There was a very interesting one-sentence announcement from the Vatican press office today: “The Holy Father has named Massimiliano Strapetti, nurse coordinator of the Vatican’s Health and Hygiene Department (direzione) as his personal health assistant.”

No further explanation or clarification was provided by the press office or any other source.

What can this mean?

The Vatican – Vatican City – has a health and hygiene center and a remarkable and well-stocked pharmacy with a sizeable staff of pharmacists. To become a pharmacist in Italy requires 5 years of intense studies and then passing a very demanding, rigorous exam.

The Vatican health center is for current employees of Vatican City State and the Roman Curia, as well as for retirees. There is a main administrative office and the center is staffed by dozens of physicians of all specialities, as well as the generic “family doctor.” Doctors usually work here two half days a week, in either morning or afternoon sessions. However, all have their own private studios or offices and many are on full time staff at some of Rome’s hospitals.

There are facilities for x-rays and for Doppler and other exams, though the center is not equipped like a full-fledged hospital. There is no “pronto soccorso” or emergency service, such as would be needed for victims of a serious accident, although it was here that Pope John Paul II was brought immediately after being shot on May 13, 1981, attested to by a floor plaque in the main building entrance.

There is, however, a “guardia medica” on duty from 7am to 8pm. This is a kind of emergency medical office, staffed by 3 or 4 doctors, for issues that are usually minor or for patients who have health questions. If a diagnosis is serious and a person needs to be hospitalized, there is a specific office for that at the health center.

Medical personnel is always available for events in the Paul VI Hall, Vatican Museums, the basilica and St. Peter’s Square.

This may be more information than you need but I want to point out that medical care at the Vatican is quite comprehensive.

Although I do not know for certain, I would hazard a guess that even at 3am, for example, a doctor is on call somewhere.

Certainly for the Holy Father, should such a need arise. And/or for cardinals residing in Vatican City.

Popes have always had their own personal physicians. We probably knew more about Pope John Paul’s doctors than any other pontiff in history. Many of us who have covered the Vatican for years can remember, without looking them up, the names of the doctors who took care of him in 1981.

A physician has always accompanied the popes on apostolic journeys, be they short or long.

Years ago, a friend who was a flight attendant told me a fascinating story when we met for dinner on her overnight stay.

Suzanne was shopping on Rome’s celebrated Via Condotti and wanted to buy an upscale purse. A flight attendant colleague had recommended a leather shop near Via Condotti, so she went to the address provided, walked up for the second floor and found what she called “the most fascinating and beautiful leather shop” in Italy!

The owner became a professor of leather as he showed Suzanne around and explained how purses, suitcases, jewelry boxes, etc. were made. During their conversation he showed her a beautiful piece of workmanship, explaining that it had been ordered by the Vatican for the doctor who travelled with popes! He had just finished it and was about to deliver it.

Suzanne told me it had numerous compartments for whatever a physician might need to put inside. She said every aspect of the physician’s bag was beyond perfect craftsmanship, adding, “it will probably last 100 years.”

I return to the original question: What does it mean that the pope chose a “personal health assistant”?

It is clear from the announcement that Strappeti is a nurse. He will obviously now be working more closely with the papal doctor, Roberto Bernabei.

By the way, Pope Francis has said of Strappeti “he saved my life” as it was Strappeti who, last summer, persuaded the Pope to have colon surgery.

Why did the Pope deem it necessary to have a personal health assistant? Is Strappeti needed for the daily therapy that Pope Francis is undergoing for his ongoing knee issue? Tomorrow, August 5, marks 3 months that we have seen the pope use a wheel chair.

Or is there an underlying health issue with the Holy Father that we know nothing about that Strappetti is to oversee?

I do not like speculation but we know nothing more than what we were told today.

Pope Francis often ends encounters with individuals or groups the same way he ends the Angelus on Sundays, asking people to pray for him.

And that we will do, Holy Father!


On Thursday, the Jesuit review La Civilta Cattolica published the exchange between the Jesuit Pope and his fellow Jesuits that took place in the archbishop’s residence in Québec City on the last day of his penitential pilgrimage to Canada. Francis touches on synodality, concern for Haiti, the Church’s love for families, and liturgy as ‘the people of God’s public praise!’

The full text of the conversation, written and published by Fr. Antonio Spadaro, the Editor-in-Chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, can be read here. (vaticannews)




Forty years after St. John Paul established Opus Dei as a personal prelature in his Apostolic Constitution Ut Sit, Pope Francis, in his Apostolic Letter Motu proprio Ad charisma tuendum, published today, confirmed the charism of Opus Dei but ordered the transfer of jurisdiction from the Dicastery of Bishops to the Dicastery for Clergy and also established that the Prelate can no longer be awarded the episcopal order. This enters into force August 4.

The Holy Father modified some of Opus Dei’s structures on the basis of the March 19, 2022 constitution on reform of the Roman Curis, Praedicate Evangelium, in order to “protect the charism” and “promote the evangelizing action that its members carry out in the world” by spreading “the call to holiness in the world, through the sanctification of work and commitments to family and society.”

Here’s a translation of some of the salient paragraphs:

“To protect the charism, my predecessor Saint John Paul II, in the Apostolic Constitution Ut sit, of 28 November 1982, erected the Prelature of Opus Dei, entrusting it with the pastoral task of contributing in a particular way to the evangelizing mission of the Church.” (Vatican file photo, Pope, prelate)

“With this Motu Proprio we intend to confirm the Prelature of Opus Dei in the authentically charismatic context of the Church, specifying its organization in harmony with the testimony of the Founder, St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, and with the teachings of the conciliar ecclesiology regarding personal prelatures.”

By means of the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium of March 19, 2022 that reforms the organization of the Roman Curia to better promote its service in favor of evangelization, I have deemed it convenient to entrust to the Dicastery for the Clergy the competence for all that pertains to the Apostolic See regarding the personal prelatures, of which the only one erected up to now is that of Opus Dei, in consideration of the pre-eminent task carried out in it, according to the norm of law, by clerics (cf. can. 294, CIC).

In Article 1, the Pope moves the jurisdiction for Opus Dei from the Dicastery for Bishops to the Dicastery for Clergy.

Article 2. The text of art. 6 of the Apostolic Constitution Ut sit is, starting from now, replaced by the following text: “Each year the Prelate will submit to the Dicastery for the Clergy a report on the state of the Prelature and on the carrying out of its apostolic work.”

(That original Ut sit article VI read: “Through the Sacred Congregation for Bishops, the Prelate will present to the Roman Pontiff, every five years, a report on the state of the Prelature, and on the development of its apostolic work.”

Art 4. In full respect of the nature of the specific charism described by the aforementioned Apostolic Constitution, we intend to strengthen the conviction that, for the protection of the particular gift of the Spirit, a form of government based more on charism than on hierarchical authority is needed. Therefore the Prelate will not be awarded or eligible to be awarded the episcopal order.

Art. 5. Considering that the pontifical insignia are reserved for those awarded the episcopal order, the Prelate of Opus Dei is granted, by reason of his office, the use of the title of Apostolic Protonotary supernumerary with the title of Reverend Monsignor and therefore may use the insignia corresponding to this title.

This motu proprio will enter into force on August 4, 2022 and be published in the official commentary of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

Given in Rome at St. Peter’s on July 14, 2022, the 10th year of pontificate, Francesco


The Bishops write, among other things: “Since the beginning of the Synodal Path, the Synodal Committee has endeavoured to find direct ways of communication with the Roman bodies. In our opinion, this would be the right place for such clarifications. Unfortunately, the Synodal Committee has not been invited to a discussion to date. We regret with irritation that this direct communication has not yet taken place. In our understanding, a synodal Church is something else!”

An English translation of the full response from the German episcopacy on the July 21 Vatican communique on the “synodal path” underway in Germany is here (scroll down to bottom of page): 21.07.2022: Statement by the Presidents of the Synodal Path on the statement presented by the Holy See


Seems the Catholic Church in Germany, as it pursues a “Synodal Path,” is being told to “shape up”….


Released today by the Holy See Press Office:  “In order to protect the freedom of the people of God and the exercise of the episcopal ministry, it seems necessary to specify that the “Synodal Path” in Germany has no power to oblige the Bishops and the faithful to adopt new ways of governing and new approaches to doctrine and moral.

“It would not be lawful, before an agreement is reached at the level of the universal Church, to initiate new official structures or doctrines in dioceses (as) that would represent a wound to ecclesial communion and a threat to the unity of the Church. As the Holy Father recalled in the Letter to the People of God who are on their way in Germany: “The universal Church lives in and of the particular Churches, just as the particular Churches live and flourish in and from the universal Church, and if they find themselves separated from the entire ecclesial body, they weaken, rot and die. Hence the need to keep communion with the whole body of the Church always alive and effective “[1]. Therefore it is hoped that the proposals of the pathway of the particular Churches in Germany will converge on the synodal path that the universal Church is taking for a mutual enrichment and a witness of that unity with which the body of the Church manifests its fidelity to Christ the Lord.” [1] FRANCIS, Letter to the People of God who are on their way in Germany, 9   (Pope urges German Church to walk together, moved by the Spirit – Vatican News)

(FYI: BISHOPS WRITE OPEN LETTER TO GERMAN EPISCOPACY: April 2022: More than 70 bishops from around the world have released a “fraternal open letter” to Germany’s bishops warning that sweeping changes to Church teaching advocated by the ongoing process known as the “Synodal Path” may lead to schism. Bishops sign letter warning that Germany’s ‘Synodal Path’ could lead to schism | Catholic News Agency)



I rarely if ever make prayer requests but today is truly an exception.

I met Brad Easterbrooks, a seminarian from the diocese of San Diego, when he was studying in Rome at the North American College. As I had been in the past, I was at the California table for Thanksgiving Dinner last November with Brad and other California seminarians and priests for a great dinner and engaging conversations.

Brad had been ordained a deacon in September and had such an interesting story and a delightful personality that I asked him to be my guest on “Vatican Insider” to tell the story of his vocation to the priesthood that he hopes to live as a military chaplain. That two-part interview aired in February. What so struck me in our conversation was his joy at the anticipation of his ordination to the priesthood. He radiated happiness.

San Diego diocese photo

Brad’s dream came true when he was ordained on Friday, June 24, 2022 at St. Gabriel Church in Poway, California. Joining the new priest were his mother, a brother, an aunt and other family members. His father David, whose life had been focussed on Brad becoming a priest, was in the hospital and unable to attend.

Several hours after the ordination, Brad’s father died of heart complications!

A day later, the new Fr. Easterbooks offered his first Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary church in San Diego for the repose of the soul of his father.

I learned this tragic news just days ago via an email from some friends whom I see on occasion in Rome and who knew the Easterbooks family.

So my prayer request is for Fr. Easterbrooks and his family as he starts his priestly life without his beloved Dad. It is hard for me to think of such a glorious moment in one’s life being touched by the searing pain of such a loss!

David Easterbrooks was buried in the historic and beautiful Mission San Luis Rey cemetery where my parents are buried as well as my brother-in-law.

May God sit on your shoulder, Fr. Brad!


Pope Francis this morning received Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of the Principality of Monaco for about a half hour in the papal library. Informal conversation, an exchange of gifts and meeting several other representatives from the principality marked the encounter.

These photos are from the Italian and French pages of Vatican News. The meeting (as I write) has not appeared in English news.

Francis gifted the couple a bronze work depicting a child helping another to get up with the words “Amare Aiutare” (To Love To Help), together with the volumes of papal documents, including the year’s message for peace, the document on human fraternity and the book on the Statio Orbis of March 27, 2020 edited by the Vatican Publishing House. A print depicting the chapel of the Palace of Monaco was donated to the Pope by the royal couple..



Courtesy of The Pillar: Click here for a list of U.S. Bishops who agree with San Francisco Abp. Salvatore Cordileone on his decision to bar Speaker Nancy Pelosi from communion for her pro-abortion stand and who will also ban her from communion in their dioceses: US bishops respond to Pelosi being barred from the Eucharist (pillarcatholic.com), Add Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Va., to this list. I am sure this will be updated over time. Thank you, Ed and JD!

The following story is interesting because, the traditional end of May event at the Vatican is a candlelit procession with faithful praying the rosary in the Vatican Gardens, often with the Pope appearing at the end at the Grotto of Lourdes to address the faithful. May 31 is the feast of the Visitation.


Pope Francis, in connection with international shrines worldwide, will lead a Rosary for peace from the Basilica of St. Mary Major on 31 May for those suffering the ongoing war in Ukraine and other wars around the world.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov (vaticannews)

Pope Francis will lead a Rosary for peace as a sign of hope for those suffering from the ongoing war in Ukraine and wars around the world. The news was announced on Ascension Thursday in a statement from the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.

“At the conclusion of the Marian month, Pope Francis wishes to offer a sign of hope to the world, suffering from the conflict in Ukraine and deeply wounded by the violence of the many wars still active.”

On Tuesday, 31 May, at 6pm, the Pope will pray the Rosary before the statue of Mary Regina Pacis in Rome’s Marian Basilica. (catholicforum.com photo)

“All the faithful in every part of the world are invited to support Pope Francis in his prayer to the Queen of Peace,” the statement encouraged.

Benedict XV commissioned image to implore end to First World War

This statue of Maria Regina Pacis, or “Queen of Peace”, located in the left aisle of the Basilica of St. Mary Major, has a particular history. It was commissioned by Pope Benedict XV and made by sculptor Guido Galli, at the time the deputy director of the Vatican Museums, to implore the Virgin Mary for an end to the First World War in 1918.

The Madonna is depicted with her left arm raised as a sign to order the end of the war, while with her right she holds the Baby Jesus, ready to drop the olive branch symbolising peace. Flowers are sculpted on the base, symbolising the blossoming of life with the return of peace. It is traditional for the faithful to lay small handwritten notes with prayer intentions at the feet of the Virgin.

The Pope will lay a wreath of flowers at the feet of the image before addressing his prayer to Our Lady and leaving his particular intention.

St. Mary Major on 31 May

Various categories of people representing the faithful will be present to support the Pope’s prayer. There will be boys and girls who have received their First Communion and Confirmation in recent weeks, Scouts, families from the Ukrainian Community of Rome, representatives of the Marian Ardent Youth (GAM), members of the Vatican Gendarmerie Corps and the Pontifical Swiss Guard, and the three parishes in Rome named after the Virgin Mary Queen of Peace, along with members of the Roman Curia.

As a sign of closeness to those most involved in the dynamics of these tragic events, a Ukrainian family, people related to war victims, and a group of military chaplains with their respective corps were invited to pray the decades of the Rosary.

Joining together with international shrines

Another important sign is the involvement of international shrines from all over the world, together with some shrines located in countries still affected by war or with strong political instability within them, which are the cause of many episodes of violence.

These shrines will pray the Rosary at the same time as the Holy Father, and will be connected via streaming to the live broadcast from Rome.

Those shrines that will be in connection with the Pope include: Shrine of the Mother of God in Ukraine; Cathedral of Sayidat al-Najat (Our Lady of Salvation) in Iraq; Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Syria; Cathedral of Mary Queen of Arabia in Bahrain. Alongside these are the International Shrines: Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage; International Shrine of Jesus Saviour and Mother Mary; Shrine of Jasna Góra; International Shrine of the Korean Martyrs; Holy House of Loreto; Blessed Virgin of the Holy Rosary; International Shrine Our Lady of Knock; Blessed Virgin of the Rosary; Our Lady Queen of Peace; Our Lady of Guadalupe; Our Lady of Lourdes.

On the feast of the Annunciation on 25 March, Pope Francis consecrated all humanity—especially Russia and Ukraine—to the Immaculate Heart of Mary toward the end of the liturgy during the annual “24 Hours for the Lord” Lenten penitential service in St. Peter’s Basilica.



Below is the Vatican News story about Pope Francis’ address yesterday to Italy’s bishops at a CEI (Italian Episcopal Conference) meeting in the Paul VI Hall. But first, you might want to read Andrea Gagliarducci’s Monday morning post about the Pope and the Church in Italy: http://www.mondayvatican.com/vatican/pope-francis-the-church-in-italy-as-a-mirror-of-the-pontificate

Spoiler alert at bottom of page: the name of the new president of the CEI


Pope Francis meets with the Italian Bishops’ Conference in the Paul VI Hall, as the group gathers to reflect on their journey along the synodal path.

By Vatican News staff reporter

As the 76th General Assembly of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) got underway on Monday, Pope Francis spoke to Italy’s Bishops in the Vatican for around 2 hours, according to the Holy See Press Office.

Their meeting takes place on 23-27 May, and is focused on the theme: “Listening to the Narratives of the People of God: The first discernment: What priorities are emerging along the Synodal Journey?”

Italy’s Bishops are meeting in Rome at the Hilton Rome Airport Hotel, and are set to select candidates to fill the position of President of the CEI.

Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, the outgoing CEI president, leads off the Assembly’s work on Tuesday, which will see the Italian Bishops nominate three of their number as candidates.

Pope Francis will choose the new CEI president from those three names.

The CEI will hold a press conference on Friday at the conclusion of their General Assembly.

(Of the three names given to Pope Francis as possible heads of the CEI, today he chose Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, archbishop of Bologna, Italy to lead the Episcopal conference)


Pope Francis this morning received participants in the plenary assembly of the International Union of Superiors General in the Paul VI Hall. The speech that he had prepared was handed over to his guests and he spoke off the cuff. Thursday was the first time Pope Francis appeared in public in a wheel chair to protect his right knee for which he has received injections. However, he sat in a chair at a table as he addressed the superiors.

Arriving in the Paul VI Hall (photo Daniel Ibanez EWTN)

Matteo Bruni, head of the press office, chatted briefly with journalists this morning and, while not making an official statement about Pope Francis’ use today of a wheelchair, he did note how doctors have advised the Pope to rest the knee as much as possible. It seems probable that the Pope has already used the wheelchair to cover certain distances. Regarding treatment, he said the Pope did have an injection on the knee to help alleviate the pain. Bruni said “it is difficult to make predictions about future papal activities.”

However, a Holy See Press Office bulletin today announced that the Holy Father will preside at the Eucharistic celebration with rite of canonization scheduled for Sunday, May 15 at 10am in St. Peter’s Square.


In an address to the International Union of General Superiors (UISG), Pope Francis invited them to reflect on St. Peter and Mary Magdalene in order to put themselves at the service of others. He also encouraged women religious to make their own synodal journey. (Vatican media text and 2 photos)

This week hundreds of superiors general have been exploring the theme “Embracing Vulnerability on the Synodal Journey,” during their plenary assembly.

And it was on this theme that Pope Francis focused when he addressed participants on Thursday in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.

The Pope dwelt on some points for their discernment centred around two scenes from the Gospel.

Vulnerability and service

The first is when Jesus washes Peter’s feet at the Last Supper.

The Pope told those gathered that contemplating this scene “leads us to recognise both Peter’s vulnerability and the vulnerability that Jesus assumes in order to go out to meet him.”

“Peter finds it difficult to accept that he needs a change in his mentality, a change of heart, that he must allow himself to have his feet washed in order to be able to wash the feet of his brothers and sisters,” he said.

By going out to meet him, explained Pope Francis, “the Son of God places himself in a vulnerable position, in the position of a servant, showing how the life of Jesus can only be understood through service.”

Together with Peter, the Pope underlined, “the Church learns from her Master that, in order to be able to give her life in service to others, she is invited to recognise and accept her own fragility and, from there, to bow down to the fragility of others.”

Pope Francis invited the superiors general to animate the life of their congregations and accompany discernment in their communities, “to enter into this scene of the washing of feet, walking this path of the Church, and to live their authority as service.”

The Pope also told the sisters that religious life today recognises its vulnerability, even if it sometimes accepts it with difficulty.

He went on to say that the place the Son of God wants to occupy by placing himself at the feet of humanity “is a theological space.”

“Like Peter and with Peter, we are now called, after recognising our vulnerability, to ask ourselves what are the new vulnerabilities before which we, as consecrated men and women, must lower ourselves today.”

He also called on them to approach “the feet of wounded humanity” beginning with the sisters in their communities.

In the second Gospel scene from Luke, Mary Magdalene is the protagonist.  “She knows very well what it means to move from a messy and fragile life to a life centred on Jesus and the service of proclamation,” the Pope said.

The Synodal path

Turning his attention to the synodal path, the Pope considered what is the contribution that the Church expects from religious life in the synodal journey of the Church.

He told those gathered that, “if the synod is above all an important moment of listening and discernment, the most important contribution you can make is to participate in reflection and discernment.”

“Throughout this synodal process, be builders of communion, remembering the life and mission of Jesus.”

He also stressed the importance of congregations making their own synodal journey.

Concluding his address, Pope Francis said he was counting on the sisters “to accompany God’s holy people in this synodal process, as experts in building communion, in fostering listening and discernment.”

He also expressed the hope that the “synodal process that we are living in the Church may also take place within your institutes, where young and old exchange their wisdom and visions of consecrated life.”

Finally, the Pope acknowledged the concern about a lack of vocations and about ageing. On these issues, he said, “the important thing is always to be able to give a faithful and creative response to the Lord. Welcome the time in which we live as a gift from God, a kairos, for nothing escapes his hand.”



If you have a few extra minutes today, you might enjoy this interview by Vatican News of Cardinal Timothy Dolan who is currently in Rome prior to his trip to Poland and Ukraine to help refugees: A conversation with Cardinal Dolan ahead of mission to help Ukraine – Vatican News


Pope Francis received members of the Papal Foundation this morning on their first visit since the coronavirus shut things down in 2020, including travel, in-person visits and meetings, etc.

Foundation members usually pay an annual visit to Rome and the Holy Father and that visit usually coincides with the annual Rector’s Dinner at the Pontifical North American College that takes place tonight.

The Papal Foundation is the only charitable organization in the United States that is exclusively dedicated to fulfilling the requests of the Holy Father for the needs of the Church. Since its inception in 1988, The Papal Foundation and its Stewards of Saint Peter have allocated $200 million in grants and scholarships around the world to more than 2000 projects selected by Popes Francis, Benedict, and John Paul II. Each Steward of St. Peter makes a $1 million gift to a carefully managed fund that annually delivers a portion of its resources to support the Holy Father’s responses. (Vatican media photo)

During today’s audience, Pope Francis touched a photo of St. John Paul II who was canonized, along with Pope John XXIII, eight years ago yesterday, April 27, 2014.

The Holy Father opened his remarks by saying, “It is good that we can meet this year in person, as restrictions put in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic have been somewhat eased.   Our time together affords me the opportunity to express my deep gratitude for the generous support you have provided both to me and to the Church in so many areas of the world.”

Francis noted that, “over the years, the Papal Foundation has fostered on a global level the integral development of so many of our brothers and sisters. In particular, your response to the various requests that you receive for assistance with educational, charitable and ecclesial projects enables you to facilitate the Church’s ongoing efforts to build a culture of solidarity and peace.”

In particular, Pope Francis underscored how “your charitable outreach continues to extend to those on the peripheries of society who live in material, and frequently spiritual, poverty. At the same time, as we are witnessing in these days the devastating effects of war and conflict, you increasingly see the need to provide care and humanitarian assistance to its victims, to refugees and to those forced to leave their homelands in search of a better and more secure future for themselves and their loved ones. Your work helps to bring the love, hope and mercy that the Gospel proclaims to all who benefit from your generosity and commitment.”

“I ask you, please,” concluded Francis, “to pray for me and for my ministry, for the needs of the Church, the spread of the Gospel and the conversion of hearts.”


Today is a major holiday in Italy known as Festa della Liberazione or Liberation Day. How and why do Italians celebrate April 25: Italy marks Liberation Day with holiday on 25 April – Wanted in Rome

A holiday throughout Italy – and you had to be here to see the tourists on this long, holiday weekend! – but it was a regular work day in the Vatican, as you will see.

Among the hundreds of Missionaries of Mercy in town for their third international meeting since Pope Francis instituted these Missionaries for the 2016 Jubilee Year of Mercy is EWTN’s own Father John Paul. He is also in the Eternal City for a period to tend to the Rome-based flock of EWTN, to hear confessions, to offer daily masses and to just be with us for several weeks. It is always a joy to be with this humble, happy priest, whatever side of the pond we’re on.

Michael Warsaw, Chairman of the Board and CEO of EWTN, is also in Rome this week for a number of events, EWTN-related and not. I’ll be seeing both Fr. John Paul and Michael in coming days and if these pages show a Joan’s Rome lite, it means time is not being very generous to me in a week marked by the arrival of perhaps a dozen friends, luncheons, dinners, interviews, etc. Today was such a day.

Here is the Vatican story of Pope Francis’ encounter with the Missionaries of Mercy this morning:


Pope Francis welcomed Missionaries of Mercy from around the world, and encouraged them to receive warmly those seeking God’s mercy and to offer consolation to the sad and lonely, offering the biblical figure Ruth as an inspiration for their ministry.

By Thaddeus Jones (vaticannews)

Welcoming the Missionaries of Mercy from around the world in the Paul VI Audience Hall on Monday, Pope Francis explained how he wanted to bring them back to Rome as a way to renew their ministry of being instruments of God’s mercy.

Saying their ministry is the one closest to his heart, the Pope recalled that he even had their fundamental role included in the new Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, “Praedicate Evangelium,” under the section focusing on evangelization.

He said they are now part of the structure of the Church, and hopefully will grow in number as bishops identify priests “who are holy, merciful, ready for forgiveness, in order to become full-fledged missionaries of Mercy.”

Pope Francis instituted the role of the Missionaries of Mercy six years ago when he met them in Rome during the Jubilee Year of Mercy in 2016 to give them their mandate to witness around the world the closeness of God and His love, mercy and forgiveness.

The Missionaries of Mercy offer a special ministry of outreach, hearing confessions and finding new ways to proclaim, express and bring God’s mercy to all. They also have special faculties to give absolution to serious sins that ordinarily would require consultation and permission from the local bishop or the Holy See.

The testimony of Ruth

Pointing to previous meetings with the Missionaries of Mercy, the Pope recalled how he encouraged them to bring God’s mercy and be a sign of His consolation so that they know God never forgets or abandons us.

On this occasion, he reflected on the biblical figure of Ruth, who can inspire them in their ministry. The Book of Ruth in the Old Testament tells the story of a Moabite woman committed to the people of Israel through an oath to her mother-in-law Naomi. Both were widows living in extreme poverty.

The Pope spoke about Ruth’s very difficult life, suffering as a poor widow and foreigner, but despite it all offering heroic love, loyalty, generosity and mercy in her service to Naomi and others. She became the great-grandmother of David through her later marriage to Boaz of Bethlehem, and so a full part of the people of ancient Israel.

God communicates through Ruth

Pope Francis observed how, in the Book of Ruth, God never speaks directly, but He communicates through Ruth’s every gesture of kindness towards her mother-in-law Noemi.

While the path of life is often difficult and full of sadness at times, God sets out on his path to reveal His love, the Pope explained, saying we too are invited to discern the presence of God in people’s lives.

And as Missionaries of Mercy, “it is up to us, through our ministry, to give voice to God and show the face of His mercy.” He added that God works in people’s daily lives often through silent, discreet and simple ways manifested through those who become a sacrament of God’s presence.

Forgiveness in your pocket

The Pope appealed to the Missionaries of Mercy to avoid every form of judgement when receiving those coming to them and to always strive to understand the person fully, not just partially.

We are all sinners, he noted, and we all fall on our knees to ask for forgiveness, the Pope pointed out. And departing from this prepared text, he encouraged them not to get bogged down in what the rules say, but to look at the person asking for forgiveness and to be generous with that forgiveness “in your pocket,” as priests and Missionaries of Mercy.

He called them to “look into the heart of a person, where the desire is hidden, and the longing to return to the Father and to his house.” He added for emphasis, “always, always forgive!”

Mercy and consolation

In conclusion, Pope Francis encouraged the Missionaries of Mercy to always be ready to show God’s mercy, like having a blanket always ready to warm those who seek to come in from the cold and receive God’s mercy and forgiveness.

He called on them to be generous like Ruth, to draw near with consolation to those who are sad and lonely, adding that in this way the Lord will recognize them as His faithful ministers.

The Pope added two stories off-the-cuff about two great confessors he remembered from his experience back home in Argentina. He spoke about how they heard confessions all day long until the last years of their lives as examples of showing God’s boundless mercy in the confessional.

He encouraged the Missionaries of Mercy to do the same – to never tire of forgiving, “because the Lord never tires of forgiving us, never!”



The Vatican today released a statement that noted “how Pope Francis, on Palm Sunday had asked for an Easter truce, in order to achieve peace.”

It stated further that, “the Holy See and the Holy Father join in the appeal that António Guterres, secretary general of the United Nations, along with His Beatitude Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Greek-Catholic Church in Ukraine, launched on April 19 for a truce in the occasion of the celebration of Easter according to the Julian calendar on April 24th.

“In the knowledge that nothing is impossible for God, they invoke the Lord King so that the population trapped in war zones is evacuated and peace will soon be restored, and they ask those who have the responsibility of the Nation to listen to the cry of peace of the people.” (Vatican photo)

At that time, Guterres said, “Easter is a season for renewal, resurrection and hope. It is a time for reflection on the meaning of suffering, sacrifice, death, and rebirth. It is meant to be a moment of unity.”

According to Vatican News, the U.N. chief said today, “I am calling for a four-day, Holy Week humanitarian pause, beginning on Holy Thursday and running through Easter Sunday, April 24, to allow for the opening of a series of humanitarian corridors. Humanitarian needs are dire. People do not have food, water supplies, to treat the sick, or simply to live day-to-day.

“For all these life-or-death reasons, I call on Russians and Ukrainians to silence the guns and forge a path to safety for so many at immediate risk.” The four-day Easter period should be a moment to unite around saving lives and furthering dialogue to end the suffering in Ukraine.

“Put the weapons down,” said Pope Francis on Palm Sunday. “Let an Easter truce start. But not to rearm and resume combat but a truce to reach peace through real negotiations open to some sacrifices for the good of the people.”


One of the books I re-discovered during Lent was a delight volume by Cardinal Francis Arinze, a gift of his when I invited him to dinner one night. The book is “Draw Near to Me, O Lord: Heartfelt Prayers for Everyday Life.”

This small volume has countless prayers for so many situations that arise in anyone’s life. But there are two occasions that occur for all of us, getting up in the morning and going to bed at night. How do we thank the Lord? Do we thank the Lord? Words should come fairly easily and I think you’ll find that in these two prayers from his book!


Lord God, a new day dawns. It is a gift of Your creating hand. You are giving me this gift of another 24 hours to be at Your service and to be in solidarity with my neighbor.

I thank You for this providential design of Yours. May every thought, word, or deed of mine in this day be pleasing to You, be according to Your will and be my own yes to the unfolding of Your plan for me, for my dear ones, for the people for whom or with whom I work and indeed for all humanity.

Help me, Lord, to overcome my basic defects and weaknesses. May I show the hand of togetherness to every brother or sister with whom I am in contact today. At the end of this day, may I be able to look back with gratitude and joy and without regret. This I beg You, through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Lord, the day You gave me has ended. The darkness of night descends as part of Your providential design.

I thank You for the opportunities you have given me today to live in your service and that of my neighbor. What I may have done well, I beg You to purify, elevate and accept through Christ, with Christ and in Christ. What I have not done well, I beg You to correct so that everything may finally turn out to Your greater glory, the good of my neighbor, and my own spiritual growth.

Night rest and sleep are Your gift. May I have the blessing of being refreshed by rest and sleep so that I may be better able to serve You. I am joyfully confident of Your love and protection.

I pray also for all the people who find rest and sleep difficult for those who are obliged to work long hours with a little time for rest, and for those who have turned the night into a time of restless activities that are not always according to Your will. Lord, curb the devil and all forces of evil that operate more at night so that we may be better disposed to serve You when a new day dawns. To You be honor and glory through Christ our Lord. Amen.