VATICAN INSIDER CELEBRATES FR. JIM LLOYD, 70 YEARS A PAULIST – TO CITIZENS OF ALESSANO: “YOUR LAND PRODUCED A SAINT” – CZECH CARDINAL’S REMAINS LEAVE ST. PETER’S FOR NATIVE LAND – THE ETERNAL CITY TURNS 2,771 ON APRIL 21

If you happen to be in Rome tomorrow, help the city celebrate its 2,771st birthday! I’ve listed some events as reported in Wanted in Rome magazine. A few took place today and I apologize for not getting this to you beforehand. April 21st is the city’s birthday so if you miss it this year, put it on your agenda for next year!

VATICAN INSIDER CELEBRATES FR. JIM LLOYD, 70 YEARS A PAULIST

I’ve been blessed to know SO many wonderful priests over my life but I might have to give a special prize this week to Paulist Fr. Jim Lloyd. We had another great visit over the Easter holidays at the Paulist Motherhouse in NY where I was a guest for a few days. He had just turned 97 and on May 1st he will celebrate his 70th anniversary as a priest!!

The Paulists, of course, have been in Rome since 1922 when they were asked to care for the Catholic American community in the Eternal City. Our home now is St. Patrick’s Church on Via Boncompagni in central Rome.

Fr. Jim and I talk about his life, starting at his birth just blocks from the Paulist motherhouse, where he now lives, and the adjacent St. Paul the Apostle Church. You will be riveted by every facet of his life! In the early years of his priesthood, Fr. Lloyd was a missionary in South Africa. He holds a Ph.D. in psychology from New York University. For 20 years, he worked at Iona College as a professor and director of the college’s graduate division of pastoral counselling. He continues to hear confessions and provide pro bono counselling services.

He started our conversation by telling me about his amazing parents – no way could you guess what they did! We cover his priestly life and ministries and his NBC TV show “Inquiry” – and so much more! Not a dull second in our conversation!

I only wish that Vatican Insider was TV instead of radio so you could see Father Jim’s sparkling blue eyes and feel his enthusiasm and joy when he talks about the amazing, different periods in his life as a priest. One thing you will hear him says several times is that, no matter what he was doing, he always wore his Roman collar so people would know he was a priest.

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=

TO CITIZENS OF ALESSANO: “YOUR LAND PRODUCED A SAINT”

Friday, Pope Francis travelled to two cities in two Italian dioceses south of Rome. He first went to Alessano where he visited the grave of Bishop Tonino Bello on the 25th anniversary of his death, telling the citizens, “Your land produced a saint.”

At the second stop of his morning, the Pope celebrated Mass at the port of Molfetta on the Adriatic. Fr. Tonino, said Francis, imitated Jesus by drawing near to the poor to the extent of “dispossessing himself.” In order to promote peace on a global level, he acted locally. He was convinced that “the best way to prevent violence and every type of war, is to take care of those in need and promote justice.”

The Pope said Father Tonino – later a bishop – had an “allergy for titles and honors.” Like Jesus, he stripped himself of every “sign of power in order to make way for the power of the sign….”

Francis invited the faithful to “find the strength” to be divested of everything that inhibits putting on aprons, which Fr Tonino called, “the only priestly garb recorded in the Gospel”.

The vaticannews site gave a brief biography of Bishop Bello.

In 1982, St. Pope John Paul II appointed him Bishop of Molfetta and Ruvo. Bishop Bello renounced all signs of power and tried to help the most disadvantaged. He ensured Caritas groups were established in every parish, and founded a community to help people with addictions. His pastoral zeal took him to Australia, Argentina and Venezuela where he visited immigrants from his diocese.

Bishop Bello is greatly known for his work with Pax Christi, an international Catholic peace movement. He was appointed president of Pax Christi Italy in 1985, a position he held until his death. An outspoken critic of the Gulf War and other conflicts, he even rallied against NATO. In December 1992, he led a group from Italy across the Adriatic to Sarajevo where he headed a peace march.

Bishop Bello envisaged the Church in an “apron”, evoking the image of Christ at the Last Supper who tied a towel (apron) around his waist, got down on his knees to wash the feet of his disciples in a symbolic gesture of humble loving service. Known for his frugal ways, Bishop Bello preferred to take a bus and often used a bicycle since he felt cars added to air pollution. He often went out to the streets, bars and restaurants to interact with people. He died of stomach cancer in Molfetta on April 20, 1993. He was 58.

CZECH CARDINAL’S REMAINS LEAVE ST. PETER’S FOR NATIVE LAND

The remains of exiled Czech Cardinal Josef Beran were taken out of St Peter’s Basilica, the final resting place of popes, on Thursday evening in the presence of a Czech delegation comprising church and state representatives. Friday, they were flown to Prague for a later burial in St. Vitus Cathedral, according to an English-language program on Czech Radio.

Cardinal Beran was exiled to Rome in 1965 and died there four years later. He was buried in the Vatican because the communist authorities didn’t approve his final wish for his body to be returned to his homeland.

Along with the coffin, a small bag with earth from Beran’s homeland, which was placed in his grave in 1969, was also taken out from the chapel to be returned to the Czech Republic. A commemorative plaque will be installed in St Peter’s Basilica as a permanent memorial to the Czech cardinal, whose name became a symbol of resistance to the communist regime. The coffin was then moved to the Nepomucenum, the Czech papal college in Rome, where the cardinal died in 1969.

For more; click here: http://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/czech-cardinals-last-wish-to-be-respected-after-almost-50-years

THE ETERNAL CITY TURNS 2,771 ON APRIL 21

The capital celebrates its 2,771st birthday on Saturday 21 April, with events also taking place on days on side of the anniversary. Known as Natale di Roma, the annual birthday celebration is based on the legendary founding of Rome by Romulus in 753 BC.

The traditional birthday celebrations are centered in the Circus Maximus and include the trench-digging ritual, known as the tracciato del solco, at 15.00 on April 21. This tradition recalls the founding of ancient Roman towns when a trench or mundus was dug and offerings thrown into it to encourage the gods to watch over the town’s inhabitants.

The Circus Maximus will also host historical re-enactments including gladiator fights, aimed at children, on April 20 from 14.30-15.30.

For a complete report of times and venues – and a lot of pictures – click here: https://www.wantedinrome.com/news/rome-celebrates-2771st-birthday-on-21-april-2018.html

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POPE FRANCIS AND ARMENIAN PATRIARCHS BLESS A BRONZE STATUE OF ST GREGORY OF NAREK – POPE FRANCIS PRAYS FOR BRITISH BABY ALFIE EVANS AND FAMILY – POPE’S APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION ON HOLINESS TO BE PRESENTED ON MONDAY

A crowded schedule, work on scripts for 11 new videos for Joan’s Rome and a move from my hotel to the NYC residence of the Paulist Fathers precluded my having time to post a column yesterday. The Paulist Fathers, of course, are in charge of St. Patrick’s parish in Rome (and for 95 years before that, they administered the church of Santa Susanna) and, whenever I can, I renew friendships with some of the Paulists residing here who, in previous years, were at Santa Susanna’s.

Yesterday I posted on Facebook a Paulist feature about Father James Lloyd who turned 97 – an amazing man and story! I wonder if he blew out 97 candles!

This page might be dark again tomorrow as I leave for Rome in the evening, but let’s see what the day brings!

In the meantime, I wish everyone a beautiful and blessed Divine Mercy Sunday!

POPE FRANCIS AND ARMENIAN PATRIARCHS BLESS A BRONZE STATUE OF ST GREGORY OF NAREK

By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp (vaticannews)

Thursday, in the company of outgoing Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, two Patriarchs of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Patriarch of the Armenian Catholic Church, Pope Francis presided over the inauguration and blessing of the statue of St Gregory of Narek in the Vatican Gardens.

Thursday thus marks a high point in the ecumenical journey between the Catholic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church. For the first time in history, all three Armenian Church leaders are gathered together with the Roman Pontiff. It is something that Pope Francis prayed for in 2015: “Through the redemptive power of Christ’s sacrifice, may the blood which has been shed bring about the miracle of the full unity of his disciples. In particular, may it strengthen the bonds of fraternal friendship which already unite the Catholic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church.”

The event does not end today in the Vatican Gardens. A copy of the same statue is currently in production and will be placed in the gardens of the Cathedral of Etchmiadzin where an inauguration ceremony will be held at the end of 2018. The Cathedral of Etchmiadzin is the mother church of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and is considered by scholars to be the oldest Cathedral built in ancient Armenia, and is among one of the oldest Cathedrals in the world.

The groundwork for today’s ceremony was laid by Pope Francis on April 12, 2015 when he celebrated Mass in St Peter’s marking the centenary of the genocide of a million and a half Armenians whom the Pope referred to as martyrs. “A century has passed since that horrific massacre which was a true martyrdom of your people, in which many innocent people died as confessors and martyrs for the name of Christ,” Pope Francis said on that occasion.

During that same liturgy, Pope Francis elevated St Gregory of Narek to the dignity of Doctor of the Universal Church. The Pope characterized St Gregory as a monk who “knew how to express the sentiments of your people more than anyone,” and who, as “an extraordinary interpreter of the human soul, offers words which are prophetic for us.”

Later in June 2016, he visited Armenia. Calling the genocide “the first of the deplorable series of catastrophes of the past century,” Pope Francis praised the faith of the Armenian people, “who, illuminated by the light of the Gospel, even at the most tragic moments of their history, have always found in the cross and resurrection of Christ the strength to rise again and take up their journey anew with dignity.”

St Gregory of Narek is recognized as a saint in both the Catholic Church and in the Armenian Apostolic Church, being venerated in a particular way among Catholics of the Armenian Rite.

His legacy lives on through this ecumenical effort that is centered on him. In an interview with Vatican News, Mikayel Minasyan, ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the Holy See, described St Gregory of Narek as a symbol of brotherhood and a bridge between the two Churches and for all Christians, “above all those of the Middle East.”

Gregory of Narek was a 10th century Armenian monk, poet, and mystical writer and composer. His most well-known literary work is a book of prayers, known as the “Book of Lamentations”. It is considered a masterpiece of Armenian literature. St Gregory himself defined the work as an “encyclopedia of prayer for all nations”. He hoped that his book would provide guidance in prayer for people of all walks of life in order to reach God.

POPE FRANCIS PRAYS FOR BRITISH BABY ALFIE EVANS AND FAMILY

In a tweet posted to his official @Pontifex account Wednesday evening, Pope Francis prays for British baby Alfie Evans. His parents’ legal battle to keep him alive on life support in hope of further treatment has failed.

By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

Pope Francis on Wednesday tweeted his prayers for Alfie Evans, a 23-month old English baby who is in a “semi-vegetative state” in a Liverpool hospital. It is believed that Alfie has a rare degenerative neurological condition, but doctors have not yet definitively diagnosed his condition.

In his tweet, the Holy Father said, “It is my sincere hope that everything necessary may be done in order to continue compassionately accompanying little Alfie Evans, and that the deep suffering of his parents may be heard.”

Pope Francis said he is “praying for Alfie, for his family and for all who are involved.”

Little Alfie has been on life support at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital since December 2016 following a chest infection, which caused seizures. Alfie overcame the infection and started breathing on his own. But another chest infection led to more chronic seizures, and he had to go back on a ventilator. Doctors at Alder Hey said it was in Alfie’s best interests to stop “mechanical ventilation.”

Alfie’s parents, Kate James and Tom Evans, fought for the right to keep him alive, taking their case to the courts. An English High Court ruled on March 6th that he should only receive palliative care. The Supreme Court upheld that decision, and the European Court of Human Rights refused to examine the case. They have now exhausted every legal means of preventing the hospital from withdrawing Alfie from life support. The British press say this could happen by Friday.

Kate and Tom Evans want to transfer Alfie to another hospital to try experimental therapies with money raised from a crowd funding effort. The courts have also rejected this request.

His parents say Alfie is now showing signs of improvement after having his medication reduced.

The case brings to mind two other English babies, Charlie Gard and Isaiah Haastrup, who died after their life support was removed on July 28, 2017 and March 7, 2018, respectively. Alfie Evans is thought to have a mitochondrial condition, similar to Charlie Gard.

People around the world have come out in support of Alfie’s cause through prayer, petitions, and demonstrations.

Alfie’s parents had pleaded with the Pope to help. With his Tweet, Pope Francis has brought worldwide attention to little Alfie’s fight for life.

POPE’S APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION ON HOLINESS TO BE PRESENTED ON MONDAY

Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation “Gaudete et Exsultate” will be presented at the Holy See Press office in the Vatican on Monday, April 9.

A statement released by the Holy See Press Office on Thursday said a Press Conference to launch and present Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation “Gaudete et Exsultate” (Rejoice and be glad), and subtitled “On the call to holiness in the contemporary world” will take place on 9 April at noon.

An Apostolic Exhortation is considered the second-highest form of papal teaching, after an Encyclical Letter.

Since his election as Pope, Francis has issued two other Exhortations: “Evangelii Gaudium” in 2013 and “Amoris Laetitia” in 2016.

Set to speak at the presentation of “Gaudete et Exsultate” are Bishop Angelo De Donatis, the vicar general of the Rome diocese, Italian journalist Gianni Valente and Paola Bignardi, a former president of Catholic Action Italy.