VATICAN CITY, February 05, 2020 / 12:30 AM (CNA German) – Pope Francis has granted indefinite leave to Archbishop Georg Gänswein, prefect of the Prefecture of the Papal Household. Vatican circles confirmed a corresponding media report of the “Daily Mail” (Tagespost) on Wednesday morning to CNA German. He was granted leave to be able to dedicate more time to Benedict XVI.

The private secretary of the pope emeritus remains in office as head of the prefecture, which is responsible for preparing the pope’s public audiences. The prefect has been currently replaced at the papal audiences by the regent of the prefecture, Msgr. Leonardo Sapienza. When Gänswein will resume work in the prefecture is uncertain. (ganswein twitter)

According to the “Tagespost” story, the background is apparently the unfortunate presentation of Cardinal Robert Sarah’s book on the priesthood, to which Benedict XVI contributed an essay on the Catholic priesthood.


(JFL: According to a note from the Holy See Press Office: “The absence of Monsignor Gaenswein during certain audiences in recent weeks is due to an ordinary redistribution of the various duties and functions of the prefect of the pontifical house, who also covers the role of special secretary of the pope emeritus.”)

(The following hypotheses have also been offered: 1. it’s a question of health issues, or 2. the brouhaha that resulted from this: Para two of the Tagespost article “The background is apparently the unfortunate presentation of Cardinal Robert Sarah’s book on the priesthood, to which Benedict XVI contributed an essay on the Catholic priesthood. The Fayard publishing house in France at first gave the impression that both the pope emeritus and the prefect of the Congregation for Worship intended to dictate to the incumbent Pope how he would answer the question raised by the Amazon Synod of ‘viri probati’.”)



This is a follow up to my Monday post on what seemed to be a big change in procedure for requesting tickets to papal events and liturgies. These changes were indicated in a recent letter sent out by the Prefecture of the Papal Household to dozens of parishes, seminaries, hotels, travel agencies and other Church-related institutions, that said henceforth all tickets requests had to come directly to the prefecture.

Having received the prefecture letter, our parish secretary nonetheless did what she had done for 20 years on Tuesday mornings: she went to the prefecture for tickets. She told me she got “roughly” 200 tickets (a few less than requested) in addition to another copy of the prefecture letter! She asked if there had been changes in the procedure and was told ‘no’. She asked if, under the new rules, she could return next week for tickets and was told ‘yes.’

However, she was told to tell all those who request tickets at our parish that they must now write directly to the prefecture! (http://www.vatican.va/various/prefettura/index_en.html). I am still trying to figure that out!


As he began the general audience this morning in the Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis announced a new catechesis, having concluded his reflections on the Acts of the Apostles last week.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” he said. “Today’s catechesis occurs in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, whose theme this year – on hospitality – was prepared by the Christian communities of Malta and Gozo.

Francis explained that, “the theme is based on Saint Paul’s dramatic experience of being shipwrecked at Malta, and the welcome he and his companions received there. Indeed, in contrast to the sea’s violence, the survivors received ‘unusual kindness’ as we saw in Acts 28:2, reflecting God’s love for them. This hospitality was then repaid when Paul healed many sick people, thus revealing God’s merciful love.”

The Pope continued his reflections by noting that, “hospitality is an important ecumenical virtue, which is open to listening to the experience that other Christians have of God. When we welcome Christians of a different tradition we reveal God’s love to them and receive the gifts that the Holy Spirit has sown in them.

“In this way,” he said, “we Christians are challenged to overcome our divisions and to show Christ’s love more effectively to others, especially the many migrants who, like Paul, face danger at sea, as they flee from peril. Working together like this will make us both better disciples of the Lord and more united as the People of God.

“Today,” underscored the pontiff, “the sea on which Paul and his companions were shipwrecked is, once again, a dangerous place for the lives of other sailors. All over the world migrant men and women face risky voyages to escape violence, to escape war, to escape poverty.”

As he greeted the English-speaking pilgrims present, the Pope said, “I offer a special greeting to the students from the Bossey Ecumenical Institute. I also greet the priests of the Institute for Continuing Theological Education of the Pontifical North American College. Upon all of you and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. May God bless you!”


At the end of his general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis greeted all those who mark the lunar new year according to the traditional Chinese calendar. He urged prayers for peace, dialogue and solidarity among nations.
By Robin Gomes (vaticannews)

Also referred to as the Spring Festival in mainland China, the Chinese New Year is one of the several Lunar New Years of Asia. It is celebrated by ethnic Chinese and non-Chinese people worldwide.

It begins with the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends on the first full moon of the lunar calendar, 15 days later. The New Year is dedicated to the Rat.

At the end of the general audience the Pope noted that on “January 25, in the Far East and in various other parts of the world, many millions of men and women will celebrate the Lunar New Year.”

“I send them my cordial greetings, wishing them in particular to be places of education in the virtues of welcome, wisdom, respect for each person and harmony with creation,” he said. “I invite all to pray also for peace, dialogue and solidarity among nations: gifts which are so necessary in the world today.”



Big changes are coming from the Prefecture of the Papal Household.

As you know from the many times I have posted information on how to get tickets for papal events such as the Wednesday general audience, Masses, Holy Week liturgies, etc., I have always given the link to the Prefecture of the Papal Household as this office is the one charged with both organizing papal events in Vatican City and distributing tickets for those events and liturgies.

Anyone who wrote directly to this office was told how, the day before the event, they could pick up their ticket(s) by going to the Bronze Gate, where Swiss Guards would direct them to the Apostolic Palace.

For many years, decades in some instances, parishes in Rome, seminaries and other institutions and travel agencies have made these tickets available to people by arranging to get tickets from the Prefecture and then distributing them to the people who requested them via email or some other type of correspondence.

For example, the North American College offers this service to visitors to Rome and, in fact, has an office near Trevi Fountain on Via dell’Umilta 30, called the Bishops’ Office for US Visitors to the Vatican. The College website gives an email address to which people can write who wish tickets to a general audience or papal Mass or liturgy. The tickets are then made available to those who wrote in, requesting a ticket.

The same holds true for St. Patrick’s, the parish in Rome for Catholic Americans and other English-speaking Catholics. The website and the Sunday bulletin note that, upon request, tickets for a papal event will be available at a specific time in the church vestibule the day before that event.

Tickets for papal events are always entirely free. Absolutely no papal event ever has a charge linked to the ticket.

Some events do not require a ticket (though you will still have to go through security): the Sunday Angelus and the Good Friday Way of the Cross at the Colosseum, for example. If someone tries to sell you a ticket for these, it is a scam.

Up to now the procedure has been for parishes, seminaries or other institutions that distribute such tickets to contact the Prefecture of the Papal Household with the number of tickets they will need to distribute, based on specific requests. Someone from the parish, etc picks the tickets up in the Vatican at the Prefecture on Tuesday mornings for the Wednesday audience, for example. Those tickets are then distributed by the seminary, the parish, etc. on Tuesday afternoon.

All that seems to have changed.

Parishes, etc, have been informed that, as of January 1, 2020, tickets will no longer be made available to them, rather all individuals who wish to attend a general audience, etc. must write in person to the Prefecture at least one week before the event.

One of the reasons behind this change is the fact that many hotels and travel agencies were charging for papal tickets – sometime exorbitant prices, as I know from email correspondence with people! Thus, in an effort to avoid a so-called middleman (seminary, parish, travel agency), all tickets must now be requested only through the prefecture. It seems the prefecture is also looking at crowd control.

The big test for this change will probably be seen tomorrow morning when representatives of parishes, etc. go to the Vatican to pick up requested tickets. They will either get them, as they have for years, or the new policy will be put into effect.

My question is this: If the thousands of people who up to now got their tickets through a “middleman” have to personally go to the Vatican the day before the event, won’t that create a huge crowd in or near St. Peter’s Square? Or will the Vatican establish additional pick-up points?

I’ll keep you posted.

By the way, if you want tickets for a papal event: