Following is my English translation of the interview that Vatican Gendarme Commander Domenico Giani gave to Vatican media that was sent to media outlets today:

Giani: Gratitude for having been able to serve the Pope with honor until the end

The Commander of the Gendarmerie, Domenico Giani, in talking to Vatican media, emphasizes his gratitude to the Pope for the service he has been able to perform in the Vatican in recent years

By Alessandro Gisotti, Deputy Editorial Director of the Communication Department

A delicate moment of great personal trial, but lived inwardly with serenity, encouraged by the trust and support of the Holy Father, his family and the many collaborators and people who in various ways in these years have known him and appreciated his human and professional qualities. Domenico Giani, Commander of the Gendarmerie Corps, in an interview with the Vatican media, talks about the feelings with which he leaves the service, and underlines his gratitude to the Pope who recognized his honor, loyalty and fidelity in his daily work.

After 20 years of service to the Pope and the Holy See as head of the Gendarme Corps, you leave it at a delicate moment and certainly one that is not easy for you. What are your feelings as you live this moment?

I’m living this difficult moment with the inner serenity that those who know me know has marked my lifestyle, even in the face of painful events. I have dedicated 38 years of my life to institutions, first in Italy, and then for 20 years in the Vatican to the Roman Pontiff. In these years I have spent all my energy to ensuring the service entrusted to me. I tried to do it with self-denial and professionalism, but with the feeling, as the Gospel two weeks ago reminded us, of being a serene “useless servant” who did his small part up to the end.

In the press release issued by the press office, it was underlined that you resigned while not having “any subjective responsibility” in the affair …

The recent events caused serious pain for the Holy Father and this deeply affected me. Fifteen days have passed since the publication of the document that was forwarded for internal use exclusively by the Gendarmes and the Swiss Guards. As indicated in the October 1 press release, an investigation is underway and the persons involved have been reached by an administrative provision. The release of this document, published by some media outlets, has certainly trampled on the dignity of these people. I too, as Commander, felt ashamed at what happened and at the suffering caused to these people. For this reason, having always said and testified to being ready to sacrifice my life to defend that of the Pope, with this same spirit I made the decision to resign so as not to damage the image and activity of the Holy Father in any way. And this, assuming that “objective responsibility” that only a commander can feel.

The Pope stressed that both the resignation and the service performed in these years “do honor to your person”. How important is this for you?

During the talks I had with the Holy Father these days, I always felt the paternity that marked the special relationship I had with him, since the beginning of the Pontificate, and I think I can say that this was visible to everyone. In these meetings, I have always felt the human suffering of the Holy Father in a shared decision. The Pope, however, also knew some personal hardships that I had been carrying for months and my desire to devote more time to my family, my wife and my children. I am therefore deeply grateful to the Holy Father because his attesting to my loyalty, honor and fidelity with which I carried out my service helps me to face the future and the new commitments that I’ll be able to take on within the framework of my skills with serenity after this extraordinary experience.

In 20 years the Gendarmerie has served three Popes. For the media, this corps is the Pope’s “guardian angel” for its role in protecting the person of the Holy Father. What does this unique experience bring you personally?

I’ve had the honor of serving three Popes. First of all, I remember with great emotion Saint John Paul II who called me to serve in the Vatican and whom I accompanied up to the end of his life. I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy the esteem and affection of Benedict XVI at whose side I’ve faced very delicate questions but always receiving his appreciation and his trust. The pontificate of Pope Francis, because of his style marked by proximity to people and spontaneity in gestures, was a further great challenge with significant and particular moments: I especially remember his pilgrimage to Lampedusa, the apostolic journey to Brazil for the WYD and that taken to the Central African Republic. If I close my eyes, endless scenes of the almost 70 international apostolic journeys I have followed, of countless pastoral visits to Rome and Italy, and of so many private moments with three Pontiffs, pass before me. Alongside this, I like to recall that, under my command, the Gendarmerie has developed a whole series of charitable activities and service to the least of our brothers as the Gospel asks us.

What message do you leave to your men, to the Gendarme Corps, that you led in these difficult years?

On the occasion of the last celebration of the Gendarme Corps, I focused on some qualities that should distinguish our men: discipline, obedience, fraternity, charity and humanity. To this I wish to add unity in fidelity, despite some physiological situations that have caused me understandable sorrows. The Corps, as I also emphasized to the Holy Father these days, is healthy and well prepared. I have always tried, together with my collaborators, to train people who could be good gendarmes and, with the precious help of chaplains, even good Christians. I am sure that the person who succeeds me in this delicate task will find fertile ground, the same that that I received from the late Commander Cibin to whom I dedicate a deferential memory. One last thought, filled with my gratitude and my love, goes to my wife Chiara and my children Luca and Laura. They supported a life filled with satisfactions but also of great sacrifices and denials. Despite the current moment of uncertainty, even the personal moment that I am experiencing, I know that Providence, to which I always refer, will show us the way that certainly is that of the Lord.


I tweeted yesterday about the rumor of Gendarme Commander Giani’s resignation – a rumor that had surfaced a day earlier and has been surrounded by an aura of mystery. The Vatican issued a communiqué today in Italian, English and Spanish on the resignation of Commander Giani. They also issued an interview with him by Vatican media. That is in Italian and I will translate it asap and post it. By the way, Giani also heads the Vatican’s fire department.

I have known Commander Giani for all of his years at the Vatican and wish him only the very best in life, in fact, better than the best, due a man of great honesty and integrity.


October 14, 2019: Communique from Holy See Press office

On 2nd October some media outlets published a confidential order, signed by the Commander of the Vatican Gendarmerie, Domenico Giani, concerning the consequences of certain administrative limitations imposed upon Holy See staff members. This publication was prejudicial to the dignity of the people involved and to the image of the Gendarmerie. In order to assure the proper serenity to the ongoing investigation, coordinated by the Promoter of Justice and carried out by the Gendarmerie, since the perpetrator of the external circulation of the order – reserved to the staff of the Gendarmerie and of the Pontifical Swiss Guard – remains unknown, and although the Commander bears no personal responsibility in the unfolding of the events, Domenico Giani has tendered his resignation to the Holy Father out of love for the Church and faithfulness to Peter’s Successor. In receiving his resignation, the Holy Father conversed at length with Domenico Giani and expressed his appreciation to the Commander for his gesture, an expression of freedom and institutional sensitivity, which honours Commander Giani and the work he has carried out with humility and discretion in the service of the Petrine Ministry and the Holy See. Pope Francis also recalled Domenico Giani’s twenty years of unquestionable faithfulness and loyalty and underlined how, by offering an outstanding witness in many parts of the world, Commander Giani was able to establish and guarantee a lasting atmosphere of ease and security around the Holy Father. In his farewell to Domenico Giani, the Holy Father also thanked him for the extreme competence shown in the performance of his many sensitive tasks, also at international level, and for the undisputed professionalism he has brought to the Vatican Gendarmerie.


More news on EWTN in Asia. Fr. David Arockiam, CEO of the Catholic TV channel Madha TV in India visited EWTN in October 2018. Edwin Lopez and others from EWTN’s Asia Pacific team recently returned from a reciprocal visit to Madha TV, which is now an EWTN affiliate, translating and airing some of our programs to their audience of 4 million television households! Deo gratias for the hard work of all involved and the vision of Fr. Arockiam!


The Holy See Press Office today announced that, “In recent days, Msgr. Massimo Palombella SDB, ended his service as Maestro Director of the Pontifical Sistine Choir. The Holy Father accepted his request to finish his assignment. The decision was taken after collecting the concordant opinion of the Congregation of the Salesians of Don Bosco and of the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff. Msgr. Palombella is now available to the Salesian Congregation for the new ministry that will be entrusted to him.”

Interim Director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, later this morning told journalists that, “with the conclusion of the service of Mons. Massimo Palombella, the interim guide of the Pontifical Sistine Music Chapel was entrusted by the Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, Msgr. Guido Marini, to Msgr. Marcos Pavan, currently Master of the Pueri Cantores of the same Sistine Chapel Choir.”

The Sistine Chapel Choir is one of the oldest and most celebrated choirs in the world. On January 19, 2019, the Holy Father transferred responsibility for the choir from the Prefecture of the Papal Household to the Office for Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff. (photos:

Palombella’s most famous predecessor was Cardinal Domenico Bartolucci who headed the choir for just over 40 years, appointed in 1956 by Pope Pius XII. A world famous musician and composer, Cardinal Bartolucci is the only cardinal to have every composed an opera, “Brunelleschi.” He was made a cardinal by Benedict XVI in 2010. He died in November 2013 at the age of 96.

Palombella’s resignation has been expected for some time. News of a scandal allegedly involving both Palombella and choir administrator, a layman, Michelangelo Nardella, surfaced in July 2018 and was confirmed a month later by the Holy See Press Office. Nardella by then had already been suspended. in September 2018.

The Holy See Press Office September 12 statement said: “Pope Francis, some months ago, authorized an investigation on the economic-administrative aspects” of the Sistine Chapel Choir, and underscored that “the investigations are still ongoing.” Those investigations were led by the Vatican public prosecutor and came after two internal investigations conducted by Archbishop Mario Giordana, a retired apostolic nuncio.

The accusations involved embezzlement, money laundering, and aggravated fraud against Vatican City State.

In addition, members of the choir were known to have filed complaints of bad treatment over the years by the choir director and a number were invited to meet with Vatican judicial officials.

On January 19, 2019, Pope Francis released a motu proprio making the Sistine Chapel Choir part of the Office for Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.

Here is the report by Vatican media:

With an Apostolic Letter issued motu proprio on Saturday, Pope Francis decreed that, “the Pontifical Musical Choir of the Sistine Chapel should be inserted into the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.”

He said the Office for Liturgical Celebrations holds “a specific place of service to papal liturgical functions and, at the same time, is a guardian and promoter of the prestigious artistic and musical heritage produced over the centuries by the Choir itself for the solemn liturgies of the Popes.”

The Pope writes that the Sistine Chapel Choir has always had “a direct connection with the major celebrations of the Popes.”

Pope Francis said the decision was taken “bearing in mind the dictates of the Council concerning the Sacred Liturgy,” in particular nn.28-29 of the Sacrosanctum Concilium.

In the motu proprio, Pope Francis also appointed the Master of Papal Ceremonies, Msgr. Guido Marini, as the head of the Sistine Chapel Choir, “entrusting him with the task of guiding all activities, including the liturgical, pastoral, spiritual, artistic, and educational areas, of the Choir.”

He tasked Msgr. Marini with “making ever more perceptible, in it and its individual components, the primary purpose of sacred music, which ‘is the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful’ (SC 112).”

Finally, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Guido Pozzo as the Superintendent of the Economy (or Treasurer) of the Pontifical Musical Chorus of the Sistine Chapel. The archbishop previously served as Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, which Pope Francis suppressed on Saturday.

The Pope entrusted him “only with the task of caring for the economic administration of the Choir itself, to be carried out under the guidance of the Master of Ceremonies and Head of the Pontifical Musical Chorus.”


Given that the new Sistine Chapel Choir Director is Msgr. Marcos Pavan, currently Master of the Pueri Cantores of the same Sistine Chapel Choir,” we might want to take a look at the pueri cantors

As the Vatican choir’s website notes, “the origins of the Pueri Cantores go back to the 6th century, when Pope Gregory the Great established a school of boy choristers to complement the adult singers at papal celebrations. Today they form the most important link with the Renaissance sound, and at the same time the most delicate part of the choir, because it is not just the boys’ musical training that is overseen, but their educational and cultural development as well.

”The boys attend a private Catholic school, recognized by the Italian state, the Schola Puerorum della Cappella Sistina, where the normal curriculum is supplemented with lessons in music theory, sol-fa, vocal technique and piano. Every year, the teachers of the Pueri Cantores go round the primary schools and parishes of the Rome area to chose the right voices to join the preparatory class. At the end of this phase, the eligible Pueri Cantores go on to join the Sistine Chapel Choir officially.”

There is actually an International Federation of Pueri Cantores. The Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life published its story on their website.

Established in 1907, FIPC began as the Schola cantorum of the Petits Chanteurs à la Croix de Bois, founded in Paris by two music students, Paul Berthier and Pierre Martin, following the publication of St Pius X’s Motu proprio Tra le sollecitudini (1903), on the renewal of Sacred music in the service of worship.

In 1944, the first federation of the Pueri Cantores was created, which, in 1947 was officially recognized as a movement of Catholic Action by the Assembly of French cardinals and archbishops. In 1951, following the third International Congress in Rome, the Holy See approved the first statutes of the Federation.

On January 31, 1996 the Pontifical Council for the Laity decreed recognition of Fœderatio Internationalis Pueri Cantores as an international association of the faithful of Pontifical Right.

FIPC is comprised of 32 federations, of which 11 are corresponding federations in 24 countries, as follows: Africa (4), Asia (1), Europe (15), North America (2), Middle East (1), and South America (1).


It has been said that the ways of the Lord are mysterious and I think today we can say the ways of the Church are also mysterious. Pope Francis, at 10 am yesterday, met with French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon who was found guilty by a French court of covering up sex abuse accusations against a French priest. The cardinal had announced he would come to Rome to offer the Pope his resignation.

He offered that resignation yesterday morning. This afternoon, at 2:30 pm local time, the Holy See finally let us know what happened 28 hours earlier.


Today, March 19 is the solemnity of St. Joseph and a Vatican holiday. In Italy, this beautiful feast is Father’s Day!

And today is also the onomastico or name day of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. Auguri, Santo Padre! Check out this panorama of photos of Pope Benedict:



Responding to journalists’ questions, the interim director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, stated the following today about yesterday’s meeting between Pope Francis and Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, France:

“I can confirm that the Holy Father did not accept the resignation presented by Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon. Aware, however, of the difficulties the archdiocese is experiencing at this time, the Holy Father left Cardinal Barbarin free to make the best decision for the diocese, and Cardinal Barbarin has decided to retire for a period of time and has asked Fr. Yves Baumgarten, vicar general, to assume the leadership of the diocese.

“The Holy See is keen to reiterate its closeness to the victims of abuse, to the faithful of the archdiocese of Lyon and of the whole Church of France who are experiencing a particularly painful time.”


Rome’s Bambin Gesu – Child Jesus – pediatric hospital celebrated its 150 years with a big ceremony this morning in the presence of Italian president Sergio Mattarella and Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, to name but a few of the dignitaries present.

Bambin Gesu is on Janiculum Hill, about a 10-minute walk from St. Peter’s Square and Vatican City State. According to its website – which boasts “Welcome to a hospital
 unlike any other” – Bambin Gesu is the largest pediatric hospital and research center in Europe, with a staff of almost 3,300 including physicians, researchers, nurses, clinical technicians and office staff.

Bambin Gesu was founded in 1869 by the Salviati family – a family aware of the needs of less fortunate children – and began quite simply as a room with four beds.

Today, this sprawling complex provides over 1.9 million healthcare services each year to children and adolescents from all over the world. Known as the hospital for children and the hospital of the Pope, its slogan is “You think about your child, we’ll think about everything else.” The hospital is owned by the Holy See.

The website also explains that “The moral principles and ethical values of the Catholic faith that inspired its creation ensure its continuing development.”

You might remember that in July 2017 Bambin Gesu hospital offered to receive British infant Charlie Gard when the English hospital where he was a patient decided to suspend the child’s treatment for mitochondrial depletion syndrome.

At the time, according to ANSA news, Mariella Enoc, president of Rome’s Bambino Gesù children’s hospital, said that Charlie Gard’s therapy would not have been suspended if he had been at the Vatican-owned structure. “I don’t know why the English hospital decided to suspend the child’s treatments,” Enoc told a news conference. “I know that here with us this would not have happened… I don’t know if it would have been possible to save Charlie, but I do know that lots of time was wasted in legal debates that served for nothing.”
The hospital had offered to help Gard’s mother Connie Yates and her husband Chris Gard after Pope Francis said treatment should be provided “until the end.”




February 11 commemorates some important moments for the Catholic Church:

Today is the 161st anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes to St. Bernadette.

It is the 90th anniversary of the establishment of Vatican City State via the 1929 Lateran Pacts. Today is a holiday in Vatican City State to mark that event.

It is the 27th World Day of the Sick, established in May 1992 by St. John Paul II, a year after he learned that he had Parkinson’s.

It is the 6th anniversary of the announcement by Pope Benedict XVI that he would resign the papacy effective at the end of the month.

The 11th hour of the 11th Day….

Today I focus on that last anniversary because of its unique nature and because of what it entailed for me – and hundreds of others – as a vaticanista. How to handle history as it is actually being made! Getting it right!.

Where does one start to write about a day that is historical, stunning, amazing and also sad – there were so many reactions and emotions. Having lived in Rome for decades and having worked for or covered the Vatican and the papacy for all but two of those years, all of the above emotions were part of that incredible February 11, 2013 when we heard Pope Benedict XVI tell the world he would resign the papacy effective February 28, 2013!

Over the years, from my first visit to Rome as a college student to this very day, I have met or been in the presence of Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis and have actually spoken to the last four. I was at the 1978 Mass when John Paul I was installed as Pope but never did meet him during his very brief pontificate.

Up to February 11, 2013, the whole world knew that the death of a Pope was the only way the papacy was vacated, that there could be a “sede vacante,” literally, a vacant chair.

No one is alive on this earth today who had ever heard a Pope say what Pope Benedict did on that fateful, historical morning exactly six years ago – Monday, February 11, 2013.

I remember every moment of that day and subsequent ones like it just happened yesterday – the resignation, the TV appearances, the press conferences, the preparations for a conclave, the mountains of research need to answer questions and to prepare for EWTN’s live television coverage of all events, the visits prepared for the media to Castelgandolfo where Benedict would be living until his permanent home was ready to receive him, and the monastery where Benedict now lives.

I look back at February 11, 2013 with amazement, with gratitude for being here during an historical period, with awe at the events of the months that followed, and once again with gratitude for a Church that could so beautifully transition from one papacy to another.

I look back at the courage and humility and love of the Church that prompted Pope Benedict to resign as he feared, sensed, realized he could not serve the Church he loved as she deserved.

Benedict XVI had become a role model for so many people, for millions of Catholics – and others – who miss him terribly today and wish him well and pray for him on a daily basis. More frequently than you might imagine – still today, six years later – people write me to ask me to please extend to Pope emeritus Benedict their regards, their love, their prayers and their thanksgiving for his pontificate. I try to pass on what I can!

I vividly remember telling U.S. television the night of Benedict’s resignation that Pope John Paul II, in his long suffering, taught us how to die and Pope Benedict, in his humility, courage and love, was teaching us how to live!

Too often we live and make decisions based on what others might think of us. We want to “look good,” we need approval before we act. We rarely look inside ourselves to see – even pray – what is the right thing to do. That is what Benedict XVI did. He looked inside himself and, with great honesty, unbelievable courage and his noted humility, he knew he had to leave the papacy.

In my mind’s eye today I’ve relived every encounter I had with Pope Benedict over the years – the brief exchanges, his soft smile, his wonderful blue eyes, his total sincerity. I will go to Mass and say a rosary today for Benedict, out of love, respect and gratitude.

My favorite photo:

And now a look back at history….


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fr. Federico Lombardi, papal spokesman and head of the Holy See Press Office and Vatican Radio gave a very interesting and informative press briefing today for the world’s media now converging in Rome following Benedict XVI’s stunning announcement that he will “renounce” the office of Pope, the Petrine ministry on February 28.

He said he had little to add to what he told reporters yesterday, and then proceeded to speak and answer questions for almost 90 minutes. He thanked the media for its coverage, saying that in general it was abundant, informative, timely, respectful and, in some instances, “reflective.” He reiterated what he said about the Pope’s decision to resign, namely, that he made the decision with lucidity and serenity and that it was “spiritually well-founded from a human and faith perspective.”

We did learn that the Holy Father has had a pacemaker since the 1990s – before his pontificate – and that as recently as several months ago he went privately to Pius XI clinic in Rome to have the batteries replaced – something he has done regularly over the years.

All the activities, meetings, speeches and liturgies that were on Pope Benedict’s calendar before his announcement for the month of February remain unchanged, including his retreat with members of the curia that starts next Sunday evening, February 17 and ends the following Saturday in late morning. The Pope will receive the presidents of Romania and Guatemala, will meet with the Roman clergy Thursday morning (live in Vatican television), and will continue to meet Italy’s bishops on their ad limina visits.

Two events will have venue changes to accommodate larger crowds.

Tomorrow’s Ask Wednesday Mass in Santa Sabina Basilica that usually follows a procession from St. Anselm’s to Santa Sabina will take place in St. Peter’s Basilica, starting at 5 pm and scheduled to last two hours.

Pope Benedict’s final weekly general audience will be held on February 27th in St. Peter’s Square to accommodate what is expected to be a very large crowd of faithful

One journalist asked why the Pope is resigning specifically at 8 pm on February 28th. Fr. Lombardi said the Pope always considered 8 pm the end of his working day.

The Pope’s promised encyclical on faith will not be ready by February 28. It is not known if it would be released at a future date and possible under Benedict XVI /Joseph Ratzinger.

Benedict XVI will move to a small monastery in Vatican City that is currently being renovated. He will spend in days in prayer and reflection and, many hope, further writing. Pope John Paul years earlier had given this building to an order of cloistered nuns, and he invited a new order to come every five years. The last group of nuns left in November 2012 and the renovation started on the monastery, which has a small chapel, after that.

The Pope knows the monastery well and had visited the cloistered nuns on a number of vocations.

Vatican television went this morning to shoot images for the media.

The Pope’s decision to retire began to “mature” during his Mexico and Cuba trip last year, and became set in his mind in recent months. He had, however, given indications in speeches, in the book/interview, “Light of the World” and in a December talk at a senior citizens’ home in Rome that, if he were to find himself in circumstances where he could not perform the duties of the Petrine ministry, then renouncing the papacy would be a possibility.

Many questions were asked at the press briefing to which Fr. Lombardi said he did not have a specific answer but would inquire:

1. Would Benedict participate in the inaugural Mass of is successor?

2. Have the cardinals been formally notified of the conclave, etc.?

3. Have the current residents of the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta where conclave cardinals reside been informed of a date they must vacate their rooms?

4. What happens to the papal ring and seal and other objects that are usually broken or destroyed when a Pope dies? In this case, Benedict will still be with us

5. Could Pope Benedict himself now write a document and solve some of these issues?

6. How will people refer to Benedict XVI after his resignation? His title? We do know he is now the Bishop of Rome so he will be the former Bishop of Rome.

The date for the start of the conclave to elect Benedict’s successor has not been announced but Msgr. Guido Marini, master of papal ceremonies, has said it would start 15 to 20 days, after the Pope leaves. This is according to John Paul’s 1996 Apostolic Constitution “Universi dominici gregis”, though people are still studying this to determine events.


From the February 12 (2013) edition of L’Osservatore Romano:

“Dismay, surprise, amazement and emotion at the words of Benedict XVI who announced his decision to ‘renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome’. These sentiments were etched on the faces of the cardinals, bishops and prelates – assembled for the Ordinary Public Concistory on Monday morning, 11 February, in the Concistory Hall of the Apostolic Palace – who heard the unexpected announcement in the Pope’s own voice.

“Everyone’s eyes met, a light murmur swelled in the hall and astonishment faded into sorrow. Yet, after the first few moments of confusion, the unanimous recognition that the Pope’s act was a very lofty act of humility made headway among those present – who included the papal masters of ceremony, representatives of the postulations, choristers of the Sistine Chapel Choir, papal chair bearers and technicians.

“It was a decision that took everyone by surprise. As did the fact that the Pope – accompanied by Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Prefect of the Papal Household, and Archbishop Guido Pozzo, the Pope’s Almoner, Mons. Leonardo Sapienza, Regent of the Papal Household, and Alfred Xuereb of the Pope’s Private Secretariat – chose to communicate it personally when, at the end of the celebration of Midday Prayer and after the announcement that the three canonizations on the agenda of the Concistory would be held next 12 May, he read the Latin text of the Declaratio written in his own hand. Speaking in a firm, calm voice, while those present listened to him in an almost unreal silence, he explained the reasons for his decision, made “with full freedom”, and “after having repeatedly examined my conscience before God”.

“The prayerful, joyous atmosphere turned into sadness. The spokesman who rose to the occasion was Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals who immediately took the floor on behalf of all the cardinals. “Your Holiness, beloved and venerable Successor of Peter”, he said, “your moving message rang out in this hall like a bolt from the blue. We heard it with a sense of bewilderment, almost totally unbelieving. In your words we noted the great affection which you have always had for God’s holy Church, for this Church which you have so deeply loved”.

“Now, he added, ‘may I be permitted to tell you on behalf of the apostolic ‘upper room’, the College of Cardinals, on behalf of your dear co-workers, that we are closer to you than ever, as we have been especially close in these luminous eight years of your pontificate’”.

“The Cardinal assured Benedict XVI that ‘before 28 February, as you said, the day on which you wish to give the last word to your papal service, carried out so lovingly, so humbly, before 28 February we will have an opportunity to express our sentiments to you better. A great number of pastors and of the faithful, scattered across the world, will do likewise, as will numerous people of good will, together with the authorities of a great many countries”. He then made a reference to the upcoming commitments of the Pope.

During this month we shall have the joy of hearing your voice as a pastor: on Ash Wednesday, then on Thursday with the clergy of Rome, at the Angelus on the coming Sundays, at the Wednesday General Audiences. There will thus be many occasions on which to hear your fatherly voice again”. “Your mission”, he concluded, “will nevertheless continue”. You said that you will always be close to us with your witness and with your prayers. Of course, the stars of heaven always continue to shine and thus the star of your pontificate will always shine among us. We are close to you, Holy Father, and please bless us’.”


Just days before the first anniversary of his February 28, 2013 resignation, Pope emeritus Benedict wrote a letter to an Italian journalist and said media speculation that he was forced by a group of cardinals to resign because of issues such as the Wikileaks scandal and clerical sex abuse cases was “simply absurd.”

Andrea Tornielli of La Stampa had written to the former pontiff with three questions: he asked about the reason for his resignation, why he continues to wear white and why he kept the name Benedict. Tornielli’s questions to the Pope emeritus arose because of press reports that Benedict was pressured to quit by a group of cardinals opposed to him, and for this reason his resignation was invalid. The charge was that Benedict considered himself still to be Pope, and continued to wear the papal white and keep his papal name.

Tornielli’s article appeared in the February 26  (2014) edition of the Italian daily “La Stampa.” He said Pope emeritus Benedict personally penned answers to the question in a simple and direct fashion.

Before he stepped down a year ago, Benedict on several occasions, most notably on February 11 when he announced his impending resignation to a group of cardinals, spoke of failing physical strength due to old age as the reason for his resignation.

In his letter to Tornielli, he wrote: “There is absolutely no doubt regarding the validity of my resignation from the Petrine ministry.” He said the only condition for the validity of his resignation was the complete freedom of his decision.

In 2010, in the book/ interview with Peter Seewald, “Light of the World,” Benedict said at one point: “If a Pope realizes with clarity that he is no longer able, physically, psychologically and spiritually, to absolve the duties of his office, then he has the right and, in some circumstances even the obligation, to resign.”

As to his wearing white, Benedict XVI said that, at the time of his resignation, no other clothes were available so he kept the white cassock for “purely practical reasons.” He also noted that he wears it in a different way than Francis, without the sash and the cape. The Pope emeritus said questions about his attire was another example of “completely unfounded speculation.” He kept the name Benedict also “for practical reasons.”

It is known that Pope Francis and Pope emeritus Benedict have a close friendship and are in touch with each other on a very frequent basis.


Every year, at the start of the judicial year, the Holy Father addresses the members of the Roman Rota, one of three Vatican tribunals or courts, and his speech is always closely watched by officials of the equivalent tribunals in the dioceses of the world.

The other Vatican tribunals are the Apostolic Penitentiary and the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s equivalent of a Supreme Court. The Apostolic Penitentiary (from the Latin for penance) is responsible for issues relating to Confession, to the forgiveness of sins, and has jurisdiction only over matters in the internal forum.

The name Rota – from the Latin word for wheel – seems to refer to either the circular room or enclosure where the auditors in the early years of the tribunal were assembled or the round table at which they sat to study and judge cases.

“The Rota’s main function is that of an appellate tribunal, ordinarily reviewing decisions of lower courts if the initial court (first instance) and the first appellate court (second instance) do not agree on the outcome of a case; however, any party to an initial decision before a court of the Latin Church (and also some Eastern Churches) has the right to file a second-instance appeal directly to the Rota. Dominating its caseload are petitions seeking the issuance of a decree of nullity of a marriage, although it has jurisdiction to hear any other type of judicial and non-administrative case in any area of canon law.” (from Pastor Bonus)

The word “rotation” also comes from rota, and is defined as “the passing of a privilege or responsibility to each member of a group in a regularly recurring order.”


By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

Pope Francis met Tuesday with members of the Apostolic Tribunal of the Roman Rota, and highlighted the importance of unity and fidelity in the Sacrament of Matrimony.

“Fidelity is possible, because it is a gift, both for spouses and for priests.”

In his address on Tuesday, Pope Francis praised the virtues of unity and fidelity, which he said members of the Roman Rota frequently experience in their service. The Roman Rota tribunal is the Catholic Church’s highest court, and primarily hears cases regarding the nullity of matrimony, though its jurisdiction extends to any type of judicial and non-administrative case related to Canon Law.

Unity and fidelity

The Holy Father said the two “marital goods” of unity and fidelity first of all pertain “to the essence of the Church of Christ.” Society, he said, frequently does not help couples live these virtues.

“The society in which we live is becoming more and more secularized, and doesn’t promote growth in faith, with the result that the Catholic faithful must struggle to witness to a way of life modelled on the Gospel.”

Pope Francis said unity and fidelity are necessary, not only in a married couple’s relationship, but also in all interpersonal and societal relations. “We are all aware of the inconveniences that arise in civil society when promises are not kept,” he said.

Adequate preparation

The Church’s ministers, said the Pope, need to help prepare couples for a life of generous unity and faithful love. This preparation should be done long before marriage and as couples near their wedding date, as well as throughout their married life.

“Pastors are the main actors in this matrimonial formation, by virtue of their office and ministry,” he said, though all layers of the Church community need to be involved in preparing couples.

Saints Aquila and Priscilla

Pope Francis then turned to the example of Saints Aquila and Priscilla, a married couple who helped St. Paul in his evangelizing mission. The Apostle to the Gentiles calls them his synergoi, or fellow workers. “We are struck and moved by Paul’s high recognition of the missionary work of these spouses, and at the same time we recognize how this synergy was a precious gift of the Spirit to the first Christian communities.”

Pastoral care

The Pope also listed several ways in which the Church can help married couples live in unity and fidelity: nearness to the Word of God, catechesis, frequent reception of the Sacraments, spiritual direction, and charitable works towards other families and those most in need. Married couples who live generous unity and faithful love, said Pope Francis, are a special resource for the Church’s pastoral work. “They offer everyone an example of true love and become witnesses and co-workers in the fruitfulness of the Church itself.” This type of married couple, he said, “reflects the image and likeness of God.”

Promote spiritual health of couples

Pope Francis invited members of the Roman Rota tribunal to deliver justice with their juridical sentences. Their rulings, he said, help “to correctly interpret Marriage law” and promotes the spiritual health and faith of spouses.


By Vatican News

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, accepted the resignation of Father Hermann Geissler on Monday, 28 January.

In a press release on Tuesday, the CDF said Fr. Geissler “decided to take this step to limit the damage already done to the Congregation and to his Community.”

Fr. Geissler is a member of the Opus spiritualis Familia religious community.

Doris Wagner, a former member of the same community, has accused Fr. Geissler of improper conduct that allegedly took place in 2009.

Fr. Geissler, the communique reads, “affirms that the accusation made against him is untrue, and asks that the canonical process already initiated continue. He also reserves the right for possible civil legal action.”

A Catholic News Agency (CNA) story on the resignation gives additional background:

VATICAN CITY — An Austrian priest and theologian has resigned from his position at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), amid charges that he made sexual advances toward a woman in the confessional several years ago.
The priest maintains his innocence.

Father Hermann Geissler, 53, has been an official within the CDF since 1993, and in 2009, he became the head of the congregation’s teaching office.
A statement released Jan. 29 said that Father Geissler “affirms that the accusation made against him is untrue and asks that the canonical process already initiated continue. He also reserves the right for possible civil legal action.”

Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Holy See Press Office, confirmed to CNA that allegations against Father Geissler are being examined by the CDF, which is the Vatican office charged with reviewing allegations of this kind.

CDF prefect Cardinal Luis Ladaria accepted the priest’s resignation, which was submitted Jan. 28. The statement said Father Geissler decided to step down “to limit the damage already done to the congregation and to his community.”

Father Geissler is a prominent scholar of Blessed John Henry Newman and a member of the Familia Spiritualis Opus, informally known as “Das Werk.”

The accusations against him became public at the end of September, when a (now-former) member of Das Werk, Doris Wagner, claimed in a lengthy piece in the German newspaper Die Ziet that she had been sexually harassed in the confessional by a member of the religious community she then belonged to, identified in the article as “Hermann G.”

Wagner again spoke of the accusations last November, saying at a conference in Rome that she had received unwanted sexual advances and been “groomed” for sex by “a priest working to this day as capo ufficio at the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith,” according to La Croix International.

The solicitation of a sin against the Sixth Commandment within the context of confession is considered in Church law to be a “grave delict,” or offence, for a which a priest can be dismissed from the clerical state.


Don’t miss the weekend festivities in Rome! Stay with EWTN for the canonization on Sunday of, among others, Blessed Pope Paul VI and Blessed Oscar Romero, archbishop of San Salvador, killed while celebrating Mass.

Paul VI’s tomb in the grottoes will have a new look….hope to bring those photos to you soon.


This week I feature a longer than usual news segment on Vatican Insider, focusing on the synod of bishops, and my radio colleagues are preparing a “best of” for the rest of the program. That is because I have basically been homebound for about 9 days with a very painful muscle-related back problem. The people I hoped to interview are very busy with the synod and unable to come to my office for a conversation – and I can’t get out to go to them! I have been out to go to pharmacies but therapy so far has had no effect and I actually am going to see a doctor the minute I post this. Let’s hope things improve by next week!

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on 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 ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)


Pope today accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl as archbishop of Washington, asking him to remain on as Apostolic Administrator of the archdiocese. The cardinal submitted his resignation on November 12, 2015, when he turned 75 as is required by canon or Church law. The Pope did not name a successor.

What follows is from the Archdiocese of Washington. The cardinal did write a letter to the faithful of the archdiocese but that was not on the webpage as I prepared this column. The copy I was received could not copied to this text. The letter was sent to all priests and the cardinal requested that the letter be read at Masses this weekend.

Cardinal Wuerl resignation: Full text of Pope Francis’ letter
Please find the full text of Pope Francis’ letter to Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, in an unofficial translation made available on the website of the Archdiocese of Washington.

To our Venerable Brother Cardinal Donald William Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington:

On September 21st I received your request that I accept your resignation from the pastoral government of the Archdiocese of Washington.

I am aware that this request rests on two pillars that have marked and continue to mark your ministry: to seek in all things the greater glory of God and to procure the good of the people entrusted to your care. The shepherd knows that the wellbeing and the unity of the People of God are precious gifts that the Lord has implored and for which he gave his life. He paid a very high price for this unity and our mission is to take care that the people not only remain united, but become witnesses of the Gospel “That they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me” (John17:21). This is the horizon from which we are continually invited to discern all our actions.

I recognize in your request the heart of the shepherd who, by widening his vision to recognize a greater good that can benefit the whole body (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 235), prioritizes actions that support, stimulate and make the unity and mission of the Church grow above every kind of sterile division sown by the father of lies who, trying to hurt the shepherd, wants nothing more than that the sheep be dispersed (cf. Matthew26:31).

You have sufficient elements to “justify” your actions and distinguish between what it means to cover up crimes or not to deal with problems, and to commit some mistakes. However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense. Of this, I am proud and thank you.

In this way, you make clear the intent to put God’s Project first, before any kind of personal project, including what could be considered as good for the Church. Your renunciation is a sign of your availability and docility to the Spirit who continues to act in his Church.

In accepting your resignation, I ask you to remain as Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese until the appointment of your successor.

Dear brother, I make my own the words of Sirach: “You who fear the Lord, trust in him, and your reward will not be lost” (2:8). May the Virgin Mary protect you with her mantle and may the strength of the Holy Spirit give you the grace to know how to continue to serve him in this new time that the Lord gives you.

Cardinal Wuerl’s Statement on the Holy Father’s Acceptance of his Resignation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the news from the Vatican this morning, Cardinal Donald Wuerl has issued the following statement: “Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has accepted the resignation first offered on November 12, 2015, when I reached my 75th birthday. I am profoundly grateful for his devoted commitment to the wellbeing of the Archdiocese of Washington and also deeply touched by his gracious words of understanding.

The Holy Father’s decision to provide new leadership to the Archdiocese can allow all of the faithful, clergy, religious and lay, to focus on healing and the future. It permits this local Church to move forward. Once again for any past errors in judgment I apologize and ask for pardon. My resignation is one way to express my great and abiding love for you the people of the Church of Washington.”

Statement from the Auxiliary Bishops of the Archdiocese of Washington on the Holy Father’s Acceptance of Cardinal Wuerl’s Resignation

“We, the Auxiliary Bishops of the Archdiocese of Washington, wish to express our heartfelt gratitude to His Eminence, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, for the loving pastoral care and devoted service he has provided the Archdiocese of Washington for the past 12 years.

Cardinal Wuerl’s pastoral and spiritual leadership in the archdiocese is well appreciated. We are particularly grateful for his efforts on behalf of parish life, our schools, Catholic Charities and so many other indicators of the vitality of this archdiocese including Saint John Paul II Seminary which he founded and is now filled to capacity.

We believe that Cardinal Wuerl’s decision to request that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, accept the resignation he first offered years ago is a clear manifestation of his love and concern for the people of this archdiocese. As the Holy Father stated in his letter, the Cardinal’s decision shows that he has the heart of a shepherd who places the good of the Church and its needs before his own right to justify his actions. His request and the Holy Father’s response allow the Church of Washington to continue to focus on healing and the ability to move forward.

We offer our prayers and profound gratitude to His Eminence for the service and pastoral care that he has faithfully given to the clergy, religious and lay faithful of this local Church. We accompany him with our love and support during this time of transition.”

Most Reverend Mario E. Dorsonville
Most Reverend Roy E. Campbell Jr.
Most Reverend Michael W. Fisher

Statement on the Retirement of Cardinal Donald Wuerl as Archbishop of Washington by Kim Viti Fiorentino Chancellor and General Counsel of the Archdiocese of Washington

The news that our Holy Father has accepted Cardinal Wuerl’s resignation as Archbishop of Washington fills me with both profound sadness and, at the same time, deep appreciation and admiration for the Cardinal’s abundant, sacrificial love for our archdiocese which he has tirelessly served for the past twelve years.

Cardinal Wuerl’s decision to ask the Holy Father to allow him to retire came after prayer and reflection, in view of the news we have all confronted. This includes the Archbishop McCarrick scandal, the Archbishop Viganò allegations and particularly the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report. This report targeted six dioceses in Pennsylvania and touched upon the Cardinal’s tenure as Bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988-2006 before he became our Archbishop. Unfortunately, the Cardinal’s pioneering leadership in the enhancement, implementation and enforcement of historically innovative and rigorous child protection policies was overshadowed by the report’s flaws and its interpretation by media.

Cardinal Wuerl reflected on the impact these realities have had upon the Archdiocese. As the Holy Father reflects in his letter, although he would have been justified to move forward with challenging many of the assertions that have been lodged against him, Cardinal Wuerl decided to forgo his personal interest out of love for the people entrusted to his care. He chose to take the step that would allow the Archdiocese of Washington to move beyond these difficulties and to focus, under new leadership, on healing, renewing and revitalizing our beautiful archdiocesan community, that is the Church of Washington.

We have been profoundly blessed to have this great priest as our archbishop and his final decision to act in favor of the people he loved and served for twelve years is the most eloquent witness to the integrity of his ministry and his legacy. I am truly thankful for his steadfast fidelity and his courageous and sacrificial commitment to the future of the Church in Washington.

Statement from Moderator of the Curia Archdiocese of Washington What is An Apostolic Administrator?

Today Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Donald Wuerl as Apostolic Administrator for the Archdiocese of Washington. In this capacity, he serves as the caretaker for the Archdiocese in this time of transition. The appointment of the retiring archbishop in this capacity has occurred before in the Archdiocese of Washington.

The Administrator’s role is to keep things working normally and to preserve things insofar as is possible until the new Archbishop takes over. As a caretaker, he does not make significant changes or decisions that might affect the incoming Archbishop. The principle involved is “sede vacante nihil innovetur,” or, “When the see is vacant, let there be no innovations.”