VATICAN INSIDER: AN INSIDER’S LOOK AT THE LIFE OF NORMA MCCORVEY – PAPAL ALMONER SUPPORTS FARMERS, PRODUCERS FROM EARTHQUAKE-STRUCK TOWNS – COULD ONE BISHOP’S IDEA HELP THE WORLD’S DIOCESES?

Pope Francis on Twitter today: The Christian heart is always full of joy. Always. Joy received as a gift and kept in order to be shared with everyone.

Shall we all try to share a moment of joy with one new person this weekend!

If you follow events in the Holy Land, having perhaps made several pilgrimages to Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon (yes, all are the Holy Land), there are two websites you really might want to visit to keep well informed on all that is happening in the area, especially vis-à-vis the Catholic Church.

The first is http://en.lpj.org/

The LPJ stands for Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and it is a fact-filled site with daily news stories (such as “Don’t Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, Bishops Ask Secretary of State), videos, upcoming events, a look at the Order of the Holy Sepulchre (to which I belong) and information for visitors and pilgrims. You might already be familiar with this site: if not, it is a must-visit site if you love the Holy Land, or are simply curious to know more.

A second site will probably be less familiar: http://en.abouna.org/

The “en” in the site refers to the English version, as you probably guessed: the original is in Arabic (abouna.org). “Abouna” is Arabic for Father. A good friend of mine in Amman, Jordan, Fr. Rifat Bader, put this together a few years ago and he and his team (a fairly small one) are doing a great job. He is the founder and director of the Amman-based Catholic Center for Studies and Media.

Father is pointing at me – we are at the Beirut Airport in September 2012 for the arrival of Pope Benedict:

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I saw a story here this morning (also on lpj.org) about the arrival in Amman today of another friend, Bishop William Shomali, as the new patriarchal vicar of Jordan (for the Latin Patriarchate). He succeeds Bishop Maroun Lahham whom I interviewed in 2014 on my trip to Jordan. When Bishop Shomali and I first met, he was rector of the Patriarchate seminary in Beit Sahour, not far from Bethlehem.. I had lunch with then-Father Shomali, the seminarians and staff just before they all left on Christmas vacation.

He is on the right on this photo –

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…and on the top of the group photo, wearing a gray scarf.

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VATICAN INSIDER: AN INSIDER’S LOOK AT THE LIFE OF NORMA MCCORVEY

My guest this week on “Vatican Insider” in the interview segment is Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life. As I wrote last weekend on these pages, she was in Rome last week with Fr. Frank Pavone and I had interviewed her about their work at Priests for Life, the March for Life in DC, etc. She suggested that we do a separate interview about someone big in the prolife movement and a good friend to Janet and Father Frank who was in failing health – that is, Norma McCorvey, the Roe of Roe v Wade in the 1973 Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion.

It was Norma’s courageous decision later in life, to renounce abortion – the goal she had espoused as the plaintiff in Roe v Wade – and to denounce it as the deliberate killing of a human being in its mother’s womb that led her to spend successive decades trying to overturn the law she had been instrumental in creating – even though she never set foot in court.

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Listen as Janet tells the inside story of Norma McCorvey who died one hour after we did our interview!

PAPAL ALMONER SUPPORTS FARMERS, PRODUCERS FROM EARTHQUAKE- STRUCK TOWNS

(Vatican Radio)  The Office of Papal Charities this week helped out the earthquake-hit regions of central Italy at the express wish of Pope Francis, buying typical food products from local producers and distributing it to several soup kitchens in Rome.

Central Italy was hit by a powerful 6.3 magnitude quake in August 2016, which killed nearly 300 people. Other earthquakes have since caused major damage to the area.

Farmers and merchants in the affected areas have since suffered a drastic reduction in their revenues.

A communique from the Office of Papal Charities said the organization selected “several groups of farmers and producers at risk of closure because of the damages provoked by the earthquake” from which to buy alimentary products.

Papal Almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, is standing on the right:

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It said vendors were chosen in conjunction with Bishop Domenico Pompili of Rieti, Bishop Giovanni D’Ercole of Ascoli Piceno, Archbishop Francesco Giovanni Brugnaro of Camerino-San Severino Marche, and Archbishop Renato Boccardo of Spoleto-Norcia.

“The Office of Papal Charities bought a large quantity of their products with the intention, expressed by the Holy Father, to help and encourage them in their activities. It is a gesture in line with the Magisterium of Pope Francis, who in his meetings has often said that ‘when a person does not earn their bread, their dignity is lost’”.

The food products bought in the name of the Pope were distributed to several soup kitchens in Rome to make meals for homeless people in need.

The Vatican supermarket currently sells products from the earthquake hit zones of central Italy, in an effort to help out the local economy.

COULD ONE BISHOP’S IDEA HELP THE WORLD’S DIOCESES?

(Vatican Radio) A bishop in Scotland has high hopes for his diocese as a new fundraising initiative was recently launched at his cathedral.

Bishop John Keenan is encouraging the faithful of the Diocese of Paisley to become ‘Friends’ of certain diocesan projects in a bid to combat a £3 million (€3.5 million) deficit. Bishop Keenan explained in a letter read out at all Masses in St Mirin’s Cathedral that the cause for the deficit is not surprising. “It is the same deadly combination of rising costs and falling income that you know all too well from your own home finances.” (photo: news.va)

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The bishop emphasised that a change in culture is needed. In his letter, he tells the lay faithful that he would rather put his trust in his own people than in professional fundraisers. If his desire for a deficit-free diocese is to be realised, then annual savings worth £300,000 must be found. He added that the “bulk of our efforts to eradicate the deficit will come from fundraising.”

He has appointed Fr Oliver Freney, administrator of St Mirin’s Cathedral, as the new diocesan Director of Fundraising and has challenged him to raise £100,000 annually. He said that the ‘Friends Project’ will be the “heart and soul of his fundraising campaign.”

Fr Freney was joined by several young people from the diocese for the launch at St Mirin’s. His fellow priests will be launching it in their parishes over the coming weeks. He said after the launch: “If every member of our diocese signed up to give just £5 a year, we would be in surplus.” He added that he encourages parishioners to “think about our situation and give thoughtfully and generously.”

The diocesan treasurer attended the launch. Fr Stephen Bailey explained that the faithful could opt to become ‘Friends’ of particular projects like ‘vocations’, ‘education’ and ‘youth’.  He added that Bishop Keenan wants to let people know how their money is being spent.

Bishop Keenan recently led the diocesan community through a synod, during which the important role of the lay faithful within the Church was highlighted.

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“SPOTLIGHT” NOT AN ANTI-CATHOLIC FILM – THE OFFICE OF PAPAL CHARITIES OPENS A CLINIC UNDER THE COLONNADE IN ST PETER’S SQUARE – DOCTORS FOR THE HOMELESS

This is a “Good News” column today, focusing on two fascinating pieces in the Vatican daily, L’Osservatore Romano.

The first is the Vatican reaction to the film, “Spotlight,” which won an Oscar Sunday night for best film and the second is about the just-opened health center for homeless men and women near the new showers installed months ago just off the right hand colonnade of St. Peter’s Square.

On the film “Spotlight”: Seems that a number of pundits gleefully predicted Vatican outrage and anger over the Oscar being awarded to a film that highlighted the Boston Globe’s probe into clerical sex abuse cases in the archdiocese and then elsewhere. The Vatican, instead, saw the film in a a positive light because, says the editorial at the outstart, “it manages to voice the shock and profound pain of the faithful confronting the discovery of these horrendous realities.”

A very worthwhile article. The question that remained in my mind, following the Oscar awards ceremony, is when will the same producers and directors (or even the media) delve into abuse cases in families, in schools, in sports venues,etc., in other words, some place other than the Catholic Church?

And then the piece about the new mini health center for the homeless at the Vatican: Another brilliant gesture by Pope Francis and his superactive Almoner, Abp. Konrad Krajewski, to help restore a sense of dignity to so many people who feel they have nothing left in life, including dignity.

“SPOTLIGHT” NOT AN ANTI-CATHOLIC FILM

Spotlight, the Oscar-winning film, has a compelling plot. The film is not anti-Catholic, as has been written, because it manages to voice the shock and profound pain of the faithful confronting the discovery of these horrendous realities.

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Of course, the narrative does not delve into the long and tenacious battle that Joseph Ratzinger, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and as Pope, undertook against pedophilia in the Church. But one film cannot tell all, and the difficulties that Ratzinger met with do not but confirm the film’s theme, which is that too often ecclesiastical institutions have not known how to react with the necessary determination in the face of these crimes.

Of course, and we all know it, children are vulnerable beings, and therefore privileged victims of abuse even in families, sport circles, and secular schools. Not all monsters wear cassocks. Pedophilia does not necessarily arise from the vow of chastity. However, it has become clear that in the Church some are more preoccupied with the image of the institution than of the seriousness of the act.

All this cannot justify the extremely grave fault of those who, while seen as God’s representatives, use this authority and prestige to exploit the innocent. The film is adept at recounting this detail, giving space to the inner devastation that these acts generate in the victims, who no longer have a God to plead with, to ask for help.

The fact that a call arose from the Oscar ceremony — that Pope Francis fight this scourge — should be seen as a positive sign: there is still trust in the institution, there is trust in a Pope who is continuing the cleaning begun by his predecessor, then still a cardinal. There is still trust in a faith that has at its heart the defence of victims, the protection of the innocent.

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THE OFFICE OF PAPAL CHARITIES OPENS A CLINIC UNDER THE COLONNADE IN ST PETER’S SQUARE – DOCTORS FOR THE HOMELESS

A sign which reads “medical-health care clinic” is posted on a wooden door situated in the colonnade of St Peter’s Square. It is Pope Francis’ latest gift – by way of the Office of Papal Charities – to the homeless of Rome. The clinic, which stands alongside the showers and barber shop which were previously made available to Rome’s needy, opened on Monday, 29 February. Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the Papal Almoner, explained that the Italian Association of Podiatrists will also provide a free-of-charge service because, he added, “feet are the most affected part in people living in the street”.

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The decision to open on a Monday is no accident. The first day of the week is when approximately 150 people use the showers and barber shop. This service – which opened last year – allows them to change into clean clothes, leaving their dirty ones to be laundered at the shelter which recently opened on Via dei Penitenzieri. “It seemed right”, Archbishop Krajewski explained, “to also provide free medical visits. For now, we will begin like this but soon the podiatrists will visit twice per week, and then eventually this service could become daily”. “We are equipped”, said Archbishop Krajewski, “to help all those who come knocking on our door. It is Pope Francis who wants this and those of us who are close to him in this venture are honoured and highly motivated to make this possible”.

Medical specialists and healthcare personnel of the Holy See, of the University of Rome – Tor Vergata and of the volunteer association Medicina Solidale see patients, prescribe tests and treatments, and recommend hospitalization, if necessary. It is “an indispensable service”, the Papal Almoner continued, “to the health of the poor who live among us”. “In taking care of these people, we cannot overlook medical visits, preventive care and continous outpatient care”, of which the homeless “are especially in need. That is why the Holy Father wished that, under the colonnade of St Peter’s Basilica, a medical center be built for those who ask to be cared for”.

 

PAPAL GESTURE OF MERCY FOR HOMELESS MOTHER AND NEWBORN – CHRISTIAN UNITY, MERCY, BAPTISM ARE FOCUS OF PAPAL CATECHESIS – POPE FRANCIS TO DAVOS ECONOMIC FORUM: DON’T FORGET THE POOR

PAPAL GESTURE OF MERCY FOR HOMELESS MOTHER AND NEWBORN

What an amazing story of mercy from Rome, from the Vatican actually – a heartwarming story during days which have seen frigid temperatures in Rome, especially overnight.

At 2 am Tuesday, one of the coldest nights Rome has seen in a very long time, a 36-year old Romanian homeless woman gave birth to a 7-pound baby girl in Pius XII Square, the small square adjacent St. Peter’s Square. She had been sleeping under the porticos on Via della Conciliazione when her labor pains began. A homeless companion called the police who happened to be patrolling at that time and the woman, Maria Claudia, gave birth at about 2 am. The two police who came to her aid – a man and a woman – took off their own coats in the very cold weather to place over the mother and newborn who was named Irene.

The policewoman who helped the Romanian woman was also named Maria. Mother and child were brought to nearby Santo Spirito hospital, just several hundred yards from St. Peter’s Square.

A big role was also played by Papal Almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski. He had tried to help Maria Claudia in the past but she had never wanted assistance- However, on Tuesday, having heard the story, he saw to it that Maria Claudia went to the hospital and he went to visit them. He later told Fr. Federico Lombardi, head of the Holy See Press Office that mother and daughter are doing well.

Archbishop Konrad said that, though the mother refused offers of help in the past she was able to use the showers the Vatican has built for the homeless as well as other services that Pope Francis has placed at the disposition of the homeless in the vicinity of the Vatican.

Although the two police officers who came to help Maria Claudia had called for an ambulance, it arrived quickly but only after Maria Claudia had given birth on the cold sidewalk. Every evening there are dozens of homeless people under or near the colonnades of St. Peter’s Square and in the doorways of many of the Vatican buildings on Via della Conciliazione, including the Holy See Press Office.

While the homeless very often come at sunset and spend the night outdoors, most leave in the morning when offices open.

Archbishop Krajewski has become the most active ever of all papal almoners, those who distribute help to the poor, the needy, and the homeless. His work, especially with the homeless, has become a hallmark of Pope Francis’ papacy. The Pope has seen to it that showers were set up for the homeless just off of St. Peter’s Square. He also saw to it that barbers gave freely of their service one day a week for these same homeless people. In addition, last fall a dormitory was built several blocks from St. Peter’s Square that houses up to 34 homeless people a night – all the work of Pope Francis and his almoner, Polish Archbishop Konrad Krajewski.

And now for the happy ending to this story:

Archbishop Krajewski let Maria Claudia know that, in the name of the Pope, she and her daughter may stay for a year in the home for unwed mothers that is run by the sisters of Mother Teresa in the Primavalle neighborhood of Rome.

CHRISTIAN UNITY, MERCY, BAPTISM ARE FOCUS OF PAPAL CATECHESIS

Marie, a friend from Toronto who is in Rome for only a few days, had written to ask if I might get a ticket for this week’s general papal audience and asked if I could accompany her. I write about but rarely attend a general audience but felt this would be a wonderful experience and also quality time to spend with a friend.

It was a bitter cold morning outside but the lines for security went quite well, quickly and efficiently. Being in a much warmer Paul VI Hall was all we needed to bring a real smile to our faces. We got inside about 90 minutes before the audience but that kind of time passes quickly as you talk, watch people, listen to groups sing or watch groups wave flags, etc.

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Before the Pope arrives, announcements are made in 8 languages about how the audience wil proceed, praying the Our Father at the end of the audience with the Pope, having rosaries and other religious goods blessed, etc. The final announcement was the one that broight joy to our hearts: at the end of the audience, whoever wished to go through the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica should follow the directives of the Jubilee volunteers!

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Marie had earlier asked me how to go about this and I told her that reservations had to be made online or at the Visitor’s Office on Via della Conciliazione and that the starting point of the long walk to the basilica Holy Door was at Castel Sant’Angelo, Now, we could take a shortcut!

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Announcements made, Pope Francis arrived about 10 am on the dot and strolled up the center aisle of the Paul VI Hall to reach the stage.

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The Holy Father focused his attention on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that began, as is tradition, on January 18 an ends on the 25, feast of the conversion of St. Paul. The Pope told us that the theme for this special week was taken from the first letter of Saint Peter, “Called to proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord,” and he explained, with apparent delight, that this had been chosen by an ecumenical group in Latvia.

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Francis said this week of prayer invites us to “reflect on, and bear witness to, our unity in Christ as God’s People. … all those who are baptized, reborn to new life in Christ, are brothers and sisters, despite, ‘our divisions’.”

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Baptism was also a focus of the weekly catechesis. The Pope said, “baptism means rediscovering the source of mercy, which is a source of hope for all.” He said once – and then repeated it, looking up from his text – that “no one is excluded from God’s mercy.”  Sharing this grace, “creates an unbreakable bond between us Christians” so that, “by virtue of Baptism, we can consider ourselves brothers.

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More than anything, prayed the Pope, may the Lord, in this week of prayer, “help all Christians to grow in that unity that is greater than what divides us. .. Together, may we respond to his call to share with others, especially with the poor and forgotten of our world, the gift of divine mercy which we ourselves have received.”

POST AUDIENCE NOTES

After the audience, as Pope Francis was receiving a delegation of Muslims who invited him to visit the mosque of Rome, Marie and I made our way out to St. Peter’s Square and, following the indications of the Jubilee volunteers, climbed the broad steps to the atrium of the basilica and joined others to go through the Holy Door. This was, as you can imagine, a very special moment that became the prelude to a prayerful visit to this historical basilica built over the tomb of the first Pope, St. Peter, and to prayer time at the tomb of St. John Paul, the tomb of St. John XXII and to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.

The photo of the Holy Door as we approached it is not very good because we were not supposed to stop and take photos.

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A bonus, on the way out, was a visit to the basilica’s nativity scene (I’ll post photos another day).

POPE FRANCIS TO DAVOS ECONOMIC FORUM: DON’T FORGET THE POOR

The Holy Father was asked to address the annual economic summit in Davos, Switzerland, but ecided to express his thoughts to members of this exclusive yearly gathering in the form of a message. His principaal appeal was to never forget vthe poor, reflecting what he tweeted yesterday: The Gospel calls us to be close to the poor and forgotten, and to give them real hope.

Click here to read full message: http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-to-world-economic-forum-do-not-forget-the-poo

MERCIFUL LIKE THE FATHER: MESSAGE FOR THE JUBILEE OF MERCY FOR THE YOUNG – VATICAN HOSTING TWO REFUGEE FAMILIES – HOMELESS AND POOR ATTEND CIRCUS, THANKS TO PAPAL ALMONER

MERCIFUL LIKE THE FATHER: MESSAGE FOR THE JUBILEE OF MERCY FOR THE YOUNG

(VIS) – Pope Francis’ message for the Jubilee of Mercy for young boys and girls was published today. In the text, dated 6 January 2016, Solemnity of the Epiphany, the Holy Father addresses youngsters aged 13 to 16, many of whom intend to make a pilgrimage to Rome from 23 to 25 April, and who are “preparing to be Christians capable of making courageous choices and decisions, in order to build daily, even through little things, a world of peace., He encourages those who live in difficult situations not to lose hope as the Lord “has a great dream” for them that He wishes to come true. He invites them not to be “taken in by the messages of hatred or terror all around us”, and instead to make new friendships.

Click here to read the message in English: http://www.news.va/en/news/merciful-like-the-father-message-for-the-jubilee-o

VATICAN HOSTING TWO REFUGEE FAMILIES

A communique announced today that two refugee families are now being hosted by the two parishes of the Vatican, in response to the September 6, 2015, Angelus appeal of Pope Francis for every parish in Europe to welcome a family of refugees, starting with his own diocese of Rome.

The parish of Sant’Anna has provided a nearby apartment for a Christian Syrian family, consisting of the parents and two children, whereas the parish of St. Peter’s Basilica has provided an apartment for an Eritrean family consisting of a mother and her five children. Three of those children, including one only several months old, are already in Italy, and two others are in a refugee camp in Ethiopia, but are expected to be reunited in Rome the coming weeks. Another woman and her child also live in the apartment which the Vatican communique described as ‘large’.

This entire project has been under the direction of Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal Almoner, and the Sant’Egidio Community. Pope Francis met briefly with the Syrian family shortly after they moved into their apartment in September.

HOMELESS AND POOR ATTEND CIRCUS, THANKS TO PAPAL ALMONER

(Vatican Radio) The Office of the Papal Almoner has announced a unique charity event scheduled for Thursday afternoon in Rome: a circus for the poor. (AP photo: news.va)

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The homeless, refugees, prisoners, and those most in need, were invited to the entertainment, offered free of charge at the Rony Roller Circus, which made all 2000 seats under its big top available for the event.

A press release with details of the spectacle highlights the show’s opening number: a song composed by a Spanish singer-songwriter, who was also homeless at one time, dedicated to Pope Francis and written to serve as an opening prayer and expression of gratitude to the Holy Father for his closeness to the guests.

In a January audience last year Pope Francis said that those who create circus shows create beauty which is good for the soul. “How much we need beauty,” he said. He applauded circus artists who with perseverance and sacrifice give beauty to others.

The Almoner’s announcement also explained that medical personnel from Vatican Health Services would be available to give treatment free of charge to any of the event’s attendees with a mobile camper and Vatican ambulances. A small snack will be offered the end of the show.

 

VATICAN INSIDER, INSIDE THE PREPARATIONS FOR A PAPAL TRIP – CUBANS RECEIVE VIDEO MESSAGE FROM FRANCIS ON VIGIL OF TRIP – POPE ENCOURAGES DIALOGUE BETWEEN SCIENCE AND RELIGION, NAMES NEW DIRECTOR OF VATICAN OBSERVATORY – SECRETARY OF STATE SPEAKS ON PAPAL VISIT TO CUBA, U.S. – VATICAN WELCOMES SYRIAN REFUGEE FAMILY OF 4

Pope Francis tweeted today, Friday, September 18: I ask you to join me in praying for my trip to Cuba and the United States. I need your prayers.

A plethora of interesting stories about and from the Vatican today. One great story concerned the Holy Father’s nomination of someone I’ve know for quite a number of years, Jesuit astonomer Bro. Guy Consolmagno, as director of the Vatican Observatory. Bro. Guy, an enormously respected astronomer and highly requested as a speaker, is a native of Detroit.

As I said on my Facebook page this morning: When I discovered that Vatican astronomers were in Hawaii for the IAU general assembly at the same time I was vacationing there, I did not know how to reach them so I wrote Bro. Guy, whom I have known for years and have interviewed, and he contacted the four Vatican representatives in Honolulu. The result was my interview with Fr. Christopher Corbally that aired the last two weekends on my radio show, “Vatican Insider.” Congratulations, Bro Guy!

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An even greater story was that the Vatican has accepted a refugee family from Syria an will house the four members in a Vatican apartment near St. Peter’s (that story below – really fascinating reading!)

VATICAN INSIDER, INSIDE THE PREPARATIONS FOR A PAPAL TRIP

As you know, Pope Francis leaves tomorrow morning for Cuba where he will visit Havana, Holguin and Santiago de Cuba. He is the third Pope to visit this Caribbean island but the first whose native tongue is Spanish. He’ll depart Cuba at 12:30 pm on Tuesday, September 22 for the U.S., arriving in Washington D.C. at 4 that afternoon at Andrews Air Force base where he will be officially welcomed by President Obama. Francis will be received at the White House and, while in Washington, he will canonize Fr. Junipero Serra and address a joint session of Congress. His second U.S. stop is New York where he will speak at the United Nations as it marks the 70th anniversary of its founding. The Holy Father will then spend tine in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families, the principal focus of his 10th foreign trip and his longest one to date. Interestingly enough, this is Francis’ first time ever in the United States and Cuba. although he said recently in an interview that he was on once at the Havana airport between flights.

This weekend, in place of an interview on Vatican Insider, I look at the behind the scenes preparations for a papal trip, at what goes into the making of a papal trip. So stay tuned for that special report that I prepared in July for his trip to Latin America.

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live 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 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

CUBANS RECEIVE VIDEO MESSAGE FROM FRANCIS ON VIGIL OF TRIP

Pope Francis, in a videomessage to Cubans just hours before departing for this Caribbbean nation, said he was visiting their country to share their faith and their hope. He expressed the joy he felt when thinking about their fidelity to the Lord, and the strength it gave him thinking about the courage with which they face the difficulties of everyday and the love with which they help and support each other along the path of life. (photo news.va)

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Vatican Radio said in a report that the Pope thanked the Cuban people for their prayers in advance of his visit, saying he wanted to be with them as a missionary of mercy, adding “let me also encourage you to be missionaries of the infinite love of God.”

POPE ENCOURAGES DIALOGUE BETWEEN SCIENCE AND RELIGION, NAMES NEW DIRECTOR OF VATICAN OBSERVATORY

Pope Francis today named Jesuit Bro. Guy Consolmagno, an American and native of Detroit, as the new head of the Vatican Obseratory. Bro. Consolmagno is the current President of the Vatican Observatory Foundation, as well as curator of the Vatican meteorite collection in Castel Gandolfo, one of the largest in the world. His research explores the connections between meteorites and asteroids, and the origin and evolution of small bodies in the solar system.

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis Friday addressed participants at a symposium organized by the Vatican Observatory, saying their scientific research on the universe can help promote interreligious dialogue which is more urgent than ever nowadays. He also encouraged an ever deeper dialogue between science and religion.

He began his address by recalling the history of the Vatican Observatory in Castelgandolfo which was formally inaugurated by Pope Pius XI back in 1935 with the words “Deum Creatorem venite adoremus” carved into the wall. The Observatory’s management was entrusted to the Society of Jesus.

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Quoting from his encyclical Laudato Si, the Pope said: “Rather than a (scientific) problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with joy and praise. … The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us.”

Pope Francis noted that the participants at the symposium were discussing themes related to the dialogue between science and religion and recalled the words of St. John Paul who, in a letter to a previous director of the Vatican Observatory, stressed the need for an ever deepening dialogue between the two. He said such a dialogue, while protecting the integrity both of religion and science, should, at the same time, promote progress for both.

The Holy Father said when it comes to interreligious dialogue, which nowadays is more and more urgent, scientific research on the universe can offer a unique perspective, shared by believers and non-believers, which helps us to reach a better religious understanding of creation. It’s for this reason, he said, that the Astrophysics (Summer) Schools that the Observatory has organized during the past 30 years are a precious opportunity for young astronomers from across the world to dialogue and collaborate in the search of truth.

The Pope noted that the symposium was also discussing the importance of communicating the message that the Church and its pastors are embracing, encouraging and promoting authentic science. He concluded his address by telling the participants that it was very important for them to share the gift of their scientific knowledge of the universe with other people, freely giving what they received for free. “I encourage you to continue along this journey of exploring our universe.”

SECRETARY OF STATE SPEAKS ON PAPAL VISIT TO CUBA, U.S.

(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Pietro Parolin says migration will be one of the most important themes raised by Pope Francis during his visit to Cuba and the U.S. from the 19th to the 28th of September. Speaking in a wide-ranging interview with the Vatican Television Center, Cardinal Parolin also confirmed that the Pope would definitely relaunch his message during his speeches to the U.S. Congress and the United Nations about the need to care for creation that was at the heart of his recent encyclical Laudato Si. The cardinal also spoke about how he hoped the canonization of Blessed Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan missionary, would encourage integration within the U.S. Church of an increasingly relevant and important Hispanic component in the nation.

Asked first about the journey to Cuba and the rapprochement between Havana and Washington, Cardinal Parolin reiterated the Holy See’s view that the (U.S.) economic embargo against Cuba should be lifted.  At the same time, he said the bishops hoped that this step could be accompanied “by a greater opening (in Cuba) when it comes to freedom and human rights.”

Touching next on the Pope’s visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre in Cuba, Cardinal Parolin said it was a “normal” thing to do, because of “the strong Marian devotion of the Latin American and Cuban people” and by going there the Pope would encounter the heart of the Caribbean island and its people.

Asked next whether migration would be one of the main themes of the papal visit to the U.S., Cardinal Parolin said he was sure this would be the case because this is an issue very keenly felt by the Pope to which he often refers.  The Cardinal said it was his earnest hope that this encounter between the Pope who is carrying this problem within his heart and a nation that has experienced many waves of migrants landing on its shores “can offer some guidelines” for resolving this ongoing migration crisis.

During his visit to the U.S. Pope Francis is due to canonize Blessed Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan missionary, whom he has described as the founding father of the United States.  When asked whether this event is a call for the U.S. to rediscover its Spanish and Catholic history, Cardinal Parolin agreed.  He said the main message offered by this canonization is to encourage integration within the U.S. Church of an “increasingly important and relevant Hispanic component” in the nation.

Turning next to two keenly awaited speeches by Pope Francis, one to the U.S. Congress and another to the United Nations, Cardinal Parolin was asked whether the Pope is likely to relaunch the message contained within his Laudato Si encyclical.  He replied saying “yes, definitely” but added that he believed the Pope’s remarks would extend beyond the issue of climate change and encompass a “more integral ecology” that takes into consideration the transcendental nature of the human person possessing fundamental rights, “especially the right to life and religious freedom.”

Asked about the criticism that has been raised by some in the U.S. who consider the papal encyclical an excessively strong attack on the capitalist system, Cardinal Parolin responded by saying he believed the Pope would invite everybody to reflect on those issues, adding that it was realistic to realize that “things are not going in the right direction” and therefore there’s also a need to find ways of solving this. “We need a change,” he said.

The final question put to Cardinal Parolin concerned the Pope’s meeting with families from around the world in the U.S. city of Philadelphia and whether that would be the final chance to listen to families on the road leading to next month’s Synod of Bishops on the Family taking place in the Vatican. The Cardinal said he agreed with that and said what will emerge from this meeting is the beauty of the family and the help that the Gospel can offer to families.  He said this would be the positive side, without forgetting the great challenges on this issue.  Concluding, the cardinal said the meeting in Philadelphia would give the whole Church “a new enthusiasm” and a desire to proclaim the gospel of the family, whilst at the same time, “helping families who find themselves in whatever type of difficulties in living the Gospel in its fullness which is a source of joy, peace and happiness for all.”

VATICAN WELCOMES SYRIAN REFUGEE FAMILY OF 4

(VIS) – According to a press release issued today by the Apostolic Almoner, the parish community of St. Anna in the Vatican has received a family of refugees, consisting of a father, mother and two children. They are Syrian Christians of Catholic Greek-Melkite rite, and fled from their war-torn home city of Damascus, arriving in the Vatican on Sunday, September 6, at the moment when, during the Angelus, the Pope launched an appeal to each parish, religious community, monastery and shrine in Europe to offer shelter to a family.

The four members of the family will stay in an apartment in the Vatican near St. Peter’s. The procedures for requesting international protection were initiated immediately. According to the law, for the first six months after presenting the request for asylum, applicants may not accept paid work. In this period they will be assisted and accompanied by the St. Anna parish community. Until the decision is made in Italy as to whether or not their status of refugee will be granted, further information regarding this family cannot be given. Furthermore, to protect them during this phase it would be appropriate for the mass media to respect their wish not to be sought or interviewed.

With regard to the accommodation of a second family in the Vatican parish of St. Peter, the Almoner is not currently able to provide further information.

In this context of Christian charity towards those who flee war and famine, it is worth highlighting that for many years the Popes, through the Apostolic Almoner, have contributed to the payment of taxes for the issue of stay permits for refugees through the Centro Astalli, directed by the Jesuits (since 2014, 50,000 euros have been disbursed for this purpose). In addition, the Almoner, again on behalf of the Pope, helps many individuals and families of refugees on a daily basis, as well as meeting needs, including healthcare, for many reception centres located in Rome.

Furthermore, a modern mobile clinic, donated to the Pope a few years ago and so far reserved solely for events at which he presides, has been made available several times a week to assist refugees in reception centers, including irregular ones, situated in the outskirts of Rome. The volunteers, who are doctors, nurses and Swiss Guards, are employees of Vatican City State institutions, the University of Rome at Tor Vergata, and members of the Association of the “Medicina Solidale Onlus” Institute.

 

POPE ASKS PRAYERS FOR LIFE, FOR FAMILY, FOR SYNOD ON THE FAMILY – BROTHER OF MAN EXECUTED BY IS MEETS POPE FRANCIS – PAPAL CONDOLENCES, PRAYERS FOR FAMILIES OF PLANE CRASH VICTIMS – 150 HOMELESS TO VISIT VATICAN GARDENS AND MUSEUMS, DINE IN MUSEUMS – SECOND LOTTERY FOR PAPAL CHARITY

POPE ASKS PRAYERS FOR LIFE, FOR FAMILY, FOR SYNOD ON THE FAMILY

At a rain-soaked general audience on Wednesday, feast of the Annunciation, Pope Francis explained to the faithful that, “in our journey of catechesis on the family, today is a somewhat special stage: It will be a break for prayer.”  Having spoken of mothers, fathers, grandparents, brothers and sisters in previous weekly audiences, the Pope last week spoke of children, saying he would return to this topic this week, yet noting today he is “taking a break for prayer” for a special purpose.

ANNUNCIATIO AUDIENCE

Francis began his remarks with his customary, “Dear brothers and sisters, good day!” and then added, laughingly, “good day, yes, but not a beautiful day, eh?”

He also noted that, “today the audience takes place in two different places, as we do when it rains: you here in the square, and many sick people in the Paul VI Hall, who are following the audience on the big screens. Now, as a gesture of brotherly courtesy, let us greet them with a round of applause.” The faithful applauded and Francis, with his typical humor, remarked, “It’s not easy to applaud with an umbrella in hand, eh?”

“In the Church on March 25, “ stated the Holy Father, “we solemnly celebrate the Annunciation, the beginning of the mystery of the Incarnation. The Archangel Gabriel visits the humble girl of Nazareth, and announces that she will conceive and bear the Son of God. With this announcement, the Lord illumines and strengthens the faith of Mary, as He will later do for her husband, Joseph, so that Jesus could be born in a human family. This is very beautiful: it shows us how profoundly the mystery of the Incarnation, just as God wanted, comprises not only the conception in the womb of the mother, but also being welcomed into a true family.”

He went on to say, “Today I want to contemplate with you the beauty of this bond, the beauty of this condescension of God; and we can do so by reciting together the Hail Mary, which in the first part resumes the very words that the Angel addressed to the Virgin. I invite you to pray together. (And the faithful prayed the Hail Mary in Italian with the Pope).

The Pope then pointed to a second aspect of today’s solemnity: “On March 25, the solemnity of the Annunciation, the Day of Life is celebrated in many countries. For this reason, twenty years ago, Saint John Paul II on this date signed the Encyclical ‘Evangelium vitae’. To celebrate this anniversary, many members of the Movement for Life are in the Square today. In ‘Evangelium vitae’ the family occupies a central place, insofar as it is the womb of human life. The words of my venerable Predecessor remind us that the human couple was blessed by God from the beginning to form a community of love and life, to which He entrusted the mission of procreation. Christian spouses, celebrating the Sacrament of Matrimony, open themselves to honor this blessing, with the grace of God, for all of life.

“The Church, for her part, is solemnly committed to the care of the family that results from it, as a gift of God for her own life, in good fortune and in bad: the bond between the Church and the family is sacred and inviolable. The Church, as a mother, never abandons the family, even when it is disheartened, wounded, and mortified in so many ways; it will always do everything to seek to cure and heal it, to invite it to conversion and to reconcile it with the Lord.

So then,” said Francis, “if this is the task, it appears clear how much prayer the Church needs in order to be up to fulfilling this mission at all times! A prayer full of love for the family and for life. A prayer that knows how to rejoice with those who rejoice, and to suffer with those who suffer.

Pope Francis than proposed “renewing the prayer for the Synod of the Bishops on the family. We are taking up this commitment again next October, when the ordinary Assembly of the Synod, dedicated to the family, will take place. I would like for this prayer, and the whole Synod journey, to be animated by the compassion of the Good Shepherd for His flock, especially for persons and families that, for different reasons, are “troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.”

“All of us – the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, priests, religious, lay faithful – we are all called to pray for the Synod. We need prayer, not gossip! I also invite those who feel far away, or who are not accustomed to do so, to pray. This prayer for the Synod on the Family is for the good of everyone. I know that this morning you were given a little prayer card, which you have in your hands. It might be a little wet. I invite you to hold on to it and keep it with you, so that in the coming months you can recite it often, with holy insistence, as Jesus has asked us.

Now, let us say it together:

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, In you we contemplate the splendor of true love, We turn to you with confidence.

Holy Family of Nazareth,

Make our families, also, places of communion and cenacles of prayer, Authentic schools of the Gospel, and little domestic Churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth, May our families never more experience violence, isolation and division:

May anyone who was wounded or scandalized rapidly experience consolation and healing.

Holy Family of Nazareth, May the upcoming Synod of Bishops re-awaken in all an awareness Of the sacred character and inviolability of the family, its beauty in the project of God.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Hear and answer our prayer. Amen.

BROTHER OF MAN EXECUTED BY IS MEETS POPE FRANCIS

Mike Haines, the brother of David Haines, who was murdered by ISIL in September 2014, spoke briefly with Pope Francis at the end of today’s general audience. Imam Shahnawaz Haque from East London accompanied Haines to the audience.

Speaking ahead of the weekly general audience, British Ambassador to the Holy See Nigel Baker said: “Mike Haines will be bringing to the Vatican his message of inter-religious understanding. Pope Francis has called for a common commitment to end fighting, hatred and violence. Mike Haines is living that commitment in an extraordinary way.”

Since his brother’s execution last September, Mike Haines has dedicated his time and effort to spreading a message of tolerance among all faiths, coming together to unite against extremism.  He shared that message with Pope Francis. In October 2014, Mike Haines signed a joint letter with Barbara Henning – the widow of Alan Henning who was also murdered by ISIL in 2014 – calling for “unity of people of all faiths in our society” and urging “churches, mosques, synagogues to open their doors and welcome people of all faiths.”  Barbara Henning also met the Pope this morning after the general audience.

Joining Haines, Henning and Ambassador Baker at the papal audience were the Muslim leaders who, since Tuesday, have been participating in an encounter organized by the Rome-based Sant Egidio Community and the Imam al-Khoei Foundation entitled, “Catholics and Shiites. The Responsibility of Believers in a Global and Plural World.” The Imam al-Khoei Foundation is an international foundation linked to the top Iraqi Shiite Islam authority, Ayatollah Ali Sistani. The contents of the Egidio meeting were presented to the Pope this morning by ten Shiite leaders from Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia Saudita, Bahrain and Kuwait.

PAPAL CONDOLENCES, PRAYERS FOR FAMILIES OF PLANE CRASH VICTIMS

Pope Francis Tuesday expressed his closeness to the families of the victims of a plane crash in the French Alps in a telegram sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro. Parolin wrotes that the Holy Father “joins in the grief of the families” of the victims, including many children, and is also praying for those who died, “entrusting them to the mercy of God.”

“Having learned of the tragic plane crash in the region of Digne, which caused many casualties, including many children, His Holiness Pope Francis joins in the grief of the families, expressing his closeness to them in sorrow. He prays for peace for the deceased, entrusting them to the mercy of God that He might welcome them into His dwelling place of peace and light. He expresses his deep sympathy for all those touched by this tragedy, as well as for the rescue workers working in difficult conditions. The Holy Father asks the Lord to give strength and consolation to all, and, as a comfort, he invokes upon them the abundance of divine Blessings.”

The German A320 Airbus carrying 150 people came down in a remote, snow-covered mountainous region in the French Alps. There were no survivors. The cause of the crash is not yet known, however, the first black box flight recorder has been located. Weather at the time of the crash was calm, but it later deteriorated and there are forecasts of snow Wednesday further hampering search efforts.

The Germanwings flight was travelling non-stop from Barcelona in Spain to Duesseldorf in Germany. Germanwings spokesman Thomas Winklemann said the descent lasted for eight minutes.

Sixteen of those aboard the plane were pupils from Joseph-Koenig school in the German town of Haltern, returning from an exchange trip. A memorial Mass was held Tuesday for the victims and the local church remained opened all night for those wishing to mourn.

Wednesday, the leaders of Germany, France and Spain visited the crash site. (source: Vatican radio)

150 HOMELESS TO VISIT VATICAN GARDENS AND MUSEUMS, DINE IN MUSEUMS

The Elemosineria Apostolica, the office of papal charities where people procure papal blessings, has organized a special visit to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel for a group of 150 homeless people. Thursday, March 26, thanks to an initiative of the papal almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the artistic treasures of the Vatican Museums will be opened up to poor, who usually only see the steps of the colonnade of St. Peter’s Square.

The visit is set for the early afternoon and the Museums will be closed earlier than usual to allow for the special guests. After arriving at the Petrine entrance to Vatican City (the entrance traditionally used by faithful to enter the Paul VI Hall, the guests will be divided into three groups for guided tours. Before arriving at the Museums, the groups will enjoy a privileged visit to grounds of Vatican City, passing by the Casa Santa Marta and behind the apse of Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Their first stop in the Museums will be at the newly re-arranged Pavilion of the Carriages, where historical papal carriages and automobiles are on display. Afterwards, the groups will visit the Gallery of the Candelabra and the Gallery of the Maps on their way to the Sistine Chapel. The viewing of Michelangelo’s masterpiece will be a private showing, reserved solely for the guests of the papal almoner; the Chapel will be closed to the public during the visit.

In conclusion, after the guided visit and a common prayer, the group will be treated to a dinner hosted by the Office of Papal Charities.

SECOND LOTTERY FOR PAPAL CHARITY 

(VIS) – The Holy Father has expressed his gratitude for the proceeds raised by the lottery that took place in January.in support of his works of charity. The entire sum has been consigned to Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, almoner of His Holiness. In view of the widespread participation and generosity of many people, Pope Francis has made more prizes available to enable the initiative to be repeated.

The second lottery draw will take place on the June 29th solemnity of the Saints Peter and Paul, patrons of Rome, and the lucky numbers draw (each ticket costs 10 euros) is scheduled for 30 July, in the presence of a commission to guarantee correct procedures. Prizes can be claimed during the following 30 days in the Department of Events Coordination of the Governorate of Vatican City State. Also on this occasion, like the first lottery, the proceeds will go directly to the Pope.

Tickets will be available from the Vatican Pharmacy, Post Office, the Vatican supermarket, the sales outlets of the Philatelic and Numismatic Office, and the Vatican Museums bookshop.

 

SWISS GUARDS HAVE NEW COMMANDER – POPE FRANCIS PAYS SURPRISE VISIT TO MIGRANT CAMP – POPE FRANCIS, IN HOMILY, SAYS DEVIL IS “FATHER OF HATE, OF LIES,” WHO SEEKS DISUNITY – VATICAN COMPLETES WORK ON SHOWERS FOR HOMELESS

From Fr. Tom Rosica, English-language assistant to Fr. Federico Lombardi, head of the Holy See Press Office:  Prayers for Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, RSM

After a nearly 30-year career as a journalist in Washington, D.C. and Rome, working with Catholic News Service, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and most recently AMERICA Magazine, Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, who is 67, has returned to the Sisters of Mercy convent in Albany, New York, to live out her final days with metastatic breast cancer.  Kindly remember this wonderful woman and communicator in your prayers. Click here for a Sisters of Mercy profile of Mary Ann, friend to all of us accredited at the Holy See Press Office, and countless more in the U.S.: http://www.sistersofmercy.org/blog/2015/02/06/facing-terminal-illness-with-mercy-part-ii/?utm_source=t&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=cwm

This is a big week for “red hats” here in Rome, starting today with the eighth meeting of the Council of 9 Cardinals with the Pope at the Santa Marta residence. The meeting will  go to Wednesday, February 11, feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and World Day of the Sick. The following two days – February 12 and 13 – the College of Cardinals will hold their consistory in the Synod Hall and will discuss the reform of the Roman Curia being studied by Francis and C9 Council.

This coming weekend, new members will be joining the College of Cardinals as the Holy Father creates 20 new cardinals on Saturday, February 14 (15 of whom are under age 80 and therefore cardinal electors). That afternoon, the new cardinals will greet friends and relatives in both the Paul VI Hall and rooms of the Apostolic Palace. Sunday, the Pope and new eminences will concelebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

And now, some of the stories from this weekend, especially Pope Francis’ unscripted stop Sunday at a migrant camp on his way to say Mass in a Roman parish!

SWISS GUARDS HAVE NEW COMMANDER

The Vatican announced that Pope Francis has appointed Lieutenant Colonel Christoph Graf as the new commander of the Pontifical Swiss Guard. Graf, who joined the guards in 1987, succeeds Colonel Daniel Anrig, who retired last month and had been commander since 2008. The Swiss Guards were formed in 1506 by Pope Julius II to protect the person of the Pope and the security of the Apostolic Palace.

Cardinal Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila, the Philippines, is in Rome for the events this week with the College of Cardinals. He presided at Mass Sunday morning for the new commander and fellow guards in the Swiss Guard Chapel. Click on the Swiss Guards Facebook page to see some photos: https://www.facebook.com/gsp1506

POPE FRANCIS PAYS SURPRISE VISIT TO MIGRANT CAMP

Late afternoon Sunday, on his way to the Roman parish San Michele Arcangelo in the Roman Pietralata neighborhood to say Mass, Pope Francis – no surprise! – made an impromptu visit to a migrant shantytown. The papal car stopped and the Pope got out, accompanied by the papal photographer and head of security and just walke through a gate, unannounced. The camp is called Campo Arcobaleno or Camp Rainbow and is only about 300 yards from the parish.

POPE FRANCIS - SHANTYTOWN

According to a report by Vatican Radio, “he got out of the car and people were shocked when they saw him in front of their shacks,” said Father Aristide Sana, the pastor of the parish who quickly traveled to the camp when he got word of the visit. Pope Francis received a boisterous welcome.

“Viva il Papa!” the crowd shouted, engulfing the Pope, chanting and shaking his hand.  Pope Francis asked how many spoke Spanish, and the crowd shouted out “All of us!” Actually, though many of the residents are from Peru and Ecuador, many others were from Eritrea, Ukraine, Russia, and other parts of the world. However. In what ever language, they joined the Pope in his request to pray the Our Father together in Spanish.

It was only a ten-minute visit, one the migrants will never forget, and Pope Francis seemed totally delighted at the occasion.

To enjoy that encounter with the Pope, here is a video I also posted on my Facebook page: http://www.romereports.com/pg160276-a-look-at-the-pope-s-powerful-visit-to-an-immigrant-shantytown-en

POPE FRANCIS, IN HOMILY, SAYS DEVIL IS “FATHER OF HATE, OF LIES,” WHO SEEKS DISUNITY

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday evening visited the parish of San Michele Arcangelo in the eastern Roman district of Pietralata, on the periphery of Rome and home to 8,000 families. After arriving at the parish hall, Pope Francis’ first stop was to meet with a group of homeless people who are cared for by the Sant’Egidio Community.

“The fact that people do not know your name, and call you ‘homeless’ and you carry this: It is your cross, and your patience,” said Pope Francis. “But there is something in the heart of all of you – of this, please be assured – there is the Holy Spirit.”

He then held a meeting with parents whose children had been baptized in the previous year, and he asked them to teach the Faith well, lamenting that there are “Christian children who cannot make the sign of the cross.”

In his meeting with older children, many of whom were part of the Scouting movement, Pope Francis pointed out that wars are not only those – and he asked them to make a list – that kill children in Iraq, Ukraine, and Africa. Wars are come about much earlier in people who do not possess God.

“Who is the father of war?” Pope Francis asked. “The devil!” the children answered.

Pope Francis said the devil is the “father of hate,” “the father of lies,” who seeks disunity.

“But God wants unity,” Pope Francis said. “If in your heart you feel jealousy, this is the beginning of war. Jealousies are not of God.”

And this is the theme Pope Francis continued during his homily at Mass.

“It is sad when in a family, brothers do not speak because of something stupid,” Pope Francis said.

“Because the devil takes stupidity and makes a world,” he continued. “Then these enmities continue and multiply for years.  It destroys the family: Parents suffer because their children do not speak to each other, or with the wife of a son…And so this jealousy and envy, it is sowed by the devil. And the only one who can drive out demons is Jesus.  The only one who can heal these things is Jesus. So to each of you: Have yourself healed by Jesus.”

As he often does during parish visits, he urged the congregation to listen to Jesus in the Gospel, to read a passage and ask themselves, what does it say to me?

“Have this daily contact with the Gospel,” Pope Francis said.  “Pray with the Gospel.”

VATICAN COMPLETES WORK ON SHOWERS FOR HOMELESS

(Vatican Radio) Work has now been completed on the building of three showers and a barber’s booth for the homeless under the colonnades of St Peter’s Square. The shower unit was commissioned by Pope Francis after learning from his Almoner that homeless people in Rome lacked places where to wash themselves or have their hair cut. (AP/L’Osservatore Romano pool photos)

HOMELESS SHOWERS - AP Photo(L'Osservatore Romano pool

The 3 showers and the barber’s booth have been installed in an existing lavatory block used by pilgrims and tourists visiting the Vatican area that was completely refurbished for this purpose. The showers will be available every day, except on Wednesday during the Pope’s general audience and when celebrations take place, either in St Peter’s Basilica or in the Square.

HOMELESS SHOWERS  -  2

The barber service will be available on Monday between 9am and 3pm.  A number of barbers in Rome have volunteered to offer their services as well as final-year students from a hairdressing school in Rome.  Sisters from Mother’s Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity Order will be among those helping to welcome the homeless who come to use the showers.

Each of the homeless people using the shower units will receive two free kits, a complete change of underwear and a kit containing towel, soap, toothpaste and brush, deodorant plus razor and shaving cream for the men. Many of the articles have been offered free of charge by various firms and private individuals who have wanted to show their solidarity with this project. The Pope’s Almoner will be responsible for purchasing, as needed, future supplies using money raised from the selling of parchments with a Papal Blessing.

The Vatican has called for ten nearby parishes to install showers as well. The bill will be paid with money from the Pope’s charity fund.