In a letter to the Catholics of Scotland, released on Thursday, Pope Francis prayed for “wisdom and strength” for leaders at the COP26 meeting on the environment, warning that “this occasion must not be wasted, lest we have to face God’s judgment for our failure to be faithful stewards of the world He has entrusted to our care. …Time is running out.”</strong

Pope Francis expressed his regret at being unable to attend the Conference in Scotland and to meet with Scottish Catholics. However, he said, he was grateful to the faithful for “joining in prayer for my intentions and for the fruitful outcome” of the meeting, which is facing one of “the great moral issues of our time: the preservation of God’s creation, given to us as a garden to be cultivated and as a common home for our human family.”

In his letter dated November 9, the Holy Father noted that on that date, “we celebrate the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica which, as the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, symbolizes the Church’s communion in faith and charity with the See of Peter. It is deeply moving to me that on this day I can express to you, and to all the Catholics of Scotland, my affection in the Lord and my encouragement to persevere in your proven fidelity to the Lord and his Church. I greet each of you from my heart, and I assure you of my prayers for you and your families, for the young, the elderly, the sick and those who in any way are suffering the effects of the pandemic.”

In these challenging times, he said, “may all Christ’s followers in Scotland renew their commitment to be convincing witnesses to the joy of the Gospel and its power to bring light and hope to every effort to build a future of justice, fraternity and prosperity, both material and spiritual.”


The Holy See Press Office, early Thursday evening, released the Holy See statement on COP26:

“The Holy See Delegation has brought the concerns of Pope Francis for our common home before the participants of the COP26, emphasizing the human face of the climate crisis, its impact on the poorest and those who have done the least to cause it.

“The ambitious commitments made by States to limit the rise of the global average temperature to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels and to provide the needed financial resources to do so are promising and indeed essential for the survival of the most vulnerable communities.

(Vaticannews file photo: An activist outside the venue in Glasgow where the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference is taking place  (AFP or licensors))

“The Holy See Delegation appreciates the commitments that States have made in their pledges. While there is more to be done, it is important to be proactive in finding effective ways to implement the pledges made.

“During these two weeks, various “gaps” have emerged in the fields of mitigation, adaptation and financing. The resources made available for these three aspects, which are fundamental for achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement, will need to be strengthened and renewed in order to achieve these goals. The Holy See hopes that COP26 can reach an agreement on a clear roadmap to close these gaps soon, with developed countries taking the lead.

“The issue of loss and damage is particularly critical to those communities that are most vulnerable to climate change, as was also recognized in the joint appeal by faith leaders and scientists on 4th October. Pope Francis has clearly emphasized the ecological debt and the solidarity that industrialized countries owe to the poor (Laudato Si’, n. 51 and 52).

“The Holy See Delegation hopes that the final decisions of this Conference may be inspired by a genuine sense of responsibility towards present and future generations, as well as the care of our common home, and that these decisions may truly respond to the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor (Laudato Si’, n. 49). “Time is running out: this occasion must not be wasted.” (Letter of Pope Francis to the Catholics of Scotland).”



POPE FRANCIS INAUGURATES A NEW CYCLE OF STUDIES AT THE PONTIFICAL LATERAN UNIVERSITY. The courses are dedicated to ecological and environmental issues, in conjunction with the Patriarchate of Constantinople and UNESCO. In his speech, the Pontiff underlined that the complexity of the ecological crisis requires responsibility, concreteness, and competence. In the presence of Patriarch Bartholomew I and Audrey Azoulay, Director of UNESCO, Pope Francis issued a stark warning: As the COP26 conference draws nearer, he said, there is the awareness that “the harm we are doing to the planet is no longer limited to climate damage, water, and soil, but now threatens life itself on earth.” In the face of this, he underlined, “it is not enough to repeat statements of principle that make us feel good.” No, he added, “the complexity of the ecological crisis, in fact, demands responsibility, concreteness, and competence.” Pope at Lateran: Damage to earth threatens life itself – Vatican News

PAPAL LETTER TO LATERAN UNIVERSITY CHANCELLOR. Pope Francis has penned a letter to Cardinal Angelo de Donatis, Grand Chancellor of Rome’s Pontifical Lateran University, on the establishment of a cycle of studies in Ecology and the Environment: Care of our Common Home and Protection of Creation, Pope Francis noted that in being called to educate in responsibility towards the gifts of creation, “the Church also fulfils her commitment in forming the true meaning of every action aimed at preserving, protecting and guaranteeing life on and of the earth”. Pope: Environmental studies are beneficial to all – Vatican News

POPE RECEIVES OUTGOING GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is on her farewell visit to the Italian capital Rome, was received by Pope Francis and later met with Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Gallagher. “During the cordial discussions, appreciation was expressed for the good existing bilateral relations and the fruitful collaboration between the Holy See and Germany,” the Press Office said in a communique. The two sides then reviewed “matters of mutual interest in the international and regional spheres, agreeing on the advisability of relaunching cooperation to address the multiple crises underway, with particular reference to the consequences of the health emergency and migration”. More on Merkel: Pope receives in audience outgoing German Chancellor Merkel – Vatican News

FRANCIS MEETS ST. IRENAEUS WORK GROUP. Pope Francis met with members of the St. Irenaeus Joint Orthodox-Catholic Working Group, gathered together in Rome for its annual session. He expressed gratitude for their theological work in the service of communion between Catholics and Orthodox faithful, and highlighted the importance of cultivating a unity “enriched by differences that will not yield to the temptation of a bland uniformity.” Francis then announced his intention to declare Irenaeus a Doctor of the Church with the title Doctor unitatis – Doctor of Unity. Pope: Ecumenical dialogue must be grounded in a reflection of synodality – Vatican News

POPE FRANCIS ATTENDS AN INTERNATIONAL MEETING FOR PEACE AT COLOSSEUM. The St. Egidio Community has held a two-day peace meeting in Rome that was attended by numerous faith leaders from across the globe. The 35th International Meeting for Peace concluded on Thursday evening with a prayer for peace at the Colosseum that was attended by Pope Francis. Held on the theme, “Peoples as Brothers, Future Earth,” the event saw the participation of religious leaders from Christianity, Islam, Hebraism, Buddhism, Tenrikyo, Hinduism, and Sikhism. Pope Francis wrapped up the Prayer for Peace meeting attended by hundreds of people from various faith traditions. Ahead of a moment of silence for the victims of all wars, the Pope offered the concluding address for the event, asking God to “demilitarize the human heart.” He opened his address praising the many people who traveled to Rome this week to show that prayer is a “quiet source of strength which brings peace and disarms hate-filled hearts.” Pope prays for peace with faith leaders: ‘Demilitarize our hearts!’ – Vatican News


As I was taping a TV segment this afternoon on the rooftop terrace of the building where EWTN offices are located, a huge, extraordinarily colorful, long-lasting rainbow appeared over Rome! One of my colleagues took this photo but it truly does not capture the magical beauty of the rainbow or the way that many of Rome’s buildings became brightly lit in a golden hue against a sky filled with dark gray clouds in the fading sun.

Pope Francis this afternoon in the Santa Marta residence, received former U.N. chief Kofi Annan and members of the NGO, The Elders.

Pope Francis on Monday drew attention to the serious damage that war causes to the environment, and urged all take care of it for future generations.  In a post on his Twitter account @Pontifex, Pope Francis wrote: “War always causes serious damage to the environment. We must not mistreat our common home, but take care of it for future generations.”

The Pope’s tweet came on Nov. 6 to mark the United Nations’ International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. The environment is a favourite theme with Pope Francis, who has dedicated an entire encyclical to it entitled: “’Laudato Sii’, On Care For Our Common Home”.

In a separate message, the UN chief also urged for the protection of the environment especially in times of armed conflict, saying it is “an essential pillar of peace, security  and sustainable development.”  “War is a dirty business.  Smoke plumes from burning oil wells, looted industrial facilities, abandoned munitions and collapsed buildings are among the hallmarks of conflict,” UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres wrote in a message for Monday’s observance.

For that Message, click here: http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-un-urge-protection-of-environment-in-armed-co


A news report has said that Archbishop Roche was involved in a commission looking at the possibility of an “ecumenical Mass”.

The Vatican has strongly denied reports that a commission has been established examining the possibility of a setting up an “ecumenical Mass” that would allow Catholics and Protestants to celebrate a shared Eucharist.

Archbishop Arthur Roche, the number two official at the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, told The Tablet that reports of a joint Mass were “utterly false,” while Greg Burke, director of the Holy See Press Office, described them as “simply untrue.” (Source: The Tablet)


(Vatican Radio) Catholic schools and churches across the United Kingdom will be floodlit red to highlight the plight of persecuted Christians across the world.

At least ten cathedrals will take part in the #RedWednesday initiative organised by the Aid to the Church in Need charity on November 22 which aims to promote faith and tolerance in society, stand in solidarity with victims of persecution, and oppose violence and oppression carried out in the name of religion.

Organisers – who chose red to symbolise martyrdom and suffering – are appealing for public buildings to be floodlit on the day. Among the schools and churches that have already pledged to take part are England’s National Shrine of Our Lady, Walsingham, Cardinal Newman High School, Bellshill, St Columba’s Church, Inverness, and St Joseph’s, Pontefract.

Patricia Hatton from ACN said: “#RedWednesday is a unique opportunity to stand up for faith and freedom in this country and around the world and to shine a light on the persecution of Christians and other faith groups today.

“Together let’s make a stand for faith and freedom and help Christians and others – especially in the Middle East – who urgently need our support this Christmas.”

The charity is inviting people to a prayer service in Westminster Cathedral Piazza on November 22 at 6pm, which will be preceded by music, film and personal testimonies. They ask for those attending to wear something red.

For more information, visit acnuk.org/campaign/redwednesday



For those of you interested in what appears to be the most awaited papal document in decades, namely, Pope Francis’ “Laudato si” encyclical on the environment, the wait will be over Thursday morning at 12 noon.

A leaked version, an early draft, appeared on the website of an Italian news magazine and the journalist associated with that magazine, who made it available on his webpage and emailed it to his followers, has had his credentials suspended by the Vatican for breaking the embargo – namely, tomorrow morning at 12 at the press conference that accompanies the publication.

The journalist, Sandro Magister, said it was his superior who received and published the document and he was merely re-transmitting it.

Personally, as a journalist accredited to the Holy See, I understand the embargo as meaning I cannot publish the item in question before the embargo day and hour, no matter how I got the document – licitly via the Vatican’s embargoed web site, using my name and password, or in another manner.

Holy See Press Office director, Fr. Lombardi, said in a statement: “An Italian text of a draft of the Pope’s Encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ has been published. Please note that it is not the final text, and that the rules of the Embargo remain in place. We ask journalists to respect professional standards, which call for waiting for the official publication of the final text.”

The Vatican released the following on its news sites:

Accredited journalists have been informed that on Thursday, June 18, 2015 at 11 am in the New Synod Hall in Vatican City, a press conference will be held for the presentation of His Holiness Pope Francis’ Encyclical “- On the Care of our Common Home.”

The speakers will be: – Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson , President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; – His Eminence Metropolitan John ( Zizioulas ) of Pergamon, representing the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Orthodox Church; – Prof. John Schellnhuber , Founding Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research; – Dr. Carolyn Woo , CEO and President of Catholic Relief Services and former dean of the Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame, U.S.A.

A simultaneous translation service will be available in Italian, French, English, Spanish and from German. Following the presentations by the Speakers, a limited time will be available for questions from journalists.

The Vatican Television Centre will produce images live from the Press Conference. Additionally, the press conference may be followed via live audio-video streaming on the site: http://player.rv.va/ (Vatican Player of the Vatican Radio), where it will subsequently remain available on demand  – or on the CTV YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ctvaticano , which offers only direct streaming during the event. Direct links to the same addresses are provided on the official site: vatican.va

The Encyclical is to be considered under full embargo until noon on Thursday, 18 June 2015.

Accredited journalists will find the text of the Encyclical in PDF format in the Reserved Area of the Holy See Press Office Bulletin web page from 6 p.m. Wednesday 17 June in Italian, French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish and Arabic. In addition, an extensive summary of the Encyclical will be available on the site, in the same languages.

The paper copy of the Encyclical – in Italian, English and Spanish, at least – will be available to accredited journalists at the Press Office from 9 a.m. Thursday 18 June.

Note regarding access to the Synod Hall for journalists: Interested journalists, cameramen and photographers can request accreditation by email at accreditamenti@pressva.va . Those who are already accredited at the Press Office are invited to indicate their participation at the Accreditations Office, no later than Tuesday 16 June . Access to the Synod Hall is via Piazzale del Petriano. Cameramen are required to arrive 30 minutes in advance, photographers 15 minutes. Journalists are invited to take their seats in the Hall ten minutes before the beginning of the Press Conference.

What I find interesting:

–         This is the first time in my memory and experience that I am aware of a papal document being presented some place other than the press office.

–         The press conference starts at 11 but this Vatican statement refers to the embargo as being 12 noon.


I have had to schedule even my bedtime these past few days as they have been super-filled with events – interviews, dinners, speeches and committee meetings – and friends in town. And they have also been super happy days.

This morning was quite special as I accompanied 9 members of the USA Water Polo Team for a three-hour visit of Vatican City and the gardens and then St. Peter’s Basilica. We took tons of photos and one of the guys has a GoPro camera and video – an awesone piece of techology – I just may have to get one!

Our guide was Santiago Perez who heads the Vatican’s Sports Desk at the Council for the Laity.  He was super and the whole morning meant a lot to all of us. I think the team was delightfully surprised to learn the Vatican had a Sports Desk – founded by our most athletic recent Pope, St. John Paul in 1994. I told them to do some PR for this office – let people know!

Here is just one photo from the morning – we are at the replica of the Grotto of Lourdes in the gardens:


I have been preparibg some scripts for “At Home” and for an interview I have tomorrow moring for “Vatican Insider” so have had little time to dedicate to this column. However, in view of the publication on Thursday of the Pope’s encyclical on the environment, “Laudatio si,” I thought the Pope’s  brief words at the Angelus and an editorial from Civilta Cattolica, a highly respected, very authoriative Jesuit fortnightly  – might be helpful as a prelude to the document.


Pope Francis has invited everyone to pay attention to environmental issues.

Speaking after the Sunday Angelus in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said his first encyclical will be published on Thursday, and he said: “This encyclical is aimed at everyone”

Calling on everyone to accompany this event with renewed attention to environmental degradation, and the need to act to salvage one’s territory, the Pope said of his encyclical: “Let us pray that everyone can receive its message and grow in responsibility toward the common home that God has entrusted to us.”

The document entitled “Laudato Si’, On the Care of Our Common Home” will be launched at a Vatican news conference this week.

The Pope’s appeal followed a reflection on the Gospel reading of the day that speaks of the seed that sprouts and grows and of the mustard seed which is the smallest of all seeds but becomes the largest of plants.

Francis said that through these images Jesus speaks to us of strength of God’s life-giving Word, and of how Christ’s love transforms that what is small and modest into something that makes the whole world and all of history ferment.

And reminding those present to always carry a pocket-sized copy of the Gospel, and to read a passage every day, the Pope said in the Gospel is the strength that makes the Kingdom of God germinate and sprout within us.

Above all – he said – the two parables teach us something important: the Kingdom of God is a gift of the Lord, but it requires our collaboration.

He said that although our contribution may appear meagre before the complexity of problems in the world, thanks to God’s love each seed of goodness will sprout and grow, and this – Pope Francis said – gives life to hope; notwithstanding the injustice and pain we may come across, the seed of charity and peace will yield its fruits thanks to the mysterious love of God.


A service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out

Pope Francis’ Encyclical on ecology will be published soon. With its publication, the Church’s Magisterium takes the environmental issue to the heart of its social doctrine. The Editorial summarizes the ecological path which the Popes have indicated in the last 50 years until today. In fact, at the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis said that «to guard the entire Creation» is «a service which the Bishop of Rome is called to do». Pope Francis has always strived for the harmony between all living beings: he has an anthropological, but not anthropocentric view. His commitment leads us towards an ecological spirituality which is a spiritual and sacramental life that is not alienated from the fact that we inhabit the created world as our «home». The editorial is an excellent background to the long awaited encyclical letter of Pope Francis on ecology that will be released this coming Thursday at the Vatican.