I’ve been back in Rome for two days and there is good news: it is 15 to 20 degrees cooler than when I left on vacation, and bad news: the local waste management company left a note that the large differentiated garbage containers that serve 4 apartment buildings and hundreds of people and are located about 60 feet from our front door, will be moved several blocks away! Really bad news. We do not need fewer containers, we need more!

The top Vatican stories in my absence have been Pope Francis’ six-day apostolic trip to the African nations of Madagascar, Mauritius and Mozambique – his fourth trip to Africa – and his naming on August 1 of 13 new cardinals – 10 of whom will be eligible to vote in a conclave. They will be elevated to the red hat in an October 5 consistory in Rome, just one day before the start of the October 6 to 27 synod on the Amazon.

The first stop on the September 4 to 10 papal journey was Mozambique. Francis spent a day and a half here, traveling to Madagascar on Friday for a 3-day visit. On Sunday, he presided at a Mass attended by an estimated 1 million faithful in the nation’s capital of Antananarivo. The Holy Father spent his penultimate day in Africa in Mauritius. He departed for Rome this morning, September 10.

Interestingly enough, according to a study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, since 1980 the Catholic population in Africa has risen by 238%, the largest growth anywhere in the world.

The big event of the day will most likely be the press conference on the return flight to Rome. The Pope always makes news at these events. What will he say tonight to journalists?!


Pope Francis concluded his three-leg Apostolic Visit to Mozambique, Madagascar, and Mauritius on Tuesday morning. He is scheduled to touch down in Rome at about 7pm local time.
By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)

The Air Madagascar Airbus plane that is bringing Pope Francis back to the Vatican at the end of his 31st apostolic journey abroad has taken off from Antananarivo International Airport.

As is customary, the Pope’s outbound flight is always by Italy’s national airline Alitalia, while the national airline of the country he is leaving is the one to bring him back home.

Madagascar’s President, other political authorities, the nation’s bishops, and a crowd of faithful were at the airport to see him off, and the Guard of Honour gave him a final salute.

The Pope is wrapping up a six-day journey during which he spent time with the people and with the Church of three very different nations: Mozambique, which borders no less than six southern African countries, as well as featuring a long Indian Ocean coastline and which is looking to consolidate a lasting peace after a recent accord; the island nation of Madagascar, with its unique biodiversity and deep pockets of poverty; and finally the tiny island of Mauritius, with its melting pot of cultures and religions.

According to airlines that have transported him during past journeys, Pope Francis is an easy passenger, known for his humility and simple taste. They assure that very few special accommodations are needed to welcome the Pope onboard, and meal service is arranged with suggestions from the Vatican.

Of course, the Airbus is equipped to host an onboard press conference that traditionally takes place during the Pope’s return journey after an apostolic visit abroad.


Sr. Ruth Pfau, the German-born Catholic nun of the Daughters of the Heart of Mary, who died in 2017, is credited with eradicating leprosy or Hansen’s disease from Pakistan. Google honoured her on her 90th birthday on 10 September.

By Robin Gomes (vaticannews)

Google on Monday paid homage to Sr. Ruth Pfau, the German-born Catholic nun credited with eradicating leprosy or Hansen’s disease from Pakistan. The tech giant marked the revered nun on her 90th birth anniversary with a Doodle.

A Google Doodle is a special, temporary alteration of the logo on Google’s homepages intended to commemorate holidays, events, achievements, and notable historical figures.

The doodle depicts the German-Pakistani doctor, tending to a patient. Google said it was honouring her she “devoted herself to eradicating leprosy from Pakistan, saving countless lives”.

Widely known as “Pakistan’s Mother Teresa”, Sr. Pfau died on Aug. 10, 2017, at age 87, after being admitted to Karachi’s Aga Khan Hospital a few days earlier suffering from old age complications. She was laid to rest in Karachi on 19 August, following full state honours, including a 19-gun salute, for her priceless service.

Born on Sept. 9, 1929, in Leipzig, Sr. Ruth Pfau studied medicine in the 1950s at the universities of Mainz and Marburg in then West Germany. After her graduation, she joined the religious order of the Daughters of the Heart of Mary, which sent her as a missionary to India.

On her way, she stopped in Karachi on March 8, 1960, and was held up because of some visa problem. It was here that she became involved in working with people affected by leprosy or Hansen’s Disease.

In 1961 she went to Vellore, South India to acquire training in the management of leprosy. She returned to Karachi to organize and expand the Leprosy Control Programme. Her Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre in Karachi, Pakistan’s first hospital dedicated to treating the disease, today has 157 branches across the country, that have helped more than 56,000 leprosy patients.

Sr. Pfau has won numerous honours and recognition in Pakistan and abroad for her humanitarian services. Germany awarded her the Order of Merit in 1969. In 1979, the Pakistani government appointed her Federal Advisor on Leprosy to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. Pakistani government honoured her with the Hilal-e-Imtiaz in 1979 and the Hilal-e-Pakistan in 1989. She was granted Pakistani citizenship in 1988. In 2002 she won the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award, regarded as Asia’s Nobel prize.