LOOKING AHEAD: On Saturday, May 30, Vatican City’s train station will welcome the Children’s Train, a special convoy bearing 200 children, sons and daughters of men and women in prison, from Bari in southern Italy to the Vatican to meet Pope Francis. The trip was organized by the Courtyard of the Gentiles, an initiative of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and by the Italian State Railway. Council president, Cardinal Gianfanco Ravasi will be present and will be joined by Michele Mario Elia, CEO of the Italian railways.


In his briefing this morning on Pope Francis’ one-day apostolic trip to Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina on June 6, Fr. Federico Lombardi, head of the Holy See Press Office, said, “we should not expect Pope Francis to speak of the apparitions of Medjugorje during his visit to Sarajevo. The Pope is free to say what he wishes and it is not up to me to say what he must do. I don’t expect any references to Medjugorje.”

Father Lombardi explained that, “the international commission investigating Medjugorje, led by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, has finished its work and has given a contribution to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which is now continuing its study and considerations (of the matter). Normally some conclusion would reach the plenary session of the congregation. At the moment I have no idea of a time frame or the specific manner in which this could be done.”


(Vatican Radio) Details of Pope Francis’ forthcoming visit to Sarajevo on Saturday June 6 were released by the Vatican press office on Thursday. The one day visit, focused on the themes of peace and reconciliation, comes 18 years after Pope John Paul II visited the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina that had recently emerged from the longest siege in the history of modern warfare.

“Peace be with you” is the motto for this 8th pastoral visit of Pope Francis, encapsulated in the logo depicting a dove with an olive branch in its beak, reports Philippa Hitchens. It’s a poignant theme for the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina, still trying to recover from the devastating three year war which followed the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.

The country of just under four million people is divided into the majority Bosnian Muslim community, or Bosniaks, who number about 40 percent. They’re followed by a sizeable Serbian, mainly Orthodox, population and a smaller group of largely Catholic Croats, comprising about 15 percent of the nation’s inhabitants.

Around two million people, or half the population, fled from their homes during the war that was brought to an end by a peace deal, signed in Dayton, Ohio. That agreement set up a Bosniak-Croat Federation and a separate Bosnian Serb Republic, under a central government with rotating presidency. Overseeing the fragile peace is an international administration that was backed first by NATO forces and later by a European Union-led peacekeeping force.

On June 6th, the Croat member of the three-man presidency will welcome Pope Francis at the airport in Sarajevo at 9am and accompany him to the presidential palace for a private meeting. After that he will give an address to the civil authorities and diplomatic corps before travelling to the city’s Olympic stadium to celebrate Mass.

After a private lunch with the six bishops of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Pope will meet with local priests, religious and seminarians in the Catholic cathedral, before travelling to a nearby Franciscan student center for an ecumenical and interfaith encounter with leaders of the local Muslim, Jewish and Orthodox communities.

Pope Francis’ final stop in Sarajevo will be at a youth centre dedicated to Pope St. John Paul II, where he’ll hear firsthand about the many challenges facing young people in the country which has one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe today. The papal place is scheduled to leave Sarajevo at 8pm and arrive back in Rome at around 9.20 on Saturday evening.


Pope Francis Thursday welcomed the bishop of the Dominican Republic who are in Rome on their mandatory, quinquennal “ad limina” visit. The topics he focused on in the written speech that he handed to the bishops included fraternity with nearby Haiti, attention to marriage and the family, the battle against drug trafficking and the exploitation of minors, the continuing formation of priests and the laity, and the defense of the environment.

The Pope greets each bishop individually but his common message is in the written discourse that each prelate receives.

Francis began by noting that marriage and the family are experiencing a “serious cultural crisis,” and he urged the prelates to pay special attention during the upcoming Jubilee of Mercy to matrimonial and family reconciliation as keys to peaceful coexistence. He stressed that “greater pastoral attention needs to be paid to the role of men as husbands and fathers, as well as the responsibility they share with their wives with respect to marriage, the family and the upbringing of children.”

Anothjer urgent tropics addressed by the Pope was that of “pastoral and charitable attention to immigrants, especially those from neighbouring Haiti, who seek better conditions of life in the Dominican territory.” He said there cannot be “indifference on the part of pastors of the Church. .. It is necessary to continue to collaborate with the civil authorities to find fraternal solutions to the problems of those who are without documents or deprived of their basic rights. It is inexcusable to fail to promote initiatives of fraternity and peace between the two nations that form this beautiful Caribbean island. It is important to know how to integrate immigrants into society and to welcome them into the ecclesial community.” Francis thanked “ those who are close to them and to all who suffer as a gesture of loving care towards the brother who feels alone and helpless, with whom Christ identified.”

The Holy Father assured the bishops he knows of their efforts and concerns in appropriately facing “the serious problems that affect your people, such as trafficking in drugs and persons, corruption, domestic violence, abuse and exploitation of minors and social insecurity. The intimate connection between evangelization and human development means that every action of Mother Church must be directed towards the care of the most disadvantaged.”

The Pope also counselled the bishops to be close to their priests, to men and women religious and to the laity, noting its important presence in works of evangelization.

The papal message closed with words about protection of the environment. The Pope, considered “the beauty and the colorful landscapes of the Dominican Republic,” and urged the prelates to “renew commitment to the conservation and care of the environment. Man’s relationship with nature must not be governed by greed, manipulation or unfettered exploitation, but should instead conserve the divine harmony between creatures and creation to place it at the service.”


(Vatican Radio) “Good communication is always a human rather than a technical achievement.” That was at the heart of an address given by the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Monsignor Paul Tighe, on Wednesday to the World Summit on the Information Society, during their 2015 session for High-Level Policy Statements, which is currently underway in Geneva, Switzerland. The summit ends today.

Speaking to Vatican Radio following his speech, Monsignor Tighe said he wanted to stress that, it was important to avoid the presumption that “just because the technologies are there we are going to have a better sense of the unity of the human family or that solidarity and development are automatically going to happen.” He said that what he wanted to underline was the view taken by Pope Francis that, “ultimately, at heart is good communications and good communications is always a human rather than a technical achievement.”

Msgr. Tighe was asked by Vatican Radio whether he thought that people should be thinking in terms of “responsible communications.” He said the term was appropriate and added: “I would be nervous if people thought that technology alone could achieve the goods that we want to achieve. It’s going to require responsible determination and choices by individuals.”

Looking to the future and addressing how the Vatican media and its multimedia platform can be at the forefront of “good communications,” the council secretary said, “we need to make sure that we’re able to present our teachings our ideas, our perspectives in ways that are going to properly be present in a very different kind of environment. So, I think the challenge for us is always about trying to find ways of being able to speak about our core values…”

He also said that, “we are lucky in the Vatican to have so many very strong well prepared very highly motivated professional communicators and technicians. … to ensure that we can find a way that we can all work together to be ever more powerfully the voice and the presence of the Church in the emerging digital arenas.”