If by chance you did not know St. Rita before today, be sure to dedicate a few minutes to learning about her amazing life through this link: St. Rita of Cascia, Peacemaker | Franciscan Media

I’ve visited her shrine in Cascia and it is definitely worth a side trip if this Umbrian town is not on your Italian itinerary. Here is a Vatican media photo of the tomb with her incorrupt body where pilgrims venerate and pray to her.

A prayer to St. Rita, patronness of helpless causes: “O powerful St. Rita, rightly called Saint of the Impossible, I come to you with confidence in my great need. You know well my trials, for you yourself were many times burdened in this life. Come to my help, speak for me, pray with me, intercede on my behalf before the Father.”

Her body was brought to Rome in May of the 2000 Holy Year, the centenary of her canonization. Here is a link to the speech of Pope John Paul on May 20, 2000 to the pilgrims in town for the Jubilee and commemoration of St. Rita (and 2 days after his 80th birthday!): To the pilgrims gathered to venerate Saint Rita of Cascia and to the Cavalieri del Lavoro (May 20, 2000) | John Paul II (


The Vatican announced today that Pope Francis will be in Lisbon, Portugal for the 2023 World Youth Day from August 2 to 6, including a side trip to the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima on August 5.

Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni said, “”On the occasion of the next World Youth Day, and accepting the invitation of the civil and ecclesial authorities of Portugal, His Holiness Pope Francis will travel to Lisbon from 2-6 August of this year, making a visit to the Shrine of Fatima on 5 August.”

Pope Francis previously visited Fatima May 12 and 13, 2017 on the centenary of the apparitions to the three young Portuguese children.




In his May 2023 prayer intention:, Pope Francis prays that ecclesial movements and groups might daily rediscover their evangelizing mission. He calls them a “gift” and a “treasure” in the Church. CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO: Pope’s May prayer intention: For ecclesial movements and groups – Vatican News


I find these in-flight pressers, as well as interviews of Pope Francis by individual journalists, quite revealing for many reasons. Often they offer far more information on a particular issue than the Vatican news does on the same story. One example: we usually learn more about papal health issues, treatment and medications from the Holy Father himself than from official sources, as you can see from Francis’ answer to Aura Miguel about his March health scare.

PAPAL HEALTH:  Aura Maria Vistas Miguel, of Portugal’s Rádio Renascença asked the Holy Father: Your next stop is Lisbon. How do you feel about your health? We were taken by surprise when you went to hospital; you said you fainted. So do you feel you have the energy to go to World Youth Day? And would you like an event with a Ukrainian and a Russian youth as a sign for the new generations?

Pope Francis: First of all, [my] health. What I had was a sudden, strong illness at the end of the (March 29) Wednesday Audience. I didn’t feel like having lunch; I laid down for a bit. I didn’t lose consciousness, but yes, I had a very high fever and at three in the afternoon the doctor immediately took me to hospital. I had severe acute pneumonia in the lower part of the lung—thank God, I can tell you about it—to such an extent that the organism, the body, responded well. Thank God. This is what I had.

About Lisbon: The day before I left I spoke with Bishop Americo [Aguiar, auxiliary bishop of Lisbon], who came to see how things are there. I will go. I will go. I hope to make it. You can see that it is not the same as two years ago, with the cane. Now it is better. For the moment the trip is not cancelled.

A SECRET PEACE MISSION FOR UKRAINE? Eliana Ruggiero, an Italian journalist, asked Francis: If somehow (Metropolitan Hilarion and also (Hungarian Prime Minister) Viktor Orbán could accelerate the peace process in Ukraine and also make a meeting between you and Putin possible, if they could act “as intermediaries”?

Pope Francis: You can imagine that in this meeting we not only talked about Little Red Riding Hood, right? We talked about all these things (migrants, open borders). We talked about this because everyone is interested in the road to peace. I am willing. I am willing to do whatever needs to be done. Also, there is a mission going on now, but it is not public yet. Let’s see how … When it is public I will talk about it.

He also said: “Metropolitan Hilarion is someone I respect very much, and we have always had a good relationship. And he was kind enough to come and see me, then he came to the Mass, and I saw him here at the airport as well. Hilarion is an intelligent person with whom one can talk, and these relationships need to be maintained, because if we talk about ecumenism – I like this, I don’t like this – we must have an outstretched hand with everyone, even receive their hand.

“With Patriarch Kirill I have spoken only once since the war began, 40 minutes via zoom, then through Anthony, who is in Hilarion’s place now, who comes to see me. He is a bishop who was a parish priest in Rome and knows the environment well, and always through him I am in connection with Kirill.

“There was a meeting that we were to have in Jerusalem in July or June last year, but it was suspended because of the war: that will have to take place. And then, with the Russians I have a good relationship with the ambassador who is now leaving; he has been the ambassador in the Vatican for seven years, he is a great man, a man comme il faut, a serious, cultured and balanced person. My relationship with the Russians is mainly with this ambassador.”


PAPAL HEALTH: On May 1, 2023, Catholic Culture had this report, with additional background information so that the papal remarks can be put in perspective:

Pope Francis discussed the illness that led to his brief hospitalization late in March, during an exchange with reporters on his return flight from Hungary.

“I had severe acute pneumonia,” the Pope revealed.

That explanation contradicts statements issued by Vatican officials during the Pope’s stay in the Gemelli Hospital. The Vatican had originally attributed the Pope’s hospitalization to a “respiratory infection,” and later to “bronchitis”—specifically denying that he suffered from pneumonia.

Last week a friend reported that the Pope had been unconscious when he arrived at the hospital. Pope Francis contradicted that report as well. “I didn’t lose consciousness,” he said, but he said, “I had a very high fever.”

Pope Francis responded quickly to treatment in the hospital. He was discharged after three days, and quickly resumed his normal schedule, showing no lingering signs of his bout with the disease.

Just two days after he was rushed to the hospital, after suffering breathing difficulties following a public audience on March 29, the Pope was feeling well enough to visit a ward for pediatric cancer patients—a visit that would not likely have been approved if the Pontiff had a contagious disease. Pneumonia is not regarded as contagious if it is the result of chronic bronchitis. Vatican reporters have speculated that the Pope’s dramatic gain in weight in recent months is the result of steroid treatment to combat chronic bronchitis. The Vatican has not directly addressed that speculation.


Also Catholic Culture: Pope Francis said that the Vatican is involved in a secret mission to bring peace to Ukraine, in an exchange with reporters during his flight home from a visit to Hungary.

“There is a mission underway now, but it is not yet public,” the Pope said. He declined to say more about the effort. “When it is public, will reveal it,” he said.

The Pope stressed that he is “available to do anything” for the cause of peace. He sidestepped questions about whether he had pursued his secret mission during his three-day visit to Hungary.

During the trip the Pope met with Metropolitan Hilarion, who was once the chief foreign-affairs official of the Russian Orthodox Church. However Hilarion was removed from that post after criticizing the Russian offensive in Ukraine, which the Moscow Patriarchate has supported.

During his in-flight interview he Pope appeared to indicate that he was not in close touch with the current leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church, saying that he had “spoken only once since the war began” with the Russian Patriarch Kirill. Speaking highly of Aleksandr Avdeyev, the Russian ambassador to the Holy See, the Pope said: “My relationship with the Russians is mainly with this ambassador.”

CNN, on the other hand, reports that Ukraine is not aware of Pope Francis’ peace initiative to end the war that he announced on his way back to Rome from Hungary. CNN cites an anonymous Ukrainian official close to the Office of the President of Ukraine who reportedly said, “”President Zelenskyy has not consented to any such discussions on Ukraine’s behalf. If talks are happening, they are happening without our knowledge or our blessing.”


I had a wonderful encounter this afternoon with Fr. Don Calloway when he celebrated Mass at a Roman parish near my home for a group of American pilgrims, many in Italy for the first time!

I had seen his FB post last night about a pilgrimage (they all arrived this morning) and wrote to ask if there was time for us to finally meet in person! His answer was: 4 pm Mass at Santa Maria delle Grazie alle Fornaci!

It was a wonderful meeting, all the more special because we met in a church for the Eucharist, and also the fact that today is the feast of St. Joseph the Worker and you know how special St. Joseph is in his life! His wonderful book, “Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of our Spiritual Father,” is everything you ever wanted to know about St. Joseph and has so much in it you never dreamed you had to know!

Fr. Calloway’s words, his portrait of Joseph, made this saint shoot to the top of my list of favorite saints. St. Joseph is a huge part now of my everyday life and I’ve posted many a photo of the “sleeping St. Joseph” I have on my desk!

And this is my favorite St. Joseph the Worker image!

By the way, Fr. Calloway’s newest book is “Eucharistic Gems: Daily Wisdom on the Blessed Sacrament.”


Pope Francis speaks to journalists traveling with him on the return flight to Rome from his Apostolic Journey to Hungary, and discusses the Holy See’s efforts to facilitate a truce in Ukraine and the return of Ukrainian children from Russia, as well as his recent hospitalization and recovery.

 By Vatican News

In his traditional press conference aboard the return flight to Rome from Budapest, Pope Francis spoke to reporters about a range of issues.

These included the Holy See’s efforts to facilitate the return to Ukraine of Ukrainian children taken to Russia during the war, hopes for peace, and contacts with the Kremlin, along with ecumenical dialogue. He also mentioned his health following his hospitalization at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital the week before Palm Sunday.

The Pope also spoke about the return of the Parthenon artifacts to Greece, calling it an example for similar gestures in the future.

The following is a working translation of the Pope’s in-flight press conference from the original Italian.

FOR FULL STORY: Pope: Holy See will work to return Ukrainian children taken to Russia – Vatican News



Who can forget hearing Pope Benedict announce his resignation of the papacy on February 11, 2013 and then, in one of the most moving, touching, memorable videos of a papacy, fly over Vatican City in a helicopter for Castelgandolfo where he would reside for several months.

The Sede vacante began at 8 pm, February 28, 2013.

Do you remember?

I certainly do because I reported on this momentous day in Church history for EWTN television. There were many moments when I was not sure I could control my emotions and a few when you could sense and see what I felt. I’ve seen this several times in years past and always tear up a bit. The Rome portions starts at about 5:40: (12) Pope’s Departure From the Vatican – 2013-02-28 – YouTube


In an interview with Vatican News, Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, discusses his “great joy” for Pope Francis’ upcoming Apostolic Journey to the nation from 28 to 30 April, while recognizing the significance of the visit taking place with the backdrop of the war in Ukraine.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Cardinal Peter Erdo says Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Hungary will be a great joy for the nation.

In an interview with Vatican News, the Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Primate of Hungary, expressed his delight about the Holy Father’s upcoming journey to the Eastern European country from 28 to 30 April, marking the Pope’s 41st Apostolic Journey abroad.

On Monday, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, announced the Pope would make the visit after having accepted the invitation of the civil and ecclesial authorities to visit the country.

In the interview, Cardinal Erdo gives his personal reaction to, and his expectations for, the papal journey, also as it takes place with the backdrop of the war in Ukraine.

He also expresses why Pope Francis’ return to Hungarian territory is significant, and sheds light on the program itself, including the Holy Father’s planned meeting with children.

During his three-day journey, the Pope will visit with refugees and poor people, as well as with children of the Blessed László Batthyány-Strattmann Institute.

More than half of Hungarians are Christian, and at least 37 percent of the population identify as Catholic.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, nearly 1 million Ukrainian nationals have travelled through Hungary as refugees, according to local sources.

The Holy Father had made a brief stop in the country’s capital of Budapest to celebrate Mass for the closure of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress on 12 September 2021, on his way to Slovakia.

Pope Francis had also has shown his closeness to the Hungarian faithful during his visit to Romania, when celebrated Mass at the popular Hungarian pilgrimage site of Csíksomlyó (Șumuleu Ciuc) in Romania’s Transylvania region. Transylvania had once been part of Hungary, but became Romanian territory in 1920. Ethnic Hungarians in Romania total more than one million people.

Q: Cardinal Erdo, how do you comment on Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Hungary, and what are your expectations for this visit?

With great joy we received the news of the Holy Father’s visit to Hungary. We invited him as the Hungarian Church, as the Church of Budapest, and we wanted to welcome him for a pastoral visit.

Last time, when he visited our city to participate in the closing Mass of the World Eucharistic Congress (September 2021, ed.), it was a lightning visit. Instead, a pastoral visit, a meeting with the community of the faithful, was something that had been desired for many years. So it is an immense joy.

Q: As you mentioned, this is not the first time the Holy Father has come to Hungary. Why is his return to the country important now?

Precisely because of the very fact of a meeting with the Hungarian faithful. The event of 2021 was an international event: pilgrims, bishops, priests, faithful were present from 83 countries. This time, however, Francis is addressing the Hungarians, our people, our local Church. This gives us great honour and joy.

Q: In the background of this trip, there is the war in Ukraine. How will this reality be important during the trip? We know Hungary helped so many Ukrainian refugees during this time of the invasion.

The news of the war that broke out a year ago and went on all this year means a lot of sadness for us. Sadness for the very fact of the war, because we have been praying for peace every day for a year, even in different communities. We also regularly hold peace processions and have consecrated Ukraine and Russia to Our Lady, as the Holy Father had invited us to do. We did this act in St Stephen’s Basilica in front of his relic, because St Stephen a thousand years ago was the first who, according to history, offered an entire country to Our Lady. And so, we felt a spiritual closeness to the two peoples.

And what do we do? First of all, we have to face the great challenge of refugees. We are a country of less than ten million inhabitants, and in the last year more than one and a half million refugees have arrived from Ukraine. Certainly not all of them wanted to stay in Hungary, but 10-15% of the refugees stayed.

So the first challenge was humanitarian aid. We received the refugees both at the border and in Budapest, through the national Caritas, the diocesan Caritas and the charity groups of the individual parishes. Then there were the Knights of Malta who did so much for those who arrived.

Q: And the faithful were rather involved in this assistance?

Then we had to organise the spontaneous help offered by the faithful, the hospitality of certain parishes and ecclesial institutions as well as private individuals. We also saw that there are many women and children who need schools, teaching. We could also organise this in Catholic schools. There were teachers who knew Russian, others among the refugees who spoke Ukrainian. And so we tried to organise the teaching according to the age of the groups of children.

There were also Hungarian-speaking refugees from the area bordering Hungary, so integration was easier for them. But we also try to integrate the others, offering them a job, a flat that they can use for a longer period of time… So I think it is a challenge that continues to be very great, but one that helps us to become aware of our Christian vocation.

Q: Looking at the programme released by the Holy See Press Office, one sees a meeting with children. Can you tell us more?

For several decades there has been an ecclesiastical institute in Budapest that takes in blind and disabled children. So they need a lot of affection and help from the entire Catholic community.

This institute will be visited in April by the Pope who always shows solidarity and tenderness towards these children.



Hopefully things will start to move this week as I have finally received permission from my insurance company to see an orthopedic doctor and have an MRI. If I am able, I will keep you posted in some way or another. Say a prayer!

In my last column about an American priest who was in Rome for the general chapter of his religious Order, the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, I noted that his Ash Wednesday homily (posted on Youtube) started with him telling about the audience the MIC had with Pope Francis, at which Father was told by a member of the curia not to ask controversial questions of the Pope. I was very surprised at that remark, at the restrictions implied therein, and highlighted it in my post. Most everyone who responded to that post was equally surprised but I did hear from those who felt I should have presented another side of the coin. In fact, I probably should have added that we have no idea if the Holy Father is aware of restrictions that might be put on people he receives in audience and get a chance to talk to him. I have no idea if this might have been an isolated incident, and did not mention that. I had no intention of putting the papacy, Pope Francis, in a negative light and I could have done that by omission. Thanks for understanding!


In a statement from the Holy See Press Office, Director Matteo Bruni announced on Monday: “Accepting the invitation of the civil and ecclesial Authorities, His Holiness Pope Francis will make an Apostolic Journey to Hungary from 28 to 30 April 2023, visiting the city of Budapest.” The papal visit will mark Pope Francis’ 41st Apostolic Journey abroad and the 61st nation visited since the start of his pontificate. During his three-day journey, the Pope will visit with refugees and poor people, as well as with children of the Blessed László Batthyány-Strattmann Institute.

Cardinal Péter Erdő, Metropolitan Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and Primate of Hungary –

As is customary, the Holy Father will address authorities, civil society and the diplomatic corps; young people; bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated persons, seminarians and pastoral workers; and representatives of the academic and cultural world. More than half of Hungarians are Christian, and at least 37 percent of the population identify as Catholic. FOR MORE: Pope Francis to make Apostolic Journey to Hungary in April – Vatican News

St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest –


Today is the feast of St. Blaise (also Blase). Have you had your throat blessed yet?


This week, in the interview segment of “Vatican Insider,” I present Part II of a real

‘insider’ story – a conversation with Alexey Gotovsky, my multi lingual, multi talented colleague from Kazakhstan in the EWTN Rome Office. Last week you learned about his childhood in a country flanked by India, China and Russia and heard about his road to Rome and EWTN. And now, the rest of Alexey’s story including his trip to his native Kazakhstan with Pope Francis!

I could tell so many similar, interesting stories if my only interviews were with the staff of our Rome bureau and other EWTN offices throughout Europe – amazing, talented, very bright people who, on screen or behind the scenes in video and audio editing studios, bring you into the Catholic Church and bring the Church to you!

Here we are in one of our audio studios –

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on 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 ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: go to 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.


After bidding farewell to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pope Francis’ flight landed in Juba, South Sudan, for his long-awaited “ecumenical pilgrimage” for peace to South Sudan with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields. The Pope’s flight landed at Juba International Airport at 2:45 PM local time. …For years, Pope Francis has expressed his strong desire to travel to predominantly-Christian South Sudan, but the unstable situation in the country, along with the pandemic, complicated plans for a visit.

Elias Turk – EWTN:

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In April 2019, the Pope hosted a spiritual retreat in the Vatican for the political leaders and ecclesiastical authorities of South Sudan. At the retreat in the Casa Santa Marta, he knelt at their feet and begged them to work for peace and to be worthy fathers of their nation. The Holy Father will stay in the nation’s capital of Juba, and will have meetings with various Church and civil groups, including several internally displaced people. Following a Mass for the country’s faithful on Sunday morning, Pope Francis will return to Rome. Pope Francis arrives in South Sudan for ‘ecumenical pilgrimage’ – Vatican News




Join the Pope in Africa via video, photos and text on Days Two and Three in the DRC…


DAY TWO: Addressing a group of representatives of some charities in Kinshasa’s Apostolic Nunciature on Wednesday, Pope Francis praised their work which, he said, is like a forest silently growing and bearing fruit, amid the “noise” of ongoing violence and injustice. Attending the meeting were operators and beneficiaries of six charitable organizations and institutions who described their experiences and presented their activities in the fields of healthcare, education, and human development for the poor and marginalized. These included people affected by various types of disabilities, by Hansen’s disease and other illnesses. Pope: Charities sow seeds of hope in DRC and across African continent – Vatican News

DAY THREE: (After morning Mass in private at the nunciature in Kinshasa), Pope Francis met with young people and catechists from across the Democratic Republic of Congo, and urges them never to grow discouraged in their quest to resist corruption. On the third day of his Apostolic Journey to the DRC, Pope Francis held a lively encounter with young people and the local Church’s catechists. The meeting took place in the Martyr’s Stadium in Kinshasa on Thursday morning, and the Pope thanked the Congolese youth for their shows of affection and dancing. (After the meeting with youth, the Pope returned to the nunciature for a meeting with Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde Kyenge of the DRC). Pope to DRC youth: ‘A different future is in your hands’ – Vatican News

DAY THREE: On the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Pope Francis met with priests, deacons, consecrated persons, and seminarians in Kinshasa’s Cathedral of Our Lady of the Congo. Reflecting on the encounter between Simeon and the Christ Child, which is commemorated in the feast, the Holy Father drew out the lesson: “When we place Jesus at the centre of our lives, our outlook changes, and despite all our efforts and difficulties, we feel enveloped by His light, comforted by His Spirit, encouraged by His Word, and sustained by His love.” He reminded those with religious vocations that, despite “enormous challenges,” there is nonetheless “great joy in the service of the Gospel.” Clergy and religious, the Pope said, are called to be witnesses of God’s love, by anointing His people today “with the balm of consolation and hope. Pope to clergy and religious in DR Congo: The Church needs you! – Vatican News

The last event of Day Three of the papal trip was an afternoon prayer meeting in Kinshasa’s Our Lady of the Congo cathedral with priests, deacons, men and women religious and seminarians. Welcomed by Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, archbishop of Kinshasa, the Pope briefly prayed at the tombs of deceased archbishops.

EWTN staff in the papal party (Elias Turk, photos and Gianluca Teseo, video) reported that, as the religious waited for the Pope to arrive, the Luminous mysteries of the rosary were prayed in diverse languages, led by the superiors of religious orders from the six ecclesiastic provinces. The first 4 mysteries were prayed in national languages (Lingala, Kikongo, Swahili and Tshiluba), with the faithful responding in French. The fifth mystery was in French.

Pope Francis arrived at the end of the fifth mystery – no applause, the faithful kept praying the rosary as he moved up the main aisle. Authorities estimate those inside the cathedral numbered 1200, and just under 4,000 participated outside.

Elias Turk EWTN

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After the prayer encounter in the cathedral, the Holy Father returned to the apostolic nunciature where he had a meeting, as is now customary during a papal trip, with fellow Jesuits residing in the country. That was followed by dinner in private.




DAY ONE HIGHLIGHTS: Highlights of Pope Francis’ first day in DR Congo – Vatican News

DAY ONE: Meeting with civil authorities on the first day of his Apostolic Journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pope Francis addresses the most pressing issues affecting the African nation, including ongoing conflict and economic colonialism, and urges the Congolese people to reject violence. Pope decries conflicts and economic colonialism in DR Congo – Vatican New

DAY TWO: On the second day of his Apostolic Journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pope Francis celebrates Mass for more than a million people at the “Ndolo” airport in Kinshasa, and urges them to lay down their arms, embrace mercy, and be missionaries of peace. Pope at Mass in DR Congo: Lay down your arms, embrace mercy – Vatican News

DAY TWO: Pope Francis meets with survivors of the ongoing conflict in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. They shared stories of brutal violence, including mass killings and mutilation, abduction and lost relatives, serial rape and sexual slavery, and displaced people living in overcrowded and unsanitary refugee camps. Some very extraordinary and touching moments in this encounter. Survivors of violence in DRC share heartbreaking stories with Pope Francis – Vatican News

Photos by Elias Turk – EWTN

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As I prepare this column, there is live coverage of Pope Francis’ meeting with representatives of various charitable organizations at the apostolic nunciature in Kinshasa, DRC:



Two members of the EWTN Rome office, Elias Turk and Gianluca Teseo, are on the papal plane with Pope Francis, his entourage and over 70 other members of the media. They will provide video and photos throughout the trip. You can follow the apostolic trip to the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and South Sudan on via news articles and television coverage. Vatican coverage can be found at (text and video).


A first bulletin today from the Vatican press office noted that, “this morning, before leaving Casa Santa Marta and heading to the airport, Pope Francis met a dozen migrants and refugees and their families from the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan – the two countries he will visit in the coming days – who are staying in Rome’s Centro Astalli. With them was the prefect of the Dicastery for Charity, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski.

Arriving at Fiumicino Airport, the Holy Father’s car stopped briefly near the Monument to the Fallen of Kindu, the 13 Italian airmen killed in the Congo on November 11, 1961. To the victims of that bloody massacre and to all those who lost their lives participating in humanitarian and peace missions, said the press office statement, Pope Francis dedicated a prayer, and then proceeded to the plane that will take him to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan for his 40th apostolic journey. (Vatican media photos)

Boarding the plane –

Once on board the ITA plane, press office director Matteo Bruni introduced Pope Francis to members of the media, noting that there were 75 journalists from 12 countries, including two African nations.

“Good morning and welcome everyone and thank you for accompanying me on this journey,” said Pope Francis. “You’ve been waiting for a year, huh? It’s a beautiful journey, I too would have liked to go to Goma but with the war you can’t go there. It will only it will be Kinshasa and Juba. There we will do everything. Thank you for being here with me and being all together. Thank you for your work which is so good, it helps a lot because it gives people who are interested in that trip the images also your thoughts and reflections on the trip. Thank you so much. I’d like to go around, but I can’t today. I must stay here. I’m a little ashamed to have all of you come here we can greet you from afar. Thank you”

(Elias Turk – EWTN)

After greeting the journalists, Francis noted, “Right now we are crossing over the Sahara, let’s have a little thought of silence, a prayer, for all the people who, looking for a little well-being, a little freedom, have crossed it and have not made it. Many who suffer arrive in the Mediterranean, after crossing the desert, are caught in the lagers and suffer there. Let’s pray for all those people (a moment of silence). Thank you.”

The papal plane landed just after 2:30 pm in Kinshasa, DRC, where the temperature is 88 degrees and the humidity 78 percent. Kinshasa is the same time zone as Italy. The trip was 5,420 kilometers (3,370 miles).

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(Elias Turk – EWTN)




Something to ponder: An interesting read about the Francis papacy in the post-Benedict XVI era: MondayVatican – Vatican » Pope Francis, what kind of a future has just begun? | MondayVatican


Pope Francis began today’s general audience by noting, “In our continuing catechesis on apostolic zeal, the desire to share with others the joy of the Gospel, we now look to its model and source: the example of Jesus himself. As the eternal Word of God, made flesh for our salvation, Jesus’ entire life was devoted to communicating and dialoguing with others, first with his heavenly Father in profound prayer, and then with others, especially the poor, the outcast and sinners.!

Francis explained that Jesus “proclaimed the coming of God’s Kingdom not only by his preaching, but also by his ministry of healing, reconciliation and forgiveness. As the Good Shepherd, the model for all pastors in the Church, Jesus was completely committed to the welfare of his flock, protecting the fold yet also setting out in search of the lost sheep.

“And when we hear that someone has left the Church, what do we want to say? ‘Let them work it out?’ No. Jesus teaches us to have nostalgia for those who have left. Jesus does not feel anger or resentment but pure longing for us. Jesus feels nostalgic for us and this is God’s zeal.

The Holy Father said he wondered “we, do we have similar sentiments? Perhaps we see those who have left the flock as adversaries or enemies. ‘And this person? Hasn’t he gone to the other side? She lost her faith…. They are going to hell…’ and we are serene.!

“When we meet them at school, at work, on the streets of our city,” he continued, “why don’t we think instead that we have a beautiful opportunity to witness to them the joy of a Father who loves them and has never forgotten them? Not to proselytize, no! But that the Word of the Father might reach them so we can walk together. … Because the Word, Jesus, asks this of us – to always draw near to everyone with an open heart because he is like that.”

Pope Francis concluded: “Following his example, may we, in our daily lives, draw joy and strength from our union with the Father in prayer, allow our hearts to be shaped by pastoral zeal for the word of God, and strive, in all our words and actions, to share with others its saving message.”

During greetings to English-language pilgrims the Pope said, “I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims taking part in today’s audience, especially the groups from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Australia and the United States of America. I offer a special greeting to the many student groups present.

“I ask all of you to join me in praying for Father Isaac Achi of the Diocese of Minna in northern Nigeria, who was killed last Sunday in an attack on his rectory. So many Christians continue to be the target of violence: let us remember them in our prayers! Upon all of you, and upon your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!

The terrorists set fire to the rectory and Fr. Achi burned to death. They shot and wounded the assistant priest as he tried to flee.

Francis also highlighted Ukraine, as he has done in every public address for almost a year. He asked everyone to pray for Ukrainians who need “our closeness, consolation, and above all peace.”


As you know, Pope Francis leaves on January 31 for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and then South Sudan. We are now learning, via a report from Reuters, that the government in Kinshasa is clearing the city’s streets of vendors so that the Pope sees a sanitized city, much as happened when U.S. President Biden recently visited El Paso, Texas, a city that has been overwhelmed by massive numbers of migrants in the last two years. Biden saw no migrants, no crowded housing facilities, no make-shift tents on El Paso streets.

The January 17 Reuters story starts: “Before dawn, sanitary police armed with crowbars and a bulldozer set about demolishing makeshift trader stalls crowding downtown streets in the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo ahead of a four-day visit by Pope Francis starting Jan. 31. Kinshasa has 17 million people. Police demolish trader stalls in Congo capital ahead of Pope visit | Reuters