I am sure you know about the vote in Ireland last Friday that said ‘yes’ to legalizing same sex “marriage.”  I’ll not make a long commentary here today, except to say I now have another country and another people to add to my prayer list.

However, I have wondered for ever so long why there need to be special laws passed, why people have to vote on same sex “marriage,” why do judges and courts have to get involved, why do people “come out of the closet,” why do there have to be campaigns and marches, etc. to try to place same sex unions on the same level as traditional marriage if indeed, these unions were a normal part of the Lord’s plan for creation and procreation.

For the moment, here is a link to an interview a good friend of mine, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, gave to La Stampa paper:


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday met with Franciscans taking part in the General Chapter of the Order of Friars Minor.

In his address to the friars, the Holy Father focused on two “essential elements” of Franciscan identity: “minority” (It: minorità), a spirit of littleness; and “fraternity.” (photo: – L’Osservatore Romano)


The spirit of being a “minor,” he said, “calls one to be and to feel that one is little before God, entrusting oneself totally to His infinite mercy.” The recognition of one’s littleness and sinfulness allows a person to receive salvation. Those on the other hand, who do not feel needy cannot receive the mercy and salvation God offers them. “Minority,” the Pope continued, also means going out of oneself, beyond structures, attitudes, and feelings of security, in order to bear concrete witness of God’s mercy to the poor and needy “in an authentic attitude of sharing and service.”

Fraternity, or brotherhood, was the other aspect of being a Franciscan highlighted by Pope Francis. The Pope noted the witness of Christians in the early church, whose fraternal communion was “an eloquent and attractive sign of unity and charity.” Franciscans, he said, are called “to express this concrete fraternity, by means of a recovery of reciprocal confidence in interpersonal relationships, so that the world might see and believe” recognizing that Christ’s love can heal our wounds and make us one.

Recalling a story of the early days of the Order, Pope Francis noted that the early Franciscans recognized the whole world as their cloister, the space for their evangelical witness. “How important it is to live a Christian and religious existence without losing oneself in disputes and chattering, cultivating a serene dialogue with all, with meekness, mildness, and humility, with poor means, proclaiming peace and living soberly, content with what is offered to you.” Alluding gently to some difficulties the Franciscans have faced in recent years, the Pope said Franciscans must be committed to their vocation of poverty and littleness.

Pope Francis reminded the friars that it is the Holy Spirit who animates the religious life. “When consecrated persons live, allowing themselves to be illuminated and guide by the Spirit, they discover in this supernatural vision the secret of their fraternity, the inspiration of their service to the brethren, the strength of their prophetic presence in the Church and in the world.” The “light and strength” of the Holy Spirit, he said, will also help Franciscans confront the challenges posed by a decline in numbers and vocations, and by an aging congregation.

Brother Michael Perry of the United States was elected last Thursday to a six-year term as minister general of the Order of Friars Minor, a post he has held for the past two years.


I am back in Rome, as you know, but I’m still receiving daily updates from the media office for the Shroud of Turin. A really interesting piece of news arrived yesterday afternoon about the Comunità Cenacolo, an organization I know from its three campuses in and near Jacksonville, Florida and another one near the monastery and shrine in Hanceville, Alabama.

Comunità Cenacolo is very close to Birmingham Bishop Robert Baker’s heart and he has been instrumental in setting up the U.S. communities. Shortly after it opened, I visited the one in Hanceville on a day when Bishop Baker said Mass there and the young men prepared a wonderful lunch for their guests.  I spent half a day and learned a great deal about the life and daily routine of these 12 young men recovering from addiction.

Here is a link to the Comunità website:

And here is my translation of the May 25 communiqué from Turin:

500 Young People from the Comunità Cenacolo Before the Shroud

“Dress yourselves with peace and love to re-embrace life!” These were the words sung by 500 young people, priests and sisters of the Comunità Cenacolo as they processed toward the cathedral to see the Shroud. This community, founded in 1983 by Sr. Elvira Petrozzi in Saluzzo (northern Italy), welcomes young people who have gone through the tunnel of drugs, drug dependency and prostitution. Today Comunità Cenacolo has 62 houses welcoming people in 18 countries (22 houses just in Italy).

The group, led by Fr. Stefano Aragno, was composed of young people from the motherhouse in Saluzzo where 6 priests and 30 nuns work, and also youth from the communities in Croatia, Slovakia, Poland, Brazil, Argentina, the United States and throughout Italy.  Also present in Turin were several sisters who have recently returned from missions in Liberia, Brazil and Peru, as well as some parents who are living a path of faith in order to re-build their families parallel to those of their own children.

Fr. Aragno said, “In the wounds of the Man of the Shroud we see the suffering that our young people bear inside. The Shroud is a witness for us of the grace of God that passed through those wounds, from which we can receive a path of light, hope and resurrection. Our community is one of the witnesses that the greatest Love is capable of defeating sin and death to give us a new life.”

“Sister Elvira and the community,” he said, “have always had a particular devotion for the Shroud. In the Saluzzo house, in fact, in the chapel, there is a small copy of the Linen before which we pray every day.”

Sister Veronica, who has just returned from a mission in Liberia, shared these thoughts. “In front of the Shroud, I’ve brought the wounded faces of the abandoned children I took care of in the mission in this Africa country, devastated by wars and by Ebola.”