Ahead of Tuesday’s summit in Singapore between the leaders of the United States and North Korea, Pope Francis prays for a future of peace on the Korean peninsula and throughout the world.
By Devin Watkins

Pope Francis on Sunday renewed his prayers for the “beloved Korean people”.

He prayed that the upcoming summit between the leaders of the United States and North Korea “may contribute to the development of a positive path to assure a future of peace on the Korean peninsula and throughout the world.”

The Pope was referring to a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, June 12th, in Singapore between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Pope Francis invited all people around the world to pray for the first meeting between a North Korean leader and a sitting US president.
“Let us together invoke Our Lady, Queen of Korea. May she guide these talks,” he said.

Both men arrived in Singapore on Sunday, where they meet separately with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong before the summit.



Following is the message that Pope Francis sent yesterday to Donald Trump on the occasion of inauguration as president of the United States:

The Honorable Donald Trump
President of the United States of America
The White House

“Upon your inauguration as the forty-fifth President of the United States of America, I offer you my cordial good wishes and the assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will grant you wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high office.

“At a time when our human family is beset by grave humanitarian crises demanding far-sighted and united political responses, I pray that your decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people and your nation’s commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom worldwide.

“Under your leadership, may America’s stature continue to be measured above all by its concern for the poor, the outcast and those in need who, like Lazarus, stand before our door.

“With these sentiments, I ask the Lord to grant you and your family, and all the beloved American people, his blessings of peace, concord and every material and spiritual prosperity.




Tomorrow’s election is SO important, SO vital to a promising, positive future for our country, SO vital in protecting the values we have cherished for 240 years, SO vital in saving our Constitution, that I am re-posting two columns I posted previously – the first on October 14 and the second on October 25 (just in case you have questions about the moral aspect of your vote).

Share this a 1000 times a 1000!


Consider the possibility of eventually losing our constitutional right to freedom of religion… or having it greatly diminished. When you vote this year, consider that one party is NOT defending life, is NOT defending religious freedom, is NOT protecting what marriage has been since the birth of time, that is, the lasting bond between one man and one woman.

It might be very difficult to ignore an abrasive personality but it is impossible to ignore the threat that our rights, our beliefs, may be trampled upon or denied by another personality.

We believe that Saints lived heroic virtues. Maybe this is our time to live heroically!


It is a civic duty and a privilege to vote. It is a moral obligation to vote correctly.

These bishops are unequivocally clear as to how we can and must vote on November 8. (The italics are mine)

“The right to life is the most important and fundamental right, since life is necessary for any of the other rights to matter. There are some issues that can legitimately be debated by Christians, such as which policies are the most effective in caring for the poor, but the direct killing of innocent human life must be opposed at all times by every follower of Jesus Christ. There are no legitimate exceptions to this teaching. The health of our nation depends on a deep respect for human life from the moment of conception until natural death, and the future of our society depends on how we protect that right. If we don’t, eventually we will go the way of Rome and Greece and other great civilizations that have risen and fallen. Some, both in politics and in the Church, have stated that it is the Church that needs to change her teaching to include abortion, same-sex unions and even euthanasia. Yet, in faithfulness to Jesus Christ, to the Gospel and to Sacred Tradition, the Church cannot change her teaching on these issues without denying Christ. … So my advice to Catholics in voting in this presidential election is to first look at who forms you and your conscience. Is it your personal encounter with Jesus Christ and the Church, the voice of God which cannot contradict the truth or revelation, or is it the ideology of some political party? Secondly, look at how you have been a leaven in society. How have you sought the common good and the values of the Gospel, especially by serving the poor, the needy, the unborn and the dying? If you truly live your Catholic faith, you will not find complete alignment with any political party, and that is okay. Thirdly, look at how each party platform supports human life from conception through natural death, the freedom of religion and the freedom of conscience, the family and the poor. Finally, do vote, as every Catholic has an obligation to participate in the political process.”Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver

 “In our country, over one million unborn children are killed by abortion every single year. All Catholics have a moral obligation to keep this human-rights catastrophe at the forefront of their minds when voting.”Bishop John Brungardt of Dodge City, Kansas

“The Gospel of John reminds us that the truth, and only the truth, makes us free. We’re fully human and free only when we live under the authority of the truth. And in that light, no issue has made us more dishonest and less free as believers and as a nation than abortion. People uncomfortable with the abortion issue argue, quite properly, that Catholic teaching is bigger than just one issue. Other urgent issues also need our attention. Being pro-birth is not the same as being pro-life. And being truly ‘pro-life’ doesn’t end with defending the unborn child. But it does, and it must, begin there. … In every abortion, an innocent life always dies. This is why no equivalence can ever exist between the intentional killing involved in abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, on the one hand, and issues like homelessness, the death penalty and anti-poverty policy on the other. Again, all of these issues are important. But trying to reason or imply them into having the same moral weight is a debasement of Christian thought.” — Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia

“[O]n some issues the moral obligations of Catholics, and the demands of the common good, are abundantly clear. For example, no Catholic can vote in good conscience to expand legal protection for abortion, or to support the killing of unborn children. … Abortion is a grave, unconscionable and intolerable evil, and we cannot support it in the voting booth. … [W]hen we vote, we need to carefully consider the specifics of each race. Blind partisanship can be dangerous, and we have to look past political rhetoric and media alarmism to make prudent discernments. In each race, we need to discern whether there is a candidate who can advance human dignity, the right to life and the common good. … As a matter of conscience, faithful Catholics have to weigh all those pertinent issues and make the choice that seems most in accord with the common good of our nation: with respect for human dignity, social well-being and peace. … We need a broader vision of public life, which values and proclaims the dignity of every human life and which aims for the flourishing of individuals, families and communities. … The most important part of being good citizens is living as faithful and active missionary disciples of Jesus Christ. … Christ is the only real source of our nation’s hope.” — Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska

“From the very beginning, Catholic teaching informs us that every human life is sacred from conception until natural death. The right to life is a fundamental, human right for the unborn, and any law denying the unborn the right to life is unequivocally unjust.” Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of Richmond, Virginia

“Catholics should also consider the critical role that judges increasingly play in deciding issues like abortion, marriage and religious freedom.”Bishop Carl Kemme of Wichita, Kansas




I spent two fascinating hours on Italian television this morning as part of a panel about the papal trip on TV2000, the network of the Italian Episcopal Conference. At 9 am, I wondered how the time would go by, even with videos from Pope Francis’ time in Cuba and interesting guests, and at 11, I wondered how the time had flown by so fast! A fascinating experience, especially given that I had to express myself in Italian, my “second” language! Helps me understand why Pope Francis is more comfortable in public with Italian or Spanish than with English.

As I write, Pope Francis is winging his way north, due to arrive in Washington D.C. at 4 pm local time (10 pm in Rome) perhaps even a bit earlier as his plane left Santiago de Cuba about 15 or so minutes early.


Below are two links to stories with info that may interest you; one is about 9 papal moments you may have missed in Cuba and the second is about what lawmakers will be allowed to do – or discouraged from doing – when the Pope speaks to Congress Thursday. Following those links is a story making headlines around the world: it concerns the list of guests President Obama has invited to the White House for the official welcome for Pope Francis tomorrow.

Here’s a link to an interesting story by CNA/EWTN news on the ground in Cuba – a story you may have missed about the papal visit to Cuba: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com//news/nine-things-you-missed-from-pope-francis-time-in-havana-24488/

And here’s a piece from Roll Call that talks about what members of Congress must do and must not do, can do and cannot do when Pope Francis goes to the U.S. Capitol on September 24 to address a joint session of Congress – a first in the history of America. Let’s see if people follow the rulebook! Roll Call, owned by the Economist group, is a non partisan newspaper published in Washington from Monday to Friday when the U.S. Congress is in session. http://www3.blogs.rollcall.com/hawkings/members-will-be-blocked-two-ways-from-touching-pope-francis/?MKD


What many consider to be the most unfortunate story – or as one person put it, “a totally classless act by Obama” – to come out of D.C. vis-à-vis the papal visit concerns the guest list for the official reception for Pope Francis at the White House tomorrow. It has made a lot of headlines here and is all over the place in the U.S. media, including radio and television commentators as well as online news services, blogs editorial pages, etc.

Two sample headlines in Italy: Obama’s Insult – Left breathless by the welcoming ceremony at the White House.

One U.S. news report speaks of the Vatican irritation at the guest list without naming or hinting at a source. The report also says, “According to a senior Vatican official, the Holy See has noted its concerns that any photos of the Pope with these controversial guests could be interpreted as an endorsement of their activities.”

The Guardian wrote: “A Vatican official has said the White House was “smart enough” to know it ought not to try to embarrass Pope Francis at a planned welcome reception for the pontiff next week that will include several guests – including a transgender woman and gay activists – whose presence highlights some of the church’s exclusionary policies. The Vatican official – who asked not to be identified – said that officials in Rome were not “overly concerned” that the White House guest list for the pope’s welcome party in Washington included guests that could be considered controversial for the church. But the person added that it would be the White House, not the Holy See, that would find it embarrassing if the welcome party, which will partly be held on the South Lawn and will include 15,000 guests, looked like a political stunt.”

Here, in part, is an editorial board piece from the Washington Post, entitled “The White House is more afraid of offending China’s president than the Pope”:

“THE VATICAN has raised objections to a few of the guests invited to the White House arrival ceremony next week for Pope Francis. The Wall Street Journal reported that the guests include transgender activists, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop and a nun who criticizes church policies on abortion and euthanasia. The Vatican worries that photos taken with the pope might be used to suggest his endorsement of activities he in fact disapproves of.

“White House spokesman Josh Earnest, in his briefing Thursday, wouldn’t comment on individual invitees but noted that a very large crowd will assemble for the Wednesday event. “[T]hat’s why I would warn you against drawing a lot of conclusions about one or two or maybe even three people who may be on the guest list, because there will be 15,000 other people there too.”

“That’s a fair point. … No doubt there’s often a fine balance between hospitality and principle when foreign visitors come to town. The administration doesn’t want to give offense, but it also doesn’t want to give in to what it may see as prejudices that it doesn’t share.

“What struck us as we read about this small controversy is the contrast between the administration’s apparent decision to risk a bit of rudeness in the case of the pope and its overwhelming deference to foreign dictators when similar issues arise. When Secretary of State John F. Kerry traveled to Havana to reopen the U.S. Embassy recently, he painstakingly excluded from the guest list any democrat, dissident or member of civil society who might offend the Castro brothers.

“And when Chinese President Xi Jinping comes to the White House next week, shortly after the pope leaves town, it’s a safe bet that he won’t have to risk being photographed with anyone of whom he disapproves. Chen Guangcheng, the courageous blind lawyer, for example, lives nearby in exile, but he probably won’t be at the state dinner. Neither will Falun Gong activists, democracy advocates or anyone else who might, well, give offense.

Here, in part, is what Joan Frawley Desmond wrote for the National Catholic Register’s online edition:

“Yesterday, the issue of embarrassing the pope at his own welcome ceremony came up during a press conference with the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, who said he was unaware of the names of the invitees.

“Earnest said the White House had reached out to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Archdiocese of Washington, but had also directed many other groups to invite guests to the welcome ceremony. Today, a story in Crux echoed this assertion.

“This morning, the USCCB confirmed, in an email response to my query, that additional attendees will include: Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., the USCCB president, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, and “local ordinaries around the region and the US Cardinals.”

“Still, it would have been much more gracious for the leader of the free world to welcome the Pope without provoking a rebuke from the Vatican. Obama has every reason to cement a relatively new partnership, not risk a breach.

“As Obama pushes for an international consensus to battle global warming ahead of the United Nations conference on climate change this fall, White House aides cite the power of the pope’s passionate entreaties to Christians worldwide about caring for the creation,” the Los Angeles Times reported on Sept 17.



TODAY – DIRECTLY FROM POPE FRANCIS: “I wish to confirm according to the wishes of the Lord, that in September of 2015, I will go to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. Thank you for your prayers with which you accompany my service to the Church. Bless you from my heart.”

In addition to that wonderful announcement made this morning – Day One of the three-day colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman in Marriage – there was a ton of important news this past weekend. I’ve posted a few stories on my Facebook page (facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420) including Pope Francis’ powerful words to Italian Catholic Doctors whom he met Saturday, his previously unannounced visit to Castelgandolfo Sunday, and a piece on Chicago’s outgoing archbishop of 17 years, Cardinal Francis George, and its new pastor, Bishop Blase Cupich (soup ich). In this column, I’ll bring you most of the Pope’s impassioned talk to doctors (you will want to read the 7th paragraph several times!), quote Sunday’s Angelus reflections and then feature the Holy Father’s talk today to the colloquium on marriage.

When the Pope announced his intention to go to Philadelphia in September 2015 he did not mention – nor did the press office – trips to other US cities and archdioceses, It is known that he has been invited to New York to visit the Church there and also to address the UN (would make a lot of sense as this body starts its annual fall session) and to go to Washington, D.C. I am just guessing but I feel fairly certain that a number of dioceses from sea to shining sea have asked Pope Francis to stop by. It does seem, however, that the East Coast has had the lion’s share of papal visits and that the Midwest and all points west are overdue for a papal pilgrimage.


Pope Francis Saturday met with the Association of Italian Catholic Doctors as their organization marks its 70th anniversary and, in a pasionate defenseof life, stressed that “human life is always sacred, valuable, and inviolable.”

“There is no doubt,” said the Pope, “that, in our time, due to scientific and technical advancements, the possibilities for physical healing have significantly increased; and yet, in some respects it seems the ability to ‘take care’ of the person has decreased, especially when he is sick, frail and helpless.”

He spoke of the Church’s mission as “attention to human life, especially that in greatest difficulty, that is, the sick, the elderly and children.” He stated, “there is no human life that is more sacred than another – every human life is sacred – just as there is no human life qualitatively more significant than another, only by virtue of resources, rights, great social and economic opportunities.”

He told the doctors that “human life is always sacred, valuable and inviolable. And as such, it must be loved, defended and cared for. … “In fact, if the Hippocratic Oath commits you to always be servants of life, the Gospel pushes you further: to love it no matter what, especially when it is in need of special care and attention.” He highlighted the organization’s “statutory goals of implementing the teaching of the Magisterium of the Church in the field of medical ethics.”

“The dominant thinking,” explained Pope Francis, “sometimes suggests a ‘false compassion’ that believes that it is: helpful to women to promote abortion; an act of dignity to obtain euthanasia; a scientific breakthrough to ‘produce’ a child and to consider it to be a right rather than a gift to welcome; or to use human lives as guinea pigs presumably to save others. Instead, the compassion of the Gospel is … the compassion of the Good Samaritan. … I encourage you to take them on as “Good Samaritans”, caring in a special way for the elderly, the infirm and the disabled.

Pope Francis pointed out that “fidelity to the Gospel of life and respect for life as a gift from God sometimes require choices that are courageous and go against the current, which in particular circumstances, may become points of conscientious objection. And this fidelity entails many social consequences.

In passionate terms, the Pope said: “We are living in a time of experimentation with life. But a bad experiment! Making children rather than accepting them as a gift, as I have said. Playing with life. Be careful, because this is a sin against the Creator: against God the Creator, who created things this way. When so many times in my life as a priest I have heard objections: ‘But tell me, why the Church is opposed to abortion, for example? Is it a religious problem?’ No, no. It is not a religious problem. ‘Is it a philosophical problem?’ No, it is not a philosophical problem. It’s a scientific problem, because there is a human life there, and it is not lawful to take out a human life to solve a problem. ‘But no, modern thought…’ But, listen, in ancient thought and modern thought, the word ‘kill’ means the same thing. The same evaluation applies to euthanasia: we all know that with so many old people, in this culture of waste, there is this hidden euthanasia. But there is also the other. And this is to say to God, ‘No, I will accomplish the end of life, as I will’. A sin against God the Creator! Think hard about this.”

The Holy Father concluded by noting, “St. Camillus de Lellis, in suggesting the most effective method in caring for the sick, would simply say: “Put more heart into those hands.” Put more heart in these hands! This is also my hope.”


Pope Francis Sunday at the Angelus reflected on the Gospel parable of the talents – a great sum of money at the time – that a man, about to embark on a trip, entrusts to his servants, asking that they make this treasure even more fruitful. Two servants double the wealth but the third, fearful of losing his portion, hid it in a hole. Upon his return, the master asks for the accounts and, while he rewards the first two, punishes the third.

Francis explained that the master in the parable is Jesus, we are the servants, and the talents are the patrimony that the Lord entrusts to us. “The patrimony of His Word, the Eucharist, faith in the Heavenly Father, his forgiveness … in summary, many things, his most precious goods. Not just to guard them, but to make them grow. While in common usage the term ‘talent’ refers to a marked individual quality, such as talent in music, in sport, and so on, in the parable the talents represent the gifts of the Lord. … The hole that the ‘wicked and lazy’ servant digs in the ground indicates the fear of risk that obstructs creativity and the fruitfulness of love.”

The Pope then said, in unscripted remarks, “Jesus does not ask us to preserve his grace in a safe … but instead to put it to the good of others. All the gifts that we have received are to be given to others, and in this way they grow. … And as for us, what have we done with them? Who have we ‘infected’ with our faith? How many people have we encouraged with our hope? How much love have we shared with our neighbor?”

He urged the faithful several times to read and er-read Matthew’s account of this parable – Matthew 25:14-30.

After praying the Angelus, the Pope reflected on recent tensions in Rome, elsewhere in Italy and in other European cities between citizens and immigrants, calling on civil institutions at every level “to take up as a priority what has now become a social emergency that, if not addressed promptly and in an adequate way, risks degenerating more and more.” He said, “the important thing is to not give into the temptation to confrontation” and “to reject all violence. … It is possible to dialogue, to listen to one another, to make plans together, and in this way to overcome suspicion and prejudice, and to build a coexistence that is ever more secure, peaceful, and inclusive.” He pointed out that the Christian community must be engaged in this issue in a concrete way.


Barely a month after the close of the synod on the family, Pope Francis Monday opened the three-day colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman in Marriage organized by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Councils for the Family, for Interreligious Dialogue, and for Promoting Christian Unity.

Sharing a reflection on the title of the colloquium, Francis said, “You must admit that ‘complementarity’ does not roll lightly off the tongue!  Yet it is a word into which many meanings are compressed. It refers to situations where one of two things adds to, completes, or fulfills a lack in the other. Yet complementarity is more than this. … To reflect upon complementarity is nothing less than to ponder the dynamic harmonies at the heart of all Creation. This is a big word, harmony. All complementarities were made by our Creator, so the Author of harmony achieves this harmony.

He added that the complementarity of man and woman “is a root of marriage and family. For the family grounded in marriage is the first school where we learn to appreciate our own and others’ gifts, and where we begin to acquire the arts of cooperative living. For most of us, the family provides the principal place where we can aspire to greatness as we strive to realize our full capacity for virtue and charity. At the same time, as we know, families give rise to tensions: between egoism and altruism, reason and passion, immediate desires and long-range goals.

“But families also provide frameworks for resolving such tensions,” continued the Pope. “This is important. When we speak of complementarity between man and woman in this context, let us not confuse that term with the simplistic idea that all the roles and relations of the two sexes are fixed in a single, static pattern. Complementarity will take many forms as each man and woman brings his or her distinctive contributions to their marriage and to the formation of their children — his or her personal richness, personal charisma. Complementarity becomes a great wealth. It is not just a good thing but it is also beautiful.”

The Holy Father underscored how “today marriage and the family are in crisis. We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment. This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.”

He noted that, “Evidence is mounting that the decline of the marriage culture is associated with increased poverty and a host of other social ills, disproportionately affecting women, children and the elderly. It is always they who suffer the most in this crisis.”

Pope Francis also noted that, “the crisis in the family has produced an ecological crisis” and “we have been slower to recognize that our fragile social environments are under threat as well, slower in our culture, and also in our Catholic Church. It is therefore essential that we foster a new human ecology.”

“It is necessary, he underscored, “first to promote the fundamental pillars that govern a nation: its non-material goods. The family is the foundation of co-existence and a remedy against social fragmentation.  Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity. That is why I stressed in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium that the contribution of marriage to society is ‘indispensable’; that it “transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple.”

“In these days, as you embark on a reflection on the beauty of complementarity between man and woman in marriage, I urge you to lift up yet another truth about marriage: that permanent commitment to solidarity, fidelity and fruitful love responds to the deepest longings of the human heart.  I urge you to bear in mind especially the young people, who represent our future. Commit yourselves, so that our youth do not give themselves over to the poisonous environment of the temporary, but rather be revolutionaries with the courage to seek true and lasting love, going against the common pattern. Do not fall into the trap of being swayed by political notion. Family is an anthropological fact – a socially and culturally related fact. We cannot qualify it based on ideological notions or concepts important only at one time in history. We can’t think of conservative or progressive notions. Family is a family. It can’t be qualified by ideological notions. Family is per se. It is a strength per se.”

The Pope said he prays that, “the colloquium will be an inspiration to all who seek to support and strengthen the union of man and woman in marriage as a unique, natural, fundamental and beautiful good for persons, communities, and whole societies.”

And he closed with these words: “I wish to confirm according to the wishes of the Lord, that in September of 2015, I will go to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. Thank you for your prayers with which you accompany my service to the Church. Bless you from my heart.”