Pope Francis continues his catechesis on the Our Father during his weekly general audience, focusing on “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”.

The audience took place in St. Peter’s Square under gray and rainy skies, soaking the nearly 15,000 faithful present for the papal catechesis. (Photos: Lucia Ballester for CNA)

The monsignori from the Secretariat of State who provide the various language translations of the weekly catechesis and papal greetings, as well as the visiting bishops and cardinals, who are normally seated near the papal platform but not covered from the elements, today were all bunched today under the protective canopy of the platform, just behind Pope Francis.

“Dear brothers and sisters,” began the Holy Father, “in our continuing catechesis on the ‘Our Father’, we now consider how Jesus teaches us to ask God to ‘forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’. Just as we need bread, so we have need of forgiveness. Every day!”

Francis noted that, “in the original Greek of Matthew’s Gospel, the word used for ‘trespasses’ carries the meaning of being in debt, and so Christians pray asking that God will forgive their debts. We are truly in debt to God because everything we have has come as a gift from Him: our life, parents, friends, creation itself. Likewise, we are only capable of loving because we have been loved first; we are able to forgive only because we ourselves have received forgiveness.”

But even if we were perfect, saint-like people who never strayed “we would always remain children who owe everything to the Father,” explained the Pope.

He then warned against pride, defining it “the most dangerous attitude for every Christian life.” Pride is the worst sin, and quite insidious because it can “infect even people who live an intense religious life”. He then cited the First Letter of St John, saying, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.”

Francis asked, “How can we not recognize, in the bonds of love that precede us, the providential presence of God’s love? None of us can love God as He has loved us. We need only gaze at a crucifix to realize this. Let us pray, then, that even the holiest in our midst will never cease to be in debt to the Lord. O Father, have mercy on us all!”


Personalized medicine represents a revolution in medical science and raises several ethical challenges, says Professor Yechiel Michael Barilan.
By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences hosts a workshop in the Vatican this week on “The Revolution of Personalized Medicine.”

The event carries a provocative subtitle: “Are we going to cure all diseases and at what price?”

Personalized medicine is a therapeutic approach that separates people into different groups according to their genetic information in order to tailor decisions, interventions, and drug therapy to the individual patient.

Professor Yechiel Michael Barilan, an expert in Internal Medicine at Israel’s Tel Aviv University, is the workshop’s Academic Director.

Professor Barilan told Vatican News’ Gabriela Ceraso that personalized medicine represents a dual revolution.

It promises a partial revolution in medicine, he said, because it aims at getting “more and more specific at the molecular level of every disease.” This means examining the genomic and molecular features of diabetes, for instance.

The bigger revolution, said Prof. Barilan, is “to try to abandon the concept of disease altogether and, on one hand, just collect lots of biological data (proteins, genes), have the computers calculate them, like Google does, and then come out with specific health instructions”.

Ethical challenges
Prof. Barilan admitted that personalized medicine poses several ethical challenges.

One general risk is conflict of interest and bias in the industry, though, he said, every industry runs this risk.

The doctor-patient relationship could also suffer as a result of personalized medicine, because computers could come between the two as they are relied upon in the place of doctors to analyze patient data.

“There is also a risk of having a new definition of what health is, and it’s not necessarily what we as persons and humans believe health is,” he said.

Risk of alienation
Personalized medicine, said Prof. Barilan, even runs the risk of alienating certain people from society, because they carry genetic traits or disease markers that could be classified as “high risk” or they might have a low response-rate to therapy.

It might even cause the “reorganization of human society along the lines of how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ you are as a biological creature,” he said.

Ultimate human goals
Prof. Barilan said the issues surrounding personalized medicine – and science in general – is related to “ultimate human goals,” or the perceived purpose of human life.

“Doing science and doing medicine without thinking about ultimate human goals and values is, in a way, futile or shallow, and could be extremely harmful.”

Both the Vatican and the scientists present at the workshop share a commitment to ultimate human goals, said Prof. Barilan, even if there is disagreement over what those goals may be.



Pope Francis meets in audience with members of the Pontifical Academy of Science gathering in Rome on Monday for the Plenary Assembly, thanking them for their contribution to contemporary world problems.
By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp (vaticannews)

The Pontifical Academy of Science (PAS) is meeting in Rome for its Plenary Assembly. Members of the Academy met in audience with Pope Francis on Monday. The Pope welcomed them and thanked them for their contribution to providing solutions for many of the world’s contemporary problems.

Scientific world and society
Pope Francis began his address acknowledging that the scientific world is more aware of how complex the world and human beings are. He noted that this has led science to be less isolated and more open to spiritual and religious values. “Commonly shared opinions” and the “desire for happiness” often influence scientific research, the Pope added. Therefore, the relationship between values and people, society and science “demands a rethinking” that promotes the “integral advancement” of each person and the common good. As a part of society, the scientific community is called to serve humanity and its integral development, the Pope said.

Science at the service of the human family
Some areas Pope Francis named as “possible fruits” of that service are: climate change, nuclear arms, fossil fuels, and deforestation. Science has identified the risks in these areas, the Pope said, so they can also propose convincing solutions to the world’s leaders.

The Pope said he appreciates that the PAS is employing the latest knowledge to propose solutions and combat “scourges” confronting society. “Human trafficking” and the consequent “forced labor, prostitution and organ trafficking”, and the “elimination of hunger and thirst” are the two issues the Pope focused on. He mentioned that there are “eight hundred million needy and excluded” persons in the world suffering from lack of food and water. A “change in our way of living” is necessary, he said.

Lack of will
Turning his remarks to the political sphere, Pope Francis expressed that there “is a lack of will and political determination to halt the arms race and end wars”. This is necessary to move toward developing “sources of renewable energy,” “ensuring water, food and health for all,” and investing capital for the common good.

“Charity of knowledge”
The Church expects a “positive service” from science, Pope Francis said – the “charity of knowledge,” as St. Paul VI termed it. Knowledge is what the scientific community has, Pope Francis continued. In the name of those who rarely benefit from the world’s knowledge, the Pope advocated for them.

“May your research benefit all, so that the peoples of the earth will be fed, given to drink, healed and educated; may politics and economics draw indications from you on how to advance with greater certainty towards the common good, for the benefit especially of the poor and those in need, and towards respect for our planet.”


Pope Francis tweeted this today, May 1: “May Saint Joseph give young people the ability to dream, to take risks for big tasks, the things that God dreams for us.”

Today is May 1, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker and the celebration throughout Italy and much of the world of Labor Day, a public holiday and this year a three-day weekend. Rome is extraordinarily quiet today, with most stores and all offices closing, and fewer busses and taxis running. In fact, on Sundays and holidays the number of busses and taxis are cut in half, so that taxis on those days number 4,000, not 8,000. You do not need a newspaper article to tell you this – just try waiting for a bus. The waiting time is longer than usual (and on some routes that can be quite long) and many bus routes simply do not function on those days. Tourist monuents and the Vatican, however, always have high numbers of visitors on holidays.

A huge rock concert takes place on this day every year on the grounds surrounding St. John Lateran basilica. The crowd has traditionally been really huge – several hundred thousand over the hours of the concert that ends around midnight. It may be larger than usual today simply by the fact that Italians had a long three-day weekend with the May 1 holiday.

It was a long weekend for Pope Francis – he was in Egypt for 27 hours Friday and Saturday and on Sunday, back in Rome, he addressed a massive crowd of members of Italian Catholic Action as they celebrated the 150th anniversary of this organization. He prayed the noon Regina Coeli prayer with all the faithful that spilled over into Via della Conciliazione.

Francis was in Egypt to attend the International Peace Conference at Al-Azhar University in Cairo. Friday, after his arrival, he paid a courtesy visit to Egyptian President Al-Sisi. Afterwards, he went to Al Azhar University, the summit of Sunni Islam teaching where he heard an opening address by the Grand Imam, Sheik Ahmad Al-Tayeb. Francis told the conference that religious leaders must denounce violations of human rights and expose attempts to justify violence and hatred in the name of God.

Later, in a meeting with Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox leader Pope Tawadros II Pope Francis said the two communities must oppose violence and work more closely together to witness to Christ in the world.  Both agreed they must try to fix a common date for Easter among Christians.  Friday evening, an impromptu meeting took place when a group of  around 300 young people gathered in front of the apostolic nunciature in Cairo, where the Pope spent the night. He had brief remarks for the young people, blessed them, prayed the Our Father with them and said several words in Arabic.

Saturday at the seminary in Cairo, Francis told priests, religious and seminarians to be “sowers of hope, builders of bridges and agents of dialogue,” despite the many difficulties they face. At Mass at Cairo’s “Air Defense Stadium,” he spoke of the need to “proclaim our faith in the Resurrection precisely by living in a way that conveys our conviction.” He said, “the only fanaticism that believers can have is that of charity – any other fanaticism does not come from God and is not pleasing to him.” He returned to Rome Saturday evening.


FRANCIS AND THE MEDIA ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (CNA/EWTN News) – In his conversation with journalists on the way back from Egypt, Pope Francis touched on an array of topics, including North Korea, populism and a possible visit from President Donald Trump. Click here to read full text of papal in-flight presser: (photos: news.va)  http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/full-text-of-pope-francis-in-flight-presser-from-egypt-24826/

POPE FRANCIS APPEALS FOR END TO VIOLENCE IN VENEZUELA – (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has appealed for an end to violence in Venezuela and for respect of human rights in the country where nearly 30 people have been killed in unrest this month. His appeal came on Sunday before the recitation of the Regina Coeli prayer in St. Peter’s Square. “I make a heartfelt appeal to the government and all components of Venezuelan society to avoid any more forms of violence, to respect human rights and to seek a negotiated solution.” Decrying the “grave humanitarian, social, political and economic crisis that is exhausting the population,” the Holy Father said we are continuing to receive dramatic news of people being killed, injured, and detained. http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-appeals-for-an-end-to-violence-in-ven

FRATERNITY CAN GENERATE A JUST SOCIETY WITH DIGNITY FOR ALL -(Vatican Radio) On May 1st the Church  remembers Saint Joseph the Worker, a day marked across the globe as International Labor Day. Pope Francis’ thoughts in these days go especially towards young people as expressed in his May 1st tweet: “May Saint Joseph give young people the ability to dream, to take risks for big tasks, the things that God dreams for us,” many of whom are faced with unprecedented high rates of unemployment and socio-financial difficulties. And, in a message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences as it holds its Plenary Assembly in the Vatican on the theme “Towards a Participatory Society: New Roads to Social and Cultural Integration,” the Pope recalls the “hard battles” of workers during the 19th and 20th centuries which took place “in the name of solidarity and rights.”       http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-fraternity-can-generate-a-just-society-with-d



Pope Francis had a really busy Thursday as he met with Jesuits who write for the Civiltà Cattolicà magazine, currently celebrating its 4000th edition, addressed the plenary of the Congregation for Catholic Education and met with a delegation from the Anti-Defamation League.

Corriere della Sera published an English translation of Fr. Antonio Spadaro’s account of a three-hour meeting and Q&A session that Pope Francis held last November 25th with 140 superiors general of male reliigious congregations. That conversation was published in edition No. 4,000 of Civilta Cattolica, whose editor is Fr. Anttonio Spadaro: http://www.corriere.it/english/17_febbraio_09/pope-francis-there-is-corruption-the-vatican-but-m-at-peace-5f115a68-eeaa-11e6-b691-ec49635e90c8.shtml

In his Thursday meeting with writers of Civilta Cattolica the Pope reflected at length on the importance of poetry, art and pioneering intellectual research, as the magazine seeks to build bridges with many peoples and cultures. Civilta Cattolica was founded in 1850 and originally available only in Italian. It is now adding editions in English, French, Spanish and Korean. Francis also sent the review a hand-signed note. Saying a copy of the magazine “if often on my desk,” he described its history as a boat’s voyage on the open seas, saying writers must never to be afraid of the storms, but proceed courageously, guided by the Spirit, into uncharted waters.


POPE FRANCIS ENCOURAGED THE DELEGATION FROM THE ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE to cultivate justice and foster accord, saying “the fight against anti-Semitism can benefit from effective instruments, such as information and formation.” The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all,”

IN HIS REMARKS TO THE CONGREGATION FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION as they meet in plenary session, the Holy Father urged all those involved in Catholic education to be builders of a more united and peaceful world, especially when educating the younger generations. Educational institutes have meaning only in relation to the formation of the person, he stressed. Another of your prime missions, he said, is to offer horizons that are open to transcendence. Francis also stressed the need for a culture of dialogue, saying our world has become a global village in which each person belongs to humanity and shares in the hope for a better future for the whole family of nations.

THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES has issued a statement following its summit on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism which was held in Rome this week. In it the participants resolve “to combat these crimes against humanity through comprehensive efforts that involve all stakeholders around the world.”… We, the undersigned participants of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences Summit on Organ Trafficking,  resolve to combat these  crimes against humanity through comprehensive efforts that involve all stakeholders around the world.

Poverty, unemployment, and the lack of socioeconomic opportunities are factors that make persons vulnerable to organ trafficking and human trafficking for the purpose of organ removal.  Destitute individuals are victimized  in schemes of organ trafficking  when induced to sell their organs in a desperate search for a better life. Similarly, desperate are the patients who are willing to pay large amounts and travel to foreign destinations as transplant tourists to obtain an organ that may keep them alive— oblivious of the short and long-term health  consequences  of  commercial  transplantation.  Unscrupulous  brokers  and  health  care  professionals  make  organ  trafficking possible,  disregarding the dignity  of human beings. FOR FULL STATEMENT: http://www.news.va/en/news/vatican-organ-trafficking-summit-issues-statement


How many times in his papacy, has Pope Francis asked us: “Do you know the date of your baptism? And why not? Find out!”

Well, I’ve known ever since I was rather little that the anniversary of my baptism is today – July 21st. It was written in our family Bible, which I have right here in my office, along with a lot of other important dates!

I went to the Paul VI Hall today in search of Mayor William Bell of Birmingham, Alabama as he is attending the Vatican workshop on “Modern Slavery and Climate Change: the Commitment of the Cities.” It was a delight to meet him and I will present our conversation on “Vatican Insider”this weekend, so set aside a few minutes to listen to that on Saturday or Sunday. I’ll remind you Friday.

As I exited the Paul VI Hall and was walking towards the Petriano Gate (the entrance pilgrims use when they attend a Wednesday general audience in the Paul VI Hall), I saw a very large contruction site going up right inside the gate and next to the Vatican building housing the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. I asked a worker what it was and he said the site would be temporary bathrooms as they are fixing, remodeling, updating the bathrooms off St. Peter’s Square in preparation for the Jubilee Year.

There was some really big news today for three men and for the archdiocese of Los Angeles: Pope Francis today named three new auxiliary bishops to the archdiocese of Los Angeles in the United States. Among them was Father Robert E. Barron, the Rector of the University of St. Mary and Mundelein Seminary in Chicago. Father Barron is also the founder of the multimedia “Word on Fire Catholic Ministries”, which produces programs which have been broadcast regularly on WGN America, EWTN, Relevant Radio and the Word on Fire YouTube Channel. Also named as auxiliaries were Msgr. Joseph V. Brennan, the Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and Irish-born Msgr. David G. O’Connell, pastor of Saint Michael Parish in Los Angeles.


As many of you wrote on my Facebook page, the seminarians in Chicago have to be devastated so this is both a good news/bad news story. However, I am sure we will see Bishop-elect Barron on EWTN as we have great new studios on the West Coast!

Our affection for you, Fr, Robert, and our prayers, have just been doubled. As they have for the other future bishops whom I do not know but intend to know!


(Vatican Radio)  Ways to combat climate change and its effects on society’s most vulnerable:  some sixty mayors and local administrators from around the world are brainstorming on that topic in  the Vatican Tuesday and Wednesday.  Pope Francis is expected to greet them in an audience Tuesday evening.

In his recently released environment encyclical “Laudato Si,” the Pope said caring for the Earth is an urgent moral imperative and that fossil fuel-based global warming puts the poor most at risk. Urban centers are considered some of the biggest contributors to climate change.


Hailing from cities in North and South America, Europe and from developing nations like India and Gabon, many of the officials are committed to environmentally friendly policies aimed at bringing down the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.

The two-day Vatican climate conference comes ahead of the Paris COP-21 climate negotiations in December. Click here to see the YouTube coverage of the events.

In presenting this week’s meeting, the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences said “global warming is one of the causes of poverty and forced migrations, and it favours human trafficking, forced labour, prostitution and organ trafficking.”

Mayors and Local Administrators at the Vatican summit are expected to urge global leaders to take bold action to curb global warming, and to press for approval of the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals this fall.

Speaking to participants Tuesday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his city’s plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a further 40 percent over the next fifteen years.  He described Pope Francis’ as “the most powerful voice on this earth for those whose voice is not being heard…he did not convene us here to accept the status quo but to indict it.”

Speaking of the fast-approaching Paris climate summit, de Blasio added, “we need to see it as the finish line of a sprint, and take every local action we can in the coming months to maximize the chance that our national governments will act boldly.”

Governor Jerry Brown, whose state of California has enacted some of the most stringent carbon emissions policies in the U.S., decried “powerful” opposition groups at home which deny global warming and “spend billions on trying to keep from office” people who believe scientific evidence proves the phenomenon exists.

The Mayor of New Orleans on Tuesday (July 21st) hailed Pope Francis’ words and actions on climate change and said he believes the upcoming papal visit to the U.S. will be transformational and in particular his address to Congress will be “very challenging.”  Mayor Mitch Landrieu was among the participants at a 2-day workshop of mayors from around the world who came to the Vatican to discuss the issues of climate change and human trafficking. Most of New Orleans is under the sea level and 10 years ago the U.S. city suffered devastating flooding when it was hit by Hurricane Katrina

In a previous press conference announcing this climate meeting, Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, said the climate crisis and modern slavery were “interconnected emergencies,” stating that “although the poor and the excluded have the least effect on climate change… they are the  most exposed to the terrible threat posed by human-induced climate disruption.”

He said, “in this fundamental moral context, cities and their mayors play a key role. “Currently, most of humanity is concentrated in formal and informal urban settlements and this trend is set to increase,”

“We intend for the mayors to commit to promoting the empowerment of the poor and of those who live in vulnerable conditions in our cities and in our urban settlements, reducing their exposure to  extreme weather events caused by radical environmental, economic and social instabilities, which  create fertile ground for forced migration and human trafficking.”

Francis newest encyclical “Laudato si’, was mandatory reading for the conference participants, as they prepared to attend and speak at the Vatican meeting.

In his remarks to the press, Bishop Sorondo said, “the Pontifical Academy of Sciences agrees with the Holy Father that there is a clear link between the two human-induced emergencies of the climate crisis and the social crisis. Following the  Encyclical, our commitment is to make the whole of society aware of these phenomena and of the  human responsibilities of these crises and to react firmly, as a new moral imperative for all of humanity  in favour of the common good.”


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged mayors from big cities to direct their efforts towards the care for the environment and the fight against human trafficking.

The Pope was speaking to some 70 mayors from around the world who are in the Vatican for a two-day workshop entitled “Modern Slavery and Climate Change” organized by the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences. (Linda Bordoni reported for Vatican Radio).


Telling those present he has “a lot of hope” that negotiators at Paris climate talks will reach an ambitious agreement to reduce global warming, Pope Francis said he places great trust in the United Nations to bring about a good agreement. But – he stressed – he also wants U.N. nations to prioritize fighting both human trafficking and the exploitation of the world’s most vulnerable people.

And referring to his recently published encyclical “Laudato Si”, Pope Francis made it quite clear that the document is not an encyclical on the environment.

It’s a social encyclical – he explained –  because the state of the environment is directly and intimately linked to the life and wellbeing of humankind.

And this is not the only connection Pope Francis made in his off-the-cuff greeting in which he chose to speak in his native Spanish.

He said huge migratory waves of peoples across the globe are triggered by environmental issues such as desertification and deforestation which leave people and entire communities without the possibility of seeking a livelihood.

Thus – he said – the exodus that takes them into urban centers gives life to human trafficking which brings with it diverse forms of exploitation (be it economical or sexual) of women, children and vulnerable people.

Pope Francis concluded his address with a series of quotes and references to theologian Romano Guardini and his theology of the human person.

And he issued a strong call to all the Mayors present at the event to be aware of these problems and to seek solutions working – he said – from the peripheries towards the center.


(ANSA) – Rome, July 21 – As many as 33 million tourists and pilgrims are expected to visit Rome during the Jubilee year that begins in December, Censis said Tuesday. The research firm said that about 70% of the visitors will come from abroad, spending an estimated eight billion euros. According to Censis, about 25 million tourists came to Rome for the Jubilee of 2000, and it expects a sizeable increase for this Holy Year.

“The extraordinary flow of tourists will be part of the great wave seeing the growing attractiveness of Rome,” said Censis. It added that includes “a proliferation” of visitors who now see Rome as a day trip rather than a place worth staying overnight or longer.

On the second anniversary of his election last March Pope Francis Francis announced the special Jubilee year to begin December 8 and end November 20, 2016 in order to underscore a central spiritual theme of his pontificate. The Jubilee has been dedicated to the theme of Mercy.  http://popefrancisnewsapp.com/

ANSA also reported today that there are nearly 4,000 “irregular” tourist lodgings currently on offer in the Eternal City, making up a total of about 36,000 beds, with unregulated or “under the table” structures totaling about 75% of those, said Censis on Tuesday. The think tank said the city government loses around 40 million euros annually due to the phenomenon. Censis conducted the study, called “Rome Towards the Jubilee,” in light of the special Jubilee year announced by Pope Francis, which will begin in December and is expected to attract up to 33 million tourists and religious pilgrims to Rome.


Among the several interesting meetings I had yesterday was one with Salvatore Martinez, president of the Vatican Foundation “International Family Center of Nazareth,” a fascinating foundation that, for so many faithful, has gone almost unnoticed. Yet the foundation has a very important scope and will play a very big role in Philadelphia at the September world Meeting of Families.

This Foundation was based on an idea of St. John Paul, instituted by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and is being brought to fruition by Pope Francis.  I will be writing and talking about the Foundation at length in the near future but have to cut things short today in this column.  Here, in a nutshell, is a look at this Center via the foundation website:

The Center will be an International Observatory on pastoral ministry to the family in the world, particularly in the Holy Land and in the Middle East – with regard to mass media, welfare, education, formation, leisure, inter cultural and ecumenical dialogue – in collaboration with Bishops’ Conferences throughout the world, with Catholic Universities, and International Institutions at the service of the family. It will offer material support to families in difficulty, in a special way to those of the Holy Land, through international projects of fund raising.

The Center will offer: an auditorium, 500 seating capacity; a Diocesan Pastoral Center; a conference center and study halls; a church with 500 seats; housing for the local community; a hotel with 105 rooms and restaurants designed to welcome families; a recreation center and playground for children; outside space, a parking lot and areas for fun and leisure.

Here is a link to the website: http://www.fondazionevaticanafamigliadinazareth.org/sito.html?language=EN&page=main

It has been a wonderfully fruitful day, with lots of behind-the-scenes work and meetings and tapings for television, but all that has left me little time at this hour for a more informative column.  Just one news story – see VIS’ account of the  conference held today in the Holy See Press Office.


(VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, presented the meeting “Modern slavery and climate change: the commitment of the cities”, and the symposium “Prosperity, people and planet in the cities”, to be held in the Casina Pio IV (Vatican, 21-22 July). These events will be attended by the mayors of major cities, local administrators and various representatives of the United Nations, and the speakers will include expert communications consultants Michael Shank and Alessandro Gaetano.

“The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is in agreement with the Holy Father in perceiving a clear link between these two emergencies: the crisis of climate change and the social crisis, both of anthropic origin”, explained the prelate. Our commitment, following the Encyclical, is to ensuring that all society is made aware of these phenomena and of the human responsibilities for these crises, and reacts with firmness, as a new moral imperative for all humanity in favour of the common good”.

“In this fundamental moral context, cities and their mayors play a key role”, explained the prelate. “Currently, most of humanity is concentrated in formal and informal urban settlements and this trend is set to increase. Each of our cultural traditions also affirms the inherent dignity and the social responsibility of each individual in relation to the common good. They emphasise the importance of living together in the polis for the fulfilment of the social, cultural and religious identity of every human being and for the beauty, wonder and inherent goodness of the world, recognising it as a precious gift that supports life and is entrusted to our stewardship. It is not a matter of preserving it as in a museum, but of developing it according to its potential, following the very laws of nature. Respecting and developing “our common home” rather than devastating it is a moral imperative”.

Bishop Sanchez Sorondo noted that, as the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences has remarked, although the poor and the excluded have the least effect on climate change and often live on the outskirts of the city, they are the most exposed to the terrible threat posed by human-induced climate disruption. However, the world now has within reach the scientific knowledge, technological tools and financial means to reverse anthropogenic climate change, while ending extreme poverty at the same time through solutions that include renewable and low carbon emission energy sources. “Financing the initiative in favour of this ‘integral ecology’, including the decisive containment of human-induced climate change, could also be based on the relentless pursuit of peace, which would allow a redistribution of public spending from military expenditure towards urgent investments for the benefit of social inclusion and the effective monitoring of carbon emissions, particularly in the cities”.

With reference to the presence of mayors at the events on 21 and 22 July, he emphasised that the intention of the Pontifical Academy was for them “to commit to promoting the empowerment of the poor and of those who live in vulnerable conditions in our cities and in our urban settlements, reducing their exposure to extreme weather events caused by radical environmental, economic and social instabilities, which create fertile ground for forced migration and human trafficking”.

“At the same time”, he added, “we would like the mayors to commit to put an end to abuse, exploitation, human trafficking and all forms of modern slavery within their communities. These tragic occurrences, which Pope Benedict and Pope Francis termed ‘crimes against humanity’, also include forced labour, prostitution, organ trafficking and domestic servitude. We would also like the mayors to commit to developing resettlement and social integration programmes for the victims, at the national and local levels, in order to avoid their involuntary repatriation”.

“In short”, he concluded, “we would like our cities and urban settlements to become more socially inclusive, safe, resilient and ecologically integrated”.

The studies of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences on the impact of climate change can be consulted on-line at www.pas.va


I received an email asking me to explain the meaning of the words Bull of Indiction – words mentioned often this past weekend in news stories when the official Bull for the forthcoming Jubilee of Mercy was read. Read on for the answer…..


During his March 13 surprise announcement of the upcoming extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy, Pope Francis said the official proclamation of this Jubilee would take place with the publication of the Bull of Indiction on Saturday 11 April, at 5.30 pm in St. Peter’s Basilica. (a Getty image)

Bull of Indiction - Getty

That took place, of course, last Saturday in St. Peter’s Basilica when Pope Francis celebrated the First Vespers of Divine Mercy Sunday, telling the faithful that there will be a Jubilee “because this is the time for mercy. It is the favorable time to heal wounds, a time not to be weary of meeting all those who are waiting to see and to touch with their hands the signs of the closeness of God, a time to offer everyone the way of forgiveness and reconciliation.”

Vespers followed a reading of part of the papal Bull of Indiction for the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy that will open on December 8, 2015 and conclude on November 20, 2016. To one side of the Holy Door, the Regent of the Papal Household, Msgr. Leonardo Sapienza, as apostolic protonotary, read various extracts from the official document convoking the extraordinary Holy Year.

The Bull of Indiction was then handed to the four cardinal archpriests of the papal basilicas of Rome: Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican; Cardinal Agostino Vallini, archpriest of the Basilica of St. John Lateran; Cardinal James Michael Harvey, archpriest of St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls; and Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

In addition, to expressing his wish that the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy be celebrated in Rome and throughout the world, Pope Francis gave a copy of the Bull – thus presenting it symbolically to all bishops – to Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; to Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples; and to Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

What is a Bull of Indiction?

The term bull (from the Latin bulla = bubble or, more generally, a rounded object) originally indicated the metal capsule used to protect the wax seal attached with a cord to a document of particular importance, to attest to its authenticity and, as a consequence, its authority. Over time, the term began to be used first to indicate the seal, then the document itself, so that nowadays it is used for all papal documents of special importance that bear, or at least traditionally would have borne, the Pontiff’s seal.

The Bull for the Indiction (formal announcement or proclamation) of a jubilee, for instance in the case of an extraordinary Holy Year, aside from indicating its time, with the opening and closing dates and the main ways in which it will be implemented, constitutes the fundamental document for recognising the spirit in which it is announced, and the intentions and the outcomes hoped for by the Pontiff, who invokes it for the Church.


(VIS) – On June 6 Pope Francis will make an apostolic trip to Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, departing Rome’s Fiumicino airport at 7.30 a.m., and arriving at Sarajevo International Airport an hour later. A welcome ceremony will be held in the square adjacent to the presidential palace, during which he will meet with the presidency of the country and the local authorities, to whom he will address his greetings. (Lonely Planet image)

SARAJEVO - LOnely Planet

At 11 a.m., in the Kosevo Stadium, he will celebrate Holy Mass, after which he will transfer to the apostolic nunciature for lunch with bishops. Following a short rest, at 4.20 p.m. he will meet with priests, men and women religious, and seminarians. An hour later he will participate in an ecumenical and interreligiouseeting in the International Centre for Franciscan students.

The Holy Father will meet with young people at 6.30 p.m in the “John Paul II” diocesan youth centre, and at around 8 p.m. will return to the airport to embark on his return flight for Rome, where he is expected to arrive at 9.20 p.m.

The official website for the papal visit: http://www.papa.ba/en/


The Master of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, Msgr. Guido Marini has issued the following calendar of celebrations to be presided by Pope Francis from April to June 2015: (news.va)


APRIL 2015

26    IV Sunday of Easter :   St. Peter’s Basilica, 9:30 a.m. – Holy Mass with priestly ordinations to be followed at 12 noon by the Regina Coeli.

MAY 2015

3      V Sunday of Easter:  Pastoral visit to the parish “Santa Maria Regina Pacis” in Ostia, an ancient coastal town outside Rome, 4:00 p.m.

12    Tuesday:    St. Peter’s Basilica, 5:30 p.m. – Holy Mass for the opening of the General Assembly of Caritas Internationalis

17    VI Sunday of Easter:   St. Peter’s Square, 10:00 a.m. – Canonizations of Giovanna Emilia De Villeneuve,  Maria Cristina dell’Immacolata Concezione Brando, Maria Alfonsina Danil Ghattas and Maria di Gesù Crocifisso Baouardy.

24   Pentacost Sunday:   St. Peter’s Basilica, 10.00 a.m. – Holy Mass.

JUNE 2015

4  Thursday, Solemnity of the Blessed Body and Blood of Christ:  St John Lateran Square, 7:00 p.m. –  Corpus Domini Mass and Procession to Saint Mary Major Basilica and Eucharistic Blessing

6  Saturday:   Apostolic visit to Sarajevo (Bosnia)

21-22 Sunday/Monday :  Pastoral visit to the northern Italian city of Turin

25  Saturday:  Hall of the Consistory, 10:00 a.m. – Consistory for a number of canonization causes 29  Monday:  St Peter’s Basilica, 9:30 a.m. – Pallium Mass


(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Science Academies have launched a new website aimed at combatting the worldwide scourge of human trafficking. The website builds on the success achieved over the past year by the ecumenical Global Freedom Network, including a joint declaration against modern slavery signed by Pope Francis and leaders of different faith communities in countries around the world. (news.va)


The new site, www.endslavery.va includes Catholic and Anglican resources, as well as links to international anti-trafficking legislation and details of upcoming events organised by the Pontifical Academies for Sciences and Social Sciences.


It was the AP (Associated Press – or Amazing Priests, if you like) story that was published last Thursday that started the ball rolling on what has now become an avalanche of views of my video of the two priests, Fathers David Rider and John Gibson dancing at the Rector’s Dinner last April at NAC (they were seminarians then). As I write, there have been 1,415,931 views! Trisha Thomas did the research and wrote the story and took AP’s cameramen to NAC to video some footage. Her extensive account of this saga is on her blog: http://www.mozzarellamamma.com/2014/romes-dueling-dancing-duo/

It was quite a weekend for me – not only watching the numbers grow on the video and continuing to answer requests to air it or otherwise feature it but I have also been spending time with some friends who are visiting Rome: Isabella and her mother who were in town from Vienna, Austria; Gary and Meredith Krupp from New York (you know Gary from my radio shows and blogs and from The World Over), and Marie Fiscus from Toronto, Canada. Michael Hesemann just landed in Rome and two of my dearest friends from Amman, Jordan, are about to land.

Marie works for Air Canada and is in Rome on a brief holiday. She has friends from previous visits and one of her friends, Luigi, who has a B&B in Rome, arranged, though his brothers (it is definitely WHO you know in Italy), for a small group to attend a beautiful concert last night in St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls. We all met up at the basilica and ended up in the third row to hear Verdi’s “Requiem” performed by the IlluminArt Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra from Japan, conducted by the amazing 44-year-old female conductor Tomomi Nishimoto.

One of the men who helped arrange everything for this small group of Luigi’s friends is Gilberto, who has worked for the Vatican in one capacity or another for 50 years!! We discovered after the concert that we live about 100 feet from each other on Via di Porta Cavalleggeri! Gilberto was our guardian angel all evening and made it possible for me to greet a longtime friend, Cardinal James Harvey, archpriest of the basilica. Truly an evening to remember – in so many ways.

I uploaded two brief videos of several minutes of the “Requiem” and only wish I had known precisely when the concert would finish (even though I was reading the lyrics in the program) because the end was extraordinary! Not the music! The silence! As the last note was played, every member of the choir and orchestra bowed their heads and they – and we – all remained in total silence for perhaps a minute! A stunning and unexpected – and perfect! – conclusion!

Here is a slide show of St. Paul’s basilica and a few pictures of the orchestra.

And now a look back at some of the news of the weekend. I am highlighting the Pope’s remarks to members of the Schönstatt movement because he talks about marriage and the family and we’ve only recently concluded the synod on the family.


Saturday morning, in a lively exchange with over 7,000 members of the Schoenstatt movement, an international Marian and apostolic organization marking the centenary of its founding in Germany, Pope Francis participated in a Q&A session, replying to questions on a broad range of topics. Schoenstatt members are both lay and religious, including many priests, from scores of nations around the world.

Pope Francis stated that the institution of Christian marriage has never been attacked so much as nowadays given the temporary or “throw-away” culture that has become so widespread. He said marriage should not be seen just a social rite and urged priests to stay close to couples and especially children experiencing the trauma of a family break-up.

In its report on the meeting, Vatican Radio listed some of the wide range of issues treated by the Holy Father as he answered questions off-the-cuff: mistaken views about marriage and its true meaning, the temporary or throw-away culture, the need to be courageous and daring, Mary’s missionary role, the Devil’s aim for disunity and a look at why the concept of solidarity is under attack.

In a question about marriage, the Pope was asked what advice he would offer to those who don’t feel welcome in the Church. He stressed the need for priests to stay close to each member of their flock without becoming scandalized over what takes place within the family. He said a bishop during the recent synod on the family asked whether priests are aware of what children feel and the psychological damage caused when their parents separate? The Pope noted how, in some of these cases, the parent who is separating ends up living at home only part-time with the children, and he described this as a “new and totally destructive” form of co-habitation.

Francis said the Christian family and marriage have never been so attacked as they are nowadays because of growing relativism over the concept of the sacrament of marriage.  When it comes to preparing for marriage, he said all too often there is a misunderstanding over the difference between the sacrament of marriage and the social rite. Marriage is forever, he said, but in our present society there is a temporary or throw-away mindset that has become widespread.

Turning to the missionary role of Mary, the Pope reminded people that nobody can search for faith without the help of Mary, the Mother of God, saying a Church without Mary is like an orphanage. When asked how he maintains a sense of joy and hope despite the many problems and wars in our world, Pope Francis replied that he uses prayer, trust, courage and daring. To dare is a grace, he said, and a prayer without courage or daring is a prayer that doesn’t work.

Asked about reform of the Church, the Pope said people describe him as a revolutionary but he pointed out that the Church has always been that way and is constantly reforming itself.  He stressed that the first revolution or way of renewing the Church is through inner holiness and that counts far more than more external ways such as reforming the Curia and the Vatican bank. Pope Francis also spoke about the importance of having a freedom of spirit and warned against closing ourselves up in a mass of rules and regulations, thus becoming a caricature of the doctors of law.

The theme of our throw-away society was touched on a number of times by the Pope – as he has done throughout his pontificate. In yet another reply, he said our present-day culture is one that destroys the human bonds that bind us together. And in this context, he continued, one word that risks dying or disappearing in our society is ‘solidarity’ and this is also a symptom of our inability to forge alliances.

Pope Francis also warned about the Devil, stressing that he exists and that his first weapon is creating disunity.


An estimated 80,000 plus faithful filled St. Peter’s Square on Sunday to pray the noon Angelus with the Pope and listen to his Sunday reflections on the day’s Gospel reading.

Sunday’s Gospel by Matthew recounts the day that some Pharisees put Jesus to the test by asking him which commandment was the most important in the Law. Francis explained that Jesus, citing the book of Deuteronomy, answered: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”

“He could have stopped there,” said the Pope. “Instead, Jesus adds something else that was not asked by the expert of the law. Indeed, he said: ‘And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself’. Even this second commandment is not invented by Jesus, but rather taken from the Book of Leviticus. Its newness consists precisely in putting together these two commandments – the love for God and love for one’s neighbor – revealing that they are inseparable and complementary, they are two sides of the same coin. You cannot love God without loving your neighbor and you can’t love your neighbur without loving God.”

In fact, said Pope Francis, “the visible sign that a Christian can show to give witness to the world … of the love of God is the love of his brethren. The commandment of love for God and one’s neighbor is the first, not because it is the first in the list of commandment. Jesus does not place it at the top, but rather at the center since it is the heart from which everything must begin and to which everything must return and refer to. … In the light of Jesus’ words, love is the measure of faith, and faith is the soul of love. We can never separate religious life from the service of the brothers and sisters, to those real brethren we meet.

After these reflections and praying the Angelus with the faithful, the Holy Father recalled the beatification Saturday in Sao Paulo, Brazil of Mother Assunta Marchetti: the Italian-born co-founder of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo, known as “Scalabrinians” after the late 19th century bishop of Piacenza, Giuseppe Scalabrini, who helped found the missionary congregation originally dedicated to maintaining Catholic faith and practice among emigres to the New World, which now focuses its missionary work on migrants, refugees and displaced persons.

Pope Francis had greetings for pilgrims from Italy and around the world, with special words for the Peruvian community in Rome, which came to St. Peter’s Square in procession with an image of El Senor de los Milagros – the Lord of Miracles – an image of Christ crucified that was painted by an anonymous freedman in the 17th century in Lima, and that has become a focus of deep veneration and intense devotion, especially among Peruvians. (source VIS)



This morning, Pope Francis addressed the Pontifical Academy of Sciences as they meet in plenary session, and witnessed the unveiling of a bust of his predecessor, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI. Speaking in the academy headquarters, the lovely Casina Pio IV in the heart of the Vatican gardens, Francis called his predecessor, “a great Pope: great for the power and penetration of his intellect, great for his significant contribution to theology, great for his love for the Church and of human beings, great for his virtue and piety.” Today’s unveiling comes as the academy meets on the theme of evolving concepts of nature.

The Pope recalled that Benedict XVI was the first to invite a president of this academy to participate in the Synod on new evangelization, “aware of the importance of science in modern culture.”


Pope Francis noted that the Catholic intellectual tradition has always affirmed the fundamental compatibility of a natural order that unfolds and develops, with the idea that the universe has been made, and does not merely happen. “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation,” he said. “The scienctist, must [nevertheless] be moved by a trust in the idea that nature hides, within her evolutionary mechanisms, potentialities that it is the task of intellect and freedom to discover and actuate, in order to achieve the [kind of] development that is in the design of the Creator.”

Click here for his full talk: http://www.visnews-en.blogspot.it/2014/10/francis-in-pontifical-academy-of.html