I fly to Chicago tomorrow, spend a few days with relatives, then on to South Bend, Indiana on Saturday to attend a banquet at my alma mater, St. Mary’s of Notre Dame, where I will receive the 2019 Alumna Achievement Award. I still think I’m dreaming! It will be an awesome and exciting moment but very humbling in reality!

I’ll try to write whenever I have a moment in the days I’ll be gone but you can also follow me on Facebook or by tuning in to Vatican Insider, my weekend radio program and next week, as usual, my weekly appearance on Catholic Connection with Teresa Tomeo.

As you know, I took the day off yesterday, officially Memorial Day in the U.S. but it is a commemoration also marked in Italy, obviously a major player in World War II. Today’s column consists of the links to two blogs from one of several visits I’ve made over the years to Nettuno and Anzio in which I tell a wonderful story of a very serendipitous encounter with a WWII vet.


While Memorial Day is special for millions in America it is also very special for many Americans in Italy where, in the town of Nettuno, 38 miles south of Rome and near Anzio on the Mediterranean, there is the World War II Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial site. This peaceful, bucolic, 77-acre cemetery bears the headstones of 7,858 American military war dead, arranged on broad green lawns beneath rows of Roman pines.

The majority died in the liberation of Sicily (summer 1943); in the landings in the Salerno area (September 9, 1943) in the landings at Anzio Beach and expansion of the beachhead (January to May 1944).

Every year at this time there are special events and services in Anzio, usually in the presence of military and/or U.S. embassy officials. This year, the cemetery hosted its annual Memorial Day Ceremony on Friday May 24 at 5:00 p.m. I have been to several of ceremonies and they are truly beautiful and touching. In addition to the graves – most marked by crosses and some by the Star of David – the names of 3,095 Missing in Action are inscribed on the walls of a small chapel.

Here is Part I of a special visit to Anzio: https://www.ewtn.com/news/blog.asp?blogposts_ID=425&blog_ID=1

And the story goes on in this column: scroll down to “A DAY IN ANZIO, THE TOWN AND PORT”: https://www.ewtn.com/news/blog.asp?blogposts_ID=426&blog_ID=1

You might even want to visit this cemetery and these seaside towns on your next trip to Italy. An easy train ride and well worth the time!


Monday is, of course, Memorial Day and it a holiday for EWTN employees so this page may be dark that day but I hope to have something special for you on Tuesday. Wednesday, I depart for Chicago and will explain the special nature of that trip on Tuesday as well. In the meantime, have a lovely holiday weekend, stay warm and dry and safe and drive safely!

As you will see in the story below, Pope Francis today had some very special words about the value of life when he addressed members of the Institute Hospitals of the Innocents based in Florence, Italy. Papal words on life are always much-needed in today’s world and I just wish we had had similar pronouncements, specifically about being pro-life in a pro-abortion world, from the Holy Father or Italian prelates for last Saturday’s 9th Italian March for Life. Not a word from anyone a week ago. However, as they say, “Better late than never!”


This weekend on Vatican Insider, my guest in the interview segment is Abp. Francisco Javier Lozano, former apostolic nuncio or papal ambassador. We continue a conversation begun last weekend in VI. Ordained a priest in Rome in 1968, the archbishop has Doctorates in Theology, Philosophy and Canon Law. He was called to Rome to study at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy of Rome and in his early years worked in the nunciatures of Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Yugoslavia and Guatemala.

From 1984 to 1994 he was Head of the Latin America-Spain Department of the Vatican’s Secretary of State under Pope John Paul II. Abp. Lozano was eventually Apostolic Nuncio in Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Croatia, Romania and Moldova. He speaks Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, English, Serbo-Croatian, German, Russian and Romanian. Listen to learn more about the Vatican’s celebrated diplomatic corps.

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 on Friday met with members of the Institute Hospitals of the Innocents based in the Italian city of Florence as it marks its 600th anniversary. In his prepared remarks the Pope stressed that “we need a culture that recognizes the value of life.”

The Hospital of the Innocents was built by Filippo Brunelleschi in the fifteenth century and is located in the historic city of Florence. It was the first institution of its kind in Europe designed to care for and raise orphaned or abandoned children.

Today, it is an institute that promotes the rights of children and adolescents through a number of services and activities. In addition to residential and educational activities, the Institute also carries out the most recent research and monitoring activities on the condition of children.

In the Vatican on Friday, Pope Francis met with members of the Institute of the hospital and in prepared remarks to those gathered, he stressed that the best of care should be given to the poor, the vulnerable and those living on the peripheries of society.

Among the most vulnerable people, the Pope added, “we must take care of the many rejected children, robbed of their childhood and their future; minors who face desperate journeys to escape from hunger or war.”

He emphasized the plight of mothers whose children do not see the light of day because they “are subject to economic, social and cultural conditioning that pushes them to renounce that wonderful gift that is the birth of a child.”

“How much we need a culture that recognizes the value of life”, the Pontiff said, “a culture that recognizes in every face, even the smallest, the face of Jesus.”

The Pope underlined the importance making sure that “no mother finds herself in the position of having to abandon her child.”

We must also ensure, he continued, “that in the face of any event, even tragic, that may separate a child from his parents, there are facilities and paths of care in which the child is always protected and cared for…”


Pope Francis today received a group of new ambassadors accredited to the Holy See for the presentation of their credentials or Letters of Credence. In general, but with exceptions, when the Pope receives ambassadors as a group instead of singly, it means that those ambassadors are non-resident ambassadors. Often ambassadors from some countries will have two postings: one may be to the Holy See and a second may be to United Nations offices in Geneva and it might well be that their chancery office and residence are in Geneva but they come to Rome when they have business with the Holy See.

Sierra Leone, for example, has a new ambassador accredited to the Holy See but the main office and residence is in Brussels. Mozambique’s chancery and that of Guinea are in Berlin. The chanceries of Norway and Thailand are in Bern, Switzerland. New Zealand’s chancery is in The Hague. Ethiopia and Guinea-Bissau have chanceries in Paris. However, the chancery for Luxembourg is in Rome.

It has also been a tradition when the Pope receives a group of ambassadors to address them as a group and then to hand each new ambassador a letter tailored to specific issues in that person’s nation, as if the Pope was speaking individually to that person.

Here is a vaticannews story about today’s ceremony for new ambassadors in the Vatican.


Speaking to several Ambassadors newly-accredited to the Holy See, Pope Francis urged their respective States to be attentive to the poorest among us and respectful of legitimate diversity.

By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

Pope Francis today accepted the Credential Letters presented by 9 new Ambassadors to the Holy from Thailand, New Zealand, Guinea, Ethiopia, Norway, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Luxembourg, and Mozambique.

In an address to mark the occasion, Pope Francis recognized the variety of positive contributions these States make to world’s common good.

He also said all have “a high responsibility to protect the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters.”

“The pressing need to be attentive to the poorest of our fellow citizens is a solemn duty, which is eloquently expressed when, respectful of legitimate diversity, we are united in promoting their integral human development.”

Unity in fraternity
Pope Francis said such unity is best expressed with the word “fraternity,” and he reflected on the concept’s various aspects as they relate to diplomacy.

In the face of complex global challenges, he said, fraternity is found in the desire for friendship between individuals, nations, and communities.

“Striving together to ensure just and peaceful coexistence is not merely a socio-political strategy but is an example of that solidarity which runs deeper than a mutual desire to achieve a shared goal,” he said.

Threats to unity
The Holy Father said violence and armed conflict present the greatest threats to global harmony.

“Yet,” he said, “the painful lesson of division and hatred also teaches us that peace is always possible. Conflict resolution and reconciliation are positive signs of the unity that is stronger than division and of the fraternity that is more powerful than hatred.”

In conclusion, Pope Francis said fraternal dialogue is indispensable in achieving peace and overcoming armed conflict.



In a (finally) sun-splashed St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis presided at the weekly general audience and began by noting, “Today we conclude our catechesis on the ‘Our Father’.”

He said, “Jesus has revealed to us that Christian prayer begins with the audacity to call God ‘Father’. Indeed, each of the expressions that our Lord himself uses in prayer brings to mind the text of the ‘Our Father’.

“Throughout the New Testament,” continued Francis, “it is clear that the first principle of every prayer is the Holy Spirit, who breathes into the hearts of the disciples. Herein lies the mystery of Christian prayer: that by grace we are drawn into the Holy Trinity’s dialogue of love. On the cross Jesus cries out: ‘My God, my God’, and we see here the fulcrum of his relationship with the Father. This also reflects the heart of our own trust and prayer.

The Holy Father said in conclusion, “At the end of this catechesis, let us repeat this prayer of Jesus: ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to little children’.”

In the multi-lingual greetings that follow the audience catechesis and summaries in seven languages, Francis, through an English-speaking monsignor from the Secretariat of State, greeted the “English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience, especially those from England, Belgium, Tanzania, New Zealand, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Canada and the United States of America. In the joy of the Risen Christ, I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. May the Lord bless you all!”

In greetings to French pilgrims, Pope Francis spoke of a murdered missionary sister, whose body was found in the Central African Republic on the same day a missionary priest was killed in Mozambique. He called the Spanish missionary “a woman who has given her life for Jesus in the service of the poor.”

Sister Inés Nieves Sancho, 77, was found murdered near her home in the Central African Republic on Monday morning. Her body was found horribly mutilated at her workshop in the village of Nola, which is part of the Diocese of Berberati, according to the Osservatore Romano. At some point during the night between Sunday and Monday, unknown assailants entered Sister Inés’ home and forcibly took her to the workshop where she regularly held sewing lessons for local girls to help improve their lives. There her attackers decapitated her and mutilated her body.

There was a new language in the papal greetings today. Added to French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Polish and Italian, Francis greeted pilgrims in Ukrainian: “I cordially greet the Ukrainian pilgrims, especially the group of soldiers who participated in the annual National Military Pilgrimage in Lourdes. I continually pray to the Risen Lord, so that he fills the hearts of the Ukrainians with love and serenity and gives his peace to the whole country. God bless you all!”

After the general audience was over and Catholic prelates and several others lined up to meet the Pope, the Holy Father greeted Dr. Denis Mukwege, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018. (source: vaticannews)


At the end of today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis, in a reference to the upcoming feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, expressed his “special closeness and affection to all the Catholics in China who, among daily labors and trials, continue to believe, to hope, and to love.”

Speaking directly to the faithful in China, the Holy Father said, “May our Mother of Heaven help you all to be witnesses of charity and fraternity, always remaining united in the communion of the universal Church.”

Francis then assured the Chinese faithful of his own prayers and his blessing, before leading the pilgrims at the audience in praying the Hail Mary for Chinese Catholics.

An image of Our Lady, Help of Christians, is found in the Shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Sheshan in Shanghai, and is an object of special devotion to the faithful in China.

In May of 2007, in his Letter to Chinese Catholics, Benedict XVI asked that the May 24 feast of Mary, Help of Christians be celebrated as a World Day of Prayer for the Church in China. The following prayer, published in 2008, was composed by Pope Benedict for the occasion:

Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother,
venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title “Help of Christians”,
the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection.
We come before you today to implore your protection.
Look upon the People of God and, with a mother’s care, guide them
along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be
a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.

When you obediently said “yes” in the house of Nazareth,
you allowed God’s eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb
and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption.
You willingly and generously cooperated in that work,
allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul,
until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary,
standing beside your Son, who died that we might live.

From that moment, you became, in a new way,
the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith
and choose to follow in his footsteps by taking up his Cross.
Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed
with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter.
Grant that your children may discern at all times,
even those that are darkest, the signs of God’s loving presence.

Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China,
who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love.
May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world,
and of the world to Jesus.

In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high,
offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love.
Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love,
ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built.
Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!
(source: vaticannews)




A French court has ordered doctors to resume life support for a quadriplegic man whose case has become central to the right-to-die debate in France.

Doctors had begun switching off life support for Vincent Lambert, 42, on Monday, before the court order.

Mr. Lambert has been in a vegetative state since a 2008 motorcycle accident.

His care has divided the country and his family. His wife has called for his feeding tubes to be withdrawn; his parents insist he be kept alive.

Mr. Lambert’s mother Viviane, 73, hailed the latest ruling as “a very big victory” in her struggle to maintain her son’s life support. “They are going to restore nutrition and give him drink. For once I am proud of the courts,” she said.

Doctors had earlier on Monday halted the nutrition and hydration Lambert receives, in line with the wishes of his wife and other relatives.

An earlier judicial ruling had said Mr. Lambert should be removed from life support and that process had begun before Monday evening’s dramatic reversal by the Paris Court of Appeal.


“In fully sharing what was stated by Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort of Reims, and by Auxiliary Bishop Bruno Feillet, in relation to the sad story of Mr. Vincent Lambert, we wish to reiterate the serious violation of the dignity of the person, which the interruption of food and hydration entails The ‘vegetative state’, in fact, was certainly a serious pathological condition, which however does not in any way compromise the dignity of the persons who are in this condition, nor their fundamental rights to life and care, understood as continuity of basic human assistance.

“Nutrition and hydration are a form of essential care that is always proportionate to the maintenance of life: feeding a sick person is never a form of unreasonable therapeutic obstinacy, as long as the person’s body is able to absorb nutrition and hydration, unless doing that causes intolerable suffering or is harmful to the patient.

“The suspension of these treatments represents, rather, a form of abandonment of the patient, based on a merciless judgment on his quality of life, expression of a culture of waste that selects the most fragile and defenseless people, without recognizing their uniqueness and immense value. The continuity of assistance is an inescapable duty.

“We therefore hope that effective solutions can be found as soon as possible to protect the life of Mr. Lambert. To this end, we assure the prayer of the Holy Father and of the whole Church.

Kevin Cardinal Farrell,
Prefect, Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia,
President, Pontifical Academy for Life


More piercingly insightful words from the ever clear and insightful Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, as he cites the clear teaching of Pope emeritus Benedict on the sex abuse crisis:


– Sandro Magister

Cardinal Robert Sarah took everyone by surprise on the evening of May 14 in Rome, in the auditorium of the cultural center of the church of St. Louis of the French, when everyone was expecting him to present his latest book, entitled “Le soir approche et déjà le jour baisse,” on the Church’s crisis of faith and the decline of the West.


Because instead, the cardinal said right away, “this evening I will not talk about this book at all.” And the reason – he explained – is that “the fundamental ideas that I develop in it were illustrated, presented, and demonstrated brilliantly last April by Pope Benedict XVI in the ‘notes’ that he had composed in view of the summit of the presidents of the episcopal conferences on sexual abuse convened in Rome by Pope Francis from February 21 to 24.”

Cardinal Sarah continued:
“His reflection has revealed itself to be a true source of light in the night of faith that touches the whole Church. It has prompted reactions that at times have bordered on intellectual hysteria. I have felt personally struck by the wretchedness and coarseness of several comments. We must be convinced that once again the theologian Ratzinger, whose stature is that of a true father and doctor of the Church, has seen correctly and has touched the deepest heart of the Church’s crisis.

“I would therefore like us this evening to allow ourselves to be enlightened by this demanding and luminous thought of his. How could we summarize the thesis of Benedict XVI? Allow me to simply cite him: ‘Why has pedophilia reached such proportions? In the final analysis, the reason is the absence of God.’ This is the architectonic principle of the entire reflection of the pope emeritus. This is the conclusion of his long argumentation. This must be the starting point of every investigation of the scandal of sexual abuse committed by priests, in order to propose an effective solution.

“The crisis of pedophilia in the Church, the scandalous and distressing multiplication of abuse has one and only one ultimate cause: the absence of God. Benedict XVI summarizes it in another formula that is also clear. I quote: ‘It is only where faith no longer determines the actions of man that such crimes are possible.’

“The theological genius of Joseph Ratzinger here touches not only upon his experience as pastor of souls and as bishop, as father of his priests, but also upon his personal, spiritual, and mystical experience. He goes back to the fundamental cause, he allows us to understand what the only way can be for getting out of the frightening and humiliating scandal of pedophilia. The crisis of sexual abuse is the symptom of a deeper crisis: the crisis of faith, the crisis of the sense of God.”

TO READ FURTHER: http://magister.blogautore.espresso.repubblica.it/2019/05/20/cardinal-sarah-endorses-the-“notes”-of-pope-benedict-“martyr-for-the-truth”/



AIF Press Release – Annual Report 2018
Adhesion to SEPA and increased effectiveness of the reporting system

The Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria (AIF) of the Holy See and the Vatican City State has presented its Annual Report for 2018. The report reviews the activities and statistics of AIF for the year 2018.

Significant achievements were made in 2018, both within the regulatory framework as well as regarding the reporting system. Focusing on the regulatory framework, the conclusion of the adhesion process of the Holy See/Vatican City State to the geographical area of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) represents a relevant step forward towards the harmonization and the efficiency of transfers of funds within the European area. Regarding the reporting system, a first conviction for self-laundering by the Tribunal of the Vatican City State, triggered by a suspicious activity report, as well as the enhanced quality of the suspicious activity reports indicate an increased effectiveness of the reporting system.

“The successful application to SEPA is a very positive sign” said René Brülhart, President of AIF. “It helps to facilitate payments and harmonizes such services. Furthermore, it demonstrates the Holy See’s efforts to enhance financial transparency.”

The reporting system has seen a continued decline in the number of Suspicious Activity Reports as in the previous years. In 2018, 56 Suspicious Activity Reports were filed with AIF in comparison to the previous year with 150 SARs. “Such a decline and tendency in the last years was expected. Very positive is the enhanced quality of the suspicious activity reports filed with our authority and the increase of disseminations to the Vatican Office of the Promotor of Justice,” said Tommaso Di Ruzza, Director of AIF. In 2018, 11 reports were submitted to the Vatican Office of the Promoter of Justice for further investigation by the competent law enforcement authorities. “International cooperation remains of key importance to AIF”, says Di Ruzza, indicating that “In 2018, AIF signed 8 Memoranda of Understanding with its counterparts in foreign jurisdictions and exchanged information in 488 cases”.

Moreover, the regulatory framework has been further strengthened, in particular with the introduction of Regulation no. 3 on payment services, Regulation no. 4 on due

About AIF The Financial Information Authority is the competent authority of the Holy See and Vatican City State for supervision and financial intelligence for the prevention and countering of money laundering and financing of terrorism as well as prudential supervision.

Established by Pope Benedict XVI with the Apostolic Letter in form of Motu Proprio of 30 December 2010, AIF carries out its institutional activities in accordance with its new Statute introduced by Pope Francis with a Motu Proprio of 15 November 2013 and Law No. XVIII of 8 October 2013.

AIF has signed MOUs with Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Cyprus, Ecuador, Estonia, France, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Guernsey, Honduras, Hungary, India, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan (Republic of China), United Kingdom and the United States of America, Uruguay. AIF has been a member of the Egmont Group since 2013.