St. Patrick’s Church in Rome

American diplomats, priests, nuns, and lay people, including university students, tourists, seminarians and officials from several embassies in Rome, tonight paid tribute to those killed in the October 1 massacre at the concert in Las Vegas with a prayer vigil at St. Patrick’s.

No words needed – the 58 candles on the altar said it all.



The Catholic American Community of Saint Patrick’s Church is holding a Prayer Vigil to honor the victims of the tragedy in Las Vegas tomorrow, Thursday, October 5 at 5 PM., Via Boncompagni, 31. All are welcome.

October is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. Pope Francis tweeted the following today: Like Saint Francis of Assisi, let us be transformed by the love of Christ in order to live in simplicity and joy.


Pope Francis Wednesday continued his catechesis on Christian hope at the weekly general audience in a sun_splashed St Peter’s Square. This week he turned his attention to the Christian’s calling to be a missionary of hope.

“I would like to speak of our calling to be missionaries of hope,” began the Pope. He expèlained that “October is traditionally dedicated to reflection on our participation in the Church’s mission.  Saint Francis of Assisi, whose feast we celebrate today, can serve as our model in this regard.  Francis was a true missionary of the joyful hope born of Christ’s victory over death and our own share in his risen life.”

Francis stated that “Jesus asks us to be witnesses of that same hope, confident in the transforming power of his Spirit at work in our hearts and in our world.  Joy is the sure sign of true Christian hope, for we know that evil will not have the upper hand, and that God’s love, revealed on the cross, will ultimately triumph.”

“However,” noted the Holy Father, “there are certainly times when the gift of hope proves cost. This is the case with so many of our fellow Christians who presently experience persecution, and with the martyrs in every age.  Their witness inspires us to continue to hope in Christ’s promises.  As missionaries of hope, may we rejoice in God’s saving power, never lose heart, and help others to look to the future with confidence.”


(Vatican Radio) After delivering his general audience catechesis on Christian hope, Pope Francis announced that the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops will convene a pre-synodal meeting from March 19 to 24, 2018, to which it will invite young people from different parts of the world, including young Catholics, young people from different Christian denominations and other religions, and non-believers.

“This initiative is part of the preparations for the next General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will be on ‘Youth, Faith and Vocation Discernment’ in October 2018. With this journey, the Church wants to listen to the voice, the sensitivity, of faith and also the doubts and criticisms of young people. Following this, conclusions of the March Meeting will be transmitted to the Synod Fathers.”


(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis Wednesday had a special greeting for an Egyptian delegation led by the country’s Tourism Minister, in Rome to promote a pilgrimage in the footsteps of the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt.

Speaking during the Wednesday general audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope recalled his Apostolic Journey to Egypt last April saying that he has fond memories of the visit.

He said Egypt is “a land where Saint Joseph, the Virgin Mary and the Baby Jesus, as well as many prophets lived: a land that has been blessed with the precious blood of martyrs spilt throughout the centuries”.

And describing Egypt as a land of cohabitation and hospitality; a land of encounter, of history and of civilization, the Pope imparted his blessing on Egyptians and prayed the Lord to protect the nation, the Middle East and the whole world from all kinds of terrorism and from evil.

The Pope also blessed an icon that represents the Flight of the Holy Family to Egypt.

The Egyptian delegation, led by the Minister of Tourism Yahya Rashed, is meeting with tourism officials in Rome in an effort to promote the Holy Family in Egypt route as an important  pilgrimage destination.




I had lunch with the “Bear” today, Bear Woznick, and his wife Cindy.!

Bear Woznick is a World Champion surfer, certified ninja black belt, and host of EWTN’s Deep Adventure radio program and featured on an EWTN reality-show special, Deep Adventure Quest. The Benedictine oblate is author of Deep in the Wave, adventure guide for Deep Adventure Quest Retreats, and a popular conference speaker.

We have many common friends in Hawaii and, in this picture, we are doing the shaka sign, sometimes called “hang loose” (or, “just relax!”) by outsiders, This is a gesture of friendly intent associated with Hawaii and surf culture.





I had lunch with the “Bear” today, Bear Woznick!

Bear Woznick is a World Champion surfer, certified ninja black belt, and host of EWTN’s Deep Adventure radio program and featured on an EWTN reality-show special, Deep Adventure Quest. The Benedictine oblate is author of Deep in the Wave, adventure guide for Deep Adventure Quest Retreats, and a popular conference speaker.

We have many common friends in Hawaii and, in this picture, we are doing the shaka sign, sometimes called “hang loose” (or, “just relax!”) by outsiders, This is a gesture of friendly intent associated with Hawaii and surf culture.





World Congress – October 3-6, 2017 – Rome

From the Congress website

Children and adolescents make up over a quarter of the more than 3.2 billion Internet users worldwide. This generation of over 800 million young users is in danger of becoming victims of sextortion, sexting, cyberbullying and harassment.

This global problem calls for a global solution. We need an open and thorough discussion to build awareness, and to mobilize action for a better protection of minors online.

‘Child Dignity in the Digital World’ is the first world congress of its kind that brings together key stakeholders and international leaders from all relevant areas.

This pioneering congress hosted by the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome sets a milestone in the international fight against digital sexual child abuse.

The invitation-only congress brings together distinguished academic experts, business leaders, leaders of civil society, high-level politicians and religious representatives from across the globe. This provides a historic opportunity to set the global agenda for the fight against online sexual child abuse and for child protection in the digital world.

Follow #ChildDignity to receive the latest tweets about the congress

Father Hans Zollner, president of the Gregorian University’s Child Protection Centre, gave a pre-conference interview to SIR, religious news service:

Father Zollner, what are the most worrying aspects of this phenomenon?

Sexual abuse of minors exists in all societies, cultures and countries in the world; this evil is much more widespread than one imagines. A few years ago the European Union launched an initiative titled “One in Five”, based on data showing that one in five boys or girls, that is, 20% of all minors in Europe, are victims of some form of sexual violence. These are horrifying figures. From this perspective, the Internet – a wonderful communication tool – can become a dangerous place, triggering a spiral of danger. Let us consider for example the phenomenon of “sexting”: mostly against girls who are forced by their peers to post pictures of themselves naked, but once the image is online it remains in the web forever and it is constantly re-launched into a system that spirals out of control. There is also the phenomenon of sexual violence committed against very small children filmed “live” in a given world country, seen “live” and paid from anywhere in the world.

Are you referring to the Periscope phenomenon?

This phenomenon circulates very easily also on Skype. What is most surprising is that so many people talk about these situations, yet governments and businesses have failed to adopt targeted, determined actions to counteract them. Something has been done, but it remains a drop in the ocean. Thus we decided to organize this Conference to bring all those in positions of responsibility around the same table and find ways whereby each and everyone together can do their share.

Which enforcement actions can be adopted to counter such a devious and widespread phenomenon?

Focusing on education will be extremely important. Youths today know how to bypass programs that block online access to certain websites. Thus it will be increasingly important to educate youths on the responsible use of the Internet, without forgetting social media, which ranges from Snapchat to Facebook, where youths establish connections, and befriend strangers with the risk of becoming victims of dangerous circles. Businesses should thus declare what they want and can do to avoid “grooming”, which is the process by which an adult befriends a child with the intention of committing sexual abuse. We call upon government authorities to contact businesses, ensure that they fulfil their responsibilities and then – with dedicated legislation – reach an agreement to prevent the perpetrators of abuses to seek their victims on the web.

The world of child molesters unfortunately also sees the presence of priests and religious. Sadly the scandals are ongoing.

Our goal is to give a clear sign that the Church is the first to assume her responsibilities, and that we want and must cooperate with law-enforcement authorities. We are not a separate reality, thus not only must we comply with the law, we must also actively cooperate with the State. Obviously, child sexual abuse , that includes child pornography images, is a serious crime. This crime is even more serious when it is committed by a priest or a religious. That’s why the Pope, during the audience he granted to us last Thursday as representatives of the Pontifical Commission for Child Protection, reiterated his zero tolerance approach towards all forms of abuse inside the Church. Unquestionably, a clear line has been adopted by the Holy See and by Bishops’ Conference worldwide. But this approach won’t solve the problem: there will always be people who will continue doing harm and committing these crimes. Our commitment is thus to persevere in our endeavor to do our utmost to stop this evil and offer this platform of discussion and action to all involved parties.

Speaking to the members of the Pontifical Commission the Pope said that the Church addressed these crimes with considerable delay, while a few months ago Marie Collins denounced what she believed to be excessive inactivity. Unfortunately the issue was addressed too late and with poor efforts. What is your reply to this criticism?

Many people are engaged in addressing this situation at length. In those places where the Church has put her greatest efforts – as in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Australia – prevention activity has delivered positive results. This is out of question. Often courage is what is lacking. In my journeys to 50 world countries I noticed that the phenomenon is not fully acknowledged. It should be said that the phenomenon was seriously addressed in Italy no later than eight years ago. The issue was swept under the carpet and nobody wanted to talk about it.

It was an uncomfortable, painful theme that is hard to cope with, in some cases the will to address it is lacking: this is true not only inside the Church but also across society,

There is no other explanation to the fact that nobody acknowledges that the European Union launched a campaign because one in five European youths was sexually abused. Is the phenomenon too horrendous to speak of? Indeed, it is. And that is why we must discuss it.



Early on the morning of Saturday, September 16, my final day of vacation in Honolulu, I was awakened in my hotel room by a noise that I thought was fireworks. I thought of fireworks for a nanosecond as it was still dark outside – nighttime, I thought – but then almost immediately recognized the noise as gunshots. The siren of a police car arriving nearby confirmed that I had heard shots. I did not count but if I had to estimate, I’d have said I heard 8 or so gunshots.

Normally when something suddenly wakes me, as earthquakes have done in the past, I look at the alarm clock but did not do so that morning. Only later, when I looked out my sixth floor window beyond my balcony and saw police car lights flashing, did I learn that, at about 6 am, three men had been shot in a small courtyard I saw every morning as I had breakfast on my balcony.

I never went back to sleep but spent time wondering what had happened, had anyone been hit or hurt on the ground and first floor rooms of the hotel and/or adjacent buildings, and so on. At least half a dozen police cars were still on Kuhio Street, outside my hotel and on the cross street, Seaside, when friends came at noon to pick me up for lunch.

News updates arrived in bits and spurts but I learned eventually that a man was arrested, one of three, after the shooting that left one man dead and two others wounded.

Whether that shooting was drug-fueled or part of a gang killing, I do not know.

And, as horrible as any shooting is, what happened last night in Las Vegas leaves me breathless. I’m a wordsmith by profession but words fail me at this moment. To use “massacre,” “senseless tragedy,” “horrifying,” “unspeakable,” to describe last night’s killing spree just doesn’t seem to be enough.

I’ve followed events on Foxnews all day and even the expression, “an image is worth a thousand words,” doesn’t seem to do it.

As President Trump said, this was “an act of pure evil.” The evil of the killer in fact defies description. The numbers of dead and injured are mind-boggling: 58 dead and over 500 injured as I write.

Two of my nieces and one nephew and his wife (my sister’s two daughters and one son) went to a U-2 concert in San Diego on September 22 – yet another big venue and enormous crowd. All went well, of course, but that’s all I could think of today as I followed the news from Las Vegas. I though about that San Diego concert, of all the people who went home that night, tired but very happy, of seeing my nieces and nephew who could tell me about the concert.

And the people last night who will never go home again.

The best we can do now is pray. I know there are moments in life – such as now – when those words might seem almost trivial to some, but to people of real faith, praying is now the best way we can help those who mourn, especially prayers for the repose of the souls of those who died.

Requiescat in pace!


Following is the telegram sent by Secretary of State Pietro Parolin in the name of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, to the Most Reverend Joseph Anthony Pepe, Bishop of Las Vegas:

Deeply saddened to learn of the shooting in Las Vegas, Pope Francis sends the assurance of his spiritual closeness to all those affected by this senseless tragedy. He commends the efforts of the police and emergency service personnel, and offers the promise of his prayers for the injured and for all who have died, entrusting them to the merciful love of Almighty God.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State

The attack in Las Vegas is being described as the deadliest mass shooting in United States history. The gunman, identified by police as Stephen Paddock,64, died at the scene. Police said he fired from the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas Strip casino onto an outdoor country music festival Sunday night.


Two very important meetings will take place in Rome this week. Members of the Child Protection Center of Rome’s Jesuit-run Gregorian University will meet October 3 to 6 for a global conference on “Child Dignity in the Digital World.”

This is the result of an initiative launched by the European Union called ONE IN FIVE, referring to the fact that that one boy or girl of every five, that is, 20% of all children in Europe, are victims of sexual abuse. Father Hans Zollner, president of the Child Protection Center, said, ahead of the first global conference on “Child Dignity in the Digital World, “These are horrifying figures.”

This phenomenon circulates on the web via sextortion, sexting, cyberbullying, etc. The victims are children and adolescents in particular. Moreover, 25% of over 3.2 billion Internet users worldwide are children.

Fr. Zollner said, “The purpose of the meeting is to elicit a discussion and sharing platform, and, above all, to launch a set of actions against the sexual abuse of minors online and for the protection of minors in the digital.”

The conference will bring together people and institutions involved in countering this problem in different ways. Government representatives, business executives – especially CEOs of companies linked to the Internet world – law-enforcement authorities, NGOs, international organizations such as UNICEF, along with representatives of media outlets and religious communities: Christians, Jews and Muslims, and experts in the digital world.

The second big meeting this week is that of the Pontifical Academy for Life as members gather in Vatican City for the 23rd General assembly and the October 5 to 7 Workshop, “Accompanying Life: New Responsibilities in the Technological Era.” This is the first meeting of the Academy since the statutes were revised and new members appointed by Pope Francis.




Tune in this weekend when my guest in the interview segment is Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu. As you know I spent part of my summer vacation in beautiful Hawaii, a place I’ve fallen in love with since my first visit in 2008 to cover the life and times of then Blessed Damein of Molokai who would be canonized in 2009. Subsequent visits were to report on St. Marianne Cope and the astonishing story of a man who worked with both Damien and Marianne, Brother Joseph Dutton. Some first steps are being taken to look into the life of Dutton and a possible cause for canonization.

Among other things, Bishop Larry talks about the renovation of the Honolulu cathedral and some big anniversaries for the Church in Hawaii – the 175th anniversary of the cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, the 100th anniverary of the death of St. Marianane and the 180th anniversary of her birth.

A little piece of trivia about the Hawaiian language: it has all 5 vowels but only 7 consonants – H, K, L, M, N, P and W.

Here are some of the photos I took during an evening visit to the cathedral with Bishop Larry and a priest friend from California. As you’ll hear Bishop Larry explain, there are wonderful plans to renovate parts of this old and lovely church, as well as to create a separate area, a mini chapel, if you will, to house the relics of Saints Damien and Marianne that are currently in the cathedral.

Our Lady of Peace –

Relics of St. Marianne and St. Damien –

I took the following two photos last summer before the altar was moved forward and the pews moved to face the altar.

As shown in this renovation plan, the pews now face the altar –

Here you can see what the cathedral will look like after cleaning and restoration –

The original altar is now behind a see-through screen which will be permanently removed: the current altar has been moved forward from its earlier position in the center of the church:

Bishop Silva’s grandparents were baptized at this font –

In this rendition, you can see the small side chapel that will be built to house the relics of Hawaii’s two saints –

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