VATICAN INSIDER AND THE VIA LUCIS

This may well be the shortest column I’ve ever posted but it has been an extraordinary day and the hands on the clock are just turning too fast. I am in between appointments and came back to my room at the Paulist Fathers residence just to post these few lines.

If possible, I will try to find time tomorrow to write a bit about last night’s reception at the beautiful and historic residence of Archbishop Bernadito Auza, the Holy See permanent observer to the U.N. The reeption was for the Bethlehem University Foundation, as I mentioned in yesterday’s column and it was a joy for me to see so many friends from the Order of the Holy Sepulchre and the Christian Brothers whom I first met in Bethlehem at the university.

This morning I was invited by Newt and Callista Gingrich to go to the Fox studios to watch Newt as the guest on their 12 noon show, “Outnumbered.” Lots of fun – took a ton of photos. Newt afterwards appeared on Neil Cavuto and then we went to lunch, joined by two friends.

Here is a photo after the show – Callista and a friend Kate and I joined everyone on the curvy couch so Newt was really outnumbered.

Just a few photos at the moment as I am about to leave for another appointment.

VATICAN INSIDER AND THE VIA LUCIS

We all know that the Via Crucis – the Way of the Cross – follows the course of Jesus’ passion, death, and burial. This is observed by the devotion to the Stations of the Cross, a collection of 14 images which are to be found in virtually all Catholic churches. What fewer people realize is that there is also a Via Lucis, the Way of Light, also known as the Stations of the Resurrection. This period celebrates the most joyful time in the Christian liturgical year, the 50 days from Easter (the resurrection) to Pentecost (descent of the Holy Spirit).

In this week’s Vatican Insider, I offer a special on the Via Lucis, an in depth look at these wonderful stations.

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. 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.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml   For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

AN UPDATE ON THE POPE FRANCIS LAUNDROMAT…. – VATICAN INSIDER VISITS THE SHROUD OF TURIN: PART II – POPE TO COMMEMORATE NEW MARTYRS IN LITURGY OF THE WORD – EWTN CEO WARSAW NAMED CONSULTOR TO VATICAN SECRETARIAT

May I take this occasion to send heartfelt wishes to all my listeners for a very holy and blessed Triduum and a Happy Easter of the Resurrection!

EWTN employees will have time off for Mass on Holy Thursday and all day Good Friday. I’ll be off those days as well, participating in Triduum liturgies with the American Catholic community of Santa Susanna in Rome but I’ll be back for Pasquetta, Little Easter as we say in Italy, the Monday after Easter (also known as Monday of the Angel) and a very big holiday in Italy and much of Europe. I fly to the U.S. on Holy Saturday but am never more than a keyboard and a camera away from work, posting stories, blogs, photos, etc.

AN UPDATE ON THE POPE FRANCIS LAUNDROMAT….

In a news story on the Pope Francis Laundromat for the poor and homeless that just opened in Rome, moneyish.com reported that Whirlpool donated six washers and dryers, as well as a number of irons. “We are proud to partner with the Papal Charities Office to make laundry services available to the homeless in Rome with the donation of Whirlpool appliances,” the brand’s senior direct of communications Alessandro Magnoni told Moneyish. “This is perfectly aligned with Whirlpool’s mission to give back to local communities.”

In addition, the story noted that Procter & Gamble has also volunteered to give detergent and fabric softener. “P&G wants to help bring comforts of home to those who need them the most,” a rep told Moneyish.

It seems that the Vatican also hopes to bring shower facilities, barbers and medical care to the same area in Trastevere on Via San Gallicano that now houses the papal Laundromat. Such facilities are now available for the homeless in the Vatican near the right hand colonnade of St. Peter’s Square.

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS THE SHROUD OF TURIN: PART II

Join me if you can on Vatican Insider this Easter weekend for a somewhat shorter addition as EWTN employees have time off for Mass on Holy Thursday and all day Good Friday. To commemorate Good Friday, I offer Part II of my special on the Man of the Shroud – the Shroud of Turin, of course, allegedly the linen that wrapped Our Lord’s body as he lay in the tomb after his passion and death.

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. 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.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml   For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

POPE TO COMMEMORATE NEW MARTYRS IN LITURGY OF THE WORD

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis will celebrate a special Liturgy of the Word in memory of the “New Martyrs” of the 20th and 21st centuries on Saturday, April 22.

A communique from the Holy See Press Office said the prayer will take place in the Basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Tiberina Island, which is located in the heart of Rome on the Tiber River.

The Liturgy of the Word celebration is organized by the Sant’Egidio Community and takes place at 5 PM.

A separate communique released by the Sant’Egidio Community said the Basilica of St. Bartholomew held special significance: “The Pope’s prayer in a place, which – since the Jubilee of 2000, at John Paul II’s behest – contains the memoirs of contemporary martyrs, takes on a very special significance in these times marked by the suffering of so many Christians in the world and by the light of Easter.”

EWTN CEO WARSAW NAMED CONSULTOR TO VATICAN SECRETARIAT

Pope Francis has appointed EWTN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw as a Consultor to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications. The appointment was announced at the Vatican on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. As a consultor, Warsaw will have a role in advising the Pope and the Holy See on matters related to media and communications. The appointment comes as part a broad restructuring of the media operations of the Vatican.

“I am extremely humbled and honored by the Holy Father’s appointment,” said Warsaw. “This is a tremendous recognition of the role which EWTN plays in the life of the Church throughout the world. I am grateful to Pope Francis for his confidence and look forward to serving the universal Church in this post.”

Warsaw joined EWTN in 1991 and has held senior management positions in the areas of television production, satellite operations and technical services. He became President of EWTN in 2000 and assumed the post of chief executive officer in 2009. Warsaw was named chairman of the board of EWTN in 2013. In that capacity he oversees the Network’s strategic direction and mission around the world. With the Network’s 2011 acquisition of the National Catholic Register, Mr. Warsaw assumed the role of publisher of that newspaper.

Prior to joining EWTN, Mr. Warsaw was employed by the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.   He currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of The Catholic University of America, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and the Catholic Distance University.

The Secretariat for Communications was established by Pope Francis in an apostolic decree on June 25, 2015. Among its responsibilities, it has the task of carrying out the restructuring, reorganization and consolidation of the various communications outlets of the Holy See including the Vatican Television Center, the Vatican Publishing House, L’Osservatore Romano newspaper, Vatican Radio, the Holy See Press Office, Photographic Service and the Vatican Internet Service.  The office is headed by Monsignor Dario Vigano, who serves as Prefect.

VATICAN INSIDER AND THE SHROUD OF TURIN – TULSA PASTOR IS NEW SEATTLE AUXILIARY – VATICAN PUBLISHES NEW STATISTICAL YEARBOOK

The Vatican announced today that Pope Francis’ Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper that he will celebrate at the Paliano House of Detention in the province of Frosinone and the diocese of Palestrina will be of a strictly private nature and will not be televised. That Mass will include the rite of washing the feet of a number of detainees.

VATICAN INSIDER AND THE SHROUD OF TURIN

I hope you can tune in to “Vatican Insider” this weekend as we approach Holy Week which starts this Sunday, Palm Sunday. This weekend and next, Easter weekend, I will not have a guest in the interview segment of Vatican Insider. Rather, I’ve prepared a two-part special on something that is very near and dear to me, a story I’ve followed for decades, and that is the Shroud of Turin. As you will hear in what I hope is a riveting historical and scientific journey, I ask: “Who is the Man of the Shroud?”

Photos from a visit to Turin for the exposition of the Shroud:

Around Turin:

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. 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.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml   For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

TULSA PASTOR IS NEW SEATTLE AUXILIARY

A dear friend of mine, Msgr. Daniel Mueggenborg, was named yesterday by Pope Francis to be an auxiliary bishop of Seattle – another name to keep in our prayers! We broke bread together many times in Rome during the years he was at the North American College, joining friends in restaurants and, fairly often, in my home. About a year ago, we met serendipitously at a favorite restaurant when he arrived in Rome for a visit. I asked Msgr. Dan about life in his Tulsa parish, Christ the King. His answer was a riveting account of parish life, of a project he started there and of a book he had just published.

I asked him to tell his story and he joined me for a conversation on “Vatican Insider.” The book, by the way, is “Come Follow Me,” reflections on the Gospel for all Sundays of the liturgical year.

Msgr. Dan was assistant director for formation at the Pontifical North American College in Rome (2005-2006) and vice rector for the administration at NAC (2006-2011), before being appointed pastor of the “Christ the King.”

If there is one quality that Seattle faithful will love – among the many good ones Msgr. Dan is blessed with! – it is his palpable joy at the priestly ministry!
Wishing you the Lord’s choicest blessings, my friend! And Happy Birthday a few days early!

VATICAN PUBLISHES NEW STATISTICAL YEARBOOK

The 2017 Pontifical Yearbook and the 2015 Statistical Yearbook of the Church (“Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae”) are now available at Rome bookstores. Prepared and edited by the Central Office of Church Statistics of the Secretariat of State, there are some very interesting statistics about the Church. A very lengthy explanation and summary of the various data presented in the statistical yearbook accompanied the announcement of the publication of the two annual volumes.

For the reader’s sake, I offer a summary of that report. I did simplify one or two presentations but, as Blaise Pascal once famously said, “I have made this letter rather long because I did not have the time to make it short!”

** The number of baptized Catholics has continued to grow globally, from 1,272 million in 2014 to 1,285 million in 2015, with a relative increase of 1 %. This represents a total of 17.7% of the total population.

** The dynamic of this increase varies from continent to continent: while, indeed, in Africa there is an increase of 19.4%, with the number of Catholics passing from 186 to 222 million in the same period, in Europe there is instead a situation of stability (in 2015 Catholics amounted to almost 286 million, whereas in 2019 there were just over 800 thousand fewer, and 1.3 million fewer compared to 2014).

** Intermediate situations with respect to the two described above are found in America and Asia, where the growth of Catholics is certainly important (respectively + 6.7% and 9.1%), but in line with the demographic trend of these two continents. Stagnation, obviously with lower values, is also typical of Oceania.

** The increased weight of the African continent is also confirmed, with an increase from 15.5% to 17.3% of global baptized faithful. There is, however, a sharp decline in Europe, from 23.8% of faithful worldwide in 2010 to 22.2% in 2015; America instead remains the continent to which almost 49% of baptized Catholics belong. Asian Catholics continue to represent around 11% of the world total 2015. The proportion of Catholics in Oceania also remains stable, although with a figure of less than 0.8% of the world’s Catholic population.

** Brazil, of the ten countries in the world with the greatest consistency of baptized Catholics, ranks in first place (with 172,200,000 or 26.4% of all Catholics of the entire American continent).

** Brazil is followed, in order, by Mexico (110.9 million), the Philippines (83.6 million), USA (72.3), Italy (58.0), France (48.3), Colombia (45.3), Spain (43.3), Democratic Republic of the Congo (43.2) and Argentina (40.8). The total number of Catholics, for the countries in the top ten places, amounts to 717.9 million, i.e. 55.9% of the world’s Catholics.

** Statistics for 2015 also indicate that the number of clerics in the world amounted to 466,215, with 5,304 bishops, 415,656 priests and 45,255 permanent deacons.

** In particular, in 2015, America holds 37.4% of all prelates, followed by Europe (31.6%), Asia (15.1%), Africa (13, 4%) and Oceania (2.5%). In 2015 there is decline in the number of priests from the previous year, thus reversing the upward trend that characterized the years from 2000 to 2014. The total amount of priests in the world in 2015, compared to 2010, has increased by 0.83% (from 412,236 to 415,656).

** Looking at the distinction between diocesan and religious priests, there appears to be a clearly divergent evolution of the two categories. With regard to the first, there is a total increase of 1.6%, from 277,009 in 2010 to 281,514 in 2015; Religious priests, however, are in constant decrease (-0.8% in the period in question), arriving at slightly more than 134,000 in 2015. The number of religious priests, in addition to being in line with the aggregate data, in decline in Europe and Oceania, also shows a significant reduction in the American continent, with just over 38,000 units in 2015 compared to over 40 thousand in 2010. In 2010 priests in Europe accounted for 46.1% of the global total but total little more than 43% in 2015.

** In America (North and South), the Catholics per priest ratio exceeds 5,000 units and keeps increasing throughout the period, and is particularly critical. EUROPE: 1,595 Catholics per priest. ASIA: 2,185 Catholics per priest: AFRICA: stable with around 5,000 Catholics per priest.

** The population of permanent deacons shows a significant evolutionary trend: an increase in 2015 of 14.4% compared to five years previously, from 39,564 to 45,255. The number of deacons is improving on every continent at a significant pace. America and Europe have about 98% of the total population of deacons.

** Professed men religious other than priests constitutes a group in decline globally: from 54,665 individuals in 2010 to 54,229 in 2015, mainly in Europe, the Americas and Oceania,

** Women religious constitute a population with a certain consistency: in 2015 they exceed by 61% the number of priests worldwide, and are currently in clear decline. At global level, they have decreased in number from 721,935 in 2010 to 670,320 in 2015, a relative diminution of 7.1%. Profound differences emerge when analyzing the time series for the individual territorial areas, i.e., Africa is the continent with the highest increase of religious, from 66,375 in 2010 to 71,567 in 2015, with a relative increase of 7.8% for the entire period and an average annual growth rate of 1.6%. It is followed by South East Asia, where professed women religious have increased in number from 160,564 in 2010 to 166,786 in 2015, an increase of 3.9% over the entire period.

** Seminarians: There is a continuation of the decline which has for some years characterized priestly vocations: in 2015 there was a total of 116,843 major seminarians , up from 116,939 in 2014; 118,251 in 2013; 120,051 in 2012; 120,616 in 2011 and 118,990 in 2010. The rate has dropped, in turn, from 99.5 seminarians per million Catholics in 2010 to 90.9 in 2015.

Complete report here: http://www.news.va/en/news/362157

VATICAN INSIDER: THE ACTON INSTITUTE AND MICHAEL NOVAK – POPE FRANCIS MAKES HISTORIC CHANGE IN CORPUS CHRISTI FEAST

VATICAN INSIDER: THE ACTON INSTITUTE AND MICHAEL NOVAK

Join me this weekend on Vatican Insider for Part II of my conversation with Kishore Jayabalan, director of the Acton Institute’s Rome Office. We talk briefly about the mission and work of the Institute but this week’s focus is principally on one of our favorite people and friends, the late, great Michael Novak, and his impact on the world, on Acton and on our personal lives. Part I aired last weekend.

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. 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.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml   For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

POPE FRANCIS MAKES HISTORIC CHANGE IN CORPUS CHRISTI FEAST

It is subtle and has come without an official explanation – so far.

Pope Francis has moved the traditional celebration in Rome of the feast of Corpus Christi, known as Corpus Domini here, from Thursday to the following Sunday this year. The traditional Mass and procession from St. John Lateran to St. Mary Major along Via Merulana will now take place on Sunday, June 18.

An article in the online Italian language journal, FarodiRoma (Rome’s Lighthouse), cited by Aleteia, calls the news “an unprecedented move” by Pope Francis.

The editors explain in their article on Corpus Christi that one of the reasons seems to be Pope Francesco’s desire to attract more people to this annual Mass and procession.

I follow the papal calendar month by month by going to the Prefecture of the Papal Household (where people get tickets for papal events: http://www.vatican.va/various/prefettura/en/biglietti_en.html) and, for liturgical ceremonies, to Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff (http://w2.vatican.va/content/liturgy/en.html

I wanted to verify the new date for this feast but could not find a calendar beyond April. I was advised to go to the prefecture site, to the upper right corner where, in very small letters, a hard to see white on gray, appears the word ‘Audiences’. It’s actually a misnomer because when you click on it you see audiences, the Angelus, liturgies, etc. – it probably should be named Agenda 2017.

There it is: JUNE 2017 – Sunday 18, Corpus Domini Mass and Procession at 19:00 in St John Lateran Square (no tickets required)

It does not mention Via Merulana or St. Mary Major but I suppose that’s a given – at least to Romans who know this tradition well.

Let’s see if and when the change is explained. Will Pope Francis issue a bull to change that of Pope Urban IV? Urban wished to honor the Eucharist and, in August 1264, wrote the Bull Transitus, ordering Corpus Christi to be celebrated annually on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. Urban died on October 2, 1264.

Urban IV with Saints Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas –

Following is a piece I wrote a few years back and publish every year on the feast of Corpus Christi:

One of the most evocative liturgical celebrations of the year in Rome is the feast of Corpus Christi. Dating back to 1246, this solemnity is marked by an evening papal Mass on the esplanade at St. John Lateran Basilica and a Eucharistic procession along Via Merulana to St. Mary Major Basilica where the Pope imparts his blessing. This feast is celebrated in many beautiful, similar ways in dioceses throughout the world.

Via Merulana, originally called Via Gregoriana, was laid out by Pope Gregory XIII during the Holy Year 1575. Among Pope Gregory’s achievements: He reformed the calendar, founded the papal observatory, as well as several colleges and seminaries, including the Gregorian university, and built the quirinale palace, for years the summer residence of Popes and now home to the president of Italy.

The procession between the two basilicas began in the 1400’s. Its current itinerary began in 1575 when Gregory XIII built Via Merulana, and this route was followed for more than 300 years until the procession fell into disuse. John Paul II revived this custom in 1979. The feast of Corpus Christi is due in part to the visions of a 13th century Augustinian nun, Julianna of Lièges, known for her devotion to the Eucharist.

In one vision, Our Lord appeared to Julianna, reminding her that there was no solemnity honoring the Blessed Sacrament, and she began to promote such a feast.

Pope Urban IV, who also wished to honor the Eucharist, wrote a Bull in 1264 ordering Corpus Christi to be celebrated annually on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday

(JFL: The “lighthouse” in the journal’s name (which also publishes pieces in Spanish) refers to the lighthouse on the Janiculum hill that rose where the battles took place for the defense of the Roman Republic of 1849, and dominates Italy’s capital with its 20-meter height. The monument’s construction was financed by the Italian community in Argentina to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Italy’s unification in 1911, just over a century before the arrival of an Argentinian to the papacy, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis.)

VATICAN INSIDER AND THE ACTON INSTITUTE – POPE FRANCIS: CARDINAL KEELER, “A WISE AND GENTLE PASTOR” – POPE PIUS XII SPEAKS ON THE TREATY OF ROME

Rome, especially the historic center and the Vatican area, is in lockdown for the visit by more than 4 dozen European Union leaders, heads of State and government who have descended on Rome to mark the 60th anniversary tomorrow of the Treaties of Rome that created the European Economic Community, the precursor of today’s EU, European Union.

I posted the following link on FB as this gives you an idea of the security measures, although it does not include the fact that air space over Rome has been closed from 6 am today to 11 pm tomorrow, and that sharpshooters are everywhere, including rooftops as you can imagine – a total of 5,000 police put in place. http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/rome-security-plan-for-eu-summit/

If that is not enough, Milan is also in a state of lockdown for Pope Francis daylong visit tomorrow!

Pope Francis has concluded his address to the EU leaders in the Vatican’s Sala Regia. Click here for a summary of that talk: http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-man-at-centre-of-european-project  –  And here for an English translation of that talk: http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-address-to-eu-heads-of-state-and-gove

VATICAN INSIDER AND THE ACTON INSTITUTE

My guest this weekend on Vatican Insider is Kishore Jayabalan, director of the Acton Institute’s Rome Office. We talk about the mission and work of the Institute. The future of Europe, and we dedicate some time to one of our favorite people and friends, the late, great Michael Novak, and his impact on the world, on Acton and on our personal lives. Part I airs this weekend.

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. 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.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml   For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

POPE FRANCIS: CARDINAL KEELER, “A WISE AND GENTLE PASTOR”

Pope Francis sent the following telegram of condolences for the death yesterday, March 23, at the age of 86 of Cardinal William Henry Keeler, archbishop emeritus of Baltimore. to Archbishop William Lori, archbishop of Baltimore. Cardinal Keeler had the titular church in Rome of Santa Maria degli Angeli e Martiri on Pza. Della Repubblica.

”Deeply saddened to learn of the death of Cardinal William H. Keeler, I offer heartfelt condolences to you and to the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese. With gratitude for Cardinal Keeler’s years of devoted episcopal ministry in the local Churches of Harrisburg and Baltimore, his years of leadership within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and his long-standing commitment to ecumenical and interreligious understanding, I join you in commending the soul of this wise and gentle pastor to the merciful love of God our heavenly Father. To all who mourn the late Cardinal in the sure hope of the Resurrection, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in the Lord. FRANCISCUS PP.

POPE PIUS XII SPEAKS ON THE TREATY OF ROME

(Vatican Radio) Celebrations are underway here in Rome to mark 60 years since the signing of the ‘The Treaty of Rome’. It was March 25, 1957 and when it was signed it established one of the foundation stones of the European Economic Community.

And to mark the occasion Pope Francis is set to receive 27 European Union heads of State and government during a private audience in the Vatican’s ‘Sala Regia’ on Friday evening.

But why not step back in time to the days of that treaty when the Roman Pontiff was Pius XII.

Listen to the words, in English, of Pope Pius XII to mark that occasion in a programme presented and produced by Veronica Scarisbrick:  http://www.news.va/en/news/pius-xii-and-the-the-treaty-of-rome

VATICAN INSIDER LOOKS AT ROME’S LENTEN STATION CHURCHES – PAPAL LITURGICAL CELEBRATIONS FOR MARCH, APRIL – TWITTER DIPLOMACY AT THE HOLY SEE

Pope Francis tweeted today: Fasting is not only about abstaining from food. It also means sharing food with those who are hungry.

The Vatican announced today that Pope Francis will meet with European Union leaders a day before a special summit marking the 60th anniversary of the Union’s founding treaty.The audience will be held March 24, the eve of the summit marking the anniversary of the EU founding Treaty of Rome. The evening meeting is expected to be public.

VATICAN INSIDER LOOKS AT ROME’S LENTEN STATION CHURCHES

I have a special report instead of a guest this week on Vatican Insider. I explore the history and current story of Rome’s famed Lenten Station Churches, a beautiful, tradition born ever so many centuries ago. If you are in Rome for Lent and want to attend 7 am morning Mass at the church of the day, you can find the list here: https://www.pnac.org/station-churches/

Today’s Station Church is: Santi Giovanni e Paolo: https://www.pnac.org/station-churches/week-of-ash-wed/friday-after-ash-wednesday-santi-giovanni-e-paolo/

ALSO: https://www.romeartlover.it/Vasi53.htm

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. 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.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00am (ET). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml   For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?seriesId=7096&pgnu=

PAPAL LITURGICAL CELEBRATIONS FOR MARCH, APRIL

The Vatican Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff on Friday published the calendar of liturgical celebrations at which Pope Francis will preside during March and April of 2017.  The list includes the Masses to be celebrated during the Holy Father’s pastoral visits to Milan on March 25 and Carpi on April 2, as well as other events surrounding Holy Week and Easter.

MARCH

Friday 17: at 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, penitential celebration.

Saturday 25: Solemnity of the Annunciation.  Pastoral visit to Milan.

APRIL

Sunday 2: Fifth Sunday of Lent. Pastoral visit to Carpi.

Sunday 9: Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord: At 10 a.m. in St. Peter’s Square, commemoration of the entry of the Lord in Jerusalem, and Holy Mass.

Thursday 13: Holy Thursday. At 9.30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Chrism Mass.

Friday 14: Good Friday. At 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, celebration of the Passion of the Lord.

At 9.15 p.m. at the Colosseum, Rome: Via Crucis (Way of the Cross).

Saturday 15: Holy Saturday. At 8.30 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Easter vigil.

Sunday 16: Easter Sunday. At 10 a.m., in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass.

At noon, from the central balcony or logia of the Vatican Basilica, “Urbi et Orbi” blessing.

The Vatican announced Friday that Pope Francis will meet with European Union leaders a day before a special summit marking the 60th anniversary of the bloc’s founding treaty.The audience will be held March 24, the eve of the summit marking the anniversary of the EU founding Treaty of Rome. The evening meeting is expected to be public.

TWITTER DIPLOMACY AT THE HOLY SEE

(Vatican Radio) A one-day workshop was held on Friday in the Vatican on “Twitter Diplomacy at the Holy See.” The event was hosted by the Vatican Secretariat for Communications (SPC), in conjunction with the British Embassy to the Holy See.

Participants in the workshop included Britain’s Ambassadors to the Holy See, Sally Axworthy and to Austria, Leigh Turner, along with Hungary’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Eduard Habsburg, and Professor Giovanni Maria Vian, director of the Osservatore Romano.

Pope Francis touches minds and hearts on social networks, said the Vatican release. “Where people are, the Church is, and this is why the Pope is present on Twitter and Instagram,” said SPC’s secretary, Msgr. Lucio Adrian Ruiz.

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The event brought together diplomats and other personalities who, in the Vatican and the Church, seek to spread the message of the Gospel through social media, especially on Twitter.

Workshop participants shared their experiences and the ways in which communications have changed after the spread of social networks – even at the institutional level.

Participants gave particular attention to the positive role offered by Pope Francis daily through his account @Pontifex, which is followed by more than 32 million people in 9 languages.

They called the Pope a leader on social networks, because he knows how to touch minds and hearts through his interventions on important themes for all people, believers and non-believers alike.

Sally Axworthy, Britain’s ambassador to the Holy See, told Alessandro Gisotti after the event that the digital dimension is assuming an ever greater role in diplomacy. She said there are many points on which, even via Twitter, that the Holy See and international diplomacy can find a way to collaborate.

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Ms. Axworthy also underlined that, as Pope Francis has eloquently shown, social networks can help reach an extremely wide public on themes of common interest.

The British Ambassador published this communiqué after the meeting:

Monsignor Lucío Adrian Ruiz, secretary at the Secretariat for Communications and Leigh Turner, British Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the UN in Vienna, opened the proceedings. The editor of L’Osservatore Romano, Professor Giovanni M. Vian, gave an overview on newspaper’s global reach on Twitter and Eduard Habsburg, Hungary’s Ambassador to the Holy See, shared his tips and experience.

The workshop looked at how the Holy See, Cardinals, Vatican Dicasteries and Ambassadors are increasingly explaining their work and initiatives through Twitter. It also gave insights into how to use Twitter to promote campaigns and establish a true dialogue with the public.

Representatives from the Pontifical Council for Culture, Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, Dicastery for Integral Human Development, Cor Unum, Caritas Internationalis , the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, and Ambassadors accredited to the Holy See participated in the discussion, which was held under the Chatham House Rule.**

Speaking after the event, the British Ambassador to the Holy See Sally Axworthy said:

“Today we had a lively discussion on Twitter diplomacy at the Holy See. I learned a great deal about Pope Francis’ approach to social media. I look forward to working with colleagues to promote the issues we all care about through Twitter, using some of the ideas we discussed today.”

“The workshop showed how digital has become an integral part of today’s diplomacy, and how this tool can be a real asset to modern diplomats, in engaging directly with their audience and reaching out to a wider public.“

Note for editors: Twitter is an increasingly popular means of communication within the Holy See community. The Pope is the world’s most influential leader, with over 32 million followers for his Twitter account in 9 languages.

** I did not know what the Chatham House Rule was so looked it up: The Chatham House Rule originated at Chatham House with the aim of providing anonymity to speakers and to encourage openness and the sharing of information. It is now used throughout the world as an aid to free discussion.

The Chatham House Rule reads as follows: When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.   (https://www.chathamhouse.org/about/chatham-house-rule)

VATICAN INSIDER: AN INSIDER’S LOOK AT THE LIFE OF NORMA MCCORVEY – PAPAL ALMONER SUPPORTS FARMERS, PRODUCERS FROM EARTHQUAKE-STRUCK TOWNS – COULD ONE BISHOP’S IDEA HELP THE WORLD’S DIOCESES?

Pope Francis on Twitter today: The Christian heart is always full of joy. Always. Joy received as a gift and kept in order to be shared with everyone.

Shall we all try to share a moment of joy with one new person this weekend!

If you follow events in the Holy Land, having perhaps made several pilgrimages to Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon (yes, all are the Holy Land), there are two websites you really might want to visit to keep well informed on all that is happening in the area, especially vis-à-vis the Catholic Church.

The first is http://en.lpj.org/

The LPJ stands for Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and it is a fact-filled site with daily news stories (such as “Don’t Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, Bishops Ask Secretary of State), videos, upcoming events, a look at the Order of the Holy Sepulchre (to which I belong) and information for visitors and pilgrims. You might already be familiar with this site: if not, it is a must-visit site if you love the Holy Land, or are simply curious to know more.

A second site will probably be less familiar: http://en.abouna.org/

The “en” in the site refers to the English version, as you probably guessed: the original is in Arabic (abouna.org). “Abouna” is Arabic for Father. A good friend of mine in Amman, Jordan, Fr. Rifat Bader, put this together a few years ago and he and his team (a fairly small one) are doing a great job. He is the founder and director of the Amman-based Catholic Center for Studies and Media.

Father is pointing at me – we are at the Beirut Airport in September 2012 for the arrival of Pope Benedict:

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I saw a story here this morning (also on lpj.org) about the arrival in Amman today of another friend, Bishop William Shomali, as the new patriarchal vicar of Jordan (for the Latin Patriarchate). He succeeds Bishop Maroun Lahham whom I interviewed in 2014 on my trip to Jordan. When Bishop Shomali and I first met, he was rector of the Patriarchate seminary in Beit Sahour, not far from Bethlehem.. I had lunch with then-Father Shomali, the seminarians and staff just before they all left on Christmas vacation.

He is on the right on this photo –

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…and on the top of the group photo, wearing a gray scarf.

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VATICAN INSIDER: AN INSIDER’S LOOK AT THE LIFE OF NORMA MCCORVEY

My guest this week on “Vatican Insider” in the interview segment is Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life. As I wrote last weekend on these pages, she was in Rome last week with Fr. Frank Pavone and I had interviewed her about their work at Priests for Life, the March for Life in DC, etc. She suggested that we do a separate interview about someone big in the prolife movement and a good friend to Janet and Father Frank who was in failing health – that is, Norma McCorvey, the Roe of Roe v Wade in the 1973 Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion.

It was Norma’s courageous decision later in life, to renounce abortion – the goal she had espoused as the plaintiff in Roe v Wade – and to denounce it as the deliberate killing of a human being in its mother’s womb that led her to spend successive decades trying to overturn the law she had been instrumental in creating – even though she never set foot in court.

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Listen as Janet tells the inside story of Norma McCorvey who died one hour after we did our interview!

PAPAL ALMONER SUPPORTS FARMERS, PRODUCERS FROM EARTHQUAKE- STRUCK TOWNS

(Vatican Radio)  The Office of Papal Charities this week helped out the earthquake-hit regions of central Italy at the express wish of Pope Francis, buying typical food products from local producers and distributing it to several soup kitchens in Rome.

Central Italy was hit by a powerful 6.3 magnitude quake in August 2016, which killed nearly 300 people. Other earthquakes have since caused major damage to the area.

Farmers and merchants in the affected areas have since suffered a drastic reduction in their revenues.

A communique from the Office of Papal Charities said the organization selected “several groups of farmers and producers at risk of closure because of the damages provoked by the earthquake” from which to buy alimentary products.

Papal Almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, is standing on the right:

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It said vendors were chosen in conjunction with Bishop Domenico Pompili of Rieti, Bishop Giovanni D’Ercole of Ascoli Piceno, Archbishop Francesco Giovanni Brugnaro of Camerino-San Severino Marche, and Archbishop Renato Boccardo of Spoleto-Norcia.

“The Office of Papal Charities bought a large quantity of their products with the intention, expressed by the Holy Father, to help and encourage them in their activities. It is a gesture in line with the Magisterium of Pope Francis, who in his meetings has often said that ‘when a person does not earn their bread, their dignity is lost’”.

The food products bought in the name of the Pope were distributed to several soup kitchens in Rome to make meals for homeless people in need.

The Vatican supermarket currently sells products from the earthquake hit zones of central Italy, in an effort to help out the local economy.

COULD ONE BISHOP’S IDEA HELP THE WORLD’S DIOCESES?

(Vatican Radio) A bishop in Scotland has high hopes for his diocese as a new fundraising initiative was recently launched at his cathedral.

Bishop John Keenan is encouraging the faithful of the Diocese of Paisley to become ‘Friends’ of certain diocesan projects in a bid to combat a £3 million (€3.5 million) deficit. Bishop Keenan explained in a letter read out at all Masses in St Mirin’s Cathedral that the cause for the deficit is not surprising. “It is the same deadly combination of rising costs and falling income that you know all too well from your own home finances.” (photo: news.va)

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The bishop emphasised that a change in culture is needed. In his letter, he tells the lay faithful that he would rather put his trust in his own people than in professional fundraisers. If his desire for a deficit-free diocese is to be realised, then annual savings worth £300,000 must be found. He added that the “bulk of our efforts to eradicate the deficit will come from fundraising.”

He has appointed Fr Oliver Freney, administrator of St Mirin’s Cathedral, as the new diocesan Director of Fundraising and has challenged him to raise £100,000 annually. He said that the ‘Friends Project’ will be the “heart and soul of his fundraising campaign.”

Fr Freney was joined by several young people from the diocese for the launch at St Mirin’s. His fellow priests will be launching it in their parishes over the coming weeks. He said after the launch: “If every member of our diocese signed up to give just £5 a year, we would be in surplus.” He added that he encourages parishioners to “think about our situation and give thoughtfully and generously.”

The diocesan treasurer attended the launch. Fr Stephen Bailey explained that the faithful could opt to become ‘Friends’ of particular projects like ‘vocations’, ‘education’ and ‘youth’.  He added that Bishop Keenan wants to let people know how their money is being spent.

Bishop Keenan recently led the diocesan community through a synod, during which the important role of the lay faithful within the Church was highlighted.