Just a heads-up for the next few days and weekend. Thursday afternoon and all day Friday are days off for EWTN employees to attend Holy Week Liturgies, so this page may be quite, although I may repost some stories on Facebook and Twitter.

I am handicapped by a cold that seems to have taken over my body and life and is not getting better as fast as I’d normally expect. I have a doctor’s appointment Holy Thursday at 6 pm, of all things, but will, as Mom used to teach me, “offer that up for the poor souls in purgatory.” An unexpectedly long  appointment last night kept me from posting.

Today I offer some highlights of Pope Francis’ catechesis at the general audience this morning. I think these would be wonderful points to reflect on in silent prayer or while saying the rosary.

The other news story about China installing a Catholic bishop is both maddening and sad.


At today’s general audience, Pope Francis gave a preview of Holy Week saying “we prepare to celebrate the mystery of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection,” And he focused on two aspects of Good Friday.

“Firstly,” he said, “let us see Jesus stripped of his clothing. In fact, ‘And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. God is stripped – He who has everything allowed Himself to be stripped of everything. But that humiliation is the path of our redemption. This is how God overcomes our appearances. Indeed, we find it difficult to bare ourselves, to be truthful. We always try to cover the truth because we do not like it. We clothe ourselves with outward appearances that we look for and take good care of, masks to disguise ourselves and to appear better than we are.”

“Let us direct our second glance to the Crucifix and we see Jesus who is wounded,” continued the Pope.!. The cross displays the nails that pierce his hands and feet, his open side. But to the wounds in his body are added those of his soul. How much anguish, Jesus is alone, betrayed, handed over and denied by his own – by his friends and even his disciples – condemned by the religious and civil powers, excommunicated, Jesus even feels abandoned by God… In the end, Jesus is wounded in body and in soul. I ask myself: In what way does this help our hope? In this way, what does Jesus, naked, stripped of everything, of everything, say to my hope, how can this help me?

We too are wounded – who isn’t in life? And they are often hidden wounds we hide out of embarrassment. Who does not bear the scars of past choices, of misunderstandings, of sorrows that remain inside and are difficult to overcome? But also of wrongs suffered, sharp words, unmerciful judgements? God does not hide the wounds that pierced his body and soul, from our eyes. He shows them so we can see that a new passage can be opened with Easter: to make holes of lights out of our own wounds.”

“Brothers and sisters, the point is not whether we are wounded a little or a lot in life, the point is what to do with my wounds –the little ones, the big ones, the ones that leave their mark forever on my body, on my soul. What can I do with my wounds? What can you, you, you, do with your wounds? “No, Father, I don’t have any wounds” – “Be careful, think twice before saying this”. And I ask you: what do you do with your wounds, with the ones only you know about? You can allow them to infect you with resentment and sadness, or I can instead unite them to those of Jesus, so that my wounds too might become luminous.”

“Our wounds can become springs of hope when, instead of feeling sorry for ourselves or hiding them, we dry the tears shed by others; when, instead of nourishing resentment for what was robbed of us, we take care of what others are lacking; when, instead of dwelling on ourselves, we bend over those who suffer; when, instead of being thirsty for love, we quench the thirst of those in need of us. For it is only if we stop thinking of ourselves, that we will find ourselves again. But if we continue to think of ourselves, we will not find ourselves anymore. And it is by doing this, the Scriptures say, that our wound is healed quickly (cf. Is 58:8), and hope flourishes anew.”

The Pope leaves us with hope when he says that, “the cross, which first seems a sign of defeat and despair, proves instead to be the tree of life and the source of undying hope.”


The prelate was transferred from the Diocese of Haimen. The director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, has said, “The Holy See was informed a few days ago of the Chinese authorities’ decision. For the moment there is nothing to say about the Holy See’s assessment.”

Vatican News

Bishop Shen Bin, until now Bishop of Haimen, was installed in the Diocese of Shanghai, China, this morning. “The Holy See had been informed a few days ago of the decision of the Chinese authorities” to transfer the Bishop and “learned from the media of the installation this morning”, the director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, reported in a communication to journalists. “For the moment, I have nothing to say about the Holy See’s assessment of the matter.”

I posted this on October 20, 2022: VATICAN TO RE-SIGN CONTROVERSIAL AGREEMENT WITH CHINA OCTOBER 22: Amid increased controversy as a trial against a prominent Chinese cardinal continues to move forward in Hong Kong, the Vatican and China will for the second time renew their provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops. Speaking to Crux, a high-ranking Vatican official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the renewal publicly, said “the agreement with China is scheduled to be renewed on (the) 22nd of October 2022, with no changes to the terms.” The official stressed that this was not an official statement, and that a formal announcement would be made “in due time” by the Holy See Press Office. Though the terms of the agreement have never been made public, the deal, brokered in September 2018, is believed to be modeled after the Holy See’s agreement with Vietnam, allowing the Holy See to pick bishops from a selection of candidates proposed by the government. Vatican-China deal to be renewed, with no changes to terms | Crux (

The original 2018 agreement, about which we know nothing, basically allows (we have been told in Vatican interviews) the communist government of China to name bishops for the Catholic Church and the Pope would be able to approve or not. No man can become a bishop without a papal mandate.

As you can see in the Shanghai case, the Chinese government went it alone.

No papal mandate.

What will the Vatican do?



I did forget to mention yesterday when I posted my column that EWTN has given staff time off on Holy Thursday and Good Friday to attend and be part of the most profoundly sacred liturgies of the entire year and I will be using that time for liturgies at my Rome parish of St. Patrick’s.

I’ll not be posting on Joan’s Rome those days (except for this announcement) but I will, if and when warranted, post something on Facebook ( and Twitter (@joansrome)

See you back here on April 18, Pasquetta or Little Easter (or Easter Monday of the Angel) in Italy.

Wishing you all the choicest blessings of Holy Week and the Easter season!

Image from Catholic Bishops of Ireland:


I found the general audience catechesis today to be especially eye-opening in one passage where Pope Francis quotes Dostoevsky and his novel, The Brothers Karamazov, in which “the Grand Inquisitor accuses Jesus of not using his power to establish peace, but rather respecting the freedom of individual men and women.”

How many times have people asked, wondered, questioned: “Why did God allow that to happen?” with “that” being a war, the death of innocents, some human atrocity. Could not God have simply willed the good to happen? Could He have simply willed the bad not to happen?

We must remember, as we search for an answer, that man has God-given free will. Mankind can, by free will, do wondrous good. By that same free will, mankind can cause great disaster and perform heinous acts.

As a prayer book of mine says: In the beginning, we make choices. In the end, those choices make us.

By the way, today is known as Spy Wednesday as it recalls the day that Judas received 30 pieces of silver from the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus (Luke 22:1-6). It is also the last official day of Lent, as tomorrow starts the Triduum (three days) of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.


Pope Francis entered the Paul VI Hall this morning for the weekly general audience and greeted the estimated 7,000 faithful in attendance.

This will be the last audience in the Paul VI Hall for a while as these weekly meetings with the Pope and faithful are scheduled to be in St. Peter’s Square, starting next Wednesday

The Holy Father began his catechesis by explaining that, “during this Holy Week, the Church celebrates the mystery of Our Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. Last Sunday we recalled the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. The crowds acclaimed him as the Messiah who would bring about a glorious peace by freeing Jerusalem from Roman occupation. Yet the peace Jesus brought did not employ the strategies of the world. Rather than recourse to violence, it comes through the humility and meekness that led him to the Cross. By dying for our sins, Christ has set us free.” (Vatican photo)

“In this regard,” explained the Holy Father, “is a great story by Dostoevsky, In his novel The Brothers Karamazov, the so-called Legend of The Grand Inquisitor, is always relevant. It tells of Jesus who, after several centuries, returns to Earth. He is immediately welcomed by the rejoicing crowd, which recognizes and acclaims him. “Ah, you have returned! Come, come with us!” But then he is arrested by the Inquisitor, who represents worldly logic. The latter interrogates him and criticizes him fiercely. The final reason for the rebuke is that Christ, although he could, never wanted to become Caesar, the greatest king of this world, preferring to leave humanity free rather than subjugate it and solve its problems by force.”

That is to say, “the Grand Inquisitor accuses Jesus of not using his power to establish peace, but rather respecting the freedom of individual men and women. Indeed, the peace that Jesus brings does not employ force, but only the “weapons” of the Gospel: prayer, forgiveness and compassion for all our neighbours. This, not the blasphemous violence of war, is the peace of Easter; the peace that changes history and the hearts of all who accept it. This week, let us draw near to Christ, crucified and risen, and implore his gift of peace in our hearts and in the world.”


At language greetings at the end of the catechesis, Francis cordially greeted the Polish pilgrims present, telling them, “this year you celebrate Holy Week and Easter in a special way, along with many Ukrainian guests. Easter is a family celebration and you, opening up your homes to them, have become their family. Although most of them will celebrate these feast days a week later, according to the oriental tradition, already now all of you together contemplate the Crucifix, and await the resurrection of Christ and peace in Ukraine. I bless you from my heart!”

In fact, most of the Ukrainian Christians fleeing their country are Orthodox Christians who celebrate Easter one week after the Latin Church marks the Resurrection.

Since the March 24 invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Poland has welcomed an estimate 2.5 million Ukrainians, mostly women and children, as men, aged 18 and older, were asked to remain in Ukraine to fight to defend their country.


CORRECTION FYI: The Good Friday meditation before the Crown of Thorns will be broadcast live from inside the Notre-Dame Cathedral from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. local time FRIDAY APRIL 10, days before the first anniversary of the fire. This relic was spared during last year’s fire in the cathedral. This will be transmitted on the website of France’s Catholic television station, KTO. I do not know as I write if and/or EWTN will transmit this.


At today’s general audience that took place in the library of the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father focussed his catechesis on Holy Week and the Lord’s passion, linking them to the spiral of death and fear that has enveloped the entire world with Covid-19.

“At this time of anxiety and suffering caused by the current pandemic,” began Francis, “we all face uncertainty and may ask where God is to be found in this situation. During these days of Holy Week we can find solace in the account of the Passion of Jesus. Our Lord also faced questions, with many wondering whether he really was the promised Messiah.

“It was only after his death,” continued the Pope, “that a centurion confirmed that Jesus truly was the Son of God. He did this after seeing Christ suffer silently on the cross, which teaches us that God’s power is revealed in humble and self-sacrificial love.”

The Holy Father explained that, “We, like the disciples, may have preferred the Lord to manifest his strength by resolving our problems according to our own measure of what is right. Yet the death and resurrection of Jesus show that while earthly power passes away, only love endures forever. Dear brothers and sisters, let us draw courage from our crucified and risen Lord, who embraces our fragility, heals our sins, and draws us close to him, transforming our doubts into faith and our fears into hope.”


From the Vatican Press Office today:

During a recent audience granted to His Eminence Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, SJ, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Holy Father decided to establish a new study commission on the female diaconate, calling the following to be part of it:

President: Cardinal Giuseppe Petrocchi, Archbishop of L’Aquila.
Secretary: Rev. Denis Dupont-Fauville, official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Prof. Catherine Brown Tkacz, Lviv (Ukraine).
Prof. Dominic Cerrato, Steubenville (USA).
Prof. Don Santiago del Cura Elena, Burgos (Spain).
Prof. Caroline Farey, Shrewsbury (Great Britain).
Prof. Barbara Hallensleben, Fribourg (Switzerland).
Prof. Don Manfred Hauke, Lugano (Switzerland).
Prof. James Keating, Omaha (USA).
Prof. Msgr. Angelo Lameri, Crema (Italy).
Prof. Rosalba Manes, Viterbo (Italy).
Prof. Anne-Marie Pelletier, Paris (France).



Vatican News will be broadcasting the papal liturgies throughout Holy Week, with live English commentary.
By Christopher Wells

The Vatican is preparing for Holy Week with a full schedule of celebrations scheduled for the holiest portion of the Church year.

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

Holy Week 2018 begins on Palm Sunday, March 25th, with the celebration of the thirty-third World Youth Day, celebrated at the diocesan level. The Church’s yearly celebration of young people alternates between international celebrations, held every two-three years, and diocesan events.

This year’s World Youth Day has the theme, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God.” Those are the words of the Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin at the Annunciation, as related in the Gospel of St. Luke.

For the diocese of Rome, the celebration will take place in St Peter’s Square, with Pope Francis presiding at the Blessing of Palms and the Procession for Palm Sunday, followed by the Mass of the Passion of the Lord.

Holy (Maundy) Thursday

There are two main liturgical events on Holy Thursday: the Chrism Mass, celebrated in St Peter’s Basilica; and the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, which the Holy Father will offer in the Regina Coeli prison, not far from the Vatican.

During the Chrism Mass, the local Bishop consecrates and blesses the Sacred Oils – Chrism, used for Confirmation, and in the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Orders; the oil of catechumens, also used in Baptism; and the oil of the sick, for the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. In Rome, the blessed oils are taken to the cathedral (of the bishop of Rome, the Pope), that is, St. John Lateran basilica, where they are dispensed to the parishes throughout the diocese.

Pope’s Holy Thursday liturgy in Rome’s Regina Coeli prison

On Thursday evening, Pope Francis will celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, commemorating the institution of both the Most Holy Eucharist and the priesthood. Following a custom established at the very beginning of his pontificate, the Pope will say the Mass in a prison, this year at Regina Coeli. He will wash the feet of twelve inmates in imitation of the actions of Jesus Himself at the Last Supper.

The Pope will also have the opportunity to visit with sick inmates in the prison infirmary, as well as with prisoners in “Section VIII”, a protected area of the facility for prisoners who might be at risk in the general population.

Good Friday

On Good Friday, Pope Francis will preside at the solemn liturgical celebration of the Lord’s Passion. The Good Friday service is not a Mass, as the Holy Eucharist is not confected. The ritual consists in the Liturgy of the Word; the Adoration of the Cross; and the Rite of Communion, where Hosts consecrated on Holy Thursday are distributed to priests and faithful.

Following the Liturgy, Pope Francis will travel across town to the Colosseum where he will officiate at the Via Crucis, the Way of the Cross. The Holy Father will offer a reflection at the conclusion of the service, followed by his Apostolic Blessing.

The Paschal Vigil and Easter Sunday

The rites of Holy Week reach their climax during the Easter Vigil of Holy Saturday, the “Mother of all Vigils.” The ceremony begins with the lighting of the new fire, which will take place in the atrium of St Peter’s Basilica. Then, with the Paschal Candle, the ministers will process to the sanctuary where Pope Francis will preside at the Solemn Mass. The Mass is notable for the chanting of the Exultet, the solemn proclamation of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead; and for the Baptismal liturgy that takes place after the Liturgy of the Word.

Finally, on Easter Sunday morning, Pope Francis will celebrate the Solemn Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord in Saint Peter’s Square. Following Mass, the Holy Father will give his Urbi et Orbi ( to the City and to the world) blessing.

Vatican News will be providing full coverage of all the papal events, with live commentary for the major liturgies. The broadcast begins immediately before the beginning of each ceremony.

Here is the full schedule for the papal events during Holy Week 2018 (all times local Roman time):

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord – 25 March – 33rd World Youth Day – St Peter’s Square – 10.00 Solemn Mass of the Passion of the Lord (with Blessing and Procession of Palms)

Holy Wednesday – 28 March – St Peter’s Square – 10.00 General Audience

Holy Thursday – 29 March – Basilica of St Peter – 10.00 Chrism Mass

Holy Thursday –  29 March – Regina Coeli prison – 16.30 Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Good Friday – 30 March – Basilica of St Peter – 17.00 Celebration of the Passion of the Lord

Good Friday – 30 March – Colosseum  – 21.15 Via Crucis (Way of the Cross)

Holy Saturday – 31 March – Basilica of St Peter – 20.30 The Easter Vigil – Solemn Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord

Easter Sunday – 1 April – St. Peter’s Square – Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord –  Urbi et Orbi blessing


The Vatican today released the schedule of liturgical celebrations over which the Pope will preside during Holy Week and on Easter Sunday. I noted that there was no mention made of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, traditionally celebrated on Holy Thursday afternoon. In recent years Pope Francis has chosen to celebrate that Mass outside the Vatican, so I am guessing they are still finalizing the details of that Eucharistic celebration.

Add the archbishop of Paris to your prayer list: The archdiocese of Paris announced today that Cardinal André Vingt-Trois has been in the hospital since February 25 where he underwent tests and is being treated for Guillain-Barré syndrome as a consequence of a viral infection. Holy Week and Easter Sunday liturgies will be celebrated by Auxiliary Bishops Jerome Beau with the auxiliary bishops, general vicars, priests, deacons and faithful of the diocese.


A Mass commemorating the first anniversary of the death of Mother Angelica was held yesterday in the EWTN Ukraine chapel. This chapel is located in the Catholic Media Center in Kiev, home of EWTN Ukraine, which reaches about 50 cities via cable TV. It is headed by Fr. Diego Saez Martin, OMI (sitting on the left).

Bishop Vitali Skomarovski, Apostolic Administrator of Kiev-Zhytomyr diocese and Head of the Commission on Mass Media of the Conference of Bishops, celebrated the Holy Mass for the eternal rest of Mother Angelica, and of deceased workers, volunteers, viewers and benefactors of EWTN

Among the Masses for Mother Angelica, one was celebrated at the Conversion of St. Paul Shrine in Cleveland, OH.  This was the same Monastery where she began her religious vocation as a Poor Clare of Perpetual Adoration. AM 1260 The Rock, Cleveland’s EWTN Radio affiliate, hosted a social after Mass.


(Vatican Radio) The Vatican on Tuesday released details of the celebrations that Pope Francis will preside over for Holy Week and Easter.

A note from the Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff notes that on Palm Sunday, April 9, the Pope will lead a procession for the blessing of the olive and palm branches in St. Peter’s Square starting at 10am, and then celebrate the Mass of Our Lord’s Passion. Palm Sunday also marks the XXXII World Youth Day with the theme taken from St Luke’s Gospel ‘The Mighty One has done great things for me’

On Thursday April 13 Pope Francis will preside at the Chrism Mass with the blessing of the holy oils in St. Peter’s Basilica, starting at 9.30am.

On Good Friday, April 14, the Pope will lead the celebration of Our Lord’s Passion in St. Peter’s Basilica, beginning at 5pm. That will be followed at 9.15pm by the traditional Via Crucis, or Way of the Cross at the Colosseum, after which the Pope will greet the crowds and impart his Apostolic Blessing.

On Saturday April 15 the Holy Father will celebrate the Easter Vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica beginning at 8.30pm with the blessing of the new fire and a procession with the Paschal candle. During the celebration he will administer the Sacrament of Baptism before concelebrating Mass with the other cardinals and bishops.

Easter Sunday morning, April 16, beginning at 10am, Pope Francis will preside at the Mass of Our Lord’s Resurrection in St. Peter’s Square before giving his ‘Urbi et Orbi’ blessing (to the city of Rome and to the world) from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.


Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, on Tuesday addressed the 39th national meeting of diocesan Caritas taking place in the Italian city of Castellaneta (province of Taranto) that began Monday and ends March 30. (photo: SIR)

He issued a warning, saying, “peace in Europe is threatened not just by terrorism: we should not forget that, to the east, at the Ukrainian border, there is heavy fighting with weapons, tanks and warplanes.” He mentioned Pope Francis’ address to the EU leaders last week: “There is no true peace whenever people are cast aside or forced to live in dire poverty. There is no peace without employment and the prospect of earning a dignified wage. There is no peace in the peripheries of our cities, with their rampant drug abuse and violence.”

“There is no peace,” said Cardinal Turkson, “when politics – instead of being a service, a work of charity, commitment to the common good – turn into a farce, a source of enrichment, a controversy over minor issues; when it cares for its own place instead of caring for the place of progress in society.”

He continued, noting that, “there is no peace whenever the Internet and social media are divisive, make people lose critical thinking, but rather instill and spread bullying, violence, pornography, deception and insecurity. There is no peace when many banks, unbridled financial markets and speculation shift the focus away from the needs of the real economy and from citizens’ control.”

“The new name for peace is development,” explained Cardinal Turkson. But this is Europe, a place of relative peace, a desired destination for many, and an example, at least for some decades.” (source: SIR)