IN BRIEF (SO TO SPEAK)

As you hopefully know by now, two events in the Vatican with Pope Francis are scheduled for coming days: tomorrow, March 25, feast of the Annunciation (12 noon Rome time), and Friday, March 27 from 6 to 7 pm Rome time (announced by Francis at Sunday Angelus: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-03/pope-calls-for-christians-to-unite-in-prayer-for-end-to-pandemic.html)

I have been asked by many people if the prayer the Pope has asked all Christians to recite, the Our Father, when he does so at noon tomorrow will be said around the world by Christians in sync with Rome or at their local time zone noon hour.

According to the following reports (and others I’ve read), the prayer will be in sync with Rome:

(CNS) – Pope Francis has invited Christians around the world to respond to the coronavirus pandemic by joining him at the same time in praying the Lord’s Prayer at 7 a.m. Eastern time (noon in Rome) on Wednesday, March 25, the solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.

(www.vaticannews.va) – “The Philippine Catholic Church is joining two worldwide prayer initiatives of Pope Francis this week as a response to the coronavirus, or COVID-19, pandemic. It is also reaching out to the homeless in the capital. “Heeding the Pope’s invitation, we recommend that we will pray together the Lord’s Prayer at 7:00 pm on March 25,” wrote Fr. Marvin Mejia, Secretary-General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in a circular on Monday. Speaking during Sunday’s Angelus prayer, Pope Francis called on Christians to respond to the pandemic with the “universality of prayer, of compassion, of tenderness. … In these trying days, while humanity trembles due to the threat of the pandemic, I would like to propose to all Christians that together we lift our voices towards Heaven,” he said. He particularly invited Christian communities and leaders of Christian Churches to join in reciting the Our Father at noon on Wednesday, March 25, Rome time, or at 7:00 pm in the Philippines. (By Robin Gomes – vaticannews)

IN BRIEF (SO TO SPEAK)

PAPAL MESSAGE FOR WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR VOCATIONS – Pope Francis sends a message to mark the 57th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be celebrated on May 3. Pope Francis begins his message by recalling a letter he wrote last year in which he chose four key words – pain, gratitude, encouragement, and praise – as a way of “thanking priests and supporting their ministry.” Today, he says, those same words can “be addressed to the whole people of God,” alongside a passage from Matthew’s Gospel that recounts the “remarkable experience of Jesus and Peter during a stormy night on the Sea of Galilee” (cf. Mt 14:22-33). Pope Francis says, “After the multiplication of the loaves, Jesus told his disciples to get into the boat and precede Him to the other shore, while He took leave of the people.” He explains: “The image of the disciples crossing the lake can evoke our own life’s journey.”  FULL STORY: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-03/pope-francis-sends-message-for-world-day-of-prayer-for-vocations.html

U.S. SEMINARY STUDENTS SENT HOME: (CNA).- Amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the Pontifical North American College seminary has sent students to return to their homes and dioceses in the U.S. NAC rector Fr. Peter Harman told CNA by email March 23 that the decision to send students home had been made “in consultation with” the seminary’s board of governors. He added that about 20 or so students would stay at the seminary with the faculty as they are unable to get home or would not have a place to self-quarantine. Harman said seminarians will undergo a 14-day quarantine after returning home and their studies will continue through the means established by the Roman universities at which they take classes. “We made this decision for their safety, thinking that being in smaller groups at home would be safer than one large campus, not being able to assure direct health care here for the indefinite future,” he said. “We still have everyone healthy, and would rather undergo this convenience than jeopardize their health.”

VATICAN NEWSPAPER SUSPENDS PRINT PUBLICATION: L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican daily newspaper, announced today in its print and online editions that, as of March 26, it will have to temporarily suspend the printed editions of the paper in its daily, weekly and monthly editions until the coronavirus situation ends, and working conditions can return to normal. Distribution to newsstands in the city and printed copies to be mailed will halt. In fact, the newspaper will continue to be edited and can be viewed in digital format on the web page: www. Osservatoreromano.va in its new guise, simpler and more integrated with the Vatican News site, which will be inaugurated tomorrow, Wednesday 25 March, solemnity of the Annunciation. For those wishing to receive the paper in digital form, send your email address to: helpdesk@spc.va (JFL: daily, weekly and monthly editions are in Italian. I am not sure if the digital paper includes the weekly editions in other languages – am checking on that. I believe this is the first time in the paper’s history – founded July 1, 1861 –  that it has suspended printing. I have heard that some copies may be printed for Pope Francis, for the pope emeritus and for the Secretary of State. Click here for the March 13 and March 20 editions in English: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city/news/2020-03/osservatore-romano-pdf-english-weekly-edition.html

CORONAVIRUS IN THE VATICAN (HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE): Answering questions from journalists, Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni, said: “At present there are four cases of coronavirus positivity found (in Vatican staff): in addition to the first case previously reported, one case is an employee of the Merchandise Office and two are employees of the Vatican Museums. The four people had been placed in solitary confinement before they tested positive and their isolation has lasted for over 14 days; currently they are being treated in Italian hospitals or at home.”

FROM THE HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE

Basically a confirmation of what I posted earlier this morning…

FROM THE HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE

Information on upcoming papal events:

With regard to events of coming days, the Angelus of the Holy Father on Sunday March 8 will take place from the Library of the Apostolic Palace and not in the square, from the window. The prayer will be broadcast live via Vatican News and on screens in St. Peter’s Square and distributed by Vatican Media to the media that request it, so as to allow the participation of the faithful.

The general audience of Wednesday March 11 will take place in the same way. These choices are necessary to avoid risks of spreading COVID-19 due to gatherings during the security checks for access to the square, and as requested by Italian authorities.

In compliance with the provisions of the Health and Hygiene Department of Vatican City State, the participation of guests at (the daily papal) Masses in Santa Marta will be suspended until Sunday 15 March. The Holy Father will celebrate the Eucharist privately.

UPDATE ON THE VATICAN AND CORONAVIRUS

UPDATE ON THE VATICAN AND CORONAVIRUS

The Vatican Apostolic Archives that on Monday, March 2 opened the historic archives of the Pius XII papacy to scholars and researchers, has now closed the study rooms until further notice, according to one researcher who had received permission to study the archives.

I await confirmation as I write but it seems that the Vatican is thinking of transmitting the Sunday Angelus via television and streaming on its website and/or Youtube page in order to avoid bringing large crowds of people to St. Peter’s Square as happens on Sundays when the Pope appears at his study window at noon.

The Pope’s Wednesday general audience has been cancelled for the coming week. There is a possibility that that event will also be transmitted via the Vatican Youtube page. The Vatican has said it will conform to Italian government directives on matters relating to the coronavirus crisis. The government is doing all possible to avoid bringing people together in large crowds and in fact, has ordered that soccer matches and other games played in stadiums not take place in front of an audience. Games can be played and will be transmitted on TV but no spectators allowed in stadiums.

Several Vatican events scheduled for coming weeks and months have been set at later dates, mostly because the meetings involved bringing hundreds if not more, people into Rome and the Vatican from around the world.

Stay tuned….

CARDINAL WILLIAM LEVADA DEAD AT AGE 83

CARDINAL WILLIAM LEVADA DEAD AT AGE 83

Cardinal William Joseph Levada died in Rome during the night between September 25 and 26.

He was Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, President emeritus of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and International Theological Commission, President emeritus of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei.”

Cardinal Levada was born on 15 June 1936 in Long Beach, California. He was ordained a priest on 20 December 1961 and held a degree in sacred theology.

After five years of pastoral ministry in Los Angeles, he was appointed as an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1976.

On 25 March 1983 he was appointed titular Bishop of Capri and Auxiliary of Los Angeles. He received episcopal ordination on 12 May of the same year.

On 17 August 1995 he was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of San Francisco and was named as the Archbishop of San Francisco on 27 December of that year.

In 2000, he was appointed a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

On 13 May 2005, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Cardinal Levada as his successor as Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He is also president of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and International Theological Commission.

On 24 June 2008 he was appointed President Delegate of the XII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church” (5-26 October 2008).

On 8 July 2009, he was nominated President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.

Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, President emeritus of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and International Theological Commission, President emeritus of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, 2 July 2012.

He participated in the conclave of March 2013 that elected Pope Francis.
Created and proclaimed cardinal by Benedict XVI in the consistory of 24 March 2006, of the Title of Santa Maria in Domnica (St. Mary in Domnica), Deaconry elevated pro hac vice to Presbyteral title. (https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/documentation/cardinali_biografie/cardinali_bio_levada_wj.html)

BISHOP PAGANO: OPENING THE ARCHIVES WILL REVEAL THE GREATNESS OF PIUS XII

Today is Mardi Gras, the Fat Tuesday precursor to Lent. Celebrations take place in many cities of the world, as you know, including the Lagoon City, Venice. I posted some photos yesterday from a Carnevale I attended not long ago in Venezia and offer a few more today! Enjoy!

I also visited the church where St. Lucy, patronness of eye health, is buried –

I also visited a church where Pope St. John XXIII, former patriarch of Venice, is remembered –

In the meantime, I wish you a blessed and fruitful Lent!

BISHOP PAGANO: OPENING THE ARCHIVES WILL REVEAL THE GREATNESS OF PIUS XII

According to the Prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, Pope Francis’ decision to open the archives on Pope Pius XII will allow a more profound evaluation of the figure of Eugenio Pacelli, who is often the subject of superficial criticisms. Documents concerning Pius’ pontificate will be available within the next year.
Sergio Centofani (vaticannews)

At an audience with managers and staff of the Vatican Archives, Pope Francis announced the opening of the area of the archive relating to the pontificate of Pope Pius XII on 2 March 2020. The opening of this section of the archives means that qualified researchers will be able to view a large volume of documents collected in the Vatican during the period from 2 March 1939 to 9 October 1958. The date of the opening in 2020 coincides with the anniversary of the election of Eugenio Pacelli as Pope Pius XII.

Article in “L’Osservatore Romano”
Bishop Sergio Pagano, Prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, provides details of the initiative in an article, published in the Monday edition of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano and in advance by the Holy See Press Office. In the article, Bishop Pagano describes the long period of preparation that led to this moment: “Archivists of the Vatican Secret Archives and their colleagues from other Vatican archives carried out patient work of sorting, annotating and inventorying the many fonds and documents”, he writes.

The Prefect recalls that, in 2004, Pope Saint John Paul II made the extensive collection of the Vatican Office of Information for Prisoners of War (1939-1947) available to researchers. This is composed of “2,349 archival units, divided into 556 envelopes, 108 registers and 1,685 boxes of documentation, with an alphabetical file, which amounts to about 2 million and 100,000 records, relating to military and civilian prisoners, missing or interned, of whom information was being sought. A fund immediately investigated and still very much in demand today by private scholars or relatives of the deceased prisoners,” writes Bishop Pagano.

Archival openings
When the archive relating to the pontificate of Pope Pius XI (1922-1939) was opened in 2006, at the request of Pope Benedict XVI, continues the Prefect, “work was already underway for the progressive preparation of the documentary material of Pius XII, which many scholars demanded with ever greater insistence”.

Pope Francis has decided to open the Vatican Secret Archives, the Historical Archives of the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State, and the Historical Archives of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, up to October 1958, explains the Prefect. Also, the Historical Archives of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Historical Archives of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, the Archives of the “Fabbrica” of St. Peter and, according to different modalities and forms of access, other Historical Archives of Congregations, Dicasteries, Offices, and Tribunals, all “at the discretion of their superiors,” says Bishop Pagano.

Each of these archives has its own rules, reservation systems, indexes and inventories relating to their documentation, which will now be open for study.

New sources available
Describing the new sources of the Secret Archives that will be available to scholars, Bishop Pagano cites about 151,000 positions (each of which consists of dozens of sheets) of the Secretariat of State. Detailed computer descriptions of this documentation have been prepared and are available in paper format (68 volumes of indexes). Then there are the so-called “separate envelopes”, which contain documentation regarding individual topics or institutions, under the organization of the Secretariat of State, totaling “538 envelopes, of which there will be a precise descriptive list,” says the Prefect.

From the same source come the “76 units now called the Pius XII Papers, which contain manuscripts by Eugenio Pacelli before and during his pontificate, as well as typescripts of his many speeches, sometimes with handwritten corrections”. There are also three other substantial “special” archival collections. The first is that of the Relief Commission, the second is simply called Pontifical Charity, and the third is that of the Migration Office, set up to deal with the problem of the repatriation of prisoners and refugees, as well as the growing issue of migration, caused by the poverty experienced in certain European countries.

The documents of the pontifical representations will also be available: “For each pontifical representation an accurate Inventory has been prepared, indispensable guides for researchers (about 81 Indexes for a total of more than 5,100 envelopes). These inventories can also be consulted on the Intranet of the Vatican Archives for the convenience of scholars and to facilitate their research in various fields”, writes Bishop Pagano.

Cataloguing challenges
In order to face the challenge of cataloguing, “twenty officials from the Vatican Archives dedicated themselves constantly and exclusively. Where possible, they were assisted by qualified graduates from the School of Palaeography, Diplomacy and Archiving within the Archive itself”. The same goes for the other historical archives of the Roman Curia that are now open for the pontificate of Pope Pius XII.

“It was certainly a struggle,” writes Bishop Pagano, but “a struggle sustained by a certain enthusiasm, both because we were aware that we were working for future historical research in relation to a crucial period for the Church and for the world, and because the papers were everything but uninspiring. They spoke, and I hope they will speak, to researchers and historians of an almost superhuman work of Christian humanism that was active in the stormy disorder of those events that in the mid-twentieth century seemed determined to annihilate the very notion of human civilization.”

The figure of Pope Pius XII has often been “too superficially judged and criticized for some aspects of his pontificate”, concludes Bishop Pagan. Now, thanks to the openness asked for by Pope Francis, historians will be able to research the pontificate of Pope Pius XII “without prejudice, but with the help of new documents, in all the realistic scope and richness” of that pontificate.

Research instructions
Instructions for conducting research in the Vatican Secret Archives, are available on the website (http://asv.vatican.va/content/archiviosegretovaticano/en/consultazione/accesso-e-consultazione.html).

Research in the Archivio Segreto Vaticano is free of charge and open to qualified scholars conducting scientific studies. All researchers must have a university degree (five-year course) or an equivalent university diploma.

Clergymen must possess a licentiate degree or PhD.

A letter of request must be addressed to the Prefect, indicating the reasons for the research. This must be accompanied by a presentation letter from a recognized institute of scientific and historical research or a person qualified in the field of historical research (tenured university professors).

FOREVER CHANGED …

FOREVER CHANGED …

Nine days after the 9-11 attacks on New York and Washington, I wrote an email to everyone in my address book at that time, family and friends alike. Today, as we commemorate the 17th anniversary of those attacks, I thought about that letter and how I described my feelings, the reactions in Rome and in Europe, and how people marked September 11th, one of the blackest days in American history.

I am in Honolulu on the tail end of my vacation time and it was fascinating today to re-read that email – which I entitled “Forever changed” – at a distance of 17 years and now I’d like to share it with you. I was working for the Vatican Information Service at the time.

A month ago I visited Ground Zero and the amazing Museum erected to memorialize that event and the lives of the 2,977 people who died. The memorial fountains honor 2,983 people as they added the name f the 6 people killed in an attack on the Twin Towers in 1993. Visiting the museum was like being in a cathedral – the feeling of awe, reverence and recollection has made this a spiritual site for so many. People spoke in very low tones, or they did not speak at all. It was extremely impressive.

I’ve created a slide show of some photos I took and will try at a later date to explain each picture.

Dear Family and friends,

I had all the best intentions of writing to you last week, following the horrific, unspeakable events in our nation, but too many things got in the way and time just ran out each day. I had just returned to Rome from the States so there was some jet lag, but mainly a great deal of work as soon as I came back. And then our days became filled with and dominated by nonstop CNN coverage of doubtless the most incredible week in our nation’s history. I am not sure the magnitude of that terrorist attack is truly implanted in my brain yet.

Please sit down and have a second cup of coffee for this will be a long letter. Today I wanted to share with you not only my feelings but life in Rome as of 2:46 p.m. (local time on Black Tuesday.

On September 11, just before 3 p.m. Rome time (9a.m. in NYC), my colleague Alfonso called from his office next to mine and told me to turn on CNN to see something horrendous. I did so and thought for about one minute that I was looking at a horrible plane accident. And then I saw – right there on my screen, bigger than life – a second plane directly hit the other Twin Tower – and I knew it was terrorism. I was riveted to the screen, my brain not yet totally processing what my eyes had seen – and then the news that the Pentagon was burning! And then that a fourth plane, with terrorist commandos, had crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside. Real became surreal.

The impossible became possible.

I watched TV in the office for a few hours and then went home. Since my satellite dish has not been working since July, I watched a bit of Italian news and then took a nap, trying to shake off jet lag, and later joined American friends for dinner that night at their house. These were times when one craved the company and comfort of friends, especially American friends.

The next hours and days the TV became like another limb on my body – I could not get through the days without it – especially because we were cut off from America. For a day or two it was tough or impossible to reach New York and Washington via phone and for a number of days there was no physical way to get to the United States from Rome – or anywhere else in the world. You’ll never understand that feeling – although some of you to whom I’m writing live in Rome or abroad so you DO understand.

I know all of you have been watching TV and I am sure you are fully aware of the support for the U.S. around the world – the candlelight vigils and processions, the myriad church services, the flying of flags at half mast, the countless bouquets of flowers laid near embassies or consulates, the Europeans who stopped their American friends – or even strangers – to pat their arms, express their condolences, give them a hug, buy them a meal or ask if they needed someone to be near them.

The three young children of an American colleague of mine in the press office all asked Joy if they could donate blood to help the wounded Americans. My friends at ZI GAETANA’s restaurant in Rome helped some of the Americans stranded here last week by offering them their meals. I am sure such stories were repeated throughout Italy – and the world.

I am also sure you saw the extraordinarily moving images of how Europe mourned last Friday when everyone and everything stopped for 3 minutes at noon and stores kept their doors closed for 10 minutes starting at noon.

Whoever they were – simple citizens, government leaders, tourists, salespeople, business men and women – alone, in twos, groups of 10, 100 and 100,000 – and wherever they were at noon – at outdoor markets, in churches, touring, eating lunch in a fancy restaurant or a fast food place, at work in factories, offices and stores – they simply stopped, frozen in their tracks, silent in prayer and reflection for 3 minutes. It was like the biblical story of Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt.

To see the images on the Italian news that afternoon and evening was remarkable, moving and unforgettable. One station played “Amazing Grace” for 3 minutes and simply showed images of how Europeans stopped, put their lives on hold for 3 minutes and mourned.

Here in the Vatican the staff members of each office in the Roman Curia prayed the angelus at noon and sang the requiem. I sincerely hope you all saw the unforgettable pictures of an anguished Pope John Paul praying in his private chapel at Castelgandolfo. And, in a first in the history of weekly general audiences, the Holy Father dedicated his weekly catechesis during the September 12 audience in St. Peter’s Square, not to a religious or spiritual theme, but entirely to the attack in the United States. And that is what my show on Vatican Radio that Wednesday was dedicated to – as were many shows in many languages.

Italians have called and written me (and just about every American living in this great country) to express their condolences, horror, indignation, disbelief, anger and support for our country. They have also expressed in recent days their fears that the U.S. will retaliate in such a way that they will stoop to the level of the terrorists and ending up killing innocent people. Europeans, to a man, woman and child, have said they are all Americans now. Every Italian who has spoken to me has said how well they know that their country, that Europe, would not be what it is today had it not been for America during and after World War II – especially the Marshall Plan. “For once in our lives, we can now help America,” is what they tell me.

As the hours, then the days, then the first week passed, feelings have changed very little. If anything they are more profound. The mourning will be lengthy, the anger deep, the revulsion everlasting. All of us STILL want to wake up – because we know this was all just a terrible nightmare and things will be right when dawn comes and the sun rises and warms us and dissipates the darkness that surrounds us.

Like it or not, we have awakened ,only to discover that this has not been a dream or a nightmare but rather our worst nightmare come true. And the full impact will come in small ways and large: a greater police presence at monuments, embassies, government buildings, military bases and “symbols” such as the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, St. Peter’s, etc. There will be more requests for IDs as we move about, and also a terrific impact on the world of travel – passengers, airline employees, travel agents, airport employees and so on.

I’d like to interject two personal notes here: 1. I don’t mind if some of my rights are abbreviated if the new measures being enacted will help to eradicate terrorism in the world; 2. I do not agree with the media who feel that the public “has a right” to know everything that is going on. We do not have a right – nor do we need to know what the government is planning. I don’t want America to cease being an open society – but we don’t have to know what the CIA, FBI, etc., etc., are doing to entrap and/or capture terrorists, to infiltrate their organizations, to destroy their economic base.

This past Sunday at 10:30 at the church of Santa Susanna here in Rome, the parish for Americans which has been run by the Paulist Fathers since 1922, there was an extraordinarily touching and beautiful Mass for the victims and families and friends of the victims of this attack. American Cardinal Edmund Szoka presided, about 50 priests (one of whom lost a relative) concelebrated and I was honored to be one of the three lectors. There were so many people that they flowed out of the church and onto the adjacent piazza. The new ambassador to the Holy See, Jim Nicholson was there with his wife Suzanne, as well as former Ambassador Thomas Melady and his wife, Margaret. A surprise guest, who found himself stranded in Rome after the attacks, was Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and his wife.

Father Paul Robichaud, our rector, gave a beautiful homily and tried to answer the questions “Where was God?” and “Why did God allow this to happen?” Half of Sunday’s collection will be sent to New York to help the families of the victims.
At the end of Mass Cardinal Szoka offered some stirring reflections in both English and Italian and then Ambassador Nicholson spoke. He had paper in front of him but rarely looked at it – the words came straight from his heart. As we processed out of church, we three lectors were last and Richard Zaccaroli carried the U.S. flag – which received an enormous round of applause. We stood outside the church and sang patriotic songs, reluctant to leave each other.

I know that what we did here in Rome was repeated thousands of time, in tens of thousands of churches, all around the world. Our fears, our hurt and anger, our pride, our solidarity, our patriotism, our hopes, our prayers – the entire spectrum of emotions – you felt and lived these and so did we.

Well, dear family and friends, I think that is it for now. I’m sure I will think of things I missed, but thanks for hanging in there.

A closing note before I leave you: I have a colorful sign on my desk that I’d like to share with you: “Don’t just live the length of your life, Live the width of it as well.”

God bless you one and all! May He protect you and yours – and may He give you an extra big hug today!