Next up on Hill: hearing for nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Vatican

The Senate hearing for theology professor Miguel Diaz, President Barack Obama’s pick to be the new U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, takes place Wednesday. 

He’ll be one of four ambassador nominees facing questions from the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee. The others are Obama’s choices for ambassador to Morocco, Saudi Arab and Tajikistan.

Diaz teaches at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn., and at nearby St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn. His selection has been seen by some observers as an affirmation of the growing role Hispanic Catholics are playing in the U.S. Catholic Church.

How does the national health care reform debate look at the local community level?

With all the talk in Washington about health care reform measures lawmakers are wrangling over on Capitol Hill, what often gets lost in the national coverage of the debate is how people on the local community level are dealing with the high cost of health care.

But the Tennessee Register, newspaper of the Diocese of Nashville, Tenn., is getting at that perspective. In a two-part series, July 10 and Aug. 7, the paper is telling the stories of  people like Earl Lewis, who as a heart-transplant patient has a monthly pharmaceutical bill of $2,400 for anti-rejection pills, and health care workers, like nurse practitioner Nancy Anness, who sees what patients are coping with every day.

Pope leads Angelus, thanks people for prayers

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI recited the Angelus today in the town of Romano Canavese in northern Italy, thanking the doctors who repaired his broken right wrist and thanking the faithful all over the world who offered their prayers for him.

“As you can see, because of an accident, my mobility is a bit limited, but my heart is fully present,” he assured the crowd gathered in front of the parish church in Romano Canavese, about 50 miles away from Les Combes, where he has been vacationing.

“I offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone — and there are many of you — who have demonstrated your closeness, your sympathy and your affection for me and who have prayed for me,” he said before reciting the Angelus. “I especially want to thank the doctors and the medical staff who treated me with such diligence, compassion and friendship. As you can see, they were successful … we hope they were successful.”

The pope used his casted right hand to wave and even wiggled his still slightly swollen fingers. The swelling has gone down enough to allow him to put the papal Fisherman’s ring back on his right hand.

The right-handed, 82-year-old Pope Benedict looked especially pleased with the notebook-sized portable computer he received as a gift from the mayor of Romano Canavese. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state who was born in Romano Canavese, told the Italian news agency ANSA that the broken wrist would make it difficult for the pope to use his Alpine vacation to continue work on the second volume of his book about Jesus.

Here’s a video news report of the pope’s Angelus that you can find on the Vatican’s YouTube channel:

Pope doing well, will continue vacation

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI spent a peaceful night in Les Combes after undergoing a brief surgical procedure yesterday to repair his right wrist, which he fractured in a fall, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said this morning.

closeup of pope's left hand

Pope Benedict waves with his left hand, the intravenous catheter visible, as he leaves the hospital yesterday. (CNS/Reuters)

Last night, I forwarded to Father Lombardi a photo taken as the pope left the hospital. Our eagle-eyed photo/graphics editor, Nancy Wiechec, noticed something in a close-up of the pope’s left wrist — the one that is not in a cast. This morning, the papal spokesman told me that before the surgical procedure, the pope’s doctors had inserted a small intravenous catheter into his left wrist to deliver pain medication if needed once the local anesthetic wore off. “It was removed last night,” he said. 

The pope “slept well,” woke up, celebrated Mass this morning and had breakfast as normal, the papal spokesman said. The right-handed 82-year-old pope also is getting used to using his left hand and, of course, is disappointed that he can do no handwriting, Father Lombardi said. He did not, however, say how the pope is dealing with not playing the piano.

He also said the pope would continue his vacation in the northern Italian Alps and would travel tomorrow to Romano Canavese, the hometown of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, his secretary of state. The pope is scheduled to recite the Angelus at noon with people gathered in front of the parish church in the town about 50 miles from Les Combes.

On Friday, the pope will celebrate evening prayer with priests from the Diocese of Aosta, the spokesman said.

One pastor’s take on Year for Priests

The pastor at St. Pius X in Norfolk, Va., is encouraging parishioners to write letters and fill out prayer cards for priests to celebrate Year for Priests.

Father Venancio Balarote said it’s important to remember that priests are human.

“We need affirmation,” he said. “We need to know in reality, deep in our hearts — hey, we are all in this together in building the kingdom of God.”

CUA goes multimedia over Year for Priests

Since Pope Benedict XVI launched the start of  the Year for Priests June 19, The Catholic University of America in Washington has launched a multimedia Web site to help promote the special yearlong celebration.

The pope designated June 19 as the start of the celebration, because it’s the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priest, whom the pope has proclaimed patron of all the world’s priests.

Catholic University’s Web site is worth a look if you want to know more about the Year for Priests and the special events that will be going on. The site also promises to get even more high tech as the year goes on.

Pope fractures wrist in fall

UPDATE: Pope Benedict is undergoing a procedure under local anesthesia to set his wrist, the spokesman of Parini Hospital in Aosta told the Italian news agency ANSA. ANSA also said the pope asked to be treated like any other patient and had to wait in the radiology department for his X-ray, then again outside the surgical unit for the treatment room where the fracture was reduced.

SECOND UPDATE: Full story.

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI fell overnight, fracturing his right wrist. The pope was in the Salesian-owned chalet in the northern Italian Alps where he is vacationing.

Papal spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said, “after a fall in his room overnight, the Holy Father suffered a slight fracture of his right wrist.”

“Nevertheless, in the morning the Holy Father celebrated Mass and had breakfast, then was accompanied to the hospital in Aosta where the slight fracture was discovered and his wrist was immobilized.”

Earlier, Father Lombardi told reporters that the 82-year-old pope was advised by his doctor to go to the hospital for tests.

When asked if the pope lost consciousness, Father Lombardi told CNS, “Absolutely not.” And, he said, the pope walked to the car and into the hospital on his own two feet.

As of 11 a.m. Rome time, the pope was still in the emergency room and Father Lombardi expected him to return to the chalet in Les Combes in the early afternoon.

The spokesman said he had not yet spoken to the pope’s doctor Patrizio Polisca, who accompanied the pope to Les Combes, so he does not know if the pope’s wrist is in a cast or is simply wrapped and splinted.

The pope is scheduled to recite the Angelus Sunday with visitors gathered outside the parish church in Romano Canavese, a town about 50 miles away from the chalet. Father Lombardi said it was too early to know if that plan would change.