No, I am not actually in Assisi to cover Pope Francis’ wonderful, moving visit today with the 500 poor from around Europe. However, I did prepare a Special for Vatican Insider on the Fifth World Day of the Poor that takes place Sunday and that was given a jumpstart by the Assisi event for the poor. I look at the history of this world day, why and when the Pope instituted it and how it has now been celebrated for five years. (vatican media)

I think you might want to read the entire talk the Holy Father gave this morning. It really is a remarkable read…..lots of food for thought about the poor and disenfranchised. Here is a link: Day of prayer and witness on the occasion of World Day of the Poor in Assisi – Activities of the Holy Father Pope Francis |

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on 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 ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: go to and write the name of the guest for whom you are serarching in the SEARCH box. Below that, will appear “Vatican Insider” – click on that and the link to that particular episode will appear.


In view of the Catholic Church’s 5th World Day of the Poor, on 14 November, Pope Francis paid a private visit to Assisi on Friday, to listen to and pray with poor people from around Europe.

By Robin Gomes (vaticannews)

“May this meeting open all of our hearts to put ourselves at each other’s disposal, so make our weakness a strength to help continue on the journey of life, to transform our poverty into wealth to be shared, and thus to make the world better.”

Pope Francis made the call Friday morning at a meeting with some 500 poor people from around Europe in Assisi, the hometown of St. Francis in central Italy. It was a private visit of listening and prayer in view of Sunday’s World Day of the Poor.

On his arrival, he was given a cloak and a staff, symbols of a pilgrim to the places of St Francis, to listen to his word. Inside the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli (Holy Mary of the Angels), where St. Francis understood his vocation and renounced the world in order to live in poverty among the poor, Pope Francis listened to the testimony of 6 poor people from Italy, France, Poland and Spain.

Need for one another
Addressing them, Pope Francis said, “Every one of us needs the other, and that even weakness, if experienced together, can become a strength that will make the world better.”

He expressed pain that the presence of the poor is often seen as an annoyance and sometimes are blamed for poverty in the world, which is an insult.  Instead, we should make a serious examination of conscience on our actions, on the injustice of certain laws and economic measures, on the hypocrisy of those who want to enrich themselves excessively.

Restoring the rights of the poor
The Holy Father said it is time that the poor are given back their voice, that eyes be opened to see the state of inequality in which many families live, that sleeves to be rolled up so dignity can be restored by creating jobs.

“It is time to be scandalized once again before the reality of children who are starving, reduced to slavery, tossed about in the water in the aftermath of a shipwreck, innocent victims of every sort of violence. It is time that violence against women ends, that they be respected and not treated like bargaining chips. It is time that the circle of indifference be broken so as to discover once again the beauty of encounter and dialogue.” Unless we men and women learn to meet each other, he warned, humanity will head for a very sad end.

The hope and perseverance of the poor

Pope Francis said he was impressed by the tremendous sense of hope of the poor that gives way to holding out against every odd.  “Marginalization, suffering sickness and loneliness, the lack of so many necessary means,” he said, “has not stopped you from seeing with eyes filled with gratitude the little things that have enabled you to hold out.”

The strength to keep going against the current despite every odd, he said, requires the courage to take a new path, knowing it will bear fruit. We do not face difficulties alone but together, and only together can we overcome them, without giving in to the temptation to give up and fall into loneliness or sadness.

Pope Francis drew attention to the simplicity of heart and life of St. Francis, which, he said, is more powerful than preaching.

He recalled an episode where St. Francis and Brother Masseo on a journey to go to France had to beg for food. Despite the poverty and lack of necessity all around, St. Francis considered the pieces of stale, hard bread they collected a great treasure, saying it was a gift of Providence.  “Knowing how to be content with the little we have and to share it with others,” the Pope said, is the lesson St. Francis teaches us.

Repairing the Lord’s house
Drawing attention to the Portiuncula, the tiny chapel inside the basilica that St. Francis restored after Jesus had asked him to “repair his house,” the Pope said, “the Lord was asking him to give his life to renew not the church made of stone, but the one made of persons, of men and women who are the living stones of the Church”.

The Pope said the poor were gathered in the church to ask the Lord to hear their cry of help.

The first marginalization they suffer from is a spiritual one. Many people find time to help the poor and bring them food and hot beverages, but what brings more joy, he said, is that these volunteers stop a bit and speak with the people, and sometimes pray with them.

“The Portiuncula reminds us of the Lord’s company, that He never leaves us alone, he always accompanies us in every moment of our lives.”

Hospitality and fraternity
Another lesson of the Portiuncula is that it was where St. Francis welcomed Saint Clare, the first brothers, and many poor people as brothers and sisters, sharing everything with them.

Hospitality, the Pope said is the most evangelical expression we are called to make our own. It means opening the door of our house and heart to allow the person who knocks to come in, that he or she might feel welcome and not ashamed.

A true sense of fraternity leads to a sincere experience of hospitality and community, the Pope said, adding its absence leads to egoism and breeds fear, contempt and rejection of the other, or worse still indifference, which looks the other way.

In this regard, he recalled a saying of Mother Teresa: “what is the best welcome? A smile”.

“A smile as an expression of sympathy and tenderness,” the Pope said, “does me and the other person good.”  Later, he pointed out, the smile involves you because you cannot distance yourself from the one you smiled at.

Inspiration of the poor
While thanking everyone for the occasion, Pope Francis thanked God for the World Day of the Poor, the idea of which, he said, came from a boy called Etienne in a sacristy.  Pondering on it, the Pope felt it as an inspiration from the Holy Spirit and instituted the annual observance.

Among those present was French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who accompanied the poor people from France.  The former Archbishop of Lyon stepped down after a court in 2019 convicted him for covering up a priest’s child sex abuse in his diocese.  He was later acquitted on appeal.   The Pope thanked Cardinal Barbarin his witness.  “He is among the poor.  He too endured poverty, abandonment and mistrust with dignity, and he defended himself with silence and prayer.”  Turing to the cardinal, he said, “Thank you, Cardinal Barbarin, for your witness.”



In this week’s interview segment, I pay tribute to St. John Paul on his October 16 feast day by re-airing a conversation I had in Poland a couple of years ago with Fr. Jan Machniak, a Polish priest who is the author of Apostles of Divine Mercy and professor at Pontifical University of John Paul II in Krakow.

He shares wonderful stories of his interactions with Pope St. John Paul II!  Among other things he speaks of the meeting Mother Angelica had with Pope John Paul and his gift to her for the shrine. Father recounts the Pope’s words to Mother Angelica, words that have a powerful meaning for EWTN today. So stay tuned for that conversation!

This photo shows newly created Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, archbishop of Krakow, on the day he received the red hat from Pope Paul VI, June 26, 1967 (from @ChurchinPoland):

October 16, 1978: Cardinal Wojtyla elected to papacy, takes name of John Paul II:

One of my first meetings with St. John Paul – World Youth Day in Denver:

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on 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 ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: go to and write the name of the guest for whom you are serarching in the SEARCH box. Below that, will appear “Vatican Insider” – click on that and the link to that particular episode will appear.


The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization announced today that Pope Francis will mark the next World Day of the Poor in Assisi.

Now in its fifth edition, the World Day of the Poor was established by Pope Francis with the aim of raising awareness of listening to the cry of the poor and the suffering. This year it will be celebrated on Sunday, November 14. In preparation for that celebration which affects the whole Church, the Pope will visit Assisi on Friday, November 12, where, in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, he will privately meet a group of 500 poor people from different parts of Europe and will spend a moment listening to the and praying with them.



Friday of Mercy: Pope blesses ‘Palace’ for the Poor
Pope Francis inaugurates the new Night and Day Care Center for homeless people near St. Peter’s Square, as part of his Friday of Mercy initiative.

Saturday: Pope to Dicastery for Laity, Family, Life: make the heart of the Church your own
Addressing participants in the first plenary assembly of the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life on Saturday, Pope Francis urged them to cultivate two basic attitudes: feeling with the heart of Mother Church and having a brotherly gaze.

Sunday: Pope to Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital: ‘Blessed are the hands that heal’
Pope Francis urges staff of the Bambino Gesu Hospital not to spare themselves as they heal sick children and to redouble their efforts to find cures for rare diseases.

Sunday: Pope at Mass on World Day of the Poor: ‘the poor lead us straight to God’
Pope Francis marks the 3rd World Day of the Poor celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for poor people in Rome and beyond.

Sunday: Pope at Angelus: ‘Be peacemakers, witnesses of hope’
Pope Francis invites the faithful to live their lives responding to hatred with love, to offence with forgiveness, and to always be attentive and loving towards the poor.

Sunday: Pope Francis’ lunch with the poor
Pope Francis joins some 1.500 poor people and volunteers for lunch marking the 3rd World Day of the Poor.


Saturday I did the TV commentary for EWTN’s presentation of the annual Ratzinger Prize, offered by the Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation. We met the two recipients, theologian Marianne Schlosser and architect Mario Botta, and heard the Holy Father address the Foundation.

It was a lot of fun to do but there is always a lot of research and preparation that goes into these commentaries, as you can imagine. The commentaries are done from our better-than-well-equipped audio studio that is just off the terrace that is one floor above the EWTN offices. We’re about 300 feet from St. Peter’s Square, Ben Crockett was in studio with me to do the Facebook live streaming and another colleague, Gianluca Teseo took these photos.


Sunday was a big day at the Vatican – it was the World Day of the Poor and was celebrated in a number of ways, starting with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica presided over by Pope Francis in the presence of many poor, accompanied by members of parish groups and associations.

At Mass, Francis urged believers to “heed the cry of the poor – the cry of the poor daily becomes stronger but heard less, drowned out by the din of the rich few, who grow ever fewer and more rich.”

After Mass and the Angelus, the Pope shared lunch with 1,500 poor and 70 volunteers in the Paul VI Hall. He thanked those who prepared and served the lunch and prayed for the Lord’s blessing for all those present. The menu included lasagna, chicken morsels, mashed potatoes and tiramisu.

Earlier, at the angelus, Pope Francis asked for prayers for victims of the massacre that took place two days ago on a Catholic mission sheltering 20,000 refugees.
in which two priests were also killed. A number of people were burned alive. UN officials said more than 40 people were killed and dozens wounded in the attack. “Let us pray for the dead and for the wounded,” he said, “and let us pray that the violence will cease in that beloved country that is in great need of peace.”

The Holy Father then spoke of the devastating fires in California:. “My special prayer also goes to those affected by the fires that are plaguing California, and to the victims of the frost on the east coast of the United States” he said. The disaster in California has killed at least 76 people with hundreds missing. “May the Lord receive the dead in His peace, comfort their families and support those who are engaged in rescue efforts”

Here are some great photos of the papal lunch for the poor taken by my colleague Daniel (Daniel Ibáñez/CNA&EWTN) –

Note the silver butler’s cover for each individual plate –






It was a very special day at the Vatican Sunday as Pope Francis presided at Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to mark the First World Day of the Poor. The Holy Father had announced the World Day of the Poor during the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, and entrusted its organization and promotion to the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. It is to be marked annually, on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time.

In his homily Pope Francis said, “In the poor, Jesus knocks on the doors of our heart, thirsting for our love.…If in the eyes of the world they have little value, they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven. … “For us, it is an evangelical duty to care for them as our real riches, and to do so not only by giving them bread, but also by breaking with them the bread of God’s word, which is addressed first to them. To love the poor,a” said Francis, “means to combat all forms of poverty, spiritual and material.”

There were some 7,000 people at the Mass, of whom about 4000 were the needy and homeless, invited by the Vatican.

After Mass Pope Francis offered lunch in the Paul VI Hall. He spoke to them in off the cuff remarks, saying, “Welcome everyone! We pray that the Lord bless us, bless this meal, bless those who have prepared it, bless us all, bless our hearts, our families, our desires, our lives and give us health and strength.” The Holy Father went on to ask God’s blessing on all those eating and serving in soup kitchens throughout the city. Rome is full of charity and good will today.”

Photos from L’Osservatore Romano photographer:




Pope Francis tweeted today: In his passion, Jesus took upon himself all our suffering. He knows the meaning of pain, he understands and comforts us, giving us strength.

There have been a few rough days lately, given an infection in my right ankle that has made walking difficult and painful. Several days ago, as I was leaving the Vatican medical center and nearing the Sant’Anna entrance to Vatican City to get a taxi, I had a lovely encounter with a Swiss Guard. As two elderly gentlemen were leaving the church of Sant’Anna, one with obvious mobility issues, the Swiss Guard stepped in and helped the gentleman.  As they walked away, I smiled and said to him, “That’s also part of the life of a guard, isn’t it?  His answer (with a smile): “That’s the best part of my life as a Guard!”

May God bless this young man abundantly! He made my day and I’ve thought of that answer every day since.


The Vatican today released Pope Francis’ message for the First World Day of the Poor to be celebrated worldwide next November 19 on the theme, “Let us love, not with words but with deeds.”

At a press conference today announcing the papal Message and the November 19 celebration, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, charged with implementing this World Day, said that Pope Francis wil presidet at Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on November 19, after which there will be a lunch for about 500 poor in the Paul VI Hall.

The archbishop is president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. That office was also charged with organizing the recent Holy Year of Mercy.

In his Message, in number 3, Francis writes: “We are called, then, to draw near to the poor, to encounter them, to meet their gaze, to embrace them and to let them feel the warmth of love that breaks through their solitude.  Their outstretched hand is also an invitation to step out of our certainties and comforts, and to acknowledge the value of poverty in itself.”

Pope Francis eats lunch with homeless and poor people in Campobasso, Italy (photo Boston Globe)

“Let us, then, take as our example Saint Francis and his witness of authentic poverty,” the Pope wrote. “Precisely because he kept his gaze fixed on Christ, Francis was able to see and serve him in the poor.  If we want to help change history and promote real development, we need to hear the cry of the poor and commit ourselves to ending their marginalization.  At the same time, I ask the poor in our cities and our communities not to lose the sense of evangelical poverty that is part of their daily life.

“We know how hard it is for our contemporary world to see poverty clearly for what it is.  Yet in myriad ways poverty challenges us daily, in faces marked by suffering, marginalization, oppression, violence, torture and imprisonment, war, deprivation of freedom and dignity, ignorance and illiteracy, medical emergencies and shortage of work, trafficking and slavery, exile, extreme poverty and forced migration.  Poverty has the face of women, men and children exploited by base interests, crushed by the machinations of power and money.  What a bitter and endless list we would have to compile were we to add the poverty born of social injustice, moral degeneration, the greed of a chosen few, and generalized indifference!”

In Number 6, the Holy Father explains when this world day was born: “At the conclusion of the Jubilee of Mercy, I wanted to offer the Church a World Day of the Poor, so that throughout the world Christian communities can become an ever greater sign of Christ’s charity for the least and those most in need.  To the World Days instituted by my Predecessors, which are already a tradition in the life of our communities, I wish to add this one, which adds to them an exquisitely evangelical fullness, that is, Jesus’ preferential love for the poor.

“I invite the whole Church, and men and women of good will everywhere, to turn their gaze on this day to all those who stretch out their hands and plead for our help and solidarity.  They are our brothers and sisters, created and loved by the one Heavenly Father.  This Day is meant, above all, to encourage believers to react against a culture of discard and waste, and to embrace the culture of encounter.  At the same time, everyone, independent of religious affiliation, is invited to openness and sharing with the poor through concrete signs of solidarity and fraternity.  God created the heavens and the earth for all; yet sadly some have erected barriers, walls and fences, betraying the original gift meant for all humanity, with none excluded.

“It is my wish that, in the week preceding the World Day of the Poor, which falls this year on 19 November, the Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Christian communities will make every effort to create moments of encounter and friendship, solidarity and concrete assistance.  They can invite the poor and volunteers to take part together in the Eucharist on this Sunday, in such a way that there be an even more authentic celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, on the following Sunday.  The kingship of Christ is most evident on Golgotha, when the Innocent One, nailed to the cross, poor, naked and stripped of everything, incarnates and reveals the fullness of God’s love.  Jesus’ complete abandonment to the Father expresses his utter poverty and reveals the power of the Love that awakens him to new life on the day of the Resurrection.

“This Sunday, if there are poor people where we live who seek protection and assistance, let us draw close to them: it will be a favourable moment to encounter the God we seek.  Following the teaching of Scripture (cf. Gen 18:3-5; Heb 13:2), let us welcome them as honoured guests at our table; they can be teachers who help us live the faith more consistently.  With their trust and readiness to receive help, they show us in a quiet and often joyful way, how essential it is to live simply and to abandon ourselves to God’s providence.

Click here for complete Message:


The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops announced a new website on Tuesday in preparation for the October 2018 synod that be dedicated to the role of young people in the life of the Church. That site will be active as of tomorrow, June 14:

A statement from the Secretariat explains that the site is designed to promote the broad, interactive participation of young people from all around the world in preparations for the Assembly.

The new website includes an online questionnaire addressed directly to young people in different languages ​​(Italian, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese), with answer due in by November 30, 2017.

The statement goes on to encourage young people especially to visit the site and respond to the Questionnaire, saying that wide and fulsome response will be of great use in the process of preparing the Synod Assembly, and will be part of the extensive consultation that the General Secretariat is doing at all levels of the people of God. (Vatican radio)