Today is the feast of St. Blaise (also Blase). Have you had your throat blessed yet?


This week, in the interview segment of “Vatican Insider,” I present Part II of a real

‘insider’ story – a conversation with Alexey Gotovsky, my multi lingual, multi talented colleague from Kazakhstan in the EWTN Rome Office. Last week you learned about his childhood in a country flanked by India, China and Russia and heard about his road to Rome and EWTN. And now, the rest of Alexey’s story including his trip to his native Kazakhstan with Pope Francis!

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.


After bidding farewell to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pope Francis’ flight landed in Juba, South Sudan, for his long-awaited “ecumenical pilgrimage” for peace to South Sudan with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields. The Pope’s flight landed at Juba International Airport at 2:45 PM local time. …For years, Pope Francis has expressed his strong desire to travel to predominantly-Christian South Sudan, but the unstable situation in the country, along with the pandemic, complicated plans for a visit.

Elias Turk – EWTN:

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In April 2019, the Pope hosted a spiritual retreat in the Vatican for the political leaders and ecclesiastical authorities of South Sudan. At the retreat in the Casa Santa Marta, he knelt at their feet and begged them to work for peace and to be worthy fathers of their nation. The Holy Father will stay in the nation’s capital of Juba, and will have meetings with various Church and civil groups, including several internally displaced people. Following a Mass for the country’s faithful on Sunday morning, Pope Francis will return to Rome. Pope Francis arrives in South Sudan for ‘ecumenical pilgrimage’ – Vatican News




Yesterday was Martin Luther King Day in the U.S. and was a holiday for EWTN staff so I had a day off and it was wonderful, as days off should be! The entire Rome EWTN bureau celebrated the exceptional work undertaken in the week of Benedict XVI’s death and funeral and the Epiphany with a wonderful buffet lunch in one of the larger meetings rooms available for such events.

It is always great to spend time with the extremely talented people of the Rome bureau, to catch up on family news, children and new babies, impending weddings, interviews and documentaries planned, and so on. So many of these people are always behind the cameras. They are the people you don’t see but the ones who bring all the great images and stories that you do see on EWTN.

Before I move on, I want to share something with you that is considered an important part of Pope Benedict’s legacy:


Pope Francis is scheduled to leave for Africa on January 31st, visiting the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DCR) and South Sudan. In South Sudan, it will be an ecumenical pilgrimage as he will be joined by the archbishop of Canterbury and by the moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The trip, originally scheduled for July 2022, had to be postponed on advice of the papal doctors.

Monday, in a telegram, the Pope decried an attack on a Pentecostal church in the DRC that killed at least 14 people and wounded over 40 others. Vatican news reported that the so-called Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, and the Congolese army blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which is allied to ISIS. The telegram, sent by Cardinal secretary of State Pietro Parolin in the Pope’s name, was addressed to Rev. André Bokundoa-Bo-Likabe, President of the Church of Christ in Congo.

In an interview with Vatican News following the bombing, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Archbishop Ettore Balestrero, said the attack sent a worrying signal, “even more so because it confirms the involution of the situation on the ground.” People of DR Congo await ‘healing’ from Pope’s upcoming visit – Vatican News

(Vatican news also reported that Pope Francis has expressed his condolences for the deaths of at least 70 people who were killed on Sunday in a plane crash in the South Asian nation of Nepal)



The Holy See Press Office announced today that the previously scheduled papal trip to the DCR (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and South Sudan, that had been   postponed to health issues for Pope Francis, will now take place from January 31st to February 5th, 2023. The papal schedule was also released.

Tuesday, 31 January 2023 ROME – KINSHASA

Logo and motto of Pope’s journey to Democratic Rep. of Congo released – Vatican News

07:55 Departure by airplane from Rome/Fiumicino International Airport to Kinshasa 15:00 Arrival at Kinshasa “Ndjili” International Airport


16:30 WELCOME CEREMONY at the “Palais de la Nation”

16:45 COURTESY VISIT TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC in the “Salle Présidentielle” of the “Palais de la Nation”

17:30 MEETING WITH AUTHORITIES, CIVIL SOCIETY AND THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS in the garden of the “Palais de la Nation” Address of the Holy Father

Wednesday, 1 February 2023 KINSHASA

09:30 HOLY MASS at “Ndolo” Airport – Homily of the Holy Father

16:30 MEETING WITH VICTIMS FROM THE EASTERN PART OF THE COUNTRY at the Apostolic Nunciature – Address of the Holy Father

18:30 MEETING WITH REPRESENTATIVES FROM SOME CHARITIES at the Apostolic Nunciature – Address of the Holy Father

Thursday, 2 February 2023 KINSHASA

09:30 MEETING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE AND CATECHISTS in Martyrs’ Stadium – Address of the Holy Father

16:30 PRAYER MEETING WITH PRIESTS, DEACONS, CONSECRATED PERSONS AND SEMINARIANS in the Cathedral “Notre Dame du Congo” – Address of the Holy Father


Friday, 3 February 2023 KINSHASA – JUBA

08:30 MEETING WITH BISHOPS at CENCO – Address of the Holy Father

10:10 FAREWELL CEREMONY at Kinshasa “Ndjili” International Airport

10:40 Departure by airplane from Kinshasa “Ndjili” International airport

to Juba

The Holy Father is making the Journey to South Sudan together with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

15:00 Arrival at Juba International Airport


South Sudan: Vatican unveils logo and motto of Pope ‘s visit – Vatican News




17:00 MEETING WITH AUTHORITIES, CIVIL SOCIETY AND THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS in the garden of the Presidential Palace – Address of the Holy Father

Saturday, 4 February 2023 JUBA

09:00 MEETING WITH BISHOPS, PRIESTS, DEACONS, CONSECRATED PERSONS AND SEMINARIANS in the Cathedral of Saint Therese – Address of the Holy Father


16:30 MEETING WITH INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS in the “Freedom Hall” – Address of the Holy Father

18:00 ECUMENICAL PRAYER at “John Garang” Mausoleum – Address of the Holy Father

Sunday, 5 February 2023 JUBA – ROME

08:45 HOLY MASS at “John Garang” Mausoleum – Homily of the Holy Father Angelus

11:00 FAREWELL CEREMONY at Juba International Airport

11:30 Departure by airplane from Juba International Airport to Rome

17:30 Arrival at Rome Fiumicino International Airport



From Holy See Press Office director Matteo Bruni: “In coming days, at the request of Pope Francis, His Eminence Cardinal Michael Czerny will depart again for Ukraine to show the closeness of the Holy Father to those who are suffering the consequences of the war in progress. The cardinal will arrive in Slovakia on Wednesday, March 16, and go to the Ukrainian border in following days. Pope Francis is following this mission with prayer, like those of the past few days, and, through His Eminence, he wishes to be close to those fleeing the fighting and suffering from the violence of other men.”


Popes receive many visitors on a daily basis: members of the Roman Curia, heads of State and government, apostolic nuncios (the papal ambassadors), cardinals and bishops, ambassadors presenting their credentials or Letters of Credence as they start their assignment, ambassadors on farewell visits and many individuals and groups that request a papal audience.

Those of us covering the Vatican will often try to read something into the list of people a Pope received. Often there is nothing to read into it as, for example, the weekly scheduled audiences the Pope has with ranking members of the Roman Curia, heads of congregations, etc

Today’s list of private audiences for Pope Francis seemed interesting: among those he received was Bishop-elect Christian Carlassare, M.C.C.J., of Rumbek, South Sudan, Eduard Heger, prime minister of the Republic of Slovakia and Edgars Rinkēvičs, foreign minister of the Republic of Latvia.

As we know, the Pope has a trip to South Sudan scheduled for July 5 to 7. His meeting with the Italian-born bishop-elect of Rumbek takes on a special significance because the Pope had named Msgr. Carlassare as bishop in March 2021 but he was shot in both legs last April, well before he could be ordained. After a year of treatment and therapy, he will now be ordained March 25 in Rumbek’s cathedral.

Father Carlassare was injured in what was believed to be a shooting linked to tribal feuds between the Nuers and Dinkas. He had worked closely for a decade with members of the Nuer tribe but the Dinka tribe, closely linked to the Rumbek diocese, had its own idea of who should have been appointed bishop. That person, Fr. John Mathiang, is one of the accused.

Francis also welcomed today the prime minister of Slovakia, a nation the Pope visited last September. Shortly after the Vatican released the list of audiences, journalists received the note stating that Cardinal Czerny, at the Pope’s request, will travel to Slovakia and will return to Ukraine. (vatican media photo)

A Vatican new story on this meeting said, “The two leaders recalled the Pope’s Apostolic Journey to Slovakia in September 2021, and expressed their appreciation for the “good bilateral relations and the role of the Church in society.” The Pope and the Prime Minister also discussed the war in Ukraine “in depth”, along with “its impact on the regional and international level.” Pope Francis and Mr. Heger gave particular attention to the “humanitarian situation and the reception of war refugees.”

Another interesting guest today at the Vatican was Edgars Rinkēvičs, foreign minister of the Republic of Latvia. Latvia, together with Estonia and Lithuania, are the three Baltic nations that it is said Russian President Putin would like to bring back into the Russian Federation, removing their status as sovereign nations as he is attempting to do Ukraine with his invasion of that sovereign state. Will Latvia’s foreign minister have some information for Pope Francis that might have a bearing on the current war in Ukraine. (As I write, there has not been a press office or Vatican news report on this visit)




Catholic News Agency reported that “the Australian High Court announced Wednesday that Cardinal George Pell’s application for special leave to appeal has been referred to the full court for decision. Pell is seeking to appeal an August decision by the Court of Appeal in Victoria to uphold his conviction for child sexual abuse.

“His application will now be considered by all the members of Australia’s highest court, and a decision is expected in March or April.

“Pell’s appeal to the High Court in Canberra, Australia’s supreme court, is his last legal avenue to overturn a conviction which has divided opinion in the country and internationally.”

The Full Court of the High Court has 7 members.

Responding to the news coming out of Australia, the Holy See Press Office had this to say today: “While reiterating its trust in the Australian justice system, the Holy See acknowledges the decision of Australia’s High Court to accept Card. George Pell’s request of appeal, aware that the Cardinal has always maintained his innocence. At this time, the Holy See reaffirms once again its closeness to those who have suffered because of sexual abuse on the part of members of the clergy.”

The High Court rejects about 90% of the appeals that come to it.

Following the High Court’s decision to grant leave to appeal, a spokesperson for Cardinal George Pell said: “This matter is now still before the court and so we are unable to comment.”

Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney released the following statement: “I welcome today’s decision of the High Court that it will hear the appeal of Cardinal George Pell against his conviction. The Cardinal has always maintained his innocence and continues to do so, and the divided judgment of the Court of Appeal reflects the divided opinion amongst jurors, legal commentators and within our community.

“Many questions remain, and it is appropriate that these will be examined by our highest court. For the sake of all involved in this case, I hope that the appeal will be heard as soon as possible. The Church will continue to offer pastoral support to the Cardinal while he remains in prison awaiting the hearing of this appeal, and for all others affected by today’s outcome.”


Pope Francis on Wednesday during his general audience focused his attention on St Paul’s journey to Corinth, and the welcome he received from husband and wife Aquila and Priscilla who, like the Apostle, were tentmakers by trade.

Christian hospitality
Continuing his catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, the Pope highlighted this devout married couple’s Christian hospitality.

He explained to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square that the couple had been forced to move from Rome to Corinth after the emperor Claudius had ordered the expulsion of the Jews. Dwelling on this point in off the cuff remarks, the Pontiff spoke of the suffering of Jewish people down through history. He said, they were “driven out, persecuted” and suffered many brutalities.

The Pope also underlined that the “habit of persecuting Jews is beginning “to be reborn here and there.” “The Jews are our brothers,” he said, and “they should not be persecuted.”

Returning to the theme of hospitality, the Pope noted how the house of Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth opened its doors not only to the Apostle, but also to their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Domus ecclesiae
Pope Francis described how St. Paul speaks of the “‘community that gathers in their house’ which becomes a ‘house of the Church’, a ‘domus ecclesiae’, a place of listening to the Word of God and of celebrating the Eucharist.”

Even today, he stressed, in some countries where there is no religious freedom and no freedom for Christians, Christians gather in hiding to pray and celebrate the Eucharist.

The role of laity
The Pope pointed out that “among the many collaborators of Paul, Aquila and Priscilla emerge as ‘models of a married life responsibly committed to the service of the entire Christian community’ and remind us that, thanks to the faith and commitment to the evangelization of so many lay people like them, Christianity has come down to us.”

Concluding his catechesis and quoting his predecessor Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Francis said that, “Christianity from the beginning was preached by the laity. You too, the laity, are responsible for your Baptism to carry on the faith.”

Pope Francis also prayed for the victims of terror attacks in the West African nation of Burkina Faso and appealed for the promotion of inter-religious dialogue and harmony. Pope Francis says his thoughts are with the people of Burkina Faso that is “suffering from recurrent episodes of violence, and where a recent attack killed almost one hundred people.”


This afternoon, 13th November 2019, Pope Francis received in audience His Grace Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, accompanied by His Grace Archbishop Ian Ernest, Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and Representative of the Anglican Communion to the Holy See.

By the Holy See Press Office

During the friendly discussions, the condition of Christians in the world was mentioned, as well as certain situations of international crisis, particularly the sorrowful situation in South Sudan.

At the end of the meeting, the Holy Father and the Archbishop of Canterbury agreed that if the political situation in the country permits the creation of a transitional government of national unity in the coming 100 days, according to the timing set by the recent agreement signed in Entebbe, Uganda, it is their intention to visit South Sudan together.

Click here for photo gallery:


At the end of a two-day unique event in the Vatican, just minutes ago, 5 pm Rome time, Pope Francis began his address to those attending the retreat in the Santa Marta residence for leaders of South Sudan. The people of Sudan are Muslim majority but those of South Sudan are Christian majority, as are its leaders. Here is that talk (carried live at


I extend a cordial welcome to each of you here present: the President of the Republic and the Vice-Presidents of the future Presidency of the Republic, who in accordance with the terms of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan will assume their high national responsibilities on 12 May next. I also offer fraternal greetings to the members of the South Sudan Council of Churches, who spiritually accompany the flock entrusted to them in their respective communities; I thank all of you for the good will and open heart with which you accepted my invitation to take part in this retreat in the Vatican. I would likewise offer a special greeting to the Archbishop of Canterbury, His Grace Justin Welby, who conceived this initiative, and to the former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Very Reverend John Chalmers. I join all of you in giving heartfelt thanks and praise to God for enabling us to share these two days of grace in his holy presence, in order to implore and receive his peace.

“Peace be with you!” (Jn 20:19). I address you with the same encouraging and comforting words with which the risen Lord greeted his fearful and disconsolate disciples when he appeared to them in the Upper Room following his resurrection. It is extremely important for us to realize that “peace” was the very first word that the Lord spoke. Peace was his first gift to the Apostles after his sorrowful passion and his triumph over death. I offer that same greeting to you, who come from a situation of great suffering, for yourselves and your people, a people sorely tried by the consequences of conflicts. May it echo in the “upper room” of this house, like the words of the Master, and enable each of you to draw new strength to work for the desired progress of your young nation. Like the fire of Pentecost that descended on the young Christian community, may it kindle a new light of hope for all the people of South Sudan. Holding all these intentions in my heart, I renew my greeting: “Peace be with you!”

Peace is the first gift that the Lord brought us, and the first commitment that leaders of nations must pursue. Peace is the fundamental condition for ensuring the rights of each individual and the integral development of an entire people. Jesus Christ, whom God the Father sent into the world as the Prince of Peace, gave us the model to follow. Through his own sacrifice and obedience, he bestowed his peace on the world. That is why, from the moment of his birth, the choir of angels sang the heavenly hymn: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased” (Lk 2:14). What joy it would bring, were all the South Sudanese people to raise with one voice the song that echoes that of the angels: “O God, we praise and glorify you for your grace on South Sudan, land of great abundance; uphold us in peace and harmony” (first verse of the South Sudan national anthem). How I wish that the voices of the entire human family could join that heavenly choir in singing glory to God and working for peace among all men and women!

We are all aware that this meeting is something altogether special and in some sense unique, since it is neither an ordinary bilateral or diplomatic meeting between the Pope and Heads of State, nor an ecumenical initiative involving representatives of different Christian communities. Instead, it is a spiritual retreat. The word “retreat” itself indicates a desire to step back from our usual environment or activities and to retire to a secluded place. The adjective “spiritual” suggests that this new space and experience should be marked by interior recollection, trusting prayer, deep reflection and encounters of reconciliation, so as to bear good fruits for ourselves and, as a consequence, for the communities to which we belong.

The purpose of this retreat is for us to stand together before God and to discern his will. It is to reflect on our own lives and the common mission the Lord has entrusted to us, to recognize our enormous shared responsibility for the present and future of the people of South Sudan, and to commit ourselves, reinvigorated and reconciled, to the building up of your nation. Dear brothers and sisters, let us not forget that God has entrusted to us, as political and religious leaders, the task of being guides for his people. He has entrusted much to us, and for this reason will require from us much more! He will demand an account of our service and our administration, our efforts on behalf of peace and the well-being of the members of our communities, especially the marginalized and those most in need. In other words, he will ask us to render an account not only of our own lives, but the lives of others as well (cf. Lk 12:48).

The cry of the poor who hunger and thirst for justice binds us in conscience and commits us in our ministry. They are the least in the eyes of the world, yet precious in God’s eyes. In using the expression “God’s eyes”, I think of the gaze of the Lord Jesus. Every spiritual retreat, like our daily examination of conscience, should make us feel that, with our whole being, our entire history, all our virtues and even our vices, we stand before the gaze of the Lord, who is able to see the truth in us and to lead us fully to that truth. The Word of God gives us a striking example of how the encounter with the gaze of Jesus can mark the most important moments in the life of a disciple. I am speaking of the three times that the Lord gazed upon the Apostle Peter, which I would now like to recall.

The first time that Jesus gazed upon Peter was when his brother Andrew brought him to Jesus and pointed him out as the Messiah. Jesus then fixed his gaze on Simon and said to him that henceforth he would be called Peter (cf. Jn 1:41-42). Later, the Lord would tell him that on this “rock” he would build his Church, indicating that he was counting on Peter to carry out his plan of salvation for his people. Jesus’ first gaze, then, was a gaze of “election”, choosing, which awakened enthusiasm for a special mission.

The second time Jesus gazed on Peter was late at night on Holy Thursday. Peter had denied the Lord a third time. Jesus, forcibly led away by the guards, fixed his gaze on him again, which awakened in him this time a painful but salutary repentance. The Apostle went out and “wept bitterly” (Mt 26:75) at having betrayed the Master’s call, his trust and his friendship. Jesus’ second gaze, then, touched Peter’s heart and brought about his conversion.

Finally, after the resurrection, on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias, Jesus once more fixed his gaze on Peter and asked him three times to declare his love. He then entrusted him once again with the mission of shepherding his flock, and indicated that this mission was to culminate in the sacrifice of his life (cf. Jn 21:15-19).

In a real way, all of us can say that we were called to the life of faith and were chosen by God, but also by our people, to serve them faithfully. In this service, we may well have made mistakes, some rather small, others much greater. Yet the Lord Jesus always forgives the errors of those who repent. He always renews his trust, while demanding – of us especially – total dedication to the cause of his people.

Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus’ gaze rests, here and now, on each of us. It is very important to meet this gaze with our inner eye and to ask ourselves: How is Jesus gazing on me today? To what is he calling me? What does the Lord want me to forgive and what in my attitudes does he want me to change? What is my mission and the task that God entrusts to me for the good of his people? That people belongs to him, not to us; indeed, we ourselves are members of the people. It is simply that we have a responsibility and a particular mission: that of serving them.

Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus is also gazing, here and now, upon each one of us. He looks at us with love, he asks something, he forgives something and he gives us a mission. He has put great trust in us by choosing us to be his co-workers in the creation of a more just world. We can be sure that his gaze penetrates the depths of our hearts; it loves, transforms, reconciles and unites us. His kind and merciful gaze encourages us to renounce the paths that lead to sin and death, and it sustains us as we pursue the paths of peace and goodness. Here is an exercise that is beneficial, one that we can always do, even at home: consider that Jesus is gazing on us and that it will be this same gaze, full of love, which will greet us on the last day of our earthly life.

God’s gaze is especially directed to you; it is a look that offers you peace. Yet there is another gaze directed to you: is the gaze of your people, and it expresses their ardent desire for justice, reconciliation and peace. At this moment, I want to assure all your fellow citizens of my spiritual closeness, especially the refugees and the sick, who have remained in the country with great expectations and with bated breath, awaiting the outcome of this historic day. I am certain that they are accompanying this meeting with great hope and fervent prayer. Noah waited for the dove to bring him an olive branch to show the end of the flood and the beginning of a new era of peace between God and man (cf. Gen 8:11). In the same way, your people is awaiting your return to your country, the reconciliation of all its members, and a new era of peace and prosperity for all.

My thoughts turn first to all those who have lost their loved ones and their homes, to families that were separated and never reunited, to all the children and the elderly, and the women and men who have suffered terribly on account of the conflicts and violence that have spawned so much death, hunger, hurt and tears. We have clearly heard the cry of the poor and the needy; it rises up to heaven, to the very heart of God our Father, who desires to grant them justice and peace. I think constantly of these suffering souls and I pray that the fires of war will finally die down, so that they can return to their homes and live in serenity. I pray to Almighty God that peace will come to your land, and I ask all men and women of good will to work for peace among your people.

Dear brothers and sisters, peace is possible. I shall never tire of repeating this: peace is possible! Yet this great gift of God is at the same time a supreme duty on the part of those with responsibility for the people. We Christians believe and know that peace is possible, for Christ is risen. He has overcome evil with good. He has assured his disciples of the victory of peace over everything that fans the flames of war: pride, greed, the lust for power, self-interest, lies and hypocrisy (cf. Homily at the Prayer for Peace in South Sudan and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 23 November 2017).

It is my prayerful hope that all of us will take up our lofty calling to be peacemakers, striving in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity with every member of our people, a spirit that is noble, upright, strong and courageous, to build peace through dialogue, negotiation and forgiveness. I urge you, then, to seek what unites you, beginning with the fact that you belong to one and the same people, and to overcome all that divides you. People are wearied, exhausted by past conflicts: remember that with war, all is lost! Your people today are yearning for a better future, which can only come about through reconciliation and peace.

With great hope and trust, I learned last September that the highest political representatives of South Sudan had signed a peace agreement. Today, therefore, I congratulate the signatories of that document, both present and absent, without exception, beginning with the President of the Republic and the heads of political parties, for having chosen the path of dialogue, for your readiness to compromise, your determination to achieve peace, your readiness to be reconciled and your will to implement what has been agreed upon. I express my heartfelt hope that hostilities will finally cease, that the armistice will be respected, that political and ethnic divisions will be surmounted, and that there will be a lasting peace for the common good of all those citizens who dream of beginning to build the nation.

The common efforts of our fellow Christians and the various ecumenical initiatives of the South Sudan Council of Churches on behalf of reconciliation and peace, and care for the poor and the marginalized, have made a significant contribution to the progress of the entire South Sudanese people. I recall with joy and gratitude my recent meeting in the Vatican with the Bishops’ Conference of Sudan and South Sudan during their Visit ad limina Apostolorum. I was struck by their optimism grounded in a living faith and shown in tireless outreach, but also by their concern about the many political and social difficulties. Upon all the Christians of South Sudan who, in helping those in greatest need, bind up the wounds of Jesus’ body, I implore God’s abundant graces and assure them of a constant remembrance in my prayers. May they be peacemakers in the midst of the South Sudanese people, by their prayers and by their witness, and with the spiritual guidance and human help of every member of the people, including its leaders.

In conclusion, I renew my gratitude and appreciation to all of you, the civil and ecclesiastical authorities of South Sudan, for taking part in this retreat. To all the dear South Sudanese people I express my fervent good wishes of peace and prosperity. May the Merciful God touch the heart of every man and every woman in South Sudan, fill them with his grace and blessings, and bring forth rich fruits of lasting peace, even as the waters of the Nile, flowing through your country, bring life and abundant growth. Finally, I confirm my desire and hope that soon, by God’s grace, I will be able to visit your beloved nation, together with my dear brothers here present: the Archbishop of Canterbury and the former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

A final prayer 4. I would like to conclude this meditation with a prayer, following the invitation of the Saint Paul. The Apostle wrote: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim 2:1-2).

Holy Father, God of infinite goodness, you call us to be renewed in your Spirit, and you show your power above all in the grace of forgiveness. We recognize your fatherly love when, in a world torn by dissension and discord, you touch human hearts and open them to reconciliation. How often have men and women broken your covenant! Yet, instead of abandoning them, you renewed your bond with them through Jesus, your Son and our Redeemer: a bond so firm that it can never be broken.

We ask you, then, to touch with the power of the Spirit the depths of every human heart, so that enemies will be open to dialogue, adversaries will join hands and peoples will meet in harmony. By your gift, Father, may the whole-hearted search for peace resolve disputes, may love conquer hatred and may revenge be disarmed by forgiveness, so that, relying solely on your mercy, we may find our way back to you. Make us open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, so that we may live a new life in Christ, in everlasting praise of your name and in the service of our brothers and sisters (cf. Prefaces of Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation I and II). Amen.

Dear brothers and sisters, may peace be with you, and may it dwell in your hearts for ever!



A two-day spiritual retreat for the highest civil and ecclesiastical authorities of South Sudan starts tomorrow in the Vatican’s Santa Marta residence, according to a statement from the Holy See Press Office.

Interim director Alessandro Gisotti noted that it was Pope Francis who approved the proposal presented by Anglican Primate, Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury to organize this spiritual retreat. (vatiannews file photo 2017)

The statement listed the civil authorities who will be present, including members of the Presidency of the Republic of South Sudan who, under the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan, will assume positions of great national responsibility this coming 12 May: Salva Kiir Mayardit, president of the Republic, and four of the five designated vice presidents: Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon, James Wani Igga, Taban Deng Gai and Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior.

Representing the ecclesiastical authorities of the country will be eight members of the South Sudan Council of Churches. Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu (Uganda), and Reverend Father Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, S.J., president of the Conference of Major Superiors of Africa and Madagascar, will preach the retreat.

“This event, both ecumenical and diplomatic at the same time,” says the Vatican statement, “was organized by mutual agreement between the Secretariat of State and the Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, with the goal of offering on the part of the Church a propitious occasion for reflection and prayer, as well as an occasion for encounter and reconciliation, in a spirit of respect and trust, to those who in this moment have the mission and the responsibility to work for a future of peace and prosperity for the South Sudanese people.”

The retreat will conclude Thursday afternoon at 5 when the Holy Father will address participants. Following that, participants will be given a Bible signed by Pope Francis, by Archbishop Justin Welby  of Canterbury, and by Reverend John Chalmers, former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, with the message “Seek that which unites. Overcome that which divides.” All will then receive a papal blessing.


The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has published new complementary norms for former Anglican ministers and lay faithful who have joined the Catholic Church.

By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

Released on Tuesday, the updated Complementary Norms for the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus were approved by Pope Francis on March 8th and signed by Cardinal Luis Ladaria and Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, prefect and secretary of the CDF, respectively, on March 19, 2019.

Anglicanorum coetibus governs the institutions and Personal Ordinariates that minister to the lay faithful originally of the Anglican tradition, known as Episcopalians in the United States.

The updated Complementary Norms integrate the experience of the past 10 years and seek to make their application more in tune with the spirit of the Apostolic Constitution.

Currently, three Ordinariates of former Anglican ministers and lay faithful exist: the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England and Wales; the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter in the United States; and, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia.

The new Norms introduce several modifications to those promulgated in November 2009.

Liturgical celebrations
The most substantial change regards the use of the Missal, known as Divine Worship, in liturgical celebrations. An entire article, number 15, was added to regulate the liturgical form approved by the Holy See for use in the Ordinariates.

Divine Worship “gives expression to and preserves for Catholic worship the worthy Anglican liturgical patrimony, understood as that which has nourished the Catholic faith throughout the history of the Anglican tradition and prompted aspirations towards ecclesial unity.”

First, use of the liturgical form is restricted to the Personal Ordinariates.

Second, the Norms allow any priest incardinated in an Ordinariate to celebrate Mass according to Divine Worship when not in a parish belonging to the Ordinariate, if done privately. The celebration of Mass with a congregation is possible, if the pastor of the church gives his permission.

Third, if a pastoral necessity exists or no Ordinariate priest is available, any diocesan or religious priest may celebrate Mass according to Divine Worship for members of the Ordinariate. Non-Ordinariate priests may also concelebrate Mass under the liturgical form.

Pastoral Provision
Two changes are made to Article 4. The updated Norms extend the Ordinariate to allow former Anglican ministers already incardinated in a Catholic Diocese by virtue of the Pastoral Provision to be incardinated into a Personal Ordinariate. They also say that clerics joining an Ordinariate must excardinate from their former Diocese.

The Pastoral Provision was issued in 1980 to receive married former Anglican clergy into ordained Catholic ministry in the United States.

Baptism of lay faithful
A new paragraph is inserted into Article 5. It says any validly baptized Christian who was evangelized by the Ordinariate may join it by receiving the Sacraments of Confirmation and the Eucharist. A person who has not been validly baptized may also join through the Sacraments of Initiation.

Clergy formation
Article 10 regards the formation of clergy, and was adapted to the current situation. The new Norms change “candidates for priestly ordination” to “Ordinariate Seminarians”, who study at institutions with Latin-rite seminarians.
It also allows the Ordinariate to organize its own programs for the ongoing formation of clergy.

(The English text of those Norms can be found here:



(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has said his staff is “studying the possibility” of a visit to South Sudan.

(Pope Francis is the first Pope to visit Rome’s Anglican church)


He said the reason was that “the Anglican, Presbyterian, and Catholic” bishops of South Sudan had come to ask him: “Please, come to South Sudan, even for a day, but don’t come alone, come with Justin Welby”, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury.

“We are looking at whether it is possible, or if the situation down there is too dangerous. But we have to do it, because they – the three [Christian communities] – together desire peace, and they are working together for peace.”

The Holy Father’s words came during his Sunday visit to Rome’s All Saints Anglican Church in a question-and-answer session.

He was responding to a question from an Anglican seminarian from Nigeria, who had asked the Pope about the vitality of churches in the Southern Hemisphere.

Pope Francis said those churches are young and therefore have a certain vitality due to their youthfulness. He also told an anecdote about Blessed Paul VI to show that “ecumenism is often easier in young churches”.

“When Blessed Paul VI beatified the Ugandan martyrs – a young Church – among the martyrs were catechists, all were young, while some were Catholics and others Anglican, and all were martyred by the same king in hate for the faith, because they refused to follow the dirty proposals of the king. And Paul VI was embarrassed, saying: ‘I should beatify both groups; they are both martyrs.’ But in that moment of the Catholic Church, such a thing was not possible.”

Responding to another question about ecumenical relations between the churches, Pope Francis said, “The relationship between Catholics and Anglicans today is good; we care for each other like brothers!”

He then gave two examples of common ground: saints and the monastic life.

“We have a common tradition of the saints… Never, never in the two Churches, have the two traditions renounced the saints: Christians who lived the Christian witness until that point. This is important.”

“There is another thing that has kept up a strong connection between our religious traditions: [male and female] monks, monasteries. And monks, both Catholic and Anglican, are a great spiritual strength of our traditions.”



(Vatican Radio) As tens of thousands of people are displaced by violence in Juba, the capital city of South Sudan, the Catholic Church and other faith-based groups are doing their best to offer protection and aid despite a total lack of means. (AP photo


Fighting erupted four days ago in Juba between followers of President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, the former rebel leader who became vice president under a deal to end a two-year civil war.

Speaking to Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni just moments after meeting with South Sudan’s Vice President and other top government officials, the Archbishop of Juba, Paulino Lukudu Loro said the humanitarian situation is so desperate “this is the moment, for anyone that can, to step in and save lives”.

Archbishop Lukudu also said that on a political level the cessation of hostilities agreed on Monday evening seems to be holding, and that now the government needs to recompose and take decisions for the good of the nation which risks sliding back into all-out war.

Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro says the Vice-President had just informed him of the situation confirming the cessation of hostilities across the nation and that all military personnel have been ordered to report back to their own garrisons.

The Archbishop confirmed that there has been no fighting since 6pm on Monday evening and he said the government will now have to re-gather, recompose and talk.

However he talks of a dramatic humanitarian situation in Juba where the UN has said there are some 36,000 people displaced by violence.

“In our Catholic Churches and communities we have more than 16,000 displaced people with many more in Mosques and in other faith based communities” he said.

Archbishop Lukudu said the people being sheltered are calm “but they are not going back home because they are not sure the decision taken will hold.”

Many, he pointed out, cannot go home because their houses have been shelled and looted and they are afraid to leave the Churches or places of displacement.

“The situation is calm, but on the ground the humanitarian situation is one of misery” and support is urgently needed, he said.

The Archbishop said he has no first hand evidence but he has heard the Red Cross is delivering some aid. The Church itself – he said – has no means.

“I do not know how I can make myself understood and comprehended very well, but our situation is very difficult” he said.

And with a heartfelt appeal he continued: “if there is anyone at all that can help us, this is the moment to save lives”.

If the people of Juba and of South Sudan do not receive assistance “a lot of us will die”.

His appeal, the Archbishop said, is “to the whole world, to our own brothers and sisters in faith in our humanity, if they can at all help us in this particular moment” which has been imposed on us “we shall be very grateful and thankful to them that they will save lives”.

The Archbishop says the UN is present in Juba running refugee camps but UN personnel is  not able to travel freely in the city to help all the people sheltered in Churches, in Mosques and in other communities.

Archbishop Lukudu says all the faith-based organizations in the country are engaged in dialogue with the leaders.

And he points out that the desperate people fleeing violence turn to faith-based groups without fear “and so we are doing our best, sharing what we have”.

Archbishop Lukudu concludes: “I know there are many sufferings in the world but ours – in this moment – was not expected and if we can be rescued and helped, we would be very grateful, and I want to thank anybody who will do that”.


Fr. Shynan Job, a young priest originally from India but who is now working in South Sudan, was an intern at EWTN. He sent this story to the network which I have permission to publish:

“For the past few days have been harrowing with heavy shootings and constant flow of refugees into our church compound. By yesterday afternoon we had over three thousand (3,000) people accommodated in our church and primary school. We tried our best to provide them with basic necessities of shelter, medical care and food. Since the start of crisis the roads are closed the food supply and other basic necessities are completely cut-off.

“A very positive aspect in this moment of crisis was the involvement of the community. All the members of the community (Salesian fathers, brothers, aspirants, volunteers and staff members) rise to the occasion and put their heart and soul in the disaster management effort.

“Another big blow to all our effort to ease the situation came last evening with some heavy shootings just around the mission compound. The whole Gumbo village and the surrounding villages rushed to the church compound to save their life. It was an exodus of people who just gathered their family and whatever they could pick it up as they rushed out of their homes. The church compound was filled with over 15,000 (fifteen thousand) people within short time.

“The trauma and fear of being hit by the bullets that are flying all around and the basic instinct to save one’s life and of the dear ones was unimaginable. The Salesian fathers after keeping the brothers and volunteers into a safer zone went to accommodate the sea of people into various facilities of the mission. The secondary school, Salesian Sisters Primary school, etc. were opened to accommodate the incoming crowd.

“Those few hours of uncertainty and alarm prepared us not only to meet the Lord but also to experience the trauma with our people. Finally, around 11.00 pm the shootings died down and people felt bit more secure. The irony was that the President had decreed ceasefire in the evening (around 6.00 pm) and the other factions also agreed to end hostilities and abide with ceasefire.

“This morning the situation is quite calm and peaceful so the people from the nearby villages are returning to their homes. But still the church compound is swollen with a sea of people not less than five thousand to eight thousand. Probably in the evening the people will return to the church to find a safe place to spent the night.

“The community of Gumbo, would like to thank our friends and well-wishers for their prayers and closeness in this moment of crisis and kindly request you to continue to support us with your prayers until the country restores law and order, peace and stability.

P.S: I reached South Sudan after my studies in India on Monday 4th July and the unrest started on Thursday 7th July. I am grateful to God for bringing me back to my people to be with them in this moment of pain and trauma. We count on the prayers of EWTN family.