Six years ago today, the world welcomed two new saints, Blessed Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. More than half a million people were in Rome for the canonization Mass, several hundred thousand of whom watched on large screens placed throughout Rome.

Two living Popes were present at the canonization of their two predecessors. Pope emeritus Benedict XVI was present as Pope Francis presided at the canonization Mass in the presence of 90 official delegations, 24 heads of State, 150 cardinals and 1,000 bishops.

For me it was an extraordinary personal and professional experience, for a number of reasons. I resumed “Rome Dispatch,” a half-hour live television program that aired at 4 pm in Rome, and that was a great joy as I could talk about the 5 Popes in whose presence I have been and the 4 Popes whom I met and have spoken to – one of whom was being canonized, Blessed John Paul II. I attended a papal audience with John XXII but never met him personally, whereas I did meet Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis.

Here’s a link to the Rome Dispatch edition I dedicated to the first Pope I ever saw, Angelo Roncalli, John XXIII. I bring you to his birthplace via a video I made with my iPad in Sotto il Monte as well as a video of my meeting with the then brand new Cardinal Loris Capovilla who for 10 years had been the private secretary to Roncalli, as archbishop of Venice and then as Pope: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsB7YMfBxGs

I thank the Lord each and every day for the privileges and blessings He has bestowed on me!


Pope Francis writes a letter to street newspapers to expresses his solidarity with the volunteers and homeless people put to the test by the Covid-19 pandemic.

By Devin Watkins

In a letter sent on Monday to over 100 street papers around the world, Pope Francis acknowledged that the coronavirus outbreak has severely tested the people who rely on them for an income.

“I would like to acknowledge the world of street papers and especially the vendors – who for the most part are homeless, terribly marginalized, or unemployed: thousands of people across the world who live and have a job thanks to selling these extraordinary newspapers,” Pope Francis writes.

Giving voice to the marginalized
Street papers are publications produced to support those who write, edit and distribute them. These newspapers often seek to give the marginalized a voice in their community.

More than 100 street papers are published in 35 countries, in 25 different languages. They provide 20,500 people with employment and an income.

Pope Francis expressed appreciation for this mission, and warmly recalled a Caritas Italy project called Scarp de’ tennis (tennis shoes). The publication provides an income and “access to fundamental citizens’ rights” to over 130 people facing financial and social difficulties.

Paying a high price
Pope Francis also lamented that the Covid-19 pandemic has kept those who rely on street papers from working. He said the “most vulnerable, the invisible, and those without an abode are at risk of paying the highest price” from the coronavirus.

“I would like to express my solidarity with the journalists, the volunteers, and the people living thanks to these projects and those who these days are doing everything they can thanks to many innovative ideas,” he said.

The pandemic, said the Pope, has made their work difficult, “But I am sure that the great network of street papers will come back stronger than ever.”

Stories of hope
In conclusion, the Pope encouraged everyone to turn our attention to the poor during this unique moment. He said the poor can “help us all realize how much is actually happening to us and what our circumstances really are. Thank you for the work you do, for the information you provide, and for the stories of hope that you tell.”


Italy’s Bishops’ Conference voices concerns over certain aspects of the government’s plans for “phase 2”, saying the Church “cannot accept seeing the exercise of freedom of religion compromised”.

By Vatican News

The Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) responded shortly after the Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, revealed “phase 2” of the response to the coronavirus crisis on Sunday evening.

In a note sent to the government, the bishops addressed the policies that would continue to restrict the Church’s ability to carry out its pastoral activity. The bishops of Italy made it clear that any move to compromise the “exercise of freedom of religion” is unacceptable.

Noting the important services the Church provides in Italy, the bishops write: “It should be clear to all that the commitment to serving the poor, [which is] so significant in this emergency, stems from a faith that must be nourished at its source, especially the sacramental life.”

Duties of the state and of the Church
In their message, the bishops indicate that they have been in negotiations with the government. As a result, CEI proposed “guidelines and protocols” for the transitional phase of the response to coronavirus, “in full compliance with all health regulations.”

Nonetheless, the note continues, the plan presented by Prime Minister Conte “arbitrarily excludes the possibility of celebrating Mass with the people.”

The bishops remind those responsible for the plan – the Presidency of the Council of Ministers (the prime minister’s office) and the Technical-Scientific Committee – “of the duty to distinguish between their responsibility – to give precise indications related to health matters – and that of the Church, which is called to organize the life of the Christian community, respecting the measures laid down, but in the fullness of their own autonomy.”

Resuming the Church’s pastoral activity
The bishops also take note of an earlier statement by the Minister of the Interior, who said that “new measures were being studied by the Government to allow the widest possible exercise of freedom of worship.” That statement came “after an ongoing and constructive discussion between the General Secretariat of the CEI, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Council Presidency itself,” the bishops say.

In the meantime, “the Church has painfully and with a sense of responsibility accepted the limitations imposed by the government in order to deal with the health crisis.”

In the dialogue with government offices, the note continues, the Bishops’ Conference has stressed, repeatedly and explicitly, that as soon as the measures taken to deal with the pandemic began to be lifted, “the Church would demand to be able to resume its pastoral activity.”

Government response
The Presidency of the Council (the administrative structure that supports the prime minister), acknowledged receipt of the bishops’ communication on Sunday night.

The statement from the administration “confirms what has already been announced” in the prime minister’s press conference, adding, “In the coming days we will already be studying a protocol that will allow the participation of the faithful in liturgical celebrations, in conditions of maximum security, as soon as possible.”