Weekly English-language edition of L’Osservatore Romano: ING_2021_016_1604.pdf (


In the interview segment of this week’s Vatican Insider, I continue my tribute to a special friend, Paulist Father Jim Lloyd who, on Holy Saturday, April 3 2021, turned 100! As I mentioned in Part I of our conversation, Fr. Lloyd lives at the Paulist Motherhouse in New York City where I’ve been a guest on many occasions. I also said last week that I’ve known many wonderful and interesting priests in my life but I’ve known only two whose life story should be a movie, and Fr. Lloyd is one! The conversation you’ll hear actually took place in New York at the Paulist residence right after Fr. Jim’s 97th birthday and days before his 70th anniversary as a Paulist priest!

Here is a photo of Fr. Jim’ 100th birthday celebration, courtesy of Paulist President, Fr. Eric Andrews.

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 serarching in the SEARCH box. Below that, will appear “Vatican Insider” – click on that and the link to that particular episode will appear.


Pope emeritus Benedict XVI turns 94 years old today! Millions around the world wish him a very happy and blessed birthday and ask the Lord to continue blessing him (and us, through him). It was my joy over the years to meet him a number of times and to cover the early days of his pontificate when I was working at the Vatican Information Service.

On this very same date 94 years ago, my paternal grandparents gave this chalice to a young man, Leo Raphael Toohey, on his ordination day. When Fr. Toohey died at the age of 52 in 1950, that chalice returned to my grandparents who then gave it to my parents who, in turn, gave it to me.

This was taken a few hours after Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in his private chapel with the chalice. He gave me holy cards and a rosary, one set for me and another for the future recipient of the chalice.  I have no photos of that Mass, most unfortunately!

I had two dreams for that chalice.

The first came true when Pope emeritus Benedict celebrated Mass with that chalice on Saturday, October 19, 2013.

The second will come true on May 15, 2021, when Deacon Ryan Brady, to whom I gave the chalice at Christmastime 2018, will be ordained a priest in Chicago! His first Mass with the chalice will be the following day at Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral.

I wrote the full story of the chalice in January 2019: A CHALICE GOES HOME….. | Joan’s Rome (



As Teresa Tomeo, co-host of this conference, has written on her website: “We are very excited to invite you to our new conference about how to Listen For God in the everyday experiences in your life – those “Godly coincidences” and the moments of being touched by the Holy Spirit in Scripture, prayer and all the special moments of your life. 50+ of the best Catholic speakers will give short talks about where you can hear the still small voice (and sometimes the not so small voice) of the loving Creator who always wants to guide us in life if we will listen.

Today’s the day the conference starts! You probably know that if you registered: Listening For God VIRTUAL Conference (

I have my own stories about how to listen to and for God and I join Teresa’s amazing contributors, friends and colleagues whom I like to call “Catholic notables.”

In addition to fascinating video by each of the 50+ contributors, there is a daily panel discussion. I posted the panel discussion guests for today and tomorrow in yesterday’s column. Here are Sunday’s guests:  

By the by, Teresa suggests considering a Premium Pass when you register that will allow you to listen to all the talks and panel discussions after the Conference and for the rest of the year.

Here’s a partial list of some of the talks on tap:

  • Listening For God Through Scripture
  • Recognizing the Interior Movements God Gives Us
  • Listening For the Will of God
  • The Saints Reveal the Voice of God
  • God Speaks to Us in Suffering
  • Forgiveness & Healing in Marriage
  • Listening to God in the Voice of the Unborn
  • The Power of the Rosary & How to Pray it More Deeply
  • Mary the Model of Prayer
  • Hearing God in Difficult Events
  • Iconography: Saintly Inspiration
  • Listening For God in Silence
  • Prophetic Voices in the Contemporary Church
  • Recognize the “God-incidences” All Around Us
  • Praying the Rosary Like Never Before
  • God is In Her, She Will Not Fall
  • Being Touched By an Angel




You probably heard the expression “God’s coincidences” when you read Teresa’s latest book, “Listening for God: Discovering the Incredible Ways God Speaks to us.” This is the book, of course that inspired the “Listening for God Conference,” the virtual conference that takes place April 16, 17 and 18.

She speaks of God coincidences as those experiences that give us the chills or cause us to do a doubletake, those moments when our circumstances are just too coincidental to be a mere “coincidence.” That’s God calling us, talking to us.

And you will hear 50+ well-known media personalities and authors talk of their Godincidences, how and when and where and through whom God called to them, spoke to them.

And doubtless, their stories, their testimonies will make you remember such a moment, a person, an instance, an event in your life when you really needed God and He spoke to you, He was there for you

I have a story that will surprise you in Teresa’s book, and I appear at the conference this weekend as well, so be sure to tune in!

I spoke of this conference yesterday and will add more info tomorrow, the day it starts. In the meantime, you can register here: Listening For God VIRTUAL Conference (

By the way, in addition to listening to the speakers live and on demand, there will be three panel discussions:



Here is what Teresa wrote today to her friends, fans and conference registrants (current and future):

Pope Francis Insists “Getting Closer to God Starts With ‘Listening for God'”

Brothers and sisters, I see the words of the Pope this week, as another “Godincidence.” Now I realize the Pope has no idea about our upcoming virtual conference, but the Holy Spirit does. And I don’t think it is a mere coincidence that the Pope is encouraging us, through the example of my patron and favorite saint, St. Teresa of Avila, that it all begins by listening.

In his letter to the Bishop of Avila, as the diocese and the universal Church marks the 50th anniversary of St. Teresa of Avila being named a Doctor of the Church, the Pope stresses that in order to get with the God program we need to be great listeners.

“In order for our society to become increasingly human, and we can all live in the fraternity that comes from Father, it is a whole program to ‘listen to His invitation to enter us’ to find the Lord and thus to testify that “only God is enough.”

If you want to learn more about truly listening to and for God in your life, I hope you’ll join me and more than 50 speakers for our Listening for God Virtual Conference. Perhaps by attending this online event, we will also learn to be more like the great mystic, and as the Pope also said, “move heaven to earth” and make our lives a true dwelling place for God.




POPE ATTENDS FUNERAL MASS OF FORMER PAPAL ALMONER. Pope Francis, on Thursday morning, participated privately at the funeral Mass of Archbishop Felix del Blanco Prieto, held at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Archbishop Prieto died on 10 April at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital at the age of 84. He served as Papal Almoner from 2007 to 2012 under Pope Benedict XVI. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin presided at the Mass.

POPE TO RETURN TO STUDY WINDOW FOR REGINA COELI. Sunday, April 18, will see Pope Francis, once again reappearing at the window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square, to lead the recitation of the Regina Coeli prayer with the faithful gathered in the Square. The fluctuating course of the pandemic and the precautionary measures taken by the Italian government to curb the spread of the virus, have resulted in the Pope connecting in many occasions with the faithful exclusively through the media from the library of the Apostolic Palace. Last year’s first lockdown kept the faithful away from Bernini’s colonnade between March 8 and May 24, with the Pope leading Sunday prayers via live streaming from the Library of the Apostolic Palace.

POPE FRANCIS: “BRAZIL’S COVID CRISIS HAS LEFT NO ONE UNTOUCHED”. In a video message to the country’s Bishops’ Conference, meeting in its 58th general assembly, Pope Francis urged Brazil’s bishops to help reconcile the nation and comfort the many people whose lives have been affected by the pandemic. Intended as a message for “all Brazilians,” the Pope said Brazil is undergoing “one of the most difficult trials in its history.” He expressed his closeness to the hundreds of thousands of families who have lost a loved one due to Covid-19. “Young people and elderly, fathers and mothers, health care providers and volunteers, Church ministers, the rich and the poor,” he said, “the pandemic has left no one untouched in its trail of suffering.” Brazil has confirmed over 13.6 million coronavirus cases and more than 361,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR CULTURE TO EXPLORE HOLISTIC PATH TO HEALTH.Exploring the Mind, Body & Soul. How Innovation and Novel Delivery Systems Improve Human Health” is the title of an international event that will bring together physicians, scientists, ethicists, religious leaders, patient rights advocates, policymakers, philanthropists and commentators to discuss the latest breakthroughs in medicine and healthcare as well as the human implications and cultural impact of technological advances. Jointly organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the “Cura Foundation” – an organization of healthcare experts whose mission it is to improve human health and increase quality of life globally, it will take place in a virtual format from May 6 to 8, 2021.  Detailed information can be found on the website of the Pontifical Council for Culture and at




Once again the Wednesday general audience was live-streamed from the papal library in the Apostolic Palace and again, Pope Francis dedicated the weekly catechesis to prayer, focusing on how the Church, as the house and school of communion, is also the house and school of prayer.

He began by noting that, “the Church is a great school of prayer. Many of us learned how to whisper our first prayers on our parents’ or grandparents’ laps. We might, perhaps, cherish the memory of our mommy and daddy who taught us to say our prayers before going to bed. … This is good to remember.”

“We become aware,” continued the Pope, “that the gift we received with simplicity in infancy is a great heritage and source of wealth and that the experience of prayer is worth deepening more and more, …And the breath of faith is prayer: we grow in faith inasmuch as we learn to pray. After certain passages in life, we become aware that without faith we could not have made it through and that our strength was prayer.”

(photo from vatican media)

The Pope then highlighted how “communities and groups dedicated to prayer flourish in the Church. … There are monasteries, convents, hermitages in the Church where persons consecrated to God live. … They are cells that are vital not only for the ecclesial fabric, but that of society itself. Let us think of the role that monasticism played in the birth and growth of European civilization, and other cultures as well. Pray and working in community keeps the world going.

The Holy Father explained that, “everything in the Church originates in prayer and everything grows thanks to prayer. When the Enemy, the Evil One, wants to combat the Church, he does so first by trying to drain her fonts, hindering them from praying.”

Recognizing that, “holy women and men do not have easier lives than other people” because “they have their own problems and are often the objects of opposition,” Francis said, “their strength is prayer. They always draw from the inexhaustible “well” of Mother Church. Through prayer they nourish the flame of their faith, as oil used to do for lamps.” Citing a parable in the Gospel of Luke, he said, “Therefore, we can conclude that the lamp of faith will always be lit on earth as long as there is the oil of prayer.”

“This is the Church’s essential task, to pray and to teach how to pray,” concluded Pope Francis. . To transmit the lamp of faith and the oil of prayer from generation to generation. … Without faith everything collapses; and without prayer faith is extinguished. For this reason, the Church, as the house and school of communion, is the house and school of prayer.


The Vatican today published the following telegram sent by Pope Francis to Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, apostolic nuncio in Australia, upon news of the death of Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy at the age of 96 on April 10. Cardinal Cassidy was president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity:

“Having learned with sadness of the death of Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, I offer my heartfelt condolences. Recalling with gratitude the late cardinal’s years of valued service to the Holy See, his zeal for the spread of the Gospel and his commitment to the promotion of Christian unity, I commend his noble soul to the merciful love of God our heavenly Father. To all who mourn Cardinal Cassidy in the sure hope of the resurrection I cordially impart my Apostolic blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in the Lord. Franciscus pp.”




Don’t Cancel God In This Cancel Culture!

As you know, I’m Teresa Tomeo’s guest every Wednesday morning on “Catholic Connection,” heard on Ave Maria and EWTN radio, when I bring you news from the Vatican and Italy. And this coming weekend, I’m delighted to be one of the amazing guests she has invited to be part of the “Listening For God VIRTUAL Conference,” April 16 to 18.

So join Teresa and 50+ Catholic media personalities, best-selling authors, scripture scholars and popular evangelists as we tell you How you can hear God’s voice in Scripture, prayer, the Sacraments, everyday life, the Saints, art and nature. I’m sure you know many or even all of the great people in this photo!

Teresa is the host of this conference, along with the Catholic Speakers Bureau. It is sponsored by Sophia Institute Press, the institute that publishes the books of many of the weekend speakers, yours truly included.

You must register to attend: Listening For God VIRTUAL Conference (

The “Listening For God VIRTUAL Conference” seeks to encourage and inspire Catholics and other Christians in their journey with God. We are sure you’ll be energized and motivated to move toward a richer relationship with Christ through…

— Lessons From Powerful Personal Testimonies

— New Scriptural Insights

— Practical Steps For A Deeper Prayer Life

— A Closer Look At The Lives Of The Saints

As you tune in to the conference, I know one thing for sure. You too will remember that moment when you felt that you heard God’s voice, that He was talking to you, especially at a time when you needed Him, through a friend, an event, a stranger, a serendipitous happening, an illness or perhaps even through prayer.

Those are the kinds of moments I’ve had in my life, moments I speak about in my contribution to the “Listening For God VIRTUAL Conference.”

More information tomorrow so stay tuned!

Also this:



Pope Francis marks the 50th anniversary in 2020 of the proclamation of Saint Teresa of Ávila as a Doctor of the Church, and stresses her importance even today, especially in highlighting the role of women in the Church and in society.

By Vatican News staff writer

Opening his message to Archbishop Gil Tamayo of Ávila, Spain, Pope Francis noted that St. Teresa was the first woman to become a Doctor of the Church. He said the title was a recognition of the “precious teaching that God has transmitted to us through her writings and the testimony of her life.”  (Vatican media)

Fifty years ago, on 27 September 1970, Pope St Paul VI conferred the title of Doctor of the Church on St. Teresa of Ávila.

The Catholic University of Ávila, which is dedicated to the Spanish mystic, is celebrating this historic anniversary with an international congress entitled “Exceptional woman,” as Pope Paul VI described her himself. It runs until 15 April.

Courageous witness, able to break down walls

Saint Teresa was born in 1515 and died in 1582. Pope Francis wrote in his message that even now, nearly half a millenium since her death, “the flame that Jesus lit in Teresa continues to shine in this world, always in need of courageous witnesses, capable of breaking down any wall, whether physical, existential or cultural.”

He also cited her intelligence and tenacity, which she joined to “a sensitivity to beauty and a spiritual motherhood toward all those who approached her work.”

The Pope added that she was an example of the “extraordinary role that women have played throughout history in the Church and in society.”

A message for those seeking purification

Saint Teresa of Ávila still speaks to us today, thanks to her writings.

Pope Francis noted that her message and example are for everyone, “for those who feel the call to religious life,” but also “for all those who wish to progress on the path of purification from all worldliness, which leads to union with God, to the lofty abodes of the interior castle.”

“Having her as a friend companion and guide in our earthly pilgrimage confers security and tranquillity,” he said.

The Pope concluded his message by recalling Teresa’s great devotion to St. Joseph and by encouraging all the faithful to continue to look deeper into her message and teachings.


Pope St. John Paul II’s historic visit to Rome’s Synagogue 35 years ago marked a new chapter in Catholic-Jewish relations.

By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)

The date of 13 April 1986 is etched in history as the day of the first-ever recorded papal visit to a synagogue. It was a rainy spring afternoon when Pope St. John Paul crossed the River Tiber to pay his respects to the community of Rome’s imposing Victorian Synagogue, believed to be home to the oldest Jewish community in the West.

Thousands of Romans gathered to cheer, and the international press corps was present in force to capture the moment widely seen as a gesture destined to go down in history. (vatican media)

”The heart opens itself,” Rabbi Elio Toaff declared, and the two leaders embraced and entered the synagogue together to the ovation of the 1,000-strong congregation.

In a service that emphasized the equal dignity of the two faiths, the two men sat on identical gilt and brocade thrones and took turns reading from the Book of Psalms. The Pope even read one in Hebrew.

He quoted extensively from the Declaration Nostra Aetate, proclaimed by Pope Paul VI in 1965 and dedicated to the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions, and which rejects a longstanding belief that held Jews responsible for Christ’s death.

“Elder brothers”

”The Jewish religion is not ‘extrinsic’ to us, but in a certain way is ‘intrinsic’ to our own religion,” he said. “With Judaism, therefore, we have a relationship which we do not have with any other religion. You are our dearly beloved brothers, and, in a certain way, it could be said that you are our elder brothers.”

Condemation of anti-Semitism

”Once again, through myself,” St. John Paul II said, “!the Church, deplores the hatred, persecutions, and displays of anti-Semitism directed against the Jews any time and by anyone, I repeat, by anyone.”

The Polish Pope went on to recall his 1979 visit to Auschwitz, upholding the memory of “the people whose sons and daughters were destined to total extermination.’”

And speaking just meters away from a plaque outside the synagogue dedicated to the memory of 2,091 Roman Jews deported by the Nazis, he said: “The Jewish community of Rome, too, paid a high price in blood.”

Separate identities

In his concise but complex discourse the Pope also gave voice to yet another perspective of Catholic Jewish relations when he declared that “each of our religions’” wishes ”to be recognized and respected in its own identity,” beyond ”any ambiguous appropriation.”

In his footsteps

Both Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, and Pope Francis in 2016, have followed in his footsteps and visited Rome’s Synagogue, reiterating their respect and their friendship to Jews or, as Pope St. John Paul II described them, “our elder brothers.”


A press release today from the Pontifical Swiss Guards notes that the annual May 6 swearing-in ceremony of new guards will take place as usual thid year but will follow all necessary protocols set in place by the Covid pandemic.

The 34 new guards will take their solemn oath as usual on May 6, 2021 in front of their parents, brothers and sisters. In addition, some representatives of the Swiss Confederation, the Swiss Army and the Swiss Episcopal Conference, as well as several members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard Foundation, will take part. Outside guests will therefore not be allowed to attend the ceremonies. The guards, however, ensure live broadcasting during Mass in the morning and the afternoon swearing-in ceremony.



You first noticed it on Easter Sunday, the new and very large candle now standing in the sanctuary, near the altar or perhaps an ambo. You only see this decorated candle during the Easter season that runs from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday, so for only about 50 days of the liturgical year.

That is the Paschal Candle. Do you know what it is, what it represents and what symbols are on it?

Fire, as you may know, has long been a sign of God’s presence. In the Old Testament we have the burning bush on Mount Sinai, the pillar of fire in the desert, the tabernacle lamps, and the sacrificial fires on the altar of the temple in Jerusalem. Early Christians considered the kindling of new fire as a symbol of the presence of the Resurrected Lord, the “new pillar of fire.” By the fifth or sixth century, the custom had become associated with celebrations of the Resurrection, and paschal candles found their way into the liturgy of the Western church. For many centuries people used to bring a lighted candle to their homes to light the hearth fire.

Used only during Eastertime, the Paschal candle is an immense candle – often up to 5 feet high – in a large and sometimes very ornate holder. It is blessed during the Easter Vigil and smaller candles are lit from this.

The paschal candle symbolizes the light of the Risen Christ Who comes in glory to dispel the darkness in our lives, thus overcoming death. It is usually adorned with a cross. At the top of the upright beam is the ALPHA sign and at bottom is the OMEGA. These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet and symbolize Christ, “the first and the last, the living One” as we read in Revelation1, 17-18. They also indicate that all time belongs to Christ. By the way, I’m sure you know that the very word “alphabet” is comprised of alpha and beta – the first two letters of the Greek alphabet. (photo by Fr. Joe Ciccone, vice rector, St. Patrick’s in Rome (5) Facebook

Five pins are placed in the candle – usually at the end of each beam and in the center – to signify Christ’s 5 wounds. And very often, in the four angles created by the upright and the cross beam, there are the 4 numbers of the current year. In the St. Patrick’s candle, you see 2021. This candle is customarily lit at Mass throughout the Easter season that ends on Pentecost Sunday. After the last liturgy on Pentecost, the paschal candle is moved to the baptistery and from its light the candles of newly baptized infants are lighted throughout the year.

The paschal candle stands at the head of casket during a funeral to remind us that Christ, light of the world, has overcome death, and that in baptism the deceased person was incorporated into the death and resurrection of Christ.

(Sources include:ADVENT-+Candle+Download.pdf (, Symbols in the Funeral Mass – Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church – Whitestone, NY (


Weekly edition in English of L’Osservatore Romano: ING_2021_015_0904.pdf (


In the interview segment of this week’s Vatican Insider, I pay tribute to a special friend, Paulist Father Jim Lloyd who, on Holy Saturday, April 3 2021, turned 100! Fr. Lloyd lives at the Paulist Motherhouse in New York City where I’ve been a guest on many occasions. I’ve also broken bread many times with the resident Paulists, including several who were former pastors of the Catholic American community in Rome when we were at Santa Susanna’s church. I’ve known so many wonderful and interesting priests in my life but I’ve known only two whose life story should be a movie, and Fr. Lloyd is one.

The conversation you’ll hear actually took place in New York at the Paulist residence right after Fr. Jim’s 97th birthday and days before his 70th anniversary as a priest! The first three minutes will really grab you! Tell me how many times you said ‘wow’ and ‘really!’!

This is the photo I took after our conversation:

And here are some pictures of Fr. Jim’ 100th birthday celebration, courtesy of Paulist President, Fr. Eric Andrews. The nuns you see in blue are the Sisters of Life, founded by the late NY archbishop, Cardinal John O’Connor, and the sisters you see in white habits and black veils who work at the Motherhouse are Oblate Sisters of Jesus the Priest. They are from Mexico and have been taking care of the Fathers in NYC for many years.

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 serarching in the SEARCH box. Below that, will appear “Vatican Insider” – click on that and the link to that particular episode will appear.


In line with government decrees to curb the spread of the pandemic, the Vatican Museums will re-open on the first Monday of May.

By Vatican News staff writer

The re-opening follows the Museums’ third closure since the start of the pandemic.

Rules and regulations are clear and will be enforced by security personnel. First and foremost, all visitors are required to book tickets on-line.

Safety measures

All visitors will also be required to respect the entry time specified on their booking, they will have to wear a face mask at all times and respect social distancing measures.

All indications can be found on the official Vatican Museums website.

The Vatican Gardens will also be open to the public for guided visits.

In a note issued by the management of the Museums and Gardens it is specified that security personnel may order anyone who does not respect the rules to leave the Museums and the Gardens.


Prince Philip, husband of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, dies at the age of 99. The Archbishop of Westminster says he will be greatly missed.

By Lydia O’Kane (vaticannews)

A statement issued by Buckingham Palace on Friday said, “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.”

The Prince had spent a month in hospital receiving treatment for an infection and underwent heart surgery before being released on March 16 to return to Windsor Castle.

The Duke of Edinburgh was Britain’s longest serving consort. He was born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, and was made a Prince of the United Kingdom after his marriage to Princess Elizabeth in 1947.

On her accession to the throne, Prince Philip dedicated a lifetime of service to Queen and country.


Paying tribute to the Duke, the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols said, “At this moment of sadness and loss I pray for the repose of the soul of Prince Philip, Her Majesty the Queen’s faithful and loyal husband. I pray for the Queen and all of the Royal Family.

“How much we will miss Prince Philip’s presence and character, so full of life and vigour. He has been an example of steadfast loyalty and duty cheerfully given. May he rest in peace.”

The Duke of Edinburgh gave up a promising naval career to support his wife and carried out 20,000 royal engagements promoting British interests both at home and abroad. He was by Queen Elizabeth’s side when she met Pope Francis at the Casa Santa Marta in 2014.

The Prince also met Pope John XXIII, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict VI during their pontificates.

Prince Philip retired from Royal duties in 2017 after 65 years of service.

The Duke of Edinburgh is survived by the Queen and their four children — Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward as well as eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.



I was planning to dedicate some words today to the issue of excommunication and abortion as I’ve been reading many posts on Facebook that are in reply to stories about President Biden, who identifies as a Catholic, and his promotion of abortion and a number of other issues that are antithetical to true Catholic teaching.

Quite a number of posts – and replies to those posts – say that “Biden has excommunicated himself” by his positions. Actually, as far as Canon law, excommunication and abortion goes, that is not the case. Here is the law: “Can. 1398 A person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.” Those who assist that person – a willing spouse, doctors, nurses and so on – if they are Roman Catholic also incur excommunication, is in another part of Church law, not this canon.

The Latin latae sententiae means excommunication is automatic. The person committing the act excommunicates himself/herself. There are crimes for which excommunication is not automatic but rather imposed by the Church.

Many feel that Canon law should be updated to include those who promote crimes such as abortion, including politicians, organizations, etc.

Biden’s position on such issues as abortion, same sex marriage and transgender questions is very unsettling for many Catholics who also profess – and truly live and believe – the faith.

As I was working on what I would say on such a critical issue, not being a theologian or a Canon lawyer, I got a tremendous boost when I saw a statement that Cardinal Raymond Burke posted on his website. The title says it all: Statement on the reception of Holy Communion by those who persist in public grave sin. What he has numbered in bold is really only the beginning of what you need to know: “2. The reception of Holy Communion by those who publicly and obstinately violate the moral law in its most fundamental precepts is a particularly grave form of sacrilege.”

I know full well I could have summarized the main points and that would be helpful for people with little time. However, I want you to have the entire statement. Read it, study it and memorize, if you will, the essentials. If you feel compelled to respond to a Facebook post about a Catholic president and his un-Catholic stance on issues, don’t use your own words (you could either teach or confuse people!). Just post the link to this statement: Statement on the Reception of Holy Communion by Those Who Persist in Public Grave Sin – Cardinal Raymond Burke (

By the way, I searched for this on under the category VATICAN, which is where a cardinal’s statement or talk or document would usually be posted. Nowhere to be found. I search Cardinal Raymond Burke’s name and, for what it is worth, it has never appeared on the site.


April 7, 2021

Many Catholics and also non-Catholics who, while they do not embrace the Catholic faith, respect the Catholic Church for her teaching regarding faith and morals, have asked me how it is possible for Catholics to receive Holy Communion, while at the same time they publicly and obstinately promote programs, policies and legislation in direct violation of the moral law. In particular, they ask how Catholic politicians and civil officials who publicly and obstinately defend and promote the practice of abortion on demand can approach to receive Holy Communion. Their question clearly applies as well to those Catholics who publicly promote policies and laws in violation of the dignity of human life of those burdened by serious illness, special needs or advanced years, and in violation of the integrity of human sexuality, marriage and the family, and in violation of the free practice of religion.

The question merits a response, especially as it touches on the very foundations of the Church’s teaching regarding faith and morals. Most of all, it touches upon the Holy Eucharist, “[t]he sacrament of charity, … the gift that Jesus Christ makes of himself, thus revealing to us God’s infinite love for every man and woman…. Jesus continues, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, to love us ‘to the end,’ even to offering us his body and blood.”[1]

It is my hope that the following points of the Church’s teaching will be helpful to those who are rightly confused and indeed frequently scandalized by the all too common public betrayal of the Church’s teaching on faith and morals by those who profess to be Catholic. I will address myself to the question of procured abortion, but the same points apply to other violations of the moral law.

 1.Regarding the Holy Eucharist, the Church has always believed and taught that the Sacred Host is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, God-the-Son Incarnate. The faith of the Church is thus expressed by the Council of Trent: “Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread [cf. Mt 26:26-29; Mk 14:22-25; Lk 22:19f; 1 Cor 11:24-26], it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy council now again declares, that, by the consecration of the bread and wine, there takes place a change of the whole substance of bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of wine into the substance of his blood” (Session 13, Chapter 4).[2] Therefore, as Saint Paul teaches clearly in his First Letter to the Corinthians: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Cor 11, 27).

2. The reception of Holy Communion by those who publicly and obstinately violate the moral law in its most fundamental precepts is a particularly grave form of sacrilege. In the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Sacrilege is a grave sin especially when committed against the Eucharist, for in this sacrament the true Body of Christ is made substantially present for us” (no. 2120). It not only merits eternal punishment for the one who receives unworthily but constitutes a most serious scandal for others, that is, it leads them into the false belief that one can publicly and obstinately violate the moral law in a grave matter and still receive Our Lord in Holy Communion. A thoughtful person, before such a situation, must conclude that either the Sacred Host is not the Body of Christ or that the promotion of procured abortion, for instance, is not a grave sin.

3. Can. 915 of the Code of Canon Law, which repeats the perennial and unchanging teaching of the Church, provides: “Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.”[3] The denial of Holy Communion is not an ecclesiastical penalty but the recognition of the objectively unworthy state of a person to approach to receive Holy Communion. The discipline contained in can. 915 safeguards the sanctity of the most sacred reality in the Church, the Holy Eucharist, keeps the person who obstinately perseveres in grave sin from committing the additional most grievous sin of sacrilege by profaning the Body of Christ, and prevents the inevitable scandal which results from the unworthy reception of Holy Communion.

4. It is the duty of priests and Bishops to instruct and admonish the faithful who are in the condition described by can. 915, lest they approach to receive Holy Communion and thus commit a most grave sacrilege, redounding to their own eternal harm and, likewise, leading others into error and even sin in such a serious matter. If a person has been admonished and still perseveres in grave public sin, he or she may not be admitted to receive Holy Communion.

5. Clearly, no priest or Bishop can grant permission to a person who is in public and obstinate grave sin to receive Holy Communion. Neither is it a question of a discussion between the priest or Bishop and the one who is committing the sin, but a matter of admonition regarding truths of faith and morals, on the part of the priest or Bishop, and a matter of reform of an erroneous conscious, on the part of the sinner.

6. Pope Saint John Paul II presented the Church’s constant teaching regarding procured abortion in his Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae. Referring to the consultation of the Bishops of the universal Church in the matter by his letter of Pentecost of 1991, he declared: “Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, in communion with the Bishops – who on various occasions have condemned abortion and who in the aforementioned consultation, albeit dispersed throughout the world, have shown unanimous agreement concerning this doctrine – I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being.”[4] He made clear that his teaching “is based upon the natural law and upon the written Word of God, is transmitted by the Church’s Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.”[5]

7. It is sometimes argued that a Catholic politician can personally believe in the immorality of abortion, while favoring a public policy which provides for so-called “legalized” abortion. Such was the case, for instance, in the United States of America at the summit of certain Catholic moral theologians who espoused the erroneous moral theory of proportionalism or consequentialism, and Catholic politicians, held at the compound of the Kennedy Family in Hyannisport, Massachusetts, in the summer of 1964.[6] Pope Saint John Paul II responds clearly to such erroneous moral thinking in Evangelium Vitae: “No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church.”[7] In his Encyclical LetterVeritatis Splendor, Pope Saint John Paul II corrects the fundamental error of proportionalism and consequentialism.[8]

8. It is sometimes said that the denial of Holy Communion to politicians who obstinately persevere in grave sin is the use of Holy Communion by the Church for political purposes. On the contrary, it is the Church’s solemn responsibility to safeguard the holiness of the Holy Eucharist, to prevent the faithful from committing sacrilege, and to prevent scandal among the faithful and other persons of good will.

9. It is rather the Catholic politician, who publicly and obstinately promotes what is contrary to the moral law and yet dares to receive sacrilegiously Holy Communion, who uses the Holy Eucharist for political purposes. In other words, the politician presents himself or herself as a devout Catholic, while the truth is completely otherwise.

10. Apart from the denial of Holy Communion to persons who publicly and obstinately violate the moral law, there is also the question of the imposition or declaration of a just ecclesiastical penalty for the sake of calling the person to conversion and of repairing the scandal which his or her actions cause.

11. Those who publicly and obstinately violate the moral law are, at least, in a state of apostasy, that is, they have effectively abandoned the faith by the obstinate refusal, in practice, to live in accord with fundamental truths of faith and morals (cf. can. 751). An apostate from the faith incurs automatically the penalty of excommunication (cf. can. 1364). The Bishop of such a person must verify the conditions for the declaration of the penalty of excommunication, which has been automatically incurred.

12. They may also be in heresy, if they obstinately deny or doubt the truth about the intrinsic evil of abortion as it “is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith” (can. 751). Heresy, like apostasy, incurs automatically the penalty of excommunication (cf. can. 1364). Also, in the case of heresy, the Bishop must verify the conditions for the declaration of the penalty of excommunication, which has been automatically incurred.

In conclusion, Church discipline, beginning with the Apostle Paul, has consistently taught the necessary disposition of conscience for the reception of Holy Communion. The failure to follow the discipline results in the desecration of the most sacred reality in the Church – the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ – , constitutes the most grave sin of sacrilege, and causes most serious scandal by the failure to witness to the truth of Holy Communion and the moral truth, for example, the inviolable dignity of human life, the integrity of marriage and the family, and the freedom to worship God “in spirit and truth.”[9]

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