A wonderful tweet today from Pope Francis:  God is always waiting for us, he always understands us, he always forgives us.

I leave tomorrow afternoon for Turin where I’ll spend a few days visiting and in prayerful recollection before the Shroud of Turin, as it is exposed for only the eighth time since 1900. I’ll be joining Teresa Tomeo’s group in Turin as a visit to the Shroud is on their Italian itinerary.

In addition, tomorrow evening I’ll participate in a candelit procession to and Mass in the cathedral of Saint John as the city and diocese mark the 25th anniversary of the beatification of their “favorite son,” Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. I received a phone call yesterday from my friend, Wanda Gawronska, one of the children of Pier Giorgio’s sister Luciana. She and her brother Jas will be in Turin for tomorrow’s events, and we are trying to coordinate our travel plans and getting together in Turin for the procession. Pier Giorgio is buried in Turin’s cathedral, beneath an altar in the left aisle.

It was a quiet day for Pope Francis as he prepares for tomorrow’s general audience, but he was busy late yesterday afternoon when he addressed one of the annual meetings of the CEI, the Italian Episcopal Conference.  Below is a summary of that talk.

In addition I bring you some news from Chicago, a story I followed with great interest given that I was in the Windy City a few weeks ago for the funeral of my dear friend, Cardinal Francis George. Sunday marked the “month’s mind Mass” and the raising of the cardinal’s galero to the rafters of Holy Name cathedral.


Pope Francis on Monday inaugurated the 68th assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference as the country’s bishops gather in the Vatican to analyze the reception of the Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel). (ANSA photo at


He reminded the prelates that, “Our vocation is to listen when the Lord asks us: ‘Console my people’. Indeed, we are asked to console, to help, to encourage, without discrimination, all our brothers who are oppressed by the weight of their crosses, without ever tiring of working to lift them up again with the strength that comes only from God.”,

The Pope said that proclaiming the Gospel today at such a difficult moment in history, requires prelates to “go against the grain: or rather, to be joyful witnesses of the Risen Christ to transmit joy and hope to others.” We have to be Christ-like in our “sentiments of humility, compassion, concreteness and wisdom.”

This also means, said Francis, “not being timid … in denouncing and fighting against a widespread mentality of public and private corruption that shamelessly impoverishes families, pensioners, honest workers and Christian communities, discarding the young, who are systematically deprived of any hope for their future, and above all marginalising the weak and the needy. It is an ecclesial sensibility that, as good pastors, makes us go forth towards the People of God to defend them from ideological colonisations that take away their identity and human dignity.”

He noted that, in preparing documents for the faithful, “the abstract theoretical-doctrinal aspect must not prevail, as if our directions were intended …. only for a few scholars or specialists. Instead we must make the effort to translate them into concrete and comprehensible proposals.”

The Holy Father  explained that, “laypeople with an authentic Christian formation should not need a bishop-guide … to assume their own responsibilities at all levels, political to social, economic to legislative. However, they do need a bishop-pastor.”

Pope Francis emphasized the need for true collegiality – communion between bishops and their priests; communion between bishops themselves; between dioceses which are materially and vocationally rich and those in difficulty; between the periphery and the centee between episcopal conferences and the bishops and the Successor of Peter. …In some parts of the world we see a widespread weakening of collegiality, both in pastoral planning and in the shared undertaking of economic and financial commitments.”

The Pope then asked: “Why do we let religious institutes, monasteries and congregations age so much, almost to the point of no longer giving evangelical witness faithful to the founding charism? Why do we not try to regroup them before it is too late?”


Sunday marked the month anniversary of the death of Cardinal Francis George, former archbishop of Chicago, and a Mass known as the “month’s mind mass” was celebrated in Holy Name Cathedral, his episcopal seat for the 17 years he was archbishop. Cathedral, in fact, comes from the Latin “cathedra,” meaning seat or chair, and refers to the teaching and governing office of the bishop.

There is a red hat, once worn by cardinals but now in disuse, called a galero, a wide-brimmed hat with elegantly woven tassles hanging from it. Cardinal George had two galeros but never wore them. One was gift to him from the seminarians of Mundelein seminary and the second one was given to him by friends just months before his death on April 17. The cardinal’s galero:


One of the galeros, as of Sunday, now hangs from the ceiling of Holy Name Cathedral; the other will become part of a museum at Mundelein.

Fr. Dan Flens, a good friend of mine who was Cardinal George’s secretary for many years, sent me some links to the ceremony Sunday. Here is one link with some video of the rare but impressive ceremony in which the galero is hoisted to the rafters of the cathedral.

And here is a piece from the Chicago Tribune that also has some video: