I visited the Vatican website today – The Holy See (vatican.va) – as I was looking for language editions of the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium, Pope Francis’ document on the Roman Curia that went into effect on Pentecost Sunday, June 5. It was originally published on Saturday, March 15, without any fanfare or pre-announcement, and only in Italian. In fact, some corrections had to be made after that hasty publication.

I clicked on Apostolic Constitutions | Francis (vatican.va) and did not see any other official language editions/translations of this constitution posted. Will they be posted before the cardinals meet in August to discuss this document, as per invitation of Pope Francis? Will the cardinals be able to study the document in their own languages?

Interestingly enough, if you click on THE ROMAN CURIA, you see the message: “The updated Roman Curia section is currently available in Italian.” So I imagine there is some work to do on this site, in particular because what were once called Congregations or Pontifical Councils are now called dicasteries and all those names have to be changed.

If you do visit The Holy See (vatican.va), I honestly think you’ll find it an interesting site with decades of history.



Vatican City, 7 June 2022 – For the tenth consecutive year, the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR) publishes its Annual Report containing its 2021 Financial Statements prepared in accordance with IAS-IFRS international accounting standards.

These financial statements received a clean opinion from the auditor Mazars Italia S.p.A. and, on 26 April 2022, they were unanimously approved by the IOR Board of Superintendence. Subsequently, as provided for in the Statutes, they were then sent to the Commission of Cardinals for their review.

Given the soundness of the 2021 financial statements, and taking into account IOR’s capital requirements, the Commission of Cardinals decided upon the distribution of profits.

In 2021, the IOR achieved the following results in line with its strategic plan:

  • EUR 18.1 million net profit
  • + 15% net interest margin, + 22% net commission income, + 4% assets under management
  • 38.54% TIER 1 ratio
  • 59% cost/income ratio

Profits are in line with expectations, with the new HTCS (Held To Collect and Sell) business model adopted for investments and with a conservative risk profile.

Growth in assets under management reflects positively on the investment performance delivered to clients with respect the principles of the Social Doctrine of the Church. 70% of management lines performances were above the 5-year benchmark.

The cost/income ratio reflects a good control of costs notably as a result of the Institute’s decision to continue digitalisation of customer services, strengthening IT defence tools and hiring new resources with different seniority and specialisation profiles.

The Institute maintained all efforts to comply at any time with all rules and regulations, confirming the cultural transformation of the Institute. The best illustration of this strong compliant and risk control culture in 2021 was illustrated in the Moneyval review of the Holy See1


The Holy See Press Office on Tuesday announced the institution of the Investment Committee and the appointment of its members. The Investment Committee was provided for in Article 227 of the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium, which entered into force on Sunday. It will be presided over by Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life.

The four members of the Committee are: Jean Pierre Casey, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of RegHedge (Great Britain); Giovanni Christian Michael Gay, Managing Director of Union Investment Privatfonds GmbH (Germany); David Harris, Portfolio manager of Skagen Funds (Norway); and, John J. Zona, Chief Investment Officer of Boston College (United States of America).

According to Praedicate Evangelium, “the Committee, composed of high-profile professionals appointed for five-year terms, is called upon to ensure the ethical nature of the Holy See’s equity investments, in accordance with the Church’s social doctrine and according to the criteria of profitability, suitability, and moderate riskiness (in Italian: redditività, adeguatezza e moderata rischiosità).” (Vatican announces appointments to Investment Committee – Vatican News)



Today is a kind of smorgasbord of news – something for everyone: Corpus Christi, a papal charity fund raiser, Vatican City and coronavirus, Vatican bank annual report and a just-inaugurated Vativision platform that streams content on demand – films, documentaries and TV series – inspired by the Christian message.

Sunday, June 14, feast of Corpus Christi, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Altar of the Chair at 9:45 am. About 50 faithful will be present for the papal Mass.

Do you want to help Pope Francis’ fund-raising efforts to help Italian hospitals? If so, click here to check out the site and to participate in the charity auction (there are some amazing offers): charitystars.com

 In a statement released on Saturday, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, announced that the last person in the Vatican to have been reported sick in the past few weeks has tested negative for Covid-19. “To date there are no positive cases of coronavirus among employees of the Holy See and within Vatican City State,” reads the statement.


Vatican City, 8 June 2020 – For the eighth consecutive year, the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR) publishes the Financial Statements in its Annual Report.

The 2019 Financial Statements have been audited by the independent international auditing firm Mazars.

On 28 April 2020, the Board of Superintendence of the Institute unanimously approved the 2019 Financial Statements. In accordance with the Statutes, they were submitted to the Commission of Cardinals highlighting the soundness and the strength of IOR financials (capital and liquidity level) and its compliance with international best practices. In line with the indications of His Holiness Pope Francis, the Commission of Cardinals decided again this year for a full distribution of profits. (photo: Vatican media)

In 2019 the Institute continued to provide, with rigor and prudence, financial services to the Vatican City State and the Catholic Church worldwide. The Institute also continued its work to ensure adherence to Catholic Social Teaching throughout its operations. The priority and commitment of the Institute to the ethical and social principles of Catholic Teaching is applied to the management and investment policies of its own account and to those of its clients.

Key financial data for the Institute in 2019 are the following:

– Euro 5.1 billion (Euro 5 billion in 2018) of client assets of which 3.4 billion are assets· managed for third parties or under custody;

– Euro 38 million (Euro 17.5 million in 2018), as a net result illustrating the risk-based· and faith consistent investment process applied to manage IOR balance sheet;

– Euro 630.3 million of net equity after distribution of profit as at 31 December 2019. In· addition, IOR maintains a strong liquidity level with a Liquidity Coverage Ratio LCR of 443% and a Net Stable Funding Ratio NSFR of 1008%.

During the year, the IOR has continued to strengthen its senior management team and increased its investments in IT including those related to the membership of the European SEPA payment platforms.

(IOR website: http://www.ior.va/content/ior/en.html)


As of today, the VatiVision platform is online to stream content on demand – films, documentaries and TV series – inspired by the Christian message. The new initiative is the result of the collaboration between the Vatican’s Communication Secretariat and Vetrya.** The service is available worldwide in multi-screen mode, through a browser, by connecting to http://www.vativision.com or as an app on smartphones, tablets, smart-TVs and set-top boxes, where it is already present in all digital stores.

Dubbed “the Netflix of the Vatican,” VatiVision offers a catalogue full of content, religious documentaries, such as Lourdes and the Great Popes, films and documentaries dedicated to great biographies, such as Padre Pio, or art documentaries. VatiVision is available on TIMVISION***, TIM’s TV, and will soon be available on other international telecommunications operators.

(** Vetrya is an Italian cloud computing platform for the telecommunication industry – *** TIM is the Italian Telephone Company. www.vativision.com at the moment is only in Italian)




On 1 October 2019, the Director of the Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria (AIF), Tommaso Di Ruzza, and his offices were searched by the Corps of the Gendarmerie of the Vatican City State in relation to an investigation initiated by the Promotor of Justice following two complaints lodged in July and August this year by the I.O.R. and the Office of the Auditor General within their respective institutional competences.

The search, which resulted in the seizure certain files and records, is in connection with an ongoing institutional activity carried out by AIF based on a Suspicious Activity Report involving several foreign jurisdictions.

Immediately following these events, the President of AIF, René Brülhart, having consulted with the members of the Board of Directors, opened an internal investigation to gain a thorough understanding of the relevant operational activity of AIF.

Based upon that internal investigation, the Board of Directors has determined:
– First, that the activity carried out by AIF and its Director was properly institutional in nature and conducted in conformity with the AIF’s governing Statute.
– Second, that in the exercise of its institutional authority, neither the Director nor any other employee of AIF improperly exercised his authority or engaged in any other wrongdoing.
– Accordingly, the Board of Directors reaffirms its full faith and trust in the professional competence and honorability of its Director and, moreover, commends him for the institutional work carried out in the handling of this particular case. As AIF continues to conduct its operational activities at the domestic and international levels, it remains fully cooperative with competent authorities. The Board of AIF is confident that potential misapprehensions will be clarified soon.



I had a very interesting experience this morning at an Italian post office near my home. Almost 100 percent of the time I post letters, etc., at the ultra-reliable Vatican post office but the Italian p.o. was just yards from where I was going on another errand at 12:30.

I entered, made way for three people who were leaving, got a number from a machine near the door and was about to wait my turn in line when I noticed there was no one else inside, except the four post office employees behind the counter. I was delighted at not having to wait in line, and immediately went to the window where I saw the Number 58.

I need to back up a little ……

You must first understand that an Italian post office has multiple windows but also multiple functions, and the one for mailing or picking up letters and packages usually seems to be the least trafficked. You can get your pension at the post office, pay your utility bills, buy and pay for insurance and perform a number of other functions. The machine that gives out numbers for waiting in line has a special button for each function. I had pressed the button for mail services, and got ticket number O49.

When I looked at the numbers above each of the employees, I went to the number closest to mine, even though it was above mine. I did wonder how O58 could have been called before O49!

I gave the gentleman my numbered slip and he said I had to wait until that number was called!

I responded: “But there’s no one else here, I’m the only person in the post office. Also, how did you get to 58 if I have Number 49?”

He said I had to wait until 49 was called. I said, as politely as I could manage, “You are kidding me, aren’t you?!”

He said he was not kidding. He waited a few seconds and then he pressed a button (buttons?) to his left and number 49 appeared on the screen!

He weighed the letter, I paid €2.31 and did not say another word before I left.

All I could think about was writing this column, telling a story about life in Italy!


Vatican City, May 22, 2018 – The Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) publishes its 2017 Financial Statements and its Annual Report. The Financial Statements have been audited by the independent auditing firm Deloitte & Touche S.p.A.

Click here for report in English: http://www.ior.va/content/dam/ior/documenti/ComunicatiStampaNotizie/2018/inglese/Comunicato%20Stampa%20Bilancio%202017%20-%20ENG%20FINALE.pdf


I read the papal telegram for the earthquake in Hualien, Taiwan and immediately thought of the beauty of the region and its people which I had the privilege to visit in 2001. I hope the numbers of victims does not grow and that re-building comes speedily.


At today’s general audience, the Holy Father continued his catechesis on the Eucharist, turn to the culmination of the Liturgy of the Word in the Gospel and in the homily.

He said, “The Gospel sheds the light of the mystery of Christ on the scriptural readings that precede it. By our acclamations and the rites that accompany its proclamation, we venerate the Gospel as the living and saving word of God, who speaks to us in the midst of the liturgical assembly and awaits our response.”

Francis then noted that, “this dialogue between the Lord and his people continues in the homily, which seeks to make God’s word incarnate in our hearts and in our lives. The homily draws us more deeply into the mystery of the communion in Christ that we celebrate in the Eucharist. The homily makes demands on both the homilist and the congregation; both must be disposed to consider how the word of God applies to the here and now of our lives, even when its summons to conversion proves challenging or painful.”

“The preacher must pay due attention, taking on the correct interior dispositions – without subjective pretexts – and knowing that every preacher has strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes the congregation has reason to be bored by a homily that is too long, irrelevant, or incomprehensible; at other times, it is prejudice that becomes an obstacle.”

He then spoke off the cuff, addressing deacons, priests and bishops who preach, telling them a good homily is well prepared and brief. The best way to prepare “is with prayer, study of the Word of God, and a clear, brief synthesis, which must not go over 10 minutes.”


At the end of today’s general audience, the Holy Father noted that tomorrow, February 8, marks the liturgical memory of St Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese nun, who as a child had the traumatic experience of being a victim of human trafficking.

February 8 is also, he said, “the World Day of Prayer and Reflection on Human Trafficking. The theme this year is “Migration without Trafficking. Yes to Freedom! No to Trafficking!”

“Having few possibilities of regular channels, many migrants are forced to choose illegal channels of migration where they are submitted to abuses of every kind, exploitation and slavery. Criminal organizations that engage in the trafficking of persons make use of migratory routes to hide their victims among the migrants and refugees.

I therefore invite everyone, citizens and institutions, to join forces to prevent trafficking and to guarantee protection and assistance to the victims. Let us pray that the Lord may convert the hearts of traffickers and give hope to those who suffer because of this shameful scourge so they may regain their freedom.”


Speaking at the end of the weekly general audience, Francis noted that the XXIII Winter Olympics are being inaugurated in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang on Friday, February 9, with the participation of teams from 92 countries.

He said “the traditional Olympic truce takes on a particular significance since delegations from both North and South Korea will be marching together at the opening ceremony and competing together on the same team. This makes up hope for a world in which conflicts can be peacefully resolved through dialogue and mutual respect, reflecting the values which sport embodies.

I greet the International Olympic Committee, the athletes who will participate in the Pyeongchang games and the people of the Korean peninsula. I accompany everyone with my prayer and renew the commitment of the Holy See to support every initiative in favor of peace and meetings among peoples. May these Olympics be a great festival of friendship and sport! May God bless you and keep you!

A Vatican news story noted that the Pope’s words came as North Korea announced that the sister of North Kim Jong-un will attend Friday’s Olympic opening ceremony. Kim Yo-jong, a senior Workers’ Party official promoted to the politburo last year, will be the first member of the immediate Kim family to cross the border between North and South Korea.

The move is widely being seen as an effort to ease tensions between the two neighbours who never signed a peace treaty at the end of the Korean War in 1953. The border, or demilitarized zone between the two countries, remains one of the most heavily fortified borders in the world today.



Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of State, sent the following telegram in Pope Francis’ name to Bishop Philip Huang Chao-ming Bishop of Hualien.

“His Holiness Pope Francis wishes to express his solidarity with all those affected by the earthquakes in Taiwan these past days, and he offers the assurance of his prayers for those who have lost their lives and for those who have been injured. As he encourages the civil authorities and emergency personnel engaged in rescue efforts, His Holiness willingly invokes upon all the Taiwanese people the divine blessings of strength and peace.”

The magnitude 6.4 quake hit the island at 11:50 last evening, local time. As of 10 this morning Rome time (3 am Taiwan), there was notable damage, collapsed roads, bridges and buildings, 4 dead, 200 injured and140 missing.


The following was released by IOR, commonly called the Vatican bank, at 8:30 pm Rome time last night. Shortly afterwards I posted it on Facebook.

Vatican City State, February 6th, 2018 –
By a decision published today, the Civil Court of the Vatican City State found two former senior managers of IOR liable for mismanagement. The Court has ordered them to compensate IOR for the resulting damages.

The Court’s decision is the outcome of a civil liability action started by IOR in September 2014 supported by a comprehensive review of financial investments made by IOR before mid 2013.

This ruling is an important step illustrating the significant work of IOR senior management over the last 4 years to transform the Institute. It demonstrates IOR’s continuing commitment to strong governance, transparency to its operations and its determination to meet best international standards. It confirms IOR’s will to pursue by judicial proceedings any misconducts carried out to its detriment, no matter where and by whom.



The big story of the day for me was Pope Francis’ audience in the Paul VI Hall with young patients, their families and the hospital staff of Rome’s ‘Bambino Gesù’ Children’s Hospital. I posted the text of his remarks and an EWTN video for “Vaticano” on my FB page (facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420).

Two further news stories may interest you. Have a sweet tooth? The first story is for you.  Have an account at the Vatican Bank? Then the second piece of news is for you.


In celebration of Pope Francis 80th birthday on Saturday, a group of chefs presented the Pope with a huge birthday cake on Wednesday.


Papal colors of white and gold adorned the big round cake and topped with a huge ball designed as a globe. As a sign of peace, chefs also decorated the cake with sprigs of olive trees.

Early Wednesday, thousands of people attended the Pope’s General Audience and sang the Italian version of “Happy Birthday to You.” Pope Francis thanked the audience and candidly joked about the bad luck of early birthday wishes.

Pope Francis Birthday cake

The Pope said, “Thank you very much for your greetings for my upcoming birthday.” The gathering served as the last public appearance of the Pope before his birthday. He then added, “But I’ll tell you something that will make you laugh. In my country, expressing greetings ahead of time brings bad luck and those who do it are jinxers.”

80 years of age signifies an important milestone for Catholic prelates, particularly to those who work at the Vatican.

The age limit for a cardinal to join in a conclave to vote for a pope is 80 years. Furthermore, they were relieved from serving Vatican congregations and councils which they attended.

On the other hand, the Pope does not have any limitations.

Everyone can now send birthday greetings to Pope Francis. The Vatican set up seven unique emails addresses earlier this month, which includes an English counterpart PopeFrancis80@vatican.va. Also, hashtag #Pontifex80 created in social media for the Pope’s birthday celebration.

Parliamentarians in the UK proposed an action for the House of Commons to greet the Pope on his birthday. Nine MPs already signed the motion from the Conservative and the Labour party. (www.newsline.com)


(Vatican Radio) The Vatican on Thursday announced the Cardinals Commission of Vigilance of the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), commonly known as the Vatican Bank, has appointed Mr. Scott C. Malpass, Javier Marín Romano and Georg Freiherr von Boeselager as members of the IOR Board of Superintendence, bringing the total number of members to seven.


Mr. Malpass, from the United States, has held various prestigious positions and has served for over 25 years as Chief Investment Officer for Notre Dame University in the United States, where he works in the field of investment in conformity with the social doctrine of the Church, and teaches courses in the field of investment research at the same University.

Mr. Marín, from Spain, enjoys a wealth of experience in banking and in particular has held various positions for Banco Santander, including Chief Executive Officer and as Head of the Private Banking, Asset Management and Insurance Division.

Mr. von Boeselager, of German nationality, has worked for many years in the private banking field and presently holds the position of Head of the Supervisory Board of Merck Finck & Privatbankiers AG, in Munich.

The three new members, each enjoying broad experience in the financial field, will meet together with the present members of the Board at their next meeting, scheduled for January, 2017.


I laughed out loud today when I realized the focus of the Pope’s catechesis on perseverance in prayer came from the Gospel story in Luke 18 that Francis described as “the parable of the unjust judge and the widow (Lk 18:1-8)…. (where) even an unscrupulous judge will finally render justice to a poor woman because of her persistence.”

Here are verses 1-8: “Then he told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, 2 There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. 3And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ 4For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, 5 because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’” 6 The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. 7 Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? 8 I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Why did I laugh? Because Luke 18 was my defender in July 2004 when, for nth time I visited the Vatican office at APSA (Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See) in charge of rental apartments to inquire how my application for a Vatican-owned apartment was proceeding.

To back up a bit: I arrived in Rome in August of 1990 to take up the position I had been offered at the Vatican Information Service the preceding May when I was in Rome on vacation. I had arranged temporary lodgings starting in late August but had to look for something more permanent.

The head of the Holy See Press Office at the time, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, told me I should put in an application at APSA for one of the apartments they owned, many of which were set aside at somewhat subsidized rents for Vatican employees whose salaries were notoriously low. Private Rome rents were usually so high as to be prohibitive on a Vatican salary.

In January 1991 I filled out an APSA application for rental. I well remember the gentleman who accepted that application, telling me “it will be at least five years before you may be called.” Astonished, I replied, somewhat jokingly, that I hoped to still be alive then.

If you want to know what perseverance is – the perseverance that St. Luke and Pope Francis spoke about – mine was biblical in breadth and depth.

By July of 2004, having moved several times in Rome, I had seen so many Vatican-owned apartments that my head was spinning. Only one met my requirements and the monthly rent was well above my monthly salary. With one exception, all the rest were in terrible shape and required work that went well beyond what I could have afforded. The very first one shown to me was in a sub-basement and so small that it almost defied description.

My house-hunting adventures became the stuff of lore. Friends were constantly asking, “What’s the latest?” and they couldn’t wait for the story.

I know the Vatican had reasonable apartments because I saw the homes of my friends. However, they had also put a lot of money into them as most were fixer-uppers. The really beautiful homes – already fixed up – were priced beyond our salaries.

July 2004: I made yet another appointment to see about an apartment. The night before the appointment I thought of the Gospel story of the widow but could not remember where to find it. I did a Google search and found Luke 18 and that was my sole weapon when I went to APSA.

I told the monsignor that, notwithstanding the amazingly long time that had passed since my application and notwithstanding the fact I had to say ‘no’ to a number of apartments, “I will be exactly like the widow in Luke 18 and will persevere until the very end.”

Two weeks later I was shown the apartment that I live in today!


In what was another first for Pope Francis, he began his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday by greeting people in sign language, according to Vatican Radio.

POPE - sign language

The message of greeting – which involves raising one’s arms, and then turning your hand with the palms out – was for a pilgrimage group from the National Board for the Deaf, which is based in Florence. There was also a group of pilgrims from the Italian Union of the Blind, based in Latina.

Pope Francis’ catechesis today focuse on perseverance in prayer.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” he began. “In our continuing catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy, we now turn to the parable of the unjust judge and the widow (Lk 18:1-8).  In telling us that even an unscrupulous judge will finally render justice to a poor woman because of her persistence, Jesus encourages us to persevere in prayer to our heavenly Father, who is infinitely just and loving.  He also assures us that God will not only hear our prayers, but will not delay in answering them (vv. 7-8).

The Pope noted that, “the Gospels tell us that Jesus himself prayed constantly.  His own intense prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is a model for our own: it teaches us to present our petitions with complete trust in Father’s gracious will.  The parable of the unjust judge and the widow ends with a pointed question: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth”? (v. 8).

“Perseverance in prayer,” concluded Francis, “keeps our faith alive and strong.  For in that prayer, we experience the compassion of God who, like a Father filled with love and mercy, is ever ready to come to the aid of his children. (photo: news.va)

Ag May 25

At the end of the general audience, the Holy Father prayed for the victims of the atrocious coordinated terrorist attacks that took place in the Syrian cities of Jableh and Tartus on Monday, killing over 160 people.

“I exhort everyone to pray to the merciful Father, to pray to the Madonna, that [God] might give eternal rest to the victims, and consolation to their families, and might convert the hearts of those who sow death and destruction.” The Pope and pilgrims then prayed the Hail Mary together.

Funerals for the victims began on Tuesday in Syria.

Francis also noted that today is International Missing Children’s Day at his General Audience on Wednesday. This day was established by U.S. President Ronalòd Reagan in 1983, following the disappearance four years earlier of 6-year-old Etan Patz in New York City. He was last seen on May 25, 1979 and that day was chosen for the annual commemoration, which is now also celebrated internationally.

The Pope said, “It is everyone’s duty to protect children, especially those exposed to elevated risk of exploitation, trafficking, and deviant conduct.” He also expressed the hope that “civil and religious authorities might stir consciences and raise awareness, in order to avoid indifference in the face of children on their own, exploited children, and children far from their families and their social context, children who cannot grow-up peacefully or look with hope to the future. … Pray that each of them might be restored to the affection of their loved ones.”

In special words for the sick and suffering, Francis noted that Wednesday was the feast of Pope St. Gregory VII. “May he encourage you, dear sick people, to confront your moments of suffering with faith.”


“With the recent approval and publication of the Annual Report of the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR) having been completed in a positive manner, two members of the Board of Superintendence, Clemens Börsig and Carlo Salvatori, in accordance with current rules, recently presented their resignations to the President of the Cardinals’ Commission of the IOR. The decision can be seen in light of legitimate reflections and opinions concerning the management of an Institute whose nature and purpose are as particular as those of the IOR.

“The two board members made a competent and qualified contribution in this important phase for the stability and integrity of the Institute, and its conformity not only to internal Vatican regulations, but also obligations taken by the Holy See on a European level.

“The President of the Cardinals’ Commission thanked the two members of the board, and accepted the resignations. A phase now begins, fully respecting the procedures in place, to find and evaluate new candidates suitable to fill the positions on the Board of Superintendence.”


From the Holy See Press Office today: With regard to reports that have appeared in the Italian press in recent days on the bankruptcy of the company “Edil Ars” and the proceedings against the entrepreneur Mr. Angelo Proietti, it is to be noted that:

1)  The competent Authorities of the Holy See and the Vatican City State initiated the investigation established by the Vatican legislation in 2013, taking action on the basis of Suspicious Transaction Reports relating to Mr. Proietti, seizing all the relevant financial resources.

2)  Since the start of the investigation the competent Authorities of the Holy See and the Vatican City State requested the cooperation and exchanged information with the competent Italian Authorities, as required by the respective legislation and the Memoranda of Understanding in force.

3)  A criminal investigation is currently going on in the Vatican City State and the competent Authorities are assessing the existence of potential offences against entities of the Holy See and the Vatican City State.


A good friend, Fr. Steven Lopes, was just named today to a very important post in the United States – a good news/bad news announcement. Good news, obviously, for Fr. Steven but bad for those of us here in Rome who have enjoyed his friendship for so many years. I will talk about the Ordinariate to which he was named in the story below and give you some background on the Personal Ordinariate, its history and early beginnings in the UK.

I met with the very first Ordinary, Msgr. Keith Newton, exactly two weeks after the big announcement was made on January 15, 2011 in London. I’ve followed the Personal Ordinariate since its institution by Pope Benedict in 2009, as you may remember from these pages and my interviews on Vatican Insider.  I spent 5 days in London in January 2011 researching the newly established Ordinariate and interviewing people.

Part of my report comes from the columns I wrote in London and part from the Ordinariate media office which published a news letter immediately after the announcement today in Rome. I also feature a Q&A from 2011 that explains the Personal Ordinariate quite well. The Ordinariate has a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CSPOrdinariate

God speed, Bishop-elect Steven!  May God sit on your shoulder! May we meet again at “La Vittoria” to break bread before your permanent departure for Houston!  Our paths crossed last week at La Vittoria: Fr. Steve and a friend were leaving and I was arriving and Fr. Keyes took a photo and posted it on my Facebook page on Nov. 20.



A brief Vatican communique this morning noted that, about 10:30 today, Pope Francis visited IOR, the Institute for the Works of Religion commonly called the Vatican bank. He met with the Board of Directors for approximately twenty minutes, at which time he announced the appointment of Dr. Gian Franco Mammi as the new director general. He will be assisted by Dr. Giulio Mattietti, pending the selection of a new deputy director. (photo: L’Osservatore Romano)IOR - Pope


The Vatican announced today that Pope Francis has appointed Msgr. Steven Lopes as the first bishop Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of The Chair of St. Peter. The bishop-elect was born in Fremont, California and was ordained a priest in 2001. He holds a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and is currently an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The Personal Ordinariate is a structure equivalent to a diocese for Roman Catholics who were raised in the Anglican tradition. The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter was established by Pope Benedict on January 1, 2012, with its headquarters in Houston, Texas. Instituted to serve Roman Catholics across the U.S. and Canada, it is the first diocese of its kind in North America. The Ordinariate was created to provide a path for groups of Anglicans to become fully Roman Catholic, while retaining elements of their worship traditions and spiritual heritage in their union with the Holy Roman Church.

The first such Ordinariate was the Personal Ordiniariate of our Lady of Walsingham. On Saturday, January 15, 2011 the Vatican announced that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith erected a Personal Ordinariate within the territory of England and Wales for those groups of Anglican clergy and faithful who have expressed their desire to enter into full visible communion with the Catholic Church. This was in accordance with the provisions of Pope Benedict’s November 4, 2009 Apostolic Constitution ‘Anglicanorum coetibus’ that provided for the erection of such an ordinariate and came after careful consultation with the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales.

The Vatican statement announcing the first Ordinariate noted that, “For doctrinal reasons, the Church does not, in any circumstances, allow the ordination of married men as bishops. However, the Apostolic Constitution does provide, under certain conditions, for the ordination as Catholic priests of former Anglican married clergy.” Keith Newton, a married bishop in the Anglican tradition, was named as the first ordinary of Walsingham. He may wear his episcopal attire but has the title ‘Monsignor’.

Bishop-elect Lopes’ appointment comes just five days before the Ordinariate begins using Divine Worship: The Missal, a new book of liturgical texts for the celebration of Mass in the Personal Ordinariates around the globe. The texts were approved by the Vatican for use beginning the first Sunday of Advent, Nov. 29, 2015.

Bishop-elect Lopes was directly involved in developing these texts for worship: since 2011, he has served as the executive coordinator of the Vatican commission, Anglicanae Traditiones, which produced the new texts. The new missal is a milestone in the life of the Ordinariate, since the Ordinariate’s mission is particularly expressed through the reverence and beauty of its worship, which shares the treasury of the Anglican liturgical and musical traditions with the wider Catholic community.

The Ordinariate news release explained that Msgr. Jeffrey N. Steenson, who headed the Ordinariate of the Chair of Peter since 2012, introduced Bishop-elect Lopes at a news conference today at the Chancery Offices of the Ordinariate in Houston. “With this appointment,” it says, “Pope Francis affirms and amplifies Pope Benedict’s vision for Christian unity, in which diverse expressions of one faith are joined together in the Church.”

By naming Bishop-elect Lopes, the Pope has confirmed that the Ordinariate is a permanent, enduring part of the Catholic Church, like any other diocese – one that is now given a bishop so that it may deepen its contribution to the life of the Church and the world.


The following Q&A was part of a lengthy communiqué issued by the Bishops Conference of England and Wales at the historic announcement of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham on January 15, 2011:

Why did Pope Benedict XVI publish Anglicanorum coetibus?

As the Holy Father stated when he published “Anglicanorum coetibus,” he was responding to petitions received “repeatedly and insistently” by him from groups of Anglicans wishing “to be received into full communion individually as well as corporately” with the Catholic Church. During his address to the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales at Oscott last September, Pope Benedict was therefore keen to stress that the Apostolic Constitution “should be seen as a prophetic gesture that can contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics. It helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion in the context of which the mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as an enrichment to us all.”  In this way, the establishment of the Ordinariate is clearly intended to serve the wider and unchanging aim of the full visible unity between the Catholic Church and the members of the Anglican Communion.

Will members of the Ordinariate still be Anglicans?

No. Members of the Ordinariate will be Catholics. Their decision is to leave the Anglican Communion and come into the Catholic Church, in full communion with the Pope. The central purpose of Anglicanorum coetibus is “to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared”. Members of the Ordinariate will bring with them, into full communion with the Catholic Church in all its diversity and richness of liturgical rites and traditions, some aspects their own Anglican patrimony and culture. It is recognised that the term Anglican patrimony is difficult to define but it would include many of the spiritual writings, prayers, hymnody, and pastoral practices distinctive to the Anglican tradition which have sustained the faith and longing of many Anglican faithful for that very unity for which Christ prayed. The Ordinariate will then bring a mutual enrichment and exchange of gifts, in an authentic and visible form of full communion, between those baptised and nurtured in Anglicanism and the Catholic Church.

Do all Anglicans who wish to become Catholics now have to be members of the Ordinariate?

No. Any individual former Anglican who wishes to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church, may do so without becoming a registered member of the Ordinariate. As stated above, the Ordinariate is being established essentially for groups of former Anglican faithful and their clergy who wish to maintain as members of the Catholic Church, within the canonically approved and structured ecclesial life of the Ordinariate, those aspects of their Anglican spiritual, liturgical and pastoral tradition which are recognised as authentic by the Catholic Church.

What is the ‘Ordinariate’ then?

The Ordinariate will be a specific ecclesiastical jurisdiction that is similar to a diocese and will be led by its own ‘Ordinary’ … who will be a bishop or priest. However, unlike a diocese its membership will be on a ‘personal’ rather than a ‘territorial’ basis; that is, no matter where a member of the Ordinariate lives within England and Wales they will, in the first instance, be under the ordinary ecclesial jurisdiction of the Ordinariate and not the diocese where they are resident. The Ordinariate will be made up of laity, clergy and religious who were formerly members of the Anglican Communion. Following reception into full communion with the Catholic Church, the laity and religious will become members of the Ordinariate by enrolment in a register; with ordination as priests and deacons, the clergy will be directly incardinated into (placed under the jurisdiction of) the Ordinariate.”




I get frequent requests from people asking how they can obtain a papal blessing for a specific person or couple or family on a specific occasion (birthday, anniversary, etc.) To be honest, if you go to Google and type “papal blessing,” before you even finish the word blessing, you will be brought to this site – all the info you need on how to order, what occasions may be used for a blessings, how to pay, etc.  Help me to help others by passing this info on to people you know who want papal blessings, and be sure to put it on your own web page or Facebook page! http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/institutions_connected/elem_apost/documents/rc_elemosineria_doc_20130218_benedizioni_en.html

I am also asked – even more frequently! – for help in planning trips. I just can’t plan your trip for you but I can give suggestions on how to visit the Vatican as you can see by the link below (it is always on my blog page). Visiting Rome is a whole other category and I simply do not have the time to assist in planning itineraries, churches to visit, etc. The Internet has very valuable information and I’m sure that some surfing will yield wonderful results. In any case, one of the real fun parts of any trip is discovering places and monuments and churches and restaurants on your own! CLICK HERE FOR PRACTICAL INFORMATION ON VISITING THE VATICAN

Today is officially an EWTN holiday and a day off  but I have some work to attend to, including posting some news. There was a plethora of news and events in the Vatican this weekend – Pentecost Sunday and the birth of our beloved Church being at the top of that list! I am sure you are busy on Memorial Day – and I hope it is a day of rest and families being together and celebrating the reason for this important American holiday. Hopefully you’ll be so busy with family and friends that you won’t have a lot of time for reading but you can pick and choose what stories you want to follow by visiting: http://www.news.va/en/source/vatican-information-service

The biggest Vatican story of the day is the one that follows about the Vatican bank!  Very heady stuff, as you will see!

Just one favor today: I ask that you keep my twin cousins, Dotty and Debby, in your prayers. Deb wrote me while I was in Turin that Dot was admitted to the hospital a week ago with pneumonia and some complications arose (not pneumonia related) and she is going down hill very rapidly. They are three months younger than me and we have always been very close. And no one can imagine (unless you are a twin) what that very special bond is like! Deb and her other sister Diane and I are in daily touch and I’ll keep you posted.


The IOR, the Institute for Works of Religion, known more informally as the Vatican bank, released its Annual Report for 2014 on Monday. The year 2014 was an eminently positive year for the IOR, as it showed a net profit of 69.3 million Euros, a substantial increase from the 2.9 million reported in 2013. (JFL: as of today, May 25, 2015, $1 = 0.9116 Euro).(photo: Salt and Light)
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Below are excerpts from that report, presented in Italian and English.

About the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR):

The “Istituto per le Opere di Religione” (IOR) is an institute founded on 27 June 1942 by Papal Decree. Its origins date back to the “Commissione ad Pias Causas” established in 1887 by Pope Leo XIII. The mission of the IOR is to serve the global mission of the Catholic Church by providing for the custody and administration of its customers’ assets, and rendering dedicated worldwide payment services to its customers. The Institute’s mission was confirmed by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, on 7 April 2014. The IOR operates from a single location – its headquarters in the Vatican City State – and is regulated by the “Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria” (AIF), the financial supervisory body for the Vatican City State.

IOR releases Annual Report 2014

  • Transformation of IOR on track, including reorganization and adjustment to Vatican regulatory standard with regard to transparency, supervision and financial information
  • Strategic, long-term plan for the Institute far advanced
  • 2014 results show positive effect of financial market developments on securities portfolio

Further strengthening of compliance, risk and control monitoring systems and audit functions well advanced under supervision of Vatican regulator AIF

As of December 31, 2014, the IOR’s equity was EUR 695m (2013: EUR 720m).

The total value of assets entrusted by customers to the IOR rose marginally to EUR 6bn in 2014 (2013: 5.9bn). (JFL: the client base approved by the bank’s board include religious orders, Catholic institutions, clergy, employees or former employees of the Vatican, and embassies and diplomats accredited to the Holy See.)

On December 31, 2014, the IOR served 15,181 customers. From May 2013 through December 2014 the IOR closed 4,614 accounts with its customers, of which 2,600 were “dormant” or inactive or small balance accounts. Another 554 accounts were closed which did not fit in the categories of authorized client accounts and a further 1,460 were terminated for natural attrition. Another 274 accounts are in the process of termination. (CNA photo)

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Past Abuses Reported. Cases, where the IOR was subjected to abuse in the past, have been reported to the competent Vatican authorities.

Strategic, long-term plan for the Institute far advanced.

“The long-term, strategic plan of the Institute revolves around two key objectives: putting the interests of the clients first by offering appropriate and improved services and by de-risking the activities of the Institute”, said Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, President of the Board of Superintendence since July 2014. He added “all this is done within the strong regulatory framework now in place in the Vatican and in close cooperation with AIF, the Holy See regulator.”

The strategic plan builds on the work of the Pontifical Referring Commission to the IOR (CRIOR), and the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic- Administrative Structure of the Holy See (COSEA).


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says that being with people does him good.

In a long and very personal interview with Juan Beretta, a reporter from the Argentinean newspaper “La Voz Del Pueblo”, the Pope speaks of his feelings of when he was elected Pope, of how he misses walking the streets, using public transport and sitting down for a pizza, of how he feels moved and sad when he meets sick children, prison inmates and people who’ve had no opportunities in life, of how he would like to be remembered “as someone who did some good”.

The interview, conducted in the privacy of his residence at Casa Santa Marta, offers some insights into the everyday life of Francis who says that never would he have expected to be elected as the Successor of Peter, but of how the life of a religious, “a Jesuit, undergoes change according to necessity.”

CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST: http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-speaks-with-open-heart-to-argentinean-newspap



The Holy Father Thursday welcomed an ecumenical delegation of the Lutheran Church from Finland on its annual visit to Rome during the January 18 to 25 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and the feast of St. Henry of Uppsala, patron saint of Finland.

He quoted from St. John Paul who, thirty years ago, welcomed the first such delegation and said, “The fact that you come here together is itself a witness to the importance of efforts for unity. The fact that you pray together is a witness to our belief that only through the grace of God can that unity be achieved. The fact that you recite the Creed together is a witness to the one common faith of the whole of Christianity.”

Reiterating the words of Bishop Vikstrom, in Rome with the delegation, Francis said, “there is so much that Catholics and Lutherans can do together to bear witness to God’s mercy in our societies. A shared Christian witness is very much needed in the face of the mistrust, insecurity, persecution, pain and suffering experienced so widely in today’s world.”

The Pope said, “The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine on Justification which was solemnly signed some fifteen years ago between the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church, can produce further fruits of reconciliation and cooperation between us. …Let us hope that further convergence will emerge from that dialogue on the concept of the Church, the sign and instrument of the salvation brought to us in Jesus Christ.”


Thursday morning Pope Francis received a group of agents from the General Inspectorate for Public Security in the Vatican as it celebrates the 70th anniversary of the presence of the Italian forces of order in the Vatican. He thanked the officials and members of their families for the work they carry out on a daily basis “with professionalism and dedication.” The officers work normally in and around St. Peter’s Square and they staff the airport-style security maches for people entering St. Peter’s Basilica or entering the square for a papal general audience.

As we start a new year, he said, “we have many hopes and expectations, and we also see on the horizon the shadows and dangers that trouble humanity. As Christians we are called upon not to lose heart or to be discouraged. Our hope rests upon an immovable rock: God’s love, revealed and given in Christ Jesus, our Lord.”

Francis explained that, “In the light of this firm hope, your work assumes a different meaning that brings human and Christian values into play. Indeed, you have the task of protecting and supervising places of the utmost importance for the faith, and of guaranteeing the security of millions of pilgrims. Many people who come to visit the heart of Christian Rome frequently turn to you.”

“May every person,” said the Holy Father, “feel helped and protected by your presence and your care. … We are all called to be our neighbor’s guardians. The Lord will call us to account for the responsibilities entrusted to us, for the good and the bad we have brought upon our neighbors.”


Vatican City, January 22, 2015 – The Holy Father declared on 10 January 2015 by way of a Rescriptum ex audientia Ss.mi presented to the President of the IOR Supervisory Commission of Cardinals that the Statute of the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR) has been changed to elevate the number of members in the IOR Supervisory Commission of Cardinals and the IOR Board of Superintendence from five to six respectively. The Rescriptum ex audientia Ss.mi has come into effect on 10 January 2015 and will be published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis in due course. In addition, the nomination of a non-voting Secretary General to the IOR Board of Superintendence has been formalized by the President of the Supervisory Commission of Cardinals.

The full Rescriptum ex audientia Ss.mi as well as information on the IOR governance structure and its key personnel can be found on the Institute’s website at www.ior.va.

About the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR):

The “Istituto per le Opere di Religione” (IOR) is an institute founded on 27 June 1942 by Papal Decree. Its origins date back to the “Commissione Cardinalizia ad Pias Causas” established in 1887 by Pope Leo XIII. The purpose of the IOR is to serve the global mission of the Catholic Church by providing for the custody and administration of its customers’ assets, and rendering dedicated worldwide payment services to its customers. The Institute’s mission was confirmed by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, on 7 April 2014. The IOR operates from a single location – its headquarters in the Vatican City State – and is regulated by the “Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria” (AIF), the financial supervisory body for the Vatican City State. The IOR serves approximately 15,500 customers. As of 31 December 2013, the Institute was entrusted with customers’ assets totalling €5.9 billion.


When Pope Francis appealed for peace in Niger yesterday at the general audience, he was referring to events in that country that have received little coverage in the secular media. The following reports, datelined Niamey, Niger, are from Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples:

(Fides) – “Between Friday 16 and Saturday 17 January, various churches and religious communities in Niger suffered extensive damage because of demonstrators protesting against the publication of the French weekly Charlie Hebdo. In the Diocese of Maradi and Niamey, several churches were burned, along with some religious houses. Other Protestant churches were also affected by the protesters.” Fr. Nicolas Ayouba, superior of the Redemptorists of Niger, confirmed the news to Fides, adding: “According to the latest news, our Community of St. Clement of Niamey was not attacked, while the church of St. Gabriel yes. All the Redemptorists are still in good condition.”

The churches of St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. Gabriel, St. John, St. Teresa and St. Joseph were burned and looted in Niamey, as well as two convents of nuns. Because of the situation, all Sunday celebrations were suspended.

The Apostolic Administrator of Niamey, Archbishop Michel Cartatéguy told Vatican Radio: “As a Christian community, we are still under shock. All our churches – 12 out of 14 – have been completely looted: there is nothing left … everything is burned. The cathedral was not touched, because of my request to monitor it. We have suspended all activities of the Catholic mission; we have closed our schools, our dispensaries … We are not able to understand what is going on. I summoned all the priests and community leaders to pray in silence, and we meditated on love for enemies. Many of our religious, who today have lost everything, were protected, and still are, by Muslim families. I said to the highest authorities: ‘We have nothing against the Muslim community, on the contrary’. Indeed, we must further strengthen the bonds of unity and brotherhood that we have built.”

In another report, Fides said, quoting a statement sent to the agency, “The bishops of Niger have suspended “until further notice” all the activities of the Catholic Church (schools, health centers, charitable activities), “following the looting of churches and infrastructure of our institutions, and the desecration of our places of worship. The measure will allow us to pray and to read, in serenity, the painful events that we have suffered.” The bishops “thank very warmly all those who have expressed their solidarity in these difficult times.”