On my first trip to Iraq, I visited all 6 dioceses in the northern region of Kurdistan. I spent an afternoon at a parish and the Mar Aoraha Chaldean shrine in the diocese and region of Zakho, the northwestern-most part of Kurdistan. In this photo, the pastor is indicating the shrine and telling me that, beyond the sign we are looking at, is the precise geographical point where Iraq, Turkey and Syria meet. Turkey and Syria, of course, are the two countries most affected by today’s earthquake.

Syria on the far left, Turkey on the right

Some photos of the shrine and adjacent area –

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Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin sent two separate telegrams today in Pope Francis’ name to Abp. Marek Solczyński, apostolic nuncio in Turkey and to Cardinal Mario Zenari apostolic nuncio in Syria, for the devastating earthquakes that have caused great loss of life and untold damage to structures.

The telegram to Abp. Solczyński said the Pope “was deeply saddened to learn of the huge loss of life caused by the earthquake in the area of south-eastern Türkiye, and he sends the assurance of his spiritual closeness to all those affected. Entrusting those who have died to the loving mercy of the Almighty, he sends heartfelt condolences to those who mourn their loss. His Holiness likewise prays that the emergency personnel will be sustained in their care of the injured and in the ongoing relief efforts by the divine gifts of fortitude and perseverance.”

In the separate telegram to Cardinal Zenari in Syria, the Holy Father expressed his sadness at “the significant loss of life caused by the earthquake in the area of north-western Syria,” and offered “heartfelt prayers for the souls of the deceased and for all who mourn them. Entrusting those affected by this disaster to the providence of the Almighty,” he offered prayers “in particular for the emergency personnel involved in the ongoing relief efforts” and he invoked “upon the long-suffering Syrian people the divine blessings of strength and peace.”


Sunday afternoon, February 5, on the flight from South Sudan back to Rome, Pope Francis was joined by Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury and Rev. Iain Greenshields, Moderator of the Church of Scotland for the traditional in-flight press conference with the 70 plus journalists on the papal plane.

The Pope answered questions on the criminalization of homosexual people, the late Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, an agreement signed in 2016 between the Holy See and the DRC on education and health, the United Nations and models of intervention (is a new one needed?), the war in Ukraine (would the Pope meet with Putin?), papal health, his energy, future trips in an era of “globalization of indifference.”

Vatican News carried a lengthy summary of the press conference: Pope: ‘Entire world is at war and in self-destruction’ – Vatican News



Yesterday was Martin Luther King Day in the U.S. and was a holiday for EWTN staff so I had a day off and it was wonderful, as days off should be! The entire Rome EWTN bureau celebrated the exceptional work undertaken in the week of Benedict XVI’s death and funeral and the Epiphany with a wonderful buffet lunch in one of the larger meetings rooms available for such events.

It is always great to spend time with the extremely talented people of the Rome bureau, to catch up on family news, children and new babies, impending weddings, interviews and documentaries planned, and so on. So many of these people are always behind the cameras. They are the people you don’t see but the ones who bring all the great images and stories that you do see on EWTN.

Before I move on, I want to share something with you that is considered an important part of Pope Benedict’s legacy:


Pope Francis is scheduled to leave for Africa on January 31st, visiting the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DCR) and South Sudan. In South Sudan, it will be an ecumenical pilgrimage as he will be joined by the archbishop of Canterbury and by the moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The trip, originally scheduled for July 2022, had to be postponed on advice of the papal doctors.

Monday, in a telegram, the Pope decried an attack on a Pentecostal church in the DRC that killed at least 14 people and wounded over 40 others. Vatican news reported that the so-called Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, and the Congolese army blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which is allied to ISIS. The telegram, sent by Cardinal secretary of State Pietro Parolin in the Pope’s name, was addressed to Rev. André Bokundoa-Bo-Likabe, President of the Church of Christ in Congo.

In an interview with Vatican News following the bombing, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Archbishop Ettore Balestrero, said the attack sent a worrying signal, “even more so because it confirms the involution of the situation on the ground.” People of DR Congo await ‘healing’ from Pope’s upcoming visit – Vatican News

(Vatican news also reported that Pope Francis has expressed his condolences for the deaths of at least 70 people who were killed on Sunday in a plane crash in the South Asian nation of Nepal)


UPDATE….I was briefly outside (where it was warmer than my apartment which is 64 degrees) and learned that it was the government that decided that heat could be turned on on November 21st, not the 8th as I wrote below, so the Vatican was merely going along with Italian rules.


Honolulu to Rome – 11 time zones, 4 airports and 9,576 miles! The trip to Hawaii was Rome to Newark, then Newark non-stop to Honolulu (9,249 miles). Thank the Lord I have a great Frequent Flyer program with United!

I am safely back in Rome and I think we all know that, after a wonderful trip, long or short, there is something special about arriving home, with perhaps having our own bed and pillow being the best thing.

However, I arrived back to a Rome that was colder than when I left. The heat has not yet been turned on in my building and I am soooo cold! The temps really drop when the sun goes down! I learned this morning that the Vatican, which owns my building, will only give permission to provide heat on November 21st!!

Turning the heat on in the fall and off in the spring has always been a government decision in Italy. Because of the gas and oil crises this year, the Italian government had given permission to have the heat go on in the region of Lazio on November 8 but privately owned homes and businesses could decide their own time frame for turning on the heat, thus the Vatican decision. Heat can be turned on earlier in the typically colder northern regions and a bit later in the usually warmer southern.

As I write, I am wearing 3 layers of wool and have a warm scarf around my neck. I have a small electric heater that I turned on just outside my bathroom door to make it possible to shower and dress. My AC unit also provides heat so I can turn that on for brief spells in my office, Deo gratias!

This plaque in my office has a new meaning today!

I did see a news story today that reported that Prince Harry was at Pearl Harbor on Friday, Veterans day – and so was I but our paths did not cross, He visited the Arizona monument and at one point I was filming it from the dock of the Missouri but…..the twain did not meet!

And now a few stories from Sunday and Monday….


PAPAL TELEGRAM OF CONDOLENCES FOR VICTIMS OF EXPLOSION IN ISTANBUL – In a telegram signed by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and addressed to the Apostolic Nuncio in Türkiye, Archbishop Marek Solczyński, on Tuesday, Pope Francis expressed his deep sadness upon learning of the deaths and injuries caused by the explosion of a bomb in Istanbul on Sunday. Pope Francis “sends condolences to the families and friends of those who have died, assuring the injured and those who mourn their loved ones of his spiritual closeness,” the message reads.  The Pope said he offers his prayers so “that no act of violence will discourage the efforts of the people of Türkiye to build a society based on the values of fraternity, justice and peace.” The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, also expressed “firm condemnation” of the attack and, according to local media reports, went to the scene of the bombing to remember the victims. Pope sends condolences to victims of Istanbul explosion – Vatican News

IN A LETTER TO ARCHBISHOP OF BARCELONA, POPE FRANCIS DISCUSSES ST IGNATIUS’ CONVERSION, AND SPIRITUAL EXERCISES – Exactly five hundred years ago on Monday, St Ignatius arrived in Barcelona, a city which played an important role in his formation. To mark the occasion, Pope Francis sent a letter to Cardinal Archbishop Juan José Omella Omella of Barcelona, in which he examines the saint’s conversion and his famed Spiritual Exercises. Pope Francis began his letter by vividly evoking the event being commemorated.   Five hundred years ago today, he wrote, “Our protagonist, having served the king and his convictions to the point of shedding his blood, was wounded in body and spirit, had stripped himself of everything, and was determined to follow Christ in poverty and humility.” “It mattered little to him,” the Pope continued, “whether he stayed in houses for the poor, or had to withdraw into a cave to pray, and least of all that this meant being ‘esteemed vain and mad’ (S.E. 167).” Pope: May we turn wars, plagues into opportunities for conversion – Vatican News

POPE ADDRESSES MEMBERS OF DICASTERY FOR COMMUNICATION – Pope Francis spoke with members and employees of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication as they meet in plenary session, and urged media professionals to let their heart and Christian values shine through in their work. The Pope gave his prepared remarks to Dr. Paolo Ruffini, the Dicastery’s Prefect, and then spoke off-the-cuff, so that he could offer something “more spontaneous and uncensored, which is more fun!” He offered his reflections on the importance of communication, calling it a “round trip”. “There is no one-way communication: it goes and comes back; it goes and comes back. And in this we too grow.” Pope Francis: ‘Media professionals must engage with audience’ – Vatican News

POPE FRANCIS MET WITH SOCCER PLAYERS AHEAD OF A MATCH IN ROME’S OLYMPIC STADIUM. The third edition of the 2022 Match for Peace, organized by the Pontifical Foundation Scholas Occurrentes, took place on Monday evening at Rome’s Olympic Stadium, with the support and blessing of Pope Francis. Ahead of the match, the Pope greeted the world-renowned soccer players, organizers and their families, in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall. The Holy Father thanked the athletes for sowing seeds of peace in a world marked by war. Peace, the Pope said, is the fruit of gestures like theirs, namely “of closeness, friendship, the outstretched hand,” and “not with the stone in your hand to throw it.” These “seeds of peace,” he said, may be small, but “are capable of changing the world.” “Thank you for this that you do, for today’s game, because you say, ‘We want peace’, in a world that always looks for wars and destruction.” Pope thanks ‘Match for Peace’ players for offering outstretched hand – Vatican News





To all my American family members and friends, have a wonderful, happy and safe Labor Day celebration on Monday!


Here we are, a new month and a new edition of Vatican Insider. But you know my guest in the interview segment, Msgr. Tom Powers, the new rector of the Pontifical North American College because Part I of our conversation aired last week, He told us how he was invited to be rector, stating “My priesthood has been one of saying yes to the Church.” He also explained all the duties of a rector.

This week 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.”

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: go to https://www.ewtn.com/radio/audio-archive and write the name of the guest for whom you are searching in the SEARCH box. Below that, will appear “Vatican Insider” – click on that and the link to that particular episode will appear.


Pope Francis sends a telegram expressing his solidarity to Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the vice president of Argentina, after she narrowly survived an attempt on her life.

By Benedict Mayaki, SJ (vaticannews)

Pope Francis has sent a message of closeness to Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina, following reports of an attack on her on Thursday.

“Having received the disturbing news of the attack that Your Excellency suffered yesterday afternoon, I wish to express my solidarity and closeness in this delicate moment,” the Pope said in a telegram on Friday.

The Pope prayed that, “social harmony and respect for democratic values may prevail in dear Argentina, against all types of violence and aggression.” (APF photo or licensor)

Assassination attempt

The Argentine Vice President narrowly survived an assassination attempt late Thursday, after a gunman’s weapon failed to fire as he aimed at her.

Footage circulating online shows Fernández de Kirchner surrounded by a mob of supporters as a hand appears from the crowd holding a gun pointed at her face at close range. The weapon did not discharge and Fernández can be seen flinching and ducking.

Police said the gunman, identified as a 35-year-old Brazilian, has been taken into custody, according to the BBC.

Authorities are still attempting to establish a motive for the attack on the vice president.




Following is the telegram of condolences that Pope Francis sent to His Holiness Tawadros II, Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church, for the many victims of a fire in a Coptic church in Giza, Egypt. It was sent in the Pope’s name by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin:

His Holiness Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark,

His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened upon being informed of the recent fire at Abu Sefein church in Giza which caused the deaths of so many, including a number of children and Bishop Abdul Bahkit. In offering heartfelt condolences and the assurance of spiritual closeness to the injured and those affected by this tragedy, His Holiness entrusts the victims and their families to the merciful love of Almighty God and invokes upon all consolation and strength in the Lord.      Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State

A CNA news story reported that 35 children between two and six years of age were among the victims of the blaze that ripped through the Church of Saint Mercurius (known in Arabic as Abu Sefein), reported ACI MENA, CNA’s partner agency for the Middle East and Northern Africa.

In fact, twins and triplets were among the young victims.

The cause of the blaze has so far not been established. Reuters reported that an electrical fire broke out at the church where people gathered during the Divine Liturgy celebration. The blaze reportedly blocked the exit from the church and caused a stampede.



Just in: Following is the papal telegram sent by Pope Francis to Archbishop Bernard Bober of Kosice, Slovakia with a copy to Msgr. Jan Dubina of the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, Vatican City. Cardinal Tomko will be buried in Kosice.

“In learning the news of the death of Cardinal Jozef Tomko, illustrious of this land, I wish to express to members of his family, to you, to the priests and to all the faithful my closeness and my condolences for the mourning that has struck the ecclesial community and the Slovak nation. In remembering this appreciated and wise brother who, supported by deep faith and a far-sighted gaze, served the Gospel and the Church with humility and self-denial, I think with gratitude of his long and fruitful work in the Holy See as a diligent and prudent collaborator of my predecessors. I also think of his prayerful spirit that saw him, at an advanced age, remain assiduous at the daily evening recitation of the rosary in St. Peter’s Square, giving pilgrims and tourists a beautiful and public testimony of love for the Holy Virgin. I ask the Lord to welcome this faithful servant of his to heavenly Jerusalem, and I cordially impart my blessing to those who mourn his departure, with a thought of gratitude for the Sisters of Mercy of St. Vincent de Paul Satma’rok who took such thoughtful care of him.”



You will really want to read this excellent piece by Bishop Robert Barron. You’ll probably end up wondering why we have not been inundated with similar cogent statements from more bishops. Our Catholic President and the Most Pressing Moral Issue of Our Time – Word on Fire


CARDINAL JOZEF TOMKO DIES AT 98 – Cardinal Jozef Tomko, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, died in Rome at 5 a.m. on Monday, 8 August, aged 98. The Slovak-born Cardinal was the oldest member of the College of Cardinals. He was created a Cardinal in 1985 by Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Tomko died in his apartment in Rome, where he was cared for by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. He had been admitted to Rome’s Gemelli hospital on June 25 due to an injury to his cervical spine, and he had returned home on Saturday, August 6, to continue his in-home care, with a dedicated nurse. CONTINUE: Cardinal Jozef Tomko dies at 98 – Vatican News

POPE PRAYS FOR VICTIMS OF MASSIVE BLAZE AT CUBAN FUEL DEPOT – In a telegram, Pope Francis conveys his closeness and prays for those affected by a huge fire, caused by lightning strikes on the Matanzas Supertanker Base in Cuba. Pope Francis has expressed his closeness to the Cuban people and the loved ones of those affected by the massive oil-fed fire at Cuba’s Supertanker port in Matanzas over the weekend. The blaze began on Friday night after lightning struck a fuel storage tank at a depot in Matanzas. The fire spread to a second storage tank on Saturday morning, triggering further explosions. As of Sunday, Cuba appeared to have made some progress in bringing the fire under control, with the help of special teams sent by other countries. According to news reports, at least one person died, 17 firefighters are missing and 121 people have been hurt in the fire. CONTINUE: Pope prays for victims of massive blaze at Cuban fuel depot – Vatican News

POPE PRAYS FOR VICTIMS OF BUS CRASH IN CROATIA – Pope Francis offers prayers for Polish travelers who died in a bus crash on Saturday in Croatia, as they were headed on pilgrimage to Medjugorje. Praying that Our Lady intercede for the victims and their families, Pope Francis remembered the Polish pilgrims who perished in a bus crash in Croatia on Saturday morning. The bus was taking them on pilgrimage to Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina. At least 12 people were killed, and another 32 were injured. Speaking after the recitation of the Sunday Angelus, the Pope expressed his condolences over the incident, offering prayers for all those who died, the injuried and their families. “I learned with sorrow the news of the bus crash yesterday morning in Croatia. Several Polish pilgrims on their way to Medjugorje lost their lives and others were injured. May Our Lady intercede for them and their families.” CONTINUE: Pope prays for victims of bus crash in Croatia – Vatican News

BISHOPS IN NICARAGUA ‘CLOSE’ TO BISHOP ALVAREZ UNDER HOUSE ARREST- In a statement released on Sunday, the Nicaragua’s Catholic Bishops express their fraternal closeness to the Bishop of northern Nicaraguan Diocese of Matagalpa, who has been stuck in his residence since Thursday under the accusation of allegedly inciting acts of violence. As he continues to be held under house arrest, the Bishops’ Conference of Nicaragua (CEN) have expressed their “fraternal” closeness, “amity and episcopal communion” with Bishop Rolando José Álvarez of Matagalpa. The outspoken bishop has been prevented from leaving his home since August 4, when the police stopped him from going to the local Cathedral to celebrate Mass after he voiced criticism over the government’s closing of five Catholic radio stations earlier last week. CONTINUE: Bishops in Nicaragua ‘close’ to Bishop Alvarez under house arrest – Vatican News

GALANTINO ON APSA FINANCIAL STATEMENT: CREDIBILITY IN SERVICE OF CHURCH’S MISSION – The president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) explains the 2021 Financial Statement in an interview with Vatican Media, noting a surplus of 8.11 million Euro and highlighting that the main objective remains evangelizing and providing aid to tenants in need. For the second consecutive year, APSA publishes its financial statement under the banner of total transparency. Bishop Nunzio Galantino, APSA president discusses the key figures of the 2021 Financial Statement, recalling that, as Pope Francis says in Praedicate evangelium, evangelization is a central priority of all Holy See entities. For this, credibility and earning the trust of those who use their talents and resources for the Church’s mission are crucial. Of the 38.11 million Euro operational income and the 30 million Euro allocated to the Curia, there is a surplus of 8.11 million Euro…. Q: Bishop Galantino, this is the second time the APSA financial statement has been published. Why has this not been done in previous years? CONTINUE: Galantino on APSA financial statement: Credibility in service of Church’s mission – Vatican News




Pope Francis decries a shooting in which six people were killed and over 30 injured at a Fourth of July parade in the northern Chicago suburb of Highland Park.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov (vaticannews)

Pope Francis has decried the tragic shootings that killed six and wounded some 30 others during a Fourth of July parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park on Monday, appealing for a rejection of all forms of violence, and a respect for life at all its stages.

The Holy Father did so in a telegram sent to the archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Blase Cupich. In the telegram, sent on the Pope’s behalf by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, he said he was “deeply saddened” to learn “of the senseless shooting” that took place in the U.S., and asked the cardinal to convey his spiritual closeness to all affected by this attack.

Appeal to reject violence and respect life

The Pope said he “joins the entire community in praying that Almighty God will grant eternal rest to the dead and healing and consolation to the injured and bereaved.”

“With unwavering faith that the grace of God is able to convert even the hardest of hearts, making it possible to depart from evil and do good,” Pope Francis prayed “that every member of society will reject violence in all of its forms and respect life in all of its stages.”

Pope Francis concluded, by sending his Apostolic Blessing “as a pledge of strength and peace in the Lord.”

U.S. Shootings

On Monday, a gunman on a rooftop opened fire on an Independence Day parade in the affluent northern Chicago suburb killing at least six people and wounding at least 30 others.

Police identified Robert E. Crimo III as a person of interest in the shooting and, after an hours-long manhunt, the suspect was taken into police custody.

The July 4 shooting marks the latest tragic shooting in the country, and takes place in the light of hundreds of others during 2022 that have plagued schools, churches, grocery stores and now community parades.



I stole some time today to watch some of the royal events in London marking Queen Elizabeth’s 70th anniversary on the throne, her Platinum Jubilee. Beautiful tradition, pageantry and protocol – and a unique, remarkable woman at the center! Such fun to watch! As I watched, I thought back to 1980: I remember being in the San Damaso courtyard in Vatican City when Queen Elizabeth came to the Vatican in 1980. I took a few photos but also had a video camera and started filming but had to stop as I was not accredited at the time as a photographer!  I wonder where on earth that video is!  Will try to find it!  I remember being VERY impressed with the car that brought the Queen and Prince Philip into the courtyard, especially because it had both the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom and the flag of Vatican City State!  I did not know if that was usual protocol but I remember being impressed!

Now, read on…

Muslim and Protestant politicians receive Communion at German Catholic event | Catholic News Agency

How excruciatingly sad!

No wonder that the faithful are confused about the Catholic Church. The basic teachings of the Catholic faith today appear to vary from country, from diocese to diocese!

We profess to be the “one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church.”

Nota bene that that line in the Creed begins with the word “one.”

Right now it does not seem that we are “one.”

So people are asking: Who is right? Who (priest, bishop or cardinal) is following and teaching the Church’s Magisterium? Canon Law?   Who is not? Who is tweaking that teaching to be something else?

If we are “one,” can we have a bishop who cites Canon 915 (“Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion”) to ban a member of the faithful from communion, and other bishops who allow those who “persist in manifest grave sin” to go to communion?

What am I to think as a Catholic? Is that not beyond confusing for faithful Catholics who follow the Church’s Magisterium?

The Church’s teaching, her orthodoxy, her Magisterium are out there for all to see, read and know. It’s called Canon Law. It’s called the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It’s even called the Bible!

The vatican.va website offers a resource page: The Holy See – Archive (vatican.va)

Don’t be put off by the amount of materials offered here for your study. If you have a specific question, choose a resource (most likely, Canon Law or the catechism) and ask that question. You might actually find that reading a bit of Canon Law is not only instructive, it can be very interesting! Those are the materials I use when I prepare articles for this page, explain papal documents, homilies or other communications as well as answer your questions.


Today, the start of four days of celebration for Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee for her 70 years on the throne, Pope Francis sent a telegram of congratulations and prayers to the monarch.

“On this joyful occasion of your Majesty’s birthday,” began the Holy Father, “and as you celebrate this Platinum Jubilee year, I send cordial greetings and good wishes, together with the renewed assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will bestow upon you, the members of the Royal Family and all the people of the nation blessings of unity, prosperity and peace.”

Vatican news added that, “The Pope also said he joined with those expressing appreciation for her persevering and steadfast service to the good of the nation, “the advancement of its people, and the preservation of its illustrious spiritual, cultural and political heritage.”

The Vatican report also noted that, in recognition of the monarch’s commitment to the care of God’s creation, Pope Francis is donating a Cedar of Lebanon to the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative. This invited people throughout the United Kingdom to “Plant a Tree for the Jubilee.”

Pope Francis met the Queen and her late husband Prince Philip, in 2014. She first visited the Vatican in 1951 as a princess and met Pope Pius XII. (Vatican photo)

As Queen, Elizabeth has met four Popes. On May 5, 1961, she was received by Pope John XXIII at the Vatican. In 1980, on a state visit to the Vatican, she met Pope John Paul II for the first time. In 1982, John Paul visited Great Britain where the two met again. In 2000, for the Great Jubilee, Queen Elizabeth again visited the Vatican and John Paul II. She met Pope Benedict on his 2010 visit to Great Britain: the two met in Edinburgh, Scotland. As noted, the Queen and Prince Philip were welcomed by Pope Francis in 2014.


David Sassoli, president of the European Parliament, died early this morning and reverberations were immediately felt around the EU. Tributes poured in to his office and family, describing him as a remarkable, immensely respected, even-keeled man of good judgment, with a sincere love of Europe and a desire to see it go forward in unity and peace.

The sentiments in the papal message of both praise and condolences were echoed in many languages and many countries throughout the day.


In a telegram of condolences following the death of David Sassoli, Pope Francis recalls the many virtues of the man, the journalist, the politician who was universally acclaimed as a sincere and passionate promoter of the EU’s identity.

By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)

In a telegram addressed to Alessandra Vittorini, wife of David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament, who died in the early hours of Tuesday morning following a serious illness, Pope Francis said he remembers him as a man of faith “animated by hope and charity.”

The message, signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin on the Pope’s behalf, expressed the Holy Father’s spiritual closeness at this time of sorrow, and assured Sassoli’s wife and two children of his heartfelt participation in the mourning that has struck Italy and the European Union.

Sassoli, 65, became President of the 705-seat European Parliament in July 2019. He was the second Italian president since the assembly was elected by universal suffrage. He was widely respected for being a strong defender of the EU’s core values, invoking a return to the spirit of its founders based on the rejection of conflict and nationalism and the promotion of peace and equality.

Pope Francis, who met him on various institutional occasions, said he remembers him as a man of faith, “animated by hope and charity, a competent journalist and an esteemed man of the institutions who, calmly and respectfully, in his public role and responsibility, did his utmost for the common good with rectitude and generous commitment. He described him as a politician who always promoted a vision of solidarity of the European community with lucidity and passion, and dedicated himself with particular care to the least.”

He concluded by raising prayers of suffrage and invoking the Risen Lord’s eternal peace and consolation for those who mourn his passing.

Pope Francis and Sassoli

On December 17 last, marking Pope Francis’ 85th birthday, David Sassoli had sent his best wishes to the Pontiff in an interview with Vatican Radio.

On that occasion, the President of the EU Parliament described Francis’ pontificate as a “magisterium that speaks to the world.” He also reiterated his pledge to work for a European Union that welcomes and protects migrants and the most vulnerable members of society, as discussed with the Pope during an audience in the Vatican in June. He also upheld Pope Francis’ appeal to guarantee a fair distribution of anti-Covid vaccines in the global south.

The EU in mourning

Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, released a statement following news of Sassoli’s death in which he described him as “a symbol of balance, humanity and generosity.” Qualities, Draghi said, that have always been recognised by all his colleagues, from every political quarter and every European country.

Flags at EU institutions were lowered to half-mast as praise for Sassoli poured in from across the political spectrum.

European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen, a conservative who secured Sassoli’s backing within the EU parliament despite coming from different camps, said she had lost a dear friend.

“Today is a sad day for Europe. Our union loses a passionate European, a sincere democrat and a good man,” she told reporters. “He wanted Europe to be more united, closer to its people, more faithful to our values.”