VATICAN INSIDER: INTERVIEWS IN A TIME OF QUARANTINE – POPE’S APRIL PRAYER INTENTION: “LIBERATION FROM ADDICTIONS” – FROM CHINESE CATHOLICS: “HOLY FATHER, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF”

VATICAN INSIDER: INTERVIEWS IN A TIME OF QUARANTINE

I welcome listeners to a new edition of Vatican Insider by noting that this Palm Sunday weekend around the world will be a weekend marked by empty churches because of the coronavirus quarantines in place in almost all countries of the world. However, because of wonderful technology available today, thousands, surely tens of thousands of Masses will be streamed live into the homes of tens of millions.

It is thanks to great technology that I bring you “Vatican Insider” each weekend but even the best of technology does not allow me to leave my home for interviews in this tumultuous period of Covid-19.

Because of mandatory restrictions on movements outside of one’s home, except for medical emergencies and necessary basics like food and medicine, I’ve not been able these last weeks to go out and interview guests for the interview segment of VI. Until conditions allow me to do that, we will be re-airing some previous Specials I did, including visits to the seven pilgrim churches of Rome – and that includes the four papal basilicas.

However, because we still are in Lent, this week’s Special is a profile of Rome’s celebrated Lenten Station Churches.

The first station church – Santa Sabina

I will continue to bring you the News segment and a Q&A every weekend when time allows. Thanks so much for your patience under the circumstances! I am hoping you can use the podcasts of these visits in and around Rome for the day you are finally able to visit the Eternal City again!

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://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 http://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)

POPE’S APRIL PRAYER INTENTION: “LIBERATION FROM ADDICTIONS”

Pope Francis on Thursday released a video message accompanying his prayer intention for April, which is that “those suffering from addiction may be properly helped and accompanied.”

In his prayer intention for April 2020, Pope Francis asks everyone to pray for those who suffer from addiction, especially addiction to gambling, pornography, and the internet. It has become the custom of Pope Francis to release a video message detailing his prayer intention for each month.

That text follows:
“Surely, you’ve heard about the drama of addiction. And, have you also thought about the addiction to gambling, to pornography, to the Internet – and the dangers of virtual space? Supported by the ‘Gospel of Mercy’ we can alleviate, care for and heal the suffering associated with new kinds of addiction. We pray that those suffering from addiction may be properly helped and accompanied.” (source: vaticannews:
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-04/pope-francis-prayer-intention-april-2020-addictions.html)

FROM CHINESE CATHOLICS: “HOLY FATHER, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF”

Beijing (Agenzia Fides) – “Holy Father, during the epidemic, may you also have your person at heart. Do it for us, 1.3 billion Catholics around the world. Please take care of yourself too!” This is the recommendation that Chinese Catholics address to Pope Francis from the bottom of their hearts. An open letter addressed to the Bishop of Rome and published today on Xinde Press (“Faith”) website, the widest platform for Chinese Catholic communication.

“The same recommendation” reads the letter, “we would like to extend to those who administer Casa Santa Marta and its secretaries: may they take care of the Pope, in this difficult period, and watch over the safety distances when he has to meet visitors. And if he must necessarily receive someone or participate in events with other people, we hope very much that the Pope will also wear a mask.”

In the words of the letter addressed to the Pope one perceives the loving concern of those who also care about the health of a person they love so much, at a time when danger is incumbent on everyone. As a gesture of faith and communion, countless Chinese Catholics remained awake or woke up on purpose in the middle of the night to follow via internet the extraordinary act of prayer in times of epidemic presided over by Pope Francis on Friday 27 March in St. Peter’s Square (in Beijing it was already one 1 am, Saturday 28 March). A large number of them are following the Pope’s spiritual suggestions every day (reciting the rosary, novena, daily prayers) to live their own Lenten spiritual journey in this time devastated by the global health emergency.

The aid collected with the coordination of Jinde Charity – as well as that sent by other communities and private citizens – is arriving in Italy and in the Vatican with the logistical support of the Italian embassy in Beijing and the Italian Foreign Ministry, which has made it possible to coordinate and organize the air transport of the collected aid. On March 28, the second shipment of aid sent by Chinese Catholics arrived at Malpensa airport (Milan), for a total value of 450,000 euros.

Through the Vatican Pharmacy, the aid was distributed to the Office of the pastoral care of the Vicariate of Rome (10,000 N95 model masks, over 500,000 disposable masks, 27,000 surgical gloves, 8,000 coveralls and 6,000 protective glasses). Large quantities of the same health devices were sent to the Diocese of Macerata, to Gemelli Hospital of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, and to the field hospital of the National Alpine Association. The first shipment of medical devices was shipped thanks to the collections of Chinese Catholics (that) had arrived in Italy two weeks ago, in which case the protective equipment had been taken over and redistributed by Caritas Ambrosiana, in the archdiocese of Milan and in Lombardy, epicenter of the pandemic. Now the third shipment is ready to leave Beijing with the first available direct flights to Italy.

Since the first outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic, Pope Francis has publicly shown his closeness to the Chinese population heavily affected by the virus also with direct references expressed at the end of the Wednesday general audience or after the recitation of the Sunday Angelus. As confirmed by Mgr. Segundo Tejado Muñoz, Undersecretary of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, quoted by Xinde Press, “through Jinde Charity, Pope Francis donated 200,000 euros unconditionally to China for prevention/epidemic projects and assistance for the elderly, to express his love for the Chinese people”.

FOR MORE: http://www.fides.org/en/news/67680-ASIA_CHINA_Covid_19_emergency_help_arrives_at_the_Vatican_and_a_letter_from_Chinese_Catholics_Holy_Father_take_care_of_yourself

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS THE HOLY HOUSE OF LORETO

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS THE HOLY HOUSE OF LORETO

This week, in what is normally the interview segment of Vatican Insider, I take you to Loreto, a town on the Adriatic coast of Italy for a visit to the magnificent shrine of the Holy House of Loreto. The Holy House of Loreto has, in fact, been one of the world’s premier shrines dedicated to Mary for over seven hundred years.

According to tradition, the home in which Mary lived, in which the Angel Gabriel appeared to her, announcing she would become the Mother of God, and the home she shared with Jesus and Joseph, was transported by angels to this Italian hill town overlooking the Adriatic on the night of December 10, 1294.

I took these photos during a pilgrimage in 2017 with the women of WINE (Women In the New Evangelization).

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In this coronavirus era where so many of us are quarantined at home and spending time with families, you might want to gather around together and listen to this great story

Pope Francis declared a Jubilee Year to go from December 8, 2019 to December 10, feast day of the Holy House, 2020. I talk about that Jubilee but also note that, again because of the coronavirus epidemic, many events have had to be cancelled, postponed and moved to other, future dates.

The photo of Pope Francis inside the Holy House is from Vatican Media from his visit last year on March 25.

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://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 http://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)

VATICAN INSIDER: A TRUE INSIDER’S STORY OF CORONAVIRUS QUARANTINE – PAPAL ALMONER: VATICAN SERVICES FOR THE POOR CONTINUE DESPITE CORONAVIRUS

On the light side: Quarantine can bring many unwanted and/or unpleasant surprises, one of which may be for some people novinophobia. This is, of course, the fear of running out of wine or having no wine. (Yes, I know it’s Lent but….)

VATICAN INSIDER: A TRUE INSIDER’S STORY OF CORONAVIRUS QUARANTINE

This weekend on Vatican Insider, I tell my story of dealing with the coronavirus, even though I am only one of millions in beautiful Italy to be quarantined. We have just started week two of mandatory quarantine. How are we doing? What can we do and what can we not do? What are the rules and regulations for daily survival? What are some of the great stories and happy moment to emerge from a nationwide lockdown? What have I learned after a week of being homebound?

This, of course, is a BIG part of our lives –

Tune in for some amazing facts and astonishing stories!

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://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 http://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)

PAPAL ALMONER: VATICAN SERVICES FOR THE POOR CONTINUE DESPITE CORONAVIRUS

The Vatican continues to offer shower facilities, sleeping quarters, and food assistance to the poor and homeless who often sleep rough around St. Peter’s Square.
By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

“Don’t ignore the poor Lazarus who knocks at your door.”

Cardinal Konrad Krajewski launched this appeal to those who encounter a homeless person.

The Almoner of the Office of Papal Charities said the Vatican continues to heed the cry of the poor despite the coronavirus outbreak.

“Though we maintain a safe physical distance, put on gloves, and avoid assemblies, we can still help those who are right beside us,” he said.

Critical moment of need
Cardinal Krajewski said this is a critical moment to help the poor.

In more normal times, homeless people can use the restrooms of cafes and restaurants, but now most are closed. “So we need to keep our shower facilities and restrooms open.”

The same goes for food assistance, he said. With restaurants closed, a charitable person is unable to offer someone a croissant or a cappuccino so they need somewhere to find food.

Helping those near the Vatican
The Papal Almoner said his office is continuing to offer the same services as before.

“Our volunteers keep the same schedules, we are still distributing food at Rome’s train stations, and the shower facilities under the Colonnade around St. Peter’s Square are open. We even give out sandwiches and water there.”

Cardinal Krajewski said the Missionaries of Charity at the Gift of Mary House are handing out around 120 sack dinners every evening.

He added that the newly-opened “Palace for the Poor” still offers a warm bed and breakfast for those who come calling.

Knock fearlessly on church doors
The Cardinal had one more word of advice for the poor in Rome and throughout the world who find themselves in need and without a place to go in these difficult times of social isolation.

“I invite the poor to knock fearlessly on the door of parishes and churches,” Cardinal Krajewski said, “because the Christian spirit teaches us that we must open to those who knock.”

VATICAN INSIDER: THE CATHOLIC GRANDPARENTS ASSOCIATION – FRIDAY THE 13TH BECOMES A GOOD FRIDAY

I just got back to Rome this morning from New York and will recount my adventures and what Rome is like now in a blog over the weekend.

In the meantime, to read the weekly edition in English of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, click here: https://www.vaticannews.va/content/dam/vaticannews/or/pdf/ING_2020_011_1303.pdf

VATICAN INSIDER: THE CATHOLIC GRANDPARENTS ASSOCIATION

My two amazing guests in the interview segment of Vatican Insider this weekend are Catherine Wiley, grandmother and founder of Catholic Grandparents Association – CGA – and Marilyn Henry, also a grandmother, who founded the American branch of Catholic Grandparents. Part I of our conversation aired last weekend.

We spoke when they were in Rome for “The Richness of Many Years of Life” conference organized by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life that brought together 550 participants from 60 countries. Catherine tells us how she came to found this Association and both women speak about the work of CGA and how you, if you are a grandparent, can join this unique, lively and loving association.

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As I wrote last week, if you could plug Catherine into a wall socket, you’d not have to pay an electric company! She is so very passionate about her work, about CGA, about being a grandparent. And that’s how she feels about her “American double,” Marilyn Henry of Houston, Texas.

If you’re a grandparent and want to know if there is a CGA affiliate in your parish or diocese, all the info you need (phone numbers, email, etc) is right here: http://www.catholicgrandparentsassociation.org/

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://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 http://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)

FRIDAY THE 13TH BECOMES A GOOD FRIDAY

Parish churches in Rome to remain open for private prayer
In agreement with Pope Francis, the Cardinal Vicar of the Diocese of Rome has decided to amend an earlier decree closing Rome’s churches. Parish churches, as well as equivalent missionary centres, will now be allowed to remain open, while complying with measures to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.

By Vatican News
The Diocese of Rome acted quickly to allow some churches in the city to remain open, one day after an initial decision had been made to close places of worship to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Covid-19.

On Friday morning, Pope Francis prayed “that the Holy Spirit might grant pastoral discernment to pastors so that they might perceive measures that might not leave the holy, faithful people of God alone, and so that the people of God might feel accompanied by their pastors.” With the Holy Father’s agreement, Cardinal Vicar Angelo De Donatis, exercising pastoral discernment and wishing to avoid disorientation or confusion to the faithful, issued a new decree allowing parish churches, and some other equivalent pastoral missions, to remain open for private prayer.

In a letter to the faithful of the diocese, Cardinal De Donatis explained that the decision to close the churches of Rome had not been made out of “irrational fear, or worse, a pragmatism devoid of hope,”, but as a means of preventing contagion. However, he explained, there is also a need to ensure that people do not feel even more isolated, prompting the revised pastoral provisions.

Cardinal De Donatis said the Church is relying on the “wise discernment” of priests. “Be very close to the people of God. Make sure that every person feels loved and accompanied, help everyone to perceive that the Church does not close its doors to anyone, but is concerned that none of the ‘little ones’ should risk their lives or be forgotten.”

He encouraged them to bring “the comfort of the sacraments” to those who are ill and to ensure the help necessary for the poor, while taking every possible precaution to avoid anything that could endanger the health of others.

Cardinal De Donatis also encouraged prayer in the family, maintaining “the tradition of our parents and grandparents.”

The Cardinal Vicar concluded his letter by calling on all the faithful of the diocese to entrust themselves once more to Our Lady of Divine Love, the Madonna del Divino Amore.

VATICAN INSIDER: THE CATHOLIC GRANDPARENTS ASSOCIATION – POPE INSTITUTES GENERAL DIRECTORATE FOR PERSONNEL – 106TH WORLD DAY OF MIGRANTS: “FORCED LIKE JESUS CHRIST TO FLEE”

VATICAN INSIDER: THE CATHOLIC GRANDPARENTS ASSOCIATION

My two amazing guests in the interview segment of Vatican Insider this weekend and next are Catherine Wiley, grandmother and founder of Catholic Grandparents Association – CGA – and Marilyn Henry, also a grandmother, who founded the American branch of Catholic Grandparents.

We spoke when they were in Rome for “The Richness of Many Years of Life” conference organized by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life that brought together 550 participants from 60 countries. Catherine tells us how she came to found this Association and both women speak about the work of CGA and how you, if you are a grandparent, can join this unique, lively and loving association.

Catherine Wiley-

Marilyn Henry-(from twitter)

If you could plug Catherine in to a wall socket, you’d not have to pay an electric company! She is so very passionate about her work, about CGA, about being a grandparent. And that’s how she feels about her “American double,” Marilyn Henry of Houston, Texas.

If you’re a grandparent and want to know if there is a CGA affiliate in your parish or diocese, all the info you need (phone numbers, email, etc) is right here: http://www.catholicgrandparentsassociation.org/

For Catherine Wiley’s powerful talk at “The Richness of Many Years of Life,” conference, click on the link below. By the by, Marilyn told me that the entire gathering applauded Catherine for several mion iutes!

The Richness of many years speech- Rome 2020 by Catherine Wiley

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://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 http://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)

POPE INSTITUTES GENERAL DIRECTORATE FOR PERSONNEL

Accepting the proposal of the Council of Cardinals and the Council for the Economy, His Holiness Francis has arranged for the institution of the General Directorate for Personnel within the General Affairs Section of the Secretariat of State.

The General Directorate for Personnel will take over the tasks of the current personnel office of the Secretariat of State and will have authority not only on the Dicasteries and Entities of the Holy See, but also on Institutes (for example, the Institute for Religious Works), plants, chapters, administrations, organisms, foundations, Domus and other institutions dependent on the Holy See or in some way connected to it, notwithstanding the respective Regulations.

This new department will be presided over by a director and will have strategic, inspection and operational power, with coordination, control and surveillance functions; it will also be equipped so that it can respond in good time to the various requests that it will be called to carry out.

The new General Directorate for Personnel will maintain close links with the Secretariat for Economic Affairs, the Labor Office of the Apostolic See, the Pension Fund and the Governorate of the Vatican City State, as well as with the independent Commission of evaluation for the recruitment of lay personnel at the Apostolic See (CIVA).

This is a very important step in the reform process started by the Holy Father.

106TH WORLD DAY OF MIGRANTS: “FORCED LIKE JESUS CHRIST TO FLEE”

The 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees will be celebrated on Sunday 27 September 2020. The Holy Father has chosen “Forced like Jesus Christ to flee” as the title for his annual Message. It will focus on the pastoral care of internally displaced persons (IDPs), who currently number over 41 million worldwide.

As the title makes clear, the reflection begins with the experience of the young Jesus and his family as displaced persons and refugees. This provides a Christological grounding for the Christian action of welcome or hospitality.

Over the coming months, the theme will be developed in six sub-themes expressed by six pairs of verbs: to know in order to understand; to draw near so as to serve; to listen in order to reconcile; to share and thus to grow; to involve in order to promote; and finally, to collaborate and therefore to build.

Again this year, the Migrants & Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development will encourage, prepare and support the celebration of this day. Resources are being developed and a communication campaign will soon get underway. Each month, information, reflections, and multimedia aids will be offered as means of exploring and expressing the theme chosen this year by the Holy Father. (source Vatican media)

SEVEN YEARS AGO, BENEDICT XVI RESIGNED THE PAPACY – VATICAN INSIDER: BISHOP STEPHEN BERG OF PUEBLO – POPE FRANCIS FORMS CHILD PROTECTION TASK FORCE

SEVEN YEARS AGO, BENEDICT XVI RESIGNED THE PAPACY

In the midst of news stories from around the world that are dominated by the coronavirus, it is easy to forget that today, February 28, marks a unique day in the history of the Catholic Church, for it was 7 years ago today, almost at the very hour at which I am writing, that Pope Benedict XVI left Vatican City in a helicopter for Castelgandolfo, thus ending his papacy as he had announced on February 11.

There is a very young generation that would not have known that papacy, as recent as it was, but many more of us are experiencing the third, fourth or perhaps even fifth papacy of our lives, not counting the ultra brief pontificate of John Paul I.

For those of you who recall that day seven years ago, and those of you who did not experience the prayerful and yet tear-jerking moments of Benedict’s farewell to the cardinals of the Church and his leave taking of Vatican City, here are two links to the EWTN coverage of that historic day:
SAYING FAREWELL TO COLLEGE OF CARDINALS (and shaking hands with his successor, though no one knew who that would be on Feb.28) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUp0aTMJ3RU
BENEDICT’S FAREWELL TO VATICAN CITY . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvtBYIXc7YY

VATICAN INSIDER: BISHOP STEPHEN BERG OF PUEBLO

I hope you tune in to Vatican Insider this weekend and join me for Part II of my conversation with Bishop Stephen Berg of Pueblo, one of the more amazing stories of the many bishops I know and have interviewed. As you heard last week, he is the oldest of 10 children! He earned Bachelor and Master’s degrees in music, taught music and then for 14 was in the nursery business!

Bishop Berg entered the seminary in 1993 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1999 by his maternal uncle Bishop Joseph L. Charron, now the Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa.

He tells us about his education and degrees, his early years as a priest, the special projects in his diocese, and his ad limina visit to Rome with the bishops of Region XIII, that is, Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, Montana and Utah. Also some interesting comments (what he could tell us!) about the bishops’ audience with Pope Francis.

I was blessed to have Bishop Berg to my home for dinner with 4 members of his staff, as you can see in these photos. One of the pictures was taken at St. Paul’s Outside the Walls basilica when, after Mass, the bishops descended into the confessio to pray at the tomb of St. Paul.

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://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 http://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)

POPE FRANCIS FORMS CHILD PROTECTION TASK FORCE

Following up on a plan announced at last year’s Meeting for the Protection of Minors in the Church, Pope Francis has launched a task force to help Bishops’ Conferences prepare and update child protection guidelines.
By Vatican News

Pope Francis has established a task force “in order to assist the Episcopal Conferences in the preparation and updating of guidelines for the protection of minors.” The intention to form such a group had already been announced by the Pope at last year’s Meeting for the Protection of Minors in the Church, which ran from 21-24 February 2019. One year later, after the details of the project had been worked out, Pope Francis has made the plan a reality.

Supervising committee
In a statement released on Friday, the Holy See Press Office explained that the task force will be supervised by Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, the Substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, together with the members of the organizing Committee for last year’s Meeting: Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay; Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago; Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Archbishop of Malta and Deputy Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and Father Hans Zollner, SJ, Dean of the Institute of Psychology of the Pontifical Gregorian University and member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Membership of the task force
The task force itself is composed of a Coordinator, Dr Andrew Azzopardi, head of the Safeguarding Commission of the Maltese Bishops (established by the Archdiocese of Malta, the Diocese of Gozo, and the Conference of Religious Major Superiors); and a number of canon law experts of different nationalities. The Coordinator will report quarterly to the Substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State on the work undertaken by the task force.

Providing assistance to Episcopal Conferences
According to communiqué, the task force will assist Episcopal Conferences, as well as Religious Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life, in preparing and updating guidelines for the protection of minors, in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and current canonical legislation, especially the motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi.

The task force’s mandate will last for two years, beginning 24 February 2020. It will be supported by a special fund established by benefactors.

Episcopal Conferences, Institutes of Religious, and Societies of Apostolic Life can request assistance at the following email address: taskforce@org.va.

VATICAN INSIDER: BISHOP STEPHEN BERG OF PUEBLO – THE CHURCH MARKS THE FEAST OF THE CHAIR OF PETER

I want to send greetings to Bishop Steven Lopes and all my friends in Texas who are members of the Ordinariate of the Chair of Peter as they celebrate their feast day tomorrow. Bishop Lopes, who worked years ago at the CDF, is the ordinary of this ordinariate. Auguri!

VATICAN INSIDER: BISHOP STEPHEN BERG OF PUEBLO

What a special guest I have for you this week, Bishop Stephen Berg of Pueblo. He has one of the more amazing stories of the many bishops I know and have interviewed. For starters, he is the oldest of 10 children! To learn what he has his Bachelor and Master’s degrees in will surprise you but you have to listen to the interview. What he did after teaching his beloved subject at a county college for a while will surprise you even more!

Bishop Berg entered the seminary in 1993 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1999 by his maternal uncle Bishop Joseph L. Charron, now the Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa.

He tells us about his education and degrees, his early years as a priest, the special projects in his diocese, and his ad limina visit to Rome with the bishops of Region XIII, that is, Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, Montana and Utah. Also some interesting comments (what he could tell us!) about the bishops’ audience with Pope Francis.

I was blessed to have Bishop Berg to my home for dinner with 4 members of his staff, as you can see in these photos. One of the pictures was taken at St. Paul’s Outside the Walls basilica when, after Mass, the bishops descended into the confessio to pray at the tomb of St. Paul.

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://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 http://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)

THE CHURCH MARKS THE FEAST OF THE CHAIR OF PETER

February 22 is the feast of the Chair of Peter and great honor is paid to the first Pope in St. Peter’s Basilica on this day every year.

I try to go to St. Peter’s Basilica every year on this day as I find this such a special feast and celebration. If you are in Rome tomorrow, try to go to the basilica to see our first Pope dressed in his feast day finery.

A number of years ago, while working for the Vatican Information Service, I wanted to do a story on the Chair of Peter. To learn the history and background of this celebration, I interviewed several people in the Vatican, one of whom, Msgr. Michele Maccarrone, was an expert on the Chair of Peter. In fact, he gave me one of the few remaining copies of a 1985 issue of the Italian periodical, “Rivista di Storia della Chiesa in Italia,” (Review of Church History in Italy) entirely dedicated to “The Chair of Peter, From Symbol to Relic.” He wrote part of that article and the footnotes make reference to his other works on the Chair of Peter.

What follows is from his story –

The special feast of the “cathedra” or Chair of St. Peter dates to the fourth century and honors and celebrates the primacy and authority of St. Peter. The word “cathedra” means seat or throne and is the root of the word cathedral, the church where a bishop has his seat from which he preaches and teaches.

A mixture of tradition, legend and belief held for many years that this was actually a double chair, parts of which dated back to the early days of Christianity and to St. Peter himself. This chair or cathedra has been studied over the centuries and the last time it was removed from its niche in the Bernini altar was a six-year period from 1968 to 1974 where studies pointed to a single chair whose oldest parts date to the sixth century. What appeared to be an outer or second chair was a covering that served both to protect the throne and to carry it in procession.

The Chair of St. Peter is actually a throne that Charles the Bald, the grandson of the Emperor Charlemagne, gave to Pope John VIII at the former’s coronation as emperor on Christmas Day 875. For many years the chair was used at liturgical events by Pope John and his successors: it was ensconced in Bernini’s Altar of the Chair in 1666.

Bernini’s masterful Altar of the Cathedra was executed between 1658 and 1666. A bronze throne, which encases the Chair of Peter, dominates the apse, above the marble altar. It is supported by four statues of bishops: two Fathers of the Latin Church, Sts. Ambrose and Augustine, and two from the Greek Church, Sts. Athanasius and John Chrysostom.

Above them, in the midst of gilt clouds, flights of angels and rays of sun is the Holy Spirit, illuminated by a stained glass window.

Notwithstanding its appearance of lightness and harmony, records show that more than 120 tons of bronze were used for this breathtaking monument. This altar is today still used for numerous liturgical celebrations.

What is so special about this feast day is that the Altar of the Chair is aglow for this one day a year with scores and scores of candles.

In addition, this is one of two days every year when the statue of a seated St. Peter, on the right side of the main aisle, is robed in ecclesiastical finery, including papal vestments, the triple tiara and a papal ring. The other day you may see St. Peter robes in this manner is June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, patrons of Rome.