Rest in Peace, Queen Elizabeth! I somehow never thought I’d be using the past tense with Queen Elizabeth! She’s been queen most of my life, as she has been for anyone 70 and under!

She met Pope Pius XII as a princess and, as queen, she met Popes John XXIII, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis.

Though not a Catholic, she was deeply Christian and I find it lovely she died on the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

We await, as I write, a papal message.


Every three years, a Pope receives as a group the Holy See’s representative to the States of the world. Known as apostolic nuncios, they are, with only one exception, archbishops: that exception is Cardinal Mario Zenari, the nuncio to Syria, whom the Pope made a cardinal in 2016.

In recent weeks, even months, the Holy Father has been receiving many of the nuncios one by one, in private audiences. I have always imagined such conversations to be among the more fascinating ones a Pope can have as a nuncio recounts life in the country to which he is accredited – the lights, the shadows, the situation of the Church or, as in Cardinal Zenari’s case, the description of a warn torn and impoverished country.

The Holy See’s nuncios are some of the best-trained diplomats in the world, and in most cases are the dean of the diplomatic corps in the country where they are serving. Many nuncios, like Cardinal Zenari, have spent their entire career in the Vatican’s diplomatic service. One of the more signal traits of the Holy See diplomatic corps is that most all nuncios are pluri-lingual, speaking their native language, in addition to Italian and one or two others. art of their training as diplomats is studying the language of the country to which they are assigned before their departure from Rome, and then learning it in situ.

The Church’s diplomatic service is actually one of the oldest on the planet and can be traced to the years 325 when Pope Sylvester I sent his personal representatives to the first Council of Nicea. The exchange between papal representatives and those of other nations has continued uninterruptedly since then, with the main vicissitudes being the birth of new nations, the disappearance of others, or a breakup within a nation to form new ones (such as happened with the fall of the Berlin Wall and other historical moments).

There are, of course, notable exceptions. The Holy See, for example, does not have, full diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China or Vietnam. Where diplomatic ties do not exist, however, there may be a counsellor, a priest or monsignor, assigned by the Vatican to be present in the country.

The Holy See is also represented at 25 international organizations such as the United Nations.

The diplomats are trained in Rome at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. Founded in 1701 as the Pontifical Academy of Ecclesiastical Nobles, its first seat was the building in Rome known today as Villa Taverna, now the residence of the U.S. ambassador to Italy. In 1706, the Academy was transferred to Palazzo Severoli on Pza. Della Minerva, its actual seat today. The interior of the building was renovated under Pope St. John XXIII

Popes Clement XIII, Leo XII, Leo XIII, Benedict XV and St. Paul VI were among the academy alumni.

Birmingham, Alabama-born Archbishop Joseph Marino has headed the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy since his appointment by Pope Francis in October 2019. He has been in the Holy See’s diplomatic service since 1988.


Pope Francis held a triennial meeting with pontifical representatives in the Vatican, and called attention to the Holy See’s efforts to seek peace amid a “third world war fought piecemeal,”

By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

The Pope’s representatives in nations across the globe met with the Holy Father on Thursday as part of their triennial encounter in the Vatican.

The group includes 91 Apostolic Nuncios and 6 Permanent Observers, while 5 Pontifical Representatives were unable to attend due the health reasons or other impediments.

Pope Francis spoke to his representatives about various global issues affecting nations and the Church in the world.

World shaken by war

The Pope noted that this encounter comes in the wake of the pandemic.

“The tempest of the Covid-19 pandemic forced various constraints on our daily lives and pastoral activities,” he said. “Now it seems the worst may be behind us, and thank God we are able to meet.”

However, added Pope Francis, the spectre of war has descended on Europe and the world.

“Unfortunately, Europe and the entire world are shaken by a particularly serious war, due to the violation of international law, the risks of nuclear escalation, and the grave economic and social consequences.”

Pope’s closeness amid world war

The Pope added that a “third world war fought piecemeal” has gripped the globe, and that Pontifical Representatives are present in the countries involved in the various conflicts.

He thanked them for bringing his closeness to peoples who are suffering.

“You bring the Pope’s closeness to peoples and the Church. You are points of reference in moments of extreme bewilderment and turbulence.”

Focusing on mission

Pope Francis urged his representatives to entrust their work to the Lord, as they labor in the “today of the Church and world.”.

He noted that the Church is currently journeying through the Synod on synodality, while the Roman Curia seeks to apply the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium.

The Pope also recalled two apostolic nuncios who died while in office: Archbishop Joseph Chennoth and Archbishop Aldo Giordano.

“Our brothers have preceded us in our journey, and they invite us to keep our gaze fixed on the path ahead and on the heavens.”



What’s in a number? Pope Celestine V was 85 when he resigned the papacy after five months in December 1294. Pope Benedict was 85 when he resigned the papacy in February 2013 (he turned 86 that April 16th). Pope Francis turned 85 last December.

This probably does not mean a thing but it is interesting.


From Holy See Press Office this afternoon: “Yesterday afternoon, June 8, Pope Francis visited the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, chatting with the students of the institute. During the conversation, the Pope underlined the importance of being rooted in a priestly spirituality nourished by prayer, as well as the role of the missionary year he wanted as an integral part of the journey of preparation, He indicated as models of holiness for the diplomatic life St. Charles de Foucauld and Saint Peter Favre. At the end of the visit, the Pope returned to the Vatican.”


Pope Francis received in audience Dani Dayan, chairman of the Yad Vashem (World Holocaust Remembrance Center) in Jerusalem, and reiterated his commitment to help fight anti-Semitism.

By Cecilia Mutual & Linda Bordoni

Dani Dayan believes that another step forward was taken on Thursday morning in the fight against anti-Semitism. Speaking to Vatican Radio immediately after meeting in the Vatican with Pope Francis, the Chairman of Yad Vashem described the Pope as a friend and an ally in the mission to defeat anti-Semitism.

Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, is universally recognized as the ultimate source for Holocaust education, documentation and research.

Pope Francis visited Yad Vashem in 2014 during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land. During his speech there, he implored the Lord to “grant us the grace to be ashamed of what men have done,” and cried out “Never again, Lord, never again!”

Noting that he is the first Yad Vashem chairman to be received in a private audience with the Pope, Dayan revealed that the two men share Buenos Aires as their birthplace and were happy to be able to converse in their native Spanish. Yad Vashem Chairman: Pope is friend and ally in fight against anti-Semitism – Vatican News


Pope Francis met with the bishops and priests of the Italian island of Sicily, and urged them to draw near and show tenderness to the many Sicilians who taste bitterness and disappointment due to a lack of employment opportunities.

By Devin Watkins

The bishops and priests of Sicily met with Pope Francis on Thursday in the Vatican, who encouraged them in their mission to lift up their compatriots. The Pope noted that the Italian island has historically acted as a waypoint for the movement of peoples, who sometimes came as conquerors and at other times as migrants. Each wave of people has left their mark on the local culture.

“This is not to say that it is a happy island, because the condition of insularity profoundly affects Sicilian society, bringing to the fore the contradictions we carry within ourselves. In Sicily we witness attitudes and actions marked by great virtues as well as cruel brutality.”

Pope Francis lamented that many children avoid schooling and turn to a life of crime as a result of high youth unemployment rates, which hover near 50 percent.

Priests as courageous moral guides

In response to this difficult situation, Pope Francis urged the priests and bishops of Sicily to dedicate themselves “completely and exclusively” to proclaiming the Gospel of Christ in the midst of an epochal change.

He pointed to the heroic examples of Blessed Pino Puglisi and Blessed Rosario Livatino, as well as to other lesser-known servants of the Church who sought to push back against the mafia and show Christ’s love to Sicilians.

“This is why people in Sicily still look to priests as spiritual and moral guides, as people who can help improve the civil and social life of the island, support families, and be a point-of-reference for young people. Sicilians have a high and demanding expectation of priests.”

“The current situation in Sicily has been in decline for years,” he said. “One sign is the depopulation of the island, due to low birth rates and mass emigration of young people” who leave to find work elsewhere. Pope to Sicilian priests: ‘Embrace bitterness with tenderness’ – Vatican News


A fascinating development in one of the Vatican’s most interesting institutions, the Pontifical Ecclesial Academy that trains future diplomats – a year of missionary service as part of the training and studies of future Holy See diplomats.

My very first thought as I read the whole letter this morning was: Will the Amazon be the first and/or main recipient of these diplomatic trainees?


Pope Francis has sent a letter to the president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, announcing that whoever enters the Vatican’s diplomatic service will be asked to carry out a 12-month missionary experience in a diocese.
By Vatican News

Pope Francis has introduced a year of missionary experience into the curriculum of those preparing to enter service in the Holy See’s diplomatic corps.

The Pope had foreseen this change in his final speech at the Synod on the Amazon, and now it has become a reality.

In a letter to Archbishop Joseph Marino, the new President of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy – which trains nuncios for the Vatican’s diplomatic staff – Pope Francis requests an addition to the curriculum: one year spent on mission within a local Church. The letter is dated 11 February 2020.

The Holy Father expresses his “desire that priests preparing for the diplomatic service of the Holy See devote a year of their training to missionary service in a diocese.”

“I am convinced,” he adds, “that such an experience will be useful for all the young men preparing for or beginning priestly service, but especially for those who will someday be called to work with the Pontifical Representatives and, afterwards, will in turn become Envoys of the Holy See to nations and particular Churches.”

Pope Francis quotes a speech he gave to the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in June 2015: “The mission to which you will be called one day to carry out will take you to all parts of the world. Europe is in need of an awakening; Africa is thirsty for reconciliation; Latin America is hungry for nourishment and interiority; North America is intent on rediscovering the roots of an identity that is not defined by exclusion; Asia and Oceania are challenged by the capacity to ferment in diaspora and to dialogue with the vastness of ancestral cultures.”

In his letter, the Pope adds that “to take on in a positive manner these growing challenges for the Church and the world, future diplomats of the Holy See need to acquire – in addition to a solid priestly and pastoral formation” and that offered by the Academy – “a personal experience of mission outside their own diocese of origin, sharing a portion of their journey with the missionary Churches and their communities, participating in the daily activity of evangelization.”

In this vein, Pope Francis asks Archbishop Marino to “put into practice my desire to enrich the Academy’s formation curriculum with a year dedicated entirely to missionary service in the particular Churches spread throughout the world. This new experience will come into force starting with the students who begin their formation in the next academic year 2020/2021.”

Effecting this change, writes the Pope, will require “first of all close collaboration with the Secretariat of State and, more precisely, with the Section for the Diplomatic Staff of the Holy See (the so-called Third Section), as well as with Pontifical Representatives, who will certainly not fail to provide valuable assistance in identifying the local Churches that are ready to welcome the students and closely follow their experience.”

“I am certain,” concludes Pope Francis, “that – once the initial concerns that may arise in the face of this new style of formation for future diplomats of the Holy See have been overcome – the missionary experience offered will be useful not only to young academics but also to the individual Churches with which they will work. And I hope it will encourage with other priests of the universal Church the desire to make themselves available to carry out a period of missionary service outside their own diocese.”


Pope Francis decides to include a year of mission in the training curriculum of the diplomatic staff of the Holy See.
By Andrea Tornielli

Pope Francis’ decision to include a year spent in mission territory in the training curriculum of diplomatic Nunciature personnel, comes just a few months after the announcement made by the Pope himself in the concluding speech of the Synod for the Amazon. This announcement now becomes reality for new students of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in the academic year 2020/2021.

First, it is interesting to note the context in which this project was first announced: the need for, and difficulty in finding, priests for the missions. The Pope had quoted the negative response one sometimes receives: “No, I am not suitable for this”. “Well,” commented the Pope, “this must be reformed. Young religious have a great vocation and it is necessary to train them in apostolic zeal to go to the peripheries”. Immediately afterwards, Pope Francis spoke of future diplomats, hinting at a “suggestion” he had received: “In the curriculum of the diplomatic service of the Holy See, young priests should spend at least a year in missionary territory. Not doing an internship in the Nunciature as they do now, which is very useful, but simply in the service of a bishop in a place of mission”.

Now this proposal becomes concrete. In his letter to the president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the Pope writes: “I am convinced that such an experience will be useful for all the young men preparing for or beginning priestly service, but especially for those who will someday be called to work with the Pontifical Representatives and, afterwards, will in turn become Envoys of the Holy See to nations and particular Churches”. The commitment of future Apostolic Nuncios will serve as an example, so that other priests will accept the invitation to spend time in mission.

There is no doubt that the decision, now formalized by the Successor of Peter, represents a truly significant change in the course of studies for those who will serve in the Nunciatures and who will, in many cases, be made bishops at a relatively young age. A fundamental piece of the curriculum now becomes the year dedicated to missionary service in the field, far from home, getting one’s hands dirty in pastoral work, in the frontier Churches. A year of change, of fatigue, of new experiences, which will allow a better and deeper understanding of the reality of the Church, of her problems and difficulties, but also of her hopes and the comforting beauty of her daily life. A year that will allow the students of the Ecclesiastical Academy themselves, their superiors and the bishops of their dioceses of origin, to better discern individual vocations. A year that could also dissuade someone from undertaking this service. It will certainly be an experience destined to change the outlook and perspective for those who will one day be called to represent the Pope in various countries, thus underlining the importance for the local Churches of helping the Pope by sending good and capable priests in his service.

Once again, Pope Francis reminds us that the whole Church – diplomatic service included – is either missionary or she is not. She either evangelizes or she is not Church. “If the Church is not on the move, she decays, she becomes something else”, as the Pope stated in the important book interview with Gianni Valente, “Without Him We Can Do Nothing”. In this recent publication that deserves to be taken to heart, Pope Francis says: “Mission is not a tried and tested company plan. Neither is it a public spectacle organized to flaunt how many people are associated with it thanks to our marketing. The Holy Spirit works as He wills, when He wills and where He wills”. “Mission’s mysterious fruitfulness does not consist in our intentions, in our methods, in our impulses and in our initiatives, but rests precisely in this ‘vertigo’: the ‘vertigo’ we perceive when we hear Jesus’ words: ‘Without me you can do nothing’”.


Synod participants met yesterday and again today in circoli minores, that is, small language groups, for discussions. As they have done by publishing syntheses of speeches given in the synod hall, the Vatican does not publish remarks from or about these language groups.


As the diocese of Birmingham in England prepares to celebrate the canonization Sunday of English Cardinal John Henry Newman, another diocese of Birmingham – this time in Alabama – is rejoicing today as a native son, Archbishop Joseph Marino was named by Pope Francis to head the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the Vatican school for diplomats.

Archbishop Marino has been in the Holy See’s diplomatic service since 1988, having served in the Philippines, Uruguay, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Malaysia, East Timor and Brunei.

His studies include degrees in theology and biblical theology from the Rome’s Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University while he was in residence at the North American College from 1975 to 1980. He was an associate pastor at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Birmingham for four years. In 1984 he entered the very academy that he now heads, the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy and also returned to the Gregorian for a doctorate in canon law.

Ordained a priest in Birmingham in 1979, he was ordained to the episcopate by the late Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran in Birmingham’s cathedral of St. Paul in March 2008.


Such an exciting weekend here in Rome as English Cardinal John Henry Newman will be canonized this very Sunday as the first new English saint in about 50 years. Learn more about this prolific prelate, a convert from the Anglican Church to Catholicism, in my conversation with Sister Birgit Dechant, FSO of the International Center of Newman Friends in Rome.

Sr. Birgit is a follower of, expert on and author about the life, work and writings of Cardinal Newman. We examine why Cardinal Newman was so exceptional, his life as an Anglican, his conversion, his work and body of writings as a Catholic priest and his impact on millions over his life ….a rich and multifaceted life…. and since his death.

By the way, on Sunday the Holy Father will give the Universal Church 5 new saints! In addition to Cardinal Newman, the new saints will include Indian Sister Marian Thresia, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family, Italian Sister Giuseppina Vannini, co-foundress of the Daughters of St. Camillus, Brazilian Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes, founder of the Charitable Works Foundation of Sister Dulce and Marguerite Bays, a Swiss consecrated virgin of the Third Order of St. Francis.

I learned that Cardinal John Henry Newman is not only the first new English saint in about 50 years, he is the first English person who has lived since the 17th century officially recognized as a saint!

Why was Newman special? Born in 1801, he was ordained as a Church of England, that is, Anglican priest and was famous already in his 30s for his homilies and writings, including poems, and his dialectical skills. Newman went on to found the Oxford Movement that tried to return to the Church of England many Catholic beliefs and liturgical rites present before the Reformation. In 1845 Newman, joined by some of the Oxford Movement followers, left the Church of England and his teaching post at Oxford University and converted to Catholicism, a life-changing decision after which huge numbers of friends and followers deserted him. But this also enriched the Catholic Church with his thoughts and writings.

Benedict XVI said of Cardinal Newman at his 2010 beatification in Birmingham, English: “Cardinal Newman is a modern man, who took on all of the problems of modernity, he experienced the problem of agnosticism, the impossibility of knowing God, of believing; a man who throughout his life was on a journey, a journey to let himself be transformed by the truth, in a search of great sincerity and great willingness, to learn more, to find and to accept the path to true life.” And we are always on a journey of faith transformed by truth so let’s allow ourselves be inspired by this great English saint.

So tune in Sunday to EWTN to watch the Eucharistic liturgy with the always-moving rite of canonization presided over by Pope Francis



Pope Francis Thursday addressed members of the Pontifical Eccesiastical Academy, the Church institution responsible for preparing priests for the diplomatic service of the Holy See, telling them, “Your whole life is at the service of the Gospel and of the Church. Never forget it!”

The Academy, formerly called the Pontifical Academy of Ecclesiastical Nobility, was founded by Pope Clement XI in 1701 with the scope of preparing, through special studies, young ecclesiastics to the Holy See’s diplomatic service. Candidates must be nominated by their bishops. Holy See ambassadors, called apostolic nuncios, are always archbishops (if not so when they are named, they are ordained to the episcopacy).

pontifical ecclesiastical academy

The Cardinal Protector of the Academy is always the Secretary of State, today Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

The future diplomats spend four years at the Academy; two years earning a licentiate in canon law, a JCL, from a Roman university, followed by two years of studies for a doctorate in canon law (JCD). If the students that have been recruited already have a J.C.D. then their time is shortened to two years. Courses include studies in diplomatic history, languages and diplomatic writing and are considered not to be academic, but rather focus on the practical skills needed to serve as a diplomat.

It has happened that a small number of diplomats represent the Holy See who have not been through the formal academic and practical training of the Academy.

The Holy See has diplomatic relations with 180 States, with the European Union and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and relations of a special nature with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)

In his talk to the diplomats-in-training, Pope Francis said it is only the charity of Christ that makes the Church of Rome “universal and credible” to human beings and to the world. This “is the heart of its truth, which does not build walls of division and exclusion, but makes bridges that build communion and recall the whole human race to unity; this is its secret power, which nourishes its unshakable hope, invincible despite momentary defeats.”

Your service, he said, will be to defend the liberty of the Apostolic See, “in order not to betray its mission before God and for the true good of men.” It must not get caught up in factions or “allow itself to be colonized by the popular thoughts of the day, or by the illusory hegemony of the ‘mainstream’.”

Don’t expect “the ground to be ready,” said Francis. Be prepared to “plow it with your hands… in order to prepare it for the seed” in hopeful expectation of a harvest which they, perhaps, may never see. Don’t “fish in aquariums or fish farms,” rather have the courage to go to the margins, to cast “nets and fishing poles” in lesser known areas, without getting used to “eating fish that others have prepared.”

In particular the Holy Father reminded them that their mission will take them all over the world: “To Europe, needing to be awakened; to Africa, thirsty for reconciliation; to Latin America starving for nourishment and interiority; to North America, intent upon rediscovering the roots of an identity that does not define itself in terms of exclusion; in Asia and Oceania, challenged by the capacity of fermenting in diaspora and dialogue with the vastness of ancestral culture.”


This morning in the Holy See Press Office a press conference was held to present the Eighth World Meeting of Families to be held in Philadelphia, U.S.A., from September 22 to 27 on the theme “Love is our mission. The family fully alive.”

World Meerting of Families

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, emphasised that the Meeting is a valuable opportunity to place the family at the center of the Church and of civil society. “The family builds the Church and sustains society. … During the days of the conference, we will present the results of some international research that has scientifically studied this positive influence. The family constantly asks for help and support in the entire ecclesial community – and in the next few days I will write to all the monasteries of the world to ask them to accompany these very important days with their prayers – and from civil society as a whole, which cannot remain indifferent to such beauty and goodness that is so effective and so viable.”

He stressed that “The family is the heritage of all humanity, at every latitude, in every culture; it is blessed by all religions. That is why we wanted a significant presence of other Christian denominations and of major world religious traditions. … We are working so that delegations from around the globe and especially from the world’s poorest local Churches will be present.”

This universality will be enshrined in the final gesture of the meeting, according to Archbishop Paglia who explained that, at the end of Mass on Sunday, September 27, Pope Francis will give the Gospel of Luke, “the Good News of God’s mercy, which is Jesus, to families from big cities on the five continents: Kinshasa, Africa; Havana, America; Hanoi, Asia; Sydney, Australia; and Marseilles, Europe. This is a symbolic gesture that will announce the sending of a million copies of this book to the five cities involved. We want the Gospel of Mercy to be announced in the great cities of the world so that they may build bonds of love between them, in the Church and in society.”

Presenters today also included Bishop John J. McIntyre and Jerry and Lucille Francesco, a couple from the archdiocese, married for fifty years.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia noted that more than a million people are expected to attend, adding that representatives of more than a hundred nations have registered. So far 6,100 volunteers have offered assistance of various types and the event organisers intend to make more than 5,000 buses available. More than 1,600 people have signed up to the “Host a Family” program.

For more information on the events linked to the meeting, visit: http://www.worldmeeting2015.org/

(Vatican Radio) During the course of the conference this morning, journalists learned that the week of festivities will include ecumenical, interreligious, and multicultural celebrations of the family involving an expected 15,000 participants from more than a dozen countries around the globe. For the Holy Father’s public engagements on September 26 and 27, between 1 and 2 million people are expected to take part.

In an exclusive interview with Vatican Radio following the press conference, the Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap. spoke of the irreplacable contribution the Church has to make to the ongoing discussion of the place of the family in society. “The only unique thing that the Church brings to a discussion of family life is the teaching of Jesus Christ,” he said, “and so it seems to me that the most important contribution we make, is to make that teaching very clear, announcing it in a joyful and positive way.”

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter told Vatican Radio his city and its people are ready to welcome Pope Francis.

“It is a tremendous honor to be the host city for the World Meeting of Families,” said Nutter, “and of course, for the visit of Pope Francis.” The mayor went on to say, “Our plans are basically in place: to anticipate over a million people, perhaps as many as 1.5 million,” adding, “the logistics, the security, the transportation,” are all going very well. “We’re very excited,” said Mayor Nutter, “we’re ready.”