The Vatican announced today that Pope Francis’ Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper that he will celebrate at the Paliano House of Detention in the province of Frosinone and the diocese of Palestrina will be of a strictly private nature and will not be televised. That Mass will include the rite of washing the feet of a number of detainees.


I hope you can tune in to “Vatican Insider” this weekend as we approach Holy Week which starts this Sunday, Palm Sunday. This weekend and next, Easter weekend, I will not have a guest in the interview segment of Vatican Insider. Rather, I’ve prepared a two-part special on something that is very near and dear to me, a story I’ve followed for decades, and that is the Shroud of Turin. As you will hear in what I hope is a riveting historical and scientific journey, I ask: “Who is the Man of the Shroud?”

Photos from a visit to Turin for the exposition of the Shroud:

Around Turin:

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:


A dear friend of mine, Msgr. Daniel Mueggenborg, was named yesterday by Pope Francis to be an auxiliary bishop of Seattle – another name to keep in our prayers! We broke bread together many times in Rome during the years he was at the North American College, joining friends in restaurants and, fairly often, in my home. About a year ago, we met serendipitously at a favorite restaurant when he arrived in Rome for a visit. I asked Msgr. Dan about life in his Tulsa parish, Christ the King. His answer was a riveting account of parish life, of a project he started there and of a book he had just published.

I asked him to tell his story and he joined me for a conversation on “Vatican Insider.” The book, by the way, is “Come Follow Me,” reflections on the Gospel for all Sundays of the liturgical year.

Msgr. Dan was assistant director for formation at the Pontifical North American College in Rome (2005-2006) and vice rector for the administration at NAC (2006-2011), before being appointed pastor of the “Christ the King.”

If there is one quality that Seattle faithful will love – among the many good ones Msgr. Dan is blessed with! – it is his palpable joy at the priestly ministry!
Wishing you the Lord’s choicest blessings, my friend! And Happy Birthday a few days early!


The 2017 Pontifical Yearbook and the 2015 Statistical Yearbook of the Church (“Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae”) are now available at Rome bookstores. Prepared and edited by the Central Office of Church Statistics of the Secretariat of State, there are some very interesting statistics about the Church. A very lengthy explanation and summary of the various data presented in the statistical yearbook accompanied the announcement of the publication of the two annual volumes.

For the reader’s sake, I offer a summary of that report. I did simplify one or two presentations but, as Blaise Pascal once famously said, “I have made this letter rather long because I did not have the time to make it short!”

** The number of baptized Catholics has continued to grow globally, from 1,272 million in 2014 to 1,285 million in 2015, with a relative increase of 1 %. This represents a total of 17.7% of the total population.

** The dynamic of this increase varies from continent to continent: while, indeed, in Africa there is an increase of 19.4%, with the number of Catholics passing from 186 to 222 million in the same period, in Europe there is instead a situation of stability (in 2015 Catholics amounted to almost 286 million, whereas in 2019 there were just over 800 thousand fewer, and 1.3 million fewer compared to 2014).

** Intermediate situations with respect to the two described above are found in America and Asia, where the growth of Catholics is certainly important (respectively + 6.7% and 9.1%), but in line with the demographic trend of these two continents. Stagnation, obviously with lower values, is also typical of Oceania.

** The increased weight of the African continent is also confirmed, with an increase from 15.5% to 17.3% of global baptized faithful. There is, however, a sharp decline in Europe, from 23.8% of faithful worldwide in 2010 to 22.2% in 2015; America instead remains the continent to which almost 49% of baptized Catholics belong. Asian Catholics continue to represent around 11% of the world total 2015. The proportion of Catholics in Oceania also remains stable, although with a figure of less than 0.8% of the world’s Catholic population.

** Brazil, of the ten countries in the world with the greatest consistency of baptized Catholics, ranks in first place (with 172,200,000 or 26.4% of all Catholics of the entire American continent).

** Brazil is followed, in order, by Mexico (110.9 million), the Philippines (83.6 million), USA (72.3), Italy (58.0), France (48.3), Colombia (45.3), Spain (43.3), Democratic Republic of the Congo (43.2) and Argentina (40.8). The total number of Catholics, for the countries in the top ten places, amounts to 717.9 million, i.e. 55.9% of the world’s Catholics.

** Statistics for 2015 also indicate that the number of clerics in the world amounted to 466,215, with 5,304 bishops, 415,656 priests and 45,255 permanent deacons.

** In particular, in 2015, America holds 37.4% of all prelates, followed by Europe (31.6%), Asia (15.1%), Africa (13, 4%) and Oceania (2.5%). In 2015 there is decline in the number of priests from the previous year, thus reversing the upward trend that characterized the years from 2000 to 2014. The total amount of priests in the world in 2015, compared to 2010, has increased by 0.83% (from 412,236 to 415,656).

** Looking at the distinction between diocesan and religious priests, there appears to be a clearly divergent evolution of the two categories. With regard to the first, there is a total increase of 1.6%, from 277,009 in 2010 to 281,514 in 2015; Religious priests, however, are in constant decrease (-0.8% in the period in question), arriving at slightly more than 134,000 in 2015. The number of religious priests, in addition to being in line with the aggregate data, in decline in Europe and Oceania, also shows a significant reduction in the American continent, with just over 38,000 units in 2015 compared to over 40 thousand in 2010. In 2010 priests in Europe accounted for 46.1% of the global total but total little more than 43% in 2015.

** In America (North and South), the Catholics per priest ratio exceeds 5,000 units and keeps increasing throughout the period, and is particularly critical. EUROPE: 1,595 Catholics per priest. ASIA: 2,185 Catholics per priest: AFRICA: stable with around 5,000 Catholics per priest.

** The population of permanent deacons shows a significant evolutionary trend: an increase in 2015 of 14.4% compared to five years previously, from 39,564 to 45,255. The number of deacons is improving on every continent at a significant pace. America and Europe have about 98% of the total population of deacons.

** Professed men religious other than priests constitutes a group in decline globally: from 54,665 individuals in 2010 to 54,229 in 2015, mainly in Europe, the Americas and Oceania,

** Women religious constitute a population with a certain consistency: in 2015 they exceed by 61% the number of priests worldwide, and are currently in clear decline. At global level, they have decreased in number from 721,935 in 2010 to 670,320 in 2015, a relative diminution of 7.1%. Profound differences emerge when analyzing the time series for the individual territorial areas, i.e., Africa is the continent with the highest increase of religious, from 66,375 in 2010 to 71,567 in 2015, with a relative increase of 7.8% for the entire period and an average annual growth rate of 1.6%. It is followed by South East Asia, where professed women religious have increased in number from 160,564 in 2010 to 166,786 in 2015, an increase of 3.9% over the entire period.

** Seminarians: There is a continuation of the decline which has for some years characterized priestly vocations: in 2015 there was a total of 116,843 major seminarians , up from 116,939 in 2014; 118,251 in 2013; 120,051 in 2012; 120,616 in 2011 and 118,990 in 2010. The rate has dropped, in turn, from 99.5 seminarians per million Catholics in 2010 to 90.9 in 2015.

Complete report here: