Several things before I post this column before the long Memorial Day weekend….

First, I won’t be posting on Monday as that is one of the holidays I take each year. I hope all of you are able to celebrate in some splendid, memorable way and that, above all, you can do so as a family.

Secondly, in case you are curious about Melania Trump’s Twitter account, here it is:  I have really enjoyed following her. And, of course, it is now public knowledge that she is the first Catholic First Lady since Jacqueline Kennedy!

Speaking of the First Lady: she has been in the news these last days, as has First Daughter Ivanka, for their headcovering in both Saudi Arabia and at the Vatican. Both praise and criticism (the latter not deserved as some people did not do their research on the topic) have surfaced and I hope to clarify matters:

RE: Saudi Arabia: head covering such as that worn by Saudi women is not required for foreigners and non-Arab women. I was told that White House staffers had asked about this as preparations for the trip were underway and were told that the women did not have to have their heads covered.

RE: The Vatican: Both women were perfectly dressed, head to toe, per Vatican protocol. I spoke to Vatican officials from the Secretariat of State on Wednesday evening and they assured me that the two women were protocol perfect. Pope Francis is said to be trying to relax some of the protocol but so far, most people, men and women, adhere to the current rules. There is an exception known as the “white privilege” for 7 reigning female Catholic monarchs (and the former queen of Spain) wherein they may wear white or ivory dresses, suits and head covering in the presence of the Holy Father.

Whether one is a visiting dignitary or simply a visiting citizen in a foreign country it is always a wise choice to study some of the culture – how people dress, the dos and dont’s of dressing and eating, what to wear in churches or other places of worship, even the correct use of hand gestures: a thumbs up may mean A-OK in one culture and be an insult in another.

Lastly, I hope you enjoy the rather amazing story about a bishop in the Philippines going undercover!


My special guests this weekend are Kathleen Beckman and Dr. Luis Sandoval from the Diocese of Orange in California. They were recently in Rome to attend a course on exorcism and exorcists at Regina Apostolorum, the Rome seminary of the Legionaries of Christ.

Kathleen is well known to so many as a prolific author, engaging speaker and retreat master and founder of Foundation of Prayer for Priests, to list just a few of her projects. In addition, we recently collaborated on the newly-released book, “When Women Pray.”

Dr. Sandoval, a Santa Ana physician who is board certified in psychiatry and family medicine also serves as an advisor to the Board of Directors for NAMI Orange County – NAMI is National Alliance for Mental Illness. The Diocese of Orange in fact sponsored a forum on mental illness in February this year: “How do we respond to mental illness in  our community?” I ask Dr. Sandoval about any possible connection between mental illness and a person who is possessed and undergoes an esorcism.

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. 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.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library:   For VI archives:


Adding an unusual flavor to his pastoral ministry, a Catholic archbishop in the Philippines went undercover to personally find out how parishes under his jurisdiction deal with the poor.

Weeks before assuming his post as the new head of Lipa, Archbishop Gilbert Garcera disguised himself as a farmer and visited parish offices. The archbishop went to great lengths to make sure he wasn’t recognized, even wearing dirty and ragged clothes.  “I wanted to know how [parish] secretaries are dealing with the poor,” said the prelate. “I went into their offices and I know what is happening there,” he said.

The 58-year old archbishop said he was satisfied by what he saw, but added that some offices continue to face challenges in serving people.  To address issues in his archdiocese, Archbishop Garcera is conducting a survey “to better understand and meet the spiritual needs” of people, especially the youth.  He said the study will involve the clergy and lay people from the archdiocese’s 64 parishes and 40 church-run schools.

“I want to reflect on one question: What are you doing to shape the minds and consciences of our young people today,” said the prelate.  He said the result of the survey “will help us shape how we could continue to find ways to meet the needs of our people.”  The 58-year-old archbishop said he wants to make sure that everyone in his archdiocese finds a home and place in the Catholic Church.

Garcera was bishop of Daet from 2007 until February 2, 2017, when Pope Francis transferred him to Lipa in Batangas.  He was installed on April 21, taking over from Archbishop Ramon Arguelles who stepped down.  At his formal installation at the San Sebastian Cathedral in Batangas, Archbishop Garcera plans to visit the different parishes, besides visiting Catholic schools and parish organizations as well as examining existing programmes and improving services to the faithful.

“To be an archbishop, to be a bishop, to be a priest is not about position… it’s about pastoral charity. According to Pope Francis it’s about service,” Archbishop Garcera said.   He urged for prayers as he took up the reins of one of the largest archdioceses of the Philippines.  (Source: UCAN)