Something to ponder: An interesting read about the Francis papacy in the post-Benedict XVI era: MondayVatican – Vatican » Pope Francis, what kind of a future has just begun? | MondayVatican


Pope Francis began today’s general audience by noting, “In our continuing catechesis on apostolic zeal, the desire to share with others the joy of the Gospel, we now look to its model and source: the example of Jesus himself. As the eternal Word of God, made flesh for our salvation, Jesus’ entire life was devoted to communicating and dialoguing with others, first with his heavenly Father in profound prayer, and then with others, especially the poor, the outcast and sinners.!

Francis explained that Jesus “proclaimed the coming of God’s Kingdom not only by his preaching, but also by his ministry of healing, reconciliation and forgiveness. As the Good Shepherd, the model for all pastors in the Church, Jesus was completely committed to the welfare of his flock, protecting the fold yet also setting out in search of the lost sheep.

“And when we hear that someone has left the Church, what do we want to say? ‘Let them work it out?’ No. Jesus teaches us to have nostalgia for those who have left. Jesus does not feel anger or resentment but pure longing for us. Jesus feels nostalgic for us and this is God’s zeal.

The Holy Father said he wondered “we, do we have similar sentiments? Perhaps we see those who have left the flock as adversaries or enemies. ‘And this person? Hasn’t he gone to the other side? She lost her faith…. They are going to hell…’ and we are serene.!

“When we meet them at school, at work, on the streets of our city,” he continued, “why don’t we think instead that we have a beautiful opportunity to witness to them the joy of a Father who loves them and has never forgotten them? Not to proselytize, no! But that the Word of the Father might reach them so we can walk together. … Because the Word, Jesus, asks this of us – to always draw near to everyone with an open heart because he is like that.”

Pope Francis concluded: “Following his example, may we, in our daily lives, draw joy and strength from our union with the Father in prayer, allow our hearts to be shaped by pastoral zeal for the word of God, and strive, in all our words and actions, to share with others its saving message.”

During greetings to English-language pilgrims the Pope said, “I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims taking part in today’s audience, especially the groups from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Australia and the United States of America. I offer a special greeting to the many student groups present.

“I ask all of you to join me in praying for Father Isaac Achi of the Diocese of Minna in northern Nigeria, who was killed last Sunday in an attack on his rectory. So many Christians continue to be the target of violence: let us remember them in our prayers! Upon all of you, and upon your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!

The terrorists set fire to the rectory and Fr. Achi burned to death. They shot and wounded the assistant priest as he tried to flee.

Francis also highlighted Ukraine, as he has done in every public address for almost a year. He asked everyone to pray for Ukrainians who need “our closeness, consolation, and above all peace.”


As you know, Pope Francis leaves on January 31 for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and then South Sudan. We are now learning, via a report from Reuters, that the government in Kinshasa is clearing the city’s streets of vendors so that the Pope sees a sanitized city, much as happened when U.S. President Biden recently visited El Paso, Texas, a city that has been overwhelmed by massive numbers of migrants in the last two years. Biden saw no migrants, no crowded housing facilities, no make-shift tents on El Paso streets.

The January 17 Reuters story starts: “Before dawn, sanitary police armed with crowbars and a bulldozer set about demolishing makeshift trader stalls crowding downtown streets in the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo ahead of a four-day visit by Pope Francis starting Jan. 31. Kinshasa has 17 million people. Police demolish trader stalls in Congo capital ahead of Pope visit | Reuters




At the general audience held in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father began the catechesis by stating, “Today we conclude our series of catecheses on spiritual discernment by considering some aids that can help us rightly to discern God’s will for our lives and our happiness.

Pope Francis began by noting that anyone who may have followed these catecheses until this point might be thinking, “what a complicated practice discernment is!”

And he responded to this possible confusion by saying that “in reality, it is life that is complicated and, if we do not learn how to read it, we risk wasting our lives, living it with strategies that end up disheartening us.”

As to the aids that can help us in discernment,” said the Holy Father, “We begin, naturally, with an encounter with the word of God and with the Church’s teaching. Quiet prayer with the Scriptures also helps us to sense the Lord’s presence, to hear his voice, and to become conscious of the deepest desires of our heart. In this way, we grow in love and closeness to Jesus, who assures us of the Father’s merciful love and, by his death on the Cross, reveals God’s power to bring life out of death and good out of evil.

In particular, said the Pope, we must development a personal relationship with Jesus as “friendship with Jesus and trust in God’s guidance of our lives is a great gift of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in our hearts and inspires our discernment at every stage. In the Church’s daily prayer, each canonical hour begins by asking God to come to our assistance. Trusting in that help, may we learn to discern wisely the paths that lead us to the Father and to respond each day to his loving offer of salvation.

Francis also explained that, “we can often have a distorted idea about God, thinking of him as a sullen, harsh judge, ready to catch us in the act. “On the contrary, Jesus reveals a God who is full of compassion and tenderness for us, ready to sacrifice himself for us.”

He stressed that, “we have a tender, affectionate Father who loves us, who has always loved us. When we experience this, our heart melts and doubts, fears, feelings of unworthiness are dissolved. This love is irresistible.”

In closing, Pope Francis noted that the Liturgy of the Hours opens the main moments of daily prayer with this invocation: “O God, come to my assistance. O Lord, make haste to help me.”

At the conclusion of the general audience, Pope Francis greeted a Ukrainian woman whose husband is a prisoner of war and their son. They came bearing gifts for the Pope, including a calendar showing the devastation of the Azovstal steelworks plant.


Pope Francis once again recalled the suffering of children in Ukraine due to Russia’s ongoing invasion, saying he has noticed that many of them find it difficult even to smile.

By Edoardo Giribaldi (vaticannews)

“When a child loses the ability to smile, it is serious.” With these words, speaking at the end of the Wednesday general audience, Pope Francis expressed his concern for the children of Ukraine “who are suffering, suffering so much, from this war.”

Tragedy of the war

“In the feast of God becoming a child, let us think about the Ukrainian children,” he said, Pope, underlining the burden that they are forced to carry in the tragedy “of that war, that is so inhuman, so harsh.”

He encouraged everyone to offer their prayers for the children of Ukraine, who are enduring the bitter cold and lack of basic necessities.

“Let us think about the Ukrainian people this Christmas. They are without heating, without the main things to survive. Let us pray that the Lord may bring them peace as soon as possible.”

Solidarity of Poland

Greeting the faithful people of Poland, the Pope recalled a national tradition according to which, on Christmas Eve, they “leave an empty place at the table for an unexpected guest.”

“This year,” Pope Francis said, “that place will be occupied by the multitude of refugees from Ukraine to whom you have opened the doors of your homes with great generosity.”

“May the child of God born in Bethlehem fill each of you, your families and those you help with love.”


(CNA) – The Vatican has published Pope Francis’ Christmas schedule for this year, which includes five special liturgies and prayers between Christmas Eve and the Solemnity of the Epiphany.

During the Christmas Octave, the pope is also scheduled to give an Angelus address on St. Stephen’s Day on Dec. 26 and hold a Wednesday General Audience on Dec. 29.

Papal Christmas Mass – Dec. 24: Pope Francis will offer Mass for the Nativity of the Lord in St. Peter’s Basilica on Dec. 24. This “Midnight Mass” will begin at 7:30 p.m. Rome time (1:30 p.m. EST) with the traditional Kalenda Proclamation of the Birth of Christ and will be broadcast live on EWTN.

Christmas Day Blessing – Dec. 25: On Christmas Day, Pope Francis will give a traditional papal blessing at noon called the “Urbi et Orbi,” which in Latin means, “To the City and the World.” Along with the blessing, the pope gives an address that highlights humanitarian crises, war-stricken countries, and other situations around the world in need of prayer.

The pope typically gives this blessing from the central loggia of the basilica overlooking St. Peter’s Square (the same balcony from which a new pope is introduced), but last year Pope Francis gave the blessing from inside the Apostolic Palace to avoid a large gathering of people due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vespers on New Year’s Eve – Dec. 31: Pope Francis will pray the First Vespers for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God in St. Peter’s Basilica at 5 p.m. on Dec. 31. After vespers, the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed for Eucharistic Adoration and the “Te Deum” will be sung in thanksgiving for the past year.

Solemnity of Mary Holy Mother of God – Jan. 1: The pope’s first liturgy of 2022 will be in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pope Francis will offer Mass for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God in St. Peter’s Basilica at 10 a.m. On this day, Pope Francis will also mark the 55th World Day of Peace.

Mass for the Epiphany of the Lord – Jan. 6: Pope Francis will offer Mass on the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord in St. Peter’s Basilica at 10 a.m. The Epiphany celebrates the revelation that Jesus was the Son of God. It focuses primarily on this revelation to the Three Wise Men.




I am much more aware of the need for warm clothing (see first story) because our building has been without heat for 3 days! Our doorman Carlo hinted that it might be back on tonight and I think a lot of us are saying a few ‘Aves’ that this does indeed happen, sooner rather than later. It seems I can’t wear enough layers of clothing, in addition to the blanket I put over my legs as I sit for hours and write. My AC unit does not provide heat as it is supposed to. I have a small electric heater that I place outside the bathroom door in the morning but do not run it throughout the day as electricity costs and arm and a leg here (and that, before the recent big rise in utility bills this year).

As Mom always told us whenever there was a difficult moment or a disappointment in life: Offer it up for the poor souls in purgatory!

And so I am!

I’ll also get a thermal t-shirt to help some Ukrainians who are far worse off than we are! The following is from the website: Elemosineria Apostolica | Città del Vaticano. Polish Cardinal Krajewski heads the newly-named Dicastery for Charity.


The Ukrainian people are experiencing an emergency linked, in addition to the war, also to the lack of electricity, gas and the very harsh cold of winter. We could help them, this Christmas, with the gift of thermal shirts, suitable for maintaining body temperature, for men, women, or children (the ones you use to go skiing).

The Elemosineria Apostolica is already being replenished, anyone who wants, can join this initiative by purchasing and bringing/shipping the shirts directly to this Dicastery within a month, in order to send them as soon as possible, by truck, to Kiev.

Please ship or deliver to:  Elemosineria Apostolica,  Cortile Sant’Egidio  00120 Città del Vaticano ,cardKonrad Krajewski

A bench in the courtyard of the papal charity office:

Furthermore, if you want to make this a truly Christian Christmas, you can make a donation on a crowd-funding platform where the Apostolic Almsgiving has launched a fundraising campaign called: “The Warmth of Solidarity – Thermal T-Shirts for Ukraine”


I had read last week of the excommunication of Fr. Rupnik, SJ, on three websites that I did not know and I sought but did not get confirmation. One even reported that it was Pope Francis who lifted the excommunication. Therefore, I did not write of it or talk of it (excommunication) last week on Catholic Connection with Teresa Tomeo because the Jesuit communique that had just come out and that we were talking about, did not mention excommunication or confirm the reports.

But now we know: Fr. Marko Rupnik was indeed excommunicated, he repented and it was lifted.

CNA: The Jesuit Superior General, Father Arturo Sosa, has confirmed that Jesuit artist Father Marko Rupnik incurred an automatic excommunication in 2019 for absolving a woman he had sex with, a fact his religious order was aware of but did not disclose until now.

According to a report by the Associated Press, Sosa disclosed this new information Wednesday in a briefing with journalists in Rome.

Abusing the sacrament of confession in this manner is one of the most serious crimes in the Catholic Church.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “said it happened, there was absolution of an accomplice,” Sosa said. “So he was excommunicated. How do you lift an excommunication? The person has to recognize it and has to repent, which he did.”

Sosa also contradicted the Jesuits’ earlier statement and said the restrictions on Rupnik’s ministry, which remain in effect, dated from this earlier conviction and not the 2021 allegations that the Vatican’s sex crimes office decided to shelve because they were deemed too old to prosecute, the AP reported.

Rupnik, 68, is alleged to have sexually abused members of a women’s institute of religious life in Ljubljana, Slovenia, while serving as the chaplain there in the early 1990s, according to the Italian news outlet One of the women allegedly attempted suicide because of the abuse, reported. A source told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news outlet partner, that at least nine women were allegedly abused.

Those sex abuse allegations were forwarded to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (now the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith) in 2021. The dicastery closed the case in October after concluding that a 30-year statute of limitations on allegations of abuse between adults had run out.

That decision, which came to light through Italian media reports earlier this month, has generated a host of questions about why the Vatican office chose not to waive the statute of limitations as it has done in other cases. The office is headed by a Jesuit, has a Jesuit sex crimes prosecutor, and had as its No. 2 at the time someone who lived in Rupnik’s Jesuit community in Rome, the AP reported.


Pope Francis’ September Prayer intention: For Abolition of the Death Penalty Pope’s September prayer intention: For abolition of the death penalty – Vatican News

The Vatican paper today dedicated a portion of the front page to a large photo of former Russian leader Mikhail Gorbaciov who has died at the age of 91. Calling him “a humanistic visionary,” L’Osservatore Romano reflected on his role in the history of Russia that led to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and to the two meetings that Pope John Paul had with Gorbaciov in 1989 and 1990.

I had only been working at the Vatican for several months in November 1990 but I was invited to be part of a small group of people to be present when John Paul and Gorbaciov met. We were in a hall near the papal study and I can remember today what I felt when a door opened and, not 8 feet from where I was standing, stood Pope John Paul and Gorbaciov! I knew I was living an extraordinary moment of history and was thrilled to be in the presence of two men who had brought about that moment, the events that truly changed so much of the world.

I was not a photojournalist so did not always have a camera at my beck and call like we do today. No cell phones in those days, so no personal photos – just my mind’s eye image of that moment in time.


Pope Francis began the weekly general audience by explaining that, “today we begin a new series of catecheses dealing with discernment, the process of making sound decisions about the meaning and direction of our lives.”

“In the Gospels,” he said, “Jesus uses everyday discernment practised by fishermen and merchants to teach the importance of wisely choosing to live a life in accordance with God’s will.” Jesus highlights how fishermen know how to choose – to discern – the better fish and how a merchant will know how to select – to discern – the better pearl.

“Authentic discernment,” stated the Holy Father, “calls for knowledge, insight and experience but also the wisdom of the heart, firm commitment and unremitting effort. … One chooses food, clothing, a course of study, a job, a relationship. In all of these, a life project is realized, and so is our relationship with God.”

“Discernment involves hard work. According to the Bible, we do not find set before us the life we are to live. God invites us to evaluate and choose. He created us free and wants us to exercise our freedom. Therefore, discerning is demanding.”

“As an exercise of our God-given freedom, spiritual discernment seeks to know our place in the Creator’s plan for ourselves and for our world. For our decisions, good or evil, can make the earth either, as God intends, a magnificent garden or a lifeless desert.”

The Pope noted how, “true discernment, born of our loving relationship with God and our human freedom, brings with it a deep spiritual joy and fulfilment. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten and guide us in our daily efforts to live lives of holiness, wisdom and fidelity to the saving truth of the Gospel.

He added that making the best choice between a set of options also involves our emotions, since a well-made choice can bring us great joy.


In the various language greetings that always follow the weekly audience catechesis, Pope Francis spoke off the cuff to Polish pilgrims today, saying, “Tomorrow you will remember the anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, which so painfully marked the Polish nation. And today we are experiencing the Third. May the memory of past experiences push you to cultivate peace in yourselves, in families, in social and international life.” “May Mary support you,” he added, “in your daily choice of goodness, justice and solidarity with the needy, generating hope, joy and interior freedom in your hearts. I bless you with all my heart.” And he invited them to pray in a special way for Ukraine.

Many times in the past, speaking of wars and outbreaks of violence in different part of the world, Pope Francis has used the expression “World War III,” saying this is happening in “bits and pieces.”

Also Remembering Iraq

At the end of the general audience catechesis, the Holy Father said, “I am following with concern the violent events in Baghdad in recent days. Let us ask God in prayer to give peace to the Iraqi people. Last year I had the joy of visiting, and I felt at first hand the great desire for normality and peaceful coexistence among the different religious communities that make it up. Dialogue and fraternity are the way to face the current difficulties and reach this goal.”




Yesterday, I wrote about the courtesy visits that take place after a consistory in which new cardinals are created, visits at which the new red hats, as they are often called, receive family and friends. It is a chance for all those who are visiting one cardinal in particular to walk around and meet other cardinals, if they so wish. This can be fun, especially if one speaks several languages!

Before I even entered the Paul VI Hall for these visits, I was drawn by the immense numbers of Nigerians in town for Cardinal Peter Ebere Okpaleke of Ekwulobia, in the courtyard and in the atrium. There must have been a square acre of the red fabric you see here because every man, woman and child from Nigeria wore the same clothing!

As I mentioned yesterday, I first met the new U.S. prelate, Cardinal Robert McElroy of San Diego in the atrium of the Paul VI Hall. Sunday he celebrated Mass at my Rome parish, St. Patrick’s. There was a sizeable delegation of Californians at that Mass – might have rivalled the Nigerians in number.

As I met each new cardinal, I introduced myself, mentioned how long I had lived in Rome, added I had worked many years at the Vatican and was now with the EWTN Rome bureau. I also gave them my card. In such visits there is very little time for a conversation because of the numbers of people wanting to visit each cardinal, but such moments are nonetheless memorable and potentially important.

In the atrium, I also met Cardinal Filipe Neri Antonio Sebastiao do Rosario Ferrao of Goa and Damao, India. I was told by an assistant that he had the longest name of all the new cardinals (probably of the entire College of Cardinals – I will check).

We spoke about the honor given to his native land in this consistory as India is home to a very small number of Catholics but received a second red hat in Cardinal Anthony Poola of Hyderabad. The 20 million Catholics in India are about 1.5 percent of the total population. The Catholic Church is the largest Christian church in India.

Cardinal Poola, 60, is the first Dalit to become a cardinal. Dalit is Sanskrit and is another name for those in India known as “untouchables,” a people said to belong to the lowest level of castes in India. By the time I got around the Paul VI Hall, he had left so we did not meet.

I next met Cardinal William Goh of Singapore, He asked if I had ever travelled there and I said I had not but a few years ago had welcomed 6 Singapore Patrons of the Vatican Museums to my home for dinner, part of the 28-member delegation in Rome. He said he knew of the Patrons group.

I then met Cardinal Virgilio do Carmo da Silva of Dili, East Timor who, as soon as he heard I was with EWTN, smiled broadly and told me he is a huge fan! “I watch so many of your programs, and enjoy them all.” I said I had read that Catholics were the majority religion, and he said, “a big majority.” (in fact, 97% of the 1.3 million population is Catholic). The cardinal said I should come and visit the “wonderful” Church in East Timor. Who knows!

Across the room was Italian-born Consolata missionary, Cardinal Giorgio Marengo who, at 48, is the youngest member of the College of Cardinals. He is the apostolic prefect of Ulaanbataar, Mongolia, a missionary jurisdiction that includes the entire country. He brought a number of his staff with him to Rome, as you see in these photos.

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When I told Cardinal Marengo I had been in Rome for 42 years, we both had a laugh as I pointed out that he would have been 6 years old when I came to Italy.

The last cardinal I met Saturday was Cardinal Jorge Carvajal, emeritus of Cartagena, Colombia. I congratulated him, we chatted briefly in English and Spanish, and when he saw my card, he told me, with a broad smile, that he once met Mother Angelica in Birmingham!


A brief note from the Holy See Press Office this afternoon stated that the two-day meeting of the College of Cardinals with the Pope to discuss the new Apostolic Constitution on the Roman curia, Praedicate Evangelium,, has ended.  The meeting was described as “having taken place in a fraternal atmosphere, (and) attended by just under 200 cardinals, Eastern patriarchs and superiors of the Secretariat of State. The work in linguistic groups and the discussions in the Hall gave way to freely discuss many aspects relating to the document and the life of the Church. The final afternoon session was dedicated to the 2025 Jubilee on Hope.”  The note said that Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica with Pope Francis and all the cardinals officially concludes the private consistory, after which each participant will return to their own diocese.


The following statement was released today by the Holy See Press Office:

In the context of the war in Ukraine, there have been numerous interventions by the Holy Father Francis and his collaborators in this regard. They have the main purpose of inviting Pastors and faithful to prayer, and all people of good will to solidarity and efforts to rebuild peace. On more than one occasion, as well as in recent days, public discussions have arisen on the political significance to be attributed to such interventions. In this regard, it is reiterated that the words of the Holy Father on this dramatic question must be read as a voice raised in defense of human life and the values ​​connected to it, and not as political positions. As for the large-scale war in Ukraine, initiated by the Russian Federation, the interventions of the Holy Father Francis are clear and unambiguous in condemning it as morally unjust, unacceptable, barbaric, senseless, repugnant and sacrilegious.

In the event you have not been following the news stories of reaction to Pope Francis’ words last week on Ukraine at the August 24 general audience, he referred to a bomb that went off near Moscow killing a young woman: “I think of that poor girl blown up by a bomb under her car seat in Moscow. The innocent pay for war, the innocent! Let us think about this reality and say to each other: war is madness,”

In reality, the women was the daughter of a politician close to Putin, both of whom approved of the Ukraine invasion. Her father was to have been in the car that was bombed but they had switched cars. To understand why the Vatican felt it necessary to issue this statement: here is more background: Vatican: Pope Francis’ Ukraine War comments not a ‘political stance’ | Catholic News Agency



In the interview segment of “Vatican Insider” this weekend, I offer a special I’ve prepared on The Lazy, Hazy Days of Ferragosto. On Monday in Italy we celebrate the biggest holiday of the summer season “Ferragosto,” the name Italians give to the August 15 solemnity of the Assumption. Ferragosto refers to the feriae augusti, meaning “holidays of August.” I look at the origin of the word ‘ferragosto’ and also at how the expression ‘the dog days of summer’ was born.

I’ll also tell you how the ancient Romans beat the midsummer heat! I think you’ll learn a lot and have a few laughs at the same time so tune it for that after news and the Q&A.

Italy in August: Closed for Vacation

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.


Italy’s news agency ANSA reported at 6:22 this evening Rome time that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday he had spoken on the phone with Pope Francis and told him about Russian war crimes. Zelesnky said on Twitter: “Talked to @Pontifex_it. Briefed him on RF aggression against Ukraine, its horrible crimes. Grateful to the pontiff for his prayers for Ukraine. Our people need support of world spiritual leaders who should convey to the world the truth about acts of horror committed by the aggressor in Ukraine.” (ANSA).

Zelensky’s words are interspersed with images of the Ukrainian flag as you can see on his tweet: Zelenskyy – Twitter Search / Twitter

As I go to press, there is no official confirmation from the Holy See Press Office.



The Vatican today released a statement that noted “how Pope Francis, on Palm Sunday had asked for an Easter truce, in order to achieve peace.”

It stated further that, “the Holy See and the Holy Father join in the appeal that António Guterres, secretary general of the United Nations, along with His Beatitude Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Greek-Catholic Church in Ukraine, launched on April 19 for a truce in the occasion of the celebration of Easter according to the Julian calendar on April 24th.

“In the knowledge that nothing is impossible for God, they invoke the Lord King so that the population trapped in war zones is evacuated and peace will soon be restored, and they ask those who have the responsibility of the Nation to listen to the cry of peace of the people.” (Vatican photo)

At that time, Guterres said, “Easter is a season for renewal, resurrection and hope. It is a time for reflection on the meaning of suffering, sacrifice, death, and rebirth. It is meant to be a moment of unity.”

According to Vatican News, the U.N. chief said today, “I am calling for a four-day, Holy Week humanitarian pause, beginning on Holy Thursday and running through Easter Sunday, April 24, to allow for the opening of a series of humanitarian corridors. Humanitarian needs are dire. People do not have food, water supplies, to treat the sick, or simply to live day-to-day.

“For all these life-or-death reasons, I call on Russians and Ukrainians to silence the guns and forge a path to safety for so many at immediate risk.” The four-day Easter period should be a moment to unite around saving lives and furthering dialogue to end the suffering in Ukraine.

“Put the weapons down,” said Pope Francis on Palm Sunday. “Let an Easter truce start. But not to rearm and resume combat but a truce to reach peace through real negotiations open to some sacrifices for the good of the people.”


One of the books I re-discovered during Lent was a delight volume by Cardinal Francis Arinze, a gift of his when I invited him to dinner one night. The book is “Draw Near to Me, O Lord: Heartfelt Prayers for Everyday Life.”

This small volume has countless prayers for so many situations that arise in anyone’s life. But there are two occasions that occur for all of us, getting up in the morning and going to bed at night. How do we thank the Lord? Do we thank the Lord? Words should come fairly easily and I think you’ll find that in these two prayers from his book!


Lord God, a new day dawns. It is a gift of Your creating hand. You are giving me this gift of another 24 hours to be at Your service and to be in solidarity with my neighbor.

I thank You for this providential design of Yours. May every thought, word, or deed of mine in this day be pleasing to You, be according to Your will and be my own yes to the unfolding of Your plan for me, for my dear ones, for the people for whom or with whom I work and indeed for all humanity.

Help me, Lord, to overcome my basic defects and weaknesses. May I show the hand of togetherness to every brother or sister with whom I am in contact today. At the end of this day, may I be able to look back with gratitude and joy and without regret. This I beg You, through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Lord, the day You gave me has ended. The darkness of night descends as part of Your providential design.

I thank You for the opportunities you have given me today to live in your service and that of my neighbor. What I may have done well, I beg You to purify, elevate and accept through Christ, with Christ and in Christ. What I have not done well, I beg You to correct so that everything may finally turn out to Your greater glory, the good of my neighbor, and my own spiritual growth.

Night rest and sleep are Your gift. May I have the blessing of being refreshed by rest and sleep so that I may be better able to serve You. I am joyfully confident of Your love and protection.

I pray also for all the people who find rest and sleep difficult for those who are obliged to work long hours with a little time for rest, and for those who have turned the night into a time of restless activities that are not always according to Your will. Lord, curb the devil and all forces of evil that operate more at night so that we may be better disposed to serve You when a new day dawns. To You be honor and glory through Christ our Lord. Amen.





It has been a truly wonderful, very special Easter this year in Rome! Huge numbers of tourists fill the city’s squares and restaurants and monuments and churches! After two years of Covid restrictions, for the first time since Easter 2019, there was the Good Friday Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) at the Colosseum, and Easter Sunday Mass was once again celebrated in St. Peter’s Square!

The police estimated that 100,000 were present in and near St. Peter’s Square Sunday, including the thousands who filled Via della Conciliazione, almost down to Castel Sant’Angelo! Gorgeous weather has framed all events of this splendid Holy Week and Easter season!

Holy Saturday night, I had dinner at a restaurant, Pummarola, owned by a friend. Towards the end of my dinner, Salih sat down and we began talking and he asked a couple seated one table over where they were from. They said they were both students and very close friends and visiting from Israel: she was Ukrainian and he was Russian!

I was especially touched by their close friendship, given, of course, the current situation in Ukraine, invaded in February by Russia. We began a fascinating discussion and I only wished we’d met earlier in the evening, not just as we were paying our bills!

I could not help but think back to the previous night, to the Via Crucis at the Colosseum where the meditations and reflections were written by families – families with adopted children, a widow with two children, families who had lost a child, families hit by many hardships, families who wanted children and had none, families with special needs sons and daughters. Each family carried the cross at the specific station assigned to them.

The Vatican published all the reflections several days before Good Friday.

At the 13th Station – Jesus Dies on the Cross – two women, very good friends and colleagues at a Rome medical center – Albina from Russia and Irina from Ukraine – carried the cross. However, the reflections they wrote caused great concern among Ukrainians, and the first to express his disapproval of the written text, which focused on the women’s angst, their sorrow, their pain at the current war, was Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. He said “such an idea (is) untimely, ambiguous and such that it does not take into account the context of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine.” He was not alone on his criticism of the Via Crucis text.

While the printed booklet, published online and carried by the faithful Friday at the Colosseum did carry the original text, as the event unfolded at the Colosseum, we learned that the prepared text, in a last minute change by the Vatican, was not read. Instead, a reader said: “In the face of death, silence is more eloquent than words. Let us therefore pause in prayerful silence and each one in his heart pray for peace in the world.”

The two women did carry the cross and exchanged knowing glances between them. It was quite an extraordinary moment for anyone following this story related to the 13th Station.

This was definitely a coin with two sides.

On the one side are those who agree that the Vatican did the right thing by not having the original text read, thus showing it shared the deep feelings of the Ukrainian people who daily watch their family members and friends die, see their homes and businesses destroyed and lose great numbers as people flee to neighboring countries, becoming refugees. They asked: how could the Vatican seem to equate aggressor and victim?

On the other hand are those who, like Pope Francis, sincerely believe that reconciliation is possible, healing is possible.

As Andrea Gagliarducci wrote in his Monday Vatican column: “Pope Francis wished the cross to be carried at the 13th station by two women, one Russian and one Ukrainian, who were already friends, to testify to the possibility of reconciliation between peoples. Pope Francis wanted to exemplify his ideal of social friendship outlined in Fratelli Tutti with this gesture. For him, it was a sign that peace is possible and that this peace comes from friendship among peoples.”

He wrote much more but this captured one side of that coin.

As I sat and spoke briefly with the couple seated at the table next to me, saw their friendship, but also saw how they also shared pain at the thought that the homeland of one of them had invaded the homeland of the other, I almost could see both sides of the coin.

Their friendship, as that of Irina and Albina, was not a question of “reconciliation between peoples.” They already had a deep friendship, irrespective of the war, and knew they’d have to work hard to maintain that, and to perhaps even become instruments of reconciliation among the peoples of their homeland.

All of this really makes one pause in prayer. Lord, what is the right ‘feeling,’ the right emotion, the right judgment at this time?


As I write, it is Pasquetta – Little Easter – a big holiday in Italy and the Vatican. It’s also known as Monday of the Angel – the Angel, of course, who told Mary Magdalene and the disciples on that first Easter that the tomb was empty because “He is Risen!”

This is a day for families and friends to be together as the Easter break holidays end. Vatican employees are also enjoying the last of their six days off at Easter, starting Holy Thursday and ending tomorrow. However, I’m sure the people happiest to have a day to breathe after so many arduous Holy Week liturgies, are priests!

After preparing a segment for “At Home with Joy and Joy” today, I decided to go to Homebaked for lunch. Jesse and I saw big numbers of young people walking by on both sides of Via di Porta Cavalleggeri. There were many large groups of youth walking together who identified themselves by wearing identical T-shirts, scarves, hats or carrying signs that indicated who they were and from what diocese or parish.

After lunch I went to a nearby bus stop to catch a bus for an errand I wanted to run (some but not all stores are open on such a holiday). After 35 minutes and no bus, I decided no errand was worth the wait, but I had to say I was totally amused during the wait simply by watching the happy, smiling, singing Italian teens make their way to St. Peter’s Square for their meeting at 6 pm today with Pope Francis. And I heard several languages other than Italian!

I know that between 50 and 100 youth walked by each minute of the 35 that I waited. About 50,000 are expected at the encounter with the Holy Father, according to the Vatican.

The theme of this joyful Easter encounter, promoted by the National Service for Youth of the Italian Episcopal Conference, is “Follow Me.” The teens are being led by bishops, priests, men and women religious, by educators and by leaders of associations, movements, communities and groups such as scouts.



Yesterday, Good Friday 2022, the Holy See Press Office published an audio file which they transcribed (see below) from Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, papal almoner, who is in Ukraine on his third visit, this time having driven from Rome a second ambulance offered by Pope Francis to a Ukrainian hospital. They also released the photo below.

This afternoon, on his return from Borodianka, north of Kiev, where he stopped to pray in front of the graves and bodies found, as in a Way of the Cross, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski entrusted his pain to this message:

“Here with the nuncio, we are now returning to Kiev, from these difficult places for every person in the world, where we found so many dead and a (common) tomb of at least 80 people, buried with no name or surname. Luckily there is faith, and we are in Holy Week, Good Friday, when we can unite with the person of Jesus and go up to the Cross with Him, because after Good Friday … I know, I know: there will be Sunday of the Resurrection. And perhaps He will explain everything to us with His love and change everything within us too, this bitterness and this suffering that we have been carrying for a few days, but especially today.”



I found the general audience catechesis today to be especially eye-opening in one passage where Pope Francis quotes Dostoevsky and his novel, The Brothers Karamazov, in which “the Grand Inquisitor accuses Jesus of not using his power to establish peace, but rather respecting the freedom of individual men and women.”

How many times have people asked, wondered, questioned: “Why did God allow that to happen?” with “that” being a war, the death of innocents, some human atrocity. Could not God have simply willed the good to happen? Could He have simply willed the bad not to happen?

We must remember, as we search for an answer, that man has God-given free will. Mankind can, by free will, do wondrous good. By that same free will, mankind can cause great disaster and perform heinous acts.

As a prayer book of mine says: In the beginning, we make choices. In the end, those choices make us.

By the way, today is known as Spy Wednesday as it recalls the day that Judas received 30 pieces of silver from the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus (Luke 22:1-6). It is also the last official day of Lent, as tomorrow starts the Triduum (three days) of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.


Pope Francis entered the Paul VI Hall this morning for the weekly general audience and greeted the estimated 7,000 faithful in attendance.

This will be the last audience in the Paul VI Hall for a while as these weekly meetings with the Pope and faithful are scheduled to be in St. Peter’s Square, starting next Wednesday

The Holy Father began his catechesis by explaining that, “during this Holy Week, the Church celebrates the mystery of Our Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. Last Sunday we recalled the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. The crowds acclaimed him as the Messiah who would bring about a glorious peace by freeing Jerusalem from Roman occupation. Yet the peace Jesus brought did not employ the strategies of the world. Rather than recourse to violence, it comes through the humility and meekness that led him to the Cross. By dying for our sins, Christ has set us free.” (Vatican photo)

“In this regard,” explained the Holy Father, “is a great story by Dostoevsky, In his novel The Brothers Karamazov, the so-called Legend of The Grand Inquisitor, is always relevant. It tells of Jesus who, after several centuries, returns to Earth. He is immediately welcomed by the rejoicing crowd, which recognizes and acclaims him. “Ah, you have returned! Come, come with us!” But then he is arrested by the Inquisitor, who represents worldly logic. The latter interrogates him and criticizes him fiercely. The final reason for the rebuke is that Christ, although he could, never wanted to become Caesar, the greatest king of this world, preferring to leave humanity free rather than subjugate it and solve its problems by force.”

That is to say, “the Grand Inquisitor accuses Jesus of not using his power to establish peace, but rather respecting the freedom of individual men and women. Indeed, the peace that Jesus brings does not employ force, but only the “weapons” of the Gospel: prayer, forgiveness and compassion for all our neighbours. This, not the blasphemous violence of war, is the peace of Easter; the peace that changes history and the hearts of all who accept it. This week, let us draw near to Christ, crucified and risen, and implore his gift of peace in our hearts and in the world.”


At language greetings at the end of the catechesis, Francis cordially greeted the Polish pilgrims present, telling them, “this year you celebrate Holy Week and Easter in a special way, along with many Ukrainian guests. Easter is a family celebration and you, opening up your homes to them, have become their family. Although most of them will celebrate these feast days a week later, according to the oriental tradition, already now all of you together contemplate the Crucifix, and await the resurrection of Christ and peace in Ukraine. I bless you from my heart!”

In fact, most of the Ukrainian Christians fleeing their country are Orthodox Christians who celebrate Easter one week after the Latin Church marks the Resurrection.

Since the March 24 invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Poland has welcomed an estimate 2.5 million Ukrainians, mostly women and children, as men, aged 18 and older, were asked to remain in Ukraine to fight to defend their country.