VATICAN INSIDER: THE CHURCH, EWTN AND VR – POPE FRANCIS THANKS DONORS OF ST. PETER’S SQUARE CHRISTMAS CRIB AND TREE

This morning, as is traditional on the Fridays of Advent and Lent, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, delivered an Advent sermon in the presence of the Holy Father and members of the Roman Curia on the theme “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” He preached in the Redemptoris Mater chapel.

Later in the morning Pope Francis had several private audiences and then a meeting with the donors of the Christmas tree and nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square, including delegations from Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Veneto, and the patriarch of Venice, Archbishop Francesco Moraglia.

At 4:30 Friday afternoon, members of those delegations and several thousand faithful were in St. Peter’s Square where the Jesolo Sand Nativity scene was unveiled, following which there was the official lighting of the Vatican’s Christmas tree. There was music by the Vatican’s gendarmerie band, songs by choirs from the regions donating the tree and sand sculpture and speeches by various regional and Vatican dignitaries.

EWTN transmits such events live on our Facebook page. Check it out: https://www.facebook.com/EWTNVatican/videos/208441480075008/

I did not make the official ceremony as I’ve been preparing Vatican Insider as well as this column but I’ll go to the piazza shortly to take some photos and perhaps do a Facebook live.

Tomorrow is a very important feast day – feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is a holy day of obligation and a holiday in the Vatican and Italy.

VATICAN INSIDER: THE CHURCH, EWTN AND VR

My guest this week on Vatican Insider is one of EWTN’s own in Rome – Ben Crockett – or, as the Register described him in a headline “Meet the Millennial Who Is Taking Virtual Reality to the Front Lines of the Church. California-born, Harvard graduate student pursues his dreams in Rome.”

Ben in Malawi –

Ben is one of the most amiable, talented, hard-working and creative people of the many like people on EWTN’s Rome staff! In the fairly short time he has been with us, he has revolutionized so much in the area of social media, but especially his expertise in VR – virtual reality. You’ve surely seen some of his amazing VR work and maybe did not know he was responsible for it. Well, this weekend you will have the chance to meet this remarkable young man by tuning in to Vatican Insider!

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 THANKS DONORS OF ST. PETER’S SQUARE CHRISTMAS CRIB AND TREE

The tree and the Nativity Scene tell us about Christmas and “help us to contemplate the mystery of God who was made man in order to be close to each one of us” said Pope Francis Friday morning as he thanked all the people who donated this year’s Sand Nativity Scene and the 23-meter tall ‎Christmas tree for St. Peter’s Square.


A Tree of Light

Pope Francis described how “the Christmas tree with its lights, reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world; the light of the soul that drives out the darkness of enmity and makes room for forgiveness.”

The Pope noted, that this year’s tree comes from the forest of Cansiglio in northern Italy, and he went on to explain that its’ height symbolized God “who with the birth of his Son Jesus came down to man in order to raise him to himself and raise him from the mists of selfishness and sin.”

Reflecting on the Nativity Scene which this year is made from Jesolo sand native to the Dolomites, the Pontiff pointed out that, “the sand, a poor material, recalls the simplicity, the smallness with which God revealed Himself with the birth of Jesus in the precariousness of Bethlehem.”

The Sand Nativity, symbol of humility and freedom

He went on to tell the donor delegation gathered in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall that, “who is small – in the evangelical sense – is free to express themselves and move with spontaneity. All of us are called to be free before God, to have the freedom of a child before his father. The Child Jesus, Son of God and our Saviour, whom we lay in the manger, is holy in poverty, smallness, simplicity and humility.”

Pope Francis concluded by saying that, “the crib and the tree, fascinating symbols of Christmas, can bring to families and to the places where they are found, a reflection of the light and tenderness of God, to help everyone to live the feast of the birth of Jesus. By contemplating the God Child who shines a light on the humility of the manger, we too can become witnesses of humility, tenderness and goodness.”

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VATICAN INSIDER: EWTN, THE CHURCH AND VR – COURT RULES FOR EWTN IN HHS MANDATE CASE – ON THE PAPAL AGENDA TODAY – VATICAN CITY/HOLY SEE JOIN SINGLE EURO PAYMENTS AREA

VATICAN INSIDER: EWTN, THE CHURCH AND VR

My guest this week on Vatican Insider is one of EWTN’s own in Rome – Ben Crockett – or, as the Register described him in a headline “Meet the Millennial Who Is Taking Virtual Reality to the Front Lines of the Church. Harvard graduate student pursues his dreams in Rome.”

Ben is one of the most amiable, talented, hard-working and creative people of the many like people on EWTN’s Rome staff! In the fairly short time he has been with us, he has revolutionized so much in the area of social media, but especially his expertise in VR – virtual reality. You’ve surely seen some of his amazing VR work and maybe did not know he was responsible for it. Well, this weekend you will have the chance to meet this remarkable young man by tuning in to Vatican Insider! (EWTN photos)

Ben in Malawi with JRS – Jesuit Refugee Service

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)

COURT RULES FOR EWTN IN HHS MANDATE CASE

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A court ruling yesterday ensures Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), the world’s largest religious media network, can freely follow the religious teachings that drive its mission. In Eternal Word Television Network v. Azar, the previous administration’s HHS mandate tried to force the Catholic network to provide services such as the week-after pill in its healthcare plan. Yesterday’s decision, which comes on the heels of a settlement with the federal government, ends EWTN’s seven-year legal battle.

To read more: https://www.becketlaw.org/media/worlds-largest-religious-media-network-wins-right-follow-faith/

http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/ewtn-wins-lawsuit-over-hhs-contraception-mandate

ON THE PAPAL AGENDA TODAY

Friday was a busy day for the Pope as he met with various groups including some youngsters with cancer from Wroclaw, Poland and members of the International Theological Commission.

Pope Francis also met with members of the “Shahbaz Bhatti Mission Association, expressing the hope that they can extend their activity to those areas of Pakistan where Christians and other minorities continue to be discriminated against. In March 2011 Shahbaz Bhatti, a Pakistani politician and the country’s first Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs was assassinated in Islamabad for his struggle to promote human equality, social justice and interfaith harmony in Pakistan. Inspired by the thought and vision of Shahbaz Bhatti, the Association was founded to continue the tireless he did as a politician to create a society where everyone can live with dignity and respect.

The Holy Father also met with members of the Sardinia United Service Center for Volunteers, encouraging them to give a human and Christian touch through volunteer service. He expressed his appreciation for their efforts to help some of the poorest people in the world and the welcome they extend to newcomers in Sardinia.

Also Friday: The Vatican released Pope Francis’ letter to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I for the November 30 feast of St. Andrew, patron of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The letter was given to the patriarch by Cardinal Kurk Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who led the Holy See delegation to ceremonies in Istanbul, Turkey. Despite differences between Catholics and Orthodox Christians, said a Vatican news story, Pope Francis said the two communities are called to be a sign of hope by working together for peace, human dignity and care of creation.

VATICAN CITY/HOLY SEE JOIN SINGLE EURO PAYMENTS AREA

A communique today from the Holy See Press Office announced that Vatican City State/Holy See join the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA):

The Board of the European Payments Council (EPC) approved last week the extension of the geographical scope of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) to Vatican City State and the Holy See. It is foreseen that as of 1 March 2019, the SEPA schemes are open to the financial institutions of the Vatican City State/Holy See, once they have joined. SEPA harmonises the way electronic euro payments are made across Europe. It allows European consumers, businesses and public administrations to make and receive credit transfers as well as direct debit under the same basic conditions and makes all cross-border payments in euro as easy as domestic payments. As of 1 March 2019, the geographical scope of the SEPA schemes will consist of the following 36 countries: the 28 EU Member States plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, the Principality of Andorra and the Vatican City State/Holy See. “The successful application to SEPA is a very positive sign” said René Bruelhart, President of AIF (Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria). “It helps to facilitate payments and harmonises such services. Furthermore, it demonstrates the Holy See’s efforts to enhance financial transparency.”

SYNOD OF BISHOPS ON YOUTH, A “TIME OF GRACE”

Pray for all the synod participants as they end their work of 25 days in the Vatican. May each one of them, from the Holy Father to the lay auditors, bring the gift of a synod that many have called “grace-filled days” to their home dioceses and parishes. The closing Mass is this Sunday at 10 am in St. Peter’s Basilica. Safe travels to all who came to the Eternal City for this important meeting.

Also this weekend: Tune in to Vatican Insider as I look back at the synod and other Vatican news and then present a special interview. 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)

SYNOD OF BISHOPS ON YOUTH, A “TIME OF GRACE”

The Primate of all Ireland said at Friday’s Synod of Bishops press briefing that he that has not engaged with and encouraged young people enough.
By Russell Pollitt, SJ (vaticannews)

A graced month

Both Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Austria and Archbishop Eamon Martin of Ireland said that the Synod has been a time of grace – despite their personal apprehension before it started.

Synod Fathers are shown here after the Mass yesterday morning in St. Peter’s Basilica following the pilgrimage along the Via Francigena to the tomb of the first Pope. The Pope, in the center, is not vested as he did not celebrate Mass but was present. In the background you can see three archways over three altars in the south aisle of the basilica. The center altar – the Altar of St. Joseph –  has the relics of two of the 12 Apostles, Sts. Simon and Jude. Not many people know that St. Peter is not the only Apostle buried in St. Peter’s Basilica. By the way, their feast day is this Sunday, October 28!

Cardinal Schönborn said that when appointed he was concerned about being away from Vienna for such a long time. Now, he says, he realises what a good experience it was for bishops to come from all over the world so that they could listen to young people and share with them. He said that they heard more about the experiences and life situations of youth. He said that here is no other comparable social body of leaders in the world who will take the time – a whole month – to listen to young people with empathy and true attention.

The Vienna cardinal said that the atmosphere was not one in which the bishops had answers but simply one in which they gave attention to the vision and dreams of young people. He said that at the Synod they laughed a lot and that there was an excellent atmosphere and real communion. He said that he will be more determined in his missionary spirit because the courage and willingness of young people.

Archbishop Martin echoed this. He said that it was a graced-filled month. He too said that he was skeptical before arriving. He said that in Ireland they have to connect with young people but they haven’t done a great job. He said that the Church connects with families and schools but after that they struggle to engage young people. He said that the Synod has offered him much for reflection on how to go about connecting with youth. The communion at the Synod, with the Holy Father, bishops and young people was a real grace, he said.

Archbishop Anthony Muheria from Kenya said that the Synod was an exceptional experience of the universality of the church, its diversity and also of collegiality. He says that the Synod has been like a flame, a fire, which reignited the desire of the bishops to engage young people and in so doing give new life to the Church.

The Church must preach a counter-cultural message

Archbishop Martin said that this Synod was not talking about a particular doctrinal issue. The Synod touched on many issues from the point of view of young people. In the first week the gathering identified the pressures that young people were under. The reality of poverty, human trafficking, migration, how many young people are lost, the increase in depression, mental illness and their yearning for a stable reference point. The Archbishop said that the bishops felt the importance again of the Church presenting a counter-culture message to the world, a world, he added, in which young people are drowning and feel suffocated. He said that the Church gives people a reason to hope, to hold on to life, to live with passion. If anything, he said, the Church mustn’t chase after fashions but fearlessly speak and go against the grain of what society proposes. We need a Church that is counter-cultural, he said.

The future challenge

Archbishop Muheria said that the challenge is now for the bishops to pass the flame of the Synod on to young people. We need to instill hope. He said for him it is now about what will happen when the Synod ends on Sunday. He said that the Church needs to help young people face hurdles so that they can have great dreams for the future – great dreams which are calling the whole Church forward, he added. He said this will mean a change in approach and therefore a new adventure. He said that the majority of Catholic youth are in Asia and Africa and the Synod must connect with them despite their particular challenges.

Archbishop Martin said that he is nervous as he has to go home and bring the power and joy and life of the Synod back to the particular Churches in Ireland. “I have to be an ambassador of the Synod,” he said.

He said that young people have to be involved in the contemporary Church. In society they are in politics, education, policing, government and the legal system. For this reason, too, he said, the Church must engage with them so that they can transform society from within the places they are already working and involved.

Archbishop Martin said that he came to the realisation that young people are not the object of ministry, young people are themselves agents of evangelisation. He said that he realises that he must engage more with young people so that they can become missionary disciples. He said he sees now that he has not engaged with and encouraged young people enough. He said that he must go and reimagine his diocese and parishes. A question, for himself, he said, was how he facilitates making faith-filled young people part of the decision-making of the Church back in Ireland.

Mr Erduin Alberto Ortega Leal from Cuba, said that the Church does try and help young people find answers but that the Church of the future must also be involved and active with all people. He said that sometimes people in the Church don’t understand the mistakes of the past but, thanks to the Synod, he feels that there is a better understanding now.

VATICAN INSIDER LOOKS BACK AT THE SYNOD – POPE FRANCIS ACCEPTS CARDINAL WUERL’S RESIGNATION

Don’t miss the weekend festivities in Rome! Stay with EWTN for the canonization on Sunday of, among others, Blessed Pope Paul VI and Blessed Oscar Romero, archbishop of San Salvador, killed while celebrating Mass.

Paul VI’s tomb in the grottoes will have a new look….hope to bring those photos to you soon.

VATICAN INSIDER LOOKS BACK AT THE SYNOD

This week I feature a longer than usual news segment on Vatican Insider, focusing on the synod of bishops, and my radio colleagues are preparing a “best of” for the rest of the program. That is because I have basically been homebound for about 9 days with a very painful muscle-related back problem. The people I hoped to interview are very busy with the synod and unable to come to my office for a conversation – and I can’t get out to go to them! I have been out to go to pharmacies but therapy so far has had no effect and I actually am going to see a doctor the minute I post this. Let’s hope things improve by next week!

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 ACCEPTS CARDINAL WUERL’S RESIGNATION

Pope today accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl as archbishop of Washington, asking him to remain on as Apostolic Administrator of the archdiocese. The cardinal submitted his resignation on November 12, 2015, when he turned 75 as is required by canon or Church law. The Pope did not name a successor.

What follows is from the Archdiocese of Washington. The cardinal did write a letter to the faithful of the archdiocese but that was not on the webpage as I prepared this column. The copy I was received could not copied to this text. The letter was sent to all priests and the cardinal requested that the letter be read at Masses this weekend.

Cardinal Wuerl resignation: Full text of Pope Francis’ letter
Please find the full text of Pope Francis’ letter to Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, in an unofficial translation made available on the website of the Archdiocese of Washington.

To our Venerable Brother Cardinal Donald William Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington:

On September 21st I received your request that I accept your resignation from the pastoral government of the Archdiocese of Washington.

I am aware that this request rests on two pillars that have marked and continue to mark your ministry: to seek in all things the greater glory of God and to procure the good of the people entrusted to your care. The shepherd knows that the wellbeing and the unity of the People of God are precious gifts that the Lord has implored and for which he gave his life. He paid a very high price for this unity and our mission is to take care that the people not only remain united, but become witnesses of the Gospel “That they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me” (John17:21). This is the horizon from which we are continually invited to discern all our actions.

I recognize in your request the heart of the shepherd who, by widening his vision to recognize a greater good that can benefit the whole body (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 235), prioritizes actions that support, stimulate and make the unity and mission of the Church grow above every kind of sterile division sown by the father of lies who, trying to hurt the shepherd, wants nothing more than that the sheep be dispersed (cf. Matthew26:31).

You have sufficient elements to “justify” your actions and distinguish between what it means to cover up crimes or not to deal with problems, and to commit some mistakes. However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense. Of this, I am proud and thank you.

In this way, you make clear the intent to put God’s Project first, before any kind of personal project, including what could be considered as good for the Church. Your renunciation is a sign of your availability and docility to the Spirit who continues to act in his Church.

In accepting your resignation, I ask you to remain as Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese until the appointment of your successor.

Dear brother, I make my own the words of Sirach: “You who fear the Lord, trust in him, and your reward will not be lost” (2:8). May the Virgin Mary protect you with her mantle and may the strength of the Holy Spirit give you the grace to know how to continue to serve him in this new time that the Lord gives you.

Cardinal Wuerl’s Statement on the Holy Father’s Acceptance of his Resignation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the news from the Vatican this morning, Cardinal Donald Wuerl has issued the following statement: “Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has accepted the resignation first offered on November 12, 2015, when I reached my 75th birthday. I am profoundly grateful for his devoted commitment to the wellbeing of the Archdiocese of Washington and also deeply touched by his gracious words of understanding.

The Holy Father’s decision to provide new leadership to the Archdiocese can allow all of the faithful, clergy, religious and lay, to focus on healing and the future. It permits this local Church to move forward. Once again for any past errors in judgment I apologize and ask for pardon. My resignation is one way to express my great and abiding love for you the people of the Church of Washington.”

Statement from the Auxiliary Bishops of the Archdiocese of Washington on the Holy Father’s Acceptance of Cardinal Wuerl’s Resignation

“We, the Auxiliary Bishops of the Archdiocese of Washington, wish to express our heartfelt gratitude to His Eminence, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, for the loving pastoral care and devoted service he has provided the Archdiocese of Washington for the past 12 years.

Cardinal Wuerl’s pastoral and spiritual leadership in the archdiocese is well appreciated. We are particularly grateful for his efforts on behalf of parish life, our schools, Catholic Charities and so many other indicators of the vitality of this archdiocese including Saint John Paul II Seminary which he founded and is now filled to capacity.

We believe that Cardinal Wuerl’s decision to request that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, accept the resignation he first offered years ago is a clear manifestation of his love and concern for the people of this archdiocese. As the Holy Father stated in his letter, the Cardinal’s decision shows that he has the heart of a shepherd who places the good of the Church and its needs before his own right to justify his actions. His request and the Holy Father’s response allow the Church of Washington to continue to focus on healing and the ability to move forward.

We offer our prayers and profound gratitude to His Eminence for the service and pastoral care that he has faithfully given to the clergy, religious and lay faithful of this local Church. We accompany him with our love and support during this time of transition.”

Most Reverend Mario E. Dorsonville
Most Reverend Roy E. Campbell Jr.
Most Reverend Michael W. Fisher

Statement on the Retirement of Cardinal Donald Wuerl as Archbishop of Washington by Kim Viti Fiorentino Chancellor and General Counsel of the Archdiocese of Washington

The news that our Holy Father has accepted Cardinal Wuerl’s resignation as Archbishop of Washington fills me with both profound sadness and, at the same time, deep appreciation and admiration for the Cardinal’s abundant, sacrificial love for our archdiocese which he has tirelessly served for the past twelve years.

Cardinal Wuerl’s decision to ask the Holy Father to allow him to retire came after prayer and reflection, in view of the news we have all confronted. This includes the Archbishop McCarrick scandal, the Archbishop Viganò allegations and particularly the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report. This report targeted six dioceses in Pennsylvania and touched upon the Cardinal’s tenure as Bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988-2006 before he became our Archbishop. Unfortunately, the Cardinal’s pioneering leadership in the enhancement, implementation and enforcement of historically innovative and rigorous child protection policies was overshadowed by the report’s flaws and its interpretation by media.

Cardinal Wuerl reflected on the impact these realities have had upon the Archdiocese. As the Holy Father reflects in his letter, although he would have been justified to move forward with challenging many of the assertions that have been lodged against him, Cardinal Wuerl decided to forgo his personal interest out of love for the people entrusted to his care. He chose to take the step that would allow the Archdiocese of Washington to move beyond these difficulties and to focus, under new leadership, on healing, renewing and revitalizing our beautiful archdiocesan community, that is the Church of Washington.

We have been profoundly blessed to have this great priest as our archbishop and his final decision to act in favor of the people he loved and served for twelve years is the most eloquent witness to the integrity of his ministry and his legacy. I am truly thankful for his steadfast fidelity and his courageous and sacrificial commitment to the future of the Church in Washington.

Statement from Moderator of the Curia Archdiocese of Washington What is An Apostolic Administrator?

Today Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Donald Wuerl as Apostolic Administrator for the Archdiocese of Washington. In this capacity, he serves as the caretaker for the Archdiocese in this time of transition. The appointment of the retiring archbishop in this capacity has occurred before in the Archdiocese of Washington.

The Administrator’s role is to keep things working normally and to preserve things insofar as is possible until the new Archbishop takes over. As a caretaker, he does not make significant changes or decisions that might affect the incoming Archbishop. The principle involved is “sede vacante nihil innovetur,” or, “When the see is vacant, let there be no innovations.”

VATICAN INSIDER IN HAWAII: THE AUGUSTINE EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION

VATICAN INSIDER IN HAWAII: THE AUGUSTINE EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION

My guest for the interview segment this week is Sue Ferandin, the vibrant and wonderfully caring executive director in Hawaii of AEF – the Augustine Educational Foundation – a foundation whose mission is to make Catholic education more affordable for families in Hawaii.

Sue and I met during my recent visit to Honolulu when Bishop Larry Silva invited me to attend the September 13 AEF donor appreciation reception. She was a speaker at this event, as was the bishop. I was enthralled by her words and her mission. I told Sue I’d love to have her as a guest on Vatican Insider to speak about AEF and her work.

When we spoke in her office at the St. Stephen Diocesan Center on September 20, I told her I was still very, very touched by last week’s reception, in particular the young people whom I met who were recipients of AEF scholarships and aid. In fact, one of the young people, Brittany, also addressed the group at the reception, and her story brought tears to not a few eyes. You will hear Sue and I talk about that.

The students who receive AEF aid attend a retreat every year. This year one of their activities was to make a cross and to explain in writing what the colors they used meant, what went through their mind as they made the cross and what the cross tells people about themselves. These wonderful young people – whose lives have been changed by AEF and who themselves are changing lives – decided to give the proceeds of the cross sales to Make A Wish foundation in Hawaii.

I bought four of the crosses – one for me and three for very special destinations. Here are the stories of those crosses and the young people who made them:

To learn more about this amazing foundation, visit their web page: http://www.augustinefoundation.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)

VATICAN INSIDER GOES BEHIND THE SCENES: THE MAKING OF A PAPAL TRIP – CASTELGANDOLFO: FOR ST. JOHN PAUL IT WAS “VATICAN TWO” – CASTELGANDOLFO: HISTORY, BEAUTY, AND PEACE MAKE IT A HOME FOR POPES

I leave tomorrow to spend some vacation time in Illinois and California with family, especially nieces and nephews whom I’ve not seen in a while! Then I’m off to Hawaii for time with my ohana, the Hawaiian word for family – and family here encompasses just about everyone you know!

I also have a very special reason this year for being in Hawaii! I am an official member of the Diocesan Guild for the Cause of Canonization of Joseph Dutton! Joseph worked alongside St. Damien and St. Marianne on Molokai’s peninsula of Kalaupapa where thousands of victims of leprosy were exiled for decades and decades. Joseph was there for exactly half of his 88 years on earth. His was an amazing life and is an amazing story and hopefully I’ll find a bit of time, even while on vacation, to tell you about Joseph.

Fr. Damien told him one day, “You are like a brother to everyone here and that is what In will call you, Brother Joseph.” And that is how we refer to him – Brother Joseph Dutton!

Obviously I’m quite excited, as is anyone leaving on vacation, just knowing I will have some time to relax, no deadlines to meet, few alarm clocks, no set daily schedule. I admit it usually takes me a few days to remember that I don’t have a deadline for a TV spot or the radio programs I have each week or for posting a daily blog and adding news and photos to Facebook and Youtube. I do, however, hope to have some surprises from Hawaii.

My weekend radio show, Vatican Insider will not be on vacation, however. For this weekend I’ve prepared a special on the behind-the-scenes preparations of a papal trip. As you know, Pope Francis will be in Ireland this weekend for the World Meeting of Families. My great colleagues at EWTN Radio will be preparing “The Best Of” Vatican Insider for the weekends I am away.

In my absence I leave you with a special column and photos of Castelgandolfo, photos I took on a perfect July day a number of years ago when I had a lovely visit to the papal palace and gardens. I have posted this before but for some of you it may be the first time.

However, don’t forget to check in with me on FACEBOOK (https://www.facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420) and YOUTUBE (https://www.youtube.com/user/joansrome) as I will be posting photos and videos, and perhaps even some news. So stay tuned!

VATICAN INSIDER GOES BEHIND THE SCENES: THE MAKING OF A PAPAL TRIP

Learn what goes into the multi-layer preparations of an international papal trip – you’ll better understand Pope Francis’ trip this weekend to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families and all the behind-the-scenes work!

To listen to last weekend’s Special on VI – Inquiring Minds Want to Know – click here: https://soundcloud.com/ewtn-radio/vatican-insider-with-joan-lewis-special-inquiring-minds-part-ii

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)

CASTELGANDOLFO: FOR ST. JOHN PAUL IT WAS “VATICAN TWO”

For your special enjoyment I leave you today with a “Joan’s Rome” travelblogue©. We will visit the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo where Popes John Paul and Benedict vacationed for years but which now is fairly deserted as Pope Francis prefers staying at the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican, Much of the apostolic palace is now (sadly, as far as I am concerned!) a museum!

Castelgandolfo is a lovely town in a beautiful part of Italy, and I have had the incredible good fortune to have visited the papal palace on quite a number of occasions.

The first extended visit was a number of years ago when I was welcomed by the then director of papal villas, Saverio Petrillo, whose book on the papal palace I used to write this story, along with much information he gave me as we spent an afternoon strolling the grounds, the gardens and the pontifical farm!

On several other occasions I spent an entire day in the palace when it hosted the offices, library and classrooms of the papal observatory and offered summer courses in astronomy. Those offices have been transferred to a new location on the papal property but the telescopes are still in the palace – asd you will see in one photo.

I hope you enjoy this! Have a great summer, stay well and safe travels.

Above all, may God sit on your shoulder!|

CASTELGANDOLFO: HISTORY, BEAUTY, AND PEACE MAKE IT A HOME FOR POPES

Roman Pontiffs have spent summers here for centuries, enjoying stupendous panoramas and a climate that is far cooler than Rome’s, which can be quite torrid in July and August. Pope John Paul affectionately called it “Vatican Number Two.”

I am talking, of course, about the summer papal residence at Castelgandolfo that has a long and colorful history and possesses beauty to rival that of the apostolic palace and gardens in Rome.

Pope Benedict, shortly after his arrival one summer at the Pontifical Villa in Castelgandolfo, said; “Thank you, and good evening to you all, dear friends. I have arrived here to begin my holidays. Here I have everything: the mountain, the lake, … a beautiful church with a recently restored facade and good people. I am so happy to be here. Let us hope the Lord grants us a peaceful holiday. My heartfelt blessing to you all! May Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, bless you. Good evening and thank you.”

Castelgandolfo is one of a number of small towns located on beautiful sprawling hills that surround and overlook Lake Albano, about a half hour drive southeast of Rome. The lake, which fills an old volcanic crater, is 961 feet above sea level. Fed by underground sources and drained by an artificial outlet, said to have been built around 398 B.C., it is about two square miles (5 sq km) in size and has a maximum depth of 558 feet.

Located on what was once known as Alba Longa, a city in ancient Latium, reputedly the birthplace of Romulus and Remus, Castelgandolfo and the cluster of nearby towns are known as the Alban Hill towns. Romans also call these picturesque towns the “Castelli Romani” because of the fortified castles originally built on those hills by noble families, around which small towns grew and flourished. Each “castello” bore the name of the lord of the manor.

Castelgandolfo took its name from the Gandulfi family. Originally from Genoa, they built a small square fortress with crenelated walls, an inner courtyard, several towers and an adjacent garden on the hill where the town that bears their name stands today. The Savelli family later bought the property and owned it until 1596 when, because of a debt they could not pay to Pope Clement VIII (1592-1605), the land became patrimony of the Holy See, forming the nucleus of the papal residence that exists today.

In ensuing centuries, the property underwent many vicissitudes, including the purchase of additional lands, villas and gardens, and renovations and additions to the original palace. Some of the Roman Pontiffs who left their mark on the papal property include Urban VIII (1623-1644), Alexander VII (1655-1667) Clement XI (1700-1721, who bestowed the title “Pontifical Villa” on the property), Benedict XIV (1740), Clement XIII (1758-1769) and Clement XIV (1769-1774).

In 1623 Cardinal Maffeo Barberini was elected Pope, choosing the name Urban VIII (1623-1644). Even before his election he had spent vacations in Castelgandolfo and had even built a small home near the walls of the original castle/fortress. Once he became Pope he decided to make this spot his summer residence, readapting and enlargening the old fortress.

One of those who assisted him in this work was the illustrious Carlo Maderno who, in 1603, after completing the facade of Santa Susanna’s Church in Rome, was named as principal architect of the new St. Peter’s Basilica. Maderno designed both a large wing that overlooked Lake Albano, as well as the left part of the facade as seen today from Castelgandolfo’s main square. A modest garden was also planted at this time.

Pope Urban VIII moved into the Castelgandolfo residence on May 10, 1626, just six months before the completion of St. Peter’s Basilica, following 120 years of work. In 1627, the Pope’s nephew, Taddeo Barberini, acquired land and vineyards near the papal residence. Four years later he acquired yet more land and buildings and the entire complex became known as Villa Barberini. Today this is all an integral part of the pontifical property in Castelgandolfo.

 

Pope Alexander VII (1655-1667) completed the work begun by Urban VIII, including the long gallery which bears his name, with the assistance of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, noted painter, architect and sculptor. Bernini also designed part of the gardens of the papal residence and they can still be seen today.

Bernini is best remembered for having designed the splendid colonnade of 284 pillars which embraces St. Peter’s Square, one of the fountains in the square, the basilica’s Altar of the Cathedra, the tabernacle in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and the baldachin over the central papal altar. Alexander VII also asked Bernini to design the town’s parish church, which was named after St. Thomas Villanova.

The 19th century saw the unification of Italy, which greatly affected papal holdings, principally the vast Papal States. The Papal States, in fact, under Pope Pius IX were incorporated into the new Italy when the peninsula was unified in 1870. By the by, Pius IX’s 32-year pontificate from 1846 to 1878 was the second longest in history, following that of St. Peter). From the loss of the Papal States to the Lateran Pact between Italy and the Holy See on February 11, 1929, under Pius XI, no Pope ever left Vatican City for a holiday in Castelgandolfo.

 

With the Lateran Treaty, Villa Barberini now belonged to the Holy See and officially became part of the papal residence complex in Castelgandolfo. Pius XI helped to restore the buildings and land which had been unused for so many years. He even bought several orchards in order to set up a small farm, not only to produce goods for consumption in the Vatican but to underscore the importance of agriculture.

This last acquisition brought the total acreage of the papal property in Castelgandolfo to 136 acres (55 hectares). Vatican City State is 109 acres (44 hectares). In Castelgandolfo, more of the total acreage is dedicated to the farm (62 acres, or 25 hectares) and to gardens than it is to buildings.

 

The real work of restoration at Castelgandolfo under Pope Pius XI began in 1931. In 1933 the Vatican Observatory, run by the Jesuits, was moved from Vatican City in Rome to Castelgandolfo, because the city lights were too bright for astronomers. Still today, the director of the observatory has an apartment in the palace at Castelgandolfo.

Pius XI also built a new chapel in which he placed a replica of Poland’s Black Madonna of Czestochowa. Between 1918 and 1921, he had been, respectively, apostolic visitator and then nuncio in Poland, and had a predilection for the Black Madonna. This chapel has remained unchanged since his day. The Pope’s first summer visit was in 1934.

His successor, Pope Pius XII, especially loved Castelgandolfo and spent a great deal of time at this residence, except for the years of World War II. However, during some of the worst moments of the war, Pius allowed the inhabitants of Castelgandolfo and nearby towns to take refuge on the papal property, given that it enjoyed the status of extraterritoriality. After the landing at Anzio in 1944, the citizens of Castelgandolfo were allowed to stay at the papal palace whereas those from other towns were allowed sanctuary in the Villa Barberini property. Pius XII’s first postwar visit to the lakeside villa was in 1946. He returned often after that and died there on October 9, 1958.

Pope John XXIII (1958-1963) also enjoyed sojourns at Castelgandolfo. He started two traditions here as pontiff: praying the Angelus with the faithful on Sundays in the inner courtyard, and celebrating Mass in the parish church of St. Thomas Villanova on the August 15 feast of the Assumption.

 

Paul VI inaugurated papal trips by helicopter from Castelgandolfo. Continuous use of a helicopter for short papal trips began during the Holy Year of 1975 when Paul VI would return to Rome for the weekly general audiences. He died here on August 6, 1978.

 

John Paul II, then Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Krakow, Poland, spent several hours here on October 8, 1978. He returned 17 days later as Pope, having been elected on October 16. He spent most of every summer here, and often came for several days after an especially long and arduous foreign trip.

Benedict XVI, as we saw, also enjoyed the beauty, peace and subdued rhythm of summer life at Castelgandolfo, and came here every summer for a couple of months after his election to the papacy in April 2005. He lived here for two months after he resigned and left the Vatican on February 28, 2013.

I earlier mentioned one part of the pontifical property that is called Villa Barberini. Here we find many buildings, including the home of the director of pontifical villas and apartments used by the cardinal secretary of state and by the prefect of the papal household in the summer. The formal gardens, a 62-acre farm, and the remains of Emperor Domitian’s (81-96) palatial 14 square kilometer home are all also part of Villa Barberini.

Dr. Petrillo, former director of the pontifical villas at Castelgandolfo, began to serve the Holy See in June 1958, and was named Director of the pontifical villas in 1986. He authored a book entitled “The Popes at Castelgandolfo,” from which I took much of the information you are reading here. Saverio was an excellent, knowledgeable and discreet guide to the papal property and residences the day we first met.

Dr. Petrillo began his work in Castelgandolfo at the age of 18 when he was asked to take the place of a Vatican employee who was ill. In the ensuing years he familiarized himself not only with the physical property – the farm, gardens and buildings – but with the multi-century history of the villas as well. His office, as well as other administrative offices, was located in one of the buildings of the Villa Barberini part of the pontifical property, and offered splendid views of the Castelli Romani and, in the distance, Rome and the Mediterranean.

Separate from Villa Barberini, but only a short distance away, are the Apostolic Palace and other gardens. The palace – the building overlooking the lake – is where the Pope resides and where the faithful can join him in the courtyard on Sundays for the noon angelus. At Castelgandolfo, Dr. Petrillo told me on my first visit, the Holy Father has the same basic rooms that he has in Rome – a study, private chapel, dining room and library. The rooms, as is the entire palace complex, are on a smaller, more intimate and homey scale. “Everything here,” he said, “is very intimate, warm and family-like. Even the pace of life is slower, more suited to man.”

On our tour of the farm, Saverio Petrillo pointed out that it produces eggs, milk (there are 25 cows) and yogurt on a daily basis: these are brought early in the morning to the apostolic palaces in both Castelgandolfo and Rome and are sold as well in the Vatican City supermarket under the name “Ville Pontificie di Castelgandolfo” – Pontifical Villas of Castelgandolfo. Olive oil is also produced, but in very small quantities. Once Vatican City even had its own bakery!

He told me some 60 people work year round on the papal properties in Castelgandolfo, including gardeners, tree trimmers, those who work at the farm, electricians, other maintenance people, etc. Only 20 people permanently reside in buildings on the property.

The heliport, which is not far from the farm, was first used by Paul VI in 1963 when he visited the cathedral at Orvieto. Continuous use of a helicopter for short papal trips began during the Holy Year of 1975 when Paul VI would return to Rome for the weekly general audiences.

Pope John Paul II, a very athletic pontiff, asked that a swimming pool be installed at Castelgandolfo to be used for health reasons. Although I did not see the 60-foot long pool on my tour of the papal villa and gardens, Dr. Petrillo told the story that when the Pope heard that some people objected to the cost of a pool, he humorously said: “A conclave would cost a lot more.” This was John Paul’s explanation about how effective physical exercise was in helping him bear the strains of a tiring pontificate.

The beautifully maintained and manicured formal gardens of Villa Barberini have been used by Popes through the centuries for long walks and moments of prayer. The flowers, bushes and trees – of many varieties, and trimmed to perfection in geometrical shapes – provide beauty, seclusion and tranquility. Covering many acres, the stunning formal gardens also provide lovely vistas of the Roman countryside. There are statues, fountains, and a labyrinth of walkways and roads, one of which dates to Roman times and is paved exactly like the Old Appian Way.

One olive tree in the gardens has a special story: Just an olive branch at the time, it was given by King Hussein of Jordan to Pope Paul VI during his trip to Jerusalem in 1964. The late king’s son and heir, now King Abdullah, was able to visit the gardens and saw the fully-grown tree.

Ruins of Emperor Domitian’s villa can be found everywhere and occasionally one will see a niche with a statue from the villa.

The Emperor Domitian, who ruled from 81 to 96, had built a 14-square kilometer villa on this site. Constructed on three levels, the top was for the servants, the middle was for the imperial family and their guests and the bottom was the crypto-portico, which is in near perfect condition nearly two thousand years later.

The crypto-portico, reached now by a staircase built into the gardens, was constructed to provide the emperor and his guests with a cool place to walk, talk, and sit to escape from the summer heat of Rome. Enormous in size, it resembles a tunnel – with one end open and the other closed. The closed end has a raised stage-like level, accessible by a staircase: today there is a large cross here. The ceiling is curved and, on the western wall, there are windows at the top level. These were once covered with alabaster to let in the late afternoon, setting sunlight – but not the heat.

Also at Villa Barberini is the Antiquarium, a museum that houses a small but prized collection of artifacts from Domitian’s villa which were discovered over the past century. Only restricted numbers of scholars are allowed to visit the Antiquarium which includes busts, statues, columns, portals, and tables made of marble and various stones, to mention but a few objects.

A WEEKEND TO PAUSE AND PRAY – VATICAN INSIDER: INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW

A WEEKEND TO PAUSE AND PRAY

There has been so much sadness and anger and disappointment over the Pennsylvania Report on clerical sex abuse in the United States and reports and allegations of cover up that I think we’ve had our fill of bad news, at least for a day, perhaps for a weekend. I have no doubt that what we’ve read and heard is the proverbial tip of the iceberg and we’ll be flooded with more bad news in days and weeks to come, perhaps even longer.

I am sure you are pondering what you’ve heard and read this week. So am I.

Therefore, for the moment at least, for this weekend, I don’t want to further burden your mind or heart or soul with additional news on this subject. I’ve already posted a fair amount.

I hope and pray you will have a wonderful, relaxing, relatively carefree weekend with your family or a group of good friends.

I pray you go to Church with a new will to talk to the Lord, to His Mother, to ask for help for a badly wounded Church, for her faithful who are hurting like never before.

I pray the Eucharist will be an enormous help to you, that it will give you strength to see you through these hours and days and weeks. I pray it will help you pray for and support all of the Good Shepherds we know who have been such a huge and positive part of our lives. They too are hurting enormously.

I pray above all that any anger or disappointment or bitterness does not extend to the Church. The Church is the Bride of Christ. If her members are weak, the Church is strong and, as the Lord said, to Peter: “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.”

Interestingly enough, those words are in the Gospel of Matthew (16,13-17) for the February 22 Feast of the Chair of Peter. And here are the words of the Reading for that feast from 1 Peter 5. 1-4:
Beloved:
I exhort the presbyters among you,
as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ
and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed.
Tend the flock of God in your midst,
overseeing not by constraint but willingly,
as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly.
Do not lord it over those assigned to you,
but be examples to the flock.
And when the chief Shepherd is revealed,
you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

VATICAN INSIDER: INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW

This week I think I have a fun offering for you in what is normally the interview segment of Vatican Insider.

I call it “Inquiring Minds Want to Know,” not an original title but so named because I’m going to bring you some trivia, that is, some little known, and often unusual facts about the Vatican – some fun stories about the 7 hills of Rome, the papal coat of arms, the Paschal candle, Vatican City State, the Bridge of Angels, and the Vatican mosaic studio.

My previous such column was the weekend of July 22 when I wrote about the names of the 6 bells in the St. Peter’s Basilica bell tower, the story of the Vatican flag, the bronze mosaics on the basilica floor, the Teutonic cemetery in the Vatican and the mosaic of Mary on the outside of the Apostolic Palace that overlooks St. Peter’s Square.

So stay tuned for this after the news segment! Maybe I’ll even quiz you!

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)