KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS MARK CENTENARY IN ROME – POPE FRANCIS TO TRAVEL TO MALTA MAY 31

It all depends on how you look at it – and this is fairly typical for a visit by a head of State or government to the Pope. These stories refer to the visit Saturday by Ukraine’s president who met the Pope and then Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, and Abp. Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.

Vatican press office communiqué:
Talks in the Secretariat of State were mainly devoted to the humanitarian situation and to the search for peace in the context of the conflict that, since 2014, is still plaguing Ukraine. In this regard, the hope was shared that all parties involved show maximum sensitivity towards the needs of the population, the first victims of violence, as well as commitment and consistency in dialogue. Issues related to bilateral cooperation and the contribution of the Catholic Church, present in the country in various rites, were also examined.

Secular news media:
(Breitbart) – ROME — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with Pope Francis in the Vatican Saturday, during which Zelensky asked the pope to intervene to secure the release of Ukrainian prisoners of war. While an official Vatican communiqué said that discussions between the Ukrainian leader and Vatican officials focused on “the humanitarian situation and the quest for peace,” President Volodymyr Zelensky became much more specific in a tweet he sent out to followers in both Ukrainian and Italian.

(Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy asked Pope Francis on Saturday for help to win the release of prisoners of war held by Russia and Russian-backed separatists. “(The pope) does everything possible to achieve peace and harmony throughout the world,” Zelenskiy said in a tweet after their meeting at the Vatican. “I asked for help with the release of Ukrainians captured in Donbass, Crimea and Russia.” Relations between Ukraine and Russia collapsed following Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and its subsequent support for separatists in a conflict in eastern Ukraine.)

Interestingly enough, if you go to the Vatican site http://www.vatican.va, (the original portal) and go to the News summaries, the same stories do not appear on all language sites. For February 8, English had only two papal addresses and no mention of the visit by the president of Ukraine. The press office communique on the visit was in Italian and appeared only on the Italian language site.

KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS MARK CENTENARY IN ROME

Pope Francis this morning received members of the Board of Directors of the Knights of Columbus, led by Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and noted, they are in Rome on a pilgrimage to “mark the centennial of the charitable activity of the Knights of Columbus in this city.”

“In fact, it was one hundred years ago,” said Francis, “that my predecessor Pope Benedict XV invited the Knights of Columbus to provide humanitarian aid to young people and others in Rome following the terrible conflict of the First World War. The Knights responded generously, establishing sports centers for youth that quickly became places for education, catechesis and the distribution of food and other essentials so needed at that time.

The Holy Father pointed out that, “in this way, your Order proved faithful to the vision of your founder, Venerable Michael McGivney, who was inspired by the principles of Christian charity and fraternity to assist those most in need.”

He underscored the work of the knights today, “in particular, your faithful witness to the sacredness and dignity of human life, evident at both the local and national levels. This conviction has also led the Knights of Columbus to aid, both materially and spiritually, those Christian communities in the Middle East that are suffering the effects of violence, war and poverty. I thank all the members of your Order for seeing in our persecuted and displaced brothers and sisters of that region neighbours for whom you are a sign of God’s infinite love.

He also noted the Order’s “unswerving devotion to the Successor of Peter. The establishment of the Vicarius Christi Fund is a testimony to this devotion, as well as to the desire of the Knights to share in the Pope’s solicitude for all the Churches and in his universal mission of charity. In our world, marked by divisions and inequalities, the generous commitment of your Order to serve all in need offers, especially to young people, an important inspiration to overcome a globalization of indifference and build together a more just and inclusive society.”

The knights are in Rome from February 7 to 13.

POPE FRANCIS TO TRAVEL TO MALTA MAY 31

The Holy See Press Office announced this morning that Pope Francis will make an Apostolic Journey to Malta and Gozo on May 31. He has accepted invitations from Malta’s president and civil and religious authorities.

The Vatican will publish the itinerary at a later date but today did reveal the logo and the motto: “They showed us unusual kindness” Acts 28, 2 (vaticannews photo. Church of St. Paul)

The logo of the visit shows hands pointing towards the Cross, coming from a ship at the mercy of the waves. The hands represent a sign of the Christian’s welcome towards his neighbor and assistance to those who are in difficulty, abandoned to their destiny. The boat recalls the dramatic story of the shipwreck of the Apostle Paul on the island of Malta (see Acts 27.27-44) and the welcome given by the Maltese to the Apostle and shipwrecked (see Acts 28.1-10).

HAVE THE DUBIA OF 4 CARDINALS JUST BEEN ANSWERED?

HAVE THE DUBIA OF 4 CARDINALS JUST BEEN ANSWERED?

From the website of the Episcopal Conference of Malta (www.thechurchinmalta.org):

Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna and Bishop Mario Grech have drawn up guidelines for priests, for the application of Chapter VIII of the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love). This chapter is an invitation to mercy and pastoral discernment in the light of various social realities present today.

In a letter which will be read out this Sunday in churches all over Malta and Gozo, the Bishops explain that these guidelines for priests are aimed at accompanying people to an awareness of their life situation in the light of Jesus. “This message is also relevant to the couples and families who find themselves in complex situations, especially those involving separated or divorced persons who have entered a new union. Although they may have lost their first marriage, some of these persons have not lost their hope in Jesus. Some of these earnestly desire to live in harmony with God and with the Church, so much so, that they are asking us what they can do in order to be able to celebrate the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.” Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna and Bishop Mario Grech invite all those people who are in such a situation, and who are seeking help to continue to enlighten their conscience, to seek the assistance of a priest to accompany them.

The guidelines of the Maltese Bishops have been published in a document which has been handed out to every priest in the Archdiocese of Malta and the Diocese of Gozo.

Click here for that 22-page document: http://ms.maltadiocese.org/WEBSITE/2017/PRESS%20RELEASES/Norms%20for%20the%20Application%20of%20Chapter%20VIII%20of%20AL.pdf

News reports and commentaries:
1.      (AP) January 13, 2017: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/vatican-newspaper-communion-guide-remarried-catholics-article-1.2946142   VATICAN CITY — The Vatican is making clear Pope Francis supports letting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics receive Communion under certain conditions by publishing a set of new guidelines in the pope’s own newspaper that go beyond even what he has said.

2.      Times of Malta: January 14, 2017: http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20170114/local/divorced-remarried-at-peace-with-god-may-receive-communion-bishops.636462   Priests should offer assistance to couples whose marriage has broken down, the Maltese bishops are urging, issuing a set of guidelines which some observers have described as going even beyond the Pope’s teachings.

3.      Catholic News Agency (CNA/EWTN), January 13, 2017: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/maltese-bishops-divorced-and-remarried-at-peace-with-god-may-receive-communion-39095/   As debate over Amoris laetitia continues to gain steam, the Maltese bishops have come out with a new set of pastoral guidelines allowing divorced-and-remarried persons in certain cases, after “honest discernment”, to receive Communion.

4. Catholic News Service (CNS) – January 13, 2017: http://www.catholicnews.com/services/englishnews/2017/bishops-of-malta-issue-norms-for-ministry-to-divorced-civilly-remarried.cfm

LIGHTING THE PATH TO CHRISTMAS!

LIGHTING THE PATH TO CHRISTMAS!

St. Peter’s Square, December 9, 2016 – Official unveiling

of the Vatican Nativity Scene and lighting of Christmas Tree.

The spruce tree is a gift from the northern Italian region of Trentino

and the Nativity Scene was offered to the Vatican by the bishops

and government of Malta. It was designed by Manwel Grech

(you’ve seen my photos and videos of his team) and executed

by him and 7 teammates from Gozo, Malta.

I also posted a Facebook Live video as the ceremony was underway!

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!

How are thy leaves so verdant!

Not only in the summertime,

But even in winter is thy prime. O C

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, How are thy leaves so verdant!
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O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,

Much pleasure dost thou bring me!

For ev’ry year the Christmas tree,

Brings to us all both joy and glee.

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, Much pleasure dost thou bring me!

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O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,

How lovely are thy branches!

Not only green when summer’s here

But in the coldest time of year.

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, How lovely are thy branches!

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O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,

How sturdy God hath made thee!

Thou bidd’st us all place faithfully

Our trust in God, unchangingly!

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, How sturdy God hath made thee!

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O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,

Thy candles shine out brightly!

Each bough doth hold its tiny light,

That makes each toy to sparkle bright.

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, Thy candles shine out brightly!

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A NATIVITY SCENE FROM MALTA! – PAPAL GRATITUDE FOR ORGANIZERS OF JUBILEE OF MERCY – THERE’S ALSO THIS…

A NATIVITY SCENE FROM MALTA!

I had a fairly amazing evening last night but I should never really be surprised at what happens or whom I should meet when I go to La Vittoria restaurant!

At 7:30, I met a friend from the States who was in Rome for a few days of work at the Order of Malta. It was fairly quiet at La Vittoria but at one point, a bit late, a group of 8 men came in and sat down together. I was trying to understand what language they spoke but without success. They were enjoying dinner and conversing in low tones and I kept wondering about the dialect or language.

As Margaret and I were leaving, Valentino, one of the waiters told us these men were from the Maltese island of Gozo and were building the Vatican’s Nativity scene (It has a Malta theme)!! Well, I pivoted as fast as I could and went back into the main room to their table, introduced myself – they all knew EWTN! – and got the story and a few photos! We spoke in English. Manuel, who seemed to be the head builder or at least spokesperson, told me they start building today and the scene will be unveiled December 9th. They invited me to come ‘behind the scenes’, so to speak and I will do that as soon as possible. Of course I can’t do any photos before the 9th but what fun it would be in any case.

Shortly before I met the Maltese crew, a young man came to my table and introduced himself as a big fan of my work on EWTN, telling me in particular how his brief, 36 hours in Rome had benefited greatly by my book on the Holy Year. Paul is from Kansas City, MO., and when he learned of the Nativity scene builders, he took one of these photos.

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As I’ve written so many times on this page, “life in the fast lane!”

PAPAL GRATITUDE FOR ORGANIZERS OF JUBILEE OF MERCY

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Monday with religious and civil authorities who organized the recently concluded Jubilee Year of Mercy, including members of the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization, headed by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, as well as police chiefs and Italian officials in charge of local and regional security.

Pope Francis spoke of the origin of his idea for a year of mercy, describing it as “a simple intuition” which the Lord transformed into a celebration of faith and joy for Christian communities throughout the world.

st-peter-holy-door

The opening of doors of mercy in so many cathedrals and shrines, he went on, enabled people to freely experience the love of God in their lives. The fruits of this extraordinary event must now become part of our daily living, he said, so that mercy truly becomes a permanent lifestyle for all Christians.

The Pope went on to thank all those individuals and organizations who worked hard to guarantee the safety and smooth running of the jubilee, which officially concluded on November 20th, the final Sunday of the liturgical year.

In particular, he mentioned Italy’s Home Affairs minister, the regional Lazio authorities and local chiefs of police who worked together with the Swiss Guards,  Vatican police and other offices of the Holy See to ensure a positive experience for the millions of pilgrims who travelled to Rome over the past year.

Last, but not least, he thanked members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization and all the volunteers from different parts of the world who worked so hard to transform this event into a real moment of grace. “May your efforts,” he concluded, “be rewarded by the experience of mercy which the Lord will not fail to grant you.”

THERE’S ALSO THIS…

POPE FRANCIS HAS SENT A TELEGRAM TO the newly-elected superior general of the Jesuit Order, Father Arturo Sosa Abascal, upon learning of the death of Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach, the former head of the Society of Jesus, who died in Beirut on Saturday, just days short of his 88th birthday. The Pope sent the telegram in his own name, recalling Father Kolbach’s career. His fidelity to the Gospel: Hearing the news of the pious death of the Reverend Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., the former Superior General of the Company of Jesus, I desire to express to you and to the whole Jesuit family my heartfelt condolences. Recalling the integral fidelity of Father Kolvenbach to Christ and His Gospel, joined to a generous commitment in exercising his office with a spirit of service for the good of the Church, I lift up my prayers of suffrage, invoking, from the divine mercy, eternal peace for his soul. Spiritually present at the funeral rites, I cordially impart to you, to your brothers, and to those who share the sorrow for this loss, the Apostolic Blessing.

POPE FRANCIS RECEIVED IRELAND’S PRIME MINISTER Enda Kenny on Monday. A Vatican communiqué said the two “evoked the historical ties between the Holy See and Ireland, and underlined the continued contribution ensured by the Catholic Church in the fields of education and social service.” They also “spoke of the importance of the role of Christians in the public sphere, especially in promoting respect for the dignity of every person, beginning with the weakest and most defenseless.” Other topics included “an exchange of views on Europe, with particular reference to migration, youth employment and the main challenges that the continent has to deal with, from the political point of view and institutional.” Dublin, Ireland was chosen by Francis as the site of the next World Meeting of Families in 2018.