On another subject for just a moment: Would you like to attend a May Crowning this Sunday? Virtual, of course! Here’s the site:


As you will read below in a report from Wanted in Rome online magazine, Phase Two of the Italian government’s coronavirus plan is about to start on Monday May 4. As I wrote yesterday, there was a ton of pushback after the Prime Minister spoke Sunday night about this phase as it does not resemble what people had been hearing would happen and what they had been planning for, whether it was for the re-opening of restaurants, hair salons, updating of transportation systems, etc.

Several large unions linked, for example, to the hospitality industry and to restaurants and bars, have complained that these businesses have been planning for weeks to reopen, re-arranging table positions and numbers of tables, to sanitizing locales to having plastic menus printed that could be sanitized, etc. Now their opening dates has been pushed back by several weeks – a huge loss in income and yet expenses that continue – rent, the cost of business licenses, etc. If staff has to be reduced that means employees will have to apply for unemployment compensation and that could cost the government more than it would to help businesses financially or to let them finally open and operate.

For hairdressers and barbers, it seems only one client can be allowed in the salon at a time. That might be OK for a 30-minute hair trim and blow dry but not for a lengthy procedure that might require two hours. And gloves and masks for everyone! Can’t wait to have a shampoo and hair trim and see how that works with a mask!

Those issues are just the tip of the iceberg.

One of the biggest problems was that churches were not included in Sunday’s Phase 2 list of openings except for wording such as “a date to be determined.” That did not go well with the Italian Episcopal conference and other religious leaders in Italy, and it seems the government has backtracked and we are now looking at a possible date of May 10 for Masses open to the public – with a thousand restrictions, of course. In fact, the government indicated it favored Masses outdoors! Like where outdoors?   Most churches have only the sidewalk leading to the church steps as an “outdoor” area.

There is Article 2 of the 1984 Church State Concordat: “The Italian Republic recognizes the Catholic Church’s full freedom to carry out its pastoral, educational and charitable th. The Church is guaranteed freedom of organization, public exercise of worship, exercise of the magisterium and spiritual ministry as well as jurisdiction in ecclesiastical matters.”

Relative to that, we have this comment:

And relative to Phase 2 of Italy’s coronavirus plan, there is this:


(Wanted in Rome) Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte has unveiled details of Italy’s Phase Two plan in the coronavirus emergency, outlining the gradual loosening of the restrictions in place since the country went into lockdown on 10 March.

The current period of quarantine and restrictive measures expires on 3 May, with Phase Two – “co-existing with the virus” – beginning cautiously on 4 May, with social distancing to remain in place.

Conte thanked Italians for their sacrifice, strength, courage and sense of responsibility in a live address broadcast on the evening of 26 April. However he warned of the risk that the coronavirus curve could rise again, stating that it was fundamental for the public to maintain social distancing measures.

“If you love Italy keep your distance,” said Conte who added that the price of protective face masks would be reduced and fixed at 50 cent.

From 4 May people will be allowed to move around within the region in which they live, with greater freedom for outdoor excerise and the chance to visit family members, all while maintaining social distancing.

However the ban on travel between different regions of Italy remains in place, except for proven reasons of work, health or emergencies.

Gatherings of any kind, private or public, will remain strictly banned. Public parks, gardens and villas can reopen from 4 May but mayors will have the power to close them if necessary.

People can go walking and jogging away from their home so long as they practice social distancing: two metres apart for joggers, one metre for walkers.


Factories and building sites can reopen from 4 May however public construction projects can get back to work from 27 April, as can manufacturing and wholesale trade related to exports.


The commercial sector including clothes shops will reopen on 18 May, with strict rules on social distancing.


Museums, galleries, libraries and places of culture are to reopen on 18 May.


From 4 May restaurants and bars will be allowed to operate a take-away service – in addition to home delivery which is already permitted. However Conte warned that this didn’t mean people could gather or eat outside the premises.

The government has identified 1 June as the date when bars and restaurants can reopen.


Barbers, hairdressers and beauty salons can reopen on 1 June.


Protective face masks will be mandatory for commuters on public transport, with restricted numbers on buses and trains especially during rush hour.


Professional athletes including Serie A footballers can resume individual training on 4 May, with group training to begin again on 18 May.


From 4 May funerals can be attended by a maximum of 15 mourners, while respecting social distancing measures and wearing protective masks.


Conte confirmed that Italy’s schools will reopen in September, as he outlined in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica earlier the same day.

 Read also:


The news comes the same day as Italy registered its fewest coronavirus-related deaths since the early days of the lockdown, reporting 260 fatalities over the last 24 hours – compared to 415 the day before. (


Six years ago today, the world welcomed two new saints, Blessed Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. More than half a million people were in Rome for the canonization Mass, several hundred thousand of whom watched on large screens placed throughout Rome.

Two living Popes were present at the canonization of their two predecessors. Pope emeritus Benedict XVI was present as Pope Francis presided at the canonization Mass in the presence of 90 official delegations, 24 heads of State, 150 cardinals and 1,000 bishops.

For me it was an extraordinary personal and professional experience, for a number of reasons. I resumed “Rome Dispatch,” a half-hour live television program that aired at 4 pm in Rome, and that was a great joy as I could talk about the 5 Popes in whose presence I have been and the 4 Popes whom I met and have spoken to – one of whom was being canonized, Blessed John Paul II. I attended a papal audience with John XXII but never met him personally, whereas I did meet Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis.

Here’s a link to the Rome Dispatch edition I dedicated to the first Pope I ever saw, Angelo Roncalli, John XXIII. I bring you to his birthplace via a video I made with my iPad in Sotto il Monte as well as a video of my meeting with the then brand new Cardinal Loris Capovilla who for 10 years had been the private secretary to Roncalli, as archbishop of Venice and then as Pope:

I thank the Lord each and every day for the privileges and blessings He has bestowed on me!


Pope Francis writes a letter to street newspapers to expresses his solidarity with the volunteers and homeless people put to the test by the Covid-19 pandemic.

By Devin Watkins

In a letter sent on Monday to over 100 street papers around the world, Pope Francis acknowledged that the coronavirus outbreak has severely tested the people who rely on them for an income.

“I would like to acknowledge the world of street papers and especially the vendors – who for the most part are homeless, terribly marginalized, or unemployed: thousands of people across the world who live and have a job thanks to selling these extraordinary newspapers,” Pope Francis writes.

Giving voice to the marginalized
Street papers are publications produced to support those who write, edit and distribute them. These newspapers often seek to give the marginalized a voice in their community.

More than 100 street papers are published in 35 countries, in 25 different languages. They provide 20,500 people with employment and an income.

Pope Francis expressed appreciation for this mission, and warmly recalled a Caritas Italy project called Scarp de’ tennis (tennis shoes). The publication provides an income and “access to fundamental citizens’ rights” to over 130 people facing financial and social difficulties.

Paying a high price
Pope Francis also lamented that the Covid-19 pandemic has kept those who rely on street papers from working. He said the “most vulnerable, the invisible, and those without an abode are at risk of paying the highest price” from the coronavirus.

“I would like to express my solidarity with the journalists, the volunteers, and the people living thanks to these projects and those who these days are doing everything they can thanks to many innovative ideas,” he said.

The pandemic, said the Pope, has made their work difficult, “But I am sure that the great network of street papers will come back stronger than ever.”

Stories of hope
In conclusion, the Pope encouraged everyone to turn our attention to the poor during this unique moment. He said the poor can “help us all realize how much is actually happening to us and what our circumstances really are. Thank you for the work you do, for the information you provide, and for the stories of hope that you tell.”


Italy’s Bishops’ Conference voices concerns over certain aspects of the government’s plans for “phase 2”, saying the Church “cannot accept seeing the exercise of freedom of religion compromised”.

By Vatican News

The Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) responded shortly after the Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, revealed “phase 2” of the response to the coronavirus crisis on Sunday evening.

In a note sent to the government, the bishops addressed the policies that would continue to restrict the Church’s ability to carry out its pastoral activity. The bishops of Italy made it clear that any move to compromise the “exercise of freedom of religion” is unacceptable.

Noting the important services the Church provides in Italy, the bishops write: “It should be clear to all that the commitment to serving the poor, [which is] so significant in this emergency, stems from a faith that must be nourished at its source, especially the sacramental life.”

Duties of the state and of the Church
In their message, the bishops indicate that they have been in negotiations with the government. As a result, CEI proposed “guidelines and protocols” for the transitional phase of the response to coronavirus, “in full compliance with all health regulations.”

Nonetheless, the note continues, the plan presented by Prime Minister Conte “arbitrarily excludes the possibility of celebrating Mass with the people.”

The bishops remind those responsible for the plan – the Presidency of the Council of Ministers (the prime minister’s office) and the Technical-Scientific Committee – “of the duty to distinguish between their responsibility – to give precise indications related to health matters – and that of the Church, which is called to organize the life of the Christian community, respecting the measures laid down, but in the fullness of their own autonomy.”

Resuming the Church’s pastoral activity
The bishops also take note of an earlier statement by the Minister of the Interior, who said that “new measures were being studied by the Government to allow the widest possible exercise of freedom of worship.” That statement came “after an ongoing and constructive discussion between the General Secretariat of the CEI, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Council Presidency itself,” the bishops say.

In the meantime, “the Church has painfully and with a sense of responsibility accepted the limitations imposed by the government in order to deal with the health crisis.”

In the dialogue with government offices, the note continues, the Bishops’ Conference has stressed, repeatedly and explicitly, that as soon as the measures taken to deal with the pandemic began to be lifted, “the Church would demand to be able to resume its pastoral activity.”

Government response
The Presidency of the Council (the administrative structure that supports the prime minister), acknowledged receipt of the bishops’ communication on Sunday night.

The statement from the administration “confirms what has already been announced” in the prime minister’s press conference, adding, “In the coming days we will already be studying a protocol that will allow the participation of the faithful in liturgical celebrations, in conditions of maximum security, as soon as possible.”



I don’t know what to say about the following press office statement except Wow, what does this mean? I am guessing they are looking at the organizational aspects of the family meeting and World Youth Day but I presume that things have been in the early planning stages in both Rome and Lisbon for a while now. I also presume they are waiting for flights to resume and hotels to open but with this, we are looking at two and three years down the road!

Statement by Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni: “Due to the current health situation and its consequences on moving and the gatherings of young people and families, the Holy Father, together with the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life has decided to postpone the 20210 World Meeting of Families in Rome for a year to June 2022 and the next World Youth Day, scheduled for Lisbon in August 2022 to be moved to August 2023.”


Welcoming the proposal and the request by many faithful, the Italian Episcopal Conference will entrust the entire country to the protection of the Mother of God as a “sign of salvation and hope” on Friday, May 1 at 9 pm, with a moment of prayer in the basilica of Santa Maria del Fonte near Caravaggio. (source ACI stampa)

May 1 is the feast of St. Joseph the Worker and a big holiday in Italy.

Santa Maria del Fonte is in the province of Bergamo, one of the hardest hit regions in Italy for Covid-19. (


The prestigious Jesuit journal, “La Civiltà Cattolica”, has launched a new edition in simplified Chinese on the occasion of its 170th anniversary this year.

By Vatican News

Founded in 1850 by Italian Jesuits, La Civiltà Cattolica is one of the oldest periodicals in the world.  On the occasion of its 170th anniversary, its new simplified Chinese edition is also being offered as a gesture of friendship, given the increasingly important role that the Chinese language plays in the contemporary world within the global context.

Parolin – fruit of a friendly encounter

In a letter to Fr. Anthony Spadaro SJ, the Director of the Jesuit periodical, Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, praised the initiative, which intends to “write a new chapter – fruit of the friendly encounter with the rich tradition of the Chinese people.”  He said this corresponds with the “particular vocation” of the review which is “to build bridges and to establish a dialogue with all people.”

“Therefore, I can only express from the depths of my heart my warmest best wishes and the fervent hope that your review in the Chinese language might become a solid instrument of mutual cultural and scientific enrichment,” the cardinal wrote.

The Italian journal,  begun before the unification of Italy, has always enjoyed a very intimate and special relationship with the Holy See and Roman Pontiffs, promoting the dialogue between the Christian faith and contemporary culture with patience and respect.

Matteo Ricci
It was precisely Pope Francis who gave La Civiltà Cattolica the model of Father Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) or Li Madou, as he was known in China. The Jesuit, who moved from Macerata in Italy’s Marche Region to China at the age of 30, drafted a huge map of the world in 1602, which served to create a wider understanding of the world and to connect the Chinese people with other civilizations.

In a divided world such as our own, said the journal in a press release, it is an ideal image of the harmony of a land at peace. Thus, our review desires to be in its own way a map of the world, connecting cultures and civilizations.
Cultural friendship

In 1601, Matteo Ricci also composed a treatise on friendship, which offered an opportunity for the Mandarin Chinese and the “literati” of the Ming Dynasty, to know the thinking of the great philosophers of the West.  For the Jesuits and for the great scholars within Western culture, the treatise also offered the foundation for dialogue with the great intellectuals of China.

According to the Rome-based Jesuit periodical, European cultures have learned much from the great Chinese culture and from the wisdom of the Chinese, thanks to the study and the passion of the Jesuits. This is the reason why the Jesuit journal decided to start a Chinese edition.

The Chinese edition contributes to making La Civiltà Cattolica more and truly international, said the press release. For some years now, its writers are all Jesuits from different countries and continents, who offer unique and original contributions.

Since 2017, the review has been published in five different languages: Italian, English, French, Spanish, and Korean; and now a Chinese edition.

The fortnightly review has always aimed to provide deeper assessments of topics and events of broad significance.

All the writers are Jesuits and the articles are reviewed and approved by an official of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State before publication.

In his message to the journal, Pope Francis expressed hope that in its pages, “the voices of many different frontiers might be heard.”  He defined the journal as “unique in its genre.”

The website address of the Chinese edition: Also available as redirect are: and The website is sub-divided in four sections: News (新闻);  World (观世界); Christian Reflection (基督教文化研究); and Culture (文化及评论).

Linked to the website is the WeChat account of the review whose identification code is gjwm1850.


August 6 is the feast of the Transfiguration and this year marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Pope Paul VI who will be canonized in October. Pope Francis spoke of this at the Sunday Angelus, saying, “Forty years ago Blessed Pope Paul VI – the Pope of modernity – was living his last hours on this earth. He died in the evening of August 6, 1978. We remember him with great veneration and gratitude. From heaven, may he intercede for the Church and for peace in the world.”

This column might be Joan’s Rome lite tomorrow as I will be travelling much of the day. I’ll bring you what I can – if I can!


Every so often people write me to tell me they’ve read stories of snowfall in Rome in August, traditionally the hottest month of the year – perhaps together with July! The snowfall they read about has nothing to do with needing warm clothes when you visit Rome in August but has everything to do with one of the four papal basilicas in Rome, Our Lady of the Snows aka St. Mary Major.

The other three papal basilicas are St. Peter’s, St. Paul’s Outside the Walls and St. John Lateran. By the way, these four basilicas, with three others, constitute the 7 must-visit pilgrim churches in Rome. The remaining three: St. Sebastian, Holy Cross in Jerusalem (with relics of the crucifixion) and St. Lawrence – San Lorenzo al Verano.

Now about the snowfall:

The year was 358 A.D. John, a Roman patrician, and his wife, unable to have children, had been praying faithfully to the Virgin, asking her to give them a sign as to whom they should leave their enormous patrimony. The night of August 4-5, one of the hottest of the year, Mary appeared to the couple in a dream and requested that they build a church in her honor where snow would fall that night.

John and his wife went to tell their friend Pope Liberius of their dream and to their amazement discovered that the pontiff had had the same dream. That morning, August 5, one of Rome’s seven fabled hills, the Esquiline, was covered in snow, as witnessed by John, his wife, the Pope and his entourage, and a throng of Romans. Pope Liberius took a stick and traced the sign of the future basilica in the snow, a basilica which would be forever known as Our Lady of the Snows, in addition to the name it bears today, St. Mary Major, the greatest – and the oldest – Marian church.

The feast of Our Lady of the Snows was introduced that year and has been commemorated ever since on August 5. Each year, there are two celebrations on that day. In late afternoon during a liturgy, usually vespers, thousands of white flower petals, symbolizing the miraculous snowfall, are released through one of the square panels of the basilica’s glorious gilt ceiling. In the evening, about 9 pm, outside the basilica, white flower petals are showered down on the faithful who have gathered to commemorate that event.

If you are ever in Rome on August 5 go to St. Mary Major in mid-afternoon or about 9 at night to witness the snowfall and participate in a liturgy.

Here’s a brief Youtube video I did on my first visit:


The initiative organized by the Italian bishops conference is in preparation for the Synod on young people in the Vatican in October and the World Youth Day in Panama in January.
By Robin Gomes (

More than 30,000 young people of some 200 Italian dioceses set out in groups Friday morning on a weeklong walking pilgrimage in the territories of their respective dioceses, an experience that will conclude in a mega rally in Rome next weekend with meetings with Pope Francis.

The National Service for Youth Ministry of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) has organized the initiative in view of the Synod of Bishops on young people scheduled for October in the Vatican.

Father Michele Falabretti who heads the Youth Ministry office explained that they wanted to add a special experience to their meeting with the Pope, hence the initiative called, “Per Mille Strade” (Through a thousand roads), a pilgrimage involving young people and those accompanying them and “Siamo Qui” (We Are Here), the encounter with Pope Francis on the last two days in Rome, August 11 and 12.

Pilgrimage through the world

To be able to make the most of the walking pilgrimage, each participant has been provided with a pilgrim’s kit containing both practical and spiritual items. This includes a pilgrim’s shoulder bag with items such as a headlamp for use at night, a hat, a portable water bag, a diary, a Gospel, a cross, a commentary booklet on the encounter between Jesus and the disciples, a small canvas with the image of the holy shroud, a map and an identification badge.

The young pilgrims have also been furnished with a log, where they will post their experiences as they pass through the various stages of their journey.

Fr. Falabretti said the purpose of the pilgrimage is to help young people step out of the beaten path, slow down and keep their eyes open to the testimonies of life and faith that they come across and to know about the stories of today’s man and his difficulties and hopes. This journey is to make the children think and feel as part of the Church, he said.

Rally with the Pope in Rome

After the pilgrimage across their respective dioceses, the youngsters will board buses, trains or other means to converge on Rome on Saturday, August 11, where they will hold an evening prayer vigil at Circus Maximus with the participation of the Holy Father.

The following day, Sunday, they will attend a Mass in St. Peter’s Square, at the end of which the Pope will hand them a missionary mandate and bless the Crucifix of St. Damien and Our Lady of Loreto which they will carry to the World Youth Day in Panama, next year.

The young people have been encouraged to remain connected by posting their experiences online on the social media that will be shared with all in real time as the pilgrimage progresses.



We are now in the first full week of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. Pope Francis, of course, as we all witnessed, opened the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica on Tuesday, December 8, thus officially inaugurating the yearlong Jubilee. And this past weekend we saw some of the first events on the Holy Year agenda, including the Holy Father’s Eucharistic Celebration for Latin America in St. Peter’s on Saturday, December 12, Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and his opening of the Holy Door at St. John Lateran, his cathedral church as the Bishop of Rome.

Also on Sunday, Cardinal James Harvey, archpriest of the basilica of St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls opened the Holy Doors of this papal basilica. The only basilica yet to have its Holy Door opened is St. Mary Major, and that event will take place on January 1,  solemnity of the Mother of God.

At Saturday’s Mass for Latin America, Pope Francis said Mary “experienced the divine mercy, and hosted the very source of this mercy in her womb: Jesus Christ.” He said he hoped the Jubilee Year “will be a planting of merciful love in the hearts of individuals, families and nations.” Francis stressed that, “no sin can cancel [Jesus’] merciful closeness or prevent him from unleashing the grace of conversion, provided we invoke it.” He called on Christian communities be “oases and sources of mercy, witnesses to a charity that does not allow exclusions.”

Francis explained that the word “mercy” – “misericordia” – is composed of two words: misery and heart. The heart indicates the capacity to love; mercy is that love, which embraces the misery of the person. It is a love that “feels” our poverty as if it were its own, so as to free us of it.

At the end of his homily the Pope announced his February trip to Mexico, saying he will be at the Guadalupe shrine on February 13. After the homily and during the Prayer of the Faithful, Pope Francis moved everyone present when he prayed for his parents Mario and Regina, “who gave me life and transmitted faith to me,”and who were married eighty years ago.

Sunday, at St. John Lateran, as he opened the Holy Door, Francis remarked on the fact that this very same day bishops were opening Holy Doors in cathedrals throughout the world. He said that, “Doors of Mercy” will also be opened in places of poverty, need and marginalization.

The Holy Father said in his homily that this third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete or Rejoice Sunday, draws our gaze towards Christmas, which is now close. We cannot let ourselves be taken in by fatigue; sadness in any form is not allowed, even though we have reason to be, with many concerns and the many forms of violence that hurt our humanity. The coming of the Lord, however, must fill our hearts with joy.”

In a few off-the-cuff remarks, Pope Francis stressed the importance of God’s tenderness.

“God does not love rigidity. He is Father; He is tender; everything (is) done with the tenderness of the Father.”

Pope Francis called those who will cross the door to be “instruments of mercy, knowing that we will be judged on this.”

“The joy of crossing through the Door of Mercy is accompanied by a commitment to welcome and witness to a love that goes beyond justice, a love that knows no boundaries.”

To see where the Jubilee Doors of Mercy are in individual countries, click here:


Pope Francis Monday received the participants in a major pastoral initiative aimed at young people and sponsored by the Bishops Conference of Italy – the CEI. The Progetto Policoro began twenty years ago as a program to help unemployed young people of southern Italy to develop skills, find work, and most importantly, nurture a healthy sense of dignity and self-worth by creating and developing ties to the larger ecclesial and social community.

The Holy Father remarked that, in seeking to combine the Gospel with the reality of life, the Project represented an important initiative for the promotion of youth and a true opportunity for local development at national level. “Its key ideas have guided its success: the formation of the young, the establishment of cooperatives, the creation of mediation figures such as ‘community animators’ and a long series of concrete gestures, a visible sign of commitment throughout these twenty years of active presence.”

He told his guests, “You represent without doubt a sign of real hope for many people who have not resigned themselves but have instead decided to commit themselves courageously to creating or improving their opportunities for work”, and he invited them to “continue to promote initiatives for participation for young people in a community and participatory form.”

(sources:, Vatican Radio, VIS)



A wonderful tweet today from Pope Francis:  God is always waiting for us, he always understands us, he always forgives us.

I leave tomorrow afternoon for Turin where I’ll spend a few days visiting and in prayerful recollection before the Shroud of Turin, as it is exposed for only the eighth time since 1900. I’ll be joining Teresa Tomeo’s group in Turin as a visit to the Shroud is on their Italian itinerary.

In addition, tomorrow evening I’ll participate in a candelit procession to and Mass in the cathedral of Saint John as the city and diocese mark the 25th anniversary of the beatification of their “favorite son,” Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. I received a phone call yesterday from my friend, Wanda Gawronska, one of the children of Pier Giorgio’s sister Luciana. She and her brother Jas will be in Turin for tomorrow’s events, and we are trying to coordinate our travel plans and getting together in Turin for the procession. Pier Giorgio is buried in Turin’s cathedral, beneath an altar in the left aisle.

It was a quiet day for Pope Francis as he prepares for tomorrow’s general audience, but he was busy late yesterday afternoon when he addressed one of the annual meetings of the CEI, the Italian Episcopal Conference.  Below is a summary of that talk.

In addition I bring you some news from Chicago, a story I followed with great interest given that I was in the Windy City a few weeks ago for the funeral of my dear friend, Cardinal Francis George. Sunday marked the “month’s mind Mass” and the raising of the cardinal’s galero to the rafters of Holy Name cathedral.


Pope Francis on Monday inaugurated the 68th assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference as the country’s bishops gather in the Vatican to analyze the reception of the Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel). (ANSA photo at


He reminded the prelates that, “Our vocation is to listen when the Lord asks us: ‘Console my people’. Indeed, we are asked to console, to help, to encourage, without discrimination, all our brothers who are oppressed by the weight of their crosses, without ever tiring of working to lift them up again with the strength that comes only from God.”,

The Pope said that proclaiming the Gospel today at such a difficult moment in history, requires prelates to “go against the grain: or rather, to be joyful witnesses of the Risen Christ to transmit joy and hope to others.” We have to be Christ-like in our “sentiments of humility, compassion, concreteness and wisdom.”

This also means, said Francis, “not being timid … in denouncing and fighting against a widespread mentality of public and private corruption that shamelessly impoverishes families, pensioners, honest workers and Christian communities, discarding the young, who are systematically deprived of any hope for their future, and above all marginalising the weak and the needy. It is an ecclesial sensibility that, as good pastors, makes us go forth towards the People of God to defend them from ideological colonisations that take away their identity and human dignity.”

He noted that, in preparing documents for the faithful, “the abstract theoretical-doctrinal aspect must not prevail, as if our directions were intended …. only for a few scholars or specialists. Instead we must make the effort to translate them into concrete and comprehensible proposals.”

The Holy Father  explained that, “laypeople with an authentic Christian formation should not need a bishop-guide … to assume their own responsibilities at all levels, political to social, economic to legislative. However, they do need a bishop-pastor.”

Pope Francis emphasized the need for true collegiality – communion between bishops and their priests; communion between bishops themselves; between dioceses which are materially and vocationally rich and those in difficulty; between the periphery and the centee between episcopal conferences and the bishops and the Successor of Peter. …In some parts of the world we see a widespread weakening of collegiality, both in pastoral planning and in the shared undertaking of economic and financial commitments.”

The Pope then asked: “Why do we let religious institutes, monasteries and congregations age so much, almost to the point of no longer giving evangelical witness faithful to the founding charism? Why do we not try to regroup them before it is too late?”


Sunday marked the month anniversary of the death of Cardinal Francis George, former archbishop of Chicago, and a Mass known as the “month’s mind mass” was celebrated in Holy Name Cathedral, his episcopal seat for the 17 years he was archbishop. Cathedral, in fact, comes from the Latin “cathedra,” meaning seat or chair, and refers to the teaching and governing office of the bishop.

There is a red hat, once worn by cardinals but now in disuse, called a galero, a wide-brimmed hat with elegantly woven tassles hanging from it. Cardinal George had two galeros but never wore them. One was gift to him from the seminarians of Mundelein seminary and the second one was given to him by friends just months before his death on April 17. The cardinal’s galero:


One of the galeros, as of Sunday, now hangs from the ceiling of Holy Name Cathedral; the other will become part of a museum at Mundelein.

Fr. Dan Flens, a good friend of mine who was Cardinal George’s secretary for many years, sent me some links to the ceremony Sunday. Here is one link with some video of the rare but impressive ceremony in which the galero is hoisted to the rafters of the cathedral.

And here is a piece from the Chicago Tribune that also has some video: