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.

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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.

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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!

SAVE CHRISTIANS, SAVE CHRISTIANITY, SAVE SYRIA, SAYS ALEPPO BISHOP

SAVE CHRISTIANS, SAVE CHRISTIANITY, SAVE SYRIA, SAYS ALEPPO BISHOP

The Chaldean Catholic Bishop of Aleppo, Syria, Bishop Antoine Audo, was present in Malmo, Sweden, for the one-day event with Catholics and Lutherans that marked the start of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Bishop Audo, who is head of Caritas Syria, addressed the gathering Monday and made a heartfelt appeal for his fellow Christians, for Christianity and for “our beloved Syria” in the presence of the Holy Father. Pope Francis arrived Sweden late Monday morning to join Lutherans in commemorating this anniversary.

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Bishop Audo began his touching, moving testimonial by telling the faithful that, “almost all of the hospitals have been destroyed and 80% of the doctors have left Aleppo. In Syria, 3 million children no longer go to school. Physical and moral exhaustion has touched everyone, especially the poorest and among them, children and adolescents and the elderly.”

The Chaldean prelate added that, “our greatest sadness is seeing the rich and marvelous Christianity of this land is disappearing. He appealed to “the Christians of the world, Muslims of the East and West and all people of good will: Do not allow our beloved Syria to be destroyed and fragmented.”

The bishop also announced that, “Become Christians Together” is the motto of Christian humanitarian work in Syria, adding that that work “is focusing on how serving Christ must include serving others, especially the poorest and most needy.”

Immediately after his testimony, Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, and President of the Lutheran World Federation, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, read in Arabic and in English a prayer for Syria and Iraq. “May the Lord of history  change hearts,” “may peace can be stabilized among nations on the basis of justice and human rights,” and “may the spirit of peace descend on the peoples of Syria, Iraq and the Middle East.”

WE MUST “BE MERCIFUL LIKE THE FATHER” – URGENT PAPAL APPEAL FOR SYRIA

I leave tomorrow morning for Washington, D.C. to attend the wedding in nearby Maryland of one of the daughters of some very close and dear friends of mine. I rarely get to attend weddings, First Communions and other family events in the U.S. but was able to take advantage of this occasion for a few days.

In the meantime, I’ve been preparing segments for “At Home with Jim and Joy” in my absence and have also been putting together “Vatican Insider” for this coming weekend. In fact, I have prepared a special on the College of Cardinals that I hope you will enjoy.

If time allows I’ll put an update and/or photos on “Joan’s Rome” or on Facebook (facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420) while I am away. If not, “pazienza,” as the Italians say!

In the meantime, here are two links from announcements in Indianapolis and Chicago about two of the new U.S. cardinals announced Sunday by Pope Francis:

+Monday’s press conference from Indianapolis announcing Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR as Cardinal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zw9wIiZMsCg

Link to statement of Archbishop Blase Cupich on being named a Cardinal: https://www.archchicago.org/news_releases/news_2016/stmnt_161009.html

WE MUST “BE MERCIFUL LIKE THE FATHER”

Today is a glorious day in Rome, following an overcast Tuesday and some torrential rain in the afternoon. That rain seemed to have cleared the delft-blue sky of clouds and the air of pollution as thousands of pilgrims joined Pope Francis for the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

Continuing his series of weekly catechesis on mercy, the Holy Father reflected on the reading from Saint Matthew’s Gospel in which the Lord tells us that we will be judged by the the mercy we show to others.

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“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” began the Pope, to great applause. “During this Holy Year of Mercy, we have reflected on God’s mercy, revealed especially in the incarnation of his Son, and on our duty, as followers of Jesus, to be ‘merciful like the Father’.  In Saint Matthew’s Gospel, the Lord tells us that we will be judged by the mercy we show to him, present in the least of our brothers and sisters.

“His words,” explained Francis, “have inspired the seven traditional ‘corporal’ works of mercy – feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, healing the sick, visiting the imprisoned and burying the dead.”

He noted that “the Church’s tradition also adds seven ‘spiritual’ works of mercy – counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing sinners, comforting the afflicted, forgiving offences, bearing patiently those who do us ill, and praying for the living and the dead.

“As expressions of living faith,” said the Pope, “these works are often carried out quietly and with simple gestures.  Yet, as Saints like Mother Teresa of Calcutta show us, they reveal the merciful face of Christ and can change the culture around us.  Let us keep them always in mind and strive to practice them daily.”

URGENT PAPAL APPEAL FOR SYRIA

After the Wednesday general audience catechesis on mercy, Pope Francis once again appealed for peace in Syria, Pope Francis said, “I want to emphasize and reiterate my solidarity with all victims of inhuman conflict in Syria. It is with a sense of urgency that I renew my appeal, begging, with all my strength, those responsible, to take steps toward an immediate ceasefire, one imposed and respected at least for the time necessary to allow the evacuation of civilians, especially children, who are still trapped under cruel bombardment.”

News agencies report that, in the last 24 hours, Russian-led airstrikes have resumed, once again targeting the besieged city of Aleppo. At least 25 people are reported to have died, including children.

 

THE CHILDREN OF SYRIA: A LOST GENERATION? – LENTEN STATION CHURCHES OF ROME: TUESDAY OF WEEK 4, SAN LORENZO IN DAMASO

 

Image result for st. patrick's day

It was a quiet St. Patrick’s Day in Rome, well, at least at the Vatican, as far as I know! Today’s feast day was noted by Vatican Radio this morning and all those of Irish heritage were given a mention and wishes for a very Happy St. Patrick’s Day. There are plenty of pubs in Rome and I am guessing there will be some celebrating tonight – and wouldn’t it be nice if those festivities followed the 6 pm Mass at St. Patrick’s Church on Via Boncompagni.

Two images of St. Patrick (from Google images):

ST PATRICK - 2 - Dublin ST. PATRICK

Tuesdays are often quiet in the Vatican as the Holy Father spends the day doing all the usual things such as saying morning Mass in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence, working on papers, letters, reports from Roman Curia offices, talking to his close collaborators and, oh yes, preparing for the Wednesday general audience!

I’ll bring you that report tomorrow, of course, but in the meantime I’d like to update you on the Lenten Station Churches of Rome (apologies for being remiss during the time I was gone), and also focus your attention on the talk given today by a good friend of mine, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva. You will find a Vatican Radio summary of his talk on the victims of the war in Syria, and a link to his entire address.

So often we think pronouncements from or about the Universal Church only come from Rome, from the Vatican, from the Holy Father. However, the Holy See has a commanding voice in many quarters, including her ambassadors accredited to nations and international organizations around the world, especially the offices and institutions of the United Nations at UN headquarters in New York and offices in Vienna, Geneva, Rome and other cities.

Here is the link to the Holy See Mission at the UN: http://www.holyseemission.org/

And a link to the Holy See Mission in Geneva: http://holyseemissiongeneva.org/

If you want to know what the Holy See is saying about any issue, you can go to these sites, in addition, of course, to the www.vatican.va and www.news.va

THE CHILDREN OF SYRIA: A LOST GENERATION?

(Vatican Radio) Archbishop Silvano Tomasi has warned that unless efforts are made to protect millions of children caught up in the Syrian conflict they are at risk of becoming a lost generation.

In an statement delivered on March 17 to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Archbishop Tomasi, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN in Geneva, made a series of recommendations following the release of the “Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic”.

Noting that since the start of the crisis in Syria, “more than 10 million Syrians have fled their homes” Tomasi said this amounts to almost half of the country’s population “now deprived of their basic rights to shelter and adequate housing, security and human dignity”.

He pointed out that many are victims of human rights violations and abuses and are in urgent need of protective measures and support.

Tomasi also observed that “to compound this tragedy, more than 3 million people, most of them women and children, have fled the Syrian Arab Republic and are refugees in neighboring countries”.

He says that a variety of sources have provided evidence on how children suffer the brutal consequences of a persistent status of war in their country: “Children are recruited, trained and used in active combat roles, at times even as human shields in military attacks. The so-called Islamic State (ISIL) group has worsened the situation by training and using children as suicide bombers; killing children who belong to different religious and ethnic communities; selling children as slaves in markets; executing large numbers of boys; and committing other atrocities.”

And noting that in camps throughout the Middle East, children constitute approximately half of the refugee population and they are the most vulnerable demographic group in times of conflict and displacement, Tomasi said their lives in exile are full of uncertainty and daily struggles.

In his intervention Tomasi continues to focus on the lack of rights of children affected by the Syrian conflict calling on the world to deal with the situation of stateless children; to take stock of the fact that more than one and a half million students in refugee camps no longer receive an education; that the separation of family members destabilizes society and breaks down its basic social unit.

Archbishop Tomasi concluded his intervention with a call to protect these children giving them the right to a legal identity, to an adequate education and to a family.

Such measures, he said, require the close collaboration of all stakeholders. But, if the violence does not stop, he said, and the normal pace of education and development is not resumed, these children are at risk of becoming a lost generation.

And quoting Pope Francis during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he said: “May the violence cease and may humanitarian law be respected, thus ensuring much needed assistance to those who are suffering! May all parties abandon the attempt to resolve issues by the use of arms and return to negotiations. A solution will only be found through dialogue and restraint, through compassion for those who suffer, through the search for a political solution and through a sense of fraternal responsibility.”

See also Archbishop Tomasi’s statement on the use of force to defeat ISIS: http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2015/03/13/0186/00415.html

LENTEN STATION CHURCHES OF ROME: TUESDAY OF WEEK 4, SAN LORENZO IN DAMASO

From the website of the North American College on Lenten Station Churches:

The busy Corso Vittorio Emanuele II helps to recreate some of the bustle that must have been present in this area when this location held the stables of one of the chariot teams in ancient Rome.  In time, these gave way to residential dwellings, one of which was the home of Pope St. Damasus.  This holy man, famous for the epigraphs composed by him for the tombs of the various saints around Rome, converted the hall in his home into a church in honor of St. Lawrence.

His devotion to the saint may have begun during his years of service at the Basilica of St. Lawrence outside-the-Walls before his election to the papacy in 366.  Although he won the election by a large majority, a faction supported another candidate, and a disagreement that sometimes descended into violence began between supporters of the two men until the matter was settled in St. Damasus’ favor.

While he spent much of his energy in supporting orthodox teaching against the attacks of the Arians, he also strove to adorn the shrines of the martyrs in this city, even writing verses in honor of the saints himself.  He passed away in 384.

The first basilica on this site, built by Pope St. Damasus in the mid to late fourth century, had roughly the same orientation as the present one.  As a result of it being near the former stables of the “Green” team of chariots, this church was also known as St. Lawrence in Prasino, this being the word for “leek green” in Latin.  The basilica had a quiet history, there being some records of gifts given for the adornment of the church but not much else.

This church survived until the late fifteenth century when the new papal chancellery was built on the site.  Although the old basilica was demolished to make way for the new building, it was desired that a replacement be included in the new chancellery.  This was constructed between 1495 and 1511, although the basilica would receive several redecorations over the following centuries.  The basilica would also be damaged on various occasions, notably during the Napoleonic occupation of Rome in 1798 and in a fire in 1939.  The current appearance of the interior is largely due to the nineteenth century, with two major renovations in the periods 1807-1820 and 1868-1882, both of which are responsible for practically all that we see today, though there are some smaller components from previous periods.

And here is the page from the 2014 diary of seminarian Brian Lenz as he and others from NAC made their Lenten pilgrimage: http://blenzinrome.blogspot.it/2014/04/tuesday-of-fourth-week-san-lorenzo-in.html

Another very interesting page: http://zephyrinus-zephyrinus.blogspot.it/2015/03/lenten-station-at-basilica-of-saint_17.html

VATICAN INSIDER: MSGR. JAMES CHECCHIO, RECTOR, NORTH AMERICAN COLLEGE – LENTEN STATION CHURCH: FRIDAY OF WEEK 1, SANTI 12 APOSTOLI – CURIA RETREAT OVER, POPE FRANCIS RETURNS TO VATICAN – POPE FOLLOWING SITUATION IN SYRIA, SAYS VATICAN NUNCIO – VATICAN RESPONSE TO L’ESPRESSO STORY ON ECONOMIC REFORMS

This weekend – February 27 and 28 – marks the second anniversary of the resignation of Benedict XVI. His resignation became official at 8 pm on Thursday, February 28. On those last two days of February 2013, among the many “good-byes” he said, Benedict held his final general audience on Wednesday the 27th, greeted members of the College of Cardinals and, in a memorable scene the world will never forget, departed Vatican City by helicopter for Castelgandolfo where he would spend two months as workers readied the monastery he now lives in. Upon his arrival, he greeted the populace of Castelgandolfo from a balcony of the apostolic palace, a building whose doors were slowly and solemnly closed by Swiss Guards promptly at 8 pm.  At that moment, the See of Peter became vacant.

We pray for the continued health, happiness and tranquility of this Servant of the Servants of God, a title he dearly loved!

VATICAN INSIDER: MSGR. JAMES CHECCHIO, RECTOR, NORTH AMERICAN COLLEGE

My guest this week on the interview segment of Vatican Inside is a longtime friend, Msgr. James Checchio, who is in his 10th year as rector of the Pontifical North American College, We look at those 10 years and at NAC’s growth – growth in the number of seminarians attending NAC but also in the physical sense of new buildings, etc.  The newest building was inaugurated on the January 6 feast of the Epiphany by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. I posted photos on this page as well as a few videos on my Youtube page (joansrome). A do-not-miss conversation this weekend.

I took these photos in Msgr. Checchio’s new office in the new building.

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As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live 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 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

LENTEN STATION CHURCH: FRIDAY OF WEEK 1, SANTI 12 APOSTOLI 

I have always loved this old and very beautiful church and try to stop in, even for just a brief Hail Mary, anytime I am near it. One day, not long ago, I was walking from the Gregorian University to catch a bus on the nearby Pza. Venezia and saw that an evening Mass would begin shortly, so I went into the church and briefly explored before attending Mass. I quickly went into the crypt area and took the following photos, I only had my phone so will have to go back some day for better and more comprehensive pictures of the tomb of two of the 12 Apostles who are buried in Rome.

SAMSUNG

SAMSUNG

Franciscan friars administer this basilica and, as they say on their website (http://www2.ofmconv.pcn.net/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=12&Itemid=21): “Just a few meters off of the Piazza Venezia, often considered to be the very center of Rome, you will find the administrative center of the Order at the Friary of the Twelve Holy Apostles (Santi Apostoli) next to the Basilica of the Twelve Holy Apostles first given to the Conventual Franciscan Friars in 1517 by the Holy See. The Friary is owned by the Vatican, while the Basilica is under the care of the Italian State.  Given the expense of maintaining such magnificent buildings as the Basilica, we are grateful that the State is assuming so much of the expense so that the Order is able to use our monies for our work around the world, even though it is a very sacred place, containing the mortal remains of the Apostles Philip and James the Less.

“The Friars living here have a variety of ministries. Not only are we engaged in the work of the General Government of the Order, but we also care for the Basilica, work at the Vatican, teach in some Universities in Rome, serve the poor, develop the arts within the Order, plus everything that is involved in taking care of a house this size. There are 37 Friars presently assigned to the Friary, ranging in age from 31-99. They come from 11 different countries representing 18 different jurisdictions within the Order. Being in the heart of Rome, Italian is the most common language for everyday use, but one often hears all four of the official languages of the order spoken.”

Here is Brian Lenz’s account of the Lenten station church Mass here in 2014:

http://blenzinrome.blogspot.it/2014/03/friday-of-first-week-santi-dodici_16.html

And for a real-in-depth visit, explore this site: http://romapedia.blogspot.it/2013/10/basilica-of-holy-apostles.html

Even TripAdvisor writes: “Santi Apostoli, or Santi Dodici Apostoli as the Italians say, is the Church of the Twelve Holy Apostles at the Piazza bearing the same name. This is really an astonishing Church, hidden behind Piazza Venezia. We visited this hidden gem during a guided tour of ancient Rome with ‘When in Rome Tours’ and we were glad we did…… Santi Dodici Apostoli was the parish church of Michelangelo and his tomb was shortly placed here before its transportation to the Basilica di Santa Croce di Firenze. …A visit of Santi Apostoli is really worthwhile. So when you are at Piazza Venezia or at the Trevi Fountain, look for Piazza Santi Apostoli and spend an hour to absorb the beauty of this unique Church.”

CURIA RETREAT OVER, POPE FRANCIS RETURNS TO VATICAN

The Holy Father and members of the Roman Curia who accompanied him to Ariccia for a six-day retreat that started last Sunday afternoon, have returned to Vatican City.  The final prayers and meditation by Carmelite Father Bruno Secondin were held Friday morning at the Pauline Fathers’ Casa Divin Maestro. Busses carrying the Pope and prelates back to the Vatican left Ariccia about 10:30 this morning. (news.va photo)

POPE FRANCIS - END RETREAT

At the end of the retreat Pope Francis thanked Father Secondin for leading the spiritual exercises: “On behalf of all of us, I too would like to thank the father for his work among us during the spiritual exercises. It’s not easy to give exercises to priests, right?  We’re a bit complicated, all of us, but you succeeded in sowing seeds. May the Lord make these seeds that you have given us grow and I also hope that myself and all the others can leave here with a piece of Elijah’s cloak, in our hands and in our hearts. Thank you, Father!”

POPE FOLLOWING SITUATION IN SYRIA, SAYS  VATICAN NUNCIO

(Vatican Radio) Even during his retreat in the hills of Rome, immersed in Lenten spiritual exercises, Pope Francis is following the situation in Syria with deep concern. Speaking to Vatican Radio, Archbishop Mario Zenari, the apostolic nuncio in Damascus, says “the Pope is constantly adjourned of developments and his prayers are tuned to the suffering of the people.”

Noting the three-day offensive this week that has seen at least 220 people abducted by so-called Islamic State militants, most of them from Assyrian Christian villages in the north east, the nuncio said, “not only the Christians are afraid. Those who have the possibility to do so are fleeing the region.” He says that the perception of the people is that they have been abandoned by the international community because there have been no tangible changes to the situation as yet.

He expresses his belief that measures that have been undertaken to isolate the fundamentalists such as freezing bank accounts, cutting off provisions and fuel and tracking down potential Jihadists in Europe must continue. He describes the situation as one of the most serious humanitarian catastrophes after the Second World War, saying, “it is under the eyes of all! The civil conflict must be halted but so must the advance of the so-called Caliphate.”

Abp. Zenari says, “we are dealing with two different fronts: the civil war front which has been going on for almost five years, a conflict which has killed over 200,000 people, has injured more than a million and displaced 11 million; and then there are all the terrible things that are happening in the areas under the control of the so-called Islamic State: two different fronts, the one worse than the other!”

VATICAN RESPONSE TO L’ESPRESSO STORY ON ECONOMIC REFORMS

(Vatican Radio) The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, has responded to a collection of articles published in the Italian weekly L’Espresso. The articles purport to show internal struggles within the Vatican on ongoing economic reforms.

“Passing confidential documents to the press for polemical ends or to foster conflict is not new, but is always to be strongly condemned, and is illegal,” Father Lombardi said. “The fact that complex economic or legal issues are the subject of discussion and diverse points of view should be considered normal. In light of the views expressed, the Pope issues guidelines, and everybody follows them.”

Father Lombardi continued, “The article makes direct personal attacks that should be considered undignified and petty. And it is untrue that the Secretariat for the Economy is not carrying on its work with continuity and efficacy. In confirmation of this, the Secretariat is expected in the next few months to publish the financial statements for 2014 and the estimated budgets for 2015 for all of the entities of the Holy See, including the Secretariat itself.”