Some interesting stories today – and quite a variety: a CD of papal election music, showers in the Vatican for the homeless, an online catechism and a call against euthanasia from Germany.


The Vatican will provide three showers in St. Peter’s Square for homeless people to use, the papal almoner Archbishop Konrad Krajewski announced. He explained that the decision for the work that will begin on Monday was taken after a homeless man from Sardinia refused his offer to a free meal at a restaurant because he “smelled.”

The showers will be built within the public restrooms for pilgrims under St. Peter’s colonnades for the homeless to wash and change near the Apostolic Palace.

Many parishes in Rome in the neighborhoods most frequented by the homeless have been offered money from the Vatican to build similar facilities. The service will be available to all those who are near the Basilica.

“It is not easy because it is always easier to make sandwiches (for the homeless) than to build showering facilities,” Krajewski said.

The service will require volunteers and donations of soap, towels and clean underwear, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, told the American Catholic News Service. “We have to be evangelical, but intelligent, too.”

Several people living on the streets of Rome or in tents say it is not difficult to find a parish or charity that will give them something to eat, but finding a place to wash is much more difficult.

The news site Vatican Insider first reported the news that Archbishop Krajewski had asked the office governing Vatican City State to include showers in an already-approved project to remodel the public loos in St Peter’s Square.

The remodelling work and installation of the showers was scheduled to begin next week. The archbishop said the three shower stalls would be located in the public bathrooms a few steps north of Bernini’s Colonnade, just behind the Vatican post office. (CNS, Buenos Aires Herald)


Last Wednesday, Msgr. Massimo Palombella, director of the Sistine Chapel, presented Pope Francis with a CD: “Habemus Papam. La musica del Conclave (We Have a Pope. Music from the Conclave).” The CD contains the music used during the liturgical ceremonies surrounding the election of Pope Francis: The “Missa pro eligendo Pontifice,” (Mass for the Election of a Pope), the “Veni Creator” used during the entrance into the Sistine Chapel, the music of the Mass celebrated with the College of Cardinals the day after his election, the music of the inaugural Mass of Pope Francis and, for the first time, 11 minutes containing the announcement “Habemus Papam” and the first words of Pope Francis on the evening of March 13, 2013.

This morning, the CD – actually a double CD – was presented to the public by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Msgr. Palombella, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director general of Vatican Radio, and Mirko Gratton, director of the Classical Division of Deutsche Grammophon Italia, the agency that signed an exclusive contract with the choir. The second CD consists of studio recordings by the Sistine Chapel Choir of its characteristic repertoire, music composed throughout history for papal celebrations.

The double CD “Habemus papam”, on sale in Italy on November 11 and will be available in the rest of the world on November 28.. Msgr. Palombella said today that, “this publication is presented as the first historical documentation of the music of a Conclave They are all live recordings, with the qualities and limits that this entails.”

The Pontifical Choir is the oldest choral institution in the world and is composed of 20 permanent adult singers and around 30 child choristers. Normally performing at papal celebrations, the choir’s concert activity is directed exclusively towards evangelization and to the promotion of ecumenical dialogue. In September, the Choir made an historic tour in China, performing in Hong Kong, Macao and Taipei.

Fr. Lombardi highlighted the experience accumulated by Vatican Radio in the field of sound recording and broadcasting of numerous concerts in the Vatican, especially in the Paul VI Hall. He recalled the extraordinary 1937 Christmas concert in the Hall of Blessings, broadcast live to 23 countries, “directed by the Maestro Lorenzo Perosi, Msgr. Palombella’s predecessor, with the Pontifical Sistine Chapel Choir, recorded by Vatican Radio and broadcast with the help of German technology” (to read more:


The website of the USCCB – United States Conference of Catholic Bishops – has a special gift for Catholics, its online United States Catholic Catechism for Adults in both English and Spanish. The online catechism has a very workable search engine, easy index, allows pages to be bookmarked and the reader can even make notes. AND, readers can share a particular age on Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Click here to discover for yourself:

The website notes that, “The presence of the Catholic Church in the United States reaches back to the founding days of our country through the leadership of Archbishop John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop in the United States. His story, like other stories at the start of the chapters in the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, gives us a glimpse into the lives of Catholics who lived out their faith throughout our country’s history. Each chapter in the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults includes stories, doctrine, reflections, quotations, discussion questions, and prayers to lead the reader to a deepening faith. The United States Catholic Catechism for Adults is an excellent resource for preparation of catechumens in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and for ongoing catechesis of adults.

Do you like the feel of turning paper pages with your fingers? You can also get the paper edition in bookstores and online.


“Dying with dignity means acting so that one can die with dignity, not deciding the time of one’s death,” said Msgr. Peter Neher, the president of Caritas Germany, in a message today addressed to the German Members of Parliament who, at the Bundestag this morning, startinged discussing euthanasia. According to Neher, “the discussion must be focussed on the way seriously ill and dying people may be supported well, because what matters is finding adequate pain treatment, good care and a good pastoral service.”

According to Caritas, it is the fear of pain, the loss of control, the shame for one’s sickness, the humiliation of being a burden on others and the fear of loneliness “that drive people to want to put an end to their lives.” Msgr. Neher said, “We must take such fears very seriously and give special support at this stage of life.” A solution may be outpatient palliative treatment, which must be funded by standard healthcare and (Germany’s) national health service. Outpatient palliative treatment “must be improved.” In his opinion, terminally ill people must be able to be treated at home. According to Msgr. Neher, “if the social revision of the concept of a liveable life makes one internalize that being sick means not being worth living, the fact one’s decision about euthanasia is a free decision and how free it is, is very questionable.”



To save you some time, here are some links to ordering Pope Francis’ Italian-language book, “Il Mio Breviario” (My Breviary), online. It is Kindle version only but you know you can read Kindle books on your iPad or other tablet. These links are for the US, the UK and Italy:

US – Kindle:

UK – Kindle:

ITALY – Kindle:


On its English language site with Vatican news. ANSA, the Italian news agency, reported today that “a senior Vatican official on Tuesday condemned the suicide of American brain cancer sufferer Brittany Maynard at the weekend. ‘We don’t judge people, but the gesture in itself is to be condemned,’ Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, told ANSA. “Assisted suicide is an absurdity. Dignity is something different to putting an end to your own life’.”

ANSA noted that “Maynard, a 29-year-old American afflicted with terminal brain cancer, announced weeks ago that she was planning to end her life. The video Maynard posted on Youtube in conjunction with the non-profit Compassion & Choices, in which she announced her decision, has been viewed 9.8 million times and made her a key advocate in the US’s right-to-die movement.”


Pope Francis on Wednesday will receive the founder and leader of an Argentinian grandmothers’ association that seeks children stolen and illegally adopted during the country’s Dirty War, Vatican sources said Monday. The Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo (Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo) were set up to track down grandchildren abducted from female prisoners who gave birth in secret detention centers during the military dictatorship of 1976-1984.

“We are proud of the Argentine Pope,” Estela de Carlotto told ANSA ahead of her audience with Francis. She will be bringing several family members, including Ignacio Guido, her grandson, the son of her daughter Laura, who was abducted while pregnant, tortured and killed by the military 36 years ago. While Laura’s bullet-riddled body was returned to her mother, Laura’s child was not. Estela recovered him in August this year, thanks to a DNA bank set up by families and survivors of the dictatorship.

“We will all be there, a total of 18 Carlottos,” she said. (


The Vatican newspaper, in its November 5 edition that is on newststands the afternoon of November 4, carried a front page editorial entitled “The Nonexistent Right,” which is a commentary on the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide. The following is my translation:

The editorial starts: “This is the great weakness of many Western societies, the fact that they confuse what is moral with what is legal. And what is no longer condemned by law quickly becomes the object of a right.” This sentence by Patrick Verspieren. Jesuit and bioethicist, is from the editorial of the latest edition of the magazine “Etudes” and refers to the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide in several countries.

Fr. Verspieren, in commenting the position of Corinne Van Oost, the author of a book published in Belgium in mid-September with the provocative title “As a Doctor and Catholic, I practice Euthanasia,” denounced the risk of the banalization or almost becoming a habit of morally unacceptable acts when they are permitted by the law. This, for a doctor – especially for those who seek to assure the dying the best possible conditions of life – represents the enormous risk of “losing the sense of transgression that every homicide represents” and of becoming accustomed to the idea that one can serve life through giving death. Fr. Verspieren’s words can also be read in a broader context with respect to the fundamental questions of bioethcs and bio-law (bio-right) that, often in a very emotional and not-meditated-upon fashion, run through our societies.

It has often been said that the law would tend to regulate several hidden practices with the goal of making them safer. The basis from which the legislator would move (act), in other words, (is) a behavior already present in society; hidden euthanasias, clandestine abortions, the use of drugs, to list only a few examples. The problem is that often to give “legal feasibility” to such behavior can end up – and this is what Dr. Verspieren says clearly – making them also “morally acceptable,” demolishing in the eyes of many, and what is more, in the name of the law, the last obstacles to their realization. It is as if one had started a vicious cycle of extreme consequences: this would rapidly become a “right” which, until not long ago, was illegal. Just as quickly the law would lose its proper educational function, truncating all moral reference, and medicine would find itself overwhelmed by its own deontological principles.

It is clear – as can be seen in the words of both Patrick Verspieren and Dr. Van Oost – that apparently it is easier to give in to the wishes of society, even if obscure, than to refer to clear moral principles that have been and should continue to be the founding pillars of law in so-called evolved countries. It is also clear that, to second (give in to) such wishes by bending to presumed nonexisting rights can, on the one hand, push the law to go in the same direction and, on the other hand, generate a sense of profound suffering and anxiety. “To practice euthanasia,” says Van Oost, “means risking becoming accustomed to it. As the years pass, I do so with ever less fear, but I also have the impression of being the first to lose. As a doctor and as a Christian.”

The doctor and the legislator have equal responsibilities and are both called to have courage, the courage to go in the right direction. Breaking that vicious cycle that tends simply to legitimize and, in the end, to incentivize every desire.


Forum 18 News Service reports that, “Russia’s Federal Migration Service is not extending residence permits for foreign citizens who have been working for Crimean religious communities, leaving Simferopol’s Roman Catholic parish without its senior priest, Polish citizen Fr. Piotr Rosochacki, who had worked in Crimea for 5 years. All other Catholic priests and nuns will have to leave by the end of 2014. Similarly, almost all Turkish Muslim imams and religious teachers have been forced to leave Crimea.

“The Federal Migration Service in Crimea told Forum 18 News Service that only registered religious communities can invite foreign citizens. No Crimean religious communities have registration, and under a Russian law that entered into force on 1 July all religious communities must apply for re-registration by 1 January 2015. There is uncertainty about what will happen to applications from communities under bodies outside Crimea or Russia – including Crimea’s Armenian Apostolic, Old Believer, Moscow Patriarchate, Roman Catholic and Kiev Patriarchate parishes.

(Forum 18 News Service, as it says on its website, “is named after Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the similar Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a core international human rights treaty. We work for freedom of religion or belief for all on the basis of these articles. Article 18, Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”)