I leave tomorrow to spend Christmas and New Year’s in California with family and friends but that does not mean I will not be thinking of and praying for you in this special season. In addition, I’ll be coming into your homes as I’ll be on “At Home with Jim and Joy,” and have prepared some special shows for my weekend radio program, “Vatican Insider.” So stay tuned for those!

My home is ready – my front door, my dining room table (always set for 4, year round, different settings) and my Lladro Nativity Scene:

I wish all of you, my friends, family and faithful readers, TV viewers and radio listeners a blessed, holy, happy and healthy Christmas and a splendid New Year, a year that will be so wonderful you’ll find it hard to believe!
Before we part, however, I have a special gift for you as you will see below – One Solitary Life.


My special guest this weekend on Vatican Insider is Sr. Gabriella Bottani, international coordinator for Talitha Kum, an international network of women against human trafficking, under the auspices of the UISG – International Union of Superiors General.

Sister explains the name, Talitha Kum, where the organization is working, how they coordinate activities and what happens when they save a person, almost always women and young females, from traffickers. A wonderful explanation of the amazing, and often thankless, work that Talitha Kum members do around the world!

Sr. Gabriella is on the right on this photo taken in September when members were received by Pope Francis:

Click here for more information:
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This powerful Christmas column by late columnist Jimmy Bishop will surely leave you speechless for its beauty, simplicity and yet depth of understanding. I heard this for the first time a number of years ago when Andy Williams recited this in one of his Christmas albums:

“He was born in an obscure village, the Child of a peasant teen who knew not man. He grew up in another obscure village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never married or owned a home. He never held a job, yet paid taxes. He never set foot inside a metropolis. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never wrote a book, or held an office. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. He received no awards, no medals, no prizes from His peers.

“While He was still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends deserted Him. He was turned over to His enemies, and went through the mockery of a trial. He had no lawyers, no friendly juries, no fair hearing. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had – His cloak. After He died, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave. Those who stood watch could not explain His disappearance.

“And yet two thousand years have come and gone, and today He is still the central figure for much of the human race. All the armies that ever marched and al the navies that ever sailed and all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as this ‘One Solitary Life’.”


Yesterday, I posted the list of events to take place in the Vatican in the space of only one week and today we learned there is a new event, namely, Pope Francis will confer Episcopal ordination on four priests on Friday, October 4 at 5 pm in St. Peter’s Basilica, including Cardinal-elect Michael Czerny, SJ, who will receive the red hat a day later from the Pope. He is the under-secretary of the section for migrants and refugees of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development.

On September 3, the Pope named three monsignori as apostolic nuncios (Holy See ambassadors) and will confer Episcopal ordination on them as well. They will have the title of Archbishop, as do all nuncios. The only exception is the nuncio to Syria whom the Pope made a cardinal in 2016, Cardinal Mario Zenari.

The new apostolic nuncios are Msgr. Paolo Borgia of the clergy of the archdiocese of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotond, Italy, Msgr. Antoine Camilleri of the archdiocese of Valletta, Malta, under-secretary for Relations with States in the Secretariat of State of the Holy See, and Msgr. Paolo Rudelli of the clergy of the diocese of Bergamo, Italy.


Pope Francis today welcomed members of the first general assembly of Talitha Kum as they meet in Rome to celebrate the first plenary as well as the 10th anniversary of this worldwide network of religious that combats trafficking in people. The name “Talitha Kum” means “little girl” in Aramaic, and is referred to in the Gospel story by Mark in which Jesus brings a girl back from death with those words:

Mark 5: While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” 36 Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” 37 He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38 When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 So he went in and said to them, “Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. 41 He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha kum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”

The name seems so appropriate for an organization that tries worldwide to bring people back from the dead, in a way, to give them new life by saving them from perverse traffickers in human beings.

Pope Francis welcomed Talitha Kum members this morning and urged more congregations and Church sectors to join in the fight against human trafficking.

Following is the report by Robin Gomes of Vaticannews:

Pope Francis is urging the collaboration and commitment of other sectors of the Church in order to make the fight against the scourge of trafficking in persons more prompt, effective and widespread.

He made the call on Thursday while meeting in the Vatican some 120 participants in the first general assembly of Talitha Kum, an international network of consecrated men and women fighting human trafficking.

Talitha Kum is a project of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) that brings together the women’s religious congregations, in collaboration with the men’s Union of Superiors General (USG).

Notable achievements
The Pope expressed admiration for the impressive achievement of the initiative that began in 2009 and today includes 52 networks of women’s congregations active in 92 countries of the world. It includes 2,000 volunteers who have helped more 15,000 victims and reached out to more than 200,000 people in prevention and awareness-raising activities.

“The numerous congregations that have worked and are working in the “forefront” of the Church’s missionary action against the scourge of trafficking in persons,” the Pope said, “deserve gratitude.”

Problems and solutions
He pointed to two main issues that the general assembly is focusing on. Firstly, great differences, mainly due to socio-cultural factors, still mark the condition of women in the world. Secondly, the limits of the neo-liberal development model, with its individualistic vision, risks depriving the state of responsibility.

The assembly, he noted, is identifying proposals for solutions, and highlighting the resources needed to implement them. He appreciated their pastoral planning for a more qualified and fruitful assistance to the local Churches.

In this regard, he suggested that the “Pastoral Guidelines on Trafficking in Persons” by the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development will be useful.

Invitation to join in the fight
While encouraging the women’s congregations engaged in the fight against human trafficking and in assisting the victims, the Pope also appealed to other congregations, both male and female, to adhere to this missionary work, putting in their personal service and resources so that they can reach every place.

The Holy Father urged those congregations preoccupied with their internal problems, to join the fight against human trafficking saying their problems will be solved by going out to the streets and letting in fresh air.

“Considering the scale of challenges posed by human trafficking,” the Pope said, “it is necessary to promote a synergistic commitment on the part of the various ecclesial realities.” He hopes for the involvement of the local bishops in the planning and pastoral action of men’s and women’s congregations and Catholic organizations present in their territory so that the work of the Church is more timely and effective.

However, the Pope stressed that the path of consecrated life, both feminine and masculine, is the path of ecclesial insertion because outside the Church and in parallel to the local Church, things don’t work.

(FYI: Vaticannews did a separate story on Talitha Kum, noting in particular that trafficking in humans is a phenomenon that currently affects at least 40 million vulnerable people, 70% of whom are women and children. One of the participants in Talitha Kum’s General Assembly was Australian Sister Angela Reed who spoke to Vaticannews. Click here to read that story: