Friday, June 27, 2014
At about the same time Pope Francis was to arrive at Gemelli Hospital in Rome for an afternoon visit of a bit over three hours, the Vatican posted a communique on the press office website that said: Due to a sudden indisposition, the Holy Father will not go this afternoon to Gemelli for the previously announced visit. Cardinal Scola will celebrate Mass and deliver the homily prepared by the Holy Father.

The Pope was to mark the 50th anniversary of this Rome hospital.

There have been a few cancellations of papal events and audiences in recent months due to indispositions, as well as to probable fatigue from jam-packed schedules. Even people half the Popes 77 years might have to lighten their load if they kept up the pace that Francis has had since his election. The Pope did say his usual morning Mass today in the Santa Marta residence and dedicated much of his homily to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to Gods love for mankind.

With todays announcement even though we do not know the symptoms or nature of the indisposition - I am wondering if perhaps Pope Francis has an allergy, a food allergy, that he does not know about. I mention an allergy because, not many years ago I suffered severe pain after some meals to the point of not even wanting to talk (those who know me know how serious that would be!) and it was due to an allergy. It took eons for me to piece everything together. First it was just one instance or two, happening on only a handful of occasions over a number of years. I slowly realized it was only after a meal, then realized it happened only in the U.S., then realized only at my sister's and, after a long process of deduction, I realized I had an allergy to avocados! That was the only place I ever ate them - they were rarely if ever sold in Italy at the time. Id love the papal indisposition to be something this simple.

Thanks for all the prayers you are saying for Pope Francis. By the by, today is the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and, as part of his afternoon at Gemelli, the Pope was to visit the hospitals Sacred Heart church and donate two relics of blood from Saints John XXIII and John Paul II.

I had a piece of good news today, namely, that a friend was just named the new bishop of Gaylord in Michigan, succeeding Bishop Bernie Hebda (another very good friend), now the coadjutor in Newark. Msgr. Steven Raica, appointed by Pope Francis, has a long history of living in Rome, and we first met when he was superior of the Casa Santa Maria, the downtown campus, if you will, of the North American College. Once the original site of NAC, our seminary in Rome, the building now is home to priests who are furthering their studies in Rome, many at the nearby Gregorian University. Msgr Raica, a man of many degrees (a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Michigan State University, a master's degree in religious studies from the University of Detroit, and a licentiate and doctorate from the Gregorian Pontifical University of Rome) and many languages (English, Italian, Polish, Latin and sign language) was, up to today, chancellor of the diocese of Lansing.

A HEADS-UP. In case you do not see this column Monday, June 30, it will be because I will be taking a day off to celebrate my birthday with friends from Rome and friends from out of town who are here for a brief visit, for work and/or to attend Sundays pallium ceremony.


My guest this week on Vatican Insider is Bishop Maroun Laham, patriarchal vicar for Jordan, who tells a wonderful story about Pope Francis Holy Land trip and about life as a Christian in Jordan.

What is a patriarchal vicar? He is part of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem - basically the archdiocese of Jerusalem - which has jurisdiction for all Latin Church Catholics in Israel, the state of Palestine, Jordan and Cyprus the Holy Land. The current patriarch is Jordan-born Fouad Twal (and the patriarch, by the by, also holds the office of Grand Prior of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.

The patriarchate has auxiliary bishops and vicars for the various regions and Bishop Laham is the vicar for Jordan.

We spoke in his office in Amman during my recent six-day visit to Jordan.

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live 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. Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives:


The Vatican announced today that the first stage in the canonical trial against the former apostolic nuncio in the Dominican Republic, Josef Wesolowski, has been concluded with the laicization of the prelate.

Wesolowski, a former Vatican ambassador, has been found guilty of sex abuse, convicted by a church tribunal and laicized. He was ordained both a priest and bishop by a fellow Pole, St. John Paul II.

The accused, says the VIS translation, has two months in which to make an eventual appeal. The penal trial before the Vatican judicial authorities will continue as soon as the canonical sentence has been made definitive.

Finally, with reference to recent media reports, it is necessary to specify that until now Msgr. Wesolowski has been granted relative freedom of movement, as he awaits the verification by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith of the basis of these accusations made against him.

Considering the sentence passed by the aforementioned dicastery, all the necessary procedures will be adopted in relation to the former nuncio, in conformity with the gravity of the case.


(ANSA) - Work was due to begin Thursday on construction of a metal walkway above Rome's famous Trevi Fountain, allowing visitors to follow the progress of a restoration project slated to take a year and a half. Construction of the walkway is scheduled for completion by the end of the month, after which the restoration of the Baroque materpiece will begin in earnest. Meanwhile, workmen have replaced metal fencing around the fountain immortalized in Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita with transparent panels to allow visitors to get a better view.

The restoration is being financed by the fashion house Fendi, which donated over 2 million euros to the project. During restoration visitors wanting to take part in the traditional ritual of tossing a coin into the fountain will be able to take aim at a special basin from the walkway.

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