My guest this week in the interview segment of “Vatican Insider” is Msgr. Tom Powers, rector of the Pontifical North American College and a wonderful friend of many years! He came to Rome as rector in August of 2022. Just last night he hosted 470 guests at NAC’s annual Rector’s Dinner, a gala event where seminarians are the stars as they serve at the cocktail hour, provide music and entertainment and serve the entire dinner, some as wine servers and others serve the main meal.

I first aired my talk with Msgr. Powers just after his arrival – his return, actually – in Rome. This weekend I offer Parts I and II as a Special. In Part I of our talk, he tells how he was invited to be rector, looks back a bit at his own years in Rome as a seminarian under two rectors, now Cardinals, Edwin O’Brien and Timothy Dolan and explains exactly what the duties of a rector are. In Part II he talks about the new freshman class of seminarians, highlighting how they all met and exchanged inspirational vocation stories. He spoke of the vocation stories as “moments of God’s grace,” adding, “my work here, our work here, is to form men to the heart of Christ.” Among his powerful remarks were his words on answering the call this past spring to become the rector, saying: “My priesthood has been one of saying yes to the Church.”

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Pope Francis praised members of the U.S.-based Papal Foundation for assisting the Bishop of Rome in fulfilling his mission, noting that , through their generous support to Catholic charity projects throughout the world and the transparent management of funds, they offer a “visible sign of unity” with the Successor of Peter. Every year a delegation of members, trustees and stewards travels to Rome to share with the Holy Father the chosen projects and renew its commitment to supporting his desired charitable efforts. Since its inception in 1988, the Papal Foundation has allocated $200 million in grants and scholarships around the world to more than 2,000 projects selected by Popes Francis and Benedict, and St. John Paul II. According to its website, it has helped finance the construction of 358 churches and chapels, 170 seminaries, 404 rectories and convents, 273 schools, and 104 hospitals. In 2023 the Foundation plans to give the Holy See 9.5 million USD to fund 114 grants in 57 countries. It will also provide approximately 4.8 million USD in scholarships and humanitarian aid. FOR FULL STORY: Pope to Papal Foundation: Financial scandals damage Church charity work – Vatican News



If you have a few extra minutes today, you might enjoy this interview by Vatican News of Cardinal Timothy Dolan who is currently in Rome prior to his trip to Poland and Ukraine to help refugees: A conversation with Cardinal Dolan ahead of mission to help Ukraine – Vatican News


Pope Francis received members of the Papal Foundation this morning on their first visit since the coronavirus shut things down in 2020, including travel, in-person visits and meetings, etc.

Foundation members usually pay an annual visit to Rome and the Holy Father and that visit usually coincides with the annual Rector’s Dinner at the Pontifical North American College that takes place tonight.

The Papal Foundation is the only charitable organization in the United States that is exclusively dedicated to fulfilling the requests of the Holy Father for the needs of the Church. Since its inception in 1988, The Papal Foundation and its Stewards of Saint Peter have allocated $200 million in grants and scholarships around the world to more than 2000 projects selected by Popes Francis, Benedict, and John Paul II. Each Steward of St. Peter makes a $1 million gift to a carefully managed fund that annually delivers a portion of its resources to support the Holy Father’s responses. (Vatican media photo)

During today’s audience, Pope Francis touched a photo of St. John Paul II who was canonized, along with Pope John XXIII, eight years ago yesterday, April 27, 2014.

The Holy Father opened his remarks by saying, “It is good that we can meet this year in person, as restrictions put in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic have been somewhat eased.   Our time together affords me the opportunity to express my deep gratitude for the generous support you have provided both to me and to the Church in so many areas of the world.”

Francis noted that, “over the years, the Papal Foundation has fostered on a global level the integral development of so many of our brothers and sisters. In particular, your response to the various requests that you receive for assistance with educational, charitable and ecclesial projects enables you to facilitate the Church’s ongoing efforts to build a culture of solidarity and peace.”

In particular, Pope Francis underscored how “your charitable outreach continues to extend to those on the peripheries of society who live in material, and frequently spiritual, poverty. At the same time, as we are witnessing in these days the devastating effects of war and conflict, you increasingly see the need to provide care and humanitarian assistance to its victims, to refugees and to those forced to leave their homelands in search of a better and more secure future for themselves and their loved ones. Your work helps to bring the love, hope and mercy that the Gospel proclaims to all who benefit from your generosity and commitment.”

“I ask you, please,” concluded Francis, “to pray for me and for my ministry, for the needs of the Church, the spread of the Gospel and the conversion of hearts.”


Pope Francis today started his first full day of activities on his visit to Thailand, the first of two nations he will visit between now and November 26. I have posted a separate column on that journey.


I also posted this today on Facebook and Twitter: A cogent and easy to read piece that goes to the heart of the matter:
And the Wall Street Journal posted this:

VATICAN LOSES ACCESS TO INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL WATCHDOG INFORMATION – The Egmont Group, a network of financial intelligence units, has suspended the Vatican watchdog from accessing its secure web system – by Francis X. Rocca

ROME -An international network of financial watchdogs has suspended the Vatican’s access to its information, dealing a major blow to the Vatican’s financial credibility under Pope Francis. The Egmont Group, a Toronto-based network of more than 160 national financial intelligence units around the world, has decided to suspend the Vatican watchdog from access to its secure web system, through which members share information about money laundering, financing of terrorism, tax fraud and other financial crimes….” (


Vatican City, Nov 20, 2019 / 10:26 am (CNA) – The Vatican Secretary of State told CNA this week that he is responsible for arranging a controversial loan for the purchase of a bankrupt Italian hospital, and that he arranged with Cardinal Donald Wuerl a grant from the U.S.-based Papal Foundation to cover the loan when it could not be repaid.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin told CNA he felt “compelled” to address the matter “in order to put an end to a controversy that takes away time and resources from our service to the Lord, to the Church and to the Pope, and disturbs the conscience of many Catholics.”

“The operations involving IDI…are ascribable to myself,” Parolin told CNA Nov. 19, while insisting that his actions regarding the IDI were both legal and transparent.

CNA asked Parolin to confirm that he personally had arranged a 2014 loan of 50 million euros from APSA, the Vatican’s central bank, to partially fund the purchase of the bankrupt IDI hospital. The cardinal confirmed that he had.

The IDI was purchased in 2015 by a for-profit partnership of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and the religious order that had owned and managed the hospital while it went bankrupt, incurred 800 million euros of debt, and saw some of its former administrators prosecuted and jailed for systematic fraud and embezzlement.

Though Parolin said the arrangement was “carried out with fair intentions and honest means,” the APSA loan is likely to draw scrutiny from European banking regulators, as the loan seems to violate 2012 regulatory agreements prohibiting the bank from making commercial loans.

Those agreements were the result of an on-site inspection by Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s Committee for combating money laundering and terrorist financing, and legally prohibit APSA from providing services to individuals or taking part in commercial transactions.

CNA also asked Parolin to confirm that he had personally devised a plan with Wuerl to request Papal Foundation funds to cover APSA’s bad loan. The cardinal confirmed that he had.

The $25 million grant request was widely understood to be an effort to remove the bad debt from APSA’s ledger before it drew attention, after it became obvious that the debt-ridden and insolvent hospital could not repay its loan to the Vatican central bank.

Wuerl, however, told the Papal Foundation board that the funds were intended to save the IDI from closure by covering short term operating deficits. But lay board members raised questions about whether the cash was really intended to meet an operating shortfall at the hospital, or to cover the bad debt at APSA.

Papal Foundation trustees and donors expressed also skepticism about the amount requested, which was far larger than its normal disbursements, which ordinarily are grants of a few hundred thousand dollars to charities around the world, selected by the Holy See.

After one board member objected to the loan by letter, former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was then a member of the board, wrote that raising concerns was “irresponsible, and seriously harmful to The Papal Foundation.”

McCarrick was under investigation for sexually abusing minors at the time he intervened in the matter.

Despite objections, the grant was ultimately approved by the Papal Foundation board in a secret ballot – sources inside the foundation told CNA that board members believe all but one of the bishop members voted for it, while all but one of the lay members voted against approving the grant.

Dispersal of the money stalled after the board continued to ask questions about the final destination of the funds.

Two initial installments were sent to Rome in late 2017 and early 2018, totaling $13 million. After internal disagreements about the grant went public, Cardinal Wuerl said he would ask the Vatican to cancel the request and return the funds. In early 2019 Parolin wrote to the board saying the $13 million would be reclassified as a loan, rather than a grant, and would be repaid as credits against future grant requests.

When the grant money stalled, APSA was forced to write off 30 million of the 50 million euro loan, wiping out APSA’s profits for the 2018 financial year.

Bishop Nunzio Galantino, head of APSA, acknowledged the loan and its write-off in September, even though APSA is legally prohibited from making loans that finance commercial transactions, due to its 2012 moneyval agreement.

After the Oct. 21 publication of a book that alleged the Vatican was nearly insolvent, Galatino blamed the loan for APSA’s failure to register a profit for the first time in its history.

Parolin answered CNA’s questions this week after Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who has widely been reported to have been the driving force behind both arranging the loan and pushing for the Papal Foundation grant, contacted CNA to deny his involvement in those matters. He told CNA that both matters were the “competence” of the Secretary of State, Parolin.

Becciu told CNA by text message earlier this month that he had not known about the APSA loan until after it was arranged, and that he had no part in requesting a grant from the Papal Foundation.

The 2014 APSA loan was arranged over the strong objections of Cardinal George Pell, then serving as the Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy and charged by Pope Francis with enforcing financial accountability on the Roman Curia. CNA has also reported a loan request for the same purpose had been vetoed by the IOR, the Vatican’s deposit bank, after its president, Jean-Baptiste Douville de Franssu, and Pell agreed that the IDI was unviable and the money would never be repaid.

While Parolin took responsibility for the IDI arrangements, Vatican officials across several dicasteries have told CNA Becciu was involved in organizing both the loan and coordinating the lobbying effort for the Papal Foundation grant. That effort included a visit to McCarrick by the secretary of APSA, Fr. Mauro Rivella, in Washington, DC, shortly after the grant request was made. The visit took place before McCarrick pushed board members to approve the grant, and after an investigation into McCarrick’s sexual misconduct had begun.

Still, Parolin insisted that “as far as I know, Cardinal Becciu had no role whatsoever in” those matters.

Nevertheless, Becciu’s personal connections to the IDI hospital go back at least as far as his appointment to the position of sostituto in 2011.

Shortly after Becciu began working as the second-ranking official in the Secretariat of State, Fr. Franco Decaminada, the IDI’s president – subsequently arrested, prosecuted, imprisoned, and laicised for theft and fraud – approached him for support on a proposal that the Secretariat of State supply the IDI with 200 million euros, ostensibly to fund a take over of another hospital by the IDI, which was already teetering on insolvency.

In October, Becciu told CNA he did not recall any such proposal, though it had been reported previously in Italian media. Shortly after that proposal was made, Decaminada hired Becciu’s niece Maria Piera Becciu, as his personal secretary.

In October, CNA asked Becciu if he or his position at the Secretariat of State had played any role in the hiring of his niece at the IDI. He told CNA that, “she applied for the position and was hired.”

Last month, Becciu told CNA that his interest and involvement with the IDI ceased when Cardinal Parolin was appointed Secretary of State.

“Cardinal Parolin assumed the office of Secretary of State [in 2013] and I no longer concerned myself with IDI,” he said.

While taking responsibility for the APSA loan and the Papal Foundation request, Parolin told CNA that the interpretation of those events “by certain media is a different matter, presenting these operations as non-transparent, irregular or even illegal: this, as far as I am concerned, is not the truth.”

But beyond the APSA loan and Papal Foundation grant, other aspects of the IDI purchase have raised serious questions.

In addition to the APSA loan, the Vatican also used 30 million euros diverted from the Bambino Gesu, another hospital under its oversight, to purchase the bankrupt IDI. That money was taken from an 80 million euro grant the Italian government had given the Bambino Gesu.

Cardinal Guisseppe Versaldi arranged that diversion. At the time, Versaldi led the partnership to buy the IDI, oversaw the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See and was the Vatican’s delegate to oversee the Italian province of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception, the religious congregation that had owned the hospital, had a partnership with the Vatican to buy it again, and had also been dragged into insolvency.

Wiretaps recorded Versaldi discussing the plan with Giuseppe Profiti, the president of Bambino Gesu, with the two agreeing to conceal the misdirection of the funds from Pope Francis.

Versaldi and Profiti later denied any wrongdoing, and the cardinal claimed he only wanted to spare the pope the technical details of the efforts to save the IDI.

In his comments to CNA Parolin also addressed a lament from Becciu, who told CNA this month that while he is uncertain which Vatican officials have suggested he is connected to the IDI affair, he believes he could be the victim of a misinformation campaign, designed to sully his reputation by linking him to the affair.

Parolin does not think that to be the case.

“I believe there is no curial plot. In any case, I am completely extraneous to any operation of the kind: if there were such an operation I would condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” Parolin told CNA.

A spokesman for Wuerl told CNA that the cardinal “has no comment beyond reiterating those facts already on the public record regarding the Papal Foundation application process.”



Vatican Insider will be a very special edition this weekend as I am devoting almost the entire program to a conversation I had about the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy with Fr. Geno Sylva, an official at the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. There will be a few news headlines, not a long news summary, and no Q&A this week on VI.


The conversation is riveting –we talk all about the meaning of and the plans and preparations for one of the biggest forthcoming events on the Vatican calendar – – the Jubilee Year of Mercy whose plans were entrusted to this pontifical council by Pope Francis. The Holy Father only announced this a little over a month ago so the council is in the early stages of planning but working feverishly and with great enthusiasm so that all is ready by December 8 when the Holy Door will be opened at St. Peter’s Basilica.

I think I can safely say one thing: after listening to the final three minutes, you’ll sit back in silence and reflect!

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives:


Very exciting news for the U.S. seminary in Rome.

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the Pontifical North American College on May 2 to celebrate Mass during a Day of Reflection with the title “Fra Junípero Serra: Apostle of California, and Witness to Sanctity.”

Junipero Serra –


Pope Francis has announced he intends to canonize Blessed Junípero Serra during his visit to the United States in September.

The Pontifical North American College is the national seminary for the United States, and is located on the Janiculum Hill, which overlooks St. Peter’s Basilica.

The event is being organized by the College and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, and more information will be released at a Press Conference on April 20, 2015, at the Holy See Press Office.


Friday, Pope Francis greeted members of U.S.-based Papal Foundation  who are in Rome on their annual spring pilgrimage. The Papal Foundation was founded in the United States in 1988 to establish an endowment to support the mission of the Holy Father. The endowment has grown to over $220 million.


As the Foundation website notes, nearly 130 Stewards, family members, cardinals and bishops from across the U.S. are in Rome as part of an annual pilgrimage that delivers millions of dollars to support the charitable work of the Holy Father during the coming year. “The Foundation’s annual pilgrimage to Rome is always a highlight,” reflects James Coffey, the Foundation’s Vice President for Advancement, “but this year we are especially grateful to be marking our 25th year of support for the Holy Father and his outreach to a world in need.”

Under the title, “Celebrating 25 Years of Giving,” the Foundation points out that it presented its first financial support to Pope (now Saint) John Paul II and the Holy See in April 1990. Since then, it has provided over $111 million in grants and scholarships to build the Church, educate and prepare leaders, and care for the most vulnerable people, young and old, around the world. The Foundation’s commitment is to walk in union with the Holy Father and the Magisterium of the Church, and to bring the love of Christ to a world in need.

In remarks this morning to the Papal Foundation the Pope noted that, “the wide variety of projects supported by the Foundation gives witness to the ceaseless efforts of the Church to promote the integral development of the human family, conscious as she is of the immense and ongoing needs of so many of our brothers and sisters.  Wisely does The Papal Foundation devote a sizeable percentage of its resources to the education and formation of young priests, religious and lay men and women, hastening the day when their local Churches may be self-supportive, and, indeed, pass on the fruits of such generosity to others.”

Expressing his gratitude for their work, the Holy Father spoke of the coming Jubilee of Mercy and said, “I ask our Lord Jesus Christ, ‘the face of the Father’s mercy’, to refresh and renew each one of you through his mercy, the greatest of his many gifts.”