Caption contest: Which were your favorites?

Pope Francis talks with Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano as he arrives for his first state visit to the Quirinal presidential palace in Rome Nov. 14. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis talks with Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano as he arrives for his first state visit to the Quirinal presidential palace in Rome Nov. 14. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

If you missed it, yesterday after Pope Francis went to Italy’s presidential palace for his first state visit, we couldn’t resist calling for a caption contest for this Paul Haring photo of the pope with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.

Well, it wasn’t really a contest with prizes (we’ll leave that to our friends at The Catholic Weekly in Sydney, Australia) and we weren’t going to declare winners or runners-up. That’s good because so many captions were suggested, especially on our Facebook page, that it would be hard to declare an overall winner. (I won’t even mention that on a Friday afternoon after a busy week, I’m not feeling very ambitious.)

But there were some great ideas that should not go unnoticed. For instance, this was a clear favorite among some at CNS:

And here’s one with a historical reference (if you don’t get it, just reread our story):

Or, there’s simple:

As I indicated above, be sure to check out the comments on our Facebook page as well. Right now there are 170 replies there. (You don’t need to be a Facebook member to look.)

Or, suggest your own below.

Full house at the home of mercy

World Youth Day pilgrim goes to confession at park in Rio de Janeiro

A pilgrim at confession at Boa Vista Park in Rio de Janeiro in July 2013. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

VATICAN CITY — There’s been lots of anecdotal evidence of a boom in people going to confession because of what Pope Francis has been saying about it:

  • It’s not a psychiatric session that neglects the question of sin or a mental email to God that avoids the face-to-face encounter with the Lord through the priest.
Priest hears a confession during diocesan-wide Day of Penance at New York church

Father Dennis Noelke hears a confession at Christ the King Church in Irondequoit, N.Y., during the diocese’s Day of Penance in March. (CNS photo/Mike Crupi, Catholic Courier)

It’s an encounter with Jesus whose “mercy motivates us to do better,” the pope has said.

“God is happy when he gives us his mercy,” and it’s that invitation to not be afraid to ask for God’s forgiveness that is fueling the boom, said the regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican court that deals with the sacrament of penance.

Msgr. Krzysztof Nykie told Vatican Radio today that the four papal basilicas and churches around the Vatican are “full of people who are asking for confession and for dedicating time for prayer,” particularly on a Wednesday general audience day and the day of the Sunday Angelus.

PRIEST HEARS CONFESSION DURING PENANCE SERVICE

A priest hearing confession during a penance service led by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Basilica March 13, 2008. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

“They are coming to confession with greater confidence and a sincere spirit of repentance,” he said.

The pope has been emphasizing the importance of the sacrament of reconciliation because “God’s mercy is at the heart of the Gospel message,” the monsignor said.

“Jesus came to save those who are lost,” and the pope wants all men and women to know that conversion and salvation are always possible at any time in life.

He said he hoped more and more people would see the confessional as a unique place “to experience God’s love as greater than any sin.”

It’s the same message the officials at the Apostolic Penitentiary have been giving for a while, as can be seen in this CNS story right before Pope Francis’ March 13 election.  Now it’s a message more people seem to be hearing.

Love thy neighbor

Pope leaves Basilica of St. John Lateran after meeting with clergy from Diocese of Rome

Pope Francis leaving the Basilica of St. John Lateran after a meeting with clergy from the Diocese of Rome Sept. 16. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY — There may be a slight change in protocol tomorrow when Pope Francis makes his first official state visit to Italy.

The traditional visit is held at the Quirinale the ornate Italian presidential palace in the heart of Rome that served for centuries as a papal residence until 1870, when the Papal States were overthrown and Italy was united.

Italian military police patrol around St. Peter's Square at Vatican

Members of the Carabinieri, the Italian military police force, patroling around St. Peter’s Square Feb. 21. (CNS photo/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters)

The formal encounter is marked by colorful ceremony, pomp and pageantry.

The pope is typically escorted by Italian security from the border between Vatican City and Italy.  A military band plays as the pope rides slowly in a motorcade through downtown Rome, past crowds of cheering Romans, his car flanked by a squad of helmeted carabinieri police on horseback and motorcycles. There’s a quick pit stop at city hall to greet the mayor before taking off again up the hill to the 16th-century (formerly papal, now presidential) palace to meet with the Italian president and other dignitaries.

POPE WALKS WITH ITALIAN PRESIDENT DURING OFFICIAL STATE VISIT

Pope Benedict XVI walking with Italian President Azeglio Ciampi during his first official state visit to the Quirinal Palace in Rome June 24, 2005. (CNS photo from L’Osservatore Romano)

Maybe to save money or to mirror Pope Francis’ more simple style, Italian officials said the motorcade will be significantly reduced tomorrow and the fancy plume-helmeted police will leave their horses back at the barracks. They also promised there would be some new features while still respecting the proper protocol for a visiting pope.

What’s interesting is the pope is the only head of state Italy still pulls out all the stops for.

POPE ARRIVES TO LEAD ANGELUS AT VATICAN

Italian flags fly during a Sunday Angelus address in St. Peter’s Square in Nov. 2011. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

When the fledgling republic was formed after 1946, Italy apparently drove every visiting head of state in a presidential vehicle, accompanied by police on horseback, for 12 miles from the airport to the Quirinale.

Over time the ceremonial motorcade was cut back to the last half-mile from Piazza Venezia, but even that got scrapped eventually because it caused (more than the usual) traffic snarls and irate commuters.

“We see faith, love rising from the ruins”

Woman comforts pregnant relative at makeshift birthing clinic after super typhoon hits Philippines

A woman comforts a pregnant relative having labor pains before she delivered a baby Nov. 11 at a makeshift birthing clinic in typhoon-battered Tacloban, Philippines. (CNS photo/Erik De Castro, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY — With his voice quavering and overcome with emotion, Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila thanked people for supporting desperately needed relief efforts in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan.

In an interview just posted on Vatican Radio, the cardinal said the risk of further deaths from starvation or lack of clean water is very real as some affected areas still haven’t gotten aid, especially poorer villages where people are on “the brink of real hunger and thirst and the lack of basic necessities.”

While the unimaginable level of destruction has left people shocked and speechless, the outpouring of support is offering deep consolation, he said.

Girl transfers drinking water she collected after super typhoon hits Philippines

A girl transfers drinking water she collected from a faucet Nov. 12. Aid agencies faced challenges getting food and water to hundreds of thousands of Filipinos. (CNS photo/Romeo Ranoco, Reuters)

However, it’s not enough to keep back the tears at the end of the interview as the cardinal sums up the string of tragedies the region has faced and the undying faith still displayed by the survivors.

“We see rubble, we see ruins everywhere but we see also faith, love arising from the ruins and making us stronger people. I want to thank everyone, the Holy Father, our brothers and sisters outside the country for remembering us and trying their best to reach out, in the name of the victims and the poor, we really thank you.”

Pope Francis again called for generosity both in prayers and concrete assistance:

Caritas Internationalis and their member organizations are continuing their appeals for help.

  • €6 ($8) provides a water kit for a family. This includes 1 jerry can, 1 pail and tabs for water purification.
  • €11 ($15) provides an emergency shelter kit. This includes tarps and nails that are combined with local materials to create emergency shelter.
  • €16 ($22) provides household living supplies. This includes sleeping mats, three blanket, utensils, plastics, glasses, and a cooking pot.
  • €21 ($28) provides hygiene kits. This includes a two-month family supply of soap, laundry powder, toothbrush, toothpaste, feminine sanitary napkins, and towels.

There are many ways to help and all of them are as easy as a click of a button:

Also Cardinal Tagle published this “Prayer for Calamities” today in English and Tagalog

UPDATED: Where to give to help Typhoon Haiyan victims

Catholic aid agencies helping Filipinos affected by Typhoon Haiyan, the largest Pacific storm of the year and perhaps the largest storm ever,  are seeking donations.

(CRS/Reuters)

(CRS/Reuters)

The Catholic Relief Services country representative in the Philippines, Joe Curry, said this typhoon — known in the Philippines as Yolanda — combined with Typhoon Bopha last December and the earthquake in October created a “very trying time … for all the people in the middle of it and being affected by it.”

Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based international network of Catholic aid agencies, was accepting donations on its website. Catholic Relief Services, a Caritas network member in the United States, had a “Donate Now” button on its website page that explained its plans. And Filipinos who want to donate can go directly to Caritas Philippines.

Other agencies providing help include the Catholic Medical Mission Board , Cross Catholic Outreach and the International Catholic Migration Commission.

Encore: the Vatican’s conductor in red

VATICAN CITY — Imagine a musical conductor dressed in red instead of the traditional black. On May 15, 2011, Italian Cardinal Domenico Bartolucci, who died today at the age of 96, was wearing his cardinal red as he directed a choir during a Tridentine Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica. It was the first time in several decades that the old Mass had been celebrated at the altar.

I was searching for images of Cardinal Bartolucci today and came across this video clip I made of him that day. It’s short glimpse into the life of a man who led the Sistine Chapel Choir for more than 40 years. Beauty will live on.

Pope Francis ranks #1 most talked about name on the net

VATICAN CITY — Of the 1.83 billion people chatting and posting in English on the Internet, guess what they’ve been talking about most ?

Pope leads general audience at Vatican

Crowd captures Pope Francis on their mobile devices as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter’s Square May 20. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Not only is Pope Francis the most talked about name of 2013, his twitter handle @Pontifex ranks in the top-five “top words” on the World Wide Web.

The Austin, Texas-based Global Language Monitor combs the web and ranks the words, phrases and names that get the heaviest and widest usage in the English language worldwide.

The results of their annual survey of top terms used during 2013 rank “Pope Francis” as the #1 proper name most talked about on the web ahead of “ObamaCare” and “NSA” — the U.S. National Security Agency.

@Pontifex ranked fourth in the list of top words being used.

http 404Coming in first for top words on the Internet, according to GLM, was “404” — an HTTP code that appears after trying to follow a broken link; second  goes to “fail,” which was a popular catchphrase and Internet meme depicting failed outcomes; and third is “hashtag” — the pound sign that turns any word or phrase into a kind of metadata tag #LookItUp.

Some past top words and names from other years include “Apocalypse,” “Occupy,” “Newtown,” and “Steve Jobs.”

GLM said it determines the top words, names and phrases by analyzing “global discourse” on the Internet, blogs, media outlets and social media.

 

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