You’ll read an interesting story (below) about the faithful who processed in Manila for the statue of the Black Nazarene, an annual event in the Philippines. What the story says about the crowd for this statue makes you wonder about the crowds for Pope Francis!  The thought of millions coming to see him is both exhilarating and scary. When st. Pope John Paul was in Manila for the World Meeting of Families, 5 million attended the Mass and, if I correctly remember the story, the Pope had to be brought to the altar area by helicopter!

As I said today on my Facebook page about this story: When I posted the news recently that almost 6 million people saw Pope Francis in 2014 in Rome and at the Vatican, one reader wrote me from the Philippines to say that 6 million would be seeing the Pope on just one day in the Philippines! This story may be a precursor!

FYI: Click here to see the winning numbers for the prizes of Vatican-sponsored lottery for papal charities (I did not win the car or even a bike or espresso coffee machine!)http://www.vaticanstate.va/content/dam/vaticanstate/documenti/estrazione-lotteria.pdf


The interview segment this week on “Vatican Insider” features Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York when he spoke at a conference in October at the North American College to introduce CRUX, an online religious news website from the Boston Globe. John Allen, well-known vaticanista and editor for CRUX, presided at the evening’s events that featured talks by Cardinals George Pell and Timothy Dolan. I had taped Cardinal Dolan’s talk about Pope Francis and it was only when I got home that I learned my recorder was not functioning. I lost 3 interviews that day but Rome Reports, which had taped the talks, came to the rescue and, with their permission, I bring you Cardinal Dolan’s very interesting talk.

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As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live 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 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=


A communique from the Pontifical Council Cor Unum announcd that Pope Francis has called a meeting in the Vatican on Haiti for Saturday, January 10 on the theme “The Communion of the Church: Memory and Hope for Haiti Five Years after the Earthquake.” The meeting has been organized by Cor Unum and by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, in collaboration with the bishops of Haiti. The intention of the meeting is to keep the focus on Haiti after the devastating earthquake of 2010 and to evaluate the aid offered thus far by Pope Francis, the Vatican and the Church and individuals and organiztions, and to repeat the closeness of the Church to Haitians.

In January 2010, Haiti was struck by an earthquake whose epicenter was located near the capital, Port-au-Prince, causing the death of 230,000 people and devastating the territory, destroying much of the infrastructure, thousands of homes, and all the hospitals on the island. According to Red Cross estimates, the disaster affected three million people.

Expected to attend the Vatican meeting are representatives of the Holy See, the local Haitian church, various episcopal conferences, workers from Catholic charitable organizations, religious congregations and several Holy See-accredited diplomatic representatives. Participants include Cardinal Chibly Langlois, bishop of Les Cayes and president of the Episcopal Conference of Haiti, Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, U.S.A., Alberto Piatti, president of the AVSI (Association of Volunteers in International Service) Foundation, engaged in a charitable works on the island, and Eduardo Marques de Almeida, former representative of the Inter-American Development Bank in Haiti.

The conference is set to start at 9 a.m. in the St. Pius X building with greetings from Cardinal Marc Ouellet, president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, and a report from Cardinal Robert Sarah who, as president of “Cor Unum” until the end of 2014, managed the Holy Father’s donations to the local Church of the island.  He has since been appointed a prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

Participants will debate the material and spiritual reconstruction process and there will be interventions by At 11.30 a.m. the delegates present will be received in audience by Pope Francis. Saturday afternoon, there will be presentations by those who work in the context of reconstruction, to enable an exchange of experiences regarding the issue of international cooperation and the priorities and criteria for future action. At the end of the meeting, Msgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, secretary of “Cor Unum,” will give an overview of the problems that remain to be resolved.

The conference will end with a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin in the church of Santa Maria in Traspontina, at 6.30 p.m.


More than a million barefoot Filipinos paraded a centuries-old icon of Jesus Christ through Manila on Friday in the nation’s biggest religious festival, less than a week before Pope Francis visits Asia’s most Catholic country.  In fervent displays of devotion, huge crowds of men, women and children chanted “Viva!” (Long live!) as they marched through streets in light rain for the annual procession of the Black Nazarene.  The procession got under way by mid-morning after organizers took nearly two hours to control huge crowds surging dangerously toward the icon to rub white handkerchiefs against it. (Photo by AFP)


Many Filipinos believe the statue holds miraculous healing powers and make lifetime vows to join the annual parade, many wearing T-shirts emblazoned with an image of Christ crowned in thorns.  Isko Moreno, the vice mayor of Manila city, told ABS-CBN television that about a million people took part at the start of the procession, and many more were waiting along a circuitous route through Manila’s old quarter. One man died Friday when he suffered a heart attack near the statue, Johnny Yu, head of the Manila disaster office, told the television station.  An estimated 82% of the Philippines’ 100 million people are Catholics, and the Black Nazarene festival is a display of the vibrancy of the religion ahead of the papal visit which begins on January 15.

During his four-day stay, Pope Francis will comfort victims of deadly Super Typhoon Haiyan in central Leyte island, and celebrate mass for millions in the capital’s largest outdoor park.  (Source: Vatican Radio, Philippine newspapers)