Some days are just so jam-packed with events, appointments, research, meetings, etc. that I realize it is dinner time – maybe a bit beyond – and I’ve not prepared a column. Yesterday was such a day and I apologize for an empty page. However, I always do post important news on my Facebook page. The rest of the week is filled with similar moments, and a lot of time dedicated to my weekend radio show, “Vatican insider” but I’ll do my best to keep you apprised of what’s new, what’s important and so on.

One big problem in my life is that I have been without gas since last Wednesday when a leak was discovered and the gas company came to turn it off and they’ve not done a thing since.

My American coffee machine broke so no way to make coffee and so far I’ve eaten out most nights, although today in a supermarket I did discover two meals I can make in a microwave. Italians love to really cook things the right way, not use a microwave! I like to find a bright side in a bad story and the bright side is: thank the Lord I do not have a gas water heater. A week without hot water! And it will be about another week.

In any event, Thursday was a Vatican holiday and our doorman had the day off so no one could access the building. Nothing happened Friday. Saturday was the Italian equivalent of our July 4 so naturally the gas company employees had the day off. Sunday is, of course, always a day off.

Monday, APSA (a Vatican administration that runs, among other things, the real estate office, the office to which I pay my rent) called and said someone from the gas company would be here between 11 and 1. That meant switching a few appointments around, including TV segments I had to tape

No one ever came.

The doorman rang up to say workers would be coming at 2:30 and start at my apartment. Carlo had called just after 1pm so that gave me time to run over to Pius XII Square to tape the TV segments and be back home for the gas people at 2:30.

About 3:15, Carlo called the company to ask where the workers were, they said they would not be coming after all and he asked why he had to call – why was he not informed no workers would be around! (The answer is; it’s Italy)

At least I could now go to the Gregorian University for my afternoon appointment with Fr. Alan Fogarty, SJ, president of the Gregorian University Foundation. We had a delightful visit – we’ve met on a few previous occasions – and I will be sharing that visit with you on Vatican Insider. After the interview we visited some Gregorian buildings as well as the Pontifical Biblical Institute., the Biblicum, shared a cappuccino and talked some more.

I did detour a bit on the way to get a bus home, stopping to pray at the nearby beautiful and very historical church of the XII Santissimi Apostoli (the Apostles James the Lesser and Philip are buried here!). I saw a priest hearing confessions and knew the Lord had given me a gift after the trials of earlier in the day. I didn’t even have to wait after the previous penitent had left and I enjoyed more time in this church.

By the time I got home and checked a few emails, I was beyond hungry and went to La Vittoria for dinner. A wonderful priest friend from the US had just arrived in Rome and was eating alone so we combined forces – and were later joined by Amb. Gingrich.

As Shakespeare said, “All’s well that ends well!”

The day ended well but the gas saga continues. Nothing was done today. I feel like sending my restaurant bills to Italgas!


Pope Francis on Tuesday released a video message accompanying his prayer intention for June, which this month is “For inclusive and respectful social networks”.

In his prayer intention for the month of June 2018, Pope Francis said: “Let us pray together that social networks may work towards that inclusiveness which respects others for their differences.”

It has become the custom of Pope Francis to release a video message detailing his prayer intention for each month.

The full text of the message follows:
The Internet is a gift of God, but it is also a great responsibility.
Communication technology, its places, its instruments have brought with it a lengthening of horizons, a widening, for so many people.
It can offer immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity.
May the digital network not be a place of alienation. May it be a concrete place, a place rich in humanity.
Let us pray together that social networks may work towards that inclusiveness which respects others for their differences.

The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network of the Apostleship of Prayer developed “The Pope Video” initiative to assist in the worldwide dissemination of monthly intentions of the Holy Father in relation to the challenges facing humanity.


Pope Francis has been busy in past days sending telegrams of condolences, one for a natural disaster and the other for the death of a cardinal.

In a telegram to Archbishop Nicolas Thevenin, the apostolic nuncio in Guatemala, Francis said he is praying for the dead and for all those affected by a powerful volcanic eruption in Guatemala in which at least 69 people have died. He said he was “deeply saddened to learn of the news of the violent eruption of the Volcano of Fire, which has claimed numerous victims, caused enormous material damage and affected a significant number of people who live in the area”.

The Pope also sent condolences for the death of Cardinal Miguel Obando Bravo, SDB, archbishop-emeritus of Managua in Nicaragua. Cardinal Bravo died on Sunday at the age of 92. The Pope expressed his sorrow to the “beloved Archdiocese” of Managua upon receiving news of the Cardinal’s death, adding that the late-Cardinal Obando Bravo gave his life to the service of God and the Church.


Pope Francis on Monday met in the Vatican a delegation from the “Biagio Agnes” International Journalism Prize of Italy during which he urged journalists to serve the truth, revive hope and not to ignore the peripheries.

By Robin Gomes

Meeting the 70-member delegation of the Biagio Agnes International Journalism Prize, ahead of this year’s awards in Sorrento June 22-24, the Pope said that theirs is a demanding job in an age marked by “digital convergence” and “media transformation.” During his journeys and other meeting, the Pope said he notes classic televisions and traditional radios alongside young people making news and interviews with mobile phones, and urged the foundation to continue being “educators of the new generations.”

In this task, Pope Francis particularly urged them to be mindful of the peripheries, the truth and hope.

Even though the nerve centres of news production are found in large centres, said the Pope, one must never forget the stories of people who live far away in the peripheries. Sometimes they are stories of suffering and degradation; other times they are stories of great solidarity that can help everyone to look at reality in a renewed way.

The Pope said a journalist needs to be very demanding with himself to avoid falling into the trap of a mentality of opposing merely for the sake of interests and ideologies. In today’s fast world, it is very urgent, he said, to pursue “in-depth research, confront and to be silent, when needed, rather than hurt a person or a group of people or delegitimize an event.” It is a difficult job he said, but it must help us become “brave and, I would say, also prophetic.”

The Holy Father said, a journalist should not feel satisfied just recounting an event in accordance with his or her free and conscious responsibility. It is a question of opening up areas of hope while denouncing situations of degradation and despair. A journalist, he said, is “called to keep open a space of exit, of meaning, of hope.”

Pope Francis expressed appreciation for a project of the Biagio Agnes Foundation which aims to investigate medical-scientific topics through accurate information to counteract the proliferation of “do-it-yourself” information and vague news on the web that attract the attention of the public much more than science.”



I cannot let this day pass without writing to all of you – so many of you! – who contacted me via email or commented on my Facebook post, “For Whom the Bell Tolls: The Death of a Radio.”

I was overwhelmed with your sentiments and prayers and feelings of gratitude for the work done by Vatican Radio in general and my program, “Joan Knows,” in particular. This late, great radio gave us countless hours of special news reports and feature programs – so many it is almost impossible to calculate – and they will be missed. The last ones air Easter Sunday, April 1.

In the meantime, please know I intend to be with you a loooong time via EWTN! I not only have this daily column, I report to you twice weekly with televised segments from Rome for “At Home with Jim and Joy,” and, of course, we get together again during my weekend radio show, “Vatican Insider.”

I’m going to find a way to bring you audio reports a few times a week as part of this daily blog, “Joan’s Rome.” With today’s technology that should be a breeze – at least I hope so.

And naturally there’s the other “Joan’s Rome” – my videos. I’ve done 59 so far, most from the Vatican and Rome but 14 were filmed in Assisi. In April I’ll be filming about a dozen more videos and will alert you when those are done and ready for airing!

Again, heartfelt thanks for your friendship and gratitude for my work!

The beat goes on!

By the way, you will be remembered in my prayers as the staff of EWTN in Rome gathers this afternoon in the Chapel of the Canons in St. Peter’s Basilica for Mass in memory of Mother Angelica on the anniversary of her death. Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre will celebrate Mass.


Pope Francis has sent a telegram of condolences to Bishop Alain Planet of Carcassone and Narbonne in southwest France where four people were killed and 15 injured in a terrorist attack on March 23rd. The Pope said he entrusts to God’s mercy all those who lost their lives and assured their loved ones of his closeness. In particular, he recalled Arnaud Beltrame’s “generous and heroic” gesture as he gave his life to protect the lives of others.

“I renew my condemnation for such acts of violence that cause so much pain and fervently ask the Lord for the gift of peace, invoking on the affected families and on all the people of France God’s blessings.”

The attacker was shot dead by police after the shooting spree that included taking hostages at a supermarket in the town of Trèbes.


Pope Francis also sent a telegram of condolences for the 64 people killed in a deadly fire that swept through the Winter Cherry shopping and entertainment complex in the Siberian city of Kemerovo. Many of the victims were children as the complex is a popular place for family entertainment.

Local media said smoke and flames engulfed a children’s trampoline room and a cinema on the fourth floor. Witnesses said emergency exits were blocked and officials are searching for a security officer who is suspected of turning off a Public Announcement system after he was alerted to the blaze. Four people have been detained for questioning, including the owner of the complex and the head of the company that manages the shopping center.

The telegram, sent in the Pope’s name by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, said, “His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the fire which struck the Winter Cherry complex in Kemerovo, and he offers heartfelt condolences to all those affected by this tragedy. Entrusting the deceased, especially the many children who lost their lives, to the merciful love of God Almighty, His Holiness offers the assurance of his prayers for all who mourn their loss. With the assurance of his spiritual closeness to the authorities and emergency personnel as they assist the injured and continue their search for the missing, Pope Francis invokes upon all the divine blessings of peace and consolation.” (vaticannews.va)



Pope Francis sent the following telegram to Archbishop Leo Cushley upon the death of Cardinal O’Brien:

The Most Reverend Leo W. Cushley, Archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh

I was saddened to learn of the death of His Eminence Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien, and I offer heartfelt condolences to you, his family and all who mourn his passing. Commending his soul to the merciful love of God our Father, and with the assurance of my prayers for the Archdiocese of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace and consolation in our Lord Jesus Christ.


The Holy See Press Office announced today that, on March 29, Holy Thursday, at 4 in the afternoon, Pope Francis will go to Regina Coeli (Queen of Heaven) prison to celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. He will meet with sick prisoners in the infirmary and then celebrate Mass during which he will wash the feet of 12 prisoners from Section VIII.


A new production combines innovation and tradition to lead younger generations to a new appreciation of one of the greatest works of art of all time – the Sistine Chapel.

The famous Last Judgment by Michelangelo is the centrepiece of a new, fully-immersive “live show” at the Conciliazione Auditorium in Rome.

Entitled “Universal Judgment: Michelangelo and the secrets of the Sistine Chapel,” the immersive spectacle features live-performances, 4k projections, and brilliant special effects. The four-part show was produced by Marco Balich, a director and producer famed for organizing ceremonies at the Olympic games.

“Universal Judgment” is the first production of Balich’s “Artainment” company, combining art and entertainment “to educate and amuse, in order to realize the full and harmonious development of the human person,” according to Monsignor Dario Edoardo Viganò, prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication.

The show features a theme song composed by pop star Sting, as well as dancers and acrobats, and an impressive sound system. “We want to imbue the fruition of a work of art with a strong emotional impact,” said Balich, “using the codes that relate to the younger generations that have grown up with Play Station, that go to the movies in 3D, watch Netflix, but are on the other hand almost distracted with respect to this wonderful artistic patrimony.”

The Vatican Museums offered their expertise to ensure the accuracy of the presentation. Experts from the Vatican helped recreate the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel, and offered critical perspective on the relationships between Michelangelo and Popes Julius II and Clement VII; as well as explaining the process of papal conclaves.

The €9 million production opened March 15 at the Conciliazione Auditorium, with two shows per day for at least a year. However, it is hoped that the show will become a permanent fixture in Rome. (vaticannews,va)




Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of State, sent the following telegram to Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami for the victims of the high school attack in Florida:

“His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the tragic shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Assuring all those affected by this devastating attack of his spiritual closeness, he prays that Almighty God may grant eternal rest to the dead and healing and consolation to the wounded and those who grieve. With the hope that such senseless acts of violence may cease, Pope Francis invokes upon all of you the divine blessings of peace and strength.”


Holy See Press Office Director Greg Burke stated today: “In answer to questions from journalists, I can confirm that several times a month the Holy Father meets victims of sexual abuse, both individually and in groups. He listens to the victims and seeks to help them to heal the serious wounds caused by the sex abuse they underwent. The meetings take place in maximum confidentiality in respect for the victims and their suffering.”


Motu Proprio: Learning How To Resign

On 12 February, 2018, Pope Francis signed an Apostolic Letter in the form of a Motu Proprio called “Learning How To Resign” (Imparare a congedarsi), which regulates age-related resignations of holders of honorary titles granted by the Pope

By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

“The conclusion of an ecclesiastical office needs to be considered an integral part of that service, inasmuch as it requires a new form of availability,” Pope Francis writes in the introduction of his Motu Proprio on the theme of resigning from ecclesiastical positions in the Church.

Interior Attitudes

The Pope offers a reflection on certain interior attitudes that are necessary for those who face resignation due to age, as well as for those whose office may be prolonged due to a variety of realities. He invites those preparing to step down from positions of leadership to “discern through prayer how to live the period about to begin, drawing up a new project of life.” To those who may be requested to serve beyond the age of retirement (75 years), Pope Francis says that this “pontifical decision is not automatic, but it is an act of governing, and as a consequence requires the virtue of prudence which will help…to make the appropriate decision.”

While upholding the contents of the Rescriptum ex audientia of 3 November 2014, Pope Francis says that he wants to establish some modifications to article 2 of that document which states: “Resignation from the above-mentioned pastoral offices is effective only from the moment in which it is accepted by the legitimate authority.”

What has changed?

With the present Motu Proprio, Pope Francis makes two changes to previous legislation: 1) After submitting a letter of resignation, the person remains in office until “the acceptance or extension, for a specified or unspecified amount of time, is communicated to the person” (Art 5). This Article is a change to Canon 189 § 3 of the Code of Canon Law and 970 § 1 of the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches. 2) Heads of Dicasteries of the Roman Curia who are not Cardinals, as well as other prelates who hold office in the Holy See, or Papal Representatives do not cease holding office automatically on reaching the age of 75. Rather now they must present their resignation to the Supreme Pontiff who “will decide evaluating the concrete circumstances” (Art 2 and 3).

Pope Francis says in his Motu Proprio that he “became aware of the need to update the norms regarding the times and methods of resignation from office upon reaching the age limit.” And he writes that the clarifications he is making come “after having carried out the necessary consultations.”

Source: http://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-02/pope-apostolic-letter-motu-proprio-learning-how-to-resign.html


Yesterday afternoon, February 14, Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent, Pope Francis processed from the church of Sant’Anselmo to the basilica of Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill, thus renewing a centuries-old Roman tradition of celebrating Mass at what are known here as Lenten station or stational churches.

At San Anselmo, there was a moment of prayer, followed by a penitential procession to the basilica of Santa Sabina. Joining the Pope in the procession were cardinals, archbishops, bishops, the Benedictine monks of San Anselmo, the Dominican Fathers of Santa Sabina and the lay faithful.

In Santa Sabina, the Holy Father then presided at Mass, delivered a homily, after which there was the rite of the blessing and imposition of ashes. The Pope received ashes as well.

The elegant Aventine neighborhood overlooks the Circus Maximus and the Baths of Caracalla. Situated on the Aventine’s Piazza Pietro d’Illyria, the basilica of Santa Sabina (St. Sabina) – chronologically the first Lenten station church – was established at the start of the fifth century by a priest named Peter who was from Illyria.

In 1222 Pope Honorius III gave the adjacent ancient turreted palace of the Crescenzi family to the Dominicans as a monastery and, in fact, over the years both Sts. Dominic and Thomas Aquinas lived here. Modifications and additions in the 16th century basilica altered its appearance.

In the early 1900’s, the church was restored to its original design. It has three aisles and 24 fluted Corinthian columns. Little is left of the original mosaics. In the middle of the nave is the mosaic tombstone dedicated to Munoz de Zamora, master general of the Dominicans and a biographer of St. Dominic. Adjacent to the church is the cloister built by St. Dominic in 1220 and restored between 1936-39.

The practice of station churches had its origins in the first centuries of Christianity when most of the early Popes celebrated the liturgy on special days at special churches in the Eternal City. This eventually became principally a Lenten devotion. In his liturgical reform, Pope St. Gregory the Great, who reigned from 590 to 604, established a station church for each day of Lent, thus making the whole season a pilgrimage on the path to conversion while preparing for Easter. The first Station Church every year is always St. Sabina where the Pope celebrates Ash Wednesday Mass.

In the early days of the Church, Lent was a time in which catechumens began their journey of faith and conversion prior to receiving Baptism.

Part II of the story of Lenten Station Churches will appear here tomorrow.

In the meantime, here is the schedule of station churches for the first week of Lent. This is from the web site of the Pontifical North American College (www.pnac.org) which every Lent published the names of the churches, some history, and usually some photos. The priests and seminarians walk to these churches every day. The distance to the church from NAC and the time NACers will leave the campus is indicated on this table, IE, they left at 6:15am this morning for the 35-minute walk to San Giorgio al Velabro. Sunday Mass is usually at the College.

SAN GIORGIO (photos from romaoggi, Wikipedia and rometour.org)

Wishing you a prayerful pilgrimage and Lent!

Date Lenten Day Church Map Walking time Departure
2/14/2018 Ash Wednesday S. Sabina all’Aventino [Map] 40 min. 5:55 AM
2/15/2018 Thursday S. Giorgio al Velabro [Map] 35 min. 6:15 AM
2/16/2018 Friday Ss. Giovanni e Paolo [Map] 50 min. 6:05 AM
2/17/2018 Saturday S. Agostino [Map] 20 min. 6:30 AM
2/18/2018 Sunday–WEEK I S. Giovanni in Laterano [Map]



My guest this weekend in the interview segment of Vatican Insider is Marianne Mount, president of Catholic Distance University. She was in Rome from Charles Town, West Virginia, to attend a conference on Catholic Fundraising and Pilgrimage.

As the university’s website states, CDU programs integrate inspiring, Catholic content, always faithful to the Church’s teachings, with state-of-the-art learning management technologies that enable you to access your education in the comfort of your home or wherever you choose. Pope John Paul’s Apostolic Constitution Ex corde ecclesiae (from the heart of the church) is the foundational document and teaching for CDU.

CDU is an innovative, online university providing an accessible Catholic education for undergraduates, graduates, and non-degree seeking students. It has been a pioneer since 1983 using flexible, convenient distance technologies to bring high quality educational programs to each learner. (https://cdu.edu)

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. 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 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=


The following telegram was sent by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin on behalf of Pope Francis:

Deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and of injuries caused by the outbreak of the fire in Sejong Hospital, Miryang, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this tragedy. He prays especially for the repose of the deceased and for the healing of those injured. The Holy Father offers encouragement to the civil authorities and emergency personnel as they assist the victims of this disaster, and upon all he willingly invokes the divine blessings of strength and consolation.


This morning, the Holy Father addressed the plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He thanked them for their work, especially “in the various questions that today call for an important pastoral discernment in, for example, examining cases related to graviora delicta and demands for release from the marriage bond in favorem fidei (the so-called Petrine privilege).

Graviora delicta is translated “more grave delict (or crime).” These are external violations against faith and morals or in the celebration of the sacraments. The Church considers such violations so serious that there is a special process to handle them.

The Pope highlighted “the study the congregation has undertaken on several aspects of Christian salvation, with the aim of reaffirming the meaning of redemption in reference to the neo-pelagian and neo-gnostic tendencies of today which are expressions of individualism that relies on its own forces for salvation.

He also mentioned their studies on the ethical implications of an adequate anthropology in the financial-economic field.

“You have also,” said Francis, “studied the delicate question of accompanying the terminally ill. Today’s process of secularisation, as its absolutizes the concept of self-determination and autonomy, has brought to bear in many countries a growing request for euthanasia as an ideological affirmation of the will and power of man over life. Thus, the voluntary interruption of life is seen as a ‘civilized’ choice…:We must always repeat that human life, from conception to its natural end, possesses a dignity that makes it intangible.”

An authentically pastoral action, said the Pope, is “very action where you take a person by the hand when he has lost the sense of his dignity and his destiny, and you lead him with trust to rediscover the loving fatherhood of God, his good destiny and the paths to build a more human world.”

ALSO FRIDAY The Holy Father welcomed members of the Pontifical Theological Academy as it celebrates its third centenary. It was founded by Pope Clement XI on April 23, 1718.


Pope Francis this morning received in audience President Jovenel Moïse of the Republic of Haiti, who subsequently met with Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.

A press office statement noted that, in both meetings, “satisfaction was expressed at the good relations between the Holy See and Haiti. In addition, the common wish to strengthen collaboration was emphasized, in order to face various social problems, especially regarding young people, the poor and the most vulnerable, highlighting the significant contribution that the Church offers to the country in the sectors of education, healthcare and charity. Mention was then made of several matters of national and regional interest, focusing in particular on the persistent problem of emigration and the importance of dialogue to promote social cohesion and the common good.”


Happy New Year!

I am so grateful for all of you who read this column and follow me on Facebook, on my radio program, Vatican Insider and on TV with “Joan’s Rome” videos and my participation in “At Home with Jim and Joy.” I remembered all of you in prayer, those whom I know and those who are unseen, those who asked for prayers for special intentions and those whose intentions remained in their hearts.

As I wrote to a colleague: May 2018 be so special that you will have difficulty finding words to describe it!

I got back to Rome yesterday, following an amazing and fun-filled nine-day Christmas vacation in the Chicago area, meeting up with some cousins, a sister in law, several of my nine nieces and nephews and their children, and the latest of my 23 great nieces, Maren, age 5 months. I also enjoyed spending time with a number of friends from the archdiocese, and made a new friend as well, a fellow member of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.

As I rejoiced over this new life (and another one due in June!), I also mourned the loss of a cousin who died of a heart attack the morning of December 24 as he was on his way to Mass! For me the tragedy of such a sudden death took on a special meaning when I considered that Tom was on his way to Mass! I hope that might ease the pain a bit for Deborah who survives him.

The one thing that bound us all together in those days was the extreme cold! The average temperature was 0 or even a bit below for most of the time I was in Chicago. And that’s not counting the so-called wind chill factor! For the first ten minutes of my taxi ride to the airport on Tuesday, in a residential area, we did not see a single human being! No one, not s single person, walking on the sidewalks, going into or coming out of stores, gas stations, etc. It was quite astounding when you think about it.

As I catch up on work, prepare Vatican Insider for this weekend and get back in the groove with At Home with Jim and Joy, I take more time than normally needed as I continue to learn the new computer, how it has changed so many ways I work, etc. I have a lot of photos I want to post and perhaps even a video I took after sunset in St. Peter’s Square bnut it is quite late and I hear a dinner bell ringing. Or is that hunger pains?

In any case, photos will be posted tomorrow, in particular of the joyful Christmas Day I spent with other volunteers for Catholic Charities as we fed hundreds of homeless! A truly inspirational and very rewarding day!


Pope Francis sent a telegram on Thursday to the apostolic nuncio in Peru to express his condolences for the victims of a deadly bus crash in Peru and to express his closeness to their families.

A bus carrying 55 passengers, the driver and an assistant, plunged 100 feet on Tuesday along a stretch of road known as Devil’s Bend and landed on a rocky isolated stretch of beach north of Lima, with no road access. The Peruvian police said early investigations showed that a truck was also involved in the accident, and Peru’s Minister of Transport tweeted that both vehicles had been travelling at excessive speeds. Police say the truck driver survived the crash and was detained.

As of Thursday, 51 people are known to have died. The Peruvian president said Wednesday he had given orders to widen an alternative route so as to close this dangerous stretch to traffic. In the meantime, busses are banned from using the road.

The papal telegram was sent by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin in the name of Pope Francis. It reads:

“The Holy Father was deeply saddened at the tragic news of the road accident which occurred in Pasamayo, claiming many victims, and offers prayers for the eternal repose of the souls of the deceased. I ask Your Excellency to convey His Holiness’ condolences, along with expressions of consolation to the relatives who mourn such a painful loss, as well as his spirit spiritual closeness to the wounded, while asking the Lord to pour upon them all the gifts of spiritual serenity and Christian hope. As a pledge, the Holy Father imparts his heartfelt apostolic blessing.”


(Prague Radio – English edition) – Pope Francis has given his consent to the transport of the remains of Cardinal Josef Beran to the Czech Republic, the ambassador to the Holy See Pavel Vošalík told the Czech News Agency on Wednesday. Cardinal Beran was persecuted by the Communist regime and was eventually exiled to Rome, where he died in 1969. He was buried in the Vatican because the Czechoslovak communist authorities didn’t approve the return of his body to his homeland. He is the only Czech buried in the crypt of St Peter’s Basilica.

Cardinal Beran, who died May 17, 1969, served as the archbishop of Prague from 1946 until his death and was elevated into the cardinalate in 1965. His cause of canonization commenced in 1997 and this bestowed upon him the title of Servant of God.


I first read the story of the mudslide and subsequent loss of life in Sierra Leone in an email I received from the Healey International Relief Foundation on whose board I sit. I receive a number of email updates throughout the year and also spend time on their web and Facebook pages (the links are in the article below). HIRF has been doing amazing work in Sierra Leone for a number of years, starting with the post civil war period, building up hospitals, clinics, schools for young boys and girls, centers for children mutilated during the war, and much more.

I had read nothing about this mudslide before receiving this email so I did forward it to a few people in the Vatican. The Pope responded yesterday with a telegram, and I added that message to the HIRF article.

As I was about to post this article, I learned of the Barcelona attack that has killed an unknown number of people and injured many more when a person driving a van plowed into a crowd in the busy, very popular tourist avenue, Las Ramblas. I am guessing we will have another papal telegram in coming hours.


Post by: Vicki Middleton HIRF  (Healey International Relief Foundation)

“It is indeed a sad day in Freetown.” These are the words of our in-country director, Ishmeal Charles, as he and others from Caritas-Freetown were on-site to aid the survivors from a deadly mudslide that occurred early Monday, August 14th. (photo from Youtube)

Local reports have the death toll from this horrific mudslide as high as 300 and nearly 3,000 families and children homeless. These numbers are expected to rise in the coming days as rescue and recovery efforts continue. The BBC reports that many may have been asleep when the mudslide occurred and 60 children are possibly among the dead.

Charles described the scene and his feelings,

  The rain started since about 4am this morning. Now we have seen so many people losing their lives and houses.

My pain, my agony and tears are all over all our faces. So sad Sierra Leone is from one trouble to another. (photo Reuters)

Seeing so many people trying to protect their houses, old, young and children. To sad to be real.

We are out here in the field.

The rainy season in Sierra Leone lasts from June to August, with heaviest rains in August. The rains and inadequate drainage system often result in frequent flooding in Freetown during this time. In 2015, 10 people were killed by the floods and thousands left homeless.

Summarizing the situation Charles said, “It has never been this bad. I have lived here all my life, this is the worst I have ever seen in my lifetime.” He continued, “We are not able to describe well the terrible conditions.”

Click here to listen to Charles describe the situation. The interview starts at 18:28.

In the days and weeks ahead we will be working with our in-country partner Caritas-Freetown to help those who are suffering from this tragedy rebuild their lives. Click below on our Facebook and Twitter links to stay up-to-date on the situation in Sierra Leone and our efforts to help. http://hirf.net/aboutus/   and Facebook:


Pope Francis, through Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, send the following telegram to Archbishop Charles Edward Tamba of Freetown:

“Deeply saddened by the devastating consequences of the mudslide on the outskirts of Freetown, His Holiness Pope Francis assures those who have lost loved ones of his closeness at this difficult time.  He prays for all who have died, and upon their grieving families and friends he invokes the divine blessings of strength and consolation.  His Holiness likewise expresses his prayerful solidarity with the rescue workers and all involved in providing the much needed relief and support to the victims of this disaster.”