VATICAN INSIDER: WHO IS THE MAN OF THE SHROUD? – PAPAL ALMONER VISITS HOMELESS NEAR ROME’S TERMINI STATION – CARITAS SUPPORTING LOCAL CHURCHES IN FIGHTING COVID-19

Tune in to EWTN this Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday, because Pope Francis will be saying Mass in a private fashion in the church of Santo Spirito in Sassia, – Holy Spirit Church – just a few blocks from Vatican City. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the canonization of St. Faustyna on April 30, 2000, and Pope John Paul’s designation of the Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday. Check http://www.ewtn.com> for time.

On January 1, 1994, Saint John Paul II named Santo Spirito as the Rome center for Divine Mercy Spirituality. The church itself has a long history and today features beautiful images of Divine Mercy, St. Faustyna Kowalska, called the Apostle of Divine Mercy, and Pope John Paul.

Interestingly enough, John Paul II died on April 2, 2005, the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday, was beatified on Divine Mercy Sunday, May 1, 2011, and was canonized with Pope John XXIII on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 27, 2014 by Pope Francis.

VATICAN INSIDER: WHO IS THE MAN OF THE SHROUD?

Welcome to a new edition of Vatican Insider on this special Easter season weekend of Divine Mercy Sunday! As you know, given that under the coronavirus quarantine rules I cannot go out to interview people, until those restrictions are lifted, I’m presenting a number of Specials I’ve prepared in the interview segment. This weekend, stay tuned after the news for Part II of my special on the Shroud of Turin, the burial cloth believed by many to have enveloped Christ’s body in the tomb. What do scientists say about the cloth, its provenance and dates, the stains on it – and much more.

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

PAPAL ALMONER VISITS HOMELESS NEAR ROME’S TERMINI STATION

On Thursday afternoon, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, brought Pope Francis’ greetings, along with food and hygiene products to Rome’s homeless.

Cardinal Krajewski and a handful of volunteers were out on the streets of Rome on Thursday afternoon. (photo: vaticannews)

They brought Pope Francis’s greetings, some food, and hygiene products to several homeless people living near Rome’s Termini train station.

“They were saying hi and thanking us,” said Daniele, one of the volunteers, “for what we had brought them: sleeping bags, food, soap, and some masks they weren’t expecting. But like always,” added Daniele, “we received more than we gave.”

CARITAS SUPPORTING LOCAL CHURCHES IN FIGHTING COVID-19

Caritas Internationalis launches a new “Covid-19 Response Fund” to help support the efforts of local Churches as they assist those suffering the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

Pope Francis recently set up a Commission to manifest the Church’s care for people around the world affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Caritas Internationalis plays a key role in the Vatican task force, due to its vast network of aid agencies spread out in local dioceses in 160 nations.

The Catholic Church’s human development arm released a communiqué on Thursday launching a new fundraising initiative called the “Covid-19 Response Fund”.

Aloysius John, the Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, spoke to Vatican Radio about the Church’s role in helping those suffering during the ongoing pandemic.

“Pope Francis is very much preoccupied with Covid-19, and he wants the Church to express solidarity with the local Churches and help them at this moment as a gesture of witnessing the universal love and care of the universal Church for the local Church,” said Mr. John.

The commission that the Pope set up consists of five working groups. Caritas Internationalis belongs to the first working group, which is dedicated to listening and supporting local Churches.

“We have lots of experience in the areas of health and micro-development, and we are present down to the parish-level in a very capillary way in service of the Church,” said Mr. John.

Caritas has already sent out a survey and received responses from 140 Bishops’ Conferences.

Therefore, Caritas already has a wealth of information that can be used to better distribute aid in case of a local outbreak of Covid-19.

Mr. John said the solidarity fund will be used to provide healthcare services in the areas of prevention and control of infections, access to clean water and sanitation, and procurement of personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, etc).

Food security is one area that Caritas is most concerned about. Some poor people in developing nations consider Covid-19 to be the lesser of two evils. They prefer to defy social-distancing measures to go out in search of work.

“How are we going to help them? If they don’t have food, then they have to go out to search for food and expose themselves, and others, to the contagious effects of the disease,” Mr. John points out.

He said that Caritas is most concerned about parts of Africa and the Middle East where wars and internal conflicts have left many people poor and vulnerable.

Caritas Jerusalem’s staff in Palestine is already running out of money and may be forced to stop offering food and hygiene kits to 500 families in need.

With local agencies’ needs increasing as the coronavirus spreads, Caritas Internationalis has set up the Covid-19 Response Fund to raise money to send to local Churches.

“The coronavirus solidarity fund is a means to assist small projects which will allow Caritas to help the people who are confined,” Mr. John said.

One project is Caritas Philippines’ “Kindness Centers” set up at parishes. People wanting to help can bring their excess food supplies to the centers. They are then distributed to local families in need.

“We are there to help them create solidarity,” Mr. John said. “We are all in solidarity before the virus, but I think we also have to be in solidarity with people to help them live with dignity.”

The Covid-19 Response Fund offers people around the world a chance to help those in need, even from the confines of their own homes.

“Let us join hands in helping us to help the poor, the needy, and the most vulnerable,” said Mr. John. “Pope Francis wants us to be ‘educators of solidarity’ and, at the same time, actors in the field of solidarity.”

Anyone wishing to make a contribution to the Covid-19 Response Fundcan do so through Caritas Internationalis’s website.

A Bank Account has been opened specifically for this fund at the Vatican Bank (Institute for the Works of Religion). Funds can be wired using the IBAN: VA29001000000020179007

EMERGENCY AND CHARITY: A REFLECTION BY CARDINAL TAGLE – IS CHARITY CONTAGIOUS?

Even though the Vatican daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, born July 1, 1861, has temporarily suspended its print version, and thus delivery to the city of Rome and environs, it can still be accessed in multiple languages in its digital form at http://www.osservatoreromano.va You may also go to http://www.vaticannews.va and click on the yellow and white block on the right side of the home page.

Today I offer a thoughtful video message from Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, newly appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Until that appointment he was the archbishop of Manila, the Philippines.

EMERGENCY AND CHARITY: A REFLECTION BY CARDINAL TAGLE

What place does charity have in a time marked by the Coronavirus pandemic? Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and President of Caritas Internationalis, reflects with Vatican News on this question, urging us to conquer the virus and fear with the “contagious pandemic of love.”

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Dear Sisters and Brothers,
We are faced with an emergency due to the coronavirus 19. An emergency, from the Latin word “emergere,” refers to an unforeseen occurrence that rises before us and requires attention. Emergencies are not new to us. Every year we experience earthquakes, typhoons, floods, drought and diseases. But they are often confined to a limited place and people. The current covid19 emergency is called pandemic, from the two Greek words: “pan”, meaning “all” and “demo,” meaning “people or population.” A pandemia affects all or nearly all people. We can say that the covid19 is a general or universal emergency. It affects nearly all of us. It invites a response from all of us.

During emergencies, we instinctively think first of ourselves, our families and the people close to us. We will do anything within our means to protect them. While this reaction is basically good, we should be careful so that we do not end up thinking only of ourselves. We should avoid fear from making us blind to the needs of other people, those needs that are the same as ours. We should prevent anxiety from killing genuine concern for neighbors. In an emergency, the true heart of a person also emerges. From an emergency that affects all people (pandemia), we hope to see a pandemic emergence of caring, compassion and love. An emergency crisis that erupts unexpectedly can be addressed only by an equal “eruption” of hope. A pandemic spread of a virus must produce a pandemic “contagion” of charity. History will judge our generation by the power of self-less love that this common emergency will have generated and spread or will have failed to do so. We thank the heroic people whose love and courage have already been a source of healing and hope these past weeks.

Experts say that we should wash our hands to avoid being contaminated by the virus and to avoid spreading it. At the trial of Jesus, Pontius Pilate “called for water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, declaring as he did, ‘I am innocent of the blood of this just man. The responsibility is yours’” (Matthew 27:24). We should wash our hands, but not the way Pilate did. We cannot wash our hands of our responsibility towards the poor, the elderly, the unemployed, the refugees, the homeless, the health providers, indeed all people, creation and future generations. We pray through the power of the Holy Spirit, genuine love for all may emerge from all human hearts as we face a common emergency.

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city/news/2020-03/emergency-charity-cardinal-tagle-coronavirus-covid.html

IS CHARITY CONTAGIOUS?

I believe we all know, from days and weeks of devouring news stories online or listening to the radio or watching television, that people in the United States and so many other countries have stepped up to the plate when it comes to what Cardinal Tagle called “self-less love” and “an eruption of hope.”

Individuals, celebrated and unknown, as well as corporations and institutions have come forth with amazing charitable gifts and offers of help, including for example, a list of Italian fashion designers who are turning their ateliers over to producing masks and protective clothing for medical personnel.

I follow U.S. football and, while I would not be a ‘Jeopardy’ contestant for my vast knowledge of this sport, I do know a few names, mainly quarterbacks. I thus recognized the name Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints quarterback, when I read he and his wife gave $5 million to help fight coronavirus.

Football fan or not, I am sure you all know the story of Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, that is, the person in charge of Francis’ office for charity. Most of you think of the elemosineria as the Vatican office where you can obtain papal blessings. True – also true is that the monies paid for blessings go to papal charities. (www.elemosineria.va)

It is how Cardinal Krajewski uses that income that is the beautiful story.

CRUX did a great profile of this enormously generous and self-less prelate as he brings an “eruption of hope” to Rome’s homeless in these days of a pandemic: https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2020/03/vatican-official-tells-clergy-there-is-a-gospel-in-the-making-on-the-streets/

Cardinal Krajewski has been in the Vatican for decades and those of us who knew him called him simply “Don Corrado” (‘Don’ is Italian for ‘Father’). I used to refer to him as the Pope’s “altar ego” because he was one of the ceremonial officials whom you’d always see at the side of Pope John Paul, and also of Benedict in his early years, at papal liturgies.

You have to write the word “charity” in capital letters when it is in the same sentence as Don Corrado. Please pray for his health and well-being as he doubtlessly exposes himself to possible contagion in thee tumultuous times.

Another source of information on aid that is coming to Italy are embassies. The U.S. embassies, for example, have been emailing coronavirus-related alerts and messages to all U.S. citizens who have registered with them.

The U.S. embassy to Italy has a Twitter account in Italian and English that updates us on what they are doing: @AmbasciataUSA. That account, for example, posted news from Samaritans Purse that, with the assistance of the embassy, brought a field hospital and medical personnel to Cremona, Italy:
“To date, our medical team in Cremona, Italy has treated more than 100 patients at our Emergency Field Hospital. Each day, more patients with the #coronavirus are being admitted to our hospital. https://sampur.se/”

The U.S. Embassy to the Holy See has a website filled with information about diplomatic ties, our history with the Holy See, speeches and engagements of the ambassador but also valuable information for American citizens residing in Italy in the coronavirus era: https://va.usembassy.gov/

So, the answer is YES, charity is contagious!

POPE ANNOUNCES EXTRAORDINARY URBI ET ORBI BLESSING – COMMUNIQUE FROM PAPAL ALMSGIVER

I took a little bit of a hiatus from news yesterday, that is, I researched a lot, reposted some stories on Facebook but did not write a blog about the latest developments in Italy regarding quarantine, what we can do and cannot do, what some of the news measures are, etc. Tune in tomorrow!

I greatly enjoyed some Face Time with a niece last evening, and her two sisters and their children will join me later today. That is such a terrific way to stay in touch!

I don’t know where the time goes every day but I do know I am very behind in correspondence with so many of you who have sent me messages, emails, comments on Facebook, etc. I’ll try to be in touch personally in coming days.

Great news from my Rome parish of St. Patrick’s! Paulist Fathers Greg Apparcel and Steve Petroff have been posting videos of daily Mass in the small rectory chapel and that has been heart-warming but today’s Mass was quite special. Three of us who are lectors prepared the two readings and the Prayers of the Faithful in our homes, recording these segments on our iPads and then putting them on Google Drive. Ditto for our cantor and his wife who recorded music in their home. All segments were sent to Paulists in the U.S. who had the equipment needed to put the whole thing together, including putting sheet music online so we could sing as if in church. I was SO grateful for the sense of community!

Here are some links from Fr. Greg:
Mass for Sunday, March 22, 2020: +https://www.facebook.com/cacrome/videos/215511813030397/
YouTube: https://youtu.be/vB_Y27nL12A
Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/399556467

Also look for our Stations of the Cross service that is now posted on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cacrome/videos/2508066879456605/
YouTube: https://youtu.be/dZvp2qHMsYA
Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/399552697
For Sunday Mass, we thank our musicians, Dafrosa Cho and Raimundo Pereira; our Lectors: Joan Lewis, Gabriella Spadaro and Ann Haring; and our Paulist brothers in Washington DC and New York who edited all this together and upload the Mass on the different sites.
Next week we will be Livestreaming our daily Masses on Facebook, beginning at 9:30 AM, Monday through Friday.

Personally, I am so very grateful to Fathers Greg and Steve and the thousands of priest throughout the world who work so hard to bring us Mass every of these trying times!

After Mass I treated myself to brunch, as you can see here! This is how I usually spend every Sunday – Mass and then brunch at Homebaked, but brunch today was at my home!

POPE ANNOUNCES EXTRAORDINARY URBI ET ORBI BLESSING

At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis invited all Christians to join together in praying the Our Father as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
By Christopher Wells

Pope Francis on Sunday called for all Christians to respond to the coronavirus pandemic “with the universality of prayer, of compassion, of tenderness,” adding, “Let us remain united. Let us make our closeness felt toward those persons who are the most lonely and tried.”

Speaking after the traditional recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father called on all Christians to join together in prayer. “In these trying days, while humanity trembles due to the thread of the pandemic, I would like to propose to all Christians that together we lift our voices towards Heaven.”

The “Our Father” on the Annunciation

On Wednesday, March 25, feast of the Annunciation, he invited “the Heads of the Churches and the leaders of every Christian community, together with all Christians of the various confessions, to invoke the Almighty, the omnipotent God, to recite at the same time the prayer that Jesus, our Lord, taught us – the Our Father.”

“On that day on which many Christians recall the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary of the Incarnation of the Word,” Pope Francis prayed, “may the Lord listen to the united prayer of all of His disciples who are preparing themselves to celebrate the victory of the Risen Christ.”

A special Urbi et Orbi blessing

The Pope also announced that on the following Friday, March 27, he will preside over a moment of prayer on the sagrato of St Peter’s Basilica, the platform at the top of the steps immediately in front of the façade of the Church. “I invite everyone to participate spiritually through the means of communication,” he said, referring to the fact this would be done without the presence of the faithful in the square.

The ceremony will consist in readings from the Scriptures, prayers of supplication, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; and will conclude with Pope Francis giving the Urbi et orbi Blessing, with the possibility of gaining a plenary indulgence for all those who listen to it live through the various forms of communication. The blessing “to the City [of Rome] and to the World” is normally only given on Christmas and Easter.

The Director of the Holy See Press Office confirmed that the moment of prayer on Friday will be broadcast live from the Vatican, beginning at 6 pm Rome time. He noted that the plenary indulgence attached to the Urbi et orbi blessing is subject to the conditions foreseen by the recent Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary.
Prayers for Croatia

At the close of his remarks following the Angelus, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the people of Croatia, which was struck by magnitude 5.4 earthquake Sunday morning. The Holy Father prayed, “May the Risen Lord give them the strength and solidarity to face this calamity.”

COMMUNIQUE FROM PAPAL ALMSGIVER

The Holy Father’s almsgiver, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, sent out a note Saturday in which he wrote that he “wishes to sincerely thank all the volunteers and people of good will who continue to take care of the poorest and most needy, especially the homeless who live on the street, and do not abandon them right now at this even more difficult time. These brothers of ours not only don’t have a home, but now they can’t even ask for charity to buy something to eat. Now more than ever, they “depend” on our heart. Mercy is a very concrete word and only “charity covers a multitude of sins” (1Pt 4,8).”

He added that, “the office of the papal almoner also wishes to express its gratitude to all those companies and commercial entities that in these days have generously donated their products to prepare the “envelope of the heart” (tuna, small canned goods, fruit, cheese, packaged salami, bread …) which, in place of lunches and dinners, is offered to the poor by various soup kitchens, dormitories, parishes, voluntary associations and religious communities. An example comes from the Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo that send hundreds of packs of fresh milk and yogurt daily.

“As for the soup kitchens, parishes and associations that prepare packed lunches or help the poor of the street in other forms,” the communique ended, “if they find themselves in difficulty, financially or due to the lack of food, they can contact the almoner via his cell phone (he gave his Roman number here), as he remains available also for those who wish to donate food useful for preparing meals, to receive them directly or direct them to other charitable realities that help the poor homeless.”

VATICAN INSIDER: A TRUE INSIDER’S STORY OF CORONAVIRUS QUARANTINE – PAPAL ALMONER: VATICAN SERVICES FOR THE POOR CONTINUE DESPITE CORONAVIRUS

On the light side: Quarantine can bring many unwanted and/or unpleasant surprises, one of which may be for some people novinophobia. This is, of course, the fear of running out of wine or having no wine. (Yes, I know it’s Lent but….)

VATICAN INSIDER: A TRUE INSIDER’S STORY OF CORONAVIRUS QUARANTINE

This weekend on Vatican Insider, I tell my story of dealing with the coronavirus, even though I am only one of millions in beautiful Italy to be quarantined. We have just started week two of mandatory quarantine. How are we doing? What can we do and what can we not do? What are the rules and regulations for daily survival? What are some of the great stories and happy moment to emerge from a nationwide lockdown? What have I learned after a week of being homebound?

This, of course, is a BIG part of our lives –

Tune in for some amazing facts and astonishing stories!

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

PAPAL ALMONER: VATICAN SERVICES FOR THE POOR CONTINUE DESPITE CORONAVIRUS

The Vatican continues to offer shower facilities, sleeping quarters, and food assistance to the poor and homeless who often sleep rough around St. Peter’s Square.
By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

“Don’t ignore the poor Lazarus who knocks at your door.”

Cardinal Konrad Krajewski launched this appeal to those who encounter a homeless person.

The Almoner of the Office of Papal Charities said the Vatican continues to heed the cry of the poor despite the coronavirus outbreak.

“Though we maintain a safe physical distance, put on gloves, and avoid assemblies, we can still help those who are right beside us,” he said.

Critical moment of need
Cardinal Krajewski said this is a critical moment to help the poor.

In more normal times, homeless people can use the restrooms of cafes and restaurants, but now most are closed. “So we need to keep our shower facilities and restrooms open.”

The same goes for food assistance, he said. With restaurants closed, a charitable person is unable to offer someone a croissant or a cappuccino so they need somewhere to find food.

Helping those near the Vatican
The Papal Almoner said his office is continuing to offer the same services as before.

“Our volunteers keep the same schedules, we are still distributing food at Rome’s train stations, and the shower facilities under the Colonnade around St. Peter’s Square are open. We even give out sandwiches and water there.”

Cardinal Krajewski said the Missionaries of Charity at the Gift of Mary House are handing out around 120 sack dinners every evening.

He added that the newly-opened “Palace for the Poor” still offers a warm bed and breakfast for those who come calling.

Knock fearlessly on church doors
The Cardinal had one more word of advice for the poor in Rome and throughout the world who find themselves in need and without a place to go in these difficult times of social isolation.

“I invite the poor to knock fearlessly on the door of parishes and churches,” Cardinal Krajewski said, “because the Christian spirit teaches us that we must open to those who knock.”

POPE: MAKE WORLD MORE HUMAN BY GUARANTEEING THE DIGNITY OF THE DISABLED – HOLY SEE, SANT’EGIDIO COMMUNITY TO BRING REFUGEES TO ITALY FROM LESBOS

Pope Francis this morning met with 37 bishops, including emeritus prelates, and one priest who is the diocesan administrator of Shreveport in Louisiana, from Regions IV and V of the USCCB who are in Rome on their ad limina visit. These mandatory visits normally take place every five years but the US prelates were last in Rome on ad limina in 2011. Region IV includes the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, West Virginia, and the Military Archdiocese. Region V prelates are from Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

POPE: MAKE WORLD MORE HUMAN BY GUARANTEEING THE DIGNITY OF THE DISABLED

On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, December 3rd, Pope Francis recalls how the promotion of the right to participation plays a central role in combating discrimination and promoting a culture of encounter and quality of life.
By Lydia O’Kane

In his message marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Pope Francis notes that “great progress has been made towards people with disabilities in the medical and welfare fields.”

But he highlights the fact that even today there is still a culture of waste with many disabled people feeling that “\”they exist without belonging and without participating.”

Protection of rights
The Pope stresses that “all this calls not only for the rights of people with disabilities and their families to be protected,” but “it also urges us to make the world more human” by removing prejudice.

It is necessary, Pope Francis writes, “to take care of and accompany people with disabilities in every condition of life, also making use of current technologies,” so that they can actively and with dignity participate in both civil and ecclesial communities.

He also says, that the accessibility of places and quality of life need to be promoted, taking into account all the dimensions of the human being.

Hidden exiles
In the message, the Pope emphasizes “the many ‘hidden exiles’ who live in our homes, our families and our societies.”

“I am thinking of people of all ages, especially the elderly who, also because of their disability, are sometimes felt as a burden, as ‘cumbersome presences’, and are in danger of being discarded, of being denied concrete job prospects to participate in the construction of their own future.”

Pope Francis stresses that “we need to develop antibodies against a culture that considers some lives” first or second-class. “This is a social sin,” he says.

A change of mentality needed
On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Pontiff invites people to “have the courage to give a voice to those who are discriminated against because of their disability.”

“Making good laws and breaking down physical barriers is important,” the Pope writes, “but it is not enough, if the mentality does not change.”

Concluding his message, Pope Francis encourages “all those who work with people with disabilities to continue with this important service and commitment, which determines the degree of civilization of a nation.”

HOLY SEE, SANT’EGIDIO COMMUNITY TO BRING REFUGEES TO ITALY FROM LESBOS

A December 2 communique from Apostolic Almsgiver:

“The Holy Father Francis, on the occasion of his trip to the Island of Lesbos in April 2016, brought back to Italy three Syrian families seeking asylum. The Holy See took on the charge of welcoming and sustaining them, while hospitality and integration were assumed by the Sant’Egidio Community.

“Last May, three years after that event, the Pope asked the Apostolic Almsgiver (Office of Papal Charities) to return to the island to renew solidarity with the Greek people and refugees, and he also expressed the desire to make a further gesture of solidarity and host a group of young refugees and some families from Afghanistan, Cameroon and Togo.

“After an intense period of official negotiations between the competent authorities, in order to carry out this new humanitarian corridor the Interior Ministry of the Italian Republic gave final assent to carrying out the operation.

“Therefore today, December 2, the papal Almsgiver* returned to the Island of Lesbos, together with some leaders of the Sant’Egidio Community. They will return to Italy on December 4 with a group of 33 refugees requesting political asylum. This operation will end in December, when another 10 refugees will be accompanied to Italy, thus starting the procedures necessary for the request for international protection.

“Welcoming these refugees will be assumed by the Holy See, through the Apostolic Almsgiving office and by the Sant’Egidio Community.”

A Vaticannews story with the title, “Two families in Luxembourg,” noted that, on November 19 the archdiocese of Luxembourg, led by new Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich who, in May, had participated in the mission of Cardinal Krajewski to Lesbos, also opened its doors to two families of refugees from the same camps on the Greek island, one originally from Kuwait with two children aged 8 and 5 and one from Syria with twins aged almost two years.

* The head of the Apostolic Almsgiving Office (Office of Papal Charities) is Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, also known as the papal almsgiver. (https://www.elemosineria.va/)

VATICAN INSIDER AND THE CARDINAL NEWMAN SOCIETY – POPE TO SERVITES: OUR LADY TEACHES US HOW TO SOW HOPE – “POPE FRANCIS SHOWERS AND LAUNDRY” OPENS IN GENOA

SYNOD ALERT: For those who have been following the daily press briefings on the Amazon synod online with English translation at http://www.vaticannews.va, tomorrow, Saturday 26 October, the scheduled briefing starting at 13.30 is canceled. The final briefing will start around 7.45pm until around 8.30pm

VATICAN INSIDER AND THE CARDINAL NEWMAN SOCIETY

My guest this week on the interview segment of Vatican Insider is Patrick Reilly, president and founder of the Cardinal Newman Society. We spoke about the Society when he was in Rome for the October 13 canonization of Cardinal John Henry Newman, the namesake of this organization whose mission, as its website says, is to promote and defend faithful Catholic education. We talk about the work and outreach and challenges of the Society, including the many court challenges to faith-based institutions in U.S society.

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: https://www.ewtn.com/radio/audio-archive (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

POPE TO SERVITES: OUR LADY TEACHES US HOW TO SOW HOPE

Pope Francis this morning addressed the Order of the Servants of Mary who are participating in their General Chapter, urging them to be “men of hope (which) means finding the courage to face some of today’s challenges.” (Vatican News)

The Order of the Servants of Mary (Servites) has its origins in 13th century Florence and was established by a group of men known as the Seven Holy Founders. At its core is a special charism to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Order also bears witness to the Gospel, inspired by Our Lady, in its apostolate and mission.

Greeting the members of the Order on Friday at the end of their 214th General Chapter, Pope Francis, in off the cuff remarks said that the words “servants of Mary” made him think of how Our Lady brought us Jesus in the crib in Bethlehem. “Your founders understood this; they understood and became servants,” he commented. The Pope then told those present, to never move from that founding grace to be a servant. Continuing to focus on Our Lady, Pope Francis underlined how, despite everything that happened in her life, Mary looked forward; she was a woman of Hope.

Even today, in a world where there are wars, forms of slavery and cruelty, the Pope noted that Our Lady teaches us to sow hope.

In the Pope’s prepared remarks that were distributed to those present, he recalled the theme of their meeting, “Servants of Hope in a Changing World.” Dwelling on the Servites’ Holy Founders, the Pope noted that they had a profound encounter with the One who is Hope, Jesus Christ.

Vocations
Pope Francis explained that by going back to their unique human and vocational experience, today’s Servites become more and more “men of hope, capable of dispelling the fears that sometimes torment the heart, even in a religious community.”

The Pope mentioned in particular the scarcity of vocations in certain parts of the world; as well as the difficulty of being faithful to Jesus and to the Gospel in certain community or social contexts.

Courage to face challenges
Pope Francis told those gathered that, “being men of hope means finding the courage to face some of today’s challenges.” One of those, he pointed out, is a responsible use of the media, which, he said, “conveys positive news, but also can destroy the dignity of persons, weaken the spiritual momentum, wound fraternal life.”

Another challenge, the Pope highlighted, is that of multiculturalism, which was addressed in the Chapter.

Catholic religious’ communities as ‘laboratories’
There is no doubt, commented Pope Francis, “that Catholic religious communities have become ‘laboratories’ in this sense, certainly not without problems and yet offering to all a clear sign of the Kingdom of God, to which all peoples are invited, through the one Gospel of salvation.”

In conclusion, the Pontiff expressed the hope that their communities would be a sign of universal brotherhood, schools of welcome and integration, and places of openness.

“POPE FRANCIS SHOWERS AND LAUNDRY” OPENS IN GENOA

According to a communiqué from the Apostolic Almsgiver, an office also known as the Pope’s Charity, a “Laundry and Shower service of Pope Francis” was inaugurated today in Genoa. Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski is the papal almoner or almsgiver.

The communiqué noted that this is a service offered free of charge to the poorest people, particularly those without a fixed abode. It is located on the premises of Piazza Durazzo 12, and is managed by the Sant’Egidio community of Liguria. The homeless will be able to wash, dry and iron their clothes and blankets, and provide for personal cleaning in special shower spaces.

“The initiative,” says the communique, “was born from the Holy Father’s invitation to make ‘concrete’ the experience of grace of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Here, then, is a concrete sign desired by the Apostolic Almsgiving office and the Community of Sant’Egidio: a place and a service to give concrete form to charity and, at the same time, to render intelligent the works of mercy, to restore dignity to so many people who are our brothers and sisters, called with us to build a ‘reliable city’.”(photo from Whirlpool)

The laundry and showers will be managed by the Sant’Egidio Community of Liguria, together with other reception and assistance services for the poorest people. The communiqué goes on to mention some of the products that have been donated by companies such as Procter & Gamble and Whirlpool Corporation that, in 2017 contributed to the opening of the “Pope Francis Laundry” in Rome.

A FAR-FLUNG LAND, A CATHOLIC SCHOOL AND A PAPAL BLESSING

A FAR-FLUNG LAND, A CATHOLIC SCHOOL AND A PAPAL BLESSING

I had a truly wonderful experience of the Catholic Church – the word ‘catholic’ meaning universal – during my recent vacation in Hawaii and I’d like to share that special event with you today.

One of my many close friends in Honolulu is Sr. Davilyn ah Chick, OSF, a Franciscan of the same Order as St. Mother Marianne Cope. In fact, Sr. Davilyn had a role in the 2012 canonization of Mother Marianne and in the return in 2014 of her remains to Honolulu’s Our Lady of Peace cathedral from the Franciscan motherhouse in Syracuse, New York.

During every visit I make to Hawaii, Sister Davilyn has always filled my mind and heart with many stories of the island, of Saints Damien and Marianne and of the small Catholic school where she is now principal – Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ewa Beach on the island of Oahu.

I can’t tell you how many times she has met my flights from the mainland when I come for my annual visit. On several occasions I did not know in advance that she was coming and I was surprised to find her at luggage claim, wearing a big smile and bearing a beautiful floral lei!

On my visit last year, Sister mentioned an upcoming anniversary and wondered if I could arrange for a papal blessing. I assured her that was possible and she gave me some dates for the school and parish. I went to the office of papal charities and ordered a beautiful, hand-made blessing dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and the school that is the focus of this story.

I was so excited to see Sister Davilyn and my special friend and host in Honolulu, Jan McKinney, at the airport that I completely forgot to give her the blessing the day I arrived. However, two days before my departure Jan called Sister to ask if she would be at the school that day as I had a gift for her. Jan said we’d arrive about 11:30.

When we got to OLPH, we discovered that Sister Davilyn, in the half hour that had elapsed between Jan’s phone call and our arrival, had arranged an all-school assembly! If anyone could do that in 30 minutes, it would be Davilyn.

Sister accompanied us outside to a small stage area where she introduced Jan and me, asking me to say a few words about living in Rome, covering the Vatican and meeting Popes. I gave a nutshell presentation, after which Sister announced that I had brought a papal blessing from Rome for the church and school, holding up the blessing for all to see.

I explained how papal blessings are made, how the office of papal charities works and spoke briefly about a man I’ve known for years, the papal almoner, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, whose signature is on every papal blessing.

I told the students how Cardinal Krajewski knows the names of over 300 homeless people
and has a great dedication to them. On countless occasions he and several Swiss Guards
(who wear regular street clothes, not their fancy uniforms) leave the Vatican with items for
the homeless such as food, backpacks, sleeping bags and so on. Once, the cardinal got 400
umbrellas left behind at the Vatican Museums and brought them to the homeless during a
very rainy winter.

It was wonderful to see the delight on the faces of students and staff but for me, the best part was yet to come. I still marvel that Sister Davilyn organized everything in 30 minutes!

The sixth grade class joined us onstage and gave us a wonderful gift as they led the school in reciting the Prayer of St. Francis, delivering the school mission and singing the school song. I was sure people in Honolulu heard the choir of voices from Ewa Beach!

Following that presentation (and I could not help but see how Sister Davilyn was beaming with pride), teachers and several students from each class came onstage and gifted Jan and me with lovely leis – dozens of leis as you will see from the photos! It was fun to receive a hug from each student and bend over so they could place the leis on my shoulders, returning the hug.

The final act of this wonderful and unexpected school assembly was the group photo. Sister Davilyn, holding the blessing, and Jan and I were in the center, and the longer the staff took photos, the louder the students cheered. At one point I joked, telling the students that I had just received a phone call saying they heard the cheering in Rome.

I will never forget this very special morning and I fully intend to share a group photo and a lei with Cardinal Krajewski. If he lets me take a photo, I will post that as well.

In the meantime enjoy these photos taken by OLPH staff:

VATICAN INSIDER SHARES TIME WITH D.VA, WOMEN IN THE VATICAN – VATICAN MUSEUMS BY NIGHT STARTS APRIL 26 – SO YOU WANT A PAPAL BLESSING….. – YOU NEED A TICKET FOR A PAPAL AUDIENCE……? – GETTING AROUND ROME

The crowds are getting bigger here each and every day as we approach Palm Sunday and the Easter season – schools closing, families traveling, huge numbers of visitors invading the Eternal City and Vatican City. Today I’m dedicating some space to the questions that people usually ask me about visiting Rome and the Vatican, and I hope the answers and links below help in a significant way.

I also want to give you a heads up on something that I’ll be part of on Easter Sunday.

Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and husband of Callista Gingrich, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, recently started a podcast called “Newt’s World.” I’ve known the Gingriches for 10 years as our friendship dates back to some assistance I gave them a decade ago when they were filming their documentary on Pope John Paul in Rome and the Vatican.

Newt is truly a man for all seasons as you will realize by simply looking at the subjects of his first podcasts. If, for example, you thought you knew Benjamin Franklin, think again! A riveting story that will make you stop what you are doing (unless you are listening while driving your car). Listen HERE http://www.westwoodonepodcasts.com/pods/newts-world/ and HERE: https://www.gingrich360.com/productions/podcast/

I am honored that he has chosen me as a feature of his Easter Sunday podcast! So tune in next week – I’ll be reminding you, in any case!

VATICAN INSIDER SHARES TIME WITH D.VA, WOMEN IN THE VATICAN

My very special guest this weekend on Vatican Insider’s interview segment is also a longtime friend and a colleague when we both worked at Vatican Radio for many years – Tracey McClure. Tracey and a few others made some history not long ago by founding D.Va – Donne in Vaticano – Women in the Vatican – the first ever women’s association approved by the Vatican! Full disclosure: I am a member of D.VA (pronounced diva) and have participated in many activities but I wanted Tracey to give you the behind the scenes input.

Here are a few photos from some of our activities, excursions (Castelgandolfo) and Masses with Fr. Federico Lombardi, our spiritual advisor.

The women who founded D.VA (Tracey’s under the Pope’s photo)-

Part of the group at Castelgandolfo –

Mass with Fr. Lombardi in Teutonic cemetery chapel –

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

VATICAN MUSEUMS BY NIGHT STARTS APRIL 26

On Friday April  26, the 2019 edition of the special night openings of the Vatican Museums will begin, offering until 25 October a unique experience in terms of atmosphere, artistic beauty and musical offerings, for visitors both Roman and otherwise.

From 7.00 p.m., for over six months for a total of 27 Fridays, the Pope’s Museums “double” their cultural offering with a new evening programme, greatly appreciated by the public, especially in the spring and summer season.

As in previous years, and again included in the price of the entry ticket, which may be booked online exclusively, an extensive concert programme will enrich the already special night opening, animating the splendid museum architecture with sound, song and dance.

Click here for all pertinent information: http://www.museivaticani.va/content/museivaticani/en/eventi-e-novita/iniziative/Eventi/2019/aperture-notturne-2019.html

SO YOU WANT A PAPAL BLESSING…..

If you’re visiting Rome and want to get a papal blessing for an anniversary, wedding or First Communion will need to go to the office of Papal Blessings in Vatican City State. This is part of the office of the Papal Almoner, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski as all monies from blessings go to papal charities.

If for some reason you cannot make it to Rome, you can indeed order online; https://www.elemosineria.va/papal-blessing-parchments/

YOU NEED A TICKET FOR A PAPAL AUDIENCE……?

You’re planning your trip to Rome and need a ticket for a papal audience or possibly a public papal Mass (not the daily Mass in the Santa Marta residence in Vatican City). To find out what events are on Pope Francis’ calendar – and to obtain that ticket! – go here: http://www.vatican.va/various/prefettura/index_en.html

GETTING AROUND ROME

ATAC, Rome’s municipal transit authority, is a name you’ll see scores of times each day on the city’s busses. It has a great website and a fair amount of information in English: website – https://www.atac.roma.it/index.asp?lingua=ENG

All ATAC tickets are good for travel on the train, bus, and streetcars. They are also valid for commuter trains, but only when within Rome itself. Tickets can be purchased at automated vending machines or at the ticket booth in subway stations as well as at tobacco shops and newspaper stands throughout the city. Single tickets cost €1.50 and are good for 100 minutes or rides on 2 busses. You can also buy a tourist ticket for 24, 48 or 72 hours.

Those who live in Rome will have either an annual pass or a monthly pass. Whereas a single ticket must be validated upon first use in a yellow machine inside the bus, that is not the case with monthly or yearly passes. Thus, if you see someone get on the bus and not show or validate a ticket, do not presume they are travelling free. They undoubtedly have a pass and they, like you, will be asked to show that if controllers board the bus. There are fines for people without tickets so make sure you have one!

The metro (metropolitana) or subway is also a great way to travel, though it is nothing like the underground system of London, Paris, New York and other major cities. Signs indicating a metro stop are large red squares with a white M in the middle. Some of the major subway stops in the center of the city have been closed for repairs to mobile stairways so be sure to check a map. (https://www.rometoolkit.com/transport/rome_metro.htm)

There are scads of HOP ON – HOP OFF companies as you mjay have seen online but I highly recommend ORP – Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi: https://www.operaromanapellegrinaggi.org/en/roma-cristiana/open-bus

POPE PICKED FELLOW ‘STREET PRIEST’ WHEN HE NAMED HIS ALMONER A CARDINAL

My day has been so crammed with activities, meetings and appointments that when I finally got home just before 6 I felt breathless – like I’d been given only 10 minutes between flights!

About 9:15 I got on a bus to go to a 10am appointment in the center of Rome. Traffic was so bad I got out midway and got into a taxi. Five minutes into that ride I got 2 phone calls – one from EWTN saying our appointment with Iraqi cardinal-elect Patriarch Sako was at noon where he is staying in Rome. The second call was from our doorman who said the Italgas people had come and wanted to start their work to connect new gas pipes in my apartment! Finally – it’s only been 28 days! Gas won’t be on, of course, till all the apartments have been retro-fitted and the new outdoor gas pipe is actually connected to the gas main beneath the sidewalk. Pazienza!

I told the taxi driver to turn around and bring me home.

Although I had fixed an appointment to interview Patriarch Sako on Friday at 5 pm, I was now back home with enough time, I hoped, to finish the interview questions and put that, my recorder and a camera in my bag…..just in case the cardinal changed his mind and was available today. Minutes before we were all to meet, the Italgas technician finished his preliminary work and I was able to get to our meeting on time.

It was a great reunion – we have known each other for eight years. I also met one of his auxiliary bishops and his secretary with whom we’ve been communicating like mad the past 2 weeks. And we did confirm that our interview on Friday!

More appointments after that and a brief lunch in a restaurant – something I rarely do on a workday!

The best part of your day will be when you read the following story about someone I’ve known for years and admire and respect beyond words. I saw him today in the Vatican and congratulated him – Papal Almoner and Cardinal-elect Konrad Krajewski. Great story by a friend, Carol Glatz.

POPE PICKED FELLOW ‘STREET PRIEST’ WHEN HE NAMED HIS ALMONER A CARDINAL

June 26, 2018 (CNS) – Carol Glatz

ROME – Realizing he could no longer minister directly to poor people as he used to in Buenos Aires, a newly elected Pope Francis found another secret “street priest” to act in his place – Cardinal-designate Konrad Krajewski.

For years, this Polish assistant to St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI walked Rome’s streets offering meals and assistance, often accompanied by volunteers from the papal Swiss Guard.

“My arms have been shortened,” he said Francis remarked when explaining why he was naming him papal almoner.

“If we can make my arms longer with your arms, I will be able to touch the poor of Rome and in Italy. I can’t leave. You can,” the pope explained.

By elevating him to the College of Cardinals June 28, the pope is elevating the office of papal almoner, the 54-year-old liturgist told Vatican News May 20. This honor “is for the poor and the volunteers. I can take no credit,” he said.

“I only did what the Holy Father wanted,” he explained, which was to be the pope’s eyes, ears and hands, looking out for and offering direct assistance to those in need, as well as spiritual comfort and prayers.

Every morning he reads requests for help forwarded from the pope with a comment that says, “You know what you must do.”

“And so I try to think, what would Francis do if he were here?” he told the Italian magazine, Il Mio Papa.

As papal almoner, the Polish cardinal-designate distributes charitable aid from the pope; but he has taken the job to a whole new level, getting a dormitory, showers, a barbershop and laundromat set up near the Vatican for homeless people. He handed out 1,600 prepaid phone cards to refugees who survived a dangerous journey by boat to Lampedusa to let their families know they were safe. He’s also organized special private tours for poor and homeless people to the Vatican Gardens, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.

Receiving the red hat should not make a big difference in his day-to-day dealings, he told Vatican Insider. He already had enough clout just being the pope’s almoner. “When they give me donations for the poor, they have trust because they trust the pope,” he said.

Krajewski said Francis told him to sell his desk when he was hired because his job wasn’t to wait for people to come ringing, but to go out and look for those in need. The cardinal-designate went a step further, giving up his apartment for a time to a Syrian refugee family.

He said the pope wanted him to do what he had been free to do in Buenos Aires: to seek out, share with, and be there for people.

“‘You will see,’ he told me, ‘I have entrusted you with the most beautiful part’” of being a priest, the cardinal-designate said.

Born in Lodz, Poland, Nov. 25, 1963, the cardinal-designate studied in Poland and Rome, where he earned degrees in theology and sacred liturgy. He served as a hospital chaplain in Rome before returning to Lodz to teach liturgy at local seminaries and become prefect of the diocesan seminary.

He returned to Rome in 1998 to work in the Vatican’s office of papal liturgical celebrations and master of liturgical ceremonies from 1999 to 2013 when he could be seen at the side of St. John Paul and Pope Benedict assisting during papal Masses.

He was appointed papal almoner August 2013 and consecrated a bishop the next month, taking the Latin word for “mercy” as his motto.

He told journalists in late November 2013 that he had been one of the four men who dressed St. John Paul after he died, in preparation for his lying-in-state and funeral.

“Perhaps this is why I never devoted myself to praying intensely for his beatification because I had already begun to take part in it,” he said, speaking of his fellow-countryman, whom he had served for seven years.

A former recreational skier and swimmer in his native Poland – like the pope-saint – the cardinal-designate said he also tried to emulate St. John Paul with a strong life of prayer so as to be close to God. He celebrates Mass at the late pope’s tomb once a week and prays the rosary and hears confessions every day at a nearby church dedicated to the Divine Mercy.

He said Francis once told him to never stop hearing confessions because that, too, is a kind of alms.

Despite always being in the thick of things – delivering food or sleeping bags, visiting the infirm and families in crisis – Krajewski said he prefers to stay off the radar and avoid giving interviews.

“I’d like to stay hidden, without any ruckus,” he told the Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana in 2014, explaining why he was turning them down for an interview request. “Poverty is something serious; it’s not there to give oneself publicity.”

But what he does not hide is his faith. “It is helpful for the Church when we do not hide God, but we reveal him with our lifestyle,” he told the magazine reporter. Doing good “is contagious,” he said.

FOR CHRISTIANS THE LITURGY IS TRUE SCHOOL OF PRAYER – ROME CIRCUS OFFERS 2100 TICKETS TO POPE FRANCIS FOR POOR, HOMELESS, REFUGEES, AND NEEDY FAMILIES – CONGREGATION APPOINTS COMMISSIONER FOR CHRISTIAN LIFE SOCIETY

MISSING IN ACTION – Apologies for two days of silence on this page, especially after a weekend filled with big stories – the Epiphany celebrations on Saturday, the 34 children baptized by Pope Francis in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday and the annual papal “state of the world” address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See on Monday. I was under the weather, as the expression goes, on Monday and spent Tuesday recovering from Monday. Being online, researching and reading Vatican news and then posting stories was not high on my agenda, important as they were.

I was briefly online Monday to read the papal speech to the diplomats, given its importance and the subjects and places he covers in this “lights and shadows” look at the world. The 5300-word talk lasted about 45 minutes and was published in 8 languages by the Vatican.

Along with the papal speech, the Vatican published a “Note on the Diplomatic Relations of the Holy See, 08.01.2018.” It listed the number of countries and organizations with diplomatic ties to the Holy See, the new ambassadors as of January 2017, and also listed the resident and non-resident ambassadors. I was fascinated by one paragraph dedicated to the women ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, noting that there were 25 women diplomats.

When I returned to the news site today to look for that specific information about women ambassadors, it was gone. It no longer appears on the press office bulletin, on http://www.vatican.va or http://www.vaticannews.va. I searched the Internet to see if some colleague or news source has published it but my search for “women ambassadors accredited to the Holy See” was in vain. I also looked for “accredited to the Vatican” although that is technically incorrect.

Just moments ago I had my own epiphany, remembering where I first saw that information in Italian – in my own mailbox! I went back to January 8 and sure enough, there it was! I found the two press office attachments when I opened that (then) embargoed papal talk and the Note that I received via email at 9:45 am on January 8. I had not dreamed up the numbers and I do have a good memory!

Here is the info (my translation from the Italian) missing from Vatican websites:

Among the ambassadors, 25 are women: 12 are resident ambassadors (Australia, Benin, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Germany, Ireland, Panama, Perú, San Marino, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States of America); 13 are non-resident: (Burundi, United Arab Emirates, Gambia, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mauritania, Zimbabwe, Qatar and Sweden).

This too was in an original text from the Holy See Press Office:

Between January1, 2017 and January 7, 2018, 31 new ambassadors, of whom 17 are resident, presented their Letters of Credence (Credentials) to the Holy Father: (Ghana, Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, Iraq, Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, Nigeria, Mexico, Montenegro, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, South Africa, USA, Uruguay); e 14 non residenti: (Mauritania, Myanmar, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Niger, Sudan, Trinidad e Tobago, Yemen, New Zelanda, Swaziland, Azerbaijan, Chad, Liechtenstein, India).

I wonder who decided and why it was decided not to include those two paragraphs, especially on women ambassadors, in the final version of the news sites.

A CHOIR, A HOTEL AND A POLISH SAINT – In addition to Vatican and papal news, I had every intention of sharing the wonderful Saturday evening I spent in the presence of two choirs that sang at the papal Mass on the Epiphany, principally the young people’s amazing choir of Christ Cathedral in Orange County, California, along with members of St. Anne’s choir from Laguna Niguel. I was invited to join them for dinner at a hotel I had heard of but never visited, the Kolbe Hotel.

From their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ChristCathedralMusic/

The hotel was named for St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Conventual Franciscan Friar who died in the Auschwitz concentration during World War II. The Nazi prison guards chose 10 people to be put to death and prisoner 16670 Kolbe offered to take the place of a stranger. We commemorated his birthday on Monday, January 8. The hotel premises are part of a structure built in 1625 that became a Franciscan monastery in 2012. Renovations started on the premises in 2007 and the result is what we see today, the Kolbe Hotel, part of which is still a Franciscan monastery.

In coming days, I’ll bring you some of the photos and stories I intended to publish Monday on this page.

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A CHRISTMAS TREE – I’m sure you saw the news and photos over the holidays of Rome’s unbelievably scrawny Christmas tree placed in the capital’s central Piazza Venezia. Nicknamed “the mangy one” it eventually found a fond place in the hearts of Romans and visitors, but not before the world’s media found every way possible to make fun of it.

Now that the holidays are over, what will become of the much-mocked tree?

Well, it will be carved up and turned into souvenirs and a lactation hut for mothers and babies, city officials said Tuesday. Here’s the story:
http://www.yourconroenews.com/news/world/article/Rome-s-mangy-Christmas-tree-to-be-carved-up-into-12484838.php

And now, some Vatican news stories from today…..

FOR CHRISTIANS THE LITURGY IS TRUE SCHOOL OF PRAYER

Pope Francis continued his series of general audience catecheses on the Mass that he began last November by pointing out. “In our catechesis on the Holy Eucharist, we now turn to the Gloria and the Opening Prayer. Having confessed our sinfulness and asked God’s forgiveness in the penitential rite, “ he said, “we recite, on Sundays and holydays, the ancient hymn “Glory to God in the highest”. Echoing the song of the angels at our Lord’s birth, we praise the mercy of the Father in sending his Son who takes away the sins of the world.

Francis explained that, “the Opening Prayer is also called the ‘Collect’, because it gathers up and presents to the Triune God all our individual prayers. The priest’s invitation, ‘Let us pray,’ is followed by a moment of silence, as we open our hearts and bring our personal needs to the Lord. The Opening Prayer praises the Father’s provident love revealed in history and then implores his continued help as we strive to live as his sons and daughters in Christ.

“With the invitation ‘Let us pray,’ the priest exhorts the people to recollect themselves with him in a moment of silence, in order to be conscious of being in the presence of God and to have arise, in each one’s heart, the personal intentions with which he takes part in the Mass.” In this moment of silence, “each one thinks of the things of which he is in need, what he wishes to ask for in prayer.”

“By ancient tradition,” said the Pope, “the prayer is addressed to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. By reflecting on these rich prayers, and uniting ourselves with the Church in lifting them up to God, we see how the liturgy becomes for each Christian a true school of prayer.”

ROME CIRCUS OFFERS 2100 TICKETS TO POPE FRANCIS FOR POOR, HOMELESS, REFUGEES, AND NEEDY FAMILIES

Pope Francis through his apostolic almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, has invited the poor, the homeless, refugees, a group of prisoners, needy persons and families together with their volunteers, to attend a circus.

The Medruno circus – its owners, benefactors and performers – has placed at the disposition of the Holy Father all of its 2,100 seats in the big tent for this charity event. In fact, the Casartelli family and entrepreneur Fabrizio Grande are calling this “a circus of solidarity” with the Holy Father’s poor.

Once, during a general audience, Pope Francis spoke of circus performers, saying they “create beauty, they are creators of beauty and this does the soul good! How great is our need for beauty!” This then is the gift offered by the artists of the circus who, with constant commitment and many sacrifices, succeed in creating and giving beauty to themselves and to others. This can become also for our poorest brothers an encouragement to overcome the bitter moments and the difficulties of life that so many times seem so great and impossible to overcome.

Also available will be a medical service offered by volunteer doctors and nurses with an ambulance and a mobile ambulatory from Vatican City. At the end of the circus, those in need will receive also a carry out dinner bag,

CONGREGATION APPOINTS COMMISSIONER FOR CHRISTIAN LIFE SOCIETY

The Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life promulgated today, Wednesday 10 January 2018, the Decree for the Compulsory Administration of the Society of Apostolic Life Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (Christian Life Society), appointing as Apostolic Commissioner of the aforementioned Society H.E. Msgr. Noel Antonio Londoño Buitrago, C.Ss.R., bishop of Jericó (Antioquia), Colombia.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin, C.Ss.R., continues to be the referent for the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, as Delegate ad nutum in relation to Sodalitium Christianae Vitae and with regard to economic issues in particular.

The Holy Father Francis has closely followed all the information that, for several years, has come to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life on the situation of the Christian Life Society. The Pope has shown himself to be particularly attentive to the seriousness of the information concerning the internal regime, formation and economic and financial management, which is why he has asked the Dicastery to pay particular attention. In addition to this, a series of measures have recently been adopted by the Peruvian judicial authority against Mr. Luis Fernando Figari. After a thorough analysis of all the documentation, the Dicastery issued the Decree for Compulsory Administration.