VATICAN CONFIRMS EPISCOPAL ORDINATION IN CHINA – FIRST HEARING HELD IN VATICAN OVER LONDON BUILDING

Vatican News has prepared a detailed report of the first phase of a trial in the Vatican in which 10 people, including a cardinal, have been indicted for embezzlement, corruption, extortion, money laundering and self-laundering, fraud, and abuse of office, among other charges.

I have edited in two ways only: I divided a few single paragraphs that were very long into two paragraphs, and I corrected the name of one defendant that was spelled correctly in several paragraphs and incorrectly in others.

This is long but provides a great deal of information that I have not seen elsewhere in a single report.

VATICAN CONFIRMS EPISCOPAL ORDINATION IN CHINA

Vatican press office director, Matteo Bruni, today confirmed the July 28 Episcopal ordination in the cathedral of Pingliang, Chinese province of Gansu, of Rev. Antonio LI Hui, appointed by Pope Francis as Coadjutor of Pingliang on 11 January 2021. Li is 5th Chinese Bishop appointed and ordained in the regulatory framework of the Provisional Agreement on the appointment of Bishops in China.

FIRST HEARING HELD IN VATICAN OVER LONDON BUILDING

The trial over the use Secretariat of State funds began on Tuesday in the courtroom of the Vatican Museums. The defense attorneys for the ten defendants presented preliminary motions. The next hearing is scheduled for October 5.

Salvatore Cernuzio – Vatican City

The large courtroom set up in the Vatican Museums hosted, on Tuesday, 27 July, the first hearing in the Vatican over the illicit deals made with Secretariat of State funds, starting with the sale of the Sloane Avenue Building in London. Judge Giuseppe Pignatone with Judges Venerando Marano and Carlo Bonzano at his side, presided over the hearing, which lasted seven hours from 9:41 to 16:45. About thirty lawyers, journalists, and gendarmes were present, although only two of the ten defendants were present: Msgr. Mauro Carlino, already in the courtroom early in the morning, and Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, the former Substitute of the Secretariat of State, who is accused of embezzlement, abuse of office and subornation. (photo: Vatican media)

The cardinal, from whom the Pope revoked the prerogatives of the cardinalate in September 2020, attended the entire hearing, sitting. And at the end of the hearing, he recalled that he had always been “obedient to the Pope, who sent me to trial”, saying he was “not worried”: “I have the confidence that the judges will see the facts clearly and my great hope is the certainty that they will recognize my innocence”. He also announced that he had given a mandate to his lawyers to denounce Msgr. Alberto Perlasca and Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui for slander.

Marogna and Torzi’s lawyers ask for a postponement

At the beginning of the hearing, Pignatone communicated the extension of the terms for the presentation of evidence and petitions for the respective defenses and joined to the main trial the position of the former president of AIF (now ASIF), René Brülhart, who, through his lawyer, made it known that he was prevented from coming from Zurich but agreed to the continuation of the trial.

Pignatone then gave the floor to the lawyers. The first one was Fiorino Ruggio, defender of Cecilia Marogna, the manager from Cagliari, who was not present. The lawyer made a request for a postponement since the DIS (Dipartimento delle informazioni per la sicurezza) had ordered an investigation and therefore the testimony of Marogna has to be freed from secrecy first.

Ambra Giovene, Torzi’s lawyer, deposited a copy of the request for “legitimate impediment” of his client to attend the hearing. Torzi is the recipient of a precautionary measure, which also includes an electronic bracelet, issued on April 28, 2021 with a request for extradition from Great Britain: “He cannot move from London,” his lawyer said. And the other lawyer Marco Franco replied: “Torzi, even when he would receive the authorization from the British judge to come to court, would be arrested at Fiumicino airport”. The defense then insisted on the postponement: “It is not in the interest of this defense to hold a trial on its own”.

The defender of Crasso

Over an hour was spent by the lawyer Carlo Panella, defending the financier Enrico Crasso and his three companies (Prestige Family Office Sa, Sogenel Capital Investment, Hp Finance), who presented some objections. The first related to the establishment of a civil action by APSA and the IOR, which, according to the lawyer, should be “inadmissible” as they presented “a generic formula” with the request for compensation for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage, including damage to reputation, without explaining the reasons.

Panella then stated that: “It is not possible that three parties are constituted expressions of the same state and that each one asks for compensation. The risk is to triple the compensation”. The lawyer then complained about the lack of “numerous acts” – among the 28,000 documents deposited – which to date have not been made available to the defence or were illegible, including nine USB pen drives containing bank statements and bank documentation from Switzerland. The lawyer has also pointed out that the defendants have not been guaranteed the necessary time to prepare their defence.

Challenges on the Pope’s rescripts

Panella also contended that there would be a lack of jurisdiction over the crimes of money laundering and self-laundering charged against Crasso and his companies abroad and not on Vatican territory. Finally, he challenged the fact that by virtue of a Rescript dated 2 July 2019 by Pope Francis, the office of the Promoter of Justice was authorized to proceed in the manner of a summary process and to take measures, including precautionary measures.

According to the lawyer, a rescript is an “administrative act”, and so there is a “doubt concerning whether is appropriate that an administrative act should derogate from existing legislation.” Three other Rescripts of the Pope would have introduced criminal procedures “only for this process”, which, according to Crasso’s defender, would make the Vatican “a special Tribunal”.

Tirabassi’s Defense

All the other attorneys joined in the requests of attorney Panella, asking that the indictment be declared null and void. In particular, Cataldo Intrieri, a lawyer for Fabrizio Tirabassi (formerly an official of the Secretariat of State) pointed out that the acts lack documentation concerning his client, such as the search and seizure order that took place in October 2019 in the Secretariat of State and the experts’ report on the examination of Tirabassi’s computers: “The contents were extracted without our being consulted.” And he recalled that money was seized from Tirabassi’s and his father’s home that, according to the lawyer, should not have been possible to sequester “because it was there before 2013”. Moreover, according to what Intrieri pointed out, the file of the appeals court in Rome that had established the illegitimacy of the seizure and ordered the restitution of the goods to the owners appears to be missing.

Perlasca and the trial

This was followed by the intervention of attorney Salvino Mondello, who stated that his client, Msgr. Carlino, had been accused in the two interrogations of “completely different crimes from those that had been referred”.

Then it was the turn of Fabio Viglione, Cardinal Becciu’s lawyer, who complained about the lack of recordings of Msgr. Alberto Perlasca’s interrogations (including videos of the interrogations), as well as “a series of acts that refer to forensic copies of numerous computer devices in use” by Perlasca himself. This was echoed by deputy Leonardo Mazza, according to whom the five interrogations of Perlasca – of which, he said, traces had been lost – are null and void, as well as “the result of an obvious procedural violation of the rights of guarantee”. In particular, this regards the first interrogation of August 31, 2020, to which the Perlasca presented himself voluntarily and without a defence attorney.

On the other hand, Giandomenico Caiazza, defense counsel for broker Raffaele Mincione, said that in the acts they learned “almost by chance” of the existence of an arrest warrant issued on 19 June 2020 against Mincione. “This warrant was never executed, but it was issued with the same logic as that of Torzi”. The lawyer hinted that if Mincione had shown up for questioning that day, he would have been arrested: “This is a method that will call for appropriate prudence towards similar citations to interrogations at the Vatican City State”.

Severino: “The Pope is the legislator”.

The lawyers’ remarks were answered by Paola Severino, former Italian Minister of Justice and attorney for the Secretariat of State for the civil process, who reiterated the legitimacy of APSA’s incorporation as a civil plaintiff by virtue of the Pope’s Motu proprio of December 26, 2020, which transferred funds and investments of the Secretariat of State to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See: “In the case of compensation to the Secretariat of State, no longer holders of assets, there were fears of objections of legitimacy. Hence the establishment of the APSA”. As for the fact that the Vatican is a “special tribunal”, the professor reiterated the “strong moral connotation” of the trial underway and, on several occasions; the validity of the rescripts of the Pontiff, stressing that “the Pope is the legislator, as is the case in all the processes in the Vatican”.

Also present in the courtroom on behalf of the IOR was lawyer Roberto Lipari, who stressed that the Istituto per le Opere di Religione is “an injured party”: “The task of the IOR is to safeguard the assets destined for works of religion and charity. The illicit use of IOR assets damages the ability of the IOR – which is not part of either the Holy See or the Vatican City State – to make new contacts and relationships.”

The Promoter of Justice

For his part, the promoter of justice (effectively, the chief prosecutor), Gian Piero Milano, returned to the question of the papal rescript which, he explained, is an act that expresses “the supreme power” of the Pope: “If we look at this hearing with the eyes of a jurist, we have a deformed vision of this order and we can attribute non-compliant meanings of the civil orders,” he clarified. Referring to the “special” character of the Vatican Tribunal for the ongoing process, he said instead: “It would become a special tribunal if it arrogated to itself the prerogative of reviewing acts that are the expression of a power removed from any evaluation”.

The explanations of the assistant promoter

The response of the assistant promoter, Alessandro Diddi, was more extensive. He began by saying, “If we have made mistakes, we are ready to amend them”. Then he replied, point by point, to each of the objections of the lawyers. First of all, he made it clear that the defense should not be based on the differences between the Italian and Vatican systems: “Let’s clarify the rules: making continuous reference to a system that is not the one in force distracts attention from what we are going to do from here in the coming months”. Reiterating the effectiveness of the Pope’s rescripts, Diddi explained that it is precisely because of this papal provision that the arrest warrant for Torzi and Mincione was issued. The latter mandate was decided because during those days in June 2020, at a “crucial” phase of the investigations, there was “an attempt to mislead” by the two brokers. “We felt we had to intervene with precautionary measures”.

The adjunct promoter also explained that all the computer items seized are currently kept in a safe in the office of the Promoter of Justice and that if some acts have not been produced it is because the laws in force establish that it is possible to deposit acts of proceedings and not seized acts: “The only material that cannot be included is a huge amount of computer items kept in a small location, a small building, in a room full of devices”. However, Diddi reiterated his willingness, subject to authorization by the Court, to reproduce any documentation requested. Finally, he said he was proud of the fact that “in a year and a half of investigations there has been no leakage of information”.

The decision of the Tribunal

After an hour and twenty minutes of council chamber, President Pignatone revoked the Vatican’s arrest warrant against Mincione and reserved the right to decide on the objections and requests of the lawyers. He then established the judgment in absentia of all those absent from the first hearing, with the exception of broker Gianluigi Torzi, who is not participating due to a legitimate impediment; as well as Cardinal Becciu and his former secretary Msgr. Carlino who had appeared in court.

 

TRIAL OF 10, INCLUDING A CARDINAL, UNDERWAY IN VATICAN

TRIAL OF 10, INCLUDING A CARDINAL, UNDERWAY IN VATICAN

As I write, a trial of 10 people, including a cardinal, is underway in the Vatican with the ten accused of embezzlement, corruption, extortion, money laundering and self-laundering, fraud, and abuse of office, among the charges.

A pool of vaticanisti is following the trial. When today’s session is over, they will together write a report for the rest of the journalists accredited to the Holy See who will then be able to ask questions and write their own stories.

(shuttercock photo-CNA)

Until we get that, I offer the following, the announcement made by the Vatican on July 3 about this trial and reported in Vatican news (bold is in original):

On July 3, 2021, the President of the Vatican Court ordered the summons for the judgment of the defendants in the context of the financial investments of the Secretariat of State in London. The trial will begin at the hearing on July 27th.

The request for the summons for trial was submitted in recent days by the Office of the Promoter of Justice, in the persons of the Promoter Gian Piero Milano, the Deputy Alessandro Diddi and the Applicant Gianluca Perone, and regards ecclesiastical and lay personnel of the Secretariat of State and senior figures of the then Financial Intelligence Authority, as well as external figures active in the world of international finance.

They are:

– René Brülhart, who is accused of abuse of office;

– Msgr. Mauro Carlino, who is accused of extortion and abuse of office;

– Enrico Crasso, who is accused of embezzlementcorruptionextortionmoney laundering and self-launderingfraudabuse of officeforgery of a public deed committed by a private individual and forgery in a private document;

– Tommaso Di Ruzza, who is accused of embezzlementabuse of office and breach of confidentiality;

– Cecilia Marogna, who is accused of embezzlement;

– Raffaele Mincione, who is accused of embezzlementfraudabuse of officeembezzlement and self-laundering;

– Nicola Squillace, who is accused of fraud, embezzlement, money laundering and self-laundering;

– Fabrizio Tirabassi, who is accused of corruptionextortionembezzlementfraud and abuse of office;

– Gianluigi Torzi, who is accused of extortionembezzlementfraudembezzlementmoney laundering and self-laundering;

and against the companies:

– HP Finance LLC, referable to Enrico Crasso, to whom the indictment alleges the crime of fraud;

– Logsic Humanitarne Dejavnosti, D.O.O., attributable to Cecilia Marogna, accused of embezzlement;

– Prestige Family Office SA, attributable to Enrico Crasso, who is accused of fraud;

– Sogenel Capital Investment, which can be traced back to Enrico Crasso, to which the indictment alleges the crime of fraud.

Some of the aforementioned offences are also alleged to have been committed “in complicity.”

The investigations, launched in July 2019 following a complaint by the Institute for the Works of Religion and the Office of the Auditor General, involved full collaboration between the Office of the Promoter and the Judicial Police Section of the Gendarmerie Corps. The investigations were also carried out in close and fruitful cooperation with the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Rome and the Economic and Financial Police Unit – G.I.C.E.F. of the Guardia di Finanza of Rome. The cooperation of the Public Prosecutor’s Offices of Milan, Bari, Trento, Cagliari and Sassari and their respective judicial police sections was also appreciated.

Elements also emerged against Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, who is being prosecuted, pursuant to the law, for the crimes of embezzlement and abuse of office, also in collaboration, as well as subornation**.

The investigations, carried out also with rogatory commissions in several other foreign countries (United Arab Emirates, Great Britain, Jersey, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Switzerland), have brought to light a vast network of relationships with operators in the financial markets that have generated substantial losses for the Vatican finances, having also drawn on the resources intended for the personal charitable works of the Holy Father.

The judicial initiative is directly related to the indications and reforms of His Holiness Pope Francis, in the work of transparency and rehabilitation of Vatican finances; work that, according to the accusation, was countered by speculative illegal activities and detrimental to reputation in the terms indicated in the request for trial.

Vatican City, 3 July 2021

(**JFL: subornation is inducing someone to commit an unlawful act or to commit perjury

For background, here is a July piece by CNA’s Andrea Gagliarducci: In London deal indictment, what is missing has a meaning, too (catholicnewsagency.com) And this today from CNA: Vatican finance trial: Here’s what you need to know about the case centred on a London property deal (catholicnewsagency.com)

Posted 4:55 pm, Rome time

VATICAN INSIDER EXPLORES BELLS, FLAGS, BASILICA FLOOR MARKINGS AND MORE! – EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VATICAN BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK – ROME’S FIUMICINO AIRPORT TURNS 60

Weekly Vatican newspaper in English: https://www.osservatoreromano.va/en/pdfreader.html/ing/2020/08/ING_2020_034_2108.pdf.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NewsletterOR-EN

Some day you WILL return to the Eternal City and chances are you will land at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport aka Fiumicino (FCO) The grand lady of airports turned 60 two days ago and there was a great story in the online edition of Wanted in Rome (see below)

VATICAN INSIDER EXPLORES BELLS, FLAGS, BASILICA FLOOR MARKINGS AND MORE!

Welcome to Vatican Insider as we come close to the end of summer, a time when you’re possibly on vacation or, if not vacation, spending a tranquil weekend, hopefully relaxing and enjoying family and friends and some down time. If you’ve decided to spend a brief moment with me on this weekend, I think I have a fun offering for you in what is normally the interview segment. I’ve called this segment “Inquiring minds want to know” because I’m going to bring you some trivia – some little known, and often unusual facts about the Vatican – some fun stories about bells and flags and basilica floors. But remember this might be trivia but it is not trivial!

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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 www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VATICAN BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK

If there is something you wanted to know about the Vatican, Vatican City State, and the Roman Curia, there is one site that will take you to 83 websites for Vatican congregations, dicasteries, tribunals, councils, offices linked to the Vatican, the health care center, museums, Swiss Guards, synods, Pontifical Musical Chorus of the Sistine Chapel: Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, Campo Santo Teutonic (Teutonic cemetery), Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation, Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, and a ton more!

I started to explore this link and realized I needed some hours to do a good job of exploring each website individually. I did click on a fair number and found, as you will, that there is a great variety in the sites, especially with regard to languages. Some sites have 5 or 6 languages, some only Italian and others only Italian and English. The website about the Teutonic cemetery has, for example only German (unfortunately, I think). A site I would have thought would have 5 or 6 languages but only had Italian and English was the Dicastery for Communication.

Have fun! http://www.vatican.va/siti_va/index_va_en.htm

ROME’S FIUMICINO AIRPORT TURNS 60

From the joy of the Olympic Games to the trials of covid-19, the story of Rome’s main airport.

(wantedinrome.com) Rome’s Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport, better known as Fiumicino, celebrates its 60th birthday on 20 August 2020.

The airport, which was a symbol of restart during Italy’s post-war economic boom, opened to air traffic on 20 August 1960, five days before the start of Rome’s Olympic Games.

Designed to cope with increasing demand for flights to the capital, the new airport came about after two designs were merged: plans by Riccardo Morandi and Andrea Zavitteri were combined with those by Amedeo Luccichenti and Vincenzo Monaco.

The final project was approved in August 1958 and the construction works lasted 21 months, during which the remains of five ancient Roman ships were discovered.

During the Olympics, Fiumicino was used to help alleviate Rome’s other airport, Ciampino. Fiumicino did not become fully operational however until 15 January 1961, with the landing of the first airliner: the Twa Lockheed Constellation, from New York.

Located about 35 km southwest of the centre of Rome, Fiumicino consisted of just two runways in the 1960s, with a third one added in 1973 along with a new hangar to accommodate Boeing 747s.

In recent years the airport has won a string of awards, however its level of organisation and customer service was not always at the high level it enjoys today.

Over the past six decades the airport has also been affected by tragic events such as the terrorist attacks in 1973 (32 dead) and the second in 1985 (13 dead).

Fiumicino suffered a setback too with a fire on 7 May 2015, which spread to Terminal 3, causing major disruption but no serious injuries.

Fiumicino has recently undergone an extensive modernisation programme and has also been to the forefront in technological development, becoming the first Italian airport to install e-gates.

The airport has also achieved much success with awards, including among passengers, and in 2019 it welcomed around 44 million passengers.

2020 is perhaps Fiumicino’s most difficult year to date, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, however the airport has risen to the challenge by operating to strict regulations and carrying out covid-19 tests on passengers from ‘at risk’ countries.

Most recently the airport was recognised by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for its commitment to sustainability.

 

VATICAN INSIDER: SOME TRIVIA AND FUN STORIES FROM THE VATICAN – HOLY FATHER DONATES 2500 CORONAVIRUS TESTS TO GAZA – A LITTLE BIT OF THIS, A LITTLE BIT OF THAT

Tomorrow, July 18, marks the 150th anniversary of the promulgation of the Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus that defined the dogmas of the primacy of the Pope and that of papal infallibility in the First Vatican Council in 1870. If those topics are of interest to you and you also love Church history, then this article is for you: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-07/primacy-and-infallibility-150-years-after-vatican-i.html

To read this weekend’s L’Osservatore Romano in English, click here: https://www.osservatoreromano.va/en/pdfreader.html/ing/2020/07/ING_2020_029_1707.pdf.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NewsletterOR-EN

VATICAN INSIDER: SOME TRIVIA AND FUN STORIES FROM THE VATICAN

This weekend, in what is normally the interview segment of “Vatican Insider,” I present another of the Specials I have prepared for you in these months of Covid restrictions for in-person interviews but we are working on something to remedy that. This weekend I’m calling this Special “Inquiring Minds Want To Know” because I’m going to bring you some trivia – some little known, and often unusual facts about the Vatican – some fun stories about bells and flags and basilica floors. For example, flags – only two states in the world have officially square flags: Vatican City is one. What is the other? did you know that there is a German cemetery in Vatican City? Then listen to the great story about the mosaic of Mary on the façade of the Apostolic Palace. So stay tuned for “Inquiring Minds Want To Know”! I might even quiz you at the end!

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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 www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

HOLY FATHER DONATES 2500 CORONAVIRUS TESTS TO GAZA

Pope Francis has donated 2500 Covid-19 tests to Gaza’s Ministry of Health through the Congregation for Oriental Churches. The test kits were delivered by Caritas Jerusalem and Fr. Gabriel Romanelli of the Sacred Family parish in Gaza. The donation is part of the initiative pro-
moted by the emergency fund established by Pope Francis to help the countries most impacted by the spread of the coronavirus. According to Fr. Romanelli, “the kits sent by the Pope will help to make more precise diagnoses and as soon as we received them we took them to the laboratory
at the Ministry of Health. In fact, there is only one machine in all of Gaza that is able to perform the analysis”.

A LITTLE BIT OF THIS, A LITTLE BIT OF THAT

FRIDAY 17THIS CONSIDERED AN UNLUCKY DATE IN ITALY. But that’s not the only strange Italian superstition you’ll need to be aware of. Particularly among the older generation, you’ll discover that Italians tend to take superstitions seriously, often doing things ‘per scaramanzia’ – to ward off bad luck. So if you want to ensure good fortune comes your way, here are some of the things to watch out for, according to Italian customs.   (You would not have a dinner party with 17 people)

First, the good news. Italy has its own date that you should be wary of: Friday the 17th. Just as some Western airlines avoid including the 13th row on planes, you might find number 17 omitted in Italian planes, street numbering, hotel floors and so on, so even if you’re not the superstitious type, it’s handy to be aware of. The reason for this is because in Roman numerals, the number 17 (XVII) is an anagram of the Latin word VIXI, meaning “I have lived” — the use of the past tense suggests death, and therefore bad luck. It’s less clear what’s so inauspicious about Friday.

Thought there was no point crying over spilled olive oil? Think again. In Italy, this is very bad luck indeed. And it’s not just because Italians don’t want to see their top quality oil wasted (though the tradition likely has its roots in a time when olive oil was a luxury), or because oil stains are tough to get out of clothes. The act of spilling the liquid is considered to bring ill fortune. (thelocal.it)

VISIT THE COLOSSEUM UNDER THE STARS WITH GUIDED TOURS IN ENGLISH AND ITALIAN – Guided tours of the Colosseum will take place every Saturday night this summer, from 25 July to 29 August 2020, thanks to the return of the Luna sul Colosseo experience. The tours last about an hour and begin on the arena floor, with its views into the underground tunnels where gladiators and wild animals were held before combat, and also includes a visit to the first level of the ancient amphitheatre.

The tours, conducted in Italian and English, are designed for groups of up to 20 people, with visitor safety and social distancing guaranteed by Parco Colosseo. Tickets cost €24, and there is a family package costing €44 (two adults plus up to three children under the age of 18). Visitors must wear masks and maintain social distancing. Booking must be made online, by selecting the day and time of visit, via the Colosseum website or Coopculture website. (source: WantedinRome)

‘A LITTLE CORNER OF ENGLAND IN NAPLES’: THE SECRETS OF A FAMED ITALIAN TIE SHOP – Film stars, British royalty and local Naples residents all buy handmade ties from one shop so famous for its artisanal finery that some customers boast collections of thousands. The painstaking needlework cannot be rushed, despite demand for E. Marinella ties usually far outstripping production. In Naples, the tiny shop near the sea remains much as it was when it opened in 1914, with its wood-framed windows, chandelier, and counter where the red, blue, polka dot or diamond-patterned ties are displayed.

Maurizio Marinella, 64, who is the third generation to head up the company, says his family’s success in the southern Italian city, which struggles with poverty and unemployment, was “a kind of miracle”.  “It all started in 20 square metres in Naples, where everything is a little  more difficult than elsewhere,” he told AFP. https://www.thelocal.it/20200717/a-little-corner-of-england-in-naples-inside-a-historic-italian-tie-shop

 

STATEMENTS FROM THE VATICAN – POPE PRAYS FOR HOMELESS AND THOSE WHO SUFFER OUT OF SIGHT

STATEMENTS FROM THE VATICAN

FROM HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE DIRECTOR MATTEO BRUNI:
In addition to the six reported cases, the positivity of an additional Holy See employee, already in isolation since mid-March because of his wife who had tested positive at Covid-19 after serving in the Italian hospital where she works, was added. On this occasion it is useful to clarify that, like all institutional realities, the various entities and departments of the Holy See and of the Vatican City State continue only in essential, mandatory and non-deferrable activities, clearly adopting, to the maximum extent possible, the appropriate measures that have already been communicated, which include remote work and criteria regarding duty shifts, in order to safeguard staff health.

FROM CARDINAL SECRETARY OF STATE PIETRO PAROLIN:
The Holy Father Francis, in the audience granted to His Excellency Msgr. Edgar Peña Parra, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State on March 31, 2020, agreed to extend the term and the legal effects referred to in the previous Rescriptum ex audientia SS.mi dated March 18, 2020 containing extraordinary and urgent measures to counter the epidemiological emergency from Covid-19 and to contain the negative effects on the conduct of the judicial activity. This term, initially set for April 3, 2020, is extended to May 4, 2020. The Holy Father has ordered that this rescript be promulgated by publication in L’Osservatore Romano, coming into force immediately, and then published in the official commentary of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

POPE PRAYS FOR HOMELESS AND THOSE WHO SUFFER OUT OF SIGHT

During morning Mass on Thursday, Pope Francis turned his thoughts to those who are living this time of sorrow and fear, hidden in the cracks of society. (playback included – see link below)
By Vatican News

In his opening words at Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis said, “these days of sorrow and sadness highlight so many hidden problems.”

He mentioned a photograph featured in a daily paper that, he said, touches the heart: “So many homeless people in a city, huddling in a parking lot… there are so many homeless people today.” (photo: Las Vegas Review)

He invited the faithful to ask St. Teresa of Calcutta to awaken in us a sense of closeness to those who live, hidden, in the cracks of society, like the homeless whose plight is particularly evident in this moment of crisis.

We have been chosen by God
In his homily, the Pope explained that Christians must be conscious of having been chosen by God, joyful as they tread the path of salvation, and faithful to the Covenant.

Commenting on the readings of the Day, from the Book of Genesis and from the Gospel according to John, the Pope noted they both focus on the figure of Abraham, on the Covenant with God and on how Jesus comes to “remake” creation by forgiving our sins.

(TO CONTINUE: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2020-04/pope-mass-casa-santa-marta-homeless-homily.html)

VATICAN UPDATE MARCH 10: CORONAVIRUS MEASURES

Greetings from the Big Apple!

Yes, I am in New York – arrived a few hours ago – but right now I simply want to greet the huge numbers of you – especially family, my sister, nieces, cousins, and my many friends in the U.S. – who have sent me emails, text messages, phone messages, notes on Facebook, etc. asking how I am, how things are in Rome and how are we all getting along. You will never know what your messages and your love and friendship mean to me! I know more than ever how blessed I am!

I will try to go into more detail tomorrow about why I am here and how things are in Italy but right now I wanted to say HI! I am well and happy and had a lovely trip (details tomorrow) and am in a city, notwithstanding some coronavirus cases, that is bustling with life and activity and traffic and people running errands, shopping, sitting in parks and chatting with friends, and so on. I pray it remains that way for New Yorkers!

Read on for an update on some Vatican news…..

VATICAN UPDATE MARCH 10: CORONAVIRUS MEASURES

Statement from the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See and of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples: “The Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, owners of the management of buildings belonging to the Holy See, are available to accept requests for temporary reduction of commercial lease payments. The decision was taken into consideration of the situations of particular economic suffering that the business owners face, as a consequence of the measures issued by the Italian authorities to stem the spread of Covid-19.

“This morning, as he started the Eucharistic Celebration in the Santa Marta residence, Pope Francis addressed a prayer to the Lord for the priests that they may have the courage to go out and minister to the sick, bringing them the strength of the Word of God and the Eucharist, clearly in compliance with the health measures established by the Italian authorities.”

From Holy See Press Office: Starting tomorrow, Wednesday 11 March 2020, at 12.00 noon and throughout the week, except for Sunday, the Vicar General of His Holiness for the Vatican City, Cardinal Angelo Comastri will lead the Angelus prayer, followed by the Lauretan Litanies and the Salve Regina. Faithful can join the Marian prayer in live streaming on Vatican News.

On the occasion of the Holy Mass to be celebrated March 11 presided over by Cardinal Vicar Angelo De Donatis in the absence of the faithful at the Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love for the Day of prayer and fasting, Pope Francis has sent a video message in which he addresses his prayer to the Virgin. In these days of medical emergency, the Holy Father entrusts the city, Italy and the world to the protection of the Mother of God, as a sign of salvation and hope.

FROM A CNS STORY: Based on precautions and protocols consistent with Italian government health standards, the Vatican issued a large number of recommendations and measures for all offices and entities that are part of the Roman Curia, the Holy See and Vatican City State. The Vatican released copies of the provisions March 8.

In addition to all previous health protocols already issued, the Vatican health and hygiene department recommended people: not congregate in common areas; avoid using elevators unless physically impaired; stay a yard apart from others in closed areas; frequently disinfect areas and objects; avoid having outside visitors; notify management in case of travel to high-risk areas; and contact medical professionals by telephone if displaying flu-like symptoms.

The Vatican also urged those in charge of Vatican offices to consider the impact emergency measures were having on employees and to consider offering their staff the following options where appropriate or possible: avoid having staff work overtime or calling in volunteers or outside help; suspend hiring new personnel unless absolutely necessary; promote flexibility in scheduling for employees who have children so they can spend more time with their families; promote working from home for employees where possible; allow extra family leave provisions for employees who request

CHRIST IS IN QUARANTINE – VATICAN UPDATE: CORONAVIRUS MEASURES

CHRIST IS IN QUARANTINE

As you may know by now, the diocese of Rome announced Sunday evening March 8 that no public Masses will be allowed throughout the diocese until April 3. A letter from Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, vicar general of Rome, stated, in part: “The Church of Rome … assumes an attitude of full responsibility towards the community in the awareness that protection from contagion requires even drastic measures, especially in interpersonal contact. Therefore, until the same date of April 3, the communal liturgical celebrations are suspended.”

The cardinal will pray at the Rome Shrine of Divine Love on March 11, which will be a day of prayer and fasting. Priests in Vatican City and Rome may celebrate Mass in private.

As a number of people remarked to me today, they believe this is the first time in the two millennia history of the Church that Masses have been cancelled, including during wars, during the plague and other similar, threatening and dangerous times. I’ll have to research that!

No access to the Eucharist boggles my mind and breaks my heart! Hopefully viaticum will always be available to the sick and dying! From what I have seen, at least in and around the Vatican and part of central Rome, churches are open for prayer, but not for Mass. You can say the rosary before the tabernacle but not receive the Eucharist. My first thought was: Christ has been quarantined!

What is very interesting is that today, as I crossed St. Peter’s Square to film some segments for EWTN, I saw a huge line of people waiting to enter the basilica. It must have circled three-fourths of the perimeter!

And here is what I read in Italian and English on the megascreens in the square: “In conformity with measures taken to combat the coronavirus, a safe distance of one meter (3 feet) will be kept between persons.”

In some of the newer busses in Rome, the driver is seated in his own little cubicle, enclosed by clear plexiglass, with no contact with the public as they enter the bus from the front door. On the slightly older busses, there is no wall creating a separate area and now, on those busses, passengers may not enter or exit from the front door.

All we can say is…. pray and stay tuned!

VATICAN UPDATE: CORONAVIRUS MEASURES

Following is a link to yesterday’s Angelus with Pope Francis. It is interesting to see how many news outlets, in their first report, said the Pope had skipped his usual Sunday appearance. They had no idea that the Pope had indeed surprised pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square by appearing at his study window for a brief wave of greeting after reciting the Marian prayer in the Apostolic Palace that was carried live on Vatican and other media. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzY2qF8z9J0

Daily papal Mass at Santa Marta residence: The Mass celebrated in private form by Pope Francis in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence will be transmitted live every day from Tuesday, March 10 to Saturday, March 14 from 7.00 am to 7.30 am approximately.

The Wednesday general audience will be streamed live on Vatican media starting at 9:30 am.

Wednesday, March 11 marks the 62nd anniversary of Pope Francis’ religious life in the Society of Jesus. He entered the Jesuits on March 11, 1958.

In an interview with Vatican News, the Deputy Director of the Directorate of Health and Hygiene for Vatican City State gives details of the measures being taken inside Vatican City to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city/news/2020-03/vatican-measures-against-coronavirus-arcangeli.html

VATICAN CITY AND THE CORONAVIRUS

VATICAN CITY AND THE CORONAVIRUS

SUNDAY, MARCH 8: Answering questions from journalists, Holy See Press Office Director, Matteo Bruni, said: “In relation to the particular situation due to the risk of spread of Covid-19, the Holy Father has ordered that the Masses celebrated by him privately in Santa Marta in the coming days will be transmitted live through the Vatican News player, and distributed by Vatican Media to connected media and to those who request it, to allow those who wish to follow the celebrations in union of prayer with the Bishop of Rome.”

The papal Masses will be transmitted from 7 to 8 am, Rome time.

SUNDAY, MARCH 8: In coordination with measures launched by Italian Authorities, some measures have been taken today to avoid the spread of Covid-19 to be observed in the dicasteries and other entities of the Holy See or connected to it and in the Governorate of Vatican City State. These measures include the precautionary closure, until April 3, 2020, of the Vatican Museums, the Excavation Office (scavi), the Museum of the Pontifical Villas and the museum centers of the pontifical basilicas. On this occasion, it is reiterated that to date a single positive case of Covid-19 has been confirmed by an external person who had gone to the Health and Hygiene center for a pre-employment medical examination and that the 5 people who had had close contact with them are in precautionary quarantine.

VATICAN CITY BOMBED 76 YEARS AGO TODAY

VATICAN CITY BOMBED 76 YEARS AGO TODAY

An interesting note on the weekly calendar sent out by the Vatican’s Communication Dicastery to media who are accredited to the Holy See Press Office:

November 5 marks the 76th anniversary of the bombing of Vatican City on this date in 1943. The attack took place at 8.05 pm when an unknown plane dropped four shattering bombs of medium size on the side of the Vatican gardens looking towards the Janiculum hill. The bombs struck the Vatican railway station, the mosaic workshop and then, finally, strafed the back of the Governorate’s Palace, used at the time not only for offices but also for private homes.

BOMB

“PERSECUTION AGAINST CHRISTIANS HAPPENS EVEN IN DEMOCRACIES” – VATICAN DOUBLES GREEN EFFORT WITH WASTE RECYCLING

“PERSECUTION AGAINST CHRISTIANS HAPPENS EVEN IN DEMOCRACIES”

A top Vatican official welcomed the UK-commissioned Persecuted Christians Review at an event in Rome, and says Christians in certain countries risk being completely purged, while in some democracies they face discrimination for standing up for their beliefs regarding life, marriage, and the family.
By Devin Watkins (Vaticannews)

Released on Monday, the Persecuted Christians Review details a recent surge in violence against adherents to the faith around the world.

The report was commissioned by the UK Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and prepared by Anglican Bishop Philip Mounstephen, of Truro.

Around 215 million Christians faced persecution in 2018 and an average of 250 Christians were killed every month, according to the Foreign Office. Women and children are particularly vulnerable to forms of sexual violence.

Indifference and impunity
The Vatican’s Under-Secretary for Relations with States, Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, spoke at the Rome Launch of the Review, held at the Basilica of St. Bartholomew.

Quoting Pope Francis with language also used in the report, Msgr. Camilleri called persecution against Christians a “sort of genocide caused by general and collective indifference.”

He lamented the impunity surrounding crimes committed on the basis of religion and the limited attention the media gives such discrimination.

“We have witnessed attacks upon individuals and groups of various religious backgrounds by terrorists, extremist groups and religious fanatics who have no respect for the lives of those who have beliefs different from their own,” he said.

Msgr. Camilleri said religious persecution against Christians should worry adherents of other faiths as well, since it hits at the most fundamental human freedom, which is to choose freely a religion.

Occurs in established democracies
The Review focuses mainly on persecution that occurs in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

But Msgr. Camilleri expanded the scope to include other forms of discrimination and persecution that are carried out “even in established democracies”.

There is a growing tendency, he said, “to criminalize or penalize religious leaders for presenting the basic tenets of their faith, especially regarding the areas of life, marriage, and the family.”

He called this type of discrimination “less radical on the level of physical persecution” but “nevertheless detrimental to the full enjoyment of freedom of religion and the practice or expression of that conviction whether in private or public.”

Right to religious freedom
Religion, said Msgr. Camilleri, can help unify societies and promote peace in its quest for the common good.

“The right to religious freedom is rooted in the very dignity of the human person,” he said, “and it is not only an achievement of a sound political and juridical culture but also a condition for the pursuit of truth that does not impose itself by force.”

VATICAN DOUBLES GREEN EFFORT WITH WASTE RECYCLING

Vatican City has its own system of collecting and recycling its sorted waste, much of which goes into making compost.

By Robin Gomes (Vaticannews)

The Vatican is growing greener, making strides in heeding to Pope Francis’ call to creating a more environment-friendly world. The smallest state in the world is now ready to do away completely with the sale of single-use plastics, or disposable plastic, according to Rafael Ignacio Tornini, the head of the garden and cleaning services of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

Recycling waste
The Vatican is also moving fast along Europe’s stringent standards with regard to collection and disposal of sorted waste, he told Ansa news agency.

He explained that a dumping center was created in 2016 for special waste disposal inside the Vatican, called “eco-center”. It was restructured and enhanced in 2018 and can now handle about 85 items of the European Waste Codes (EWC) list.

In the first 6 months of this year, the center collected 2% of unsorted waste, or 98% of sorted waste. The target is to reach point zero percent in 2010, Tornini said.

As regards urban waste, he said, the Vatican started with 35% of sorted waste in 2016. Today this stands at 55%. In the next 2 or 3 years, they expect to reach 70-75%.

Vatican City’s garbage, to the tune of some 1000 tons, is collected largely from bins, very little from door to door, such as with cooking oil and kitchen waste.

Five months ago, with the collection of organic waste, the Vatican kicked off what Tornini described as the “circular economy chain”. This consists of recycling organic waste mixed with a large part of pruning, cuttings and mowed grass from the Vatican, which amounts to as much as 400 tons, to make compost soil.

Tornini said they try to minimize as much as possible the amount of waste disposed of in Italy. They are trying to recycle much of the Vatican’s waste possible into good fertilizer for use in the Vatican or at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo. Tornini said that other wastes are disposed of through a private company keeping to regulations as much as possible.

Plastic
The head of the Vatican’s garden and cleaning services said the problem of plastic is real. They are trying to collect plastics separately and the Vatican has limited its sale of single-use plastics and soon it will be completely stopped.

Unsorted waste collection is a problem particularly in St. Peter’s Square that is open to vast numbers pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. Tornini and his team have set up bins for plastics in the colonnade that collects some 10 kilograms per day.

Tornini and four others in the department said it was a real task to change the mentality in the Vatican, even providing courses to people handling special waste. He said they have taken to heart very much the call of Pope Francis in his 2015 environmental encyclical “Laudato Sii”, to safeguard our common home.

Before Pope Francis, Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor St. Pope John Paul II had also a given boost to the Vatican’s green effort. Both of them have made appeals for the protection of the environment.

Lighting
A major step in this line came in 2008, under Pope Benedict, when the Vatican switched on its massive solar power plant on the roof of the Paul VI audience hall. The system’s 2,400 photovoltaic panels covering the 5,000-square meter roof provide clean energy for the needs of the hall and several adjoining buildings.

In January, a new environment-friendly and cost-effective LED lighting system in the interior of St. Peter’s Basilica was inaugurated. The German light company OSRAM behind the project, had earlier installed similar lighting system in the Sistine Chapel and in St. Peter’s Square.

Efforts are on to expand into other renewable sources of energy in the Vatican. (Source: ANSA)