So much confusion has surround the now three-year long Synod on Synodality –including the very meaning and definition of synodality! – that one looks for clarity anywhere on anything involving that synod that started in 2021 and will now, per Pope Francis, be extended until the fall of 2024. The Church is in the final, continental stage of that synod.

Archbishop Timothy Broglio, new president of the USCCB, is in Rome for meetings on the continental stage of the synod. He was interviewed by Vatican News and I think you’ll learn something from the conversation.

I was saddened yesterday to learn of the death of Cardinal Baawobr, I did not know and never met him but I well remember during the busy late August days that included a consistory to make 20 new cardinals and the presence in Rome of the entire College of Cardinals that it was announced that one cardinal had to be admitted to the hospital and he would still get the red hat. Apparently a much-loved pastor, he will be greatly missed in all of Africa.  And it seems the College of Cardinals was deprived of a great gift.

Vatican news reported that Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, archbishop of Kinshasaa in the DRC, said: “All of Africa, the Islands, and indeed, the universal Church have lost a great and devout churchman, a selfless servant and a good Shepherd.”


The newly elected head of the US Bishops’ Conference discusses the synodal process in the country, its potential to combat polarisation in the Church, and strategies for including the voices of the marginalised.

By Joseph Tulloch (vaticannews)

Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Archbishop for Military Services in the United States, spoke to Vatican News on Tuesday about the upcoming Continental Stage of the synodal process.

The Archbishop, who was recently appointed head of the US Bishops’ Conference, was in Rome for a meeting of the Presidents and Coordinators of the Continental Assemblies of the Synod.

During the interview, he discussed the meeting in Rome, strategies for listening to the voices of the marginalised, and the opportunity the synod offers to combat polarisation in the US Church.

The following transcript has been lightly edited for reasons of style.

You’re just coming to the end of this two-day meeting with the Secretariat of the Synod. How has it been? What have you talked about? What have you discussed? What have you learned?

Well, I think it’s been a very useful meeting. In terms of what we’ve discussed, we basically saw how each Continental group has approached the Continental session. It’s interesting that all the continents that are represented are doing it in different ways, and that also reflects the different realities that are represented here. The United States and Canada are using a virtual approach because of the size of the countries and also the question of logistics, but very interesting to see the variety of approaches.

And I think in terms of things learned, the time we spent this morning on spiritual conversation has been very useful. Of course, it was a Jesuit who made the presentation so you could see the spirit of Saint Ignatius kind of lurking over the process, but really fascinating.

I think now the challenge will be how do we put this into action in our different continental gatherings. Obviously, the role of facilitator will be very important, but also this ability to listen and then to put together what we’ve heard.

 One of the things that you read in the Working Document for the Continental Stage is that they’re quite interested in making sure that the Synod hears the voice of all of the people of God. They talk particularly about making heard the voices of women and laypeople, people who live in conditions of poverty and marginalisation. How is the Church in the U.S. going to try and put that into practice?

Well, we’re trying to use, as I said, a virtual method … the hope with that is that by not obliging people to go someplace, we can reach out to those who are more marginalised, and also those for whom affronting the cost of a trip might be problematic.

Now, it’s going to depend very much on each diocesan bishop to recruit those people because each one can have 3 to 5 delegates. So it will depend on the individual dioceses to make sure that they have this cross representation of people. But hopefully, that is taking place now, and also the fact that we’ve extended the deadline by a few days will make it a little bit easier, I think, for some of the dioceses that were lagging behind to catch up. But I hope that it’ll be a fruitful exchange.

And we have ten opportunities to participate; there are five in English, two in French and three in Spanish. So hopefully it will be a wide cross-section of both the United States and Canada because we’re doing it together.

 One of the things you hear people talk a lot about in the context of the U.S. Church is polarisation. And I’m wondering if you think that the synodal path has any potential to help with that.

I certainly hope that it does. I think the emphasis that’s been placed on listening will be a great help if people enter into these moments of conversation and dialogue and discernment with a spirit of listening to the other.

Unfortunately, one of the aspects – I don’t know how prevalent this is in the Church, but certainly one of the aspects of the society in general in the United States – is the inability to listen to the other. You only listen to the newscasters that tell you what you want to hear, or from your point of view, and if you don’t agree with someone, then you don’t listen to him or her.

We even see this on university campuses, where you would think a fundamental aspect of learning is also to listen to those who don’t necessarily agree with me. But we have this closing off where we don’t we don’t want to hear people, if they represent a certain position they’re not welcome on a campus.

I’m hopeful that at least among Catholics in those who participate in the Synodal process, perhaps this opening to the presence of the spirit will allow … and that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is a moment of changing convictions, but it is a moment of hearing where the other person is and trying to respond and put together that sharing of views. I hope that that will help heal, at least as far as the church is concerned, some of the polarisation.

 What are you most excited about going forward with the Synod process in this next continental stage?

I’m most excited about the fact that we’ll be working together with Canada. As my Canadian brother has pointed out repeatedly, it’s the longest border in the world that’s unfortified.

And so we do have a lot in common – and there’s of course, there’s enough to make the two realities distinct as well – but that’s an enrichment to be able to enter into the other country and to listen with them.

Because of these sessions, you won’t need a passport to participate in them. So they will be mixed. All of the sessions, obviously, probably the two in French should be a little more aimed at Quebec, but I intend to participate, at least in one of them in French, so that I can hear what’s going on.

So I think there will be a great opening and a great appreciation of the church in both countries. And then it will be interesting to see, when we come to the conclusions, what the Church in North America has to contribute to the whole synodal process. I think that will be very interesting to see.


Pope Francis on Tuesday expressed sorrow for the death of Cardinal Richard Kuuia Baawobr, Archbishop of Wa, who died unexpectedly in Rome on Sunday evening.

In a telegram in which he extends his heartfelt condolences to the cardinal’s family, to the Missionaries of Africa of which he was part, to the clergy, religious and laity of the Diocese of Wa, the Pope said he is grateful for the cardinal’s faithful witness to the Gospel, “marked by generous service to the Church in Ghana, especially to those in need.”

“I willingly join the faithful in praying that our merciful Father may grant to this wise and gentle pastor the reward of his labours and welcome him into the light and peace of heaven.”

The Pope’s telegram concluded with words of comfort for all those who are mourning the late cardinal’s passing in the sure hope of the Resurrection and with his apostolic blessing “as a pledge of consolation and peace in Jesus, the firstborn from the dead.”

Created Cardinal in absentia

Richard Kuuia Baawobr, Bishop of Wa, Ghana, was created a cardinal on 27 August in absentia. He had arrived in Rome the day before but was unable to attend the consistory due to illness. He was hospitalised and spent more than two months in hospital. Only a few days after leaving his hospital room, Cardinal Baawobr passed away on Sunday, while still in Rome. FOR MORE: Pope grieves for “wise and gentle pastor” Cardinal Baawobr – Vatican News



This is the headline from an article on The Pillar website Tuesday where a draft copy of the USCCB document on the Eucharist was published. It noted in an accompanying commentary that, “The draft text of a prospective U.S. bishops’ conference document on the Eucharist is focused on a call to ‘enter more deeply by faith and love into this great Mystery of Mysteries’.” (NCRegister photo)

The Pillar continues: “A draft text of the document, which was finalized in September and circulated to the bishops last month, addresses the subject of “Eucharistic worthiness,”  —  the states of grace and sin which the Church teaches affect a Catholic’s suitability to receive the sacrament. But as drafters predicted in June, the draft includes no specific mention of high-profile Catholic politicians in favor of abortion.

“It does not include any recommendations for the denial of Communion, despite some media predictions it would do so.”

The 26 pages of a draft text obtained by The Pillar focus mostly on the Eucharist as a gift, as the real presence of Christ, and as a sign and cause of of communion with Christ and his Church.

To continue: USCCB Eucharist draft document focuses on real presence, not Communion denial – by The Pillar – The Pillar (




POPE TO YOUTH IN MEDJUGORJE: FOLLOW CHRIST WITH COURAGE AND JOY: Pope Francis sends a message to young people gathered at Mladifest, the annual international prayer meeting being held from 1-6 August in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Entrusting them to the example of Mary, the Pope invites them to believe in the fullness and true happiness giving oneself to God brings. The guiding theme of the youth festival underway in Medjugorje until August 6 is: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” They cite the words of the rich young man of whom the Synoptic Gospels speak when he set out, or rather, ran to meet the Lord, to inquire about gaining eternal life, that is, happiness. Pope Francis sent his good wishes to the participants with a message offering some reflections on the theme. Mladifest, the Pope reminds his readers, is in fact a “week of prayer and encounter with Jesus Christ, especially in his living Word, in the Eucharist, in adoration and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation,” which has the power to “set us on our way to the Lord.” And so this young man of the Gospel, whose name we do not know but whose soul we do know, becomes the symbol of all those who participate in this event. News about Pope Francis – All the latest news – Vatican News

VATICAN UNVEILS OFFICIAL IMAGE FOR X WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES: The official image for the upcoming World Meeting of Families has been released. Produced by Father Marko Ivan Rupnik, the image is dedicated to the Wedding at Cana. The eagerly awaited 10th World Meeting of Families will take place in Rome from June 22 to 26 June 2022, after the event was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. “Sacramental love between a man and a woman is a reflection of the indissoluble love and unity between Christ and the Church: Jesus sheds His blood for Her.” This is the meaning behind the official image of the Tenth World Meeting of Families.Vatican unveils official image for X World Meeting of Families – Vatican News

US BISHOPS APPLAUD GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR AFGHAN HELPERS: Bishops in the US welcome government efforts to evacuate and save Afghan nationals who helped US troops during the two decades of US military campaign in Afghanistan. They insist that the sacrifices that these people have made “should not go unacknowledged.” Bishops in the US have hailed government efforts to provide refuge for Afghans who assisted US forces during the 20-year-long war in Afghanistan. The Biden administration launched “Operation Allies Refuge,” an initiative to relocate thousands of Afghans who worked as interpreters and translators during the military campaign and who now fear for their safety. “We are proud to have the opportunity to welcome and assist those who have kept Americans safe in Afghanistan,” said a statement signed by USCCB President Archbishop José Gomez and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, Bishop Mario Dorsonville. US Bishops applaud government support for Afghan helpers – Vatican News


Two stories today from and about the USCCB – the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:


I shared this article earlier today on Facebook and on my Twitter account. I feel it is important, especially in view of Turkey’s invitation to Pope Francis to visit Hagia Sophia, the former basilica and then museum now turned into a mosque. The Vatican has not issued any statement so far and has not responded to media requests for clarification about that invitation. To read the article, “US Catholic Bishops Declare ‘Day of Mourning’ Over Hagia Sophia Becoming Mosque,” click here:


The Bishops of the United States respond to reports of increasing incidents of church vandalism and fires, and urge understanding and love in response to confusion and hatred.

By Vatican News

The Bishops’ Conference of the United States, the USCCB, has issued a statement in response to numerous attacks against Catholic churches, statues, and other religious symbols.

“Our nation finds itself in an extraordinary hour of cultural conflict,” reads the statement from Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami and Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City.

The two archbishops, chairmen respectively of the USCCB’s Committee on Religious Liberty and the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, point to numerous acts of violence in recent weeks, including an attack in Florida when a driver rammed his car into a church and attempted to set the building on fire. Numerous statues of Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin have also “been defaced or even beheaded” in recent weeks, they note.

The historic mission church of San Gabriel in Los Angeles was destroyed by fire earlier in July, and the cause is still unknown.

“Whether those who committed these acts were troubled individuals crying out for help or agents of hate seeking to intimidate, the attacks are signs of a society in need of healing,” the archbishops wrote.

Acknowledging that the motives behind the incidents remain unclear, they said they are praying for those responsible, adding, “we remain vigilant against more of it.”

In their statement, the two prelates insist, “the path forward must be through the compassion and understanding practiced and taught by Jesus and His Holy Mother.” They encourage contemplation of “images of these examples of God’s love,” rather than destruction of them.

“Following the example of Our Lord,” say Archbishops Wenski and Coakley, “we respond to confusion with understanding and to hatred with love.”


A birthday prayer for me from Joe, a friend in Texas and a Knight of Columbus! I was so touched! Could there be a better gift!

God of all creation, we offer you grateful praise for the gift of life. Hear the prayers of Joan, your servant, who recalls today the day of her birth and rejoices in your gifts of life and love, family and friends.

Bless her with your presence and surround her with your love that she may enjoy many happy years, all of them pleasing to you.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

JULY 16, 1945, 5:29

(UCAN news) – July 16 is the 75th anniversary of an event that blights the lives of every one of us on this planet. On that morning in 1945 scientists in the desert of New Mexico in the United States detonated the first atomic bomb.

After that successful test, the components of two more bombs were loaded on a warship bound for Tinian, a Pacific island that had been turned into a base from which American bombers could reach Japan. Those bombs were detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9.



The USCCB Committee for International Justice and Peace encourages prayers for Japan and calls for a world of justice and solidarity, ahead of the upcoming 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

By Vatican News

The Bishops of the United States have made a call for prayers of peace for Japan ahead of the upcoming anniversary of the detonation of two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

“August 6 and 9 mark the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the first, and one hopes the last, times that atomic weapons are employed in war,” said the Bishops in a statement issued by the USCCB’s Committee for International Justice and Peace released on Monday.

“The 21st century continues to witness geopolitical conflicts with state and non-state actors, increasingly sophisticated weapons, and the erosion of international arms control frameworks. The bishops of the United States steadfastly renew the urgent call to make progress on the disarmament of nuclear weapons,” the Bishops said.

In the statement, the Bishops recalled that “since Pope St. John Paul II’s visit to Japan in 1981, each year the Catholic Church in Japan has observed Ten Days of Prayer for Peace.” In the same vein, in observation of this 75th anniversary, they “invite Catholics in the United States, and all those of goodwill, to come together in solidarity in our personal prayers and Masses on Sunday, August 9.”

“The Church in the U.S. proclaims her clarion call and humble prayer for peace in our world which is God’s gift through the salvific sacrifice of Christ Jesus.”

Reiterating Pope Francis’s words during his visit to Nagasaki in November 2019, the Bishops affirmed that, “a world of peace, free from nuclear weapons, is the aspiration of millions of men and women everywhere.”

On that occasion of his visit to Nagasaki, the Pope also appealed that “our response to the threat of nuclear weapons must be joint and concerted, inspired by the arduous yet constant effort to build mutual trust and thus surmount the current climate of distrust.”

At the same time, the Bishops reaffirmed the Pope’s call to “renewed effort to bring about a world of justice that is not based upon fear or the threat of nuclear annihilation but justice and human solidarity.”

Concluding the statement, the Bishops said that “fear, distrust and conflict must be supplanted by our joint commitment, by faith and in prayer, that peace and justice reign now and forever.”

The only wartime use of nuclear weapons took place during the Second World War, when the United States bombed the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August 1945, respectively.

The Hiroshima bombing killed around 80,000 people instantly and caused the death of tens of thousands more. The attack on Nagasaki three days later instantly killed about 40,000 people and destroyed a large part of the city.



Join me again on Vatican Insider on this final weekend of June – unbelievable! As you know by now, in recent months because of Covid-19 and restrictions placed on and by individuals for in-person interviews, I’ve prepared a number of Specials in place of interviews. Last week we visited the final basilica on our tour of Rome’s Seven Pilgrim Basilicas by going to St. Sebastian’s basilica and catacombs.

This week I take you on a tour of Vatican City State – its gardens, fountains, statues, buildings, the mosaic studio, the department store, train station and much more. At the very end I will tell you how to reserve tickets to visit Vatican City, its stunning gardens and even Castelgandolfo –all offered by the Vatican Museums.

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: (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)



As confirmed Covid-19 infections continue to surge in the US state of Florida, Archbishop Thomas Wenski says Catholic Churches in Miami are taking precautions seriously. “The priests were still offering the people of God the essential service of their prayers, even when they could not be physically with them.” In an interview with Vatican Radio, the Archbishop of Miami, Archbishop Thomas Wenski, described the current situation in the US state of Florida. “Many of our hospitals have reported a growing number of admissions. There are a couple of hospitals that are at their maximum, but there are still hospitals able to receive patients, so we’re not anywhere near the crisis of New York of a few months ago.” CONTINUE:


The bishop chairmen of three committees of the United States Bishops’ Conference have written to federal lawmakers in the US, urging them to consider proposals aimed at improving formation of police officers and accountability for police. Released on Wednesday, the letter comes in the wake of the current re-examination of “the evil of racism, both historic and present, and its devastating effects on individuals and society” occasioned by the “terrible and unjust killing of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and so many others.” Archbishop Paul Coakley, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Bishop Mario Dorsonville, chairman of the Committee on Migration; and Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism acknowledge that “law enforcement officers perform a great and needed service” to society, but say “it is clear that there have been too many failures in serving everyone, with tragic consequences.” CONTINUE:


The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection released its 2019 Annual Report. The conference announced on Thursday that its Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection has released “Findings and Recommendations on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” The 2019 report for the year July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 shows that 4,220 adults came forward with 4,434 allegations of abuse. The figures are a marked increase compared to the previous year. The statement says that the rise is due in part to new complaints that were added during trials, compensation programs and bankruptcy proceedings in progress. The document also shows 37 allegations were made by current minors, of which 8 were substantiated, 7 were unsubstantiated, and 6 were unable to be proven. Twelve allegations are still under investigation, 3 others were referred to religious orders, and 1 was referred to another diocese. CONTINUE:



Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni said in a statement this morning that, “a further confirmation of positivity to Covid-19 among the employees of the Holy See arrived today. He is a person who has had symptoms since the first half of March and was therefore in solitary confinement at home. Before returning to work as a precaution, the employee was tested and tested positive for the disease. He is now again in quarantine at his home.”

Click here to access this week’s English language edition of L’Osservatore Romano:


A statement released by the Holy See Press Office on Thursday said, in part, “The proceeding relative to the alleged entombment of Emanuela Orlandi’s remains in the Vatican’s Teutonic Cemetery has been closed by the Single Judge of Vatican City State who had received the request from the Office of the Promoter of Justice.”

The statement also included information regarding the human remains found in the ossuaries adjacent to the two tombs that were opened in July 2019 that revealed they dated further back in time before Emanuela Orlandi’s disappearance. Emanuela was the daughter of a Holy See employee whose family lived in Vatican City. She never returned home from a music lesson on June 22, 1983, and no indication of her whereabouts, alive or dead, has ever been found.

The statement concluded: “The order filed allows the Orlandi family to proceed privately with any further investigations on the same fragments already found, which are kept sealed in containers in the offices of the Vatican Gendarmerie.”


I was once asked in the Q&A portion of my EWTN weekend radio show, Vatican Insider, “Why do Popes wear white?”

I knew that for the first centuries, there was no set “institutional” wear for Popes but did not know when or why wearing white became the tradition so I did some research and the answer is related to today’s saint, St. Pius V!

You see, Pius V was the first Dominican ever to be elected to the papacy and he said that, since the day he first wore the white Dominican habit, he had never worn anything else and, as Pope, would continue to wear it. At first there was consternation but then people realized the Pope would be a standout among prelates and easier for the faithful to see in crowds!

Born Antonio Ghislieri in January 1504, he took the name Michele Ghislieri when he became a Dominican. He was elected to the papacy on January 8, 1566 and took the name Pius V. As Pope he was also ruler of the Papal States until his death on May 1, 1572. Buried in St. Mary Major, he was beatified by Clement X in 1672, and canonized by Clement XI in 1712.

Here’s a great rosary story linked to Pius V courtesy of CNA:

“(Pius) worked hard to unite the Christian armies against the Turks, and perhaps the most famous success of his papacy was the miraculous victory of the Christian fleet in the battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571. The island of Malta was attacked by the Turkish fleet and nearly every man defending the fortress was killed in battle. The Pope sent out a fleet to meet the enemy, requesting that each man on board pray the Rosary and receive communion. Meanwhile, he called on all of Europe to recite the Rosary and ordered a 40-hour devotion in Rome during which time the battle took place. The Christian fleet, vastly outnumbered by the Turks, inflicted an impossible defeat on the Turkish navy, demolishing the entire fleet.

“In memory of the triumph, he declared the day the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary because of her intercession in answering the mass recitation of the Rosary and obtaining the victory. He has also been called ‘the Pope of the Rosary’ for this reason.”

I subscribe to Franciscan Media for their Saint of the Day emails that arrive with both a print and audio story. Click here for a brief story of Pius VI:

For CNA story:

(And just a reminder, speaking of the rosary: Tomorrow, May 1, Pope Francis has asked us, if we do not do so already, to pray the rosary daily, be it alone or with family members. In addition, tomorrow May 1, the U.S. bishops will join the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to renew the consecration of the two nations to the care of our Blessed Mother. The re-consecration will take place at 12 noon, California time (3 p.m. ET) ive from Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles with Archbishop Jose Gomez, archbishop of Los Angeles and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, celebrating.


The Holy Father today received 26 bishops of the dioceses of Region X of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as they spend the week in Rome for their ad limina visit. The prelates were from the ecclesiastical province of San Antonio, comprising the west and north of the state of Texas, the ecclesiastical province of Galveston-Houston, comprising the east and southeast parts of the state of Texas and the ecclesiastical province of Oklahoma City, comprising the states of Arkansas and Oklahoma (diocese of Little Rock and diocese of Tulsa).


Pope Francis today received a delegation from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, recalling his visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, and condemning anti-semitism in every form.
By Vatican News

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre is a global human rights organization that, according to its mission statement, researches “the Holocaust and hate in a historic and contemporary context”.

Respecting human dignity
The Pope welcomed a delegation from the Centre to the Vatican on Monday and noted how it actively “seeks to combat all forms of antisemitism, racism and hatred towards minorities”.

Pope at Wailing Wall –

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre has maintained contacts with the Holy See for decades, said the Pope, “in a shared desire to make the world a better place in respect for human dignity. This dignity is due to every person in equal measure, regardless of his or her ethnic origin, religion or social status,” he added. “It is essential to teach tolerance, mutual understanding and freedom of religion, and the promotion of peace within society”.

Remembering the Holocaust
January 27 will mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Pope Francis recalled visiting the camp in 2016 “to reflect and to pray in silence.” “In our world, with its whirlwind of activity, we find it hard to pause, to look within and to listen in silence to the plea of suffering humanity,” he said.

The Pope reflected on how our consumerist society squanders words: “how many unhelpful words are spoken, how much time is wasted in arguing, accusing, shouting insults, without a real concern for what we say. Silence, on the other hand, helps to keep memory alive. If we lose our memory, we destroy our future”, he added.

“May the anniversary of the unspeakable cruelty that humanity learned of seventy-five years ago serve as a summons to pause, to be still and to remember,” said Pope Francis. “We need to do this, lest we become indifferent.”

Condemning antisemitism
Expressing his firm condemnation of antisemitism in every form, the Pope described “an increase in selfishness and indifference” in many parts of the world. “This creates a fertile ground for the forms of factionalism and populism we see around us, where hatred quickly springs up”, he said.

We need to address the cause of the problem by committing ourselves to “tilling the soil in which hatred grows and sowing peace instead”, said Pope Francis. “For it is through integration and seeking to understand others that we more effectively protect ourselves”.

This means reintegrating those who are marginalized, reaching out to those far away, and assisting those who are victims of intolerance and discrimination, said the Pope.

Sowing seeds of peace
Pope Francis concluded with a prayer to “make the earth a better place by sowing seeds of peace.” We need to put the “rich spiritual patrimony that Jews and Christians possess” at the service of others, he said. “Not to take the path of distance and exclusion, but that of proximity and inclusion; not to force solutions, but to initiate ways of drawing closer together.”

“If we do not do this”, asked Pope Francis, “then who will?”


Pope Francis this morning met with 37 bishops, including emeritus prelates, and one priest who is the diocesan administrator of Shreveport in Louisiana, from Regions IV and V of the USCCB who are in Rome on their ad limina visit. These mandatory visits normally take place every five years but the US prelates were last in Rome on ad limina in 2011. Region IV includes the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, West Virginia, and the Military Archdiocese. Region V prelates are from Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.


On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, December 3rd, Pope Francis recalls how the promotion of the right to participation plays a central role in combating discrimination and promoting a culture of encounter and quality of life.
By Lydia O’Kane

In his message marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Pope Francis notes that “great progress has been made towards people with disabilities in the medical and welfare fields.”

But he highlights the fact that even today there is still a culture of waste with many disabled people feeling that “\”they exist without belonging and without participating.”

Protection of rights
The Pope stresses that “all this calls not only for the rights of people with disabilities and their families to be protected,” but “it also urges us to make the world more human” by removing prejudice.

It is necessary, Pope Francis writes, “to take care of and accompany people with disabilities in every condition of life, also making use of current technologies,” so that they can actively and with dignity participate in both civil and ecclesial communities.

He also says, that the accessibility of places and quality of life need to be promoted, taking into account all the dimensions of the human being.

Hidden exiles
In the message, the Pope emphasizes “the many ‘hidden exiles’ who live in our homes, our families and our societies.”

“I am thinking of people of all ages, especially the elderly who, also because of their disability, are sometimes felt as a burden, as ‘cumbersome presences’, and are in danger of being discarded, of being denied concrete job prospects to participate in the construction of their own future.”

Pope Francis stresses that “we need to develop antibodies against a culture that considers some lives” first or second-class. “This is a social sin,” he says.

A change of mentality needed
On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Pontiff invites people to “have the courage to give a voice to those who are discriminated against because of their disability.”

“Making good laws and breaking down physical barriers is important,” the Pope writes, “but it is not enough, if the mentality does not change.”

Concluding his message, Pope Francis encourages “all those who work with people with disabilities to continue with this important service and commitment, which determines the degree of civilization of a nation.”


A December 2 communique from Apostolic Almsgiver:

“The Holy Father Francis, on the occasion of his trip to the Island of Lesbos in April 2016, brought back to Italy three Syrian families seeking asylum. The Holy See took on the charge of welcoming and sustaining them, while hospitality and integration were assumed by the Sant’Egidio Community.

“Last May, three years after that event, the Pope asked the Apostolic Almsgiver (Office of Papal Charities) to return to the island to renew solidarity with the Greek people and refugees, and he also expressed the desire to make a further gesture of solidarity and host a group of young refugees and some families from Afghanistan, Cameroon and Togo.

“After an intense period of official negotiations between the competent authorities, in order to carry out this new humanitarian corridor the Interior Ministry of the Italian Republic gave final assent to carrying out the operation.

“Therefore today, December 2, the papal Almsgiver* returned to the Island of Lesbos, together with some leaders of the Sant’Egidio Community. They will return to Italy on December 4 with a group of 33 refugees requesting political asylum. This operation will end in December, when another 10 refugees will be accompanied to Italy, thus starting the procedures necessary for the request for international protection.

“Welcoming these refugees will be assumed by the Holy See, through the Apostolic Almsgiving office and by the Sant’Egidio Community.”

A Vaticannews story with the title, “Two families in Luxembourg,” noted that, on November 19 the archdiocese of Luxembourg, led by new Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich who, in May, had participated in the mission of Cardinal Krajewski to Lesbos, also opened its doors to two families of refugees from the same camps on the Greek island, one originally from Kuwait with two children aged 8 and 5 and one from Syria with twins aged almost two years.

* The head of the Apostolic Almsgiving Office (Office of Papal Charities) is Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, also known as the papal almsgiver. (


You can follow the US Bishops meeting online at and you might want to check out these twitter accounts:,,, ttps:// You might want to see if your bishop is tweeting or has a blog.

Cardinals – There are 14 U.S. Cardinals
5 Cardinals Currently Lead U.S. Archdioceses
§ Cardinal Blase J. Cupich – Chicago
§ Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo – Galveston-Houston
§ Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan – New York
§ Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley – Boston
§ Cardinal Joseph William Tobin, CSsR – Newark

4 U.S. Cardinals Currently Serve in a Another Capacity
§ Cardinal Raymond L. Burke – Patron of the Order of Malta
§ Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell – Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life
§ Cardinal James M. Harvey – Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls
§ Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien – Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem

5 U.S. Cardinals Are Retired
§ Cardinal Roger M. Mahony – Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles
§ Cardinal Adam J. Maida – Archbishop Emeritus of Detroit
§ Cardinal Justin F. Rigali – Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia
§ Cardinal James F. Stafford – Major Penitentiary Emeritus
§ Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl – Archbishop Emeritus of Washington

Eastern Catholic Churches are churches with origins in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa that have their own distinctive liturgical, legal and organizational systems and are identified by the national or ethnic character of their region of origin. Each is considered fully equal to the Latin tradition within the Church in the United States. The curial offices and chanceries of Eastern Catholic Eparchies and Archeparchies are based in a certain city. However, the Eparchies and Archeparchies have jurisdiction over large swaths of the United States (and Canada) based on the breadth of each individual Church.

The Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA provides pastoral care and spiritual services to those serving in the armed forces of the United States, Department of Veterans Affairs facilities, and the dependents of those retired or on active duty. On July 21, 1986 Pope John Paul II reorganized the military vicariate as an archdiocese with its own archbishop and relocated the see to the District of Columbia. The AMS oversees Catholic priests serving as chaplains and has no defined territory. Its jurisdiction extends to wherever American uniformed military members serve including all U.S. Government property, military installations, embassies, and other diplomatic missions.

The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter was established January 1, 2012 to serve former Anglican groups and clergy in the United States who sought to become Catholic. Similar to a diocese though national in scope, the Ordinariate is based in Houston, Texas and includes parishes and communities across the United States that are fully Catholic, while retaining elements of their Anglican heritage and traditions.

The Archdioceses and Dioceses of the United States are divided into 14 geographic regions with the Eastern Catholic Churches constituting their own membership region for the purposes of USCCB proceedings. These regions typically include two or more Metropolitan Archdioceses and several Dioceses across one or more States.

When bishops come to Rome for their ad limina visits, as U.S. bishops have been doing since November 4 and will do to January 2020) they come in numerical order by region, I, II etc.).

Click here to see all the (Arch) dioceses of the United States, bishops and websites:


As I mentioned yesterday, one of the reasons I came to Washington was to be at the presentation last evening at CUA, Catholic University of America, of the documentary “Glorious Lives – Cardinal Francis George,” produced by Shalom World with Mike Stark. It was a most memorable evening with very special guest commentators and moderator, Chad Pecknold, CUA professor of theological, social and political thought.

Bishop Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois was a guest commentator, as were Michael Heinlein who is writing a biography of Cardinal George, Mary Hallan FioRito whose decades in the Chicago archdiocese included a term as the first female vice-chancellor and her great friendship with the cardinal, and Robert Royal of the Faith and Reason Institute, also a friend of the cardinal’s. It was like a mini family reunion for me as I joined those guests, Mike Stark and Fr. Dan Flens, Cardinal George’s longtime secretary and now a very good friend of mine.

The following piece appeared today in the UK’s Catholic Herald. I offer this to all my friends who knew, loved and perhaps even worked for Cardinal George as frosting on the cake that was the film.

The photos are mine.

If you need to be inspired by someone who was truly one of the greats, this will do it for you.

by C C Pecknold

Even while battling cancer, Cardinal George was also leading the bishops in their defense of freedom

Catholic University students were treated last night to a screening of a remarkable new documentary on the life and witness of Cardinal Francis George, OMI. The former Archbishop of Chicago is remembered for raising the intellectual standard of the episcopate, and insisting upon the importance of intelligent evangelization in a secularizing culture. His sharp warnings against a “nation state gone bad, claiming an absolute power, deciding questions and making ‘laws’ beyond its competence,” came to a prophetic head when the 2012 HHS contraceptive mandate made those threats real with the Obama administration’s overt attack on the Church’s liberty. Even while Cardinal George was battling cancer, he was also leading the bishops in their defense of freedom.

Even before the long battle over the contraceptive mandate, Cardinal George had warned a group of priests that as secularization of society increases, so will the suffering of the Church. He told those priests these famous words: “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.” Those words became emblazoned on the minds of many American Catholics, as they faced new hostilities, the idea that they may have to suffer for their faith.

Cardinal George’s hard realism about the trials and tribulations set before the church today, from within and without, were always matched with joyful perseverance and the witness of hope. This documentary doesn’t focus on Cardinal George’s famous words so much as the gift of faith that gave us his most elevated and prophetic words.

Born Francis Eugene George in Chicago on January 16, 1937 as the world was setting to war, he was stricken with polio as a child. The great pain and physical suffering was matched by the difficulties of being told by his own diocese that he could not pursue the priesthood due to his limitations. As the film makes clear, even the young Francis knew how to look at suffering squarely in the face and trust God to find a way through it. He became a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate, became a priest, then Vicar General for his religious community, before becoming bishop of Yakima, Portland, and finally Chicago.

As Pope Pius XI once said of the missionary fortitude of the Oblates, could certainly be said of Cardinal George, he was a “specialist in the most difficult missions of the Church.”

Cardinal George would sometimes collapse at Mass due to post-polio weakness. But then he’d pick himself back up as Christ did with his cross. He never treated his suffering as a burden, though he had every external reason to do so. Why? At the heart of Cardinal George’s faith as an Oblate was oblation. An oblation is an offering to God, but an offering that you are really willing to lose, to have it destroyed in hopes that God will make something holy out of it.

In the Old Testament, one gives “first fruits” as an oblation. Yet Christ makes the perfect offering, the total gift of himself, body, blood, soul, and divinity. In conformity to Christ, faithful are also called to make an offering of themselves, most of all, at Mass — to give oneself completely to God in Christ means to give yourself in a way that you are willing to lose your life, to have something holy made out of it.

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Watching the inspiring documentary of his life, I saw something new in the man I once met, and admired from afar. I saw more clearly the secret of his life. I saw the secret of his joyful perseverance. Facing suffering in himself with realism, intelligence and joy was possible because this was his oblation, his offering to God through Jesus Christ, meant a suffering life could be transfigured into something holy that heals and elevates a person.

Cardinal George’s non-liberal defense of human dignity inspired me. He once said, “The Church’s social teaching doesn’t begin with the individual, it begins with the family.” He would stress that society is more than politics, and that the Catholic can stress commonality and the common good so powerfully because we have a clear vision that the human person is made for communion. I deeply resonated with his defense of the unborn as integral to our common good.

“When the we took the protection of law away from the unborn,” Cardinal George would say, “we destroyed our constitutional order.” That is precisely right, it seems to me. Yet Cardinal George also had a reputation for praying for women during difficult pregnancies. He did not simply make arguments, he made oblations, offerings, prayers, sacrifices for his flock that bore holy fruit and benefits both temporal and eternal.

Today I think about Cardinal George, and how much we still need his help. The Church is going through great suffering. How must we respond to suffering in our lives as Catholics? How should we respond to suffering in the Church? How are we to respond to the suffering of our neighbors, those in the outer courts, even the suffering of those who would like to inflict suffering upon us? As secularization advances, the Cardinal warned, so will the suffering of the Church. The thought itself can become for us a great burden which causes us to despair, to lose hope, to scatter, and be crushed without being made holy.

Yet Cardinal George would point us to a better hope, an oblative hope, and an intelligent evangelical zeal. He would point us to the blood of the martyrs that becomes the seed of the Church in every age. He would point us to those sacrifices we can make for the love of God and neighbor, the love that picks up the ruined shards of civilization.

Francis Cardinal George suffered greatly throughout his life. Nearing the end, dying of cancer, he said “The lord strips things away from us, sometimes even good things, until there is nothing left but the love of God.” This is the Christian who can teach us how to offer ourselves completely to God, even our suffering, so that we can truly bear joyful witness to Jesus Christ who makes holy our oblations. At the center is always Jesus, the only one who truly gives strength to the weak, who raises up the broken hearted, who gives evangelical hope to the hopeless — and who can set our world on fire with divine charity. I believe Francis George was purified, and made holy, by Jesus Christ — and that he shows that the path of holiness is possible for all of us. I pray his cause advances, and that we ask for his intercession, both for ourselves, and for all the pilgrim Church in her present suffering, especially for our bishops. May the Lord strip away the things which distract us from the love of God, without which nothing endures forever.

Cardinal George, pray for us.