VATICAN INSIDER: A MENORAH, THE MAGDALA STONE AND AN ARCHEOLOGIST

In case you are in or going to Greece before June 15:

I have always had a great fondness and admiration for St. Helena and featured her in my book “A Holy Year in Rome,” when describing the basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem that was built over her home (starts on page 112). At the venerable age of 80 (when most people did not live that long!) she went to the Holy Land with her son, Emperor Constantine, and brought back to Rome some relics of the passion, now in that basilica.

The relics of Empress St. Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine, and relics of the True Cross left Italy for Greece on a pilgrimage that lasts until June 15, the first time they have left their home since the Crusades. St. Helena was responsible for her son promulgating the great Edict of Milan that granted freedom of worship to all citizens of the empire, and ended, for the time, the bloody persecution of Christians.  She is revered in both the Latin and Eastern Church.

An email from the chancellor of the Constantinian Order in the United States provided some of the details about this pilgrimage. St. Helena’s remains were escorted by military detachments from Rome to Athens.  She was welcomed in Greece with full military honors due a Head of State. The president of Greece and the archbishop of Athens were there to greet the relics.  Tens of thousands of Greeks lined the streets and waited for hours to pass by her relics to venerate them.

VATICAN INSIDER: A MENORAH, THE MAGDALA STONE AND AN ARCHEOLOGIST

My guest this weekend in the interview segment of “Vatican Insider” is Dina Gorni, an archeologist with the Israeli Antiquities Authority with some fascinating stories and a wonderful discovery. Dina was in Rome for the opening several days ago of an exhibit at Rome’s Jewish Museum and the Vatican’s Charlemagne Wing called “The Menorah: Worship, History and Myth.”

Dina tells us about the exhibit, how it began and what it features, including one of the rarest works in archeology – that she discovered! – the celebrated Magdala Stone. The stone has been loaned to this exhibit on an exceptional basis by Israel.

I wrote about this on last Monday after I interviewed Dina, noting that the exhibit was a kind of world premiere as the Vatican, Rome’s Jewish community and the Israeli Antiquities Authority teamed up for the first-ever joint exhibit by their respective museums. The focus, as the title says, is the menorah, the seven-armed candelabrum described in the Jewish Torah and also depicted in both Jewish and Christian art over many centuries.

Dina relates how the Legionaries of Christ wanted to build a hotel for pilgrims on land in Magdala on the shores of Lake Tiberias but the IAA said that, since this was historic land, they’d want to do some excavations – and, as they say, the rest is history. The Magdala stone, in fact, depicts the oldest carved image of the Second Temple’s seven-branched menorah ever found. So tune in for sure!

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=

 

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS THE FOYER UNITAS IN ROME

Pope Francis is in Fatima, Portugal as I write and the television coverage has been riveting so far. I hope you take time during the 22 or so hours that the Holy Father is in Portugal to follow his 19th apostolic trip, and to that end, my only post today is a preview of “Vatican Insider” and my weekend guest-

If we want to give a spiritual bouquet of flowers to Pope Francis, we might do so by reciting the Rosary – perhaps a decade, perhaps five decades or maybe, over the weekend, all 20 mysteries, including, of course, the Mysteries of Light, the Luminous Mysteries.

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS THE FOYER UNITAS IN ROME

My guest this weekend on Vatican Insider is Donna Orsuto, co-founder and director of the Lay Center Foyer Unitas in Rome, and president of the Center’s Board of Directors. A long time resident of Rome, Donna will tell us what inspired her to found this center, where it is located – in one of the most beautiful settings in Rome! – and what the Center does for its students.

I know Donna and the Center fairly well as there is an annual dinner for visiting presidents of Catholic Universities at which two members of the media and an ambassador speak. I’ve been privileged to speak at this dinner for the past several years.

Donna Orsuto, among other things, is a professor of spirituality at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, has written two books and many articles, gives retreats and is active in ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue.

In our conversation, Donna and I spoke of the beautiful grounds on which the Center is located, and I promised I’d post some photos for our listeners, so here are just a few I took that day:

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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=

 

VATICAN INSIDER GOES TO THE UNITED NATIONS – PAPAL PRAYER INTENTION FOR MAY: CHRISTIANS IN AFRICA – POPE TO ROMANIAN SEMINARY: PRESERVE MEMORY, CULTIVATE HOPE – POPE TO WELCOME PRESIDENT TRUMP ON MAY 24

As is traditional on May 6, the newest Swiss Guards will be sworn in tomorrow in the Vatican in what is always a colorful and memorable ceremony. Say a pray for these young men from Switzerland as they take the oath to defend the person of the Supreme Pontiff:

“I swear I will faithfully, loyally and honourably serve the Supreme Pontiff Francis and his legitimate successors, and also dedicate myself to them with all my strength, sacrificing if necessary also my life to defend them. I assume this same commitment with regard to the Sacred College of Cardinals whenever the See is vacant.

Furthermore I promise to the Commanding Captain and my other superiors, respect, fidelity and obedience. This I swear! May God and our Holy Patrons assist me!”

VATICAN INSIDER GOES TO THE UNITED NATIONS

Join me on “Vatican Insider” this weekend where my special guest is Archbishop Bernadito Auza, apostolic nuncio and Holy See Permanent Observer to the United Nations. We spoke when I was in New York recently and attended an event at his residence for the Bethlehem University Foundation.

Listen to Abp. Auza as he explains Holy See diplomacy and his work at the U.N.. Our conversation, by the way, follows my double Q&A this weekend in which I explain what an apostolic nuncio is and also talk about the work of the Holy See’s Secretariat of State.

The archbishop’s limestone residence in the Upper East side of New York was a delightful setting for the reception for the BU Foundation. The archbishop, in opening remarks to the assembled guests, explained that his five-story residence was once home to New York’s youngest mayor, Hugh J. Grant, but noted with a smile that he was no relation to the actor by the same name! Mayor Grant and his wife hired the same firm of architects that had worked on St. Patrick’s Cathedral and they asked that a small private chapel be installed.

We also saw the bedroom in which Pope Francis slept during his NYC visit. Interestingly enough, we learned that he asked that the flat screen TV be removed from the room.

The crucifix facing the bed –

The residence foyer –

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 PRAYER INTENTION FOR MAY: CHRISTIANS IN AFRICA

Pope Francis’ prayer intention for May is: That Christians in Africa, in imitation of the Merciful Jesus, may give prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice, and peace.

The Apostleship of Prayer produced the Pope’s Video on this intention. http://www.apostleshipofprayer.org/

Here is the English text of that video:

When we look at Africa, we see much more than its great natural richness. We see its joie de vivre, and above all, we see grounds for hope in Africa’s rich intellectual, cultural and religious heritage. But we cannot fail to see the fratricidal wars decimating peoples and destroying these natural and cultural resources. Let us join with our brothers and sisters of this great continent, and pray together that Christians in Africa, in imitation of the Merciful Jesus, may give prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice, and peace.

POPE TO ROMANIAN SEMINARY: PRESERVE MEMORY, CULTIVATE HOPE

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday greeted members of the Pontifical Romanian College or Collegio Pio Romeno on the occasion of its 80th anniversary.

This Roman Pontifical College has been training seminarians from all over the world for eight decades in the Eternal City and on Friday the Pope on this auspicious occasion had two wishes for those present.

The first was to preserve memory and the second, to cultivate hope.

Speaking about the former, the Holy Father said that by tuning into ones ecclesial memory which he added, lives through the events that each era presents us with, “you will be helped to overcome dangerous temptations that may arise, such as settling for mediocrity, settling for a normal life; where one jealously guards their own time and their own well-being.

The Pope described their College as a place where seminarians train as if they were “in a gym” in order to give their lives for the good of others.

On the theme of cultivating hope, Pope Francis said that there was, “so much need to nourish Christian hope, that hope that gives a new outlook, capable of discovering and seeing good, even when it is obscured by evil”.

Concluding his address the Pope had a special greeting for those present from the Pontifical College of St. Ephrem, which provides lodgings for those student priests of the Arabic language from all of the Oriental Catholic Churches and who are welcomed by the Pontifical Romanian College (Pio Romeno).

The Pope said that, “by meeting you I think of the situation in which there are so many faithful in your lands, many families who are forced to leave their homes in the face of waves of violence and suffering. I want to embrace these brothers and sisters in a special way, together with their Patriarchs and Bishops.”

POPE TO WELCOME PRESIDENT TRUMP ON MAY 24

(Vatican Radio) The Holy See press office announced on Thursday that Pope Francis will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump at the Vatican on the morning of May 24th. The U.S. leader will also meet with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and with Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Holy See foreign minister.

A senior White House official said Donald Trump’s first foreign trip as U.S. president will also include visits to Belgium, Israel and Saudi Arabia, as well as Italy and the Vatican.

On May 25th Trump will attend a NATO meeting in Brussels and the following day he will take part in the G7 summit meeting in Sicily.

 

VATICAN INSIDER, A TRIBUTE TO MOTHER ANGELICA – EGYPT, IN FESTIVE MODE, ON FULL ALERT, READY TO WELCOME POPE FRANCIS – THE MODERN DAY PLAGUES OF EGYPT

AsiaNews has a great number of very good journalists and guest authors who write for them about current events, noteworthy people and historical moments in Asia and the Middle East. I felt the two pieces I offer below were newsworthy because of the papal trip, of course, but also because of the historical role of Egypt in the Middle East and on the world scene.

You can follow the various moments of Pope Francis’ 27-hour visit to Cairo via EWTN television, radio reports and on www.ewtn.com

When I was a member of the Holy See delegation to the 1994 UN conference on population in Cairo, we had dinner one night at the residence of the nuncio to Egypt, where Pope Francis will spend the night tonight. I remember it as a large, older home with some lovely gardens, a very private and tranquil setting in a bustling city of so many millions. If I find my photos (no digital cameras then!) I’ll post them.

VATICAN INSIDER, A TRIBUTE TO MOTHER ANGELICA

Just a brief programming note as I am dedicating most of today’s column and various additional posts on Facebook to Pope Francis’ apostolic trip to Egypt. My “guest” this weekend, so to speak, is Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization who, on March 27 celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to mark the first anniversary of Mother Angelica’s passing. I offer his reflections in his homily as well as a brief  interview we did with him after Mass.

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=

EGYPT, IN FESTIVE MODE, ON FULL ALERT, READY TO WELCOME POPE FRANCIS

by Loula Lahham

The President of the Republic al-Sisi personally supervising the security apparatus. Cairo wants to show itself as a tolerant, fraternal and welcoming country. Today, the intervention at al-Azhar peace conference. Over 35,000 people (accredited) for tomorrow’s Mass at the aeronautics academy. More extremist threats against Christians in Minya.

Cairo (AsiaNews) – Today, Friday, April 28, an Alitalia plane will land at Cairo International Airport, with His Holiness Pope Francis, and dozens of cardinals, bishops, priests, religious, interpreters and assistants.

For some days, security preparations have been at the highest level and are directly under the personal supervision of the President of the Republic. The goal is to show the world an Egypt characterized by tolerance, fraternity, solidarity, terms that run counter to those of all who perpetuate conspiracies and want to erode the nation, drowning it in religious obscurantism.

This goal has united everyone: the presidency, the army, the interior ministry and the local authorities. The streets that will be crossed by the papal cavalcade have been washed, the trees watered, parking banned in the neighborhood where the apostolic nunciature is located, which will host the Pope during his stay in Egypt. Tension is visibly growing. No mistakes will be allowed. Official Egypt wants to prove that it is up to an event of this magnitude.

Yesterday morning, the international peace conference, organized by al-Azhar, the highest instance in the Sunni Islamic world, began, in the presence of, among others, the spiritual leaders of the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Churches.

Al-Azhar –

The main theme of the conference will be the challenges and dangers that today pose a threat to world peace. And also, and above all, the “false interpretation of religious texts,” as the great imam of al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayeb has pointed out. Pope Frances speech is scheduled for this afternoon at the closing of the meeting.

Moreover, the spiritual leader of the Coptic orthodox expressed his joy in receiving the Holy Father for a very fraternal dialogue between “Catholics” and “Orthodox”. And at the end of this first day, Pope Francis will pronounce a special ecumenical prayer for the memory of all the victims who have died from terrorism of a religious matrix in Egypt.

On Saturday morning, April 29, at 10 am local time solemn mass will be celebrated at the Cairo military aeronautics stadium in the eastern suburbs of the Egyptian capital, which can hold up to 35,000 people. Priests have been called to participate in the liturgy and for the distribution of communion to the faithful; They will wear a stole bearing the official logo of the papal visit, with the slogan in English and Arabic: “The Pope of Peace visits an Egypt of Peace”.

The choirs of the six oriental Catholic rites (Coptic, Greek, Syro, Armenian, Maronite, Chaldean) have finished their preparations and the attendance of the faithful will only be admissible upon special invitations sent to some 237 Catholic churches as well as schools and religious institutes . There is a central altar dedicated to the Pope; the stadium stands are decorated with flags of the Vatican and Egypt. All or almost all preparations have been carried out by the Office of Religious Affairs and the Department of Egyptian Army Engineering. Several local and international television broadcasters will broadcast the event live.

The Pope will arrive half an hour before the scheduled start time for Mass and greet the crowd of the faithful who will have come from the four corners of the country from an open golf car. The Mass will last about 90 minutes and will be preceded by several documentaries on the Vatican and the Pope.

In an exclusive statement issued at the last moment, Msgr. Emmanuel Ayad, bishop of Luxor and head of the Egyptian organizing committee, said: “Everything is fine and the preparations are almost over. I am proud to see the participation of all the official bodies of Egypt in the context of this great event. Everyone is doing their best. The President of the Republic and the army did much more than we could have ever imagined. Moreover, we are faced with a visit not only to the local Church, but  one that has taken on a greater magnitude that embraces the entire Egyptian nation. The Pope is expected with great joy and excitment by all, all of Egypt loves him and sees in him a great builder of peace. ”

We should remember that while Egypt wants to portray a welcoming and tolerant image, yesterday the Christians in a village of the governorate of Minya (about 245 km south of Cairo) called Kom Al-loufi, could not pray in their church because of extremist threats.

THE MODERN DAY PLAGUES OF EGYPT

by Guy Djandji*

The country that Pope Francis will visit is afflicted by a failed economy, overpopulation, corruption, pollution, terrorism and fatalism. But it is home to a much bigger treasure than its millennial history: the joyous heart of its people.

Cairo (AsiaNews) – In the Book of Exodus, in the Old Testament, God deals with Egypt with ten punishments to punish the Pharaoh who prevented the Jews from leaving the country and persuading him to let them go. Among the calamities that Yahweh inflicted upon the Egyptians, we notice the most extreme: the water of the Nile turn into a river of blood; a plague of locusts swarm all over the earth; The country falls into darkness and, in the end, the most terrible, the death of the firstborn of Egypt. The rigor of these harsh punishments are striking. Today, Egypt is facing scourges that are equally devastating and which leave those who visit her with a sense of sadness mixed with impotence.

Why is the Egyptian people afflicted by such plagues? Will she ever heal and recover her good health?

Demographics: no doubt one of the major sources of poverty and instability in the country. The population is close to one hundred million and has a growth rate of more than 2.5%. Cairo, the megalopolis whose population is estimated at between 20 and 23 million, attracts hundreds of thousands of new arrivals from rural areas every year. Alexandria, the second largest city, is crumbling under the weight of a population of nearly seven million, which has tripled in 50 years. Egypt is crushed everywhere, its infrastructures cannot meet the demand. Large families are still considered a blessing and their prosperity is measured by the number of children. Religious and cultural factors are difficult to change.

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