The last few days have been nonstop for Pope Francis who Sunday presided at the noon Angelus prayer with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square below his study window, and later in the day presided at the Corpus Christi celebration of Mass at St. John Lateran. That was followed by a procession with the Blessed Sacrament to St. Mary Major where Francis venerated the Eucharist and blessed the faithful who had joined in the celebrations.

Monday evening, before opening the diocese of Rome’s annual pastoral conference, Francis met with some refugees being cared for the diocese through Caritas. Francis, as Pope, is the bishop of Rome.

SS. Francesco – Famiglie rifugiati ospiti Caritas
19-06-2017-Servizio Fotografico – L’Osservatore Romano

SS. Francesco – Famiglie rifugiati ospiti Caritas
19-06-2017-@Servizio Fotografico – L’Osservatore Romano

Today, as you will see, the Pope flew to northern Italy to pay homage to two Italian priests whose stories I did not know – it was an interesting trip to follow.

I presume the rest of the papal day was dedicated to preparing the catechesis for tomorrow’s general audience. He did have time for a tweet (a reference to the celebration today World Refugee Day): The personal encounter with refugees dispels fears and distorted ideologies and becomes a factor for growth in humanity. @M_RSection


Pope Francis sent a telegram Tuesday to Francis Dias, the brother of Cardinal Ivan Dias who died Monday in Rome at the age of 81. The cardinal was the prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and archbishop emeritus of Bombay:

Deeply saddened to learn of the death of your dear brother, I offer heartfelt condolences to you and the Dias family.  I recall with gratitude the late Cardinal’s years of faithful service to the Apostolic See, especially his contribution to the spiritual and physical reconstruction of the suffering Church in Albania and the missionary zeal demonstrated in his work as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.  I likewise unite my prayers to those of the faithful of the Archdiocese of Bombay, where the pastoral concern and broad apostolic vision that marked his service as Archbishop are fondly remembered.  In union of prayer with all who mourn his passing in the sure hope of the Resurrection, I commend the soul of this wise and gentle pastor to the merciful love of God our heavenly Father and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in the Lord.

Cardinal Dias was born on April 14, 1936 in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India. He was ordained for the archdiocese of Bombay on December 8, 1958 and held a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Lateran University.

He entered the Holy See’s diplomatic service in 1964 and was posted to the Nordic countries, Indonesia, Madagascar, La Réunion, the Comorros, Mauritius and the Secretariat of State.

Cardinal Dias served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Urbanian University from 2006 until 2011.

With his death, the College of Cardinals numbers 220, of whom 116 are Cardinal-electors.


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday travelled to two small towns in northern Italy to pay homage to two Italian parish priests of the past century who championed the poor and challenged powerful prelates to step outside their comfort zones.

Arriving by helicopter in the Lombardy town of Bozzolo to pray at the tomb of  Don Primo Mazzolari, Pope Francis was greeted by Cremona Bishop Antonio Napolioni who announced the process to beatify Mazzolari will start on September 18th.

Don in Italian means Father.

Fr. Mazzolari, who died in 1959, was the parish priest of Bozzolo. He was also a scholar who wrote about St. Francis and Blessed John Henry Newman, an anti-fascist activist who opposed the Mussolini regime and an ardent champion of the poor. Sanctioned for a time by diocesan authorities, Mazzolari was a friend of Pope John XXIII and praised by the future Pope Paul VI.

Pope Francis’ lengthy tribute to Fr. Mazzolari – whom he described as Italy’s parish priest – was above all a call to priests not to demand perfection from the faithful, but to encourage them to do their best and an exhortation to them to take the Gospel message into the peripheries in poverty and with simplicity, turning away from the temptations of clericalism and careerism.

Francis then flew to Barbiana, near Florence, to pray at the tomb of Don Lorenzo Milani, a man he has described as “a believer, enamored of the Church”  a “passionate educator” who used “original ways.”

Fr. Milani, who died in 1967, is universally acknowledged for having been an optimum interpreter of modern and contemporary pedagogy, a priest attentive to formative methods for young people, and  especially alert to the needs of the poor and the rights of workers.

Fr. Milani, the Pope said, taught the importance of giving the poor the capacity to speak up for themselves, because “without the word, there’s no dignity and therefore no justice or freedom.”

Francis said he undertook the pilgrimage in the footsteps of two parish priests whose legacy he described as “scomodo,” which means challenging or inconvenient, but that has left a radiant trace in their service to the Lord and to the people of God.


(Vatican Radio) At a time in history in which an unprecedented 65,5 million people around the world have been forced from home, we are witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record.

Among them are nearly 22,5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.

World Refugee Day, held each year on June 20th, commemorates the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of men, women and children who are on the move, in search of protection and opportunity.

Pope Francis has done so again and again, both in words and in action, as he has appealed to governments and policy-makers to heed the Christian message of welcome as well as dedicating many personal moments of encounter and prayer to refugees and forced migrants in different situations.

Marking the occasion is also the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) with its message to accompany, serve and advocate on behalf of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. In an effort to make its message even stronger and more effective, this year it has done so joining forces with other faith-based organizations and released an ecumenical statement entitled “Refugees: an opportunity to grow together.”

Jesuit Father Aloysius Mowe, International Director of Advocacy and Communications for JRS told Linda Bordoni that as Christians, it is not enough to profess to love Christ because faith is authentic only if it is expressed in loving action and solidarity:

Click here for that interview: http://www.news.va/en/news/world-refugee-day-an-opportunity-to-grow-together