CARDINAL DELIVERS PAPAL LETTER TO PRESIDENT AL-ASSAD OF SYRIA – CARDINAL PAROLIN: “POPE ASKING ASSAD FOR CONCRETE INITIATIVES ON BEHALF OF SYRIAN POPULATION” – POPE: 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF MOON LANDING “INSPIRATION FOR COMMON GOOD” – WORK STARTS ON BONE OSSUAIRIES FOUND IN TEUTONIC CEMETERY

A statement this morning from Matteo Bruni notes this is his first day as the new director of the Holy See Press Office: “Today I begin my appointment as director of the Holy See Press Office after serving there for ten years in a spirit of service to the Pope and the Holy See with the experience and strength at my disposal. I thank my colleague and friend Alessandro Gisotti for having generously and expertly led the press office in recent months. I am aware of the delicate and decisive task of information and I am sure I will find support in my colleagues, whose value and professionalism in these intense years of work for the Holy See I have come to know. I thank the Holy Father for his confidence and the prefect of the Communication Department, Paolo Ruffini, for the support of the dicastery, which I know will not be lacking.

CARDINAL DELIVERS PAPAL LETTER TO PRESIDENT AL-ASSAD OF SYRIA

Statement by Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni on Monday, July 22: “This morning in Damascus, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, accompanied by Cardinal Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio in Syria, and by the undersecretary of the aforementioned Dicastery, Fr. Nicola Riccardi, met with President Bashar Hafez al-Assad. During the meeting, the Cardinal prefect presented to the head of State a letter addressed to him by the Holy Father, which expresses the profound concern of His Holiness Pope Francis for the humanitarian situation in Syria, with particular reference to the dramatic conditions of the civil population in Idlib.”

CARDINAL PAROLIN: “POPE ASKING ASSAD FOR CONCRETE INITIATIVES ON BEHALF OF SYRIAN POPULATION”

Acts of war and bombardments against defenseless civilians continue to occur in Syria. With dozens of health facilities destroyed or closed in Idlib Province, Pope Francis asks Cardinal Turkson to deliver a letter to the Syrian President.
By Andrea Tornielli

Protection of civilian life, an end to the humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib Province, concrete initiatives for a safe return of displaced persons, the release of detainees and access for families to information regarding their loved ones, and humane conditions for political prisoners. All this and a renewed appeal for a resumption of dialogue and negotiations with the involvement of the international community.

These are the concerns and concrete requests contained in a letter that Pope Francis addressed to Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad. The Pope’s letter, dated 28 June 2019, was delivered only hours ago by Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

The Cardinal, bearing the missive written in English, was accompanied by Fr. Nicola Riccardi, O.F.M., Undersecretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and by Cardinal Mario Zenari, the Apostolic Nuncio to Syria.

Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, the Pope’s primary collaborator, spoke to Vatican News about the content and purpose of the letter.

Q: Your Eminence, why did the Pope decide to write to President Assad?
Cardinal Parolin: “At the heart of this new initiative lies Pope Francis’ and the Holy See’s concern for the emergency humanitarian situation in Syria, in particular in Idlib Province. More than 3 million people live in the area, of which 1.3 million are internally displaced, forced by the long conflict in Syria to find refuge in the area, which last year was declared demilitarized. The recent military offensive has added to the already extreme living conditions they had to endure in the camps, forcing many of them to flee. The Pope follows with apprehension and great sorrow the tragic fate of the civilian population, children in particular, caught up in the bloody fighting. Unfortunately, the war grinds on – it has not ended: the bombings continue, various health facilities have been destroyed in that area, while many others have had to suspend their activities, either completely or partially.”

Q: What is the Pope asking of President Assad in the letter that was delivered?
A: “Pope Francis renews his appeal for the protection of civilian life and the preservation of the main infrastructures, such as schools, hospitals, and health facilities. What is happening is intolerable and inhuman. The Holy Father asks the President to do everything possible to put an end to this humanitarian catastrophe, in order to protect the defenseless population, especially those who are most vulnerable, in respect for international humanitarian law”.

Q: From what you have said, it seems that the intent of the papal initiative is not “political”. Is that true?
A: “Yes, it is. As I have already explained, the concern is humanitarian-based. The Pope continues to pray that Syria may regain a climate of fraternity after these long years of war, and that reconciliation may prevail over division and hatred. In his letter, the Holy Father uses the word ‘reconciliation’ three times: this is his objective, for the good of that country and its defenseless population. The Pope encourages President Bashar al-Assad to carry out significant gestures in this urgent process of reconciliation, and he offers concrete examples. He cites, for example, creating the conditions needed for the safe return of exiles and internally displaced persons, and for all those who wish to return to the country after having been forced to leave. He also mentions the release of prisoners and the access of families to information about their loved ones.”

Q: Another dramatic issue is that of political prisoners. Does the Pope mention this topic?
A: “Yes, Pope Francis is particularly concerned about the situation of political prisoners, to whom – he affirms –humane conditions cannot be denied. In March 2018, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic published a report on this issue, saying there are tens of thousands of people who have been arbitrarily detained. At times – in unofficial prisons and in unknown places – they are allegedly subjected to various forms of torture without any legal assistance or contact with their families. The report notes that, unfortunately, many of them die in prison, while others are summarily executed.”

Q: What then is the purpose of this new initiative by Francis?
A: “The Holy See has always insisted on the need to seek an appropriate political solution to end the conflict, overcoming partisan interests. And this must be done using the instruments of diplomacy, dialogue, and negotiation, along with the assistance of the international community. We have had to learn once again that war generates war and violence incites violence – as the Pope has said many times, and as he repeats also in this letter. Unfortunately, we are concerned about the stalemate in the negotiation process – especially that seen in Geneva – for a political solution to the crisis. That is why, in the letter sent to President Assad, the Holy Father encourages him to show good will and to work towards finding viable solutions, putting an end to a conflict which has lasted far too long and which has led to the loss of numerous innocent lives”.

POPE: 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF MOON LANDING “INSPIRATION FOR COMMON GOOD”

Pope Francis Sunday at the Angelus recalled the first time a person set foot on the moon, expressing hope that achieving this goal might inspire work toward even greater ones.

By Francesca Merlo (vaticannews)

“Fifty years ago, yesterday”, Pope Francis said on Sunday, “Man set foot on the moon, achieving an extraordinary dream.”

Addressing the crowd gathered in St Peter’s Square, the Pope expressed his hope that the memory of “that great step for humanity” might spark the desire to reach even “greater goals – more dignity for the weak, more justice among peoples, and more future for our common home.”

Pope St. Paul VI, who expressed much interest in space travel and spent lots of time at the Vatican Observatory, was Pope on July 20, 1969. On that night, along with millions worldwide he watched Neil Armstrong become the first man to set foot on the moon.

Fifty years later, Pope Francis has dedicated much of his pontificate to the fight for the rights of those who are most vulnerable in today’s society as well as for the care of our common home.

Francis has expressed, on numerous occasions, in both words and actions, his desire to help those in need: migrants, the poor, the ill, the elderly and our planet – our common home.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic moon landing, therefore, Pope Francis shared his hopes for the future and that people worldwide might be inspired by this historic achievement to pursue these fights, and to reach, as mankind did 50 years ago, other extraordinary dreams.

WORK STARTS ON BONE OSSUAIRIES FOUND IN TEUTONIC CEMETERY

Two statements were sent out on Saturday, July 20, by Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Holy See Press Office regarding the recent discovery of bones in the Teutonic College, adjacent to the Teutonic cemetery in Vatican City:

Gisotti began: “At 9am this morning, operations began regularly at the Teutonic cemetery as part of the investigative tasks of the Orlandi case. As indicated in the decree of the Promoter of Justice of Vatican City State, the operations concern two ossuaries identified in an area adjacent to the tombs of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe and Princess Carlotta Federica of Mecklenburg.

“The remains were analyzed and studied on site in these hours by Prof. Giovanni Arcudi and his staff in the presence of the trusted expert appointed by the Orlandi family – according to internationally recognized protocols.

“It is not possible to predict, at the moment, the duration of the work to complete the morphological analysis of the remains found in the ossuaries.

“Today, in addition to Prof. Arcudi and his staff, the staff of the Fabbrica di San Pietro are working in the Teutonic Campo Santo for the opening and closing of the ossuaries and the staff of the COS, the Vatican Gendarme Security Operations Center. Present the Promoter of Justice of the Court of the State of the Vatican City, Prof. Gian Piero Milano, and his Deputy Prof. Alessandro Diddi, the lawyer of the Orlandi Family and the Officer in charge of the services of the judicial police of the Corps of the Gendarmerie.

“With this new forensic activity – after the operations of July 11 – the availability of the Holy See to the Orlandi Family is highlighted once again. An availability shown from the outset to accepting the (family) requests for verification (of possible remains) in the Teutonic cemetery, even on the basis of a mere anonymous report.

The second statement this afternoon noted that, “At 3 pm, work in the Teutonic cemetery was concluded as part of the investigative tasks of the Orlandi case. Prof. Giovanni Arcudi and his staff – in the presence of the trusted expert appointed by the Orlandi Family – brought to light the remains present in the ossuaries, which were subjected to an initial evaluation.
“According to the Office of the Promoter of Justice of the Vatican City State Court, the expert operations will continue on Saturday July 27, at 9 am, with an in-depth morphological analysis of the remains contained in the ossuaries.”

ACN LAUNCHES NEW PROJECTS TO ASSIST SYRIAN CHRISTIANS

I POSTED THIS YESTERDAY BUT IT NEVER CAME UP ONLINE – WELL, BETTER LATE THAN NEVER….

ACN LAUNCHES NEW PROJECTS TO ASSIST SYRIAN CHRISTIANS

Aid to the Church in Need is sponsoring two new projects to assist Christians living in Syria.

by Vatican News

The Secretary General of the United Nations says the UN “remains deeply concerned over the safety and protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure following continued reports of hostilities in north-west Syria over the last days, including air strikes, shelling and the alleged use of barrel bombs.”

According to the UN, more than 30 civilians have been killed in the area of Idlib since 12 July.

The United Nations is urging “all parties to respect their obligations under International Humanitarian Law, to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, and to exercise restraint.”

Aid for Syrian Christians
Meanwhile, Aid to the Church in Need has launched a new appeal to help Christians in Syria.

“In Syria, the war is not yet over, terrorism has still not been defeated, and our brothers and sisters need our help more than ever,” says Alessandro Monteduro, Director of the Italian branch of Aid to the Church in Need (CAN).

He was speaking at the launch of a new initiative by ACN to support two different projects to assist Syrian Christians.

The first project is centered in Aleppo, where years of conflict have left deep wounds. Responding to a request from the Apostolic Vicar of the city, Bishop George Abou Khazen, CAN will distribute food packages to the poorest Christian families, as well as financial aid to help them acquire gas and heating oil.

In Damascus, the Greek-Melkite Patriarch Youssef Absi has asked for help to obtain medicine and home medical care for seriously ill Christians. In requesting aid, Project Manager Sister Joseph Marie Chanaa writes, “Without your benefactors we would not be able to carry out our mission.”

Keeping up “the light of hope”
From the beginning of the war in Syria in 2011 until the end of 2018, Aid to the Church in Need has donated more than thirty million euros to the local Churches, including approximately 8.6 million euros last year alone. In many areas where the security situation has improved, ACN and has already begun to support a plan for the reconstruction of churches and Christian homes.

Pope Francis, in his Urbi et Orbi message for Easter of this year, described the Syrian people as “victims of an ongoing conflict to which we risk becoming ever more resigned and even indifferent.”

The benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need, says Monteduro, have never given up, and have always fought the “virus of indifference with concrete and generous solidarity.” “With these two projects,” he says, “we want to contribute, once again, to keeping up the light of hope in the country in which our brothers and sisters were called Christian for the first time.”

 

POPE TO RECTORS OF SHRINES: KEEPING POPULAR PIETY ALIVE – THREE CHRISTMAS “GIFTS” FOR SYRIA

Here’s a great video of the little boy who interrupted the general audience yesterday – the little boy from Argentina who is mute: https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2018/nov/28/pope-francis-chuckles-as-boy-runs-around-swiss-guard-video

POPE TO RECTORS OF SHRINES: KEEPING POPULAR PIETY ALIVE

From November 27th to the 29th, at Rome’s Pontifical Lateran University,the 1st International Conference for Rectors and Shrine Operators took place on the theme “The Shrine is open for the new evangelization.” At the end of the conference on Thursday morning, in the Sala Regia of the Apostolic Palace, the Pope received the participants of the conference.

Pope Francis encouraged shrine rectors and pastoral workers to make pilgrims feel “at home” and to help them enrich their popular piety.
By Seàn-Patrick Lovett (vaticannews)

A Shrine is a church, or other sacred place, which is visited by people who come as pilgrims to pray, or to seek grace and consolation. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of such locations all over the world. And the tradition of visiting and praying at a Shrine is as old as the Church itself.

Shrines are irreplaceable
Reflecting on the contemporary importance of Shrines, the Pope described them as places where people gather “to express their faith in simplicity, and according to the various traditions that have been learned since childhood.” In this sense, he said, “Shrines are irreplaceable because they keep popular piety alive.”

Places of welcome
Shrines must always be places of welcome, said Pope Francis, and pilgrims must always be made to feel at home, “like a long-awaited family member who has finally arrived.” Many people visit a Shrine, said the Pope, because of its works of art, or because it is located in a beautiful natural environment. “When these people are welcomed,” he said, “they become more willing to open their hearts and let them be shaped by Grace.”

Places of prayer
Above all, said Pope Francis, the Shrine is a place of prayer. Most of our Shrines are dedicated to Our Lady: “Here the Virgin Mary opens the arms of her maternal love to listen to the prayer of each and every one”, he said. “Here she smiles, offering consolation. Here she sheds tears with those who weep… Here she becomes the companion on the road of every person who raises their eyes to her asking for grace, and certain of being heard.”

Places of reconciliation
No one visiting a Shrine should feel like a stranger, said the Pope, especially when they come weighed down by sin. “The Shrine is a privileged place to experience mercy that knows no boundaries,” he said. “When mercy is experienced, it becomes a form of real evangelization, because it transforms those who receive it into witnesses of mercy.” Praying in silence, or with pious formulas and gestures learned as a child, “each one must be helped to express themselves in personal prayer.”

It is this prayer, concluded Pope Francis, that makes Shrines such fruitful places “where popular piety is nourished and grows.”

THREE CHRISTMAS “GIFTS” FOR SYRIA

The Pontifical Foundation “Aid to the Church in Need” has launched their Christmas campaign: three new projects to help Christians remain in Syria.
By Francesca Merlo (vaticannews)

7 years and 552,000 deaths later, the war in Syria is still not over. As the country is being destroyed, the small Christian communities which, before the war broke out made up around 10% of the population, are trying to survive.

“Aid to the Church in Need” in Italy has launched their Christmas campaign. Three “gifts”, as an effort to help these Christians in th hope that Christianity does not disappear completely from the Middle East. The gifts tackle three difficult areas that have been affected by the war in Syria: Food, Sanitation and Education.

Food
The first involves the distribution of 1,725 food parcels to Christian families living in absolute poverty. 1,090 of these live in their own homes – though they have been severely damaged by the war. The remaining 635 families live without any roof over their heads.

Sanitation
The second project aims to help 700 people in Aleppo who are suffering medically. Due to the incessant warfare, the number of people in need of medical assistance, whether to tend to wounds or illnesses, is huge. The war has not only caused the illnesses and wounds, it has also destroyed over half of the health facilities that would have previously provided assistance. The war has caused poverty, and when poverty stops you from being able to feed your family, it also prevents you from being able to buy medicine.

Education
The third project is aimed at children, those who are suffering most from this war. The Pontifical foundation in Aleppo is providing the money necessary to rebuild and render functional a nursery, destroyed by bombs, that welcomes 15 autistic children. Here, Sisters from the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, will be able to once again assist and love those who need them.

This Christmas, Aid to the Church in Need in Italy has found a way to make a difference for these Christians who are suffering as a consequence of others’ indifference.

YOU GOTTA LOVE HIM! – THE 10 COMMANDMENTS ARE “A GUIDE TO AN AUTHENTIC HUMAN LIFE” – POPE FRANCIS EXPRESSES CLOSENESS TO “MARTYRED LAND OF SYRIA”

YOU GOTTA LOVE HIM!

A young boy upstaged Pope Francis on Wednesday, escaping from his mother and running onto the papal podium at a general audience, tugging on the hand of a Swiss guardsman and playing behind the pontiff’s chair. (Reuters story and photo)


The boy’s mother briefly spoke to the pope as she tried to pull the child away, saying that he was mute. Pope Francis told her to let him carry on playing.

“This child cannot speak. He is mute. But he can communicate,” the pope told hundreds of pilgrims. “And he has something that got me thinking: he is free. Unruly … but he is free,” he added to laughter.

“Let’s ask the grace (of God) that he may speak.”

The mother told the pope that the family came from his native Argentina. As she left the stage, a smiling Francis leaned towards Archbishop Georg Gaenswein sitting next to him and whispered: “He is Argentinian. Undisciplined.”

THE 10 COMMANDMENTS ARE “A GUIDE TO AN AUTHENTIC HUMAN LIFE”

Pope Francis concluded his catechesis on the Ten Commandments during the Wednesday general audience, reflecting on them in the light of Christ.
“Dear brothers and sisters, “ he began. “In this, our final catechesis on the Ten Commandments, we reflect on how, in the light of Christ, the Decalogue should be seen not as a series of rules, but rather the guide to an authentic human life that comes to fulfilment in the love, joy and peace born of obedience to the Father’s will. Our Lord came not to abolish the Law but to fulfil it.”

Francis noted that, “the Holy Spirit, by enabling us to live a new life in Christ, takes away our hearts of flesh and opens them to the holy desire to abandon sin and to be conformed to Jesus’ own heart, his love and his desires.”

The Holy Father explained that, “the Ten Commandments invite us first to enter into a faithful and loving relationship with God our Father, to reject every false idol that enslaves us, and to find our authentic rest in the freedom of Christ and the Holy Spirit. They then teach us how to live redeemed lives, marked by fidelity, integrity and honesty towards our neighbor.”

In conclusion, Pope Francis said, “the commandments show us the face of Christ and open the door to the new life of grace; by accepting God’s offer of saving love, we find our true selves and the source of a joy that will never end.”

POPE FRANCIS EXPRESSES CLOSENESS TO “MARTYRED LAND OF SYRIA”

Pope Francis sends a letter to the Franciscans stationed in Syria, saying the Church sees Jesus’ suffering in the trials and poverty of the Syrian people.
By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

In a letter sent to Franciscan friars in Syria, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the “martyred land of Syria.”

“I wish to share in your sufferings and tell you that I am close to you and to the Christian communities which are so tried by the pain experienced in their faith in Christ Jesus.”

The Pope’s letter was addressed to Fathers Hanna Jallouf and Louai Bsharat, OFM.
Pope Francis reflected on the great suffering, poverty, and pain that Jesus experiences in the Syrian people. “It is Jesus! This is a mystery. It is our Christian mystery. In you and in the inhabitants of our beloved Syria, we see Jesus suffering.”

Martyrdom
Pope Francis compared their sufferings to martyrdom. “Nothing more than martyrdom can mark the Christian’s way of participating in humanity’s salvation history.”

He said martyrs advance the Kingdom of God and “sow Christians for the future.”
Calling them “the true glory of the Church and our hope”, the Holy Father said the witness of martyrs is “a warning not to get lost even in the midst of the storm.”

“Not a few times the sea of life has a storm awaiting us, but out of the existential waves we receive an unexpected sign of salvation: Mary, the Mother of the Lord, looking in astonishment and silence at the innocent, crucified Son who fills life and salvation with meaning.”

Pain into hope
Pope Francis assured the Franciscan friars stationed in Syria that he remembers them constantly during Mass and prays that their “unspeakable pain” may be transformed into divine hope.

He then quoted Paul’s Letter to the Romans: “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.”

Finally, Pope Francis prayed that the Virgin Mary guard the Franciscans in Syria “under her Cloak of Grace” and that she intercede for them to receive “the gift of perseverance.”

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.

VATICAN INSIDER LOOKS AT THE WORK OF PRIESTS FOR LIFE – POPE ENDS RETREAT, THANKS RETREAT MASTER

Today, at the end of his retreat, Pope Francis tweeted:  Let us strive to fast during Lent with a smile, rather than a long face.

I wish I had a lot of time right now to tell the story of my amazing day but in a short while I will be going to Mass at St. Mary’s basilica, a celebration of the Eucharist I have come to love and look forward to every evening. I’ve not had too much time at the computer today but, if time allows after dinner, I’ll write something.

For now, just a brief bit of news on the return to the Vatican of Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia after their spiritual exercises in Ariccia. I saw some photos on news.va – the ones you see below – and I do have a comment (probably the same as you have) on the Pope and cardinals and bishops in the bus. They really do not look too happy. It made me re-read today’s papal tweet!

VATICAN INSIDER LOOKS AT THE WORK OF PRIESTS FOR LIFE

Don’t forget to tune in to Vatican Insider this weekend when I speak with Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life. You last heard Janet here when we spoke of the life and death of Norma McCorvey, famous for being Jane Roe of Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal. Norma later dedicated her life to attempting to overturn that ruling.

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 ENDS RETREAT, THANKS RETREAT MASTER

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has thanked Fr. Giulio Michelini for directing the Spiritual Exercises from which the Holy Father returned on Friday.

Before returning to the Vatican, the Pope expressed his and the Roman Curia’s appreciation for Fr. Michelini’s preparation and direction.

“I would like to thank you for the good you wanted to do for us and the good you have done us. Above all, thank you for having shown yourself as you are and for being natural without ‘putting on a face from a holy card’.”

Pope Francis also thanked him for the work put into his preparation: “This implies responsibility, taking things seriously.”

“There was a mountain of things upon which to meditate, but St. Ignatius says that when one finds something in the Exercises something that gives consolation or desolation, one must stop there and not go forward. I’m sure all of us found one or two among all of this material. The rest is not wasted; it remains and will serve for another time.”

The Holy Father went on to tell the story of a famous Spanish preacher to show that “sometimes a little word, a tiny thing” can serve as a point of reflection.

“After giving a grand, well-prepared sermon, a man – a great public sinner – came up to him in tears, asking for confession. He confessed in an outburst of sin and tears, sin and tears. The confessor – shocked because he knew the life of this man – asked him: ‘But, tell me, in what moment did you feel that God had touched your heart? With what word…?’ [He responded,] ‘When you said, Let’s move to another topic’. Sometimes it is the simplest words that help us, or sometimes those more complicated: To each the Lord gives the [right] word.”

Finally, Pope Francis told Fr. Michelini: “Above all, I wish you [the grace] to be a good friar.”

The Holy Father returned to the Vatican Friday morning and celebrated Mass for Syria.

He also sent €100,000 to the poor of Aleppo, thanks to a contribution of the Roman Curia. The donation will be made by the Office of Papal Charities, the Elemosineria Apostolica (Apostolic Almoner).

On Friday evening, Pope Francis is set to travel to the Vicariate of Rome where he will meet with the prefects of the Diocese. The meeting, a normal part of the life of the local Church, will be strictly private.

POPE APPEALS TO SYRIAN PRESIDENT TO RESPECT HUMANITARIAN LAW – POPE FRANCIS TURNS 80 ON DECEMBER 17 – WHO IS THE PATRON SAINT OF TELEVISION .. AND WHY?

Papal tweet for December 13: Today I would like each of us to reflect on his and her own past and the gifts received from the Lord.

POPE APPEALS TO SYRIAN PRESIDENT TO RESPECT HUMANITARIAN LAW

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a letter to the President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, through Cardinal Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio to Syria, appealing for “an end to the violence and the peaceful resolution of hostilities” in the country.

zenari

A communiqué from the Holy See Press Office released on Monday read as follows:

“In naming Archbishop Mario Zenari to the College of Cardinals, the Holy Father sought to show a particular sign of affection for the beloved Syrian people, so sorely tried in recent years.

“In a letter sent through the new Cardinal, Pope Francis expressed again his appeal to President Bashar al-Assad and to the international community for an end to the violence, and the peaceful resolution of hostilities, condemning all forms of extremism and terrorism from whatever quarter they may come, and appealing to the President to ensure that international humanitarian law is fully respected with regard to the protection of the civilians and access to humanitarian aid.”

I wonder if Pope Francis has seen this and similar stories appearing in news media today:

ALEPPO CIVILIANS KILLED IN ‘COMPLETE MELTDOWN OF HUMANITY’: U.N.

Dozens of civilians were killed by Syrian forces in “a complete meltdown of humanity” during the final battle for Aleppo, the U.N. said Tuesday amid separate reports that women and children were burned alive while some families chose suicide over surrender.

The U.N. human rights office said it received reports of pro-government forces killing at least 82 people as they tightened their grip on the shrinking rebel districts in the east of the city.

Rupert Colville, spokesman of the U.N. human rights office, said he feared retribution against thousands of civilians holed up in a “hellish corner” smaller than one square mile.

Complete story here: http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/aleppos-children/aleppo-civilians-killed-complete-meltdown-humanity-u-n-n695286

POPE FRANCIS TURNS 80 ON DECEMBER 17

On Saturday, December 17, when he turns 80, Pope Francis will preside at a concelebrated Mass in the Pauline Chapel with the cardinals resident in Rome. The rest of the day will be a “normal” one for the Holy Father, a day filled with commitments and appointments, including receiving the president of the Republic of Malta, the cardinal prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, the bishop of Chur, Switzerland, and the Nomadelfia Community.

priests

Those wishing to send birthday wishes to the Holy Father, can email him at the following addresses:

Papafranciscus80@vatican.va (Latin)

PapaFrancesco80@vatican.va (Italian)

PapaFrancisco80@vatican.va (Spanish / Portuguese)

PopeFrancis80@vatican.va (English)

PapeFrancois80@vatican.va (French)

PapstFranziskus80@vatican.va (German)

PapiezFranciszek80@vatican.va (Polish)

A special hashtag has been created on Social media for the Pope’s birthday: #Pontifex80

WHO IS THE PATRON SAINT OF TELEVISION … AND WHY?

There’s a patron saint for practically everything in the Catholic Church, whether it’s gravediggers, stress relief, or protection against pirate attacks. But did you know there’s a patron saint for television – and she’s from the 13th century?

By the end of the 1950s, it was clear that television was becoming one of the most important new forms of media in modern society. And Pope Pius XII wanted to offer both the Church’s blessing and protection for the new technology. So, in 1958, he issued the document Apostolic Letter Proclaiming St. Clare Patron Saint of Television.

In it, the Pope proclaims that the Church supports technological innovation and advancement, and recommends the use of modern technology for the proclamation of the Gospel. He acknowledges that television is capable of both good and evil, which is why he wants it to have a patron saint for spiritual protection.

So he chose the 13th century St. Clare of Assisi, associate of the famous St. Francis of Assisi, and for a fascinating reason.

He tells the story that on one Christmas, St. Clare was sick and unable to leave her bed to attend Mass. Yet, miraculously, God gave her a vision of the Mass in her convent in real-time – sort of like a spiritual television. So she’s the perfect patron!

St. Clare of Assisi, please pray for the holy use of television and all media!