It is 6:30 pm, has been a long work day so and I’ve still quite a bit of my work ahead of me so today’s column will be dedicated to short takes of some of the day’s important and interesting news stories.

Pope Francis tweeted today: May the certainty of faith be the engine of our lives.

As I write, heads of State or government and the presidents of European Union institutions are gathering in Rome to mark the 60th anniversary of the signature of the Treaties of Rome that laid the foundations for what today we call the European Union. Pope Francis will address the gathering Friday and his words will be carefully watched.

Today, the EU faces huge challenges including Brexit – Britain’s exit from the Union – high levels of unemployment in several countries, debt crises, the growth of populist movements and a backlash against welcoming immigrants and refugees. Rome is gearing up for the leaders but also for protesters and, in recent days, I have already seen some subtle – and not so subtle – security preparations, and I’m guessing these are being ramped up, given the terror attacks yesterday in London. By the way, Pope Francis did sent a message of prayerful solidarity after the attacks. You’ll see this in the short takes that follow.

Say a prayer that the next few days in Rome will feature peaceful gatherings. Pray also that the routines of those of us who live in areas where the heads of State and government will be gathering (i.e., Vatican City) won’t be dramatically affected by the security measures, changes in bus routes, closures of some streets or squares, etc.


POPE FRANCIS SENT A TELEGRAM OF CONDOLENCES to Cardinal Vincent Nichols (in photo), archbishop of Westminster, expressing his sorrow for the victims of the terror attack at the House of Parliament in London on Wednesday. Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin sent the telegram in the Pope’s name:  “Deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and of the injuries caused by the attack in central London, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his prayerful solidarity with all those affected by this tragedy.  Commending those who have died to the loving mercy of Almighty God, His Holiness invokes divine strength and peace upon their grieving families, and he assures the nation of his prayers at this time.”

THE HOLY FATHER RECOGNIZED A MIRACLE attributed to the intercession of two Fatima children – Blesseds Francisco and Jacinta Marto – during an audience on Thursday with Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints,. He also approved the canonizations of 30 Brazilian and 3 Mexican martyrs. Francis will visit Fatima on May 12-13 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the apparition of Mary to the three children in Fatima.

POPE FRANCIS WILL MEET WITH AND ADDRESS 27 European Union heads of State and government at a private audience in the Sala Regia Friday evening, the eve of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome that led to the formation of the European Common Market, the precursor of the EU, European Union. Also in attendance will be the presidents and other representatives of EU institutions.

NEWLY RESTORED CHAPEL AT JESUS’ TOMB UNVEILED IN JERUSALEM – An ecumenical re-dedication service took place in Jerusalem’s Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre on Wednesday as restoration work on the chapel containing Jesus burial place was unveiled. Representatives of all the local Christian Churches gathered alongside special guests including Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of the Orthodox world.  Pope Francis was represented by the Vatican’s representative to Israel and Palestine, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto.

To read Vatican Radio’s onsite report:



Is today’s papal tweet the Holy Father’s answer to fans and critics of Amoris Laetitia? – To understand, forgive, accompany and integrate. That is the mindset which should prevail in the Church.

I am very excited about the final story today. I have many good friends in Jordan, very active wonderful Catholics, whom I manage to see on trips to Jordan and when they come to Rome. I am also an admirer of King Abdullah as an individual and as the ruler of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. His book, “Our Last Best Chance, The Pursuit of Peace in a Time of Peril,” is a must read for anyone who wishes to remotely understand the Middle East. I bought it on my last trip to Jordan and found it to be a page turner. I would love to think people in our State Department have read this, and hopefully they know that Jordan and King Abdullah are very important, trustworthy allies in this part of the world. What’s more, few, if any, leaders in the Middle East have done what King Abdullah has done for Christians living in his country, not to mention the huge number of refugees.


The Apostolic Exhortation “is a precious gift for our Church, as well as families and society in Asia,” especially since it comes in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. This Card Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai and President of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, said when speaking to AsiaNews about Amoris Laetitia. (photo:


For the cardinal, who holds a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Urbaniana University and a diploma in jurisprudence from the Pontifical Gregorian University, “Amoris laetitia outlines clearly that marriage is joy, and blessing, a gift from God.” Indeed, the Holy Father “speaks of the beauty and the integrity of this sacrament.

The document, which weaves together the deliberations of the two Synods on the family celebrated in 2014 and 2015, “endorses the social doctrine of the Church” in continuity with the “magisterium of John Paul II and Benedict XVI”. Under no circumstances does it represent a break with Catholic teaching.

It is also “an invitation to apply the medicine of mercy and tenderness,” by promoting an inclusive pastoral ministry that “seeks out those who live on the margins.”

“Citing Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, the pontiff notes that “love is more than a mere feeling’ (n. 94), but is instead a wilful commitment to embark on a definite path by addressing challenging things – being patient, putting aside envy and rivalry, caring about each other . . .”

In Asia, “families are traditionally very united. It is heartening that the pope connects family concerns with social concerns. He argues that families can only flourish if our societies are set up to support them.”

“It is essential that the Church in Asia get into the heart of this document. Bishops and priests can have a positive impact on our pastoral approach.”

“I would like to see our seminarians study this document, and undergo a change in mind-set and heart. Including rather than excluding is the heart of Jesus – a gift for Asia and India.” (AsiaNews)

(Cardinal Gracias is one of the C9 cardinals, the Council of Cardinals that advises the Pope.)


Pope Francis on Tuesday appointed Archbishop Christophe Pierre as the new Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America. Archbishop Pierre, a native of France, was previously Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico. He replaces Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who reached the age of retirement earlier this year. (photo:


Born January 30, 1946 in Rennes, France, he was ordained a priest in April 1970 and ordained a bishop in 1995. He was named apostolic nuncio to Haiti in 1995, and subsequently to Uganda and Mexico. In that last post, he was charged with organizing Pope Francis’ recent visit to Mexico.

Abp. Pierre succeeds Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò just months after the latter, having turned 75, offered his resignation to Pope Francis. Last Thursday, April 7, the archbishop received the Rector’s Award at the North American College’s annual Rector’s Dinner.


(Vatican Radio)  Jordan’s King Abdullah II will fund the restoration of Christ’s Tomb in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre.


Bishop William Shomali, Latin Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem, warmly welcomed the decision of King Abdullah: “This is excellent news, news of a highly symbolic character, since the Holy Sepulchre is the most sacred place for Christians of all confessions. This decision shows the kindness of the King towards Christians and his constant concern to preserve the heritage of Christianity, including his role as guarantor of the Holy Places, Christian and Muslim, Jerusalem, according to the Wadi Araba agreement.” (photo:


Jordan’s Royal Court informed the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem of the “makruma” (Royal Benefaction) in a letter addressed to His Beatitude Theophilos III on 10 April. For his part, the Orthodox Patriarch praised the generosity of King Abdullah, recalling how His Majesty remains the faithful guardian and custodian of Muslim and Christian Holy Places of Jerusalem.

The Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Latin Custody of the Holy Land announced during Holy Week that restoration works on Christ’s Tomb would begin soon after the Orthodox Easter solemnities. The Holy Sepulchre, also known as the Basilica of the Resurrection, has been the holiest site of Christian pilgrimage since the 4th century. The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem reports that the restoration work was needed because scientific studies had revealed grave problems of moisture from the “condensation of the breath of visitors,” and oxidation due to candle smoke.

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem says the aedicule, the place of burial and Resurrection of Christ, will be the object of the restoration.  It has remained untouched since 1947 when the British put in place steel support beams as part of a restoration project that never took place. The funds offered by His Majesty for the project will be entrusted to a Greek team led by Professor Antonia Moropoulou of the National Technical University of Athens.

The three main Christian denominations that worship at the Church include the Greek Orthodox, Latin and Armenian Churches.  All have agreed to cooperate for the realization of the restoration effort.