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!”

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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.

IN BRIEF

Don’t forget to tune in to “At Home with Jim and Joy” on Mondays and Thursdays at 2pm ET. I bring some commentary or news from Rome each week to both shows. If you watch EWTN in Europe, the Monday shows airs on Tuesday at 10am and Wednesday at 6 pm. The Thursday show airs Friday at 10 and Saturday at 6 pm.

IN BRIEF

VATICAN WELCOMES THREE NEW SYRIAN FAMILIES. They have found shelter and welcome in the Vatican as part of an ongoing effort to provide the means and the tools for integration and a new life of hope for those fleeing conflict and persecution. All told, 13 people from two Christian families and one Muslim family have been able make their homes in three Vatican-owned apartments recently vacated by other refugees who have since moved on to more permanent situations. Two of the families fled violence and discrimination because of their Christian faith. They arrived in Italy in March. The refugees hosted in the Vatican have all been able to travel safely to Italy thanks to the “humanitarian corridor” project promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy and the Waldesian Table. (http://www.news.va/en/news/the-vatican-welcomes-new-refugee-families-from-syr)

POPE SAYS IT IS TIME TO END “WORSENING TRAGEDY OF CHILD trafficking and slavery. He said this in a Message sent Monday to a Vienna “Trafficking in Persons” conference. The Pope’s words came in a message read out by Fr. Michael Czerny, SJ, under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. He was in Vienna at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)’s “17th Alliance against Trafficking in Persons Conference.” In hisMessage, Pope Francis spoke about the goal of prevention: “It should be acknowledged that very little has been done to address the “why” of many young people being tricked or sold into trafficking and slavery.” He said, “Demand and supply, in turn, are deeply rooted in the three great issues of conflicts and wars, economic privation and natural disasters, or what the victims experience as extreme poverty, underdevelopment, exclusion, unemployment and lack of access to education.” Protection against human trafficking, the Pope said, begins with protection of the family. (http://www.news.va/en/news/popes-message-to-osce-human-trafficking-conference): Click here to read the full text of Pope Francis’ message to the OSCE Conference.

CARDINAL LEONARDO SANDRI URGES GENEROSITY FOR ANNUAL GOOD FRIDAY COLLECTION. The cardinal, who heads the Congregation for Oriental Churches, called on Catholics to be generous in their supòport of projects in the Holy Land. In an interview with SIR, the news agency of the Italian Bishops Conference the cardinal talks about the importance of contributing to the upkeep of the sacred sites, while at the same time supporting the search for peace in the land where Jesus lived. Faced with the events that “take place in this troubled region of the world”, the cardinal says, there is a risk that we see them as unconnected to our own lives, “as if we had no responsibility.”  (http://www.news.va/en/news/card-sandri-on-good-friday-collection-for-the-holy)

Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.