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:

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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.

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 –

bethlehem-christmas-2008-092

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

bethlehem-christmas-2008-100

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.

“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.

Lucetta Scaraffia

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