As you are about to read, Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, presented Pope Francis’ Message for the 55th World Day of Peace at a press conference today in the Vatican. That conference was carried on the Vaticannews website and Youtube page.

Starting December 17, rumors circulated that Cardinal Turkson had offered his resignation to Pope Francis. No confirmation was forthcoming from either the Vatican or the dicastery.

It was the Ghanaian cardinal himself who cleared things up in a December 19 tweet: In Vatican mandates of Office-Heads expire at death/resignation of Pope or expiry of 5yr term of office. One surrenders mandate for Pope/new Pope to renew/extend mandate or reassign. Turkson surrendered in 2013 Francis renewed 5yr mandate in 2016. Now must await new action of Pope!

According to the press office’s daily list of audiences, Cardinal Turkson was received by Pope Francis yesterday, December 20.

In the Q&A segment that followed the presentation of the papal Peace Day message this morning, it was expected that the first question asked of the cardinal would be about his rumoured resignation.

And it was.

Asked if he would be around in 2022 to present the papal peace message, he basically reiterated what he tweeted: that his term was about to end and it was up to the Pope to accept – or not – his resignation.

Cardinal Turkson did specify that other mandates of his had been renewed: “During the year, I received letters renewing my mandate from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for Catholic education, for Christian unity, and for Propaganda Fide (the congregation for evangelization).”

The cardinal did not comment on nor was he asked about his audience yesterday with Pope Francis.

He said today he was simply awaiting Pope Francis’ decision.   He is known to be one of the Holy Father’s most trusted advisors, in particular because of the role he and his staff play in the section of his dicastery dedicated to migrants and refugees.


Several Vatican officials presented Pope Francis’ message for the upcoming World Day of Peace, and recalled that peace is the work of every person and that it must be rooted in human dignity and justice.

By Devin Watkins

The Holy See Press Office hosted a press conference on Tuesday to coincide with the release of Pope Francis’ message for the 55th World Day of Peace, marked annually on January 1.

The Pope’s message is title: “Dialogue Between Generations, Education and Work: Tools for Building Lasting Peace.” (Intergenerational dialogue, education and work at heart of Pope’s Peace Day message – Vatican News)

Three Vatican officials presented the message at the Press Office, along with an activist for migrant worker’s rights in Italy.

Yearning for peace in creativity

Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, was the first to present his thoughts on Pope Francis’ message. He offered a reflection on the Biblical roots of the message that begins with the prophet Isaiah: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace” (Is 52:7).

The cardinal said humanity – in the footsteps of ancient Israel – yearns for peace, especially in moments of societal upheaval and political disaster, adding that our world today mirrors several aspects of life for Israel during the exile. These include the lack of moral or ethical fiber and the political will to commit to life-saving measures in the face of the pandemic and climate change, as well as a short-term focus on profits at the expense of long-term stability.

Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of Peace, said Cardinal Turkson, highlights the need for every person to play a creative role in the project for peace, building the “architecture” of peace.

Peace, he added, is both a gift of God and the fruit of a culture of dialogue and encounter.

Young people engaged in climate crisis

Sr. Alessandra Smerilli, interim secretary of the Dicastery for Human Development, also offered her reflections on how the Church speaks with the prophet Isaiah in favor of peace.

She gave voice to the “cry of the earth and of the poor” that laments the war which the current economic system has declared on the environment.

Young people, she added, are the intended recipients of the Pope’s message, since they – more than other generations – long to carry through on promises to tackle the issue of climate change.

An intergenerational alliance is needed so that young people and adults can team up to push back against environmental destruction, said Sr. Smerilli.

Work also plays an important role in promoting peace through human dignity and justice. “Work is much more than a means for earning a living: it is an expression of our identity and dignity, of our social and relational vocation, and of our caring and tilling the earth, with God and with others,” she said.

Earth crying out for peace

Fr. Fabio Baggio, under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section, focused his remarks on the ecological aspect of Pope Francis’ Peace Day message.

He said the world is more interconnected than ever before, a fact that has both positive and negative consequences as seen in climate change and the pandemic.

The survival of our common home, he added, rests on peace among the human family, so that we can face our challenges together.

Fr. Baggio highlighted the three tools that the Pope offered to achieve the goal of dialogue and peace: sincere communication, education, and work.

These three, he said, “are not the only tools to build a lasting peace, but they undoubtedly represent an excellent toolkit for the journey which awaits us.”

Discovering the spiritual roots of peace

Dr. Aboubakar Soumahoro, an Ivorian-born labor activist, president of the Farmworkers League, and spokesman for Invisibles in Motion, joined the three Vatican officials to offer a unique perspective on Pope Francis’ message.

Peace, he told reporters, is a crucial value in our world that “languishes in evil” and has pulled a blanket of blindness over the minds of our contemporaries.

The world needs a “spiritual revolution” in order to rebuild the sense of belonging which humanity has lost.

“The peace that we need,” said Dr. Soumahoro, “is not that which the world gives, but the perfect peace that can give repose to our souls and spirits, as well as courage and strength to overcome every challenge.”


As a result of the recent visit of Pope Francis to Cyprus, the government of Cyprus is donating vaccines for the Covid-19 pandemic in two African countries, Mozambique and the Central African Republic, in collaboration with the DREAM program of the Sant’Egidio Community, which has been active for years for the treatment and prevention of AIDS in Africa.

News sites reporting the decision of both Cyprus and Sant’Egidio, said the decision was taken following the historic visit of Pope Francis, his expressions of solidarity with refugees and migrants and his strong appeal in favor of refugees on the island, who come largely from the African continent, all of which caused a favorable response by the Cypriot people.



Pope Francis’ Message for the 53rd World Day of Peace describes peace as a journey of hope to be undertaken in a spirit of dialogue, reconciliation and ecological conversion.

By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)
The 53rd World Day of Peace will be observed on 1 January 2020.

Pope Francis’ Message, published on 12 December, is entitled “Peace as a journey of hope: dialogue, reconciliation and ecological conversion”.

The Pope begins by saying that hope puts us on the path to peace, while “mistrust and fear weaken relationships and increase the risk of violence.” He urges us to be artisans of peace, open to dialogue in a spirit of reconciliation, on a journey of ecological conversion that leads to a “new way of looking at life.”

Hope keeps us moving forward
Describing peace as “a great and precious value, the object of our hope and the aspiration of the entire human family”, Pope Francis says it is a goal towards which to strive in spite of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

He recalls the scars of war and conflict borne in “the memory and in the flesh” of humanity, and says they “affect especially the poor and the vulnerable,” perpetrating humiliation and exclusion, sorrow and injustice.

Fraternity, an innate vocation of humanity
“Entire nations – the Message reads – find it difficult to break free of the chains of exploitation and corruption that fuel hatred and violence. Even today, dignity, physical integrity, freedom, including religious freedom, communal solidarity and hope in the future are denied to great numbers of men and women, young and old.”

“Every war,” the Pope says, “is a form of fratricide that destroys the human family’s innate vocation to brotherhood.”

Peace and stability incompatible with fear of the other
War, the Pope notes, “often begins with the inability to accept the diversity of others, which then fosters attitudes of aggrandizement and domination born of selfishness and pride, hatred and the desire to caricature, exclude and even destroy the other”.

Referring to his recent visit to Japan and his call for the elimination of nuclear weapons, Pope Francis emphasizes that, “peace and international stability are incompatible with attempts to build upon the fear of mutual destruction or the threat of total annihilation.”

They can be achieved, he says, only on the basis of a global ethic of solidarity and cooperation.

Fraternity generates dialogue and trust
A part of the Message is dedicated to the issue of mistrust and fear that, the Pope says “weaken relationships and increase the risk of violence, creating a vicious circle that can never lead to a relationship of peace.”

“Even nuclear deterrence can only produce the illusion of security,” he says.
The only way to break down the current dynamic of distrust, the Pope continues, is by pursuing “a genuine fraternity based on our common origin from God and exercised in dialogue and mutual trust.”

The desire for peace, he reiterates, “lies deep within the human heart, and we should not resign ourselves to seeking anything less than this.”

The memory of the past for a future of peace
Pope Francis describes memory as the horizon of hope: “Many times, in the darkness of wars and conflicts, the remembrance of even a small gesture of solidarity received can lead to courageous and even heroic decisions. It can unleash new energies and kindle new hope in individuals and communities.”

Recalling his moving meeting with the Hibakusha, the survivors of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who still bear witness to the horror of the past in order to ensure and build a more fair and fraternal future, the Pope describes memory as “the fruit of experience, to serve as the basis and inspiration for present and future decisions to promote peace.”

The challenge of overcoming personal and political interests
“Setting out on a journey of peace,” Pope Francis says, “is a challenge made all the more complex because the interests at stake in relationships between people, communities and nations, are numerous and conflicting”.

Hence he appeals to “people’s moral conscience and to personal and political will,” because “peace emerges from the depths of the human heart and political will must always be renewed, so that new ways can be found to reconcile and unite individuals and communities.”

Artisans of peace
In the final part of the Message Pope Francis reminds us that peace is something that must be built up continually, and that it is a journey to be made together in constant pursuit of the common good.

“The world does not need empty words but convinced witnesses, peacemakers who are open to a dialogue that rejects exclusion or manipulation,” he says.

In fact, he elaborates, “we cannot truly achieve peace without a convinced dialogue between men and women who seek the truth beyond ideologies and differing opinions,” to the point even of “seeing in an enemy the face of a brother or sister.”

The peace process, he explains, requires patience, commitment and creativity. It must be built, step by step, opening the way to a shared hope that is stronger than the desire for vengeance.

Recognizing each other as brothers and sisters
Pope Francis goes on to urge all men and women of goodwill to “renounce the desire to dominate others” and exhorts us to learn to look at each other “as persons, sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters”.

Only by choosing the path of respect, he says, “can we break the spiral of vengeance and set out on the journey of hope”.

Learning “to live in forgiveness, we grow in our capacity to become men and women of peace,” he says, noting that true peace can only be obtained through a more just economic system, ” marked by quotas of gratuitousness and communion “.

Ecological conversion: a new way of looking at life
Recalling his Encyclical Letter, “Laudato sì,” the Pope invokes an ecological conversion as a constructive and just response to “the consequences of our hostility towards others, our lack of respect for our common home or our abusive exploitation of natural resources – seen only as a source of immediate profit, regardless of local communities, the common good and nature itself.”

He says the journey undertaken by the recent Synod on the Amazon moves us to commit to the renewal of “a peaceful relationship between communities and the land, between present and past, between experience and hope.”

The Pope describes it as “a journey made of listening and contemplation of the world that God has given us as a gift to make our common home.”

“The ecological conversion for which we are appealing will lead us to a new way of looking at life, as we consider the generosity of the Creator who has given us the earth and called us to a share it in joy and moderation,” he writes. The Pope notes that for Christians, it requires that “the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them.”

We obtain all that we hope for
In the last chapter of his Message, the Pope says “The journey of reconciliation calls for patience and trust. Peace will not be obtained unless it is hoped for.”

He stresses that it is necessary to believe in the possibility of peace, inspired by God’s love for each one of us, that is “liberating, limitless, gratuitous and tireless.”

His invitation is to overcome fears that are at the roots of conflict, to promote a culture of encounter, to give life to universal fraternity, as we tread a Christian path sustained by the sacrament of Reconciliation, which “requires us to set aside every act of violence in thought, word and deed, whether against our neighbours or against God’s creation.”

“The grace of God our Father,” Pope Francis concludes, “is bestowed as unconditional love. Having received His forgiveness in Christ, we can set out to offer that peace to the men and women of our time. Day by day, the Holy Spirit prompts in us ways of thinking and speaking that can make us artisans of justice and peace.”



Today the Vatican released the papal message for the 52nd World Day of Peace on the theme “Good politics is at the service of peace.” This world day takes place every year on January 1, Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

In his message, Francis begins by stating “Peace be to this house!”

“In sending his disciples forth on mission, Jesus told them: ‘Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you’,

“Bringing peace is central to the mission of Christ’s disciples. That peace is offered to all those men and women who long for peace amid the tragedies and violence that mark human history. The “house” of which Jesus speaks is every family, community, country and continent, in all their diversity and history. It is first and foremost each individual person, without distinction or discrimination. But it is also our “common home”: the world in which God has placed us and which we are called to care for and cultivate.”

Francis reflects on the role of “good politics at the service of peace,” saying those who hold political office must exercise their office in service to others, basing their work on the foundation of charity and human virtues.

At the same time, Pope Francis warns of the vices that can afflict politics, including corruption, xenophobia, racism, lack of concern for the environment, and contempt for exiles. “ The Pope encourages politicians to “foster the talents of young people and their aspirations” in order to promote peace, noting that “Everyone can contribute his or her stone to help build the common home.”

The Holy Father repudiates a politics of intimidation and fear, and denounces “the uncontrolled proliferation of arms.” Peace, he insists, is based on respect for each person… respect for the law and the common good, on respect for the environment” as well as “the moral tradition inherited from past generations.”

In conclusion, Pope Francis says that peace “is the fruit of a great political project grounded in the mutual responsibility and interdependence of human beings.” But, he says, “it is also a challenge that demands to be taken up ever anew” – a challenge that “entails a conversion of heart and soul.”

Read the message here:


The Vatican Tuesday released a note about the February 2019 meeting for the protection of minors that will bring together heads of the world’s Episcopal conferences. Holy See Press Office Director Greg Burke underscored the importance of the note, saying: “The organizers are urging participants to meet with victim survivors in their own countries before coming in February. This is a concrete way of putting victims first, and acknowledging the horror of what happened. The meeting on the protection of minors will focus on three main themes: responsibility, accountability and transparency.”

The Note read:

“The organizing committee for the meeting for the protection of minors in the Church, to be held in the Vatican from 21 to 24 February, 2019, has made steady progress in preparations for the gathering. A letter sent today regarding those preparations exhorts all participants to follow the example of Pope Francis and meet in person with victim survivors before the Rome summit.

The first step must be acknowledging the truth of what has happened,” the letter says. “For this reason, we urge each episcopal conference president to reach out and visit with victim survivors of clergy sex abuse in your respective countries prior to the meeting in Rome, to learn first-hand the suffering that they have endured.” Such personal encounters are a concrete way of ensuring that victim survivors of clerical abuse are first and foremost in the minds of all at the February gathering as they come together “in solidarity, humility, and penitence” to move forward in addressing the abuse crisis.

In addition, the letter includes a brief request for information to be used for internal preparation for the meeting. The meeting will focus on three main themes of responsibility, accountability, and transparency as participants work together to respond to this grave challenge.”

JFL: Pope Francis himself has met with abuse victims. He met a group in Dublin, following the World Meeting of Families in August. During the in-flight press conference on the way back to Rome, the Pope said he had felt it was important to “listen” to those involved and, as a result, to be able to “ask for forgiveness” at the public Mass. Earlier this year, in January, at the nunciature of Santiago de Chile, Pope Francis met another group. On that occasion he both prayed and cried with them. In April and again in June, he received several people who had suffered abuse as minors in Chile, at the Casa Santa Marta, where he lives. A note from the Vatican Press Office confirmed that those present were encouraged to speak for as long as they felt necessary. There are meetings that are made public, and others that are not. (vaticannews)





Today is, of course, Election Day in the United States. I voted by absentee ballot several weeks ago and friends from San Diego who were visiting Rome took my ballot and mailed it in San Diego! It is such an honor and privilege to vote and I’d not miss this for anything. I have been praying for weeks, and more than ever today, that certain moral issues dominate voters’ thinking processes and, as a result, their choice, in particular prolife and freedom of religion.

The material I got from California for the election – all the choices I could make for candidates for various offices and all the referendum on the ballot – required quite some time to study. I always want to vote intelligently and that does require time – a lot of it – before Election Day. Hopefully voting is a cerebral, not a visceral, process!

My hope and prayer is that when individuals walk into the voting booth, they have calmly studied the people and issues and then cast a thoughtful and intelligent vote for their future and that of the nation.

There is no patron saint of elections, although the story has circulated that St. Chad – yes, there is a real St. Chad of Lichfield, England – was the patron of the disputed 2000 U.S. elections (remember the “hanging chad” on ballots!). He died March 2, 672.


There is, however a beloved patron saint for civil servants and politicians – St. Thomas More. The movie about his life, “A Man for All Seasons,” should be shown every election cycle.

I also read a sermon by an Anglican pastor who proposed that the patron saints for electors should be Barsabbas and Matthias. When Judas, one of the Twelve Apostles, betrayed Our Lord and killed himself, the Apostles gathered to choose a new 12th Apostle: Acts 1:23, 26: They proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, and Matthias. Then they prayed, and they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was added to the eleven apostles.”



Pope Francis on Tuesday released a video message accompanying his prayer intention for November 2018, “In the Service of Peace.”

In that intention, Pope Francis says: We all want peace. It is desired above all by those who suffer its absence. We can speak with splendid words, but if there is no peace in our heart, there will be no peace in the world. With zero violence and 100 percent tenderness, let us build the evangelical peace that excludes no one. Let us pray together that the language of love and dialogue may always prevail over the language of conflict.

The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network of the Apostleship of Prayer developed “The Pope Video” initiative to assist in the worldwide dissemination of monthly intentions of the Holy Father in relation to the challenges facing humanity.

It has become the custom of Pope Francis to release a video message detailing his prayer intention for each month:


The theme of Pope Francis’ Message for the 52nd World Day of Peace, to be celebrated on January 1, 2019, was published today by the Holy See Press Office, “Politics must be at the service of peace.”

The press office statement said, “Political responsibility belongs to every citizen, and in particular to those who have been given the mandate to protect and govern.”

The note also pointed out that, “this mission consists in safeguarding the law and encouraging dialogue between all actors of society, between generations, and between cultures.” The first condition for trust is respect for the given word. It noted that, “political commitment – which is one of the highest expressions of charity – implies concern for the future of life and of the planet, of the youngest and of the smallest, in their thirst for fulfilment.”



As I write, Pope Francis is celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for today’s feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. There is a sizeable group of Mexicans present who had arrived Rome earlier in the week, many of whom appeared several days ago in colorful costumes in St. Peter’s Square. (images: Vatican Radio – St. Peter’s Basilica)



The basilica honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City is the most visited Catholic shrine in the world. This image has always been very dear to Pope Francis who, on February 13 of this year, during his trip to Mexico, fulfilled his desire to pray before the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. After Mass at the shrine, the Pope went to the little room behind the main altar of the basilica dedicated to Mary where he was able to meditate and pray in front of the miraculous mantle. The image normally faces the congregation but can be turned around to allow a closer and more private moment of veneration.



Pope Francis’ Message for the January 1 celebration of World Day of Peace was released today by the Vatican. In this, the 50th Message for this annual day, Pope Francis calls for a renewed culture of nonviolence to inform global politics today, noting that military responses to conflicts only breed more violence.

He notes early on that, in the first such Message Blessed Pope Paul VI addressed all peoples, not simply Catholics, with utter clarity:  “Peace is the only true direction of human progress – and not the tensions caused by ambitious nationalisms, nor conquests by violence, nor repressions which serve as mainstay for a false civil order.”

Francis calls on political and religious leaders, the heads of international institutions, business and media executives and all men and women of goodwill to become instruments of reconciliation and adopt nonviolence as a style of politics for peace. He states several times that violence is clearly “not the cure for our broken world.”

“On this occasion,”says the Holy Father, “I would like to reflect on nonviolence as a style of politics for peace.  I ask God to help all of us to cultivate nonviolence in our most personal thoughts and values.  May charity and nonviolence govern how we treat each other as individuals, within society and in international life.  When victims of violence are able to resist the temptation to retaliate, they become the most credible promotors of nonviolent peacemaking.  In the most local and ordinary situations and in the international order, may nonviolence become the hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, and indeed of political life in all its forms.”

Violence leads to forced migrations and enormous suffering , devastation of the environment, terrorism and organized crime. It leads to retaliation and a deadly cycle that end up benefiting only a few warlords.

But, Pope Francis said, Christ’s message offers a radically positive approach. He himself walked the path of nonviolence and became an instrument of reconciliation.

And citing historical figures like Mother Teresa, Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King as models of nonviolent peacemakers, the Pope said nonviolence is more powerful than violence and it  has produced impressive results.

He recalled the contribution of Christian communities in the fall of Communist regimes pointing out that peaceful political transitions were made using only the weapons of truth and justice. And he remarked that such efforts are not the legacy of the Catholic Church alone but are typical of many religious traditions.

“The Church has been involved in nonviolent peacebuilding strategies in many countries, engaging even the most violent parties in efforts to build a just and lasting peace.

Such efforts on behalf of the victims of injustice and violence are not the legacy of the Catholic Church alone, but are typical of many religious traditions, for which “compassion and nonviolence are essential elements pointing to the way of life”.   I emphatically reaffirm that “no religion is terrorist”. Violence profanes the name of God.   Let us never tire of repeating: “The name of God cannot be used to justify violence.  Peace alone is holy.  Peace alone is holy, not war!”

Emphasizing also the domestic roots of a politics of nonviolence, Pope Francis said that while he pleads for disarmament and the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons, with equal urgency he pleads for an end to domestic violence and to the abuse of women and children.

“My invitation to  political, religious and economic leaders is to take up the challenge of building up society, communities and businesses by acting as peacemakers, to choose solidarity as a way of making history.”

In a world in which everything is connected, he said, active nonviolence is a way of showing that unity is more powerful and more fruitful than conflict, and that differences can be faced constructively and non-violently preserving “what is valid and useful on both sides”.

“All of us want peace,” Francis concludes: “In 2017, may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds: (…) Everyone can be an artisan of peace,”

Click here for the complete message:


(CNA/EWTN News) – Pope Francis has officially recognized the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal as a religious institute of pontifical right, the order has announced.

Institutions of pontifical right depend immediately and exclusively on the Vatican in the matters of internal governance and discipline. It is the highest form of recognition for a religious community and is granted to institutes that show steady growth over a period of approximately 20-25 years.

The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, sometimes referred to as the CFRs, were founded in 1987 in the Archdiocese of New York by a group of eight American Capuchins who desired a form of Franciscan life dedicated specifically to service of the poor and evangelization.

The group was established as a diocesan institute by Cardinal John O’Connor in 1999.

Today, the order has about 100 perpetually professed members in 10 dioceses and archdioceses in six countries throughout the world. Besides the United States, the friars are located in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Nicaragua and Honduras.

Father Benedict Groeschel was one of the founding members of the CFRs. During his life as a friar, he founded the St. Francis House for the homeless and Good Counsel Homes for pregnant women in crisis in New York. He also directed Trinity Retreat House in Larchmont, New York, and taught at the Dunwoodie seminary.

In addition, he became known as an author and preacher. For more than 25 years, he appeared on EWTN, hosting Sunday Night: Live With Father Benedict Groeschel, among other programs. He passed away in October 2014 at the age of 81.

The friars are dedicated to their mission of serving the poor and most vulnerable, as well as preaching the Gospel as part of the New Evangelization.

Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, a founding member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, has been teaching and preaching retreats and parish missions for several decades. He is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on the apparitions at Fatima. In additio to being the vice-postulator for the cause for the canonization of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, he hosts Sunday Night Prime on EWTN.


There are so many stories I wanted to post today but I want to focus on what we most need in our world – what people around the world are seeking every day they draw breath – and that peace. And Pope Francis today gave us a tool in the search for peace – his 2016 World Day of Peace Message. That day is celebrated every year on January 1.

Below is a summary of the papal message and a link to the complete, 4,500-word document.

Before I bring you the peace message, I want to tell you about St. Peter’s Square. I was crossing the square last night about 5:30, the first time I had been there since the inauguration of the Holy Year. The route that pilgrims follow from Castel Sant’Angelo to and through the square and then the Holy Door of St. Peter’s (after having reserved a day and time online or at Via della Conciliazione, 7), is clearly marked by a metal, fence-like structure. Along the route there are Jubilee volunteers who wear yellow vests.

When coming home from the north side of the square, I generally go through the right hand colonnade and cross the square in an area where chairs are often set up for general audiences. However, I observed three things yesterday.

  1. You can’t access the square through the right hand colonnade – this is where the security machines are for pilgrims going to the Holy Door. This arrangement will surely last the entire Holy Year. Access to St. Peter’s Square is through the left hand colonnade or through only one opening on the Pius XII side of the square.
  2. There were few pilgrims last night at that hour who wanted to go through the Holy Door, so volunteers let people enter the area to start the security check without reservations. (If you are in Rome now, this might work as the crowds are not great at that hour)
  3. The north side of Pius XII Square – Pza. Pio XII – is where taxis have parked for years – a very handy site for people leaving their offices, tourists who need a taxi, etc. A policeman told me the taxi stand is now at the far end of Via della Conciliazione, near Castel Sant’Angelo.

Another piece of news that I will look at more in depth tomorrow. The Vatican warned us about them and, sure enough, they have come in droves to the Jubilee – counterfeiters! The Italian equivalent of treasury police have closed down vendors and are prosecuting store owners who are selling fake Jubilee rosaries, papal images, Holy Door copies and other religious items, especially papal blessings. As of January 2015 ONLY the Vatican’s Apostolic Almoner can make and sell papal blessings. They are not legally available outside Vatican City.  More tomorrow about this story, the official Jubilee emblem, etc. (photo. Guardia di Finanza)

Le false benedizioni apostoliche per i pellegrini del Giubileo sequestrate dalla Guardia di Finanza. Sulle pergamene contraffatte gli stemmi pontifici e le foto di Papa Francesco, 14 dicembre 2015. ANSA / UFFICIO STAMPA GUARDIA DI FINANZA  ++  ANSA PROVIDES ACCESS TO THIS HANDOUT PHOTO TO BE USED SOLELY TO ILLUSTRATE NEWS REPORTING OR COMMENTARY ON THE FACTS OR EVENTS DEPICTED IN THIS IMAGE; NO ARCHIVING; NO LICENSING  ++


Pope Francis on Tuesday issued his message for the World Day of Peace January 1, 2016. The theme of the Message is: “Overcome indifference and win peace.”

In the message, dated December 8, 2015, the Pope acknowledged the various forms of war, terrorism, and persecution present in today’s world, but said there is reason to hope. He cited several events over the course of the year 2015, including the various initiatives confronting climate change, the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, and the Jubilee of Mercy. (photo:


Referencing the theme of the message, the Holy Father then highlighted various forms of indifference in society. First, there is indifference to God, which in turn leads to indifference to one’s neighbor and subsequently to the environment.

Pope Francis also addressed what he referred to as an “indifference to mercy,” as seen with the Genesis account of Cain murdering his brother Abel. In contrast, God intervenes, the message reads: “He sees, hears, comes down, and delivers. God does not remain indifferent. He is attentive and He acts.”

“Mercy is the heart of God,” the Pope writes, and therefore must be the heart of all His children.

Pope Francis said we are called to “compassion, love, mercy and solidarity” in our relationships with one another. He added that “the conversion of our hearts” is needed for us to become “open to others in authentic solidarity.” The Pope called for the building of a culture of solidarity and mercy in order to overcome indifference.

This begins with families, which are the “first place where the values of love, fraternity, togetherness and sharing, concern and care for others are lived out and handed on.” He spoke also of the role of teachers, and communicators. The Pope added that communicators in particular should be “mindful” of how they obtain and disseminate information, saying their methods should always be “legally and morally admissible.”

Pope Francis went on to say that peace is the fruit of a culture of solidarity, mercy, and compassion.

It is also a sign of the Jubilee of Mercy, which began December 8, in which all are called to recognize indifference, and “improve the world around us.”

The Holy Father said these efforts begin with our families, neighbors, and places of employment. They extend to civil society’s care for vulnerable persons, such as “prisoners, migrants, the unemployed, and the infirm.”

On the subject of migrants, the Pope asked that legislation on migration be reviewed, in a way that facilitates their integration into society, with special attention given to legal residency in order to avoid criminal behavior.

Pope Francis appealed to national leaders to offer assistance to men and women suffering from lack of work, land, and lodging.

He concluded by entrusting the reflections contained in the message to the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Vatican Radio)



There was a broad, beautiful, thought-provoking array of news today at the Vatican, including Pope Francis’ weekly general audience with a new catechesis on the family, the publication of the Pope’s message for the January 1, 2015 World Day of Peace, entitled “Slaves no more, but brothers and sisters,” and his Message to Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, head of the Pontifical Council for the Eighth World Meeting of Families in September 2015 in Philadelphia on the theme, “Love is our mission: the family fully alive.”

Also taking place in the Vatican is the December 9-11 meeting of the C9, the Council of Cardinals who are advising the Pope on the reform of the curia and many other matters. The C9 members are Cardinals Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State; Francisco Javier Errazuria Ossa, archbishop-emeritus of Santigo de Chile; Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay; Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa; Sean Patrick O’Malley OFM Cap, archbishop of Boston; George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy; Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, SDB, archbishop of Tegucigalpa and Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State.

I am giving a lot of attention to the Pope’s general audience catechesis (a new one) on the family today for a number of reasons. In the first place, the title of today’s audience was “The True Synod.” I found that fascinating as it made me think of the many news stories, one often quite at variance with another, that came out of the October synod, causing not a little consternation among faithful Catholics who thought that some teachings of the Church were being too easily bandied about and subject to change.

It seems that Pope Francis today – can we say, “at last” – has answered some of those questions and put doubts to rest. And surely we will hear a lot more in coming weeks, and perhaps months, on the topic of the past and future synods and the focus of the new catecheses – the family

Below you will find the VIS account of the entire audience, and that is followed by some “short takes” on the other news of the day, especially Pope Francis’ Message for World Day of Peace where he speaks of “globalizing fraternity, not slavery or indifference,” “the many faces of slavery, yesterday and today,” and the phenomenon of man’s subjugation by man.” A sad, sad commentary on the world we live in!

Here are some of my favorite phrases from Pope Francis’ catechesis today (translated from the Italian):

“During the synod, the media did its work – there was great anticipation, much attention – and we thank them because they did their work in abundance. So many pieces of news. So many! This was all possible thanks to the press office that had a briefing every day. But often the media’s vision was a little in the style of a sports or political (writer): they often spoke of ‘two teams’, ‘for and against’, ‘conservative or progressive’, etc., etc. Today I want to tell you what the synod was.”

“No speech ever put into discussion the fundamental truth of the Sacrament of Matrimony, that is: indissolubility, unity, fidelity and openness to life. This was not touched.”

“Everything took place ‘cum Petro et sub Petro’, that is, with the presence of the Pope, which is the guarantee for everyone of freedom and trust, and a guarantee of orthodoxy. And at the end, with my speech I gave a summary of the synodal experience. Therefore, the documents that came out of the synod are three: The Final message, the Final Report and the final speech of the Pope. There are no others.”


(VIS) – Having concluded his weekly series of catecheses on the Church, Pope Francis began a new series dedicated to the family at today’s general audience, saying this is “a new cycle in this intermediate period between two synod assemblies dedicated to this important reality.” Before considering the different aspects of family life, Francis began by speaking about the synod held this past October on the theme, “Pastoral challenges to the family in the context of new evangelization.”

The Pope explained that, first of all he asked the Synod Fathers to speak frankly and courageously and to listen with humility.

The Holy Father first praised the work of the Holy See Press Office during the Synod, and the good work accomplished by the media responsible for covering the assembly. He went on to mention the events and results of the assembly, and emphasised that at no point was there any form of censorship and that the Synod Fathers were entirely free to speak frankly. “The only think I asked of them was that they speak with sincerity and courage, and listen with humility.”

 (Vatican Radio reported that,“The Holy Father told the thousands of faithful present that he wanted to share with them what took place and what the Synod has produced. He said that, that during this time there was much media attention on the work being done at the Synod and for that the Pope expressed his thanks. But, Pope Francis added, often the vision of the media was a bit ‘in the style of sports or political coverage: “they often spoke of two teams, pro and con, conservatives and liberals, and so on.”

”The Pope explained that, first of all he asked the Synod Fathers to speak frankly and courageously and to listen with humility. He also stressed there was no prior censorship and that everyone had the chance to say what was in his heart.)

He explained that the Instrumentum laboris always remained the basis of all the interventions that took place, and that this document was the result of a previous consultation involving all of the Church. He remarked that “no intervention challenged the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of Marriage: indissolubility, unity, fidelity and openness to life.” All these interventions, in a second phase, were gathered together and gave rise to the Relatio post disceptationem or the post-discussion report, which was divided into three sections: listening to the context and the challenges to the family; looking steadily at Christ and the Gospel of the family, and comparison with pastoral perspectives. The third phase, the group discussions, followed this first approach at a summary. Finally, at the end of its work, each group presented a report and all the group reports were published immediately, “with transparency, so that what was happening was made known”.

Finally, a commission examined all the suggestions that emerged from the groups and the a Final Report was produced, maintaining the same structure as before – listening, looking to the Gospel and pastoral ministry – which was then sent to all the Episcopal Conferences worldwide to enable discussion prior to the Ordinary Assembly, scheduled for October 2015. As always, a Final Message from the Synod was approved, more concise and informative compared to the Report. The Holy Father remarked that the Synod Fathers “did not argue, but there were animated discussions. This is the freedom of the Church”, and added that there are three official Synod documents: the Final Message, the Final Report, and the Pope’s concluding discourse.

The Bishop of Rome emphasized that the Synod is not a parliament but rather a protected space that allows the Holy Spirit to intervene, and that now the work of prayer, reflection and fraternal discussion must continue in the particular Churches in preparation for the upcoming Assembly. “Let us commend it to the protection of the Virgin Mother, so that she may help us to follow God’s will in making pastoral decisions that offer greater and better help to families”, he concluded.


(VIS) – The 7th World Meeting of Families will take place from 22 to 27 September 2015 in Philadelphia, U.S.A., and its theme will be “Love is our mission: the family fully alive”, as announced by Pope Francis in a letter addressed to Bishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, in which he also confirms his attendance at the event.

Francis remarked that during the recent Synod on the family the most urgent issues affecting the family in our society were identified, and he underlined that “we cannot qualify a family with ideological concepts, we cannot speak about a conservative family or a progressive family. The family is the family! The values and virtues of the family, its essential truths, are the strong points on which the family nucleus rests, and they cannot be called into question”. We are required, instead, to “review our style of life, that is always open to the risk of being ‘contaminated’ by a worldly mentality – individualist, consumerist, hedonistic – and to rediscover the high road, to live and to propose the greatness and beauty of marriage and the joy and being and forming a family.”

For entire Message in English, click here:


Two excerpts from the Holy Father’s Message for the 48th World Day of Peace, to be held on January 1, 2015 on the theme “Slaves no more, but brothers and sisters.’ For the full text, click on the link below:

“At the beginning of this New Year, which we welcome as God’s gracious gift to all humanity, I offer heartfelt wishes of peace to every man and woman, to all the world’s peoples and nations, to heads of state and government, and to religious leaders. In doing so, I pray for an end to wars, conflicts and the great suffering caused by human agency, by epidemics past and present, and by the devastation wrought by natural disasters. I pray especially that, on the basis of our common calling to cooperate with God and all people of good will for the advancement of harmony and peace in the world, we may resist the temptation to act in a manner unworthy of our humanity.”

“…..Tragically, the growing scourge of man’s exploitation by man gravely damages the life of communion and our calling to forge interpersonal relations marked by respect, justice and love. This abominable phenomenon, which leads to contempt for the fundamental rights of others and to the suppression of their freedom and dignity, takes many forms. I would like briefly to consider these, so that, in the light of God’s word, we can consider all men and women ‘no longer slaves, but brothers and sisters’.”

For entire Message, click here: