mendes, despite knowing the consequences he would face for his actions, issued visas to all refugees regardless of nationality, race, religion, or political opinions.
“I could not have acted otherwise”
This sense of humanity and courage led to his ostracization from the world in which he had lived. He was unable to continue his job as a diplomat and was forbidden from earning a living in order to support his family. His children, too, were prevented from finding gainful employment.
He spent the rest of his life trying to clear his name but was ignored by the Portuguese political regime at the time.
Aristides de Sousa Mendes died in poverty on April 3rd, 1954 at the Franciscan Hospital in Lisbon. But even at the end of his life he knew his actions had been justified in saving thousands of innocent lives. As he put it himself, “I could not have acted otherwise, and I, therefore, accept all that has befallen me with love.”
ITALY AND TRAVEL IN THE COVID ERA: UPDATES AND INFO
There is a very interesting and helpful website put up by the EU, the European Union, that answers all (or most) of your questions about travel to and within the EU. The site is called “Re-open EU” and, as it describes itself, it contains regularly updated information available in 24 languages: https://reopen.europa.eu/en/map/ITA
Users may select their preferred language and country of destination on the website, click on “go!” and find an interactive map providing the latest information on key point for travellers, such as: Is travel into the country for tourism purposes possible? Are non-essential (other than medicine and food) shops open? Are there any risk areas under lockdown in this country? And much more!
For example, in Italy (see below), the health situation is qualified as “green” by the EU at this point, which means that there are no areas in the country that are currently under lockdown.
You might be interested to learn that there is now a very interesting app in Italy called “Immuni” that, in the several days since it ended its test period in 4 Italian regions and has gone nationwide, has been uploaded by 2.5 million people in Italy. It is also now available in English. The app sends a notification to people who were in close contact with a user who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, alerting them of the risk of infection. Thanks to Bluetooth Low Energy technology, this takes place without the app gathering any date on the identity or location of its users: https://www.immuni.italia.it/?gclid=CjwKCAjw_qb3BRAVEiwAvwq6Vn8g8R-ShI6xbfm-mXFg_wUORJLlQDtKNk_Y7QkqgPIItypR22Um_BoC3CoQAvD_BwE
And here’s a link to all the travel info I posted yesterday on Joan’s Rome (and reposted in my Facebook page: facebook.com /joan.lewis.10420): https://joansrome.wordpress.com/2020/06/16/travel-in-a-covid-era-face-masks-forms-and-fewer-bags-italys-new-rules-on-flying-which-airlines-are-restarting-flights-to-italy-in-june/