POPE: STAFF CAN HELP MAKE PRISON A PLACE OF REDEMPTION – POPE’S FEBRUARY PRAYER INTENTION: HUMAN TRAFFICKING

In case you missed it on Monday, February 4, here’s the link to “At Home with Jim and Joy.” As I do every week with Jim and Joy, I bring some news from Rome towards the end of the show. I’ll be on again tomorrow, Friday.

As I read Pope Francis’ words today to the staff of Rome’s Regina Coeli (Queen of Heaven) prison (see below), I immediately thought of a story I’ve seen on Fox News about Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary.

Its website notes that when Eastern State Penitentiary opened more than 180 years ago, it changed the world. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of prisoners.

The building itself was an architectural wonder; it had running water and central heat before the White House, and attracted visitors from around the globe. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America’s most notorious criminals, including bank robber “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al “Scarface” Capone.

For more information, including how you can take a tour: https://www.easternstate.org/research/history-eastern-state

Scary!! At this minute, Fox News is just airing their news extra on the penitentiary!

POPE: STAFF CAN HELP MAKE PRISON A PLACE OF REDEMPTION

Pope Francis meets with the directors and staff of Rome’s Regina Coeli prison, telling them that prison, with the help of its staff, can truly become a place of redemption.
By Lydia O’Kane (Vaticannews)

On Holy Thursday last year Pope Francis paid a visit to Rome’s Regina Coeli prison to celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper with inmates and staff. Nearly a year on, the directors and staff of the prison were greeted by the Pope on Thursday in the Paul VI Hall. Addressing the 600 people present, Pope Francis spoke of jail as being a place of punishment and suffering, adding that, “it needs much attention and humanity.

Healing wounds
In prison he said, “everyone, penitentiary police, chaplains, educators and volunteers, are called to the difficult task of healing the wounds of those who, through mistakes made, find themselves deprived of their personal freedom.”

Prisons, the Pope observed, “need to be increasingly humanized, and it is painful to hear that they are often considered to be places of violence and illegality, where human wickedness is rampant.”

Pope Francis also commented that many prisoners who are in jail are poor; they have no references, he said, “no security, no family, no means to defend their rights, they are marginalized and abandoned to their fate. For society they are uncomfortable individuals, a waste, a burden.”

Work stress
Turning his attention to prison staff, the Pontiff noted that their jobs could be stressful and frustrating due to shortages of personnel and chronic overcrowding.

“Work-related stress caused by pressing shifts and often the distance from families are factors that weigh down a job that already involves a certain psychological effort”, the Pope said. “Therefore, professional figures like you need a personal balance and valid motivations constantly renewed.”

Prison a place of redemption
Experience shows, Pope Francis underlined, “that prison, with the help of prison workers, can truly become a place of redemption, resurrection and a change of life, and all this is possible through paths of faith, work and professional training, but especially of spiritual closeness and compassion…”

By following the example of the Good Samaritan, who cared for his wounded brother, he stressed, “this attitude of closeness, rooted in the love of Christ, can foster trust, awareness and the certainty of being loved in many inmates.”

In conclusion, the Pope encouraged those present to do their important work in the spirit of harmony and unity. “You are called to march in one direction”, he said “to help stand up and grow in hope for those who have unfortunately fallen into the trap of evil.”

POPE’S FEBRUARY PRAYER INTENTION: HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Pope Francis on Thursday released a video message accompanying his prayer intention for February, which this month is “Human Trafficking “.

In his prayer intention for the month of February 2019, Pope Francis calls us to pray for a generous welcome of the victims of human trafficking, of enforced prostitution, and of violence.

The full text of his intention:
“Although we try to ignore it, slavery is not something from other times. Faced with this tragic reality, no one can wash their hands of it without being, in some way, an accomplice to this crime against humanity. We cannot ignore the fact that there is as much slavery in the world today as there was before, or perhaps more. Let us pray for a generous welcome of the victims of human trafficking, of enforced prostitution, and of violence”

Click here for video: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-02/pope-francis-prayer-intention-february-2019.html#play

POPE’S JANUARY PRAYER INTENTION: MAY YOUTH FOLLOW MARY’S EXAMPLE – WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE: “EVERY PRAYER ANSWERED, IN GOD’S TIME” – “100 CRIBS AT THE VATICAN” OPEN UNTIL JANUARY 13 – NORTH KOREAN DIPLOMAT DISAPPEARS IN ITALY

FYI: The circular newsletter sent out by the Pontifical Council for Culture with events, publications, activities and nominations is now available in English: http://www.cultura.va/content/cultura/en/pub/newsletter.html

POPE’S JANUARY PRAYER INTENTION: MAY YOUTH FOLLOW MARY’S EXAMPLE

In his prayer intention for the month of January 2019, Pope Francis says: “Let us pray that young people, especially in Latin America, follow the example of Mary and respond to the call of the Lord to communicate the joy of the Gospel to the world.”
It has become the custom of Pope Francis to release a video message detailing his prayer intention for each month.

The full text of his intention follows:
You young people have, in the Virgin Mary, a reason for joy and a source of inspiration. Take advantage of the World Youth Day in Panama to contemplate Christ together with Mary. We will pray the Rosary together for peace, each of us in our own language. And ask for strength to dream and to work for peace. Let us pray that young people, especially in Latin America, follow the example of Mary and respond to the call of the Lord to communicate the joy of the Gospel to the world.

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-01/pope-francis-january-prayer-intention-young-people.html#play

WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE: ‘EVERY PRAYER ANSWERED, IN GOD’S TIME’

In his continuing catechesis on the Our Father at the weekly General Audience, Pope Francis says no prayer goes unanswered, but reminds us that God’s timing is not our own.

By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

Pope Francis took up the age-old question about why, at times, it seems that God does not answer our prayers. Speaking at the Wednesday General Audience, the Holy Father said Jesus reminds us in the Our Father of the need to persevere in prayer.

Jesus’ constant prayer

The Pope said Jesus’ entire life was “steeped in prayer”. “Every step of Jesus’ life was pushed by the breath of the Spirit, who guides him in each of his actions.”

Pope Francis said this is most visible in the events of his Passion. Jesus intercedes for Peter who will soon deny him. He prays for those who crucified him. His last words are a confession of trust in the will of the Father. “Jesus’ prayer seems to cushion the most violent of emotions – the desire for revenge and retaliation – and to reconcile us with our most bitter enemy: death.”

God knows our needs
When the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray, the Pope said he offers them the Our Father prayer. Pope Francis said Jesus adds two parables after the prayer that remind us to be constant in prayer and to trust unwaveringly that God will answer our prayers. One is the friend who importunes his neighbor for some bread to offer a guest. Next, Jesus offers the example of a father who has a hungry child: “What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish?”

“Jesus lets us know that God always responds, that no prayer goes unheard, and that God is a Father and never forgets His children who suffer.”

Unanswered prayers?

Pope Francis said this truth seems as if it is not borne out in our daily lives. “How many times have we asked and not received, knocked and found a closed door?” he mused. In those moments of seeming defeat, the Pope said Jesus invites us “to insist and not to give up.”

“Prayer always transforms reality: if things around us do not change, at least our hearts are changed. Jesus promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to every man and woman who prays.”

In God’s time

Finally, Pope Francis said we can be absolutely positive that “God will respond.” The only uncertainty, he noted, regards God’s timing. “Nothing is more certain: the desire for happiness we all carry in our heart will be fulfilled.”

“100 CRIBS AT THE VATICAN” OPEN UNTIL JANUARY 13

Pilgrims and tourists have until Jan. 13 to visit an exhibition in the Vatican of Christmas Nativity scenes from all over Italy and from about 25 foreign countries. No tickets – it’s all free!
By Robin Gomes (vaticannews)

Christmas is the commemoration of the birth of Jesus who was born in a stable in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. Besides decorations, lights, Christmas trees, gifts and goodies, this annual event is especially celebrated with Holy Mass and the representation of the birth of Jesus Christ or the Nativity scene as narrated in the Gospel.

ST. FRANCIS

The tradition of recreating the Nativity scene, also called the crib, crèche or manger scene, is attributed to Italy’s popular Saint Francis of Assisi, who is said to have created the first live nativity scene in 1223 in a cave outside Rome using a live donkey and ox to surround a manger.

Through the centuries, the Nativity scene has been represented in a variety of art forms and traditions around the world.

100 CRIBS

“100 Presepi”, Italian for “100 Cribs”, is an international art exhibition of a vast variety of Nativity scenes that has been staged in Rome for 43 years. Manlio Menaglia who started the show in 1976 in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo area, wanted to salvage a typical Italian tradition that, in those years, risked being overtaken by the Christmas tree culture that is not of Italian origin.

Manlio wanted to draw the attention of all, especially children and young people, to the Nativity scenes as works of art, no matter how they are made them, provided they respected the values of peace and brotherhood symbolized in the birth of Jesus. This effort reinforced the family tradition of setting up nativity scenes according to their tastes.

Another aim of the “100 Cribs “is to promote and spread the tradition abroad through the numerous tourists and media outlets who visit the exhibition around Christmas time in Rome.

INTERNATIONAL ART FORMS

The exhibition has held on to its initial title, “100 Cribs”, because it had 100 Nativity scenes, but it displays about 200 new cribs each year.

The cribs, which are completely rebuilt every year, come from all over Italy and from about 25 foreign countries. They are works of art of Italian and foreign artists and artisans, collectors, amateurs, elementary and middle school students, representatives of cultural and social associations, state, local bodies and national and foreign museums.

A vast variety of material is used in creating the Nativity scene include coral, silver, porcelain, glass, bronze, ceramic, clay, wrought iron, wood, papier-mâché, recycled materials, chocolate, bread, corn, bottle caps, buttons, car spark plugs and pencils.

VATICAN

As organizers found it difficult to continue the exhibition because of financial constraints, the “100 Cribs” moved to the Vatican in 2018 after 42 years at Piazza del Popolo.

The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, sponsor of the event at the St. Pius X Hall on Via della Conciliazione, has named it “100 Cribs at the Vatican”. It was opened on December 7, 2018, and will continue until January 13.

Pilgrims and tourists intending to visit the Vatican exhibition can consult its website.

NORTH KOREAN DIPLOMAT DISAPPEARS IN ITALY

South Korea’s spy agency says the North Korean ambassador to Italy has disappeared. The announcement follows reports that Pyongyang’s top diplomat in Italy had sought asylum from an unnamed Western country.
By Stefan J. Bos

The disappeared North Korean official has been identified as Jo Song-gil. He is the acting North Korean ambassador to Rome and the son and son-in-law of high-ranking North Korean officials.

South Korea’s spy agency told lawmakers in Seoul on Thursday that Jo went into hiding with his wife in November before his term in Italy ended. His whereabouts are not publicly known now.

It is believed he has sought asylum in an unnamed Western nation.

The Italian Foreign Ministry said in a statement however that the envoy has not yet asked Italian authorities for asylum.

Earlier defection
The last senior diplomat to defect was the deputy ambassador in London. Thae Yong-ho abandoned his post in 2016, along with his wife and children. He defected to South Korea.

Thae said in an interview with South Korean television on Thursday that the Italian embassy was critical for North Korea because it handled negotiations with the World Food Programme over food aid to the North and was a hub for smuggling luxury items to the North Korean elite.

He earlier spoke in separate remarks about the difficulties he faced. “The reason for my defection is a very complex one,” he said. “Because I thought and planned this defection for quite a long time. We just disappeared, and they could not find us. I believe that my defection in the long term will encourage further defections.”

As one of the highest-ranking officials to ever defect from the North, Thae’s move was seen as a blow to Kim Jong-un’s regime.

He would go on to urge the world to spread information in North Korea to undermine Kim’s status among his people amid concerns about massive human rights abuses and detention camps where Christians and others face immense hardships. The latest defection by another high-ranking diplomat was expected to raise at least some anxiety among Kim Jong-un allies.

VATICAN INSIDER WELCOMES CHALDEAN PATRIARCH SAKO – POPE’S AUGUST PRAYER INTENTION: FOR THE TREASURE OF FAMILIES

There are more wonderful stories to tell about my time in Prague, in particular the afternoon visit for Mass and prayer in the church of Our Lady Victorious, home to the celebrated statue known as the Infant of Prague. I’ve been preparing Vatican Insider for this weekend, among other projects, so don’t have time today for Prague adventures but I’ll set aside some time in coming days to continue my travelblogue © about the Infant of Prague, St. Vitus Cathedral and the wonderful Premonstratensian monastery of Zeliv! So stay tuned!

It’s unusually hot here in Rome, although as I write, it is 6:30 pm and the skies are dark and threatening. A little rain – or a lot of it! – might help the temps go down, though I’m not sure if it will bring down the high humidity. The weather has been a huge problem for millions and surely none more so than the homeless. Shelters here are being strained to the limits and there is no immediate relief in sight. Even if a storm occurs, temps will probably be back up within hours.

VATICAN INSIDER WELCOMES CHALDEAN PATRIARCH SAKO

My guest in the interview segment of “Vatican Insider” this week is Cardinal and Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon Louis Raphael I Sako. We spoke the day after Pope Francis made him a cardinal in the June 28th consistory. We met at an international house for clergy and spoke for about a half hour.


The patriarch and I have been friends since 2010, having first met in Kirkuk, Iraq when he was bishop of that diocese. We’ve met a number of times since, in Iraq, Lebanon and Rome and it was a joy to renew our acquaintance on this auspicious day for the Chaldean Church and faithful.


An alert: The residence for clergy has few public rooms for interviews and they all have the same drawback – small rooms very high ceilings and nothing to soften or reduce an echo when we speak. However, you will probably not notice that when you listen to Cardinal Sako’s message. This week it is Part I of our conversation.

Cardinal Sako was not new to the color red when he became a cardinal – his color as patriarch is red. Speaking on behalf of all the new cardinals, Patriarch Sako addressed the Pope at the start of the June 28th consistory. You will hear some of those remarks in our conversation this weekend.

“A number of Muslims have come to give me their best wishes, and they expressed their admiration for the opening of the Church and for your always being close to people in their concerns, fears and hopes.

”As far as I am concerned, I am the recipient of your special attention for the Eastern Churches and for the small flock at constitutes the Christians in the Middle East, in Pakistan and in other countries that are going through a difficult period because of wars and sectarianism and where there are still many martyrs. We pray and hope that your efforts to promote peace will change the hearts of men and women for the better and will contribute to assuring a dignified atmosphere for every person.”

“Naming one to the cardinalate is not a prize or a personal honor, as is sometimes thought but rather it is sending us into mission with a red habit (indicating) that we will give our life to the very end, even to the shedding of blood, bringing “Evangelii gaudium” –the gospel of joy – to everyone.”

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

POPE’S AUGUST PRAYER INTENTION: FOR THE TREASURE OF FAMILIES

Pope Francis on Thursday released a video message accompanying his prayer intention for August 2018, “For the treasure of Families”.
In his prayer intention for this month, Pope Francis says: “Together, let us ask Jesus that any far-reaching decisions of economists and politicians may protect the family as one of the treasures of humanity.”

It has become the custom of Pope Francis to release a video message detailing his prayer intention for each month.

The full text of his intention follows:

“When speaking of families, often the image of a treasure comes to my mind. Today’s rhythm of life, stress, pressure at work, and also the little attention paid by institutions, could put them in danger. It’s not enough to talk about their importance: it’s necessary to promote concrete means and to develop their role in society with a good family policy.Together, let us ask Jesus that any far-reaching decisions of economists and politicians may protect the family as one of the treasures of humanity.”

The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network of the Apostleship of Prayer developed “The Pope Video” initiative to assist in the worldwide dissemination of monthly intentions of the Holy Father in relation to the challenges facing humanity. (vaticannews.va)

Click here to see video: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-08/pope-francis-prayer-august-families.html#play

POPE FRANCIS’ PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR JULY – VATICAN INSIDER VISITS WINE COUNTRY (WOMEN IN THE NEW EVANGELIZATION)

Good heavens, a new month – again! And we are just days away from July 4th and, as I say below, I will be taking the day off – not something I do with any frequency! I have to prepare three segments for “At Home with Jim and Joy” for the coming week so that is probably how I will spend most of my “day off.”

UPDATE. As of Saturday  I have received well over 500 messages and emails for my birthday yesterday and they are still coming in! I was floored and delighted and filled with joy at the sentiments of love and friendship and caring and gratitude that everyone expressed. I felt so blessed and special. I feel I am awash in prayers and blessings, and I’ll use them bit by bit, each day of my new year, trying to live up to your expectations and my goals.

Thank you for the wishes from around the world in many languages! Thank you for the flowers and drawings and photos and poetic expressions – some were Biblical, some were Shakespeare and most were handwritten, heartfelt sentiments.

This was especially meaningful from my friend Mark:

“Watch over thy child, O Lord, as her days increase; bless and guide her wherever she may be. Strengthen her when she stands; comfort her when discouraged or sorrowful; raise her up if she fall; and in her heart may thy peace which passeth understanding abide all the days of her life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

To all who shared a birthday with me, I share that beautiful prayer!

POPE FRANCIS’ PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR JULY

The Holy Father’s universal prayer intention for July is: “That indigenous peoples, whose identity and very existence are threatened, will be shown due respect.”

His mission intention is: “That the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, by means of her mission to the continent, may announce the Gospel with renewed vigour and enthusiasm.”

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS WINE COUNTRY (WOMEN IN THE NEW EVANGELIZATION)

Welcome to Vatican Insider on this long July 4th weekend. Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans! I’ll be taking this day off, joining my EWTN colleagues in saluting our nation on its 240th birthday!

My special guests this week in the interview segment are two very special people and special friends – Kelly Wahlquist of WINE – Women in the New Evangelization – and Teresa Tomeo. We talk about our recent pilgrimage in Italy to discover the country’s beautiful women saints! You’ll feel like you are overhearing a wonderful converation between three friends! Lots of fun and wonderful insights!

20160621_112250

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live 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 9:00 am (Eastern time). 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 FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

 

VIDEO FEATURES POPE FRANCIS’ MARCH PRAYER INTENTIONS

VIDEO FEATURES POPE FRANCIS’ MARCH PRAYER INTENTIONS

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis is urging Christians to support families in need so that children are raised in “healthy and peaceful environments.”

https://www.youtube.com/embed/510kBYj57cc

In a short video message in Spanish (with English subtitles) issued Thursday, the Pope offers a prayer intention for the month of March. He reflects on the theme: “the family is one of the most precious assets of humanity. But, is it not perhaps the most vulnerable?”

“When a family is exposed to economic, health, or other difficulties, the children grow up in an environment of sadness.”

Meditating on this issue, Pope Francis says,  “I want to share with you and with Jesus my prayer intention for the month: That families in need may receive the necessary support and that children may grow up in healthy and peaceful environments.”

POPE FRANCIS’ PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR NOVEMBER – VATICAN INSIDER: CARDINAL WUERL TALKS ABOUT THE SYNOD – THERE’S ALSO THIS…..

POPE FRANCIS’ PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR NOVEMBER

His general prayer intention is: “That we may be open to personal encounter and dialogue with all, even those whose convictions differ from our own.”

His missionary intention is: “That pastors of the Church, with profound love for their flocks, may accompany them and enliven their hope.”

VATICAN INSIDER: CARDINAL WUERL TALKS ABOUT THE SYNOD

Tune in this weekend to “Vatican Insider” for my conversation with Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, who was in Rome for 3 weeks for the synod on the family – his 7th synod  – and talks to us about that event,  the media coverage, the methodology and the final document. The cardinal was one of 10 people on the commission who put that final document together – and he will tell you how. The original synod message is in Italian, and we are awaiting translations. The relatio has been given to the Holy Father who will write an Apostolic Exhortation.

20151018_165425

Cardinal Wuerl and I first met in Rome during the September 1975 canonization of St. Elizabeth Seton when then-Father Wuerl was the priest secretary to American Cardinal John Joseph Wright, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy. His Eminence wanted a secretary for personal correspondence on weekends and, given his great love for Joan of Arc and his vast book collection about her, when my name was proposed, he was apparently enthusiastic (I originally wrote ‘he jumped at the chance’) about the idea of a Joan becoming his secretary. Father, then Bishop and now Cardinal Wuerl and I have followed each other over the years and, as the saying goes, all roads lead to Rome!  At least for a synod!

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live 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 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

THERE’S ALSO THIS…..

MY FAVORITE STORY OF THE DAY – Pope Francis has received an unusual gift aimed at boosting relations between the Catholic and Anglican Churches – a cricket bat signed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and his team following their recent rematch with the Vatican’s XI on Rome’s Campanelle grounds. Australian Cardinal George Pell, a former rugby player who nevertheless knows cricket, gave Francis the bat on Thursday after the St. Peter’s Cricket Club beat the Church of England’s XI by 43 runs in a 20-over match this weekend.  Pope Francis promptly signed it himself.

POPE-CRICKET BAT

The Vatican team includes seminarians and priests studying at Rome’s pontifical universities. They are 4-0 this season ahead of an April rematch with the Royal Household.  Australia’s Vatican ambassador, John McCarthy, said the Anglicans’ visit “strengthened personal and institutional relations” between the two churches.  (Source: Vatican Radio: AP)

POPE WELCOMES SALVADORAN PILGRIMS – (VIS) – Friday morning 500 pilgrims from El Salvador, who are in Rome to give thanks for the beatification of Blessed Oscar Arnulfo Romero, met with the Holy Father in the Paul VI Hall. The Pope defined the Salvadoran bishop martyr as a “good pastor, full of love for God and close to his brothers who, living the dynamism of the Beatitudes, gave his life in a violent way while celebrating the Eucharist, the supreme sacrifice of love, sealing with his own blood the Gospel that he announced. … From the very beginning of the life of the Church, Christians have always believed that the blood of martyrs is a seed for Christians, as Tertuliano said. Today too, in a dramatic way, the blood of a great number of Christian martyrs continues to be shed on the fields of the world, with the certain hope that will bear fruit in a rich harvest of holiness, justice, reconciliation and love of God. But we must remember that one is not born a martyr. …. “Indeed, the martyr is not someone relegated to the past, a beautiful image that adorns our churches and which we recall with a certain nostalgia. No, the martyr is a brother, a sister, who continues to accompany us in the communion of saints and who, united with Christ, does not ignore our earthly pilgrimage, our sufferings, our anxieties.”

PAPAL MESSAGE ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING – (VIS) – Pope Francis has sent a message to the Santa Marta Group, an initiative he personally launched in the battle against human trafficking, involving the security forces of various countries, episcopates, social organisations and representatives of various religious confessions. The group is currently meeting at San Lorenzo del Escorial in Spain. It was inaugurated today by Queen Sofia and attended by cardinals, bishops, social activists and around fifty heads of police from around the world. In his message, Francis wrote that, in the short time of its existence, “this worthy group has made significant achievements and is called upon to play a decisive role in the eradication of human trafficking and modern slavery.” He noted that during the last year there have been important institutional changes that have without doubt supported its activity, starting with the meeting of mayors in Vatican City on 21 July, in which key figures signed a declaration expressing their commitment to eliminating the new forms of slavery that constitute a crime against humanity.

Human trafficking

FRANCIS MARKS CELAM’S 60TH ANNIVERSARY – (VIS) – To commemorate 60 years of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), Pope Francis wrote a message to CELAM president, Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez, in which he expresses his gratitude for all the good the Lord has gradually sown there, and that has borne fruit through the service of God’s Church in Latin America. “I hope that CELAM, making pastoral and missionary conversion its priority, may increasingly participate in, support and give momentum to this evangelising movement towards all environments and all frontiers. It is important that our communities be ‘homes and schools of communion’, which attract by a surprising fraternity based on the recognition of the common father, and help always to keep alive in the Church in Latin America the passion for our peoples, the bearing of our sufferings and the capacity for Christian discernment of the vicissitudes of their recent history, to open up paths of greater equality, peace and justice.”

 

Cardinal Wuerl and I first met in Rome during the September 1975 canonization of St. Elizabeth Seton when then-Father Wuerl was the priest secretary to American Cardinal John Joseph Wright, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy. His Eminence wanted a secretary for personal correspondence on weekends and, given his great love for Joan of Arc and his vast book collection about her, when my name was proposed, he was apparently enthusiastic (I originally wrote ‘he jumped at the chance’) about the idea of a Joan becoming his secretary. Father, then Bishop and now Cardinal Wuerl and I have followed each other over the years and, as the saying goes, all roads lead to Rome!  At least for a synod!

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live 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 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

THERE’S ALSO THIS…..

MY FAVORITE STORY OF THE DAY – Pope Francis has received an unusual gift aimed at boosting relations between the Catholic and Anglican Churches – a cricket bat signed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and his team following their recent rematch with the Vatican’s XI on Rome’s Campanelle grounds. Australian Cardinal George Pell, a former rugby player who nevertheless knows cricket, gave Francis the bat on Thursday after the St. Peter’s Cricket Club beat the Church of England’s XI by 43 runs in a 20-over match this weekend.  Pope Francis promptly signed it himself.

Pope – bat

The Vatican team includes seminarians and priests studying at Rome’s pontifical universities. They are 4-0 this season ahead of an April rematch with the Royal Household.  Australia’s Vatican ambassador, John McCarthy, said the Anglicans’ visit “strengthened personal and institutional relations” between the two churches.  (Source: Vatican Radio: AP)

POPE WELCOMES SALVADORAN PILGRIMS – (VIS) – Friday morning 500 pilgrims from El Salvador, who are in Rome to give thanks for the beatification of Blessed Oscar Arnulfo Romero, met with the Holy Father in the Paul VI Hall. The Pope defined the Salvadoran bishop martyr as a “good pastor, full of love for God and close to his brothers who, living the dynamism of the Beatitudes, gave his life in a violent way while celebrating the Eucharist, the supreme sacrifice of love, sealing with his own blood the Gospel that he announced. … From the very beginning of the life of the Church, Christians have always believed that the blood of martyrs is a seed for Christians, as Tertuliano said. Today too, in a dramatic way, the blood of a great number of Christian martyrs continues to be shed on the fields of the world, with the certain hope that will bear fruit in a rich harvest of holiness, justice, reconciliation and love of God. But we must remember that one is not born a martyr. …. “Indeed, the martyr is not someone relegated to the past, a beautiful image that adorns our churches and which we recall with a certain nostalgia. No, the martyr is a brother, a sister, who continues to accompany us in the communion of saints and who, united with Christ, does not ignore our earthly pilgrimage, our sufferings, our anxieties.”

PAPAL MESSAGE ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING – (VIS) – Pope Francis has sent a message to the Santa Marta Group, an initiative he personally launched in the battle against human trafficking, involving the security forces of various countries, episcopates, social organisations and representatives of various religious confessions. The group is currently meeting at San Lorenzo del Escorial in Spain. It was inaugurated today by Queen Sofia and attended by cardinals, bishops, social activists and around fifty heads of police from around the world. In his message, Francis wrote that, in the short time of its existence, “this worthy group has made significant achievements and is called upon to play a decisive role in the eradication of human trafficking and modern slavery.” He noted that during the last year there have been important institutional changes that have without doubt supported its activity, starting with the meeting of mayors in Vatican City on 21 July, in which key figures signed a declaration expressing their commitment to eliminating the new forms of slavery that constitute a crime against humanity.

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FRANCIS MARKS CELAM’S 60TH ANNIVERSARY – (VIS) – To commemorate 60 years of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), Pope Francis wrote a message to CELAM president, Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez, in which he expresses his gratitude for all the good the Lord has gradually sown there, and that has borne fruit through the service of God’s Church in Latin America. “I hope that CELAM, making pastoral and missionary conversion its priority, may increasingly participate in, support and give momentum to this evangelising movement towards all environments and all frontiers. It is important that our communities be ‘homes and schools of communion’, which attract by a surprising fraternity based on the recognition of the common father, and help always to keep alive in the Church in Latin America the passion for our peoples, the bearing of our sufferings and the capacity for Christian discernment of the vicissitudes of their recent history, to open up paths of greater equality, peace and justice.”

 

PAPAL PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR JULY – POPE FRANCIS’ JULY JOURNEY TO LATIN AMERICA – FR. LOMBARDI ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL SITUATION IN GREECE

July is traditionally one of the two hottest months here and one of two months, August being the other, when a fair number of Vatican employees take their vacation. The normal work load occupies many offices, is reduced for some but continues to be quite heavy in the Secretariat of State where staffers work on proof-reading and translating papal speeches and homilies for both his July 5 to 12 trip to Latin America, and his September 19 to 28 apostolic trip to Cuba and the United States.

I was hoping for a quiet Wednesday as there was no general audience this morning but a number of tasks – regular and special – filled my agenda, including taping some segments for “At Home with Jim and Joy.”  As is usual on a Wednesday, I was to join Teresa Tomeo on “Catholic Connection” but it seems there was an avalanche of calls about a segment and that ate up our time.

I’m now working on this short post-birthday column, preparing my weekly show on Vatican Radio, “Joan Knows” and trying to finish both early enough to attend the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See’s annual July 4th party tonight.

My birthday celebration last night was one of the loveliest nights of my life – filled with friends and love and joy and laughter and terrific food and beautiful decorations and a cake that took our collective breath away!

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Friends took photos and videos and I’ll post a few of those as they arrive. My home looks like a florist shop  – in fact, I am sure that some florist shops do not have the selection I have of floral arrangements, bouquets, plants, etc.  I had to leave some flowers at La Vittoria as, even with all the help I had bringing flowers and gifts home after the party, our arms could not carry everything. I’ll get those later today.

My friend Claudio and his wife Palmerina and their staff (including a son, Leonardo, who is a budding chef!) pulled out all the stops. The restaurant was decorated in white and yellow – Vatican colors – flowers and balloons and banners proclaiming “Happy Birthday Joan.”

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A magnificent, unforgettable time spent with very special people – the wonderful friends that God has brought into my life over the years. I made a few remarks and said that, as I looked around the room and saw friends from the Vatican, from Santa Susanna, from NAC, from Chicago, I saw in each face memories of the good times we have also shared in the past – meals, laughter, great conversation, trips, Masses and other spiritual moments.

Chicago and Milwaukee friends:

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There were seven of us at the head table and Claudio arranged all the seats so that no one sat with their back to the head table. I was joined by Bishop Baker of Birmingham, Msgr. Keith Newton, ordinary of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Jack and Linda Del Rio and Julie and Joe Helow. (More photos later as they arrive from the guests.)

As the old song goes, “Thanks for the memories….!!”

PAPAL PRAYER INTENTIONS FOR JULY

(VIS) – The Holy Father’s universal prayer intention for July is: “That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.”

His intention for evangelization is: “That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.”

POPE FRANCIS’ JULY JOURNEY TO LATIN AMERICA

(Vatican Radio) For the second time since his election on March 13, 2013 Pope Francis is returning to the continent of his birth – Latin America – on a journey which will see him interact and communicate in his own language – Spanish.  The Pope was in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for World Youth Day.

The journey to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay, which is scheduled to last from July 5 to 13, was presented Tuesday at the Vatican Press Office by Father Federico Lombardi.

The underlying theme of the journey to all three counties, ravaged by conquest, exploitation and conflict in years not so long gone by is that of reconciliation and renewal.

Linda Bordoni reports: Pointing out that this is the first time Pope Francis will visit three different nations during a single journey, Fr. Lombardi also noted that, just as he did in Europe by choosing Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina as the first nations to reach out to at the beginning of his pontificate, here too he is starting with the “peripheries” as far as the Latin American and global scenarios are concerned.

It will also be the first journey – F. Lombardi observed – in which Spanish – the Pope’s mother-tongue – is spoken throughout, giving him plenty of occasions to set aside prepared texts (including 22 official discourses) and to talk and converse freely with his audiences.

Lombardi also said that in just seven days Pope Francis will be experiencing enormous changes in temperature and in altitude: from 3 degrees to 40 degrees centigrade, from sea level to over 4,100 meters above sea level as he travels from the Atlantic to the Andes and in between.

A swift glance at the Pope’s schedule highlights the fact that the journey will be intense for other reasons as well!

All in all, Pope Francis is to spend 48 hours in each country, and each time he will be involved in a number of “common” events such as an audience with each President; a “sit-down” with the bishops, an encounter with civil society (representatives of business, indigenous people, the world of education, culture); a meeting with consecrated people.

Of course in each country he will also be involved in other events and situations as he is scheduled to visit a home for the aged run by the Sisters of Mother Teresa in Ecuador, a prison (one of the largest in Latin America) and a meeting with members of the World Meeting of Popular Movements in Bolivia; a children’s hospital and a slum area in Paraguay.

Another important feature of the journey will be a Marian one as Pope Francis will gather in prayer before the “Virgen Dolorosa” in Quito and before Our Lady of Caacupé 40 km from Asuncion.

One important characteristic of the whole journey – Father Lombardi pointed out – has to do with the wealth of traditions, cultures and languages that are present on the territory. The Pope’s respect for the diversity and value of each of these is also reflected in all of the liturgies and celebrations.

The Holy See Press Office director recalled that Pope Saint John Paul II travelled to all three nations: Ecuador in 1985, Bolivia and Paraguay in 1988 where he had a memorable meeting with minors, canonized Rocco Gonzales and was witness to the last days of General Alfredo Stroessner’s cruel dictatorship.

Fr. Lombardi concluded a detailed account of the Pope’s day-to-day schedule, pointing out that this journey is Francis’ “homecoming” in the sense that it is the second time he will be back in his own continent since travelling to Rome for the conclave in 2013, and that he will finally be speaking his own language. “All this – he said – should make for a particularly intense occasion for communication

FR. LOMBARDI ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL SITUATION IN GREECE

Fr. Lombard said today, “The news from Greece regarding the economic and social situation of the country is worrying. The Holy Father wishes to convey his closeness to all the Greek people, with a special thought for the many families gravely beset by such a complex and keenly felt human and social crisis. The dignity of the human person must remain at the center of any political and technical debate, as well as in the taking of responsible decisions. Pope Francis invites all the faithful to unite in prayer for the good of the beloved Greek people.”