This week, in the interview segment of “Vatican Insider,” I present a real ‘insider’ story – that of my colleague in the EWTN Rome bureau, Alexey Gotovsky who hails from Kazakhstan. Learn about his childhood in a country flanked by India, China and Russia and hear about his road to Rome and EWTN.

I could tell so many similar, interesting stories if my only interviews were with the staff of our Rome bureau and other EWTN offices throughout Europe – amazing, talented, very bright people who, on screen or behind the scenes in video and audio editing studios, bring you into the Catholic Church and bring the Church to you!

Here we are in one of our audio studios –

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: go to and write the name of the guest for whom you are searching in the SEARCH box. Below that, will appear “Vatican Insider” – click on that and the link to that particular episode will appear.


In his address to the Roman Rota for the opening of the judicial year, Pope Francis says proclaiming the “Gospel of the Family” is one of the essential tasks of the Church.

By Christopher Wells (Vatican news)

There is a “strong need” in the Church and in the world, “to rediscover the meaning and value of the conjugal union between man and woman on which the family is founded,” Pope Francis said on Friday.

Addressing the auditors of the Roman Rota at the beginning of the Church’s judicial year, the Holy Father said the Church has the mission to proclaim the Good News, which includes “illuminating and sustaining the ‘great mystery that is conjugal and family love.’”

Marriage is a gift

The Pope explained that, according to Christian revelation, marriage is more than a ceremony or social event; it is not a mere formality or an abstract ideal, but instead “is a reality with its own precise consistency.”

Given that reality, and the fact that marriage takes place between real men and women with all their limitations and failings, the Pope asked how marriages can be engaging, faithful, and permanent.

The answer, he said, lies in the fact that all true marriages, even non-sacramental marriages, are a gift from God to the spouses.

“Marriage is always a gift! Conjugal fidelity rests on divine fidelity; conjugal fruitfulness rests on divine fruitfulness.”

For this reason, marriage cannot “be reduced to a sentimental plane or to mere selfish satisfactions,” that is, one must reject the idea that a marriage lasts only so long as romantic love does.

Instead, Pope Francis said, “marital love is inseparable from marriage itself, in which fragile and limited human love meets divine love, which is always faithful and merciful.”

We can fulfill Jesus’ command that we “love one another” – which also pertains to marriage – because “it is He Himself who sustains spouses with His grace.”

Marriage is good

Having elaborated on marriage as a gift from God, Pope Francis went on to emphasize that marriage is good – and, in fact, “a good of extraordinary value for everyone,” not just spouses and children, but other families, the Church, and the whole world.

He also emphasized that, “in the Christian economy of salvation, marriage constitutes first and foremost the high road to holiness, a holiness lived out in ordinary life.”

This, the Pope said, “is an essential aspect of the Gospel of the family.”

Turning to the question of marriages in crisis, Pope Francis said the Church must accompany spouses facing difficulties with love and support. The Church’s pastoral response, he said, must involve helping renew the awareness of marriage as an “irrevocable gift.” Without ignoring the contributions of social sciences, this “light on one’s marriage is an essential part of the journey of reconciliation” within marriages.

The Pope recognized that marriage always involves “fragility” – but, he said, “with the help of the Holy Spirit,” difficulties in married life need not lead to a definitive rupture.



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.


I got a big kick today out of the fact that Pope Francis, in his Message for the 50th World Day of Social Communications, as his very first quote about communications and mercy, cited Shakespeare’s words from The Merchant of Venice: “The quality of mercy is not strained.  It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.  It is twice blessed: it blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

This brought a smile to my face because the opening quote in my book, A Holy Year in Rome, is the entire quote from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice!

This was the very first quote that came to mind on March 13 of last year when I heard Pope Francis announce he was calling for a Jubilee of Mercy!


Please join me for Part II of my conversation with Msgr. John Kozar, president of CNEWA, the Catholic Near East Welfare Association for almost five years now. He came to that post after serving as national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States. He was in Rome for a series of meetings and found time to be my guest on Vatican Insider. We learn what CNEWA is and does, where it works and we talk about current and future projects.

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 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:


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday said the Church’s teaching on marriage is not an “ideal for the few” but “a reality that, in the grace of Christ, can be experienced by all the baptized.”

The Holy Father was speaking the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, the Vatican court which mainly deals with marriage annulment cases.


In his address inaugurating the judicial year, Pope Francis said the court’s role as Tribunal of the Family, and its role as Tribunal of the Truth of the Sacred Bond are complementary.

“The Church… can show the unfailing merciful love of God to families – especially those wounded by sin and the trials of life – and, at the same time, proclaim the essential truth of marriage according to God’s design,” Pope Francis said.

“When the Church, through your service, sets about to declare the truth about marriage in a concrete case, for the good of the faithful, at the same time you must always remember that those who, by choice or unhappy circumstances of life, are living in an objective state of error, continue to be the object of the merciful love of Christ and thus the Church herself,” he continued.

The Holy Father pointed out the recent two-year Synod process on the family said to the world that “there can be no confusion” between the family as willed by God, and every other type of union.

Reaffirming the doctrine of the Church, the Holy Father said the “quality of faith” is not an essential condition of marital consent, and pointed out the faith infused at baptism continues to have influence on the soul even “when it has not been developed and even seems to be psychologically absent.”

He added it is not uncommon for couples to discover “the fullness of God’s plan” for marriage after their wedding, when they have begun to experience family life.

“Therefore,” concluded Francis, “the Church, with a renewed sense of responsibility, continues to propose marriage in its essentials – offspring, good of the couple, unity, indissolubility, sacramentality – not as ideal only for a few – notwithstanding modern models centered on the ephemeral and the transient – but as a reality that, in the grace of Christ, can be experienced by all the baptized faithful.”


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ message for the 50th World Day of Social Communications was released at a press conference in the Vatican on Friday. The message, entitled  ‘Communication and Mercy: A Fruitful Encounter’ is focused on the responsibility of all communicators to promote caring and healthy relationships in our fragmented and polarized world.

Quoting from Shakespeare, the Gospels and the Old Testament, the Pope reminds us that, as Christians, our “every word and gesture, ought to express God’s compassion, tenderness and forgiveness for all”. If our hearts and actions are inspired by charity and divine love, he says, then our communication will be touched by God’s power too.

As sons and daughters of God, the message stresses, we are called to communicate with everyone, without exception.  Communication, the Pope insists, has the power to build bridges, to enable encounter and inclusion, to heal wounded memories and thus to enrich society. In both the material and the digital world, he says, our words and actions should help us all “escape the vicious circles of condemnation and vengeance which continue to ensnare individuals and nations, encouraging expressions of hatred”.

Pope Francis invites all people of good will to rediscover the power of mercy to heal wounded relationships and to restore peace and harmony to families and communities.  Even when ancient wounds and lingering resentments stand in the way of communication and reconciliation, he says, mercy is able to create a new kind of speech and dialogue.

Our political and diplomatic language in particular, the Pope says, would do well to be inspired by mercy, which never loses hope He appeals to political and institutional leaders, as well as the media and opinion makers to remain especially attentive to the way they speak of those who think or act differently.  Even when condemning sins such as violence, corruption and exploitation, the Pope says, we must speak with meekness and mercy that can touch hearts, rather than with harsh, moralistic words that can further alienate those we wish to convert.

True communication, the Pope says, means listening, valuing, respecting and being able to share questions and doubts. Online or in social networks, he stresses, we must remember that it’s not technology which guarantees authentic communication, but rather the human heart and our capacity to use wisely the means at our disposal.

The Pope concludes by encouraging everyone “to see society not as a forum where strangers compete and try to come out on top, but above all as a home or a family, where the door is always open and where everyone feels welcome”.

For complete Message, click here:


The Church lost two cardinals on December 9: Cardinals Julio Terrazas Sandoval Archbishop emeritus of the Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia and Carlo Furno, Grand Master emeritus of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre. The College of Cardinals now has 216 members, 117 of whom are under the age of 80, thus cardinal electors in a future conclave. Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, will be the next cardinal to turn 80 on February 27, 2016.


Because I have been under the weather this entire week and unable to prepare Vatican Insider, my colleagues will air “the best of” VI with a selection from the hundreds of Q&As I have done and also the interview segment which often is not an inteview but a special feature. So be sure to tune in and be surprised!

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 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:


(Vatican Radio, VIS) Pope Francis issued a legal decree on Friday, regarding the implementation of the recent reforms to the Church’s marriage law, specifically as far as the role of the Church’s highest appellate court – the Sacred Roman Rota – is concerned. The decree, called a rescript, has six main points, most dealing with technical matters of legal procedure within the Rotal system itself, and with the relationship of the Rota – which is the Church’s highest ordinary appellate court – to other courts in the Church’s legal system. (photo – the Roman Rota)


In an explanatory note published in the edition of L’Osservatore Romano released Friday afternoon, the Dean of the Roman Rota, Msgr. Pio Vito Pinto explained that the first part of the two-part rescript has the purpose of stressing that the reforms already enacted are now in force and must be followed and obeyed. “Because every law of epochal importance, such as the laws reforming the marital nullity process, meets understandable resistance,” explained Msgr. Pinto, “the Pope desired  to emphasize, as did John Paul II for the promulgation of the Code of Canon Law of 1983, that the law is now promulgated and requires compliance.”

For his explanation in L’Osservatore Romano, click here:

Following is Vatican Radio’s translation of the full text of the rescript, made from the Italian text distributed by the Press Office of the Holy See:

The entry into force – in happy coincidence with the opening of the Jubilee of Mercy – of the Apostolic Letters motu proprio, Mitis iudex Dominus Iesus and Mitis et Misericors Iesus on August 15, 2015, given for the purpose of actuating justice and mercy regarding the truth of the bond of those who have experienced matrimonial failure, poses, among other things, the need to harmonize the renewed procedure for cases trying claims of marital nullity with the rules proper to the Roman Rota, pending the reform of these last.

The recently concluded Synod of Bishops expressed a strong exhortation to the Church, that the Church reach out toward “her most fragile children, marked by love wounded and lost (Relatio finalis, n. 55), to whom it is necessary to give back confidence and hope.

The laws now taking effect want to show precisely the closeness of the Church to wounded families, desiring that the multitude of those who live the drama of marital failure be reached by the healing work of Christ through ecclesiastical structures, in the hope that they might discover themselves new missionaries of God’s mercy toward other brothers and sisters, for the good of the institution of the family.

Recognizing the Roman Rota, in addition to its proper munus as ordinary appellate tribunal of the Apostolic See, as having also the munus of safeguarding the unity of law (Art. 126 § 1 PB) and that of aiding in the ongoing formation of pastoral workers in the Tribunals of the local Churches, the following is established:


The laws reforming the aforementioned marriage nullity process abrogate or derogate every law or norm to the contrary hitherto applicable: general, particular, or special, even if approved in specific form (e.g. The MP Qua cura, given by my Predecessor Pius XI in times very much different from the present).


  1. In marriage nullity cases before the Roman Rota, the dubbium is fixed according to the ancient  formula: An constet de matrimonii nullitate, in casu.
  2. There can be no appeal against decisions of the Rota with respect to invalidity of judgments or decrees.
  3. No recourse is allowed before the Roman Rota to the Nova Causae Propositio (N.C.P.), after one of the parties has contracted a new canonical marriage, unless the injustice of the decision is manifestly established.
  4. The Dean of the Roman Rota has the power to dispense for grave reason from the Rotal Norms in procedural matters.
  5. As urged by the Patriarchs of the Eastern Churches, competence in iurium cases connected to marital nullity cases submitted to the judgment of the Roman Rota on appeal, is restored to territorial tribunals.
  6. The Roman Rota shall judge cases according to the gratuity of the Gospel, that is, with ex officio legal aid, salvo the moral obligation for the wealthy faithful to make an oblatio iustitiae in favor of the causes of the poor.

May the faithful, especially the wounded and unhappy, look to the new Jerusalem that is the Church, as the “Peace of justice and glory of godliness, (Bar 5: 4)” and may it be granted to them, finding the open arms of the Body of Christ, to intone the Psalm of the exiles (126:1-2): “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy.”




Before arriving in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly general audience, Pope Francis made two stops in the Paul VI Hall: the first to speak to participants in the course on marriage organized by the Roman Rota, and the second to greet the faithful who are ill or disabled who were inside today because of the threat of rain.

In his remarks to those taking the Roman Rota course, Francis noted that during the recent synod of bishops on the family, a number of bishops pointed to the need for annulment procedures to be streamlined for reasons of justice. He mentioned the many people who wait for years for a judgment to be reached, saying, “sometimes the procedures are very long and difficult, which does not help matters, and people give up.” Some might even leave the Church.

The Holy Father emphasized the importance of the course his guests were taking and the need to be careful to ensure that the procedures do not become linked to economic interests, referring to public scandals. He noted that during the Synod some proposals had been made regarding the costs of the process. “When spiritual interest is attached to economic interests, then it not a matter of God.” He said, “Mother Church has enough generosity to be able to provide justice freely, as we are freely justified by Jesus Christ. This point is important – these two issues must be separate.”

The Tribunal of the Roman Rota is the Court of Appeals of the universal Church for the Latin Church, for the Oriental Churches, and for the Ecclesiastical Tribunal of Vatican City. The origins of this tribunal date back to the 12th century. The name “Rota” is derived from the circular enclosure in which the auditors sat when they gathered to judge cases.


On his second stop this morning in the Paul VI Hall, before going to St. Peter’s Square for the weekly general audience, Pope Francis briefly visited pilgrims who were in some way ill, suffering or disabled, together with their families and care-givers. “You can stay here without getting wet,” he said, referring to the leaden skies over Rome and the threat of rain. “It is dangerous, it might rain, it might not rain, we just don’t know!” The Pope and faithful then recited the Haily Mary, and he said afterwards, “Don’t forget to pray for me as I pray for you.”

Pope Francis was then taken by jeep to St. Peter’s Square, circling the great piazza and greeting the faithful. The catechesis began promptly at 10, under leaden skies and a very strong wind that blew the papal cape around his face a few times and could also be heard in microphones broadcasting the audience.

The Holy Father’s continuing catechesis on the Church today focussed on her hierarchy. He said, “we have seen that the Holy Spirit constantly bestows his gifts in building up the Body of Christ. Among these gifts are the ordained ministries. Through the sacrament of Holy Orders, bishops, priests and deacons are called to guide and protect Christ’s flock, above all though the celebration of the sacraments that give us new life in Christ.”

The Pope asked those present to pray for bishops, that they may be men of virtue: “It isn’t easy,” he noted. “We are all sinners, so pray for us”.

“The Church is both hierarchical and maternal,” he explained. “Her ordained ministries are at the service of her spiritual motherhood. This is especially clear in the case of bishops, who are called to lead the Christian community as living signs of the Lord’s presence in our midst. Like the Apostles whose successors they are, the Bishops form one college in communion with the Pope. This collegiality is seen not only in special assemblies like the recent Synod but also in the daily communion of Bishops throughout the world.”

Continuing, but in unscripted remarks, Francis said, “We understand, therefore, that it is not a position of prestige, an honorary role. The Bishop is not an honorary role it is a service.  Jesus wanted it this way. There should not be room in the church for a worldly mentality. A worldly mentality speaks of a man who has an ‘ecclesiastical career and has become a bishop’. There should be no place for such a mentality in the Church. The Bishop serves, it is not a position of honor, to boast about.”

He said the many bishops who are saints show us that one does not seek this ministry, one does not ask for it, it cannot be bought, one accepts it in obedience, not in an attempt to climb higher but to lower oneself, just as Jesus “humbled himself and became obedient unto to death, even death on a cross.” The Pope added, “It is sad when we see a man who seeks this office and does all he can to get it and when he gets it does not serve, instead goes around like a peacock and lives only for his vanity”.

The Holy Father stated that, “bishops are also called to express one single college, gathered around the Pope, who is the guardian and guarantor of this profound communion that was so dear to Jesus and His apostles. … It is beautiful when the bishops, with the Pope, express this collegiality, despite living in places, cultures, sensibilities and traditions that are different and distant from each other.”


As he greeted the pilgrims after the general audience catechesis and summaries in different languages, Pope Francis said, “I am pleased to announce that, God willing, next June 21 I will go on pilgrimage to Turin to venerate the Holy Shroud and to honor Saint John Bosco on the occasion of the bicentennial of his birth.”

The Shroud, with its outline of a supine male figure is believed to be the burial cloth that wrapped the body of Jesus as he lay in the tomb following his crucifixion. It will be displayed for veneration by the faithful for just over two months, from April 19 to June 24, 2015 in Turin’s cathedral. The theme of the exposition is “The Greatest Love.”

The 14 foot 3 inch by 3 and a half-foot linen cloth in a fishbone weave shows the frontal and dorsal images of a crucified man, about 5 foot 10 inches in height, whose body shows signs of having been whipped and on whose head was placed a helmet-like crown of thorns. The burial cloth or Shroud has bloodstains as well as a parallel set of burn marks that run down the sides of the cloth. These appeared when the silver reliquary in which the Shroud was kept in a chapel in France was partially burned in a fire and molten silver fell onto the cloth that was folded eight times over – thus the symmetrical burn marks. It also shows watermarks from the water used to douse that fire on December 4, 1532. From April 14 to May 2, 1534 the Poor Clare Sisters of Chambery tried to mend the Shroud by sewing on triangular patches of fabric.

The 2015 viewing will be the 25th time since the Shroud was transferred from Chambery, France to Turin in 1578 by Duke Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy. The Shroud was in the Savoy family until 1983 when King Umberto II, the last Duke of Savoy who was deposed in 1946 and died in 1983, bequeathed the linen to the Holy See but the Pope left the relic in the care of the Archbishop of Turin. It was on display in 1978 to mark the fourth centenary of its transfer to Turin, and again in 1998 on the occasions of the 500th anniversary of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Turin and the centennial of the first photograph of the Shroud taken in 1898 by Secondo Pia, a photograph whose negative revealed the front and dorsal blood-stained images of a crucified man who had been whipped and whose head was covered with a crown of thorns. In recent decades dozens of tests have been done on very small pieces or threads of the linen that the archbishop of Turin allowed to be taken from the Shroud. Carbon dating tests were done in 1988 but have basically proved inconclusive. Most of the evidence, including coins from a Roman era that cover the eyes of the Man of the Shroud, traces of many types of pollens, including one now extinct pollen found only in Palestine two millennia ago, that would bear out the linen’s journey from the Middle East through modern day Turkey and Syria to France and Italy, indicates this piece of linen is 2000 years old. It does not prove the Man was Jesus.

No Pope has ever made a definitive pronouncement about the Shroud. Pope Francis had expressed his desire to venerate the Shroud, and Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin said today in a press conference that the longer time frame was chosen to facilitate a visit by the Holy Father. Francis did say in the early days of his papacy that, “the Man of the Shroud invites us to contemplate Jesus of Nazareth. ….(it is an image that) “speaks to our heart and moves us to climb the hill of Calvary, to look upon the wood of the Cross, and to immerse ourselves in the eloquent silence of love.”

In 2015 the diocese of Turin will also be marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of Saint John Bosco, patron of Catholic schools.

Presenters at today’s press conference, according to a VIS report, noted that this will be the third time the Shroud has been displayed to the public during this millennium. The event will focus on two themes: the young, and those who suffer. It is precisely for this reason that the Pope has allowed the solemn exposition, which coincides with the Jubilee for the 200th anniversary of the birth of St. John Bosco.

As on previous occasions, special attention will be paid to the sick who visit the Holy Shroud. The pastoral ministry for healthcare in Turin will make two reception centers available for pilgrims and carer-givers. In addition, with the collaboration of more than 3500 volunteers, moments of prayer will be held, and a confessional service in different languages will be available in locations in the area near the Cathedral.

The visit will be free of charge but booking is obligatory, to enable the effective management of the flow of pilgrims. Booking is online, at

I took the following photos on my 2010 visit to Turin:

The church was in almost total darkness and it took me about 10 minutes to acclimate myself. No flashes were allowed inside the church. The side aisles are closed off and people who come in to pray can only go half way up the center aisle – the rest is set off for visitors with reservations. However, no matter were you are in the church, you can see the Shroud – lit from behind, it is this white glowing object above the main altar.

TURIN - Shroud 1 TURIN - Shroud 2 Turin - Shroud 3 TURIN - St. John cathedral

I spent quite some time in prayer, having promised many people I would pray for their special intentions. I spent quite some time in reflection, looking at the Shroud, thinking of what I had studied and learned about this 2000-year old piece of cloth, thinking of the Man whose body it wrapped.

Jesus asked His disciples: “And who do you say I am?”

I believe that linen wrapped Our Lord’s body, Jesus’ body.


On November 3, Pope Francis met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and approved new norms that modify the presentation and acceptance of resignations from pastoral ministry by diocesan bishops and from offices of the Roman Curia by those named by pontifical appointment. The Pope indicated these norms would enter into effect today.

The text is as follows:

Art. 1: The current discipline in the Latin Church and in the “sui iuris” Oriental Churches, by which diocesan and eparchal Bishops, and those held to be of equivalent office in accordance with canons 381 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law and 313 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, as well as coadjutor and auxiliary Bishops, are invited to present the resignation from their pastoral office upon reaching the age of seventy-five years, is confirmed.

Art. 2: Resignation from the aforementioned pastoral offices is effective only from the moment in which it is accepted by the legitimate Authorities.

Art .3: With the acceptance of the resignation from the aforementioned offices, the interested parties cease to hold any other office at national level conferred for a period determined in concomitance with the aforementioned pastoral office.

Art. 4: The gesture of a Bishop who, by motives of love or the wish to offer a better service to the community, considers it necessary to resign from the role of Pastor before reaching the age of seventy-five on account of illness or other serious reasons, is to be deemed worthy of ecclesial appreciation. In such cases, the faithful are requested to demonstrate solidarity and understanding for their former Pastor, providing punctual assistance consistent with the principles of charity and justice, in accordance with canon 402 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

Art. 5: In some particular circumstances, the competent Authorities may deem it necessary to request that a Bishop present his resignation from pastoral office, after informing him of the cause for this request, and listening closely to his reasons, in fraternal dialogue.

Art. 6: Cardinals serving as Heads of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia and other Cardinals holding office by pontifical nomination are also required, upon the completion of their seventy-fifth year of life, to present their resignation from office to the Pope, who, after full consideration, will proceed.