Hello and welcome!
As I mentioned in my previous post, last week I travelled to Rome to attend the canonizations of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II and have remained here for meetings with the Holy Father.
Leading up to the canonization, on Friday, I celebrated the Mass at my titular church in Rome, Santa Maria Della Vittoria, with the pilgrimage group that was there from Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary.
In all, there were about 20 or 30 priests concelebrating the Mass and among them were four men who have served as rectors of the seminary: Msgr. Connie McRae, Msgr. Francis Kelley, Bishop Peter Uglietto and Father Bill Palardy.
I’d like to share my homily at the Mass with you here:
After the Mass we joined the group from Pope St. John Seminary for dinner.
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We had lunch on Saturday with the Franciscans from St. Leonard’s Church in the North End who were also in Rome. They have a house of formation very close to the Vatican. So we all went there for lunch.
We took this picture on the roof of the monastery. They have a wonderful view of St. Peter’s.
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That afternoon, there was a reception at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See for some of those in Rome for the canonization.
With former Ambassador Ray Flynn and his wife Kathy at the reception
Former U.S. Ambassadors to Holy See the Miguel Diaz, Ray Flynn and James Nicholson with the current ambassador, Ken Hackett (the second from the left)
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That night, Father Bob Oliver and I had dinner with the President of Paraguay, Horacio Cartes.
President Cartes had an audience with the Holy Father on Tuesday.
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Then, of course, on Divine Mercy Sunday we had the canonization of the two popes.
The crowds were just enormous. Of course there was a huge number of Polish pilgrims. The whole area around St. Peter’s was blocked off as of Saturday night.
In this picture of the piazza at night you can see with the images of the two popes hanging on the front of the Basilica
There were probably a couple million people here for the canonization.
Of course it was great joy to have Pope Emeritus Benedict with us for the canonization.
Many heads of state also attended.
I met Queen Sofia and King Juan Carlos of Spain after the Mass and they were very gracious. Queen Sofia wore a white dress, which I understand is the prerogative of queens of Catholic countries, and of course she wore the traditional mantilla.
Queen Sofia of Spain
Of course, the reason for this great outpouring of affection is that these two popes had a very profound influence on the history of the world and the history of the Church. Both of them, also, had a connection to Boston in some ways.
Pope John XXIII, who initiated the great renewal in the Church with the Second Vatican Council, really began the ecumenical movement in the life of the Church. It was he who inspired Cardinal Cushing to found the St. James Society, which sends diocesan priests to serve in South America. In fact, it was also Pope John who inspired me to learn Spanish, because he had asked that a percentage of priests and religious from North America should go to help the growing Church in South America.
He was also the inspiration for the founding of Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary, because he had said that a vocation can come at any time in a man’s life. So Cardinal Cushing, having heard this, came back to Boston and founded the seminary for second-career vocations, which has served the Church throughout the United States so well.
Pope John Paul II was, of course, the only pope to ever visit Boston. Many remember the visit in which he celebrated Mass for over 1 million Catholics on Boston Common. And many people from Boston had an opportunity to travel to World Youth Days throughout the world to be with Pope John Paul II.
Pope John Paul II made more than 100 missionary trips throughout the world, and because of this was seen by many millions of people around the world. It is said he was seen in person by more people than anyone else in the history of the world. Many of those people grew to have a very strong connection with him and his great spirit of the new evangelization has motivated many people in their faith.
His impact in the world contributed to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the advance of freedom in Eastern Europe, something that everyone is very grateful for.
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They say it seemed like the whole world had come to Rome for the canonizations and I was beginning to think it was true because everywhere I went during those days, I kept running into groups of people from Boston.
This is a picture of a group from St. Catherine of Siena in Norwood. I didn’t know they would be in Rome but we just ran into them, so we took a picture together.
I met another group from the Madonna Queen Shrine in East Boston who were there with Father Marcelo. They joined us for the Mass at Santa Maria Della Vittoria.
There were also a number of priests from Boston who were in Rome for the canonization: Father Michael Drea, Father Dan Hennessy, Father Michael Nolan, Father Jeremy St. Martin.
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This week, after the canonizations, the group of cardinals appointed by the Holy Father to discuss the reform of the Roman Curia met for three days to continue our work. We have finished the review of the Pontifical Councils and prepare the ground work to continue our meetings in July.
Thursday, on the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, which is a holiday here in Italy, I had Mass with the members of the Commission for the Protection of Minors at the Tomb of St. Peter in St. Peter’s Basilica and that day we began our meetings.
This is the first meeting of the child protection committee, which is a very important initiative of Pope Francis. We have a distinguished international group including a member of the British House of Lords, a former Prime Minister of Poland, a very well-known survivor of sexual abuse by clergy from Dublin and experts in psychology and Canon Law. This committee will help to advise the Holy Father on best practices for child protection in Vatican City and throughout the world.
This morning we had Mass together with the Holy Father at Domus Sanctae Marthae.
These meetings will last until Saturday, after which we will have a press conference to report on our progress. Then on Sunday, I will return to Boston.
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And, in conclusion this week, I want to share a couple of pictures with you.
While I was in Rome, I visited the Church of St. Clemente and took a couple photographs, since I have mentioned it a few times lately.
This is the altar were St. Cyril is buried, one of the great apostles to the Slavs, is buried.
Until next week,