VATICAN INSIDER GOES BEHIND THE SCENES: THE MAKING OF A PAPAL TRIP – CASTELGANDOLFO: FOR ST. JOHN PAUL IT WAS “VATICAN TWO” – CASTELGANDOLFO: HISTORY, BEAUTY, AND PEACE MAKE IT A HOME FOR POPES

I leave tomorrow to spend some vacation time in Illinois and California with family, especially nieces and nephews whom I’ve not seen in a while! Then I’m off to Hawaii for time with my ohana, the Hawaiian word for family – and family here encompasses just about everyone you know!

I also have a very special reason this year for being in Hawaii! I am an official member of the Diocesan Guild for the Cause of Canonization of Joseph Dutton! Joseph worked alongside St. Damien and St. Marianne on Molokai’s peninsula of Kalaupapa where thousands of victims of leprosy were exiled for decades and decades. Joseph was there for exactly half of his 88 years on earth. His was an amazing life and is an amazing story and hopefully I’ll find a bit of time, even while on vacation, to tell you about Joseph.

Fr. Damien told him one day, “You are like a brother to everyone here and that is what In will call you, Brother Joseph.” And that is how we refer to him – Brother Joseph Dutton!

Obviously I’m quite excited, as is anyone leaving on vacation, just knowing I will have some time to relax, no deadlines to meet, few alarm clocks, no set daily schedule. I admit it usually takes me a few days to remember that I don’t have a deadline for a TV spot or the radio programs I have each week or for posting a daily blog and adding news and photos to Facebook and Youtube. I do, however, hope to have some surprises from Hawaii.

My weekend radio show, Vatican Insider will not be on vacation, however. For this weekend I’ve prepared a special on the behind-the-scenes preparations of a papal trip. As you know, Pope Francis will be in Ireland this weekend for the World Meeting of Families. My great colleagues at EWTN Radio will be preparing “The Best Of” Vatican Insider for the weekends I am away.

In my absence I leave you with a special column and photos of Castelgandolfo, photos I took on a perfect July day a number of years ago when I had a lovely visit to the papal palace and gardens. I have posted this before but for some of you it may be the first time.

However, don’t forget to check in with me on FACEBOOK (https://www.facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420) and YOUTUBE (https://www.youtube.com/user/joansrome) as I will be posting photos and videos, and perhaps even some news. So stay tuned!

VATICAN INSIDER GOES BEHIND THE SCENES: THE MAKING OF A PAPAL TRIP

Learn what goes into the multi-layer preparations of an international papal trip – you’ll better understand Pope Francis’ trip this weekend to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families and all the behind-the-scenes work!

To listen to last weekend’s Special on VI – Inquiring Minds Want to Know – click here: https://soundcloud.com/ewtn-radio/vatican-insider-with-joan-lewis-special-inquiring-minds-part-ii

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

CASTELGANDOLFO: FOR ST. JOHN PAUL IT WAS “VATICAN TWO”

For your special enjoyment I leave you today with a “Joan’s Rome” travelblogue©. We will visit the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo where Popes John Paul and Benedict vacationed for years but which now is fairly deserted as Pope Francis prefers staying at the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican, Much of the apostolic palace is now (sadly, as far as I am concerned!) a museum!

Castelgandolfo is a lovely town in a beautiful part of Italy, and I have had the incredible good fortune to have visited the papal palace on quite a number of occasions.

The first extended visit was a number of years ago when I was welcomed by the then director of papal villas, Saverio Petrillo, whose book on the papal palace I used to write this story, along with much information he gave me as we spent an afternoon strolling the grounds, the gardens and the pontifical farm!

On several other occasions I spent an entire day in the palace when it hosted the offices, library and classrooms of the papal observatory and offered summer courses in astronomy. Those offices have been transferred to a new location on the papal property but the telescopes are still in the palace – asd you will see in one photo.

I hope you enjoy this! Have a great summer, stay well and safe travels.

Above all, may God sit on your shoulder!|

CASTELGANDOLFO: HISTORY, BEAUTY, AND PEACE MAKE IT A HOME FOR POPES

Roman Pontiffs have spent summers here for centuries, enjoying stupendous panoramas and a climate that is far cooler than Rome’s, which can be quite torrid in July and August. Pope John Paul affectionately called it “Vatican Number Two.”

I am talking, of course, about the summer papal residence at Castelgandolfo that has a long and colorful history and possesses beauty to rival that of the apostolic palace and gardens in Rome.

Pope Benedict, shortly after his arrival one summer at the Pontifical Villa in Castelgandolfo, said; “Thank you, and good evening to you all, dear friends. I have arrived here to begin my holidays. Here I have everything: the mountain, the lake, … a beautiful church with a recently restored facade and good people. I am so happy to be here. Let us hope the Lord grants us a peaceful holiday. My heartfelt blessing to you all! May Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, bless you. Good evening and thank you.”

Castelgandolfo is one of a number of small towns located on beautiful sprawling hills that surround and overlook Lake Albano, about a half hour drive southeast of Rome. The lake, which fills an old volcanic crater, is 961 feet above sea level. Fed by underground sources and drained by an artificial outlet, said to have been built around 398 B.C., it is about two square miles (5 sq km) in size and has a maximum depth of 558 feet.

Located on what was once known as Alba Longa, a city in ancient Latium, reputedly the birthplace of Romulus and Remus, Castelgandolfo and the cluster of nearby towns are known as the Alban Hill towns. Romans also call these picturesque towns the “Castelli Romani” because of the fortified castles originally built on those hills by noble families, around which small towns grew and flourished. Each “castello” bore the name of the lord of the manor.

Castelgandolfo took its name from the Gandulfi family. Originally from Genoa, they built a small square fortress with crenelated walls, an inner courtyard, several towers and an adjacent garden on the hill where the town that bears their name stands today. The Savelli family later bought the property and owned it until 1596 when, because of a debt they could not pay to Pope Clement VIII (1592-1605), the land became patrimony of the Holy See, forming the nucleus of the papal residence that exists today.

In ensuing centuries, the property underwent many vicissitudes, including the purchase of additional lands, villas and gardens, and renovations and additions to the original palace. Some of the Roman Pontiffs who left their mark on the papal property include Urban VIII (1623-1644), Alexander VII (1655-1667) Clement XI (1700-1721, who bestowed the title “Pontifical Villa” on the property), Benedict XIV (1740), Clement XIII (1758-1769) and Clement XIV (1769-1774).

In 1623 Cardinal Maffeo Barberini was elected Pope, choosing the name Urban VIII (1623-1644). Even before his election he had spent vacations in Castelgandolfo and had even built a small home near the walls of the original castle/fortress. Once he became Pope he decided to make this spot his summer residence, readapting and enlargening the old fortress.

One of those who assisted him in this work was the illustrious Carlo Maderno who, in 1603, after completing the facade of Santa Susanna’s Church in Rome, was named as principal architect of the new St. Peter’s Basilica. Maderno designed both a large wing that overlooked Lake Albano, as well as the left part of the facade as seen today from Castelgandolfo’s main square. A modest garden was also planted at this time.

Pope Urban VIII moved into the Castelgandolfo residence on May 10, 1626, just six months before the completion of St. Peter’s Basilica, following 120 years of work. In 1627, the Pope’s nephew, Taddeo Barberini, acquired land and vineyards near the papal residence. Four years later he acquired yet more land and buildings and the entire complex became known as Villa Barberini. Today this is all an integral part of the pontifical property in Castelgandolfo.

 

Pope Alexander VII (1655-1667) completed the work begun by Urban VIII, including the long gallery which bears his name, with the assistance of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, noted painter, architect and sculptor. Bernini also designed part of the gardens of the papal residence and they can still be seen today.

Bernini is best remembered for having designed the splendid colonnade of 284 pillars which embraces St. Peter’s Square, one of the fountains in the square, the basilica’s Altar of the Cathedra, the tabernacle in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and the baldachin over the central papal altar. Alexander VII also asked Bernini to design the town’s parish church, which was named after St. Thomas Villanova.

The 19th century saw the unification of Italy, which greatly affected papal holdings, principally the vast Papal States. The Papal States, in fact, under Pope Pius IX were incorporated into the new Italy when the peninsula was unified in 1870. By the by, Pius IX’s 32-year pontificate from 1846 to 1878 was the second longest in history, following that of St. Peter). From the loss of the Papal States to the Lateran Pact between Italy and the Holy See on February 11, 1929, under Pius XI, no Pope ever left Vatican City for a holiday in Castelgandolfo.

 

With the Lateran Treaty, Villa Barberini now belonged to the Holy See and officially became part of the papal residence complex in Castelgandolfo. Pius XI helped to restore the buildings and land which had been unused for so many years. He even bought several orchards in order to set up a small farm, not only to produce goods for consumption in the Vatican but to underscore the importance of agriculture.

This last acquisition brought the total acreage of the papal property in Castelgandolfo to 136 acres (55 hectares). Vatican City State is 109 acres (44 hectares). In Castelgandolfo, more of the total acreage is dedicated to the farm (62 acres, or 25 hectares) and to gardens than it is to buildings.

 

The real work of restoration at Castelgandolfo under Pope Pius XI began in 1931. In 1933 the Vatican Observatory, run by the Jesuits, was moved from Vatican City in Rome to Castelgandolfo, because the city lights were too bright for astronomers. Still today, the director of the observatory has an apartment in the palace at Castelgandolfo.

Pius XI also built a new chapel in which he placed a replica of Poland’s Black Madonna of Czestochowa. Between 1918 and 1921, he had been, respectively, apostolic visitator and then nuncio in Poland, and had a predilection for the Black Madonna. This chapel has remained unchanged since his day. The Pope’s first summer visit was in 1934.

His successor, Pope Pius XII, especially loved Castelgandolfo and spent a great deal of time at this residence, except for the years of World War II. However, during some of the worst moments of the war, Pius allowed the inhabitants of Castelgandolfo and nearby towns to take refuge on the papal property, given that it enjoyed the status of extraterritoriality. After the landing at Anzio in 1944, the citizens of Castelgandolfo were allowed to stay at the papal palace whereas those from other towns were allowed sanctuary in the Villa Barberini property. Pius XII’s first postwar visit to the lakeside villa was in 1946. He returned often after that and died there on October 9, 1958.

Pope John XXIII (1958-1963) also enjoyed sojourns at Castelgandolfo. He started two traditions here as pontiff: praying the Angelus with the faithful on Sundays in the inner courtyard, and celebrating Mass in the parish church of St. Thomas Villanova on the August 15 feast of the Assumption.

 

Paul VI inaugurated papal trips by helicopter from Castelgandolfo. Continuous use of a helicopter for short papal trips began during the Holy Year of 1975 when Paul VI would return to Rome for the weekly general audiences. He died here on August 6, 1978.

 

John Paul II, then Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Krakow, Poland, spent several hours here on October 8, 1978. He returned 17 days later as Pope, having been elected on October 16. He spent most of every summer here, and often came for several days after an especially long and arduous foreign trip.

Benedict XVI, as we saw, also enjoyed the beauty, peace and subdued rhythm of summer life at Castelgandolfo, and came here every summer for a couple of months after his election to the papacy in April 2005. He lived here for two months after he resigned and left the Vatican on February 28, 2013.

I earlier mentioned one part of the pontifical property that is called Villa Barberini. Here we find many buildings, including the home of the director of pontifical villas and apartments used by the cardinal secretary of state and by the prefect of the papal household in the summer. The formal gardens, a 62-acre farm, and the remains of Emperor Domitian’s (81-96) palatial 14 square kilometer home are all also part of Villa Barberini.

Dr. Petrillo, former director of the pontifical villas at Castelgandolfo, began to serve the Holy See in June 1958, and was named Director of the pontifical villas in 1986. He authored a book entitled “The Popes at Castelgandolfo,” from which I took much of the information you are reading here. Saverio was an excellent, knowledgeable and discreet guide to the papal property and residences the day we first met.

Dr. Petrillo began his work in Castelgandolfo at the age of 18 when he was asked to take the place of a Vatican employee who was ill. In the ensuing years he familiarized himself not only with the physical property – the farm, gardens and buildings – but with the multi-century history of the villas as well. His office, as well as other administrative offices, was located in one of the buildings of the Villa Barberini part of the pontifical property, and offered splendid views of the Castelli Romani and, in the distance, Rome and the Mediterranean.

Separate from Villa Barberini, but only a short distance away, are the Apostolic Palace and other gardens. The palace – the building overlooking the lake – is where the Pope resides and where the faithful can join him in the courtyard on Sundays for the noon angelus. At Castelgandolfo, Dr. Petrillo told me on my first visit, the Holy Father has the same basic rooms that he has in Rome – a study, private chapel, dining room and library. The rooms, as is the entire palace complex, are on a smaller, more intimate and homey scale. “Everything here,” he said, “is very intimate, warm and family-like. Even the pace of life is slower, more suited to man.”

On our tour of the farm, Saverio Petrillo pointed out that it produces eggs, milk (there are 25 cows) and yogurt on a daily basis: these are brought early in the morning to the apostolic palaces in both Castelgandolfo and Rome and are sold as well in the Vatican City supermarket under the name “Ville Pontificie di Castelgandolfo” – Pontifical Villas of Castelgandolfo. Olive oil is also produced, but in very small quantities. Once Vatican City even had its own bakery!

He told me some 60 people work year round on the papal properties in Castelgandolfo, including gardeners, tree trimmers, those who work at the farm, electricians, other maintenance people, etc. Only 20 people permanently reside in buildings on the property.

The heliport, which is not far from the farm, was first used by Paul VI in 1963 when he visited the cathedral at Orvieto. Continuous use of a helicopter for short papal trips began during the Holy Year of 1975 when Paul VI would return to Rome for the weekly general audiences.

Pope John Paul II, a very athletic pontiff, asked that a swimming pool be installed at Castelgandolfo to be used for health reasons. Although I did not see the 60-foot long pool on my tour of the papal villa and gardens, Dr. Petrillo told the story that when the Pope heard that some people objected to the cost of a pool, he humorously said: “A conclave would cost a lot more.” This was John Paul’s explanation about how effective physical exercise was in helping him bear the strains of a tiring pontificate.

The beautifully maintained and manicured formal gardens of Villa Barberini have been used by Popes through the centuries for long walks and moments of prayer. The flowers, bushes and trees – of many varieties, and trimmed to perfection in geometrical shapes – provide beauty, seclusion and tranquility. Covering many acres, the stunning formal gardens also provide lovely vistas of the Roman countryside. There are statues, fountains, and a labyrinth of walkways and roads, one of which dates to Roman times and is paved exactly like the Old Appian Way.

One olive tree in the gardens has a special story: Just an olive branch at the time, it was given by King Hussein of Jordan to Pope Paul VI during his trip to Jerusalem in 1964. The late king’s son and heir, now King Abdullah, was able to visit the gardens and saw the fully-grown tree.

Ruins of Emperor Domitian’s villa can be found everywhere and occasionally one will see a niche with a statue from the villa.

The Emperor Domitian, who ruled from 81 to 96, had built a 14-square kilometer villa on this site. Constructed on three levels, the top was for the servants, the middle was for the imperial family and their guests and the bottom was the crypto-portico, which is in near perfect condition nearly two thousand years later.

The crypto-portico, reached now by a staircase built into the gardens, was constructed to provide the emperor and his guests with a cool place to walk, talk, and sit to escape from the summer heat of Rome. Enormous in size, it resembles a tunnel – with one end open and the other closed. The closed end has a raised stage-like level, accessible by a staircase: today there is a large cross here. The ceiling is curved and, on the western wall, there are windows at the top level. These were once covered with alabaster to let in the late afternoon, setting sunlight – but not the heat.

Also at Villa Barberini is the Antiquarium, a museum that houses a small but prized collection of artifacts from Domitian’s villa which were discovered over the past century. Only restricted numbers of scholars are allowed to visit the Antiquarium which includes busts, statues, columns, portals, and tables made of marble and various stones, to mention but a few objects.

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PAPAL AGENDA FOR WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES IN IRELAND

I arrived back in Rome this morning and Fiumicino Airport was anything but welcoming. I have no idea what a first time visitors thought because the wait in line for passport control was one hour! I have no idea how long it took for the multitudes behind me in line!

I spoke to a family from New Jersey waiting in line behind me, and said I only had one guess as to why it was taking so long. I told them August is the biggest months of the year for vacation time for Italians and the biggest holiday of August, perhaps the whole year, was this coming Wednesday, August 15, feast of the Assunta, the Assumption. I said I could only surmise that airport personnel were taking their sacred vacation time this week and, as we got to the booths where a fair number of agents usually make lines move at a good pace, I saw I was right. There was 1 (one) agent for European Union and Swiss passports and 4 – a mere 4 agents! – for the non-European Union passports. Hundreds and hundreds of us were standing on line as several planes from overseas had landed almost simultaneously.

A separate line and separate agents’ booths greeted visitors who had to present or get a visa to enter Italy. Snails move faster than that line did!

I did see signs that said that children under 14 years of age, thus, whole families with young children, had a separate and expedited entry. Sounds like a terrific idea.

I have to say that the idea of being so short-staffed at a critical time of the day for plane arrivals and critical time of the year for vacationers coming to Italy is inconceivable to me. I have been wondering all day: Will the shortage become even more critical on The Big Day – August 15?

The only positive side of my wait was that, for the first time in decades, my bag actually arrived at the carousel before I did. I always make sure I have a book to read when I wait for my luggage at Fiumicino!

PAPAL AGENDA FOR WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES IN IRELAND

The Holy See Press Office has announced Pope Francis’ schedule for his upcoming apostolic visit to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families, August 25-26.

That journey begins on Saturday morning, August 25, when he departs Rome and arrives in Dublin at 10:30.

Official Welcome and Visit with Civil Authorities

The official welcome ceremony will take place at the presidential residence in Áras an Uachtaráin at 11:15, followed by a courtesy visit to the president. At Dublin Castle, Pope Francis will meet with civil authorities and members of the Diplomatic Corps at 12:10.

Dublin Castle:

Visit to the Cathedral and a Homeless Center

In the early afternoon, Pope Francis will visit Saint Mary’s Pro-Cathedral and greet those gathered. He will then go to the Capuchin Fathers’ Reception Center and will visit a number of homeless families in private.

St. Mary’s Pro-cathedral:

Festival of Families

The Holy Father will conclude his day with the Festival of Families at Croke Park Stadium set to begin at 7:30.

Croke Park Stadium:

Visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock

On Sunday, Pope Francis will travel to Knock to visit the Shrine and recite the Angelus.

Holy Mass in Phoenix Park and meeting with Bishops

After returning to Dublin, Pope Francis will preside over an afternoon liturgy at Phoenix Park after which he will meet with the bishops of Ireland in a convent of Dominican Sisters.

Departure

Following a 6:30 pm farewell ceremony, Pope Francis will depart for Rome where he is expected to land at Rome’s Ciampino airport at 11pm.

VATICAN DOCUMENT: MONEY MUST SERVE, NOT RULE – CHURCH LEADERS ASK PRAYERS FOR IRISH REFERENDUM ON ABORTION

Following is a brief and very good summary of a somewhat complex document presented today in the Holy See Press Office by Vaticannews.va and Vatican Radio’s Susy Hodges. Hopefully our leaders in Congress and banking institutions and other financial and economic bodies will see this document and read it attentively. That really sounds like wishful thinking, doesn’t it!

The second story comes from Ireland via a CNA/EWTN colleague.

VATICAN DOCUMENT: MONEY MUST SERVE, NOT RULE

Entitled ‘Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones: Considerations for an Ethical Discernment regarding Some Aspects of the Present Economic-Financial System’ the new document has been prepared by two major offices of the Holy See.
By Susy Hodges

The 15-page page document, jointly prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, was unveiled on Thursday at a news conference in the Holy See Press Office.

Love for integral good: the key to authentic development

The document begins by stressing the Church’s concern for the integral development of every person, saying “Love for the integral good, inseparable from love for the truth, is the key to authentic development.”

Turning to the state of the world’s economy, the document calls for more regulation of markets and financial systems, saying economic crises show they are not able to govern themselves and need a strong injection of morality and ethics. It also urges universities and business schools to educate the next generation of business leaders about ethics and not just profits.

The document goes on to say that profit for the sake of profit and not for the greater good is “illegitimate” and condemns what it called a “reckless and amoral culture of waste” that has marginalized “great masses of the world’s population, deprived them of decent labour and left them without any means of escape.”

Obsolete criteria continue to govern the world

The document also expresses regret over what it calls a failed opportunity to correct the failings within the world’s economic-financial systems.

“The recent financial crisis could have been the occasion to develop a new economy, more attentive to ethical principles, and a new regulation of financial activities that would neutralize the predatory and speculative tendencies and acknowledge the value of the actual economy.”

While acknowledging “many positive efforts at various levels,” the document speaks of its regret that “there does not seem to be any inclination to rethink the obsolete criteria that continue to govern the world.”

On the contrary, it writes, “the response seems at times like a return to the heights of myopic egoism” that excludes any consideration of the common good or a concern “to spread wealth” and eliminate “the inequality so pronounced today.”

Money must serve, not rule!

What is at stake, said the document, is the authentic well-being of a majority of the men and women of our planet who are at risk of being “excluded and marginalized” from development while “a minority exploits and reserves for itself substantial resources and wealth.”

Warning that “selfishness makes everyone pay a high price,” the document says that if we want “the real well-being of humanity, money must serve, not rule!”

CHURCH LEADERS ASK PRAYERS FOR IRISH REFERENDUM ON ABORTION

Dublin, Ireland, May 17, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- With a referendum vote that could legalize abortion in Ireland just days away, the country’s clergy and Church leaders are asking the world for prayers.

In a video message posted to YouTube, Irish priest Father Marius O’Reilly appeals to Catholics and Christians around the world to pray for the country of Ireland ahead of the vote, particularly through praying the rosary and offering Masses.

O’Reilly noted that while other countries have legalized abortion through legislation or court decisions, “Ireland would be the first country in the world where the people would legalize abortion,” he said.

“We can’t allow that to happen. And so I’m making an appeal to you today – please come to our assistance. Pray the rosary for Ireland. Please have Masses offered for Ireland,” he said.

On May 25, Irish citizens will vote whether they want to repeal the country’s eighth amendment, which recognizes the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn child. Under current law, the practice of abortion in Ireland is illegal, unless the mother’s health is deemed to be endangered. Pro-life Irish citizens are encouraging a “no” vote on the referendum.

The eighth amendment was passed in Ireland in 1983, with upwards of 67 percent voter-approval. It reads, in part: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

Despite the high percentage of the population – 78 percent – that identifies as Catholic, polling has predicted that the vote will be close.

Two months ago, EWTN Ireland started a 54-day rosary novena campaign for the “affirmation of the inestimable value of every human life.”

The campaign’s website urges “all people of good will to join together in prayer in defence of unborn babies and their mothers. All those professing faith, and those professing secular values, are invited to join as one voice on behalf of the unborn babies and their mothers: to affirm the life of the most vulnerable who may be classed as terminally ill, disabled or ‘unwanted’.”

A Christian prayer and a secular affirmation were also included on the campaign’s site.

EWTN Ireland as well as many clergy are particularly urging Catholics to pray a nine-day rosary novena leading up to the vote, starting on Thursday, May 17 and ending on Friday, May 25, the day of the referendum.

The novena website Pray More Novenas, which sends out daily reminders for various prayers, has also begun a novena through the intercession of the Irish Our Lady of Knock specifically for the abortion referendum.

There is also a prayer and fasting initiative, inspired by Sr. Briege McKenna (O.S.C.) that calls for Masses and days of prayer and “medically safe” fasting to be offered for the “Reparation, Conversions of hearts and Protection of the 8th amendment.”

Pro-life group Human Life International has asked for the offering of 1,000 Masses for the referendum, and has a form on their website where the Masses offered for this intention may be added to the calendar.

In his video, Fr. O’Reilly recalled Pope John Paul II’s 1979 visit to the country, during which he urged Irish citizens to defend life.

“He said to the Irish people ‘you must protect life;’ he knew what was coming down the road. And so the Irish people took this very, very seriously and rosary crusades began all around the country,” O’Reilly said.

This also led to the proposal of the constitutional amendment that is currently in place, which gave equal protection to mother and child “so that Ireland would be a country that in the constitution would say that the unborn child has a right to life.”

“This was an incredible gift from God for our country because it meant that the politicians couldn’t just bring in abortion when they wanted. They would have to put it to the people,” he added. “And so we fought it for years and years and now in 2018 we’re being asked to vote on abortion.”

The Ancient Order of Hibernians, a Catholic Irish-American men’s fraternity, has asked its members to set aside May 18 as a day of prayer in solidarity with the Save the 8th Campaign.

“Every prayer for a ‘No’ vote is a compassionate plea to spare Ireland the pain America has suffered for 45 years,” Ancient Order of Hibernians National President James F. McKay said, alluding to the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decisions that mandated legal abortion across the country.

He encouraged prayers invoking the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and Our Lady of Fatima to “save Ireland’s mothers and unborn from the evils of abortion.”

He also encouraged immediate social media outreach as well as discussions with family and friends about “the importance of protecting the unborn.”

Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, Neb. used his May 18 column in the Southern Nebraska Register to ask readers to join him in prayer that the people of Ireland will choose life.

“I pray that the people of Ireland will see that the legalization of abortion in countries around the world has not made women free. That abortion has only caused more violence, more ruin, and more despair,” Bishop Conley said.

The bishop said the Catholic faith “has long given the Irish people an acute and attentive sense of human dignity, human rights, and justice,” but Ireland has secularized in part due to “Church leaders who failed to give authentic and faithful witness to the Gospel.”

Conley, who spent a semester in Ireland as a 20-year-old recent Catholic convert, said “my introduction to the day-to-day practice of my newfound Catholic faith was in Ireland.”

“It has now been over 40 years since I spent those four delightful months in Ireland, but I still remember vividly the strong faith of the Irish people and how Catholicism ran deep in the Irish soil and soul. I owe so much to the Irish people for nurturing me in my Catholic faith. And we, as a country, owe so much to the Catholic Church in Ireland for bringing that same faith to these shores.”

POPE FRANCIS’ LETTER FOR DUBLIN WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES

Pope Francis has written a letter to the organizers of next year’s World Meeting of Families, who presented the event at the Vatican press office on Thursday morning. The Meeting is scheduled to take place in Dublin, Ireland from August 21st to 26th 2018 on the theme The Gospel of the Family: joy to the world.”

In the letter addressed to Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the new Vatican office for Laity, Family and Life, the Pope says he hopes the Meeting will be a way for families to deepen their reflection on the document ‘Amoris Laetitia’ which he wrote at the conclusion of the two recent synods on the family.

At the press conference, the cardinal stressed the importance of preparations that will take place in parishes and dioceses ahead of the event. This catechesis must involve lay people as well as clergy, he said, reaching out especially to individuals and families who have grown away from the Church: As Pope Francis said we need to be a Church that goes out to the peripheries of society to those people who don’t listen to us at the present moment, to those families who have lost their way or who do not go to church any more.

Also present at the press conference was the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin who highlighted the complex combination of faith and secularization that characterizes his country today. He said the meeting will be a challenge for the archdiocese but also an opportunity to underline the importance of family life for Irish society as a whole.

Archbishop Martin said the meeting must learn to accompany families and address the real day-to-day difficulties which he hears about from those in his own archdiocese: “They’d be talking about work, leisure, homelessness, how to make ends meet, how government subsidies are being cut back, how they’d have sleepless nights worrying about their teenage children – these are the challenges they have to be supported in so that they can carry out this essential role in society and that people really give them the support and confidence to do that“.

Both leaders hope the meeting will not be a one-off event, but rather a chance for the whole Church to deepen its reflection on the Pope’s words in ‘Amoris Laetitia‘, seeing the family as a vital resource for sharing the message of God’s love with the world.

Neither of them would confirm the Pope’s presence at the Meeting next year, but they did share their hopes that he’ll be attending the event – a hope also expressed in the promotional video for the World Meeting of Families.

Following is Pope Francis’ Letter to Cardinal Farrell:

To the Venerable Brother Cardinal KEVIN FARRELL
Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life,

At the end of the Eighth World Meeting of Families, held in Philadelphia in September 2015, I announced that the subsequent meeting with Catholic families of the world would take place in Dublin. I now wish to initiate preparations, and am pleased to confirm that it will be held from 21 to 26 August 2018, on the theme “The Gospel of the Family: joy for the world”. Indeed, it is my wish for families to have a way of deepening their reflection and their sharing of the content of the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

One might ask: does the Gospel continue to be a joy for the world? And also: does the family continue to be good news for today’s world? I am sure the answer is yes! And this “yes” is firmly based on God’s plan. The love of God is His “yes” to all creation and at the heart of this latter is man. It is God’s “yes” to the union between man and woman, in openness and service to life in all its phases; it is God’s “yes” and His commitment to a humanity that is often wounded, mistreated and dominated by a lack of love. The family, therefore, is the “yes” of God as Love. Only starting from love can the family manifest, spread and regenerate God’s love in the world. Without love, we cannot live as children of God, as couples, parents and brothers.

I wish to underline how important it is for families to ask themselves often if they live based on love, for love and in love. In practice, this means giving oneself, forgiving, not losing patience, anticipating the other, respecting. How much better family life would be if every day we lived according to the words, “please”, “thank you” and “I’m sorry”. Every day we have the experience of fragility and weakness, and therefore we all, families and pastors, are in need of renewed humility that forms the desire to form ourselves, to educate and be educated, to help and be helped, to accompany, discern and integrate all men of good will. I dream of an outbound Church, not a self-referential one, a Church that does not pass by far from man’s wounds, a merciful Church that proclaims the heart of the revelation of God as Love, which is Mercy. It is this very mercy that makes us new in love; and we know how much Christian families are a place of mercy and witnesses of mercy, and even more so after the extraordinary Jubilee. The Dublin meeting will be able to offer concrete signs of this.

I therefore invite all the Church to keep these indications in mind in the pastoral preparation for the next World Meeting. You, dear Brother, along with your collaborators, have the task of translating in a special way the teaching of Amoris Laetitia, with which the Church wishes families always to be in step, in that inner pilgrimage that is the manifestation of authentic life.

My thoughts go in a special way to the archdiocese of Dublin and to all the dear Irish nation for the generous welcome and commitment involved in hosting such an important event. May the Lord recompense you as of now, granting you abundant heavenly favours.

May the Holy Family of Nazareth guide, accompany and bless your service, and all the families involved in the preparation of the great World Meeting in Dublin.