“St. Francis Slept Here” in need of repair

ROME — A community of Franciscan friars are “taking it to the streets,” appealing to the general public — and not strapped government coffers —  to finance the restoration of a darkened cell where St. Francis of Assisi stayed during his visits to Rome.

st. francis a ripa

The Church of St. Francis at Ripa in Rome.

The Franciscans in charge of Rome’s Church of St. Francis at Ripa have turned to the Kickstarter “crowd-funding” platform in the hopes of raising $125,000 in 40 days. As of this writing, they had just $7,800 pledged with only 24 days left for the campaign.

The friars turned to Kickstarter, they said, because they wanted it to be a grassroots effort so “the highest number of people around the world” could join their efforts and have a stake in the restoration project.

Also, given today’s severe economic crisis, the friars didn’t want to ask for funding from the government, which is facing a continued budget crisis, and whose resources, they said, should be dedicated to urgent and basic public assistance.

cell entrance 1

Doorway of the cell where St. Francis used to sleep when he visited Rome. (Screengrab from the Franciscan’s Kickstarter webpage)

All donors will have their names inscribed on panels near the entrance of the restored cell as well as receive a certificate that’s “suitable for framing.”

Depending on the amount pledged, donors receive an additional gift, such as a wooden Tau key chain, a St. Francis mousepad, T-shirt or mug, or a DVD of the Franco Zeffirelli film, “Brother Sun, Sister Moon.”

Larger contributions can get you four-star hotel accommodations in Rome and a private tour of the restored cell.

St. Francis first stayed in the tiny room when he came to Rome in 1209 to meet Pope Innocent III to get official approval for the Franciscan order.

He stayed in the same cell on several occasions, using — for a pillow — a slab of stone, which can still be seen by visitors.

st francis pillow

The stone “pillow” St. Francis used to rest his head can be seen behind the metal grate. (Screengrab from the Franciscan’s Kickstarter webpage).

The Franciscans hope the room, with its soot-covered walls, rotting wooden ceiling, scuffed floors and flaking frescoes, can be restored in time for this year’s  Oct. 4 feast day of St. Francis. His namesake, Pope Francis, has been invited to the restoration’s unveiling that same day, they said.

A Polish priest, a pistol and a plane

VATICAN CITY — In an era of such heightened airport security, it seems impossible a regular passenger would ever be allowed to board a plane with a handgun.

the priest

Polish Father Dariusz Ras, director of the John Paul II museum in Wadowice, Poland. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)

But if you’re on a flight tonight from Rome to Poland, that young blond priest with an unusual black carry-on case just might be packing a pistol — the very same pistol Turkish gunman, Mehmet Ali Agca, used in his assassination attempt of Blessed John Paul II.

Polish Father Dariusz Ras is the director of the John Paul II museum, which is located in the pope’s childhood home in Wadowice.

He was in Rome today to attend a formal handing-over ceremony to receive the gun Ali Agca used to shoot the pope May 13, 1981, in St. Peter’s Square.

During a visit to the Vatican press office, the priest told a small group of us journalists that he’ll be circled by special agents at the airport and will have to hand the case over to the pilot, who will keep it locked up during the flight.

It took a year to get permission and the necessary permits to receive and transport the gun over national borders. The gun will be on a three-year loan to the museum, which will celebrate a special April 9 inauguration ceremony.

The museum’s 16 exhibits each focus on a particular aspect of the Polish pope’s history, helping visitors “get inside the life” of Pope John Paul, Father Ras told me. They were “very interested,” he said, in having the gun on display in the section on the assassination attempt.

the gun

A photograph taken of a photograph — courtesy of Italian journalist Franco Bucarelli — of the handgun used by Ali Agca to shoot Pope John Paul II.

The gun is in the custody of the Italian Ministry of Justice in its archive of criminal evidence. According to the Lateran Pacts, any crime committed in St. Peter’s Square, an open area that borders on Italian territory, falls to the Italian police, which is why Italians took over the investigation and trial of Ali Agca.

Father Ras said the Gemelli hospital, where popes go for hospitalized treatment and care, is donating the hospital room furniture, including hospital bedsheets, used by Blessed John Paul during his time there.

Biggest downside of being pontiff is the paperwork, Pope Francis says

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

(CNS/Paul Haring)

(CNS/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The thing Pope Francis dislikes most about his job as pontiff is the paperwork, he told residents of an Argentine slum in which he used to minister.

“Paperwork, office work, it’s the thing I always struggled with,” the pope said in response to the question, “What’s the thing you like least about your mission as pope?”

The pope’s remarks came during a pre-recorded televised video message to the residents of Village 1-11-14 — a Buenos Aires’ shantytown inhabited mostly by South American immigrants.

Members of the community radio station, Radio FM 88 of Bajo Flores, conducted the interview with the pope at the Vatican before he left for a Lenten retreat outside of Rome March 9.

The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published small portions of the interview March 14.

The station broadcast the question-and-answer interview for residents on large screens after a March 13 Mass celebrating the one-year anniversary of the pope’s election.

As Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, the pope used to minister in the slums of the city: sharing simple meals with residents, celebrating the sacraments in their parishes and taking Communion to the elderly in their homes.

He encouraged and supported priests to minister in the “peripheries” where the city’s poorest and most marginalized lived, the newspaper said.

The pope was asked in the interview about the work of these “curas villeros,” or priests ministering in the shanties, and whether they represented leftist ideals.

The pope said the priests’ work “wasn’t something ideological but rather (is) an apostolic mission.”

In reference to a question about a priest slain in 1974 and other priests similarly accused of being communist, the pope said, “They were not communist.” Instead, they were “great priests who fought for life: They worked to bring the Word of God to the marginalized. They were priests who listened to the people of God and fought for justice.”

The pope also pointed out the need to have an approach “of poverty, service and helping others” while also letting oneself be helped by others. He asked his audience to pray for him, saying he “needed the support of the people of God, especially through prayer.”

Teach your children well: The Pope Francis guide to education

VATICAN CITY — Among his many traits, retired Pope Benedict XVI is well-known as a brilliant professor. But how many people know about Pope Francis’ early ties to teaching and education?

Pope Francis smiles as he meets with students from Jesuit schools at Vatican

Pope Francis smiles as he meets with students from Jesuit schools at the Vatican June 7, 2013. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

Teaching is a normal part of the Jesuit vocation, and the future pope started out teaching high school literature and psychology right after he got his degree in philosophy. Then, after getting his theology degree, he continued teaching, this time theology and philosophy, and served as a rector of a major seminary in Buenos Aires.

The pope’s experience and insight inspired him to always encourage educators and teachers.

And now a new book, released this month, compiles the reflections, messages and talks he gave to teachers and educators in Argentina between 2008 and 2011.

The book, “Education for Choosing Life,” is being published in English by Ignatius Press. It shows how the pope sees education as “an act of hope” and how faith and the Christian vision of humanity fuel that hope.book cover

He also expresses the need for passion and creativity as added weapons against the spirit of the “mundane” that’s seeking to numb, distract or discourage our youth.

The book is available in other languages through other publishers, but the Ignatius Press’ English-version can only be sold in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, according to the publishers’ website.

Pope Francis’ unique approach to teaching made a huge impact on at least one of his former students, and you can read our story about it right here.

Pope Francis reacts to children during special event for families in St. Peter's Square

Pope Francis reacts to children during a Year of Faith family life celebration at the Vatican Oct. 26, 2013. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

The same March 1 “La Civilta Cattolica” article with Jorge Milia included an article the young Father Bergoglio wrote for the high school’s annual publication for the students, parents and alumni in 1965.

The piece focuses on the importance of teaching young people to discern truth from rhetoric and “the song of the Sirens.”

Pope Francis reacts to children during special event for families in St. Peter's Square

Pope Francis at a Year of Faith celebration of family life Oct. 26, 2013. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

He wrote that we are accomplices in “the tragedy of truth being welcomed just halfway” unless we are sure young people are prepared to go out into the world with the full guidance and expression of the truth.

He asked:

When graduates go on to university or elsewhere, will they know how to use “the sword” of truth expressed clearly, forcefully and completely against “the noisy skylarks of eternal students, the huge bigmouths at the service of error, who are like giant pots: the emptier the vessel, the more sound they make?”

Rhetoric and lies can be “brilliant and seductive,” Father Bergoglio wrote. Too often when trying to teach about truth, teachers and adults stop halfway “with ice cold timidity, incapable of addressing the message to others with the luminosity of the whole truth.”

The future pope wrote that the problem isn’t just knowing what the truth is and being dedicated to it, it’s also knowing how to express it “with brilliance and fruitfulness.” And that can only be done, he wrote, by trying to live like Jesus — reflecting deeply on the truth and expressing it definitively, courageously and clearly as an act of love.

One year later, same request: “Pray for me!”

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis marked the one-year anniversary of his election with prayer — a fitting way to celebrate — since he is on a Lenten spiritual retreat outside of Rome.

But he did take a quick break to make sure this tweet got out:

…nicely similar to his very first tweet as pope:

francis first tweet

Be sure to check out our exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how we at Catholic News Service covered the memorable day of his election by going to this slideshow here.

Here are a few images to show you want’s in store:

cover prezi

slide at end

Still in keeping with #ThrowbackThursday, check out our video coverage from that day, too:


The conclave guessing game: lessons from a numbers geek

Cardinals seen in Sistine Chapel to begin conclave to elect successor to Pope Benedict at Vatican

Cardinals from around the world in the Sistine Chapel March 12, 2013, as they began the conclave to elect a new pope. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

VATICAN CITY — A year-ago today, as the world’s cardinals solemnly filed into the Sistine Chapel to elect a new pope, news outlets, blogs and betting sites were abuzz with papal prognostications.

I wanted to take an informal stab at it myself using some tips from the U.S. statistician, Nate Silver, who had correctly predicted the outcome of the 2008 U.S. presidential election.

I thought it’d be a fun experiment to apply some of the approaches he had outlined in his book, “The Signal and the Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail — but Some Don’t.”

Here’s what I looked at in the few days before the conclave:

  • What were the challenges facing the world and the church in 1978 and 2005?
  • What “winning” qualities did Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI — the men who were elected those years — possess?

From there, I drafted a rough list of what church leaders and others were saying in 2013 about the pressing challenges.

Here are just a few examples:

Cardinals seen in Sistine Chapel to begin conclave to elect successor to Pope Benedict at Vatican

Shut off from the outside world, cardinals from around the world cast ballots to elect a new pontiff in a conclave that began March 12, 2013. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

  • Religious freedom, oppression in parts of Asia; persecution and violence in the Middle East and Africa; infringements in the western world.
  • Secularism and globalization.
  • Latin America losing Catholics, Asia growing.
  • Church needing to be “attractive,” new evangelization and need to be “outspoken.”
  • Making Jesus the center of liturgy, lives, prayer.
  • Problem of sex abuse.
  • Catechism and solid foundations of faith.
  • Attention to young people.
  • Orthodoxy, importance of Catholic identity for universities, charities.
  • Lapsed Catholics; family; sacraments.
  • Vocations.

Then I scribbled down some of the winning qualities that people were looking for and would be needed to face the challenges:

  • A spiritual leader (strong prayer life).
  • Energy, strength to travel; but how young/old is too young/old?
  • Can clean up Curia/problems that make church look bad.
  • Makes faith attractive.
  • Smart; simple, clear communication.
  • Honest, down-to-earth.
  • See young people as important.
  • Represents the message the church wants to send the world.
  • From Asia, Latin America, Africa.
  • Charismatic; humble; multilingual.
Cardinals enter Sistine Chapel to begin conclave to elect successor to Pope Benedict at Vatican

Cardinals entering the Sistine Chapel in prayer March 12, 2013, as they begin the conclave. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Silver said also to list any biases that might affect the way the data is read. So I listed the common opinion that the pope “not be Italian” and the need for someone “young” or with “strength of mind and body,” as Pope Benedict himself had said.

Then I looked at several cardinals and their lives, and rated them according to how well each man possessed the needed/winning qualities to confront today’s challenges. I calculated what chances they had of winning, of losing, and of having won in the past.

I only had time to look at 14 cardinals out of the 117 electors. But one of those men was Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, whom I gave an 80% chance of winning and a 60% chance of losing (mostly because of his age — he was 76, and lack of languages).

bergoglio stats

A print-out of cardinal-electors, showing my Nate Silver-inspired stat results on March 12, 2013, for Cardinal Bergoglio’s chances of being elected pope.

But those pretty good percentages put him behind what I had calculated for Pope Francis’ close friend, 70-year-old Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras. I had given him a 90% chance of winning and a 10% chance of losing, noting his focus on the poor, writings on globalization, his strong voice for Latin America, language abilities, courage to “put out into the deep,” his work on sanctity of life; and importance of evoking God in a secular world.

Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila got the next highest marks with a 90% chance of winning, but a 20% chance of losing (too young) noting the following “winning” qualities: “Asian, rides the bus, humble, Vatican II scholar, has ‘star power,’ intellect,” communicates clearly, with focus on youth.


Window of the Holy Spirit above Bernini’s sculpture, “The Throne of St. Peter,” in St. Peter’s Basilica Feb. 19, 2012. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The good thing about Silver’s approach is you’re supposed to adjust the percentages as you collect more data and I didn’t have that much time to find out more about Cardinal Bergoglio. Had I known he was another friend of public transport, I would have boosted his Win score up to 85%!

But probably the best lesson Silver offers is to never forget the limitations posed by human nature, our biases and our limited access to all the information out there.

We want to try to predict the future and be sure about what’s going to happen. But, he said we should be more humble about our ability to perceive and predict the world. And then when you add the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit at work, well, then all bets are off!

A year in review & where to send anniversary greetings

Argentina's flag seen as crowd in St. Peter's Square reacts to white smoke

The flag of Argentina is seen as the crowd in St. Peter’s Square reacts to white smoke billowing from the Sistine Chapel chimney March 13, 2013 at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY — As the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ election draws near, many initiatives have kicked off to help celebrate that memorable day.

The Vatican Internet office has put together a beautiful picture-book online that captures vivid images and memorable quotes from Francis’ pontificate, and includes links to the original, complete texts.

World Youth Day Rio 2013 organizers created a video compiling highlights of the first Latin American pope’s first year.

They also are asking people to send their prayers, greetings and reflections via Facebook, Twitter or direct message using the hashtag #ThankYouFrancis. Messages are being posted on their site at www.graziefrancesco.com and delivered to Pope Francis in person.

thankyoufrancis logo

Screen-grab of http://www.graziefrancesco.com message feed March 11.

Pope Francis’ popularity with young Catholics clear, but previous popes’ styles offer lessons for the young, too

By Katherine Talalas
Catholic News Service    

         WASHINGTON (CNS) — The producers of Canada’s Catholic TV channel, Salt + Light, visited The Catholic University of America Feb. 27 with a special message for youth and young adult leaders. While Pope Francis has been extraordinarily popular among millennials, past popes also have lessons to share — and their example can help win young souls for Christ.

                Basilian Father Thomas M. Rosica, CEO of Salt + Light, and producers Sebastian Gomes and Cheridan Sanders spoke to a group of students on “The Significance of Messages and Contributions of John XXIII, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis to Youth/Young Adult Ministry.”

                Each speaker shared four lessons that youth and young adult ministers could take from each pope.               

Blessed John XXIII (CNS photo)

Blessed John XXIII (CNS photo)

                Gomes spoke about Blessed John XXIII, whom many compare to Pope Francis. Born into poverty, he had great compassion for the poor. Most of all, “he sought to be like the saints and care for souls,” Gomes said.

                Four lessons from Blessed John XXIII:

                1. He showed young Catholics the value of slowly progressing in holiness. Blessed John XXIII’s diary, “Journey of a Soul,” documents his daily struggles with pride, gossip, and failure in his prayer life. Said Gomes, “a lot of people are searching, and we give them this idea that Christianity is a light-bulb moment.” Blessed John reminds us that faith is a journey, and that individuals can gradually grow into holiness.

                2. He was devoted to dialogue and reconciliation with people of diverse backgrounds and faiths. While serving as an apostolic delegate representing the church in several non-Catholic countries, Blessed John XXIII encountered beliefs and traditions that most Catholics had never heard of. He was eager to engage people of all faiths, and was the first pope to address an encyclical to “all people of goodwill,” rather than specifically to Catholics.

                3. Blessed John XXIII had a great love of history. “History is a gift, but also a reference book,” said Gomes. The pope was passionate about history and was determined to learn from the past. As Catholics, we have tremendous history to draw from, which can guide us and strengthen our witness to others.

                4. His example helps us to move beyond political categories. Labels such as “liberal” or “conservative” are limiting for Catholic believers, and can even be destructive. Blessed John XXIII did not fit into either category. “It is really only the great conservatives who can make progressive decisions,” Gomes noted.               

Blessed John Paul II (CNS photo/Catholic Press Photo)

Blessed John Paul II (CNS photo/Catholic Press Photo)

Father Rosica discussed the legacy of Blessed John Paul II, whom he had known personally through his work for World Youth Day. This pope’s famous love and sympathy for young people made him a champion for youth ministers.

                Four lessons from Blessed John Paul II:

                1. He focused on the centrality of Jesus Christ. According to Father Rosica, his papacy could be summed up with a simple statement: “God is rich in mercy.” The most important goal of youth and young adult ministry is to guide young people to Christ, and His mercy is available to all.

                2. He reaffirmed the meaning of orthodoxy. “Orthodoxy must go hand in hand with orthopraxy,” explained Father Rosica. “Christianity requires corresponding behavior for beliefs.” Youth and young adult ministers must support Catholics in living their faith — even when obeying Catholic doctrine distinguishes them from their peers.

                3. He provided an authentic example of individual holiness. Blessed John Paul II is universally remembered as a deeply holy man. He believed that “holiness has many faces from all corners of the world,” says Father Rosica, and deeply respected holiness in others.

                4. He was an excellent example of forgiveness. Famously, he forgave his assassin. Many Catholics remember how Blessed John Paul II visited with and extended compassion to the man who tried to kill him.

                Cheridan Sanders spoke about retired Pope Benedict XVI, whose intelligence and reason make him a powerful guide for young people seeking the truth. Sanders unpacked the generalization that Pope Benedict was “the conservative pope,” or “the pope of aesthetics.” “This does not really explain him,” Sanders said.

                Four lessons from Pope Benedict:               

Retired Pope Benedict XVI (CNS photo/Reuters)

Retired Pope Benedict XVI (CNS photo/Reuters)

               1. He had a deep and profound sense of awe. Though we live in a cynical age, gratitude and wonder open our eyes to God. “Pope Benedict loved created order, the environment, all human life, and beauty,” said Sanders. “Awe puts us in the right relationship with God, which makes us receptive to his revelations.”

                2. He was a student of life. “Even though Benedict was one of the most brilliant people in the world, he knew he didn’t have all the answers,” Sanders said. Pope Benedict respected reason, including the reason of those with whom he disagreed. Most of all, he was a curious person who enjoyed learning from others.

                3. He was gentle in correction. While Pope Benedict “was engaging and loved the world, he also wanted what was best for it,” Sanders said. He was unafraid to correct errors in thinking, albeit gently. 

           4. He had great humility. Sanders reminded youth ministers that Pope Benedict’s goodbye address had a profound lesson for them: “If you unable to do something anymore, the Holy Spirit will find someone who can.” While not always successful, Pope Benedict had a strong spirit of reconciliation, as shown by his outreach to critics of the church, including the Society of St. Pius X.      

On April 27, the feast of Divine Mercy, Pope Francis will canonize Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II in ceremonies in Rome.

Argentine politicos and pope: If you can’t beat him, join him

By David Agren

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — As archbishop of the Argentine capital, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio clashed with President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and her late husband, former President Nestor Kirchner.

Shortly after being the cardinal was elected pope, however, posters blanketed Buenos Aires proclaiming Pope Francis an “Argentine and Peronist,” with the president’s supporters claiming Pope Francis as one of their own. They said he was part of the Peronist project to which they belong and which has dominated Argentine politics.

A 2013 poster for midterm elections in Buenos Aires, Argentina, features a photo of Pope Francis with Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Martin Insaurralde, mayor of Buenos Aires' Lomas de Zamora district. (CNS photo/Reuters)

A 2013 poster for midterm elections in Buenos Aires, Argentina, features a photo of Pope Francis with Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Martin Insaurralde, mayor of Buenos Aires’ Lomas de Zamora district. (CNS photo/Reuters)

“Pope Francis has always been a fellow Peronist,” says Carlos Luque, one of the thousands of government supporters streaming from the Plaza del Congreso after the president delivered a three-hour address to Congress in early March.

Church observers say Pope Francis was at one time an adherent of Peronism, a political movement founded by former President Juan Peron and his wife, Eva Peron. The movement has had strains stretching from left to right on the political spectrum.

“Bergoglio always came across as allied with Peronism. Why? Because Bergoglio probably saw in Peronism a non-Marxist force and sensitive to people’s needs,” says Jose Maria Poirier, director of the Catholic magazine, Criterio.

“In the 1960s, Bergoglio was against the Peronism of the left that ended up in guerrilla movements. He instead stayed closer to a Peronism that was more to the right.”

Then Nestor Kirchner came to power after the political and economic crisis of 2001, when Argentina defaulted on its debts of nearly $100 billion. Supporters speak of both Kirchners’ spending on social programs, students and the poor.

Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio greets worshippers after celebrating Holy Thursday Mass in 2008 at a church in the Parque Patricios neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina. (CNS/Reuters)

Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio greets worshippers after celebrating Holy Thursday Mass in 2008 at a church in the Parque Patricios neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina. (CNS/Reuters)

But in the capital, the cardinal expressed suspicions of their populist politics and promotion of patronage groups among the poor. He criticized corruption during the traditional Te Deum Mass, celebrated on the May 25 national holiday and attended by the president.

The Kirchners took the criticism personally and stopped attending. Poirier figures they disliked the pope’s style as much as substance.

“One of the problems for Cristina Kirchner is that she’s not credible,” Poirier says.

“She has a certain charisma and political popularity, but her discourse often changes, and there’s a distance between the enrichment of many ministers and real life,” he adds.

“There’s a discourse that is not accompanied with a lifestyle. One of things that bothered them most about Bergoglio was his austerity.”

But with election of Pope Francis, priests and observers say both sides have made improving the relationship a priority. It’s improved to the point that Fernandez is expected to attend the Te Deum Mass this year, instead of heading for the provinces.

“Bergoglio has seen many people from Argentina now that he’s pope,” said Poirier. “He’s seen many politicians, union leaders, economic directors, and what generally leaks out is that he says: ‘Tend to Cristina. She has to finish her term. Institutions must be looked after. She’s the president.’”

A special blessing in Rome

VATICAN CITY — Catholic News Service was proud to have U.S. Cardinal J. Francis Stafford bless the new office of the Rome bureau, which is now just a short sprint from St. Peter’s Square.

CNS' new office at Via della Conciliazione 44

CNS Rome bureau’s new office on the Via della Conciliazione near the Vatican in Rome. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

CNS has had a presence in Rome since the 1920s and the bureau’s new location, with a view of the basilica, places us “on the final leg of the pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Peter,” the cardinal said, a pilgrimage in search of the truth and communicating that truth.

Here is a an excerpt from the cardinal’s lovely and reflective remarks to us during the office blessing March 3. His full text will be republished by CNS’ documentary service, Origins.

“You are engaged in communication. Within the church your work on behalf of the Holy See and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops would be described as ministry, a holy calling, a response to a divine welcome. Communications is your sacred profession. It requires an inner spiritual maturity and a search for more than hard facts. It requires a seeking after the truth.”

– Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, retired head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, former bishop of Baltimore, Memphis and archbishop of Denver

office blessing stafford

Cardinal J. Francis Stafford blessing the CNS Rome bureau’s new office March 3. He is surrounded by CNS director and editor-in-chief Tony Spence, the staff of the Rome bureau and family members. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)


After the blessing, CNS hosted a small party, inviting Vatican officials, religious involved in communications, journalists and friends from the United States and around the world.

Here is one of the many distinguished guests who stopped by:

cardinal burke spence rocca

From left, U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signature; Tony Spence, CNS director and editor-in-chief; Francis X. Rocca, Rome bureau chief.


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