The main story below from the Pontifical Council for Culture is a very important piece of news. Be sure to share this with you pastor, for starters, and I can only hope that every bishop around the world, especially if his diocese has precious and valuable art, will have seen these critical guidelines.

For your reading pleasure this weekend, here is a link to the English edition of L’Osservatore Romano:.


Welcome to a new edition of Vatican Insider. A update about the interview segment – or what is normally an interview. With some covid19 restrictions still in place, I have not been able yet to get out and about and visit people for interviews but hope to resume that soon. In the meantime, I continue with my SPECIAL presentations and this week offer Part I of a visit to the ever- glorious St. Peter’s Square and Basilica. Obviously as a podcast it will be very useful when you finally travel back to Italy and Rome!

So this week, be a tourist for a few minutes! Come to Rome! You know that’s where you want to be!

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: (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)


From the website of the Pontifical Council for Culture:

There have been reports that, in this period of health emergency, the necessary disinfection of areas, vestments and sacred vessels for worship has been carried out in some cases using detergents that are not suitable for objects of art and cultural heritage.

We publish below a document drawn up not by the Pontifical Council for Culture, but shared by it. It offers simple indications to avoid causing irreversible damage to the most precious and delicate objects present in our churches.

Above all, it is recommended that priests or those in charge of the churches make contact with the cultural heritage specialists in their diocese or competent civil authorities, especially in the most delicate cases.

Recommendations in view of COVID 19 regarding the handling, cleaning and disinfection of cultural property:

SUMMARY TABLE: A graph with recommendations – the Dos and Donts – for handling, cleaning and disinfecting cultural heritage:


Rome, May 21 – Italy saw 47,000 more deaths in March and April this year than last, social security and pensions agency INPS said Thursday. In January and February, it said, there were 10,000 fewer than expected. The INPS study, Analysis of Mortality in the COVID-19 Epidemic, stressed that the number of deaths from the coronavirus were 28,000 in March and April. “With due caution,” the report said, “we can attribute a great part of the higher deaths that happened in the last two months, with respect to the baseline, to the ongoing epidemic.”

Florence, May 21 – Florence’s famed Uffizi gallery will reopen on Wednesday June 3, director Eike Schmidt as the Boboli gardens reopened on Thursday. Palazzo Pitti, the Renaissance palazzo across the Arno from the Uffizi and next to the Boboli gardens, will reopen on Thursday May 28, Schmidt said.




Pope at Sophia University in Japan: Seek, find, and spread Divine Wisdom
Pope Francis visits Sophia University in Tokyo at the conclusion of his Apostolic Visit to Japan, and affirms that “quality education should not be the privilege of a few.” (+ VIDEO)

Social media takes on personal face as Pope visits Sophia University
As Pope Francis concludes his Apostolic Journey to Japan, students and staff at Sophia University wonder at how they came to greet him in person.

Pope bids farewell to Japan, leaves hearts overflowing with gratitude
Pope Francis concludes his Apostolic Journey to Japan, fulfilling his dream to be a missionary to the country and spurring the Japanese Church to protect all life. It was a bittersweet farewell that Pope Francis bade to the people of Japan on Tuesday, as he boarded the papal plane at Tokyo-Haneda airport.

The Holy Father has named Msgr. Robert J. McClory of the clergy of the archdiocese of Detroit and rector of the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica in Royal Oak, Michigan as bishop of Gary in Indiana. His Vatican bio notes that in addition to his native English, he speaks, Italian, Spanish and knows sign language.

A longer biography can be read here:

In part: Monsignor Robert J. McClory is the Pastor and Rector of the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica in Royal Oak, Michigan. He was appointed by Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron on July 1, 2017. As a newly ordained priest he offered his first Mass at Shrine on May 23, 1999.

He currently serves on the Archdiocese of Detroit Episcopal Council, College of Consultors, Priest Assignment Board, and New Evangelization Council. He is a leadership consultant with the Catholic Leadership Institute, offering leadership training to priests, deacons, seminarians, parish and diocesan leaders. He serves as the spiritual advisor to Detroit Team Eight for Teams of Our Lady, a marriage enrichment apostolate.

He has earned degrees at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University and completed his license in canon law at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome. He is a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and a third degree Knight of Columbus.

ROMAN CURIA NEWS: In the event you want to occasionally follow news from a few of the congregations, councils, dicasteries and other offices in the Roman Curia, here are some interesting links:

Click to access newsletter27.pdf

This was the highlight piece of news from Laity, Family and Life: On the Feast of Christ the King, the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life is happy to announce the establishment of an International Youth Advisory Body made up of 20 young people from different regions of the world and some international movements, associations and communities. A specific request was made in the Final Document of the 2018 Synod for the creation of an entity like this in order to reinforce the work being done by the Youth Office of the Dicastery (cf. no. 123).


This might be the last column for a few days as the three-day conference I am in Honolulu to attend and speak at starts tomorrow morning and runs through Sunday afternoon. I will be bsuy every waking moment and what I can post, I will, although text and photos will more likely appear on my Facebook page.

Monday morning at 7:30 am I will be joining Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu and other pilgrims for a visit to Kalaupapa – we’re scheduled to be back in late afternoon. We fly to Kalaupapa on Makani Kai Airlines from a small airport adjacent to the Honolulu international airport. In any case, as you can see, my time for writing lengthy posts will be limited in coming days.

I do want to share a nice story with you – a happy ending, if you will.

The parish office of St. Augustine Church is just meters from my condo and this is where I had copies of my speech printed as I have no facilities in the condo. I know Fr. Lane Akiona, the pastor and Sr. Cheryl Wint who is one of the organizers of the Damien and Mariane conference, and Sister was kind to make the copies.

I decided late this afternoon that I wanted a larger font for my speech as I have no idea how high or low my podium will be. The parish office was closed when I made this decision so I went to the Marriott hotel right across the street. I am a Marriott Rewards member and was sure they might help me out in the business office by printing some pages. The smiling gal at the front desk heard my story and, smiling but firm, said, “I’m sorry we can only do this for hotel guests.”

I truly was very surprised.  I naturally intended to pay for this service! Maybe I should have asked for the manager but I left the hotel, exiting through a large courtyard that has many stores. I stopped in a Segway office to ask if they knew where I could have some copies made – was there a Kinko’s nearby, perhaps? With huge smiles and in the typical Hawaiian friendly manner, they replied, “we’d be happy to do that for you!”

And they printed my speech – color parts and all –and would not let me pay a cent! I will find something very nice to do for them – in additon to promoting Segway!

The staff asked what my speech was about and I said, “I’m telling people how they can become saints!” They were amazed and then asked – quite naturally! – how does one becomes a saint. I stole a few lines from my talk and we spent a few interesting minutes together.

You never know in life, right?


And now a few words about the conference that starts tomorrow in the Vatican. If bi-location was a fact of life, that’s also where I’d be this weekend. I know Kairos and its leader, Cris Gangemi and have covered other conferences they’ve held in Rome and have interviewed Cris. I hope this weekend is a huge success for the organizers!


Here are some photos I took last evening – Waikiki by night:



Tune in to “Vatican Insider” this weekend when my guest on the interview segment is Vicki Thorn, a recently re-appointed member of the Pontifical Academy for Life. You have heard Vicki before as she is the founder of Project Rachel and also Executive Director of the National office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation & Healing in Milwaukee.

The academy, founded by Pope St. John Paul II and professor Jerome Lejeune in 1994, is dedicated to promoting the Church’s consistent life ethic and carries out research on bioethics and Catholic moral theology. Over the years it has promoted and developed the Church’s teaching on various areas of medical ethics, including procreation, in vitro fertilization, gene therapy, euthanasia and abortion.

The academy’s entire membership was completely dissolved last December by Pope Francis. He has since re-appointed some former members, appointed new ones and ordered that the statutes be completely re-written.

Tune in to Part II of our interview and listen to Vicki as she talks about the first meeting of the newly reconstituted Academy.

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 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:   For VI archives:


(Vatican Radio) A global conference will open in Rome on Friday looking at best practices to help people with disabilities fully engage in the life of the Church.

The event is entitled “Catechesis and Persons with Disabilities: A Necessary Engagement in the Daily Pastoral Life of the Church.” It is sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization and partnered by The Kairos Forum, a UK based organization that focuses on the spiritual and religious needs of people with disabilities.

Over the course of the three-day gathering 450 experts from around the world will share their insights.

Vatican Radio’s Lydia O’Kane spoke to Monsignor Geno Sylva, English language official at the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, about the goals of the conference.

Speaking about how the conference came about, Msgr. Sylva said, “this international conference is the fruit that was sewn during the Jubilee (of Mercy) with all the other discussions that took place afterwards.”

He underlined that, “the aim and the goal is for us as a Church and for this Pontifical Council to really learn what are the best practices that are already taking place throughout the world in catechizing people with special needs …”

The Church and Disability

Msgr. Sylva stated that this conference is also meant to “highlight the responsibility that we have as a Church to take into account the special needs for each of the baptized, so that we can present to him or her the catechism, the catechesis of our Church in a way that they can receive it; they can grasp the elements of it .”

The global conference, “Catechesis and Persons with Disabilities: A Necessary Engagement in the Daily Pastoral Life of the Church,” will run from the 20th to the 22nd of October at the Urbaniana University in Rome.






Following the regulations and in agreement with the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pontificia Academia Latinitatis is curating the competition for the award of the Prize of the Pontifical Academies, 2017 edition, which aims to promote and develop Christian humanism. The prize consists of the sum of 20.000,00 (twenty thousand) Euros, which may be awarded ex aequo, and will be presented by the Cardinal Secretary of State in the name of the Holy Father during the annual Public Meeting of the Pontifical Academies.

The academy proposes two thematic areas (one or both may be chosen):

  1. Reception of ancient Latinitas Christiana between the medieval and modern eras.
  2. Docendo invenire thesauros: methodological proposals for the teaching of Latin.

The first is reserved to scholars who have produced in the last five years doctoral theses or publications on the theme. Candidates must be aged between 25 and 40 on 30 April 2017.

The second is reserved to institutions (academies, schools, associations, foundations, research groups etc.) that are engaged in formative activity among the youth. The institutions must have been active in the specific training and teaching sector for at least five years.

Candidates and institutions must send their requests to participate to the Pontificia Academia Latinitatis, Piazza San Calisto, 16, 00120, Vatican City, by 2pm on 12 May 2017.

Requests to participate in the competition must be accompanied by the individual scholar’s curriculum vitae and other publications or documentation.

The institutions must send a copy of their statutes or an illustrative outline of their aims accompanied by documentary proof of the teaching activity over the last five years.

The Commission is composed of Academicians who will formulate a proposal of candidates for the Prize that will be put to the evaluation of the Council of Coordination of the Pontifical Academies and then to the definitive decision of the Holy Father.



After his general audience catechesis this morning, which focused on the highlights of his recent three-day trip to Georgia and Azerbaijan, Pope Francis had a number of special greetings for certain groups attending the weekly audience. Among the 25,000 pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope saluted the “Vivere da Sportivi” Association (Living a Sporting Life). The Association is holding a “School of Fair Play” activity this week in Rome, which brings together secondary school students from all over Italy for a film festival showing student-made video projects exploring themes of integration and fair play, solidarity, and the Olympic spirit.

The Holy Father also had special words for former prisoners of the Auschwitz concentration camp during his greetings to Polish-speaking pilgrims at the end of the general audience. “Today we celebrate the memory of St. Faustina Kowalska. She reminded the world that God is rich in mercy and that His love is more powerful than death, sin and every evil. May this message of the Merciful Jesus, entrusted to her, bear fruit in your life with a deeper union with God and the works of mercy. Entrusting to the Lord ourselves and the difficult problems of the world, we frequently repeat: ‘Jesus, I trust in you!’. Praised be Jesus Christ.”

And then – a surprise greeting for “canine athletes”! Pope Francis often meets with athletes throughout the year– he is known to be a huge soccer fan – and at today’s audience he welcomed “canine athletes”! In fact, he spoke briefly with members of the “Federazione Italiana Sport Cinofili,” which is the Italian Federation dealing with “dog sports,” which test a canine’s agility and obedience. The Pope blessed the animals, petting many of the dogs, and shook hands with their trainers, mentioning the group by name during the audience.



The first ever global conference on Faith and Sport opened today in the Vatican on the theme ‘Sport at the Service of Humanity.’ Leading figures from the world of sport, religion and culture are among those attending the 3-day conference hosted by the Pontifical Council for Culture with the special support of the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee.

Pope Francis presided over the conference’s opening ceremony this afternoon in the Paul VI Hall, including special guests U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Thomas Bach, president of the IOC.

In addition to discussing how faith and sport can work together, the Vatican conference aims to launch a movement to develop – through sport – life skills, character, values and enjoyment of life, inspiring people to live in accordance with six principles: compassion, respect, love, enlightenment, balance and joy. Participants will be focusing in particular on how to use the benefits of sport to empower and help the poor and disadvantaged.

Two years ago, in an inspirational message to sports figures, Pope Francis said, “Challenge yourself in the game of life, as you do in the game of sport.” These brief words became the starting point for “Sport at the Service of Humanity” and its vision: bringing together global leaders and influential people from different faiths and from the worlds of sport and business to produce positive, actionable results on society.

The conference has been organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture under the leadership of Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi and includes leaders of the major religious traditions.

“Authentic sport is an expression of a fundamental category of the human person,” said Cardinal Ravasi at a press conference. “It is a free manifestation of creativity, fantasy and potential. This noble activity can degenerate through well-known devastating elements. But sport, in its origins as today, is part of the educational and personal growing process that can bring eurythmia (harmony) between body and soul”.


Perhaps you’ve read what I’ve previously written about this conference and perhaps even heard my interview with Cris Gangemi, director of The Kairos Forum, on my weekend radio program. “Vatican Insider.” Time allowing, I will be present at a session or two of this very important four-day conference, explained in the following news release today from The Kairos Forum.


The international disability events “Living Fully 2016” began today in Rome with an academic symposium. The events were officially opened by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.  The four days will be a celebration of disability, culture and faith.  Theologians and practitioners in the field of disability – both physical and intellectual, are gathering from the four corners of the globe to share their knowledge, insights and experience to foster greater engagement in Church communities far and wide. The event is pioneered by The Kairos Forum, a Caritas member disability organisation in the UK.  Cristina Gangemi, director was delighted when the Pontifical Council for Culture offered to be co Patron of this unique event.

“We are enormously grateful to Cardinal Ravasi for his practical support thus enabling this event to become a reality.  We hope that the outcome will be a greater awareness and positive culture, that faith communities of belonging for all abilities can be a reality. Our collective experience demonstrates how enriching these inclusive communities are – both practically and spiritually.”

Speakers at the symposium and conference include Professor Hans Reinders and Reverend Bill Gaventa, both longstanding scholars in disability theology.  Sr. Veronica Donatello Director of The Office of Disability and Catechesis at C.E. Katie Toone, communications Director, will speak on the topic of Pope Francis’ recent quote “Everybody or Nobody.”  Exploring the spectrum of disability, Fr Bill Braviner who serves an Anglican parish on Teeside and David Lucas of Disability & Jesus, will speak about disability within the context of faith.

The website:


Today, February 2, the Church celebrates the World Day for Consecrated Life. As I write, Pope Francis is presiding the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to mark this world day that takes place within the Year of Consecrated Life that began November 30, 2014, and will conclude February 2, 2016.

February 2 is also the feast of the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the temple. It has been tradition for several decades in the Vatican to dismantle both the Christmas tree and the nativity scene in St. Peter’s on this feast day, thus ending the Christmas season. This photo shows the dismantling but tomorrow I’ll bring you pix I took just days ago. Today, however, I still saw some nativity scenes in Vatican offices

Dismantliny Nativity Scene 2015

I have decided I like the Vatican’s Christmas calendar and so am on their time. My tree and the Christmas decorations in my home came down yesterday.


After praying the Angelus Sunday with the faithful in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis made the surprise announcement that he will make a one-day trip to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina on June 6:

“Dear brothers and sisters,” he began. “I would like to announce that on Saturday, June 6th, God-willing, I will go to Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia Herzegovina. I ask today that you pray so that my visit to that dear population be an encouragement for the Catholic faithful, lead to good gestures and contribute to the consolidation of brotherhood and peace, of inter-religious dialogue and friendship.”

This will be Pope Francis’ eighth international trip in almost two years of pontificate, following his trip in 2013 to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day, his 2014 travels to the Holy Land, South Korea, Albania, France and Turkey, and his January 2015 trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

In coming months he is scheduled to visit Naples on March 21, Turin on June 21 on the occasion of the exposition of the Shroud of Turin and then in September he will travel to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families, having recently added New York and Washington to that U.S. visit.

The first Pope to visit Sarajevo was John Paul II who, against all advice to the contrary, given the extremely difficult political situation and continuing threats of violence, traveled there on April 12-13, 1997. Plans for a Sarajevo trip had actually begun two and half years earlier but the Pope was forced to cancel for security reasons as Bosnian Serbs shelled the city. Though he was to make more international trips before his death in 2005, the Sarajevo visit was considered to be one of the most difficult of John Paul’s papacy.

The Bosnian War, an international armed conflict that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina from April 1992 to December 1995 was one of the results of the breakup of Yugoslavia. The main parties to this particular conflict were the forces of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina against those of the self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat entities within Bosnia and Herzegovina. After the Croatian and Slovenia secessions from Yugoslavia, the multi-ethnic Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence on February 29, 1992, a move that gained international recognition, but not internally by the different parties. At that time Bosnia-Herzegovina was inhabited by Muslim Bosniaks (44 percent), Orthodox Serbs (31 percent) and Catholic Croats (17 percent).  The war spread and was marked by ethnic cleansing of the Muslim Bosniak and Croat population, especially in eastern Bosnia and throughout the Srpska Republic.

More than 100,000 people died in this period and people are still being investigated today for war crimes.

When John Paul visited, at every stop he decried the violence of war and begged for peace. At the Sarajevo Airport, he said; “Never again war! Never again hatred and intolerance! This is the lesson taught by this century and this millennium that are now drawing to a close. This is the message with which I begin my Pastoral Visit. The inhuman logic of violence must be replaced by the constructive logic of peace.”

He told the Serbian Orthodox community: “After the years of the deplorable fratricidal war, at the approaching dawn of a new Christian millennium, we all feel the urgent need for a new reconciliation between Catholics and Orthodox, so that, with a new heart and a new spirit, it might be possible to resume the journey of an ever more perfect following of Christ, the High Priest and sole Shepherd of his flock.”

And to the Catholic bishops of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the future saint said: “The Church, at the end of this millennium and now at the threshold of the next, must continue perseveringly in her mission of proclaiming the Good News, so that ‘all men will be saved’ (1 Tm 2,4). May the three-year period of preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 find you zealous in your preaching, according to the program that I myself have set forth in the Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente. In following these objectives, you build up the body of Christ (cf. Eph 4,12) in these lands, in communion with the whole Church.”

And during the Angelus in Kosovo Stadium, he said: “From Sarajevo, the city symbolizing this 20th century as it draws to a close, may all the peoples of Europe hear the call for a united commitment on the path to peace! May the new millennium now at our doorstep open with a determined resolve to build an era of social growth in harmony, with the contribution of the particular gifts, with which each nation, in the course of its history, has been enriched by God, the Lord and Father of all peoples!”

In fact, Sarajevo has been called the “Jerusalem of Europe”[ and the “Jerusalem of the Balkans.” One author noted that, until late in the 20th century, Sarajevo was the only major European city to have a mosque, Catholic church, Orthodox church and synagogue within the same neighborhood.

It was in Sarajevo, of course that Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated on June 28, 1914, the event that sparked World War I. During the Bosnia War, Sarajevo was under siege for 1,425 days, apparently the longest siege of a city in the history of modern warfare.

The city and shrine town of Medjugorje is located in southern Bosnia-Herzegovina, about 60 miles south of Sarajevo. No mention of a side trip was made by Pope Francis Sunday in his Angelus announcement of a trip to Sarajevo.

On January 18, 2014, Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, confirmed that the international commission investigating the events in Medjugorje, including reported Marian apparitions, had held its last meeting a day earlier. The commission, created by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is presided by Cardinal Camillo Ruini. It had reportedly completed its work and was to submit the outcome of its study to the congregation. The results of that study have not yet been made public. The investigative comission was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in March 2010.


Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, today presented the upcoming plenary assembly of the council as it meets for four days on the theme, “Women’s cultures: equality and differences.” Joining him were four women, including the president of RAI, Italy’s state-owned television, the director of RAI 24 News, the actress Nancy Brilli, and a sociology professor at Rome’s LUMSA university.

Culture plenary 1

The plenary had attracted widespread attention before today’s presentation because the council website – in addition to posting the document that will be used by plenary members – had featured a video made predominantly by Italian women with Nancy Brilli that had to be withdrawn because of the number of people, including bishops, who had objected to it. Brilli asks women to contribute 60-second videos about their lives to be featured at the plenary. Italians who previewed the video approved but not so the English-speaking world, especially North America. The objection was more to Brilli, who comes off as almost flirtatious, than it was to what she was asking of women. (She is on the far right on this photo)

Culture plenary   2

Four themes are the focus of the document that will be used as a working guidline in the plenary assembly that starts Wednesday afternoon: Between equality and differences: the search for an equilibrium; “Generativity” as a symbolic code; The feminine body: between culture and biology, and Women and religion: a flight or new ways of participating in the life of the Church?

Topics included in the document – and that will be discussed at the plenary – include domestic violence, women’s role in generating life (“the body of the woman is the starting point of each human person”), and the pressures women face – far more than men – regarding their appearance, so much so they can become the victims of eating disorders and even plastic or other unnecessary surgeries.

Also to be discussed are selective abortion, infanticide, genital mutilation, crimes of honor, forced marriages, trafficking of women, sexual molestation, and rape as “some of the deepest injuries inflicted daily on the soul of the world, on the bodies of women and of girls, who become silent and invisible victims.”

The document says, “Plastic surgery that is not medico-therapeutic can be aggressive toward the feminine identity, showing a refusal of the body in as much as it is a refusal of the ‘season’ that is being lived out.” It said,  ‘Plastic surgery is like a burqa made of flesh’ according to one woman who gave us this harsh and incisive description. …Having been given freedom of choice for all, are we not under a new cultural yoke of a singular feminine model?”

The plenary document starts by noting that, “the expression ‘women’s cultures’ does not imply any division from men’s cultures, but shows our awareness that there is a women’s ‘perspective’ on the world and all that surrounds us, on life and on experience. This perspective is a normal part of the fabric of all cultures and societies; we can see it in the family and in work, in politics and the economy, in study and decision-making, in communications and literature, in art and sport, in fashion and cuisine, etc.”

It continues: “At the dawn of human history, societies divided roles and functions between men and women rigorously. To the men belonged responsibility, authority, and presence in the public sphere: the law, politics, war, power. To women belonged reproduction, education, and care of the family in the domestic sphere. In ancient Europe, in the communities of Africa, in the most ancient civilisations of Asia, women exercised their talents in the family environment and personal relationships, while avoiding the public sphere or being positively excluded. The queens and empresses recalled in history books were notable exceptions to the norm.

“From the latter part of the 19th century onwards, especially in the West, the division of male and female ‘spaces’ was put into question. Women demanded equality; they no longer accepted the role of the deuxième sexe, but wanted the same rights, such as that of voting, access to higher education, and to the professions. And so the road was opened for the parity of the sexes.

“This step was not, and is not, without problems. For, in the past (but only in the past?) women had to fight to exercise their professions or take on decisional roles that appeared to be exclusively meant for the male world. … In this globalised and strongly dialectical horizon, there is an urgent need to find answers. Our Plenary is engaged in discovering and understanding the feminine specificity in considering themes such as function, role, dignity, equality, identity, liberty, violence, economy, politics, power, autonomy etc.”

Discussion turns at length to the topics mentioned earlier, and the document ends with “A Look to the Future. The terrain, as we know, is plagued by prejudices and preconceptions from ancient positions and is rendered more inflammable by the fire of tradition and an excess of male presence often afraid of any encounter. It is no longer time for an automatic classification of all feminine requests in a great pool of feminism, in which claims that are more or less shared are thrown together.”

“It is not a question of bringing about a revolution against tradition. … A realistic objective could be that of opening the doors of the Church to women so that they can offer their contribution in terms of skills and also sensitivity, intuition, passion, dedication, in full collaboration and integration with the male component.

–   What spaces are proposed to women in the life of the Church? Do we welcome them, bearing in mind specific and changing cultural, social and identity sensitivities? Do we, perhaps, propose ways of participation based on schemes that are of no interest to them?

–   Have we ever asked ourselves what type of woman the Church needs today? Is the way they participate thought of and worked out together with them? Or are we handing them preconceived models that either do not meet their expectations or respond to questions that have already been superseded?

–   Are women deserting the Church? Perhaps in some cultural areas this is true, other geographic zones could suggest invaluable elements to be proposed and new horizons towards which our eyes can be turned. Could not the pastoral debate between different experiences, in which women are able to let their voices be heard and to offer their availability to serve, become a new “synodal” way of experiencing the faith and of living in the Church?

–  What are the characteristic ways in which women are present in different societies and cultures, from which we can take inspiration for a pastoral renewal so that women may play a more active part in the life of the Church?




The Holy Father has sent a message to Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia who will chair the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the 20 Countries (G-20) scheduled to take place November 15-16 in Brisbane. The G-20 agenda will focus on efforts to relaunch sustained and sustainable growth of the world economy and the fundamental imperative – which emerged from the preparatory work – of creating dignified and stable employment for all.

Pope Francis began his message by asking “the G20 Heads of State and Government not to forget that many lives are at stake behind these political and technical discussions, and it would indeed be regrettable if such discussions were to remain purely on the level of declarations of principle. Throughout the world, the G20 countries included, there are far too many women and men suffering from severe malnutrition, a rise in the number of the unemployed, an extremely high percentage of young people without work and an increase in social exclusion which can lead to criminal activity and even the recruitment of terrorists. In addition, there are constant assaults on the natural environment, the result of unbridled consumerism, and this will have serious consequences for the world economy.

“It is my hope,” says the papal message, “that a substantial and productive consensus can be achieved regarding the agenda items. I likewise hope that the assessment of the results of this consensus will not be restricted to global indices but will take into account as well real improvements in the living conditions of poorer families and the reduction of all forms of unacceptable inequality.”

Francis noted that, “the G20 Summits, which began with the financial crisis of 2008, have taken place against the terrible backdrop of military conflicts, and this has resulted in disagreements between the Group’s members.” He wrote that, thankfully, those disagreements have not prevented genuine dialogue within the G20” but “more is required. These conflicts leave deep scars and result in unbearable humanitarian situations around the world. I take this opportunity to ask the G20 Member States to be examples of generosity and solidarity in meeting the many needs of the victims of these conflicts, and especially of refugees.”

“The situation in the Middle East,” said the Holy Father, “has revived debate about the responsibility of the international community to protect individuals and peoples from extreme attacks on human rights and a total disregard for humanitarian law.”

He highlighted “ the need to protect citizens of all countries from forms of aggression that are less evident but equally real and serious. I am referring specifically to abuses in the financial system such as those transactions that led to the 2008 crisis, and more generally, to speculation lacking political or juridical constraints and the mentality that maximization of profits is the final criterion of all economic activity. A mindset in which individuals are ultimately discarded will never achieve peace or justice. Responsibility for the poor and the marginalized must therefore be an essential element of any political decision, whether on the national or the international level.”


The Vatican today announced the creation of a new judicial body, a college, created within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) whose purpose will be to deal with the most serious crimes, such as sexual abuse of minors and abuses of the sacrament of Penance. It will also act as an appeals court for clergy accused of such offenses.

The Vatican released the following today:

St. John Paul II’s Motu Proprio Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela (SST), published on April 30, 2001 and implemented on May 21, 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI, defines the offenses reserved to the competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (cf. Art. 1-6), in accordance with Art. 52 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith judges these offenses by penal or administrative procedures (cf. Art. 21 paras 1 and 2, No. 1 SST), taking into account the possibility of submitting the decision directly to the Supreme Pontiff in the most serious cases (see Art. 21 para. 2, No. 2 SST). Crimes against faith remain, in the first instance, within the sphere of competence of the Ordinary or the Hierarch (cf. Art. 2 para. 2 SST).

Due to the number of appeals and the need to guarantee that they are examined more rapidly and following detailed reflection, in the Audience granted to Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin on 3 November 2014, the Holy Father Francis decreed the following:

  1. A special college is to be instituted within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, composed of seven cardinals or bishops, who may either be members of the Dicastery or external to it;
  2. The President and the members of the aforementioned College are to be appointed by the Pope;
  3. The College is a provision made by the Ordinary Session of the Congregation to enable greater efficiency in processing appeals in accordance with Art. 27 SST, without substantive modification to its competences as established in the same Art. 27 SST;
  4. Should the offender be of episcopal dignity, his appeal shall be examined by the Ordinary Session, which will also be able to decide specific cases according to the Pope’s judgement. Other cases to be decided by the College may also be deferred to the Ordinary Session;
  5. The College shall periodically report its decisions to the Ordinary Session;
  6. Specific internal regulations shall determine the working methods of the College.


A conference entitled, “’Music: Listening and Vision” was held Monday’ at Rome’s MAXXI museum as part of the Vatican’s Cortile dei Gentili – Courtyard of the Gentiles – initiative that was created by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture. Cortile dei Gentili has the aim of promoting dialogue between believers and non-believers on the great issues facing the modern world and such gatherings have been held in many cities in Italy and Europe. The council invites notables in the arts, politics, religion and education to participate.

Rap and rock artists attended Monday’s conference in an attempt to bring together young believers and non-believers alike for a meeting on spirituality. In particular, said an ANSA report on the conference, students heard from Italian musicians on the spiritual power of music. Hosting the conference with Cardinal Ravasi was MAXXI Foundation president, former Italian culture minister Giovanna Melandri.

Renowned composer Nicola Piovani, who won an Oscar for his work on the soundtrack to the film “Life is Beautiful,” joined Rome singer-songwriter Antonello Venditti, Dire Straits guitarist Phil Palmer, and Italian rapper Er Piotta, who received the most applause from the student audience. The event was hosted by Cardinal Ravasi and MAXXI Foundation president, former Italian culture minister Giovanna Melandri.

The cardinal said a dialogue around music is fundamentally about addressing communication. “The issue of language is fundamental, as shown by the effectiveness of a Pope like Francis, who is connected not only to the message but also to how it’s communicated,”