– At today’s general audience in the Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis began by speaking of his predecessor, Benedict XVI: “Before beginning this catechesis, I would like us to join with those here beside us who are paying their respects to Benedict XVI, and to turn my thoughts to him, a great master of catechesis. His acute and gentle thought was not self-referential, but ecclesial, because he always wanted to accompany us in the encounter with Jesus. Jesus, Crucified and Risen, the Living One and the Lord, was the destination to which Pope Benedict led us, taking us by the hand. May he help us rediscover in Christ the joy of believing and the hope of living!”

– The last time a Pope celebrated the funeral of his predecessor, as Pope Francis will on Thursday, 5 January, was when Pius VII celebrated the funeral of Pius VI in 1802. The last time a Pope celebrated the funeral of his predecessor was in 1802 – Vatican News

– On the occasion of the solemn funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the Italian Prime Minister announced that national and European union flags on public buildings will be flown at half-staff throughout the national territory on January 5, 2023.

– 3,700 priests will be concelebrating at Benedict’s funeral Mass.


I’ve had trouble, as I frequently do, uploading photos to my laptop but finally here are a few that will serve to give you an idea of what goes into covering an historical event, such as that we are witnessing, of the passing of a pope emeritus, by a large media family, EWTN.

Among other things, it means building a structure that allows us to have our correspondents and visitors tell the story and bring the news to world in multiple languages.   Part of this is also used by EBU, the European Broadcasting Union, whose members can report from this stage.

Days and days go by as builders, electricians and countless others work to make this happen. These are people whose faces and work are never seen by the viewer, but whose work allows us to go on air!

This has to happen….

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Before our coverage and commentary can happen….

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EWTN interview of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI’s secretary Abp. Georg Gaenswein by Rome bureau chief Andreas Thonhauser (with English voice over) :

CNA image:





The 10th World Meeting of Families (WMOF) opens on a diocesan level around the world tomorrow, including the diocese of the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, and will run through Sunday, June 26. Concluding events are the papal Mass in St. Peter’s Square Saturday afternoon,  June 25 and the Angelus on Sunday, June 26.

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, the principal organizing body, told Vatican news: “I believe that the pandemic certainly caused a great disruption in the pastoral life of the Church at all levels. And it was impossible for two years to gather groups of people together. It was impossible to organize in our churches, prayer meetings, conferences. It is therefore my hope that the World Meeting of Families that will take place in Rome will be an injection of vitamins into the Church.

“In the past,” he continued, “we invited many families. We knew that many families would not travel during this time, and especially if they had young children, out of fear… And so, we invited representatives from all the dioceses in the world. We have representatives from every continent. These are the people who were in charge of family life ministry in the different dioceses, churches, parishes, lay movements, organizations who work in the field of marriage and family life. And so, it is our hope to inject a new sense of the importance of this change, in the way of doing things within the Church, in preparation for marriage and family life.”

In fact, the Rome celebration, except for the concluding papal Mass on Saturday afternoon, will be on a far smaller scale than past WMOF.

Cardinal Farrell noted that Pope Francis wanted the WMOF “to be celebrated in every cathedral in the world. Because even with the world gathering and the families, you’ve got to remember always that the most attended world gathering of the families that we’ve had was in Dublin. That was 34,000 or 35,000 people. That’s not even a small little diocese in the world. Large dioceses around the world could gather that number of people in their own diocese. That’s what we want. And that’s why we invited all the leaders of it to this event here in Rome.”

EWTN will have a privileged part throughout this 2022 World Meeting of Families. For days EWTN staff and other workers have been setting up the media platform in Pza. Pio XII, just off of St. Peter’s Square, where three of the network’s anchors will offer commentary, translations and special guests for interviews in English, Spanish and German.

The patrons of this 2022 WMOF are Blessed Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi from Rome: They were beatified by Pope John Paul in Rome in 2001.

An impressive program is planned for tomorrow, starting at 6:15 pm Rome time. Pope Francis will be present for most of the program and speak at the end. There will be music, testimonials and a linkup with families in Ukraine.

A press release from the diocese of Rome notes that at 8:30 pm on Thursday evening, June 23, in the splendid setting of the internal courtyard of the Lateran Palace, the classical music concert “La Gioia della Musica” (The Joy of Music) will take place, performed by the FORM – Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana – and the resident team of the Macerata Opera Festival, with the participation of soprano Francesca Benitez and first violin conductor first violin Alessandro Cervo. Eleonora Daniele, journalist and Rai (Italian state TV) presenter, and Andreas Thonhauser, EWTN Rome bureau chief, will present the concert. It will be broadcast live on Telepace (in Italy) and streamed on the official website, as well as on various international broadcasters.

(Check EWTN website for days and times)




According to Belgian media La Libre, in an unprecedented gesture, Bishop Luc Van Looy, SDB, emeritus of Ghent, has asked the pope not to make him a cardinal. Pope Francis accepted his request. Named by Francis on May 29 at the Regina Coeli, he has chosen to refuse the red hat. (…/luc-van-looy-eveque-emerite…/

From stories known so far, none of the 21 cardinals-elect named on May 29 were informed by Pope Francis before the public announcement that they were to be named to the red hat.


EWTN held another of its popular “Roman Nights” series last evening on the amazing terrace of the building on Via della Conciliazione that houses our Rome bureau offices as well as those of other media outlets. Held periodically, Roman Nights are set in many different historical and artistic locations of Rome.

Drinks and a buffet were set up for the guests to enjoy before the guest panel began its discussion. It was a hot, humid evening but the strong winds and some rain that seemed a possibility never materialized

These nights are always a wonderful time to catch up with colleagues and, more importantly, to make new friends among people whose work is in some way associated with the Church. A theme is chosen for each Roman Night and the guest speakers last night, moderated by EWTN Rome bureau chief Andreas Thonhauser, focused on the upcoming 10th World Meeting of Families. The celebration this year is multi-faceted as it takes place not only in Rome but in dioceses throughout the world from June 22 to 26.

Msgr. Walter Insero, head of the communications office of the Diocese of Rome, introduced the evening and highlighted the Rome celebration of the WMOF where a highpoint will be the closing Mass with Pope Francis on Saturday afternoon, June 25, and the Angelus the following day. It was a truly Roman Night in a magnificent setting and just yards from St. Peter’s Basilica!

The highlight of the evening was meeting a young priest whom I had not seen for 10 years but recognized immediately, Fr. Stefano Cascio! The story of his vocation was made into a movie in 2012 , “Sept Ans de Conviction” (Seven Years of Conviction) and won the Mirabile Dictu Catholic film award in 2013. I saw the film, one of the most riveting movies I have ever seen, and then attended the awards dinner where Stefano and I first met and chatted. We briefly stayed in touch when he became an assistant pastor at a church in the first neighborhood I lived in in Rome, a church where I attended daily Mass.

The years passed – and then last night happened!. Stefano is now in another parish but also works with Msgr. Insero at the diocesan communications office! More to come on that story!



(Irondale, AL) – EWTN Global Catholic Network has launched a new Arabic language news service headquartered in Erbil, Iraq. EWTN Chairman & CEO Michael P. Warsaw announced the opening of the new agency on March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation. The Association for Catholic Information Middle East and North Africa or ACI-MENA will publish original news content in Arabic using a network of correspondents across the region. The news agency will operate from the campus of Erbil’s Catholic University (CUE). A ceremony marking the occasion was held in Erbil, which included His Excellency, Archbishop Bashar Warda of the Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil.

“I am pleased to announce that EWTN has begun a service reporting news from the embattled and underserved Christian communities in the Middle East,” Warsaw said. “This is an important milestone in the growth of EWTN News around the globe, and I am pleased that we are taking this significant step to better serve our courageous brothers and sisters in the region who have endured so much.”

“Because it is published in Arabic, this agency will also augment the service offered by ACI-Africa, our Nairobi, Kenya-based Catholic news agency, which EWTN launched in 2019 and which publishes content in English, French and Portuguese,” added Warsaw. “ACI-MENA will provide a new voice to help spread the Gospel and news of the Church to these Christian communities in their own language.”

ACI-MENA will be headed by Mr. Bashar Jameel Hanna, a Chaldean Catholic layman originally from Baghdad.

Hanna studied philosophy and theology for nine years at the Babel College in Iraq and graduated with a degree in civil engineering from the University of Nantes in France. Hanna speaks Arabic, French, English and Aramaic fluently, and has a significant understanding of classic Arabic.

ACI Group is part of the larger EWTN News, Inc. division, which also includes Catholic News Agency (CNA), the German language news service CNA Deutsch, and several other Catholic news outlets, including the National Catholic Register, EWTN News Nightly, EWTN News In Depth and several other television news programs.

In its 41st year, EWTN is the largest religious media network in the world. EWTN’s 11 global TV channels are broadcast in multiple languages 24 hours a day, seven days a week to over 390 million television households in more than 150 countries and territories


Today is the feast of Pope St. John Paul II! On this day in 1978, October 22, his papacy of almost 27 years began and the world was forever changed. 1978 – the Year of Three Popes – Paul VI, John Paul (the Roman numeral I was added to his name only after John Paul II chose that name). The former Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, whom many today call St. John Paul the Great, had been elected 6 days earlier following the premature death of his predecessor, John Paul I, after 33 days of papacy. Saint John Paul II | Franciscan Media

Vatican Youtube Oct 22, 1978 – 22 October 1978: the Pontificate of John Paul II begins – YouTube


This week, in the interview segment of Vatican Insider, I bring you a fascinating conversation I had with Alvaro Pereira and Fr. Robert White as they tell us more about the amazing program they work for and with, Food for the Poor – how and when it was founded, how FFTP works to help the poor, not just through providing food but through building homes, teaching people how to earn a living and much more!   Some astonishing numbers will leave you speechless. The more you hear, the more you’ll want to become involved!

Full disclosure for a personal moment: I was living in California from 1986 to 1990 and first met Fr. Bob in the mid-1980s when, as a San Diego priest, he was named pastor of a new parish, St. Thomas More in Vista, California. There was no church but there were a lot of Catholics, including my parents and I, who were anxious for this new church to be a reality. Sunday Mass for years was celebrated in the chapel of neighboring Oceanside’s Eternal Hills mortuary. When the parish hall and multi-purpose rooms were built, Mass was held in the auditorium.

Dinner at La Vittoria!


Weekday Masses on Tuesdays and Thursdays were held for several years in parishioners’ homes. We usually stayed a bit after Mass when, fortified by coffee and sweets and often wonderful home-grown fruit, we would talk about building the church, how to raise funds and who in the parish was sick and needed our help and prayers. It was an extraordinarily special time for all of us and made us feel like the first Christians did when there were no formal churches and people met in the homes of wealthier Christians.

Fr. Bob and I recently had a reunion in Rome when he and Alvaro, representing Food for the Poor, were attending a Vatican conference. This was the first time we’d seen each other since 1993!


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.


by Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. 10 . 21 . 21

(First Things) Bernard of Clairvaux, the great 12th-century saint and Doctor of the Church who renewed the Western monastic tradition, once warned that “The most grievous danger for any pope lies in the fact that, encompassed as he is by flatterers, he never hears the truth about his own person and ends by not wishing to hear it.”

Every pontificate has its courtiers. The current one is no exception; quite the opposite. Thus, St. Bernard’s words came easily to mind as I read a recent Austen Ivereigh article for America magazine. In it, Ivereigh claimed that “over the last eight years, a powerful U.S.-based media conglomerate has used its formidable wealth and power to turn a large portion of the people of God against Rome and its current occupant. And for good measure, against key reforms of the Second Vatican Council.”

Frightening stuff; so where might this muscular wickedness spring from: Comcast? Facebook? George Soros’s Open Society Foundations? No. Today’s spirit of schism—Mr. Ivereigh describes it as “the diabolos, and calling it something else is just putting lipstick on a pig”—is the work of those iniquitous devils at . . . EWTN. Yes, that’s the network founded by that arch-troublemaker and woman religious, Mother Angelica, and funded largely by tens of thousands of small donations from ordinary, faithful Catholic individuals and families.

To be fair, Ivereigh’s article simply elaborates on comments that Pope Francis made recently to Jesuits in Slovakia. Pope Francis didn’t name the offending media organization, but as journalists quickly confirmed, he meant EWTN. It’s surprising to hear any pope be so publicly and personally sensitive to perceived ill will from a few commentators at a modest network (by secular standards) based on another continent. Conflict, a lot of it, both within and beyond the Church, comes with the job of every bishop. The bishop of Rome is not excused from that unhappy burden. And EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, whom Ivereigh seems to regard as a special tool of the diabolos, does not pose quite the same fearsome threat to the Church as, say, China’s Xi Jinping. Or significant figures in America’s current leadership.

Mr. Ivereigh is right to see mean-spirited ecclesial criticism from anyone as poisonous to the unity of the Church. But he might take his own words to heart in examining some of his own past work.  Moreover, not all criticism in a family is ill-intended or disloyal or inaccurate. Some anger, even anger at legitimate authority, is righteous. The virtue of Christian obedience is rooted in speaking the truth—with love, but frankly and firmly—and true religion has nothing to do with a posture of servility.

As an EWTN board member for many years before retiring, I’m well acquainted with the network’s shortcomings. It can always improve. But it has managed to serve the gospel for decades now with skill and endurance where many others have failed. Thus, it’s hard to read critics of the network without also sniffing their peculiar cologne of faux piety, jealousy, and resentment. EWTN’s achievements deserve praise and warrant pride. I admire the dedication of its leaders and staff. I’m grateful for the network’s service to the Word of God. And any suggestion that EWTN is unfaithful to the Church, the Second Vatican Council, or the Holy See is simply vindictive and false.

TO CONTINUE READING _ A Little Wisdom From Bernard | Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. | First Things


AN UPDATE ON PAOLO, POPE FRANCIS AND A ZUCCHETTO: In my report Wednesday on the 10-year old disabled boy who paid an impromptu visit to Pope Francis on the stage area of the Paul VI Hall at the general audience, I noted how very much he seemed to want a papal skull cap or zucchetto but saw no evidence that he actually received one. I had dinner that night with a priest friend from Chicago who was at the audience and he gave me an update. It seems that when the general audience catechesis was over, a “spare” zucchetto was found and given to Paolo who jumped for joy and happily wore it for the rest of the morning. It seems there is always a zucchetto or two on reserve so one was given to Paolo. Both Paolo and his mother later had a chance to speak to the Holy Father.

PAPAL LITURGIES FOR NOVEMBER – The Vatican today posted liturgies on the papal calendar for the month of November, While no mention was made of traditional activities for the Holy Father on the Vatican holy days and holidays of November 1, All Saints, and November 2, All Souls, the schedule included the following: Thursday November 4 St. Peter’s Basilica Altar of the Chair, Holy Mass for the deceased Cardinals and Bishops during the year; Friday, November 5, Mass at 10:30 at Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome; Sunday, November 14, 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, St. Peter’s Basilica, 10.00 Holy Mass,





In the fall of 2005, a dream held for years by EWTN’s Mother Angelic was realized. This global network was finally going to open a Rome office and I had the honor, the great privilege, to be asked by the network to be the first EWTN Rome Bureau Chief.

On August 22, the very beautiful day I signed my contract in Alabama, I visited the shrine in Hanceville and met Mother Angelica, purely by chance! She was praying at the tomb of her mother in the lower chapel of the shrine. Though she had had a stroke and lost her ability to speak, when Doug Keck explained to her that I would be the EWTN Rome bureau chief – her dream! – she gave me her blessing and placed her hands on my eyes, ears, mouth and hands, moving her lips in prayer as she did so. I met her one other time in subsequent visits to EWTN offices in Irondale, Alabama.

To this very day, from starting the first office in my home, all the intervening years were heady times – papal trips, two conclaves, the canonizations of three Popes, Mother Teresa and Cardinal John Henry Newman, as well as a thousand front page stories about the Vatican, about Popes John Paul, emeritus Benedict XVI and Francis.

Alan Holdren came to Rome in 2009 and was soon bureau chief for CNA News and in 2016 succeeded me as Rome Bureau Chief. More heady years! Years of great growth in technology, in personnel and in opening offices in many cities and countries in Europe.

I was delighted when Alan was hired by EWTN and, in these past years, have been doubly delighted by his friendship and that of his wife Susanna and their four beautiful children.

Yesterday was Alan’s final day as head of the Rome office: here’s a glimpse of his story as he told it last night on EWTN News Nightly: Vatican Chief Bureau for EWTN Says Goodbye to the Network | EWTN News Nightly – YouTube

Andreas Thonhauser from Germany will succeed Alan in Rome, arriving in August with his wife and family. A formal announcement and welcome to come from EWTN.

In the meantime, here’s an historic photo, if I don’t say so myself! First EWTN bureau chief Joan Lewis, outgoing bureau chief Alan Holdren and the newest members of our global family, Andreas!

I love the photo and said, when I saw it: “You’ve heard of the Three Tenors? Well, we are the Three Tenured!”



I was with these amazing ladies last night during and after the Vatican premiere of the film, “Hope, Our Lady of Knock,” a riveting docudrama produced by EWTN in Ireland. I met Marilyn Henry (to my right) and Catherine Wiley (second from left) last year in Rome: Catherine founded the Catholic Grandparents Association and Marilyn founded the American branch of this association.

Catherine and Marilyn are in Rome for the three-day conference that starts tomorrow in the Paul VI Hall entitled “The Richness of Many Years of Life,” about the pastoral care for the elderly. The conference was organized by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. Jane is involved with the American association and we met only last night but she told me she’s a great follower and fan of Joan’s Rome TV spots on EWTN! She had just arrived Rome after participating in the March for Life in Washington.

The film starts by looking at the dramatic years of the potato famine in Ireland when 1 million Irish died of hunger and 1 million emigrated, but it is above all a story of hope as it principally tells the story of the beloved Shrine of Knock. “Hope” weaves a beautiful tapestry that joins the two moments of Irish history – the 1840s famine and the appearance of the Virgin Mary at Knock August on 21, 1879. Hope was always the main ingredient in the hearts of the Irish and was greatly aided by Our Lady’s 1879 appearance.

“Hope” was shown in the small theatre, the Vatican Filmoteca, a former chapel, in Vatican City that is part of the communications dicastery. It brought together the writer and producer Campbell Miller, his parents, Fr. Richard Gibbons, Knock shrine rector, a number of the shrine staff and parishioners, several of the actors and Bishop Michael Neary of Tuam. There was quite the Irish contingent at the filming in addition to the principals I just mentioned and members of the Rome EWTN bureau.

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Woven throughout the film are riveting interviews with Fr. Gibbons, several bishops, the staff of the shrine and the story of just one of the many ‘miracolata’, a woman cured at the shrine – as they recount this impelling story.

The Irish who had come to Rome for the premiere also attended Pope Francis’ Mass Sunday as the Church celebrated the first ever Sunday of the Word of God. The Holy Father blessed the new pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Knock, present at the papal altar during Mass. Another special moment for the Irish pilgrims was when the Schola Cantorum Basilicae choir from Knock Shrine performed the much-loved ‘Our Lady of Knock’ hymn.

EWTN and the Irish visitors, especially from our Ireland office, arranged a reception after the premiere and, as they say, a good time was had by all. Fascinating conversations among the protagonists and new insights into people, the Knock shrine and so many issues. We were joined by Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell of Los Angeles (he is in Rome for the ad limina visit by the bishops of California, Nevada and Hawaii). (photos by Daniel Ibanez of EWTN/CNA: Knock Shrine group photo by JFL)

When I have more information on when, where and at what time this film will be shown I will let you all know. In the meantime, check this out:



I saw this story in and had it confirmed by EWTN Alabama! Seems July will be a test period in preparation for an August launch so I hope all goes well in Macau!

Macau Cable Television Company Limited (MCTV) and Eternal World Television Network (EWTN) will announce today the beginning of EWTN broadcast in Macau.

Details of the project will be announced by Edwin Lopez, International Marketing Manager of EWTN for Asia-Pacific, and José Miguel Encarnação, EWTN Media Cooperator for Macau.

EWTN was founded in 1981 by Mother Angelica, a poor St. Clare nun, in Alabama, United States. In its 38th year, it is today the largest religious media network in the world. Its 11 networks broadcast in multiple languages 24 hours a day, seven days a week to over 290 million television households in more than 145 countries and territories.

Platforms include direct broadcast satellite television and more than 6,000 television affiliates as well as ROKU, Apple TV, Amazon Fire and multiple social media platforms.

Radio services are transmitted through SIRIUS/XM, iHeart Radio, over 500 domestic and international AM & FM radio affiliates and a worldwide shortwave radio station.

EWTN also owns news services such as National Catholic Register (NCR), Catholic News Agency (CNA) and Church Pop.

The Macau Cable TV will broadcast EWTN on channel 28.(Macaunews)

EWTN to be broadcasted in Macau



You’d think this was a week dedicated to prisons. Just yesterday I published the Pope’s remarks to the staff of a Rome prison and also added a story on the historical Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia – a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of prisoners. Who knows if that might now happen at the Shawnee Correctional Center in Illinois!

On Monday Feb 11, EWTN will launch on Channel 76 at the Shawnee Correctional Center located in Vienna, Johnson County, Illinois. This facility in southern IL is a medium-security state prison for men and has a population of about 1,600 inmates.

While this may be a small launch in the bigger picture of EWTN, you know that Mother always cherished the value of a single soul; therefore, praise God for the opportunity to touch these 1,600 souls (and thanks to Christine Schicker for pursuing)!