Today’s papal tweet: When something makes us suffer, let us listen to the voice of Jesus in our hearts: “Do not fear! Go ahead! I am with you!”


My guest this week on Vatican Insider is Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel and the Executive Director of the National office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation & Healing in Milwaukee. Since we taped this in Rome, I have also learned that Vicki has been named as a corresponding member of the Pontifical academy for Life. She was a member in the academy previously but its strategies, membership and statutes have been reformed under Pope Francis…another topic for another time.

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. 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.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library:   For VI archives:


(A follow up to my FB post of yesterday)

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has ordered the Belgian arm of the Brothers of Charity religious order to stop offering euthanasia in its psychiatric hospitals.

The Holy See Press Office confirmed that the Pope gave his personal approval to a Vatican letter sent at the beginning of August, which gives the Catholic charity until the end of August to stop the practice at all of its 15 centers in Belgium.

Euthanasia is legal in the country, and in May the Brothers of Charity Group which administers the Belgian hospitals announced it would allow doctors to perform euthanasia on psychiatric patients.

The charity said in a statement it would be performed only if there were “no reasonable treatment alternatives”.

Joint letter affirming magisterium

Pope Francis also ordered Brothers of Charity who serve on the group’s board to sign a joint letter to their Superior General declaring that they “fully support the vision of the magisterium of the Catholic Church, which has always confirmed that human life must be respected and protected in absolute terms, from the moment of conception till its natural end.”

Brothers who refuse to sign the joint letter renouncing the practice of euthanasia will face sanctions under canon law, while the Catholic charity group can expect to face legal action and even expulsion from the Church if it fails to change its policy.

Brothers of Charity statement

Bro. René Stockman, General Superior of the Brothers of Charity, released a statement in response to the position of his Belgian brothers.

“The central point and the foundation within Christian ethics is that life is absolute, which cannot be touched. Life is a gift from God and entails an assignment. And because life is absolute, it is a state worthy of protection,” he wrote.

Mattias De Vriendt, a spokesman for the Belgium charity, said it had received the Vatican’s request but had not yet responded.

He confirmed the charity’s hospitals had received requests from patients seeking euthanasia recently but could not say whether any procedures had been performed.


Expressing great concern over mounting tension in the Korean peninsula and beyond over North Korea’s missile and nuclear bravado, South Korean bishops are seeking spiritual aid to diffuse the situation.  The bishops are urging their faithful to seek the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for peace in their land, in view of the upcoming solemn feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Aug. 15.

In a message, Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul asked Catholics to pray the rosary in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparition in Fatima.  “The Virgin Mary urged us to pray the rosary for the conversion of sinners and for peace in the world,” said Cardinal Yeom. “The rosary is our spiritual weapon to defeat evil effectively and it will help us overcome challenges in our faith and transfigure us to become workers for world peace,” he said.

The August 15 feast of the Assumption is profoundly linked with Korean history.  The National Liberation Day of Korea‎ is marked in commemoration of that day in 1945 when Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule.  The Catholic Church in South Korea is also dedicated to the Blessed Mother and it considers its liberation as a “gift from Mary.”

“For the safety and the future of all Koreans, North Korea should come to the discussion table and abandon their nuclear weapons,” said Cardinal Yeom expressing grave concern over North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile programmes. (Vatican Radio)



Tuesday Papal Tweet: Let’s work together to increase solidarity and sharing. Cooperation helps to build better and more peaceful societies.

Entertaining family and friends in my home is one of the greatest pleasures of my life in Rome. I love my home, the view of St. Peter’s dome and just about everything about living in this neighborhood, and sharing all that beauty and fascination with friends over what I always hope is a good meal is sheer joy. In addition, over the years I have been given with many beautiful things, including my grandparents 1905 Bavarian crystal that was a wedding gift, all of which enhance a lovely setting and doubles the joy of sharing.

Sunday evening I had a dinner party for six Patrons of the Vatican Museums from Singapore – the first ever dinner party where I met my guests for the first time at the front door!

A few months back the Patrons office in the Vatican had written me, suggesting a novel idea for the 28 Patrons who were to visit Rome and the Vatican from Singapore: Would those of us who live in Rome and were Patrons be willing to host 6 to 8 of the Singapore group for dinner? Of course, I would!

In all my years of entertaining this was one of most fascinating group of guests and stimulating conversations I ever recall! Six of the most cultured people imaginable from very different cultures – China, India and the Philippines – but all now Singapore residents joined me and my houseguest Tricia from Washington.

They graced my home with their presence and knowledge and wonderful stories. Tricia and I were riveted by their backgrounds, the story of how the Singapore Patrons were born (the founders were at my table!), the exchange about how different our cultures were – the United States, Italy and the Asian cultures they came from, and on and on. One guest, Sat Pal, recited some beautiful poetry by heart, and you could have heard the proverbial pin drop!

I rarely write about dinner parties but Sunday was unique in many ways, and I know I was greatly enriched by the presence of these new and wonderful friends! (Apologies to Tricia – she took the photos but is not in any taken with my camera!)

It seems Asia is the unintended focus of today’s column – read on for a fascinating story…


(ROME, May 2 – Korea Bizwire) A team of Italian experts has succeeded in the restoration of a globe at a museum dedicated to Pope John XXIII by using the Korean traditional paper “hanji” after one year of work, the South Korean consulate general in Milan said Sunday.

South Korean Consul General in Milan Chang Jae-bok (L) and art conservationist Nella Poggi, attend a press conference at the town hall of Sotto il Monte Giovanni Ventitre near Italy’s Bergamo on April 28, 2017, to mark the completion of the restoration of a globe at a museum dedicated to Pope John XXIII by using the Korean traditional paper “hanji” (image: Yonhap):

The team, led by art conservationist Nella Poggi, South Korean Consul General Chang Jae-bok and representatives of a foundation on the late pontiff attended a press conference at the town hall of Sotto il Monte Giovanni Ventitre near located near Italy’s Bergamo on Friday to mark the completion of the restoration of the globe, a cultural asset of the Vatican City.

Believed to have been made in June 1960, the globe was ordered by Pope John XXIII who was in office from 1958 to 1963.

It is estimated to have a significant meaning in the history of the Catholic Church as it has a complete map of all the dioceses of the church in the world at the beginning of the 1960s as well as places where the pontiff went on pilgrimages.

During the press conference, restorer Poggi was quoted as saying his work was not easy because the globe was badly damaged as more than a half century passed since it was made and had the shape of a sphere.

But Poggi said the good tension held by hanji helped him carry out the work, the South Korean diplomatic mission said.

Consul General Chang expressed his pleasure over the restoration of the artifact loved by Pope John XXIII through hanji, a typical Korean cultural asset.

He hoped that “South Korea and Italy will enhance their relations by cooperating in the utilization of cultural assets.”

Since 2014, the South Korean consulate general has carried out a project to have art restorers in Italy and other parts of Europe where Japanese paper has been the overwhelming choice of art conservation, know about the superiority of hanji.

The museum in the Italian town, the hometown of Pope John XXIII, plans to unveil the restored globe to the public soon.

The Korean paper used for the restoration was provided by hanji producer Shin Hyun-se Traditional Hanji Studio, in Uiryeong, southeastern South Korea.

The studio’s paper was also used in a work to the Chartula, one of the most beloved items of Italian cultural heritage. The Chartula is a handwritten prayer on parchment by St. Francis of Assisi (1182~1226), a Roman Catholic saint and one of the patron saints of Italy, in 1224.

(JFL: Korean paper or hanji is the name of traditional handmade paper from Korea. Hanji is made from the inner bark of paper mulbery, a tree native to Korea that grows well on its rocky mountainsides, known in Korean as dak. The formation aid crucial to making hanji is the mucilage that oozes from the roots of hibiscus manihot. This substance helps suspend the individual fibers in water. Wikipedia)