I want my many friends and family members who live in the States struck by the polar vortex that I am praying for you every day, principally that you remain healthy and do not encounter any life-threatening moments during what some media are calling a historical time. Prayers especially for those alone, for the elderly, the newborn and the very young!

FYI: This is what I saw when I just clicked on a link to an article about the NFL in the Baltimore Sun: “Unfortunately, our website is currently unavailable in most European countries. We are engaged on the issue and committed to looking at options that support our full range of digital offerings to the EU market. We continue to identify technical compliance solutions that will provide all readers with our award-winning journalism.”

This is due to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679, a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union and the European Economic Area. It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU and EEA areas.

Happens to me daily with a lot of U.S. papers whose articles I might want to read online – Chicago Tribune, etc. VERY annoying!


As is customary for a Pope after completing a trip, at today’s general audience in the Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis spoke about his just-completed journey to Panama for World Youth Day 2019.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” he began, “Today I ask you to join me in thanking God for the graces he bestowed on the Church and on the people of Panama during my recent visit for World Youth Day. I thank the President and other authorities and particularly the volunteers for their warm welcome. The groups of people gathered there formed a great symphony of faces and languages typical of this event and the sight of the waving of so many flags was a prophetic sign that young Christians are a leaven of peace for the world.”

He noted that “one of the elements of World Youth Day is always the Way of the Cross. In Panama, the youth carried with Jesus and Mary the suffering of many brothers and sisters in Central America and beyond, especially those affected by forms of slavery and poverty, and by HIV/Aids.”

The Holy Father then turned to the Mass on Sunday, saying “the Risen Christ spoke afresh to young people, calling them to live the Gospel today, because they are the ‘today’ of the Church and the world.”

Then, in reference to his consecration of the new altar of Panama’s 400-year old cathedral, he noted that, “the oil of Chrism was used to consecrate the altar in the restored Cathedral in Panama, that which also anoints those being baptized, confirmed or ordained, and enables families to draw life from the Holy Spirit so as to continue their pilgrimage throughout the world as young missionary disciples of Jesus Christ.”

At the end of the English summary of his catechesis, via an interpreter, Pope Francis said, “I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience, especially those from the United States of America. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the Lord’s blessings of joy and peace. God bless you!”


Pope Francis has just completed his first major trip and event of the New Year, returning 48 hours ago from Panama where he celebrated World Youth Day 2019 with an estimated five million plus young people.

He barely unpacked one suitcase and is now getting ready to pack for his second foreign trip of the year, three days in the United Arab Emirates.

Here’s a look at some of the highlights on the papal agenda for 2019. And there’s always room to add something important, so stay tuned.

United Arab Emirates
February will be particularly busy for the Holy Father. From February 3 to 5, Pope Francis becomes the first Pope to visit the United Arab Emirates. The Journey’s central theme surrounds inter-religious dialogue and solidarity among members of different faiths. The leaders of the UAE declared 2019 as a “Year of Tolerance” with the goal of promoting a culture free of religious fundamentalism.

Council of Cardinals and Curial reform
From February 18 to 20, the 28th meeting of the Council of Cardinals will take place in the Vatican. The focus will be on the revision of the Constitution of the Roman Curia, Pastor Bonus. A new proposal was presented last December to Pope Francis, under the title “Praedicate evangelium”. Its goal is to help the Vatican’s governing body become more responsive to the need of a missionary Church.

February meeting against abuse
Probably the most-awaited papal event of 2019 takes place in the Vatican from February 21 to 24 February when Pope Francis will meet all Presidents of Bishops’ Conferences to discuss how to prevent the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. It promises to be a pivotal meeting in the fight against sexual abuse, as well as abuse of power and conscience, which are carried out by some members of the Church. Speaking to the Roman Curia in December 2018, Pope Francis said no excuse for following the path of truth and justice will be tolerated.

Journey to Morocco
On March 30 and 31, Pope Francis travels to Morocco, 33 years after Pope St. John Paul II’s historic visit on August 19, to Casablanca. The Pope will continue in his predecessor’s path of promoting mutual comprehension and inter-religious dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

Bulgaria & Macedonia
After a short rest in April, the Holy Father heads across the Adriatic Sea to visit Bulgaria and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on May 5 to 7. In Bulgaria he will visit the cities of Sofia and Rakovski. Then he travels to the Macedonian city of Skopje, where Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, founder of the Missionaries of Charity, was born. Catholics in these two Balkan nations are a tiny minority amidst the Orthodox majority, so promoting ecumenism will be high on the Pope’s to-do list.

Pope’s visit to Japan
Pope Francis openly told a group of Japanese visitors to the Vatican in September 2018 that he hopes to travel to Japan in 2019. He confirmed that he will travel there in November 2019 during remarks to journalists on the January 23rd flight from Rome to Panama for World Youth Day. During the encounter, the Pope recalled that, in 1585, a group of 4 Japanese young people arrived in Rome with several Jesuit missionaries to visit Pope Gregory XIII.

Amazonian Synod
Later in the year, the Synod of Bishops meets in October to discuss the Pan-Amazonia region. The Pope called for the special assembly on the theme “Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology”. Many themes, not limited to ecology, form the center-of-attention for the 7 Bishops’ Conferences and 9 nations involved.

(source: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-01/pope-francis-agenda-2019-journeys-abuse-reform.html)