POPE: MAKE WORLD MORE HUMAN BY GUARANTEEING THE DIGNITY OF THE DISABLED – HOLY SEE, SANT’EGIDIO COMMUNITY TO BRING REFUGEES TO ITALY FROM LESBOS

Pope Francis this morning met with 37 bishops, including emeritus prelates, and one priest who is the diocesan administrator of Shreveport in Louisiana, from Regions IV and V of the USCCB who are in Rome on their ad limina visit. These mandatory visits normally take place every five years but the US prelates were last in Rome on ad limina in 2011. Region IV includes the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, West Virginia, and the Military Archdiocese. Region V prelates are from Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

POPE: MAKE WORLD MORE HUMAN BY GUARANTEEING THE DIGNITY OF THE DISABLED

On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, December 3rd, Pope Francis recalls how the promotion of the right to participation plays a central role in combating discrimination and promoting a culture of encounter and quality of life.
By Lydia O’Kane

In his message marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Pope Francis notes that “great progress has been made towards people with disabilities in the medical and welfare fields.”

But he highlights the fact that even today there is still a culture of waste with many disabled people feeling that “\”they exist without belonging and without participating.”

Protection of rights
The Pope stresses that “all this calls not only for the rights of people with disabilities and their families to be protected,” but “it also urges us to make the world more human” by removing prejudice.

It is necessary, Pope Francis writes, “to take care of and accompany people with disabilities in every condition of life, also making use of current technologies,” so that they can actively and with dignity participate in both civil and ecclesial communities.

He also says, that the accessibility of places and quality of life need to be promoted, taking into account all the dimensions of the human being.

Hidden exiles
In the message, the Pope emphasizes “the many ‘hidden exiles’ who live in our homes, our families and our societies.”

“I am thinking of people of all ages, especially the elderly who, also because of their disability, are sometimes felt as a burden, as ‘cumbersome presences’, and are in danger of being discarded, of being denied concrete job prospects to participate in the construction of their own future.”

Pope Francis stresses that “we need to develop antibodies against a culture that considers some lives” first or second-class. “This is a social sin,” he says.

A change of mentality needed
On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Pontiff invites people to “have the courage to give a voice to those who are discriminated against because of their disability.”

“Making good laws and breaking down physical barriers is important,” the Pope writes, “but it is not enough, if the mentality does not change.”

Concluding his message, Pope Francis encourages “all those who work with people with disabilities to continue with this important service and commitment, which determines the degree of civilization of a nation.”

HOLY SEE, SANT’EGIDIO COMMUNITY TO BRING REFUGEES TO ITALY FROM LESBOS

A December 2 communique from Apostolic Almsgiver:

“The Holy Father Francis, on the occasion of his trip to the Island of Lesbos in April 2016, brought back to Italy three Syrian families seeking asylum. The Holy See took on the charge of welcoming and sustaining them, while hospitality and integration were assumed by the Sant’Egidio Community.

“Last May, three years after that event, the Pope asked the Apostolic Almsgiver (Office of Papal Charities) to return to the island to renew solidarity with the Greek people and refugees, and he also expressed the desire to make a further gesture of solidarity and host a group of young refugees and some families from Afghanistan, Cameroon and Togo.

“After an intense period of official negotiations between the competent authorities, in order to carry out this new humanitarian corridor the Interior Ministry of the Italian Republic gave final assent to carrying out the operation.

“Therefore today, December 2, the papal Almsgiver* returned to the Island of Lesbos, together with some leaders of the Sant’Egidio Community. They will return to Italy on December 4 with a group of 33 refugees requesting political asylum. This operation will end in December, when another 10 refugees will be accompanied to Italy, thus starting the procedures necessary for the request for international protection.

“Welcoming these refugees will be assumed by the Holy See, through the Apostolic Almsgiving office and by the Sant’Egidio Community.”

A Vaticannews story with the title, “Two families in Luxembourg,” noted that, on November 19 the archdiocese of Luxembourg, led by new Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich who, in May, had participated in the mission of Cardinal Krajewski to Lesbos, also opened its doors to two families of refugees from the same camps on the Greek island, one originally from Kuwait with two children aged 8 and 5 and one from Syria with twins aged almost two years.

* The head of the Apostolic Almsgiving Office (Office of Papal Charities) is Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, also known as the papal almsgiver. (https://www.elemosineria.va/)

VATICAN INSIDER AND THE CARDINAL NEWMAN SOCIETY – POPE TO SERVITES: OUR LADY TEACHES US HOW TO SOW HOPE – “POPE FRANCIS SHOWERS AND LAUNDRY” OPENS IN GENOA

SYNOD ALERT: For those who have been following the daily press briefings on the Amazon synod online with English translation at http://www.vaticannews.va, tomorrow, Saturday 26 October, the scheduled briefing starting at 13.30 is canceled. The final briefing will start around 7.45pm until around 8.30pm

VATICAN INSIDER AND THE CARDINAL NEWMAN SOCIETY

My guest this week on the interview segment of Vatican Insider is Patrick Reilly, president and founder of the Cardinal Newman Society. We spoke about the Society when he was in Rome for the October 13 canonization of Cardinal John Henry Newman, the namesake of this organization whose mission, as its website says, is to promote and defend faithful Catholic education. We talk about the work and outreach and challenges of the Society, including the many court challenges to faith-based institutions in U.S society.

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

POPE TO SERVITES: OUR LADY TEACHES US HOW TO SOW HOPE

Pope Francis this morning addressed the Order of the Servants of Mary who are participating in their General Chapter, urging them to be “men of hope (which) means finding the courage to face some of today’s challenges.” (Vatican News)

The Order of the Servants of Mary (Servites) has its origins in 13th century Florence and was established by a group of men known as the Seven Holy Founders. At its core is a special charism to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Order also bears witness to the Gospel, inspired by Our Lady, in its apostolate and mission.

Greeting the members of the Order on Friday at the end of their 214th General Chapter, Pope Francis, in off the cuff remarks said that the words “servants of Mary” made him think of how Our Lady brought us Jesus in the crib in Bethlehem. “Your founders understood this; they understood and became servants,” he commented. The Pope then told those present, to never move from that founding grace to be a servant. Continuing to focus on Our Lady, Pope Francis underlined how, despite everything that happened in her life, Mary looked forward; she was a woman of Hope.

Even today, in a world where there are wars, forms of slavery and cruelty, the Pope noted that Our Lady teaches us to sow hope.

In the Pope’s prepared remarks that were distributed to those present, he recalled the theme of their meeting, “Servants of Hope in a Changing World.” Dwelling on the Servites’ Holy Founders, the Pope noted that they had a profound encounter with the One who is Hope, Jesus Christ.

Vocations
Pope Francis explained that by going back to their unique human and vocational experience, today’s Servites become more and more “men of hope, capable of dispelling the fears that sometimes torment the heart, even in a religious community.”

The Pope mentioned in particular the scarcity of vocations in certain parts of the world; as well as the difficulty of being faithful to Jesus and to the Gospel in certain community or social contexts.

Courage to face challenges
Pope Francis told those gathered that, “being men of hope means finding the courage to face some of today’s challenges.” One of those, he pointed out, is a responsible use of the media, which, he said, “conveys positive news, but also can destroy the dignity of persons, weaken the spiritual momentum, wound fraternal life.”

Another challenge, the Pope highlighted, is that of multiculturalism, which was addressed in the Chapter.

Catholic religious’ communities as ‘laboratories’
There is no doubt, commented Pope Francis, “that Catholic religious communities have become ‘laboratories’ in this sense, certainly not without problems and yet offering to all a clear sign of the Kingdom of God, to which all peoples are invited, through the one Gospel of salvation.”

In conclusion, the Pontiff expressed the hope that their communities would be a sign of universal brotherhood, schools of welcome and integration, and places of openness.

“POPE FRANCIS SHOWERS AND LAUNDRY” OPENS IN GENOA

According to a communiqué from the Apostolic Almsgiver, an office also known as the Pope’s Charity, a “Laundry and Shower service of Pope Francis” was inaugurated today in Genoa. Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski is the papal almoner or almsgiver.

The communiqué noted that this is a service offered free of charge to the poorest people, particularly those without a fixed abode. It is located on the premises of Piazza Durazzo 12, and is managed by the Sant’Egidio community of Liguria. The homeless will be able to wash, dry and iron their clothes and blankets, and provide for personal cleaning in special shower spaces.

“The initiative,” says the communique, “was born from the Holy Father’s invitation to make ‘concrete’ the experience of grace of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Here, then, is a concrete sign desired by the Apostolic Almsgiving office and the Community of Sant’Egidio: a place and a service to give concrete form to charity and, at the same time, to render intelligent the works of mercy, to restore dignity to so many people who are our brothers and sisters, called with us to build a ‘reliable city’.”(photo from Whirlpool)

The laundry and showers will be managed by the Sant’Egidio Community of Liguria, together with other reception and assistance services for the poorest people. The communiqué goes on to mention some of the products that have been donated by companies such as Procter & Gamble and Whirlpool Corporation that, in 2017 contributed to the opening of the “Pope Francis Laundry” in Rome.

POPE INVITES 8 REFUGEE CHILDREN TO JOIN HIM IN POPEMOBILE – PAPAL CATECHESIS ON FINAL PETITION OF OUR FATHER, “DELIVER US FROM EVIL”

Michael Warsaw, CEO of EWTN, was recently in town for a number of events and he announced to the staff in our meeting with members of EWTN’s board, that an EWTN news agency had been formed for and in Africa – ACI Africa. The story was carried by FIDES, the news arm of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, It featured the words of Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso, president of the Pontifical Mission Societies, in his homily during Mass for EWTN: http://www.fides.org/en/news/66009-AFRICA_ACI_Africa_agency_is_born_Archbishop_Dal_Toso_A_sign_of_hope_for_the_continent

On another topic: As you will see in the photo below, the weather in Rome did no favors to those attending the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square. It is quite chilly here (48 degrees as I write at 3 pm) and coats and heavy jackets, perhaps even layered clothing, are the order of the day! We have been averaging only one entirely sunny day every week – days that verge on being warm but generally offer cloud cover, light showers or torrential downpours. Feels a lot more like October, especially since heat has been turned off in most buildings for over a month, and there are no warm temps to compensate for the chill and humidity in the air.

POPE INVITES 8 REFUGEE CHILDREN TO JOIN HIM IN POPEMOBILE

The Holy Father, making his way to the podium in front of St. Peter’s Basilica before the general audience this morning, asked the popemobile driver to stop to allow eight children to jump aboard for a ride. The 8 children had come from Libya on a boat several different nationalities, including Syria, Nigeria and Congo, and are currently hosted with families in the “Mondo Migliore” (Better World) Center of Rocca di Papa and followed by the “Auxilium” Cooperative. They were all wearing T-shirts that said, “Welcome, protect, promote and integrate” the appeal coined by Pope Francis in his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

The self-funded “Humanitarian Corridors” project, which Pope Francis has repeatedly upheld, is carried out by the Community of Sant’Egidio in collaboration with the Federation of Evangelical Churches and the Waldensian and Methodist Churches. It aims to avoid migrant journeys on boats in the Mediterranean in which so many – usually trafficked people – have died, and at the same time fight human trafficking. (photo by Daniel Ibanez EWTN-ACI)

PAPAL CATECHESIS ON FINAL PETITION OF OUR FATHER, “DELIVER US FROM EVIL”

Following is the English summary of Pope Francis’ catechesis on the “Our Father.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the “Our Father”, we now consider the final petition: “Deliver us from evil”. This recognizes that life is fraught with difficulties, that evil is present in all of our lives, and so this final cry of the “Our Father” powerfully confronts the complete range of evil. Jesus himself, moreover, has experienced the full impact of evil in his passion: not only death but death on a cross; not just loneliness but scorn; nor merely bad-will but cruelty.

The Holy Father reflected at length on the presence of evil in the world. He said the word used in the original Greek (πονηρός) evokes “the presence of evil that seeks to grab hold and bite at us, and from which we ask God for delivery. … History books are a bleak catalogue of how our existence in this world has often been a failed adventure.”

Francis noted, “There is a mysterious evil which is surely not the work of God, but which silently penetrates the folds of history.”

But, the Pope noted, the person who prays is not blind and sees clearly that evil is in contradiction with the mystery of God.

“The last cry of the Our Father is hurled against this evil,” he said, “which encompasses the most diverse experiences, including mourning, the suffering of innocents, slavery, the exploitation of others, and the cries of innocent children.”

Francis stated that, “the ‘Our Father’ resembles a symphony that seeks to be fulfilled in each one of us, for however much we may be subjected to wickedness, Jesus will come to our aid.”

“Jesus’ prayer on the cross – ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do’ – bequeaths us the most precious patrimony: the presence of the Son of God who delivers us from evil. Indeed, from here flows the gift of his peace, which is stronger than every evil; and herein lies our hope!” (source: Vaticannnews)

VATICAN INSIDER: THE VATICAN COMMUNICATIONS REFORMATION: PART II – AN UPDATE FROM SANT’EGIDIO (OR, HOW POPE FRANCIS CELEBRATED THE ANNIVERSARY OF HIS ELECTION)

Once again, a very beautiful Friday morning, a day that now ends the work week and starts the weekend on a special note for EWTN personnel for whom Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo celebrates weekly Mass at the altar of Pope St. John XXIII in St. Peter’s Basilica.

EWTN’s German bureau chief, Martin Rothweiler is in Rome and he did the reading today from the Book of Wisdom. Here are a few photos:

After Mass, Msgr. Anthony and I met up with Ben Crockett (who is helping us with some very special projects) in the atrium of the basilica. As soon as I saw these workmen preparing the tapestry for Monday’s Episcopal ordinations by the Holy Father in the basilica, I knew I had to take some “behind the scenes” photos and do a Facebook Live.

I hope the start of your Friday and end of your workweek was as beautiful as ours!

By the way, Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all the Irish – and Irish wannabees! Special wishes and prayers to all the faithful of the new church for American and English-speaking Catholics in Rome – St. Patrick’s! Come see us Sunday on Via Boncompagni 31 and wear green!

VATICAN INSIDER: THE VATICAN COMMUNICATIONS REFORMATION: PART II

My guest again this week on Vatican Insider is Chris Altieri, a former colleague at Vatican Radio. As I noted earlier, you are probably familiar with his name because you surely read Chris’ many stories on the webpages of (what was once) English Vatican Radio and heard his voice as he did wonderful commentaries for papal Masses and other events.

This weekend, in the second of two parts, we look at the reform of Vatican communications – what has happened so far, the low morale in the Vatican, what reform means for Vatican personnel in the communications area and what it means for people around the world who listen to a greatly changed Vatican radio – except we are not supposed to use that name anymore!

Don’t leave town just yet because at the end of next week you will hear the stunning conclusion to the odyssey of the reform of Vatican communications!

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. 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 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

AN UPDATE FROM SANT EGIDIO (OR, HOW POPE FRANCIS CELEBRATED THE ANNIVERSARY OF HIS ELECTION)

An email I received today from the Sant’Egidio Community that Pope Francis visited last Sunday to mark its 50th anniversary, had a delightful surprise: It seems that on Tuesday, March 13, Pope Francis welcomed to the Santa Marta residence a group of refugees coming from the Horn of Africa and from Syria, arriving Italy through the Sant’Egidio Humanitarian Corridors. There were also some ill people who are being hosted by the community as well as community president, Marco Impagliazzo.

Pope Francis listened carefully to the different and sorrowful experiences refugees had to face before arriving safe in Italy, according to the email. Francis asked extensively about the operation mode of the Humanitarian Corridors. He remembered his personal intervention in aid of the refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos, and re-stated the urgency to develop this kind of corridor which has welcomed and integrated more than 1,000 in Italy and Europe.

During his recent visit to Santa Maria in Trastevere, Pope Francis said: “Today, more than ever, carry on audaciously on this path … Carry on opening new humanitarian corridors for the refugees of war and hunger. The poor are your treasure!”

A LOOK BACK IN TIME….THE FRANCIS PAPACY AT 5 – SANT EGIDIO COMMUNITY TO HOLD PRAYER VIGIL FOR VICTIMS OF FLORIDA SCHOOL MASSACRE

Five years ago, almost to the hour I am writing this column, the 2013 conclave ended and we had a new Holy Father, Pope Francis. Five years have passed, amazing years of great change and some continuity, of novel ideas, of an open, almost casual papal style.

As we said five years ago – Habemus papam! A Pope in search of the peripheries, the poor and outcast, the homeless and forgotten, migrants and refugees. Yet sometimes those peripheries are right in the heart of the world’s largest cities.

A Pope who did not wish to travel and yet so far has had 22 international apostolic trips as he does what he wants all of us to do – evangelize!

A Pope who smiles, hugs babies, caresses the ill, the disabled and disfigured and prisoners – and yet one who knows how to admonish, with or without a smile.

A Pope not afraid to dare to be different, and yet a man comfortable, as the saying goes, in his own skin.

A Pope who has tried to tweak some millennia old Church teachings as he reaches out to the faithful, pleasing some and perplexing others.

And so much more!

A LOOK BACK IN TIME….THE FRANCIS PAPACY AT 5

There are some days in life you’ll never forget, not an hour, not a minute! March 13, 2013 was one of those days, as part of the EWTN team covering the pre-conclave days and then the conclave that eventually elected Pope Francis following the retirement on February 28 of his predecessor, now Pope emeritus Benedict XVI.

It was a very cold, very rainy day in Rome, a long day that started ultra early for me and I don’t even remember when it ended, what time it was when I finally got to bed. I remember about 5 in the afternoon I was hoping to go home for a few minutes (I live a 5-minute walk from St. Peter’s Square) to get some notes I had prepared for the long television evening ahead and perhaps put on some fresh powder and comb my hair!

I was walking underneath the right hand colonnade, tired beyond telling but buoyed every so many yards by running into friends and many of my EWTN fans. I did make it home for a few minutes and then came back into St. Peter’s Square for the evening vote. I was due to be on air live with Fr. Mitch at 8 pm Rome time but then we got the white smoke and I hurried to reach our television location atop the building of the Augustinian Fathers.

It was harder to get out of the square than into the square but I reached our rooftop studio in time for the announcement of the new Pope and his chosen name as Pope.

And, as you will see below, the rest is history!

GRAY SMOKE TURNS TO WHITE – HABEMUS PAPAM – FRANCIS APPEARS ON THE BALCONY (7.38 minutes)

HABEMUS PAPAM – As EWTN’s coverage began the night of March 13, 2013, it was a guessing game before the evening vote of the elector cardinals of the College of Cardinals – then the (unexpected by many that night) white smoke and shortly afterwards the tumultuous welcome for a man named Francis, the first Jesuit and the first Latin American Pope (2 h.37 minutes)

The World Over – March 14, 2013 – the night after the conclave: Features the late Cardinal Francis George (“A conclave is a very religious experience”…”An exercise in freedom”), Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, Msgr. Anthony Figueredo, and other guests) (50 minutes)

From Vaticannews.va today: http://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-03/pope-francis-pontificate-5-years-.html#play

SANT EGIDIO COMMUNITY TO HOLD PRAYER VIGIL FOR VICTIMS OF FLORIDA SCHOOL MASSACRE

A month to the day after the February 14 shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and teachers were killed during the most serious school killing in the United States, favored by the extreme ease in acquiring arms, the Sant’Egidio community of Rome announced today in a press release, that they are promoting a prayer vigil on Wednesday, March 14, in the basilica of St. Mary Major to commemorate the victims and express closeness to their families.

Young Romans and American university students enrolled in American universities in Rome will participate in tomorrow’s vigil at 7 pm.. During the vigil the names of the victims will be read and for each one a candle will be lit so that no one is forgotten and a strong message is sent against every type of violence.

FRANCIS VISITS SANT EGIDIO COMMUNITY TO MARK 50TH ANNIVERSARY – PAPAL CONDOLENCES FOR DEATH OF CARDINAL KARL LEHMANN – HOLY FATHER GREETS DAUGHTER OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR

EWTN television carried the papal visit to the Sant’Egidio community live yesterday, for which I did the English-language commentary. It was a lot of work and also very instructive to research Sant’Egidio about which I knew a fair amount but learned a lot more over the weekend – its founders, its history, its work in Rome and the world, and the countless opportunities it offers all of us as volunteers to give aid to the homeless, the unemployed, prisoners, the very ill, those who live alone and are lonely, migrants and refugees.

I had never searched the name Egidio but the websites notes that Egidio is Giles in English.

I also researched the very beautiful basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere – a church I know from many visits – in order to provide an account of its history, architecture, unique features and also its relationship to Sant’Egidio – what we call “color commentary” or background.

Trastevere is a very old neighborhood of Rome (many say only the Roman Forum area of Rome is older!) but I’ve often wondered if the thousands of visitors who have had a meal or two or three here know what the name Trastevere means! Tras means ‘across’ and Tevere means ‘Tiber’!

Fortunately the Vatican provided the papal speech in both Italian and English – a gift to those of us doing a commentary. However, the seven speeches by Impagliazzo, Riccardi, Santa Maria’s pastor and the four witnesses were all in Italian so that part of the coverage was a translation marathon.

I wish I had time now to give a detailed account of the amazing work done by the Sant’Egidio community, a group of people who are truly revered in Rome. I hope they are well known throughout the world given their countless initiatives for what Pope Francis calls the “three Ps” – – Prayer, the Poor, Peace.

Here is a link to their website: https://www.santegidio.org/pageID/30008/langID/en/THE-COMMUNITY.html

You can probably watch a replay on EWTN’s Youtube page.

FRANCIS VISITS SANT EGIDIO COMMUNITY TO MARK 50TH ANNIVERSARY

Here is a link to a video realized yesterday, Sunday, March 11 by Vatican media: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/events/event.dir.html/content/vaticanevents/en/2018/3/11/santegidio.html

Pope Francis arrived at Trastevere’s famed Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere a bit after 4:30 in the afternoon and made brief, off the cuff remarks under a tent-like structure given the rain that was falling. In fact, part of the ceremony was to take place in the square and part in the beautiful and historical basilica by the dame name but most of the event was moved inside due to the inclement conditions.

The president of Sant’Egidio, Marco Impagliazzo, welcomed the Holy Father, Following his remarks, the Pope and the official party processed into the basilica, accompanied by a choir. The Liturgy of the Word was celebrated, the pastor of Santa Maria in Trastevere spoke and the faithful prayed the Our Father and exchanged a sign of peace.

At this point, four people gave very moving testimonies about the Sant’Egidio community’s work in Rome, where it was founded 50 years ago by Andrea Riccardi and some high school classmates, and around the world in 70 countries. The four included an eloquent 80-year old Roman grandmother, Giovanna La Vecchia, 15-year old Jafar, a Syrian Palestinian from Damascus who arrived Rome two years ago aided by Sant’Egidio, Laura Guida, 23, a member of the community’s Youth for Peace group and Mauro Garofalo, 41, head of international relations for Sant’Egidio.

Andrea Riccardi then addressed the Holy Father who, in turn, addressed the assemblage. I have not, as I write, found his address at Vaticannews.va – only the video link.

PAPAL CONDOLENCES FOR DEATH OF CARDINAL KARL LEHMANN

Pope Francis has sent a telegram of condolences to Bishop Peter Kohlgraf of Mainz, following the death of Cardinal Karl Lehmann on Sunday, 11 March. He paid tribute to the stature of the late cardinal, recalling his fruitful activity as theologian, bishop and president of the German Episcopal Conference.

Religious and political leaders mourn the death of Cardinal Karl Lehmann (photo: ANSA)

In a telegram addressed to the current bishop of Mainz, the town where Lehmann served as bishop until 2016, the Pope described the Cardinal as having “contributed to shaping the life of the Church and of society, always open to the issues and the challenges of the time and committed to offering answers and orientations stemming from Christ’s message.”

Cardinal Lehmann, Francis went on to say, was someone who was ever present to accompany people in their lives, always “seeking the thread that unites and overcomes the boundaries drawn by different confessions, certainties or States.”

He assured his heartfelt prayers for those who are grieving the loss of the Cardinal whom, he said, the Lord has called to Himself following a grave illness and much suffering. The Pope concluded his message imploring Jesus to give his faithful servant fulfillment in the Kingdom of heaven. (vaticannews.va)

HOLY FATHER GREETS DAUGHTER OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR

Bernice Albertine King visits Pope Francis while in Italy to receive an award recognizing her commitment to non-violence and peace.

By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp (vaticannews.va)

Pope Francis received in audience this morning the daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr, Bernice Albertine King who presented the Holy Father with the sixth volume of the series entitled “The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr: Advocate of the Social Gospel, September 1948-1963”.

Bernice King was awarded an International Prize recognizing women involved in non-violence and peace initiatives. Gabriela Lio, a Baptist pastor says that, “In the present racist and xenophobic climate, giving an award to Bernice King puts the spotlight on Martin Luther King’s legacy of non-violence, by recovering the courage of a faith that welcomes, encounters, and dialogues, which in this moment cannot but be interreligious. The legacy of which Bernice King is an authoritative spokesperson reconnects these aspects of the faith as a lesson of consistency between what is believed, what is preached, and what is practiced.”

The award ceremony took place on March 10 in Monteleone di Puglia in the Province of Foggia and was organized by the Gandhi Centre located in Pisa, and Rocco Altieri, a pacifist and an authority on the issue of non-violence.

AN UPDATE ON THE POPE FRANCIS LAUNDROMAT…. – VATICAN INSIDER VISITS THE SHROUD OF TURIN: PART II – POPE TO COMMEMORATE NEW MARTYRS IN LITURGY OF THE WORD – EWTN CEO WARSAW NAMED CONSULTOR TO VATICAN SECRETARIAT

May I take this occasion to send heartfelt wishes to all my listeners for a very holy and blessed Triduum and a Happy Easter of the Resurrection!

EWTN employees will have time off for Mass on Holy Thursday and all day Good Friday. I’ll be off those days as well, participating in Triduum liturgies with the American Catholic community of Santa Susanna in Rome but I’ll be back for Pasquetta, Little Easter as we say in Italy, the Monday after Easter (also known as Monday of the Angel) and a very big holiday in Italy and much of Europe. I fly to the U.S. on Holy Saturday but am never more than a keyboard and a camera away from work, posting stories, blogs, photos, etc.

AN UPDATE ON THE POPE FRANCIS LAUNDROMAT….

In a news story on the Pope Francis Laundromat for the poor and homeless that just opened in Rome, moneyish.com reported that Whirlpool donated six washers and dryers, as well as a number of irons. “We are proud to partner with the Papal Charities Office to make laundry services available to the homeless in Rome with the donation of Whirlpool appliances,” the brand’s senior direct of communications Alessandro Magnoni told Moneyish. “This is perfectly aligned with Whirlpool’s mission to give back to local communities.”

In addition, the story noted that Procter & Gamble has also volunteered to give detergent and fabric softener. “P&G wants to help bring comforts of home to those who need them the most,” a rep told Moneyish.

It seems that the Vatican also hopes to bring shower facilities, barbers and medical care to the same area in Trastevere on Via San Gallicano that now houses the papal Laundromat. Such facilities are now available for the homeless in the Vatican near the right hand colonnade of St. Peter’s Square.

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS THE SHROUD OF TURIN: PART II

Join me if you can on Vatican Insider this Easter weekend for a somewhat shorter addition as EWTN employees have time off for Mass on Holy Thursday and all day Good Friday. To commemorate Good Friday, I offer Part II of my special on the Man of the Shroud – the Shroud of Turin, of course, allegedly the linen that wrapped Our Lord’s body as he lay in the tomb after his passion and death.

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. 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 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml   For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

POPE TO COMMEMORATE NEW MARTYRS IN LITURGY OF THE WORD

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis will celebrate a special Liturgy of the Word in memory of the “New Martyrs” of the 20th and 21st centuries on Saturday, April 22.

A communique from the Holy See Press Office said the prayer will take place in the Basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Tiberina Island, which is located in the heart of Rome on the Tiber River.

The Liturgy of the Word celebration is organized by the Sant’Egidio Community and takes place at 5 PM.

A separate communique released by the Sant’Egidio Community said the Basilica of St. Bartholomew held special significance: “The Pope’s prayer in a place, which – since the Jubilee of 2000, at John Paul II’s behest – contains the memoirs of contemporary martyrs, takes on a very special significance in these times marked by the suffering of so many Christians in the world and by the light of Easter.”

EWTN CEO WARSAW NAMED CONSULTOR TO VATICAN SECRETARIAT

Pope Francis has appointed EWTN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw as a Consultor to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications. The appointment was announced at the Vatican on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. As a consultor, Warsaw will have a role in advising the Pope and the Holy See on matters related to media and communications. The appointment comes as part a broad restructuring of the media operations of the Vatican.

“I am extremely humbled and honored by the Holy Father’s appointment,” said Warsaw. “This is a tremendous recognition of the role which EWTN plays in the life of the Church throughout the world. I am grateful to Pope Francis for his confidence and look forward to serving the universal Church in this post.”

Warsaw joined EWTN in 1991 and has held senior management positions in the areas of television production, satellite operations and technical services. He became President of EWTN in 2000 and assumed the post of chief executive officer in 2009. Warsaw was named chairman of the board of EWTN in 2013. In that capacity he oversees the Network’s strategic direction and mission around the world. With the Network’s 2011 acquisition of the National Catholic Register, Mr. Warsaw assumed the role of publisher of that newspaper.

Prior to joining EWTN, Mr. Warsaw was employed by the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.   He currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of The Catholic University of America, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and the Catholic Distance University.

The Secretariat for Communications was established by Pope Francis in an apostolic decree on June 25, 2015. Among its responsibilities, it has the task of carrying out the restructuring, reorganization and consolidation of the various communications outlets of the Holy See including the Vatican Television Center, the Vatican Publishing House, L’Osservatore Romano newspaper, Vatican Radio, the Holy See Press Office, Photographic Service and the Vatican Internet Service.  The office is headed by Monsignor Dario Vigano, who serves as Prefect.