– At today’s general audience in the Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis began by speaking of his predecessor, Benedict XVI: “Before beginning this catechesis, I would like us to join with those here beside us who are paying their respects to Benedict XVI, and to turn my thoughts to him, a great master of catechesis. His acute and gentle thought was not self-referential, but ecclesial, because he always wanted to accompany us in the encounter with Jesus. Jesus, Crucified and Risen, the Living One and the Lord, was the destination to which Pope Benedict led us, taking us by the hand. May he help us rediscover in Christ the joy of believing and the hope of living!”

– The last time a Pope celebrated the funeral of his predecessor, as Pope Francis will on Thursday, 5 January, was when Pius VII celebrated the funeral of Pius VI in 1802. The last time a Pope celebrated the funeral of his predecessor was in 1802 – Vatican News

– On the occasion of the solemn funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the Italian Prime Minister announced that national and European union flags on public buildings will be flown at half-staff throughout the national territory on January 5, 2023.

– 3,700 priests will be concelebrating at Benedict’s funeral Mass.


I’ve had trouble, as I frequently do, uploading photos to my laptop but finally here are a few that will serve to give you an idea of what goes into covering an historical event, such as that we are witnessing, of the passing of a pope emeritus, by a large media family, EWTN.

Among other things, it means building a structure that allows us to have our correspondents and visitors tell the story and bring the news to world in multiple languages.   Part of this is also used by EBU, the European Broadcasting Union, whose members can report from this stage.

Days and days go by as builders, electricians and countless others work to make this happen. These are people whose faces and work are never seen by the viewer, but whose work allows us to go on air!

This has to happen….

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Before our coverage and commentary can happen….

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(From Catholic News Agency)

Pope Francis will preside over the funeral of Benedict XVI on Thursday, Jan. 5, at 9:30 a.m. (Rome time) in St. Peter’s Square.

Here is a preview of the readings and prayers that will be offered at the funeral of Benedict XVI:

The collect prayer will be prayed in Latin: 

Let us pray. O God, who in your wondrous providence chose your servant Benedict to preside over your Church, grant, we pray, that, having served as the Vicar of your Son on earth, he may be welcomed by him into eternal glory. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen.

The readings for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s funeral Mass will be:

In the Prayers of the Faithful, the second prayer will be said in German:

For Pope Emeritus Benedict, who has fallen asleep in the Lord: may the eternal Shepherd receive him into his kingdom of light and peace.

At the end of the Prayers of the Faithful, Pope Francis will pray:

God our Father, lover of life, hear the prayers we raise to you with faith in the Risen Lord for Pope Emeritus Benedict and for the needs of the Church and our world. Grant us a share in fellowship with you in the heavenly Jerusalem, where sorrow and tears will be no more. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Prayer over the Offerings:

Look with favor on the offerings of your Church as she calls on you, O Lord, and by the power of this sacrifice grant that, as you placed your servant Benedict as High Priest over your flock, so you may set him among the number of your chosen Priests in heaven. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer III offered in Latin:

Remember your servant Pope Emeritus Benedict, whom you have called from this world to yourself. Grant that he who was united with your Son in a death like his, may also be one with him in his Resurrection, when from the earth he will raise up in the flesh those who have died, and transform our lowly body after the pattern of his own glorious body.

To our departed brothers and sisters, too, and to all who were pleasing to you at their passing from this life, give kind admittance to your kingdom. There we hope to enjoy forever the fullness of your glory, when you will wipe away every tear from our eyes.

For seeing you, our God, as you are, we shall be like you for all the ages and praise you without end, through Christ our Lord, through whom you bestow on the world all that is good.

The Prayer after Communion will be prayed in Latin:

Let us pray. As we receive sacred sustenance from your charity, O Lord, we pray that your servant Benedict, who was a faithful steward of your mysteries on earth, may praise your mercy forever in the glory of the Saints. Through Christ our Lord.

After Communion there will be a Final Commendation and Farewell followed by a moment for silent prayer:

Dear brothers and sisters, in celebrating the sacred mysteries we have opened our minds and hearts to joy-filled hope; with confidence we now offer our final farewell to Pope Emeritus Benedict and commend him to God, our merciful and loving Father.

May the God of our fathers, through Jesus Christ, his only Son, in the Holy Spirit, Lord and Giver of Life, deliver Pope Emeritus Benedict from death, that he may sing God’s praises in the heavenly Jerusalem in expectation of the resurrection of his mortal body on the last day.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles and Salus Populi Romani, intercede before the Eternal Father, that he may reveal the face of Jesus his Son to Pope Emeritus Benedict and console the Church on her pilgrimage through history as she awaits the Lord’s return.

After Pope Francis incenses the mortal remains of Benedict XVI, the pope will pray in Latin:

Gracious Father, we commend to your mercy Pope Emeritus Benedict whom you made Successor of Peter and shepherd of the Church, a fearless preacher of your word and a faithful minister of the divine mysteries.

Welcome him, we pray, into your heavenly dwelling place, to enjoy eternal glory with all your chosen ones. We give you thanks, Lord, for all the blessings that in your goodness you bestowed upon him for the good of your people.

Grant us the comfort of faith and the strength of hope.

To you Father, source of life, through Christ, the conqueror of death, in the life-giving Spirit, be all honor and glory forever and ever.

The choir and the congregation will sing the following Antiphons:

May the angels lead you into paradise; may the martyrs come and welcome you and take you to the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem.

May choirs of angels welcome you and with Lazarus, who is poor no longer may you have eternal rest.

As Benedict XVI’s coffin is carried to his place of burial in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica, the choir will sing the Magnificat in Latin.



Apologies to my blog readers for lack of news on this page but for days I have basically been away from my office and computer, using only my cell phone for photos, and posting news and events on Facebook and Twitter. Lots of great stuff if you care to go to

Will try to do a second posting today, Wednesday, January 4 but time is not generous with me. I am now preparing for a live radio show in an hour with Teresa Tomeo on Catholic Connection after which a special friend of mine. Fr. Christopher Pearson, in town to concelebrate at Benedict’s funeral Mass tomorrow, is coming to my office for an interview for Vatican Insider.

Will do my best to keep you apprised of events but please also go to Facebook.

What extraordinary words follow in Benedict’s spiritual testament” Words that are almost a prayer, words we too should reflect on slowly, with great discernment!


The Holy See releases the Spiritual Testament of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, dated 29 August 2006.

My spiritual testament

When, at this late hour of my life, I look back on the decades I have wandered through, I see first of all how much reason I have to give thanks. Above all, I thank God Himself, the giver of all good gifts, who has given me life and guided me through all kinds of confusion; who has always picked me up when I began to slip, who has always given me anew the light of his countenance. In retrospect, I see and understand that even the dark and arduous stretches of this path were for my salvation and that He guided me well in those very stretches.

I thank my parents, who gave me life in difficult times and prepared a wonderful home for me with their love, which shines through all my days as a bright light until today. My father’s clear-sighted faith taught us brothers and sisters to believe and stood firm as a guide in the midst of all my scientific knowledge; my mother’s heartfelt piety and great kindness remain a legacy for which I cannot thank her enough. My sister has served me selflessly and full of kind concern for decades; my brother has always paved the way for me with the clear-sightedness of his judgements, with his powerful determination, and with the cheerfulness of his heart; without this ever-new going ahead and going along, I would not have been able to find the right path.

I thank God from the bottom of my heart for the many friends, men and women, whom He has always placed at my side; for the co-workers at all stages of my path; for the teachers and students He has given me. I gratefully entrust them all to His goodness. And I would like to thank the Lord for my beautiful home in the Bavarian foothills of the Alps, in which I was able to see the splendour of the Creator Himself shining through time and again. I thank the people of my homeland for allowing me to experience the beauty of faith time and again. I pray that our country will remain a country of faith and I ask you, dear compatriots, not to let your faith be distracted. Finally, I thank God for all the beauty I was able to experience during the various stages of my journey, but especially in Rome and in Italy, which has become my second home.

I ask for forgiveness from the bottom of my heart from all those whom I have wronged in some way.

What I said earlier of my compatriots, I now say to all who were entrusted to my service in the Church: Stand firm in the faith! Do not be confused! Often it seems as if science – on the one hand, the natural sciences; on the other, historical research (especially the exegesis of the Holy Scriptures) – has irrefutable insights to offer that are contrary to the Catholic faith. I have witnessed from times long past the changes in natural science and have seen how apparent certainties against the faith vanished, proving themselves not to be science but philosophical interpretations only apparently belonging to science – just as, moreover, it is in dialogue with the natural sciences that faith has learned to understand the limits of the scope of its affirmations and thus its own specificity. For 60 years now, I have accompanied the path of theology, especially biblical studies, and have seen seemingly unshakeable theses collapse with the changing generations, which turned out to be mere hypotheses: the liberal generation (Harnack, Jülicher, etc.), the existentialist generation (Bultmann, etc.), the Marxist generation. I have seen, and see, how, out of the tangle of hypotheses, the reasonableness of faith has emerged and is emerging anew. Jesus Christ is truly the Way, the Truth, and the Life – and the Church, in all her shortcomings, is truly His Body.

Finally, I humbly ask: pray for me, so that the Lord may admit me to the eternal dwellings, despite all my sins and shortcomings. For all those entrusted to me, my heartfelt prayer goes out day after day. (source Vaticannews)




The body of the late pontiff arrived at 7:15 this morning in St. Peter’s Basilica from the Mater Ecclesiae monastery where he had lived for almost 10 years. Cardinal Gambetti, archpriest of the basilica, blessed the body and led a brief prayer service. Benedict XVI lies just in front of the papal altar and the stairway down to the Confessio. (Vatican media)




Following is my translation of an article in Italian in Vatican News, written by Andrea Tornielli. I used the official English translation for Pope Francis’ words to Benedict on June 28, 2016 (65th Anniversary of the Priestly Ordination of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (28 June 2016) | Francis (


The last words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI were heard in the middle of the night by a nurse. It was around 3 in the morning on December 31st, a few hours before his death. Ratzinger had not yet entered his agony, and at that moment his collaborators and assistants had taken turns. With him, at that precise moment, there was only a nurse who did not speak German.

“Benedict XVI,” his secretary, Bishop Georg Gänswein recounts with emotion, “in a whisper, but in an easily distinguishable way, said in Italian: ‘Lord, I love you!’ I was not there at that moment, but the nurse told me shortly after. Those were his last undertandable words because after that he was no longer able to express himself.”

Joseph Ratzinger and his brother George were both ordained to the priesthood on June 29, 1951:

“Lord, I love you!” is almost a synthesis of the life of Joseph Ratzinger who, for years, had been preparing for the definitive encounter, face to face, with the Creator. On 28 June 2016, on the 65th anniversary of the pope emeritus’ priestly ordination, Pope Francis (in an address to his predecessor) wanted to underline a ‘characteristic’ of the long history of Ratzinger’s priesthood.

He said: In one of the many beautiful passages you have written on the priesthood, you emphasize that, at the hour of Simon’s definitive call, Jesus, fixing his gaze on him, essentially asks only one thing: “Do you love me?” How beautiful and true this is! Because it is here, as you go on to tell us, in that “Do you love me?” that the Lord establishes the true meaning of shepherding, because only through love for the Lord will the Lord be able to shepherd through us: “Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you”

This is the characteristic,” continued Francis, “that has predominated your entire life spent in priestly service and in the service of theology, which you defined, not by happenstance, as the search for the beloved; and this is indeed what you have always given witness to and continue to witness to today: that the decisive thing that frames each of our days — come rain or come shine — that which gives rise to everything else, is that the Lord is truly present, that we desire him, that we are close to him interiorly, that we love him, that we really believe in him and, believing in him, truly love him. It is this loving that truly fills our hearts, this believing that allows us to walk confidently and peacefully upon the waters, even in the midst of a storm, as Peter did. This loving and this believing allow us to look to the future not with fear or nostalgia, but with joy, even in the twilight of our lives.”



Two images of Benedict XVI, pope emeritus, lying in the chapel of Mater Redemptoris monastery where he lived for almost 10 years. If your heart is not already broken, these will do it! They will also make us double up on prayers for Benedict XVI, maybe even ask for his intercession.



Allow me to wish all of you who follow me – my blog readers, radio listeners and TV viewers – a happy, healthy, fulfilling, peaceful and joy-filled New Year!. May it be better in every way possible than the year we are leaving!

I’ll be back on this page – save for breaking news – on January 2, 2023! So, see you next year!


Welcome to Vatican Insider on this Christmas and New Year’s weekend. After all, don’t forget that it is still the Christmas season! In what is usually the interview segment after the News, I have prepared what I hope is a fascinating Christmas story, a Special in which I bring you to Italy to learn how the Vatican and Rome and Italians celebrate Christmas and New Year’s. Christmastide is as wonderful here as you can imagine, and I think you’ll want to invite family members, especially children, to sit around and listen!


The Director of the Holy See Press Office on Friday said Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s health condition remains stable.

By Vatican News

In a response to questions from journalists, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, on Friday confirmed that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s health condition remains stable at this time. He added that yesterday evening Benedict XVI was able to have a good rest, and earlier in the afternoon he participated in the celebration of Mass in his room.

Vatican news file photo of Benedict XVI and his personal secretary, Abp. Georg Gaenswein –

In related news, at 5:30 pm Rome time on today, Mass was celebrated at the basilica of St. John Lateran, remembering in prayer Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and his health. Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, vicar of the Diocese of Rome, presided over the celebration.

The Diocese of Rome encouraged “parish communities, chaplaincies, religious men and women, all the faithful of the diocese and all the men and women of good will who live in Rome,” to gather in prayer for Benedict XVI,  “remembering with gratitude the road travelled together with our bishop emeritus,” and accompanying him now “in this time of suffering and hardship, praying to the Lord that He may console him and sustain him in his witness of love for the Church until the end.”




Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni, in early afternoon, issued the following statement, answering questions from journalists about the condition of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI: “The pope emeritus was able to rest well last night. He is absolutely lucid and alert and today, notwithstanding the gravity of his condition, the situation at the moment is stable. Pope Francis renews his invitation to pray for him and to accompany him in these difficult hours.”


In his Apostolic Letter, The Holy Father quotes St. Francis de Sales innumerable times but this one sounds like it could be for us today: “Towards the end of his life, this is how he saw his time: “The world is becoming so delicate that, in a little while, no one will dare any longer to touch it except with velvet gloves, or tend its wounds except with perfumed bandages; yet what does it matter, if only men and women are healed and finally saved?  Charity, our queen, does everything for her children.”


Pope Francis at the end of the general audience: “I would like to ask you all for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who is supporting the Church in silence. Remember him – he is very ill – asking the Lord to console him and to sustain him in this witness of love for the Church, until the end.”

Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni issued the following communique this morning: “Regarding the health conditions of the Pope Emeritus, for whom Pope Francis asked for prayers at the end of this morning’s general audience, I can confirm that in the last few hours there has been an aggravation due to advancing age. The situation at the moment remains under control, followed constantly by the doctors. At the end of the general audience, Pope Francis went to the Mater Ecclesiae monastery to visit Benedict XVI. We join him in praying for the Pope Emeritus.” (Vatican photo)


During the general audience today in the Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis reflected on the birth of Christ as seen in some of the thoughts of St. Francis de Sales who died 400 years ago today. He also announced that he had written an Apostolic Letter on the saintly patron of journalists, ‘Totum amoris est’ (‘Everything Pertains to Love’), that the Vatican published today.

“In this Christmas season,” began the Holy Father, our reflections on Jesus’ birth can be enhanced by some thoughts of the great Doctor of the Church, Saint Francis de Sales. Today, on the fourth centenary of his death, I have published a new Apostolic Letter to recall some of the richness of his teaching.

“For Francis de Sales,” continued the Pope, “the mystery of Christmas directs our gaze to the poverty and simplicity of the manger as the sign of Christ’s true identity as God among us. God, who knows our weaknesses, our sins and our hardness of heart, chose to draw us to himself by bonds of love, coming into our world as a newborn child. The birth of Jesus thus reveals God’s utterly free, gracious and indeed ‘disarming’ love.”

“We see this mystery concretely in the focal point of the crib, namely in the Child lying in a manger. This is ‘the sign’ that God gives us at Christmas: it was at the time for the shepherds in Bethlehem (cf. Lk 2:12), it is today, and it will always be so. When the angels announce the birth of Jesus, [they say,] ‘Go and you will find Him’; and the sign is: You will find a child in a manger. That is the sign. The throne of Jesus is the manger or the street, during His life, preaching; or the Cross at the end of His life. This is the throne of our King.”

“This sign, continues Pope Francis, “shows us the “style’ of God. And what is the style of God? Don’t forget, never forget: the style of God is closeness, compassion, and tenderness. Our God is close, compassionate, and tender. This style of God is seen in Jesus. With this style of His, God draws us to Himself. He does not take us by force. He does not impose His truth and justice on us. He does not proselytize us, no! He wants to draw us with love, with tenderness, with compassion.”

The Pope underscored how “Saint Francis teaches us to welcome the Lord into our hearts by joyfully imitating his detachment from worldly wealth and power, and, like the infant Jesus, by learning ‘to desire nothing and to refuse nothing, to accept everything that God sends us’, with complete confidence in his loving providence.”

In conclusion, the Holy Father said, “May the lowly manger of Bethlehem inspire us to imitate that boundless love of God, made flesh in the Child of Bethlehem, the Savior of the world.”

Click here to read a summary of Totum Amoris est: Pope: St. Francis de Sales was ‘great reader of Signs of the Times’ – Vatican News

Click here for entire Apostolic Letter: Apostolic Letter <i>Totum amoris est</i> of the Holy Father Francis on the Fourth Centenary of the Death of Saint Francis de Sales – Activities of the Holy Father Pope Francis |