The news cycles in these past few days has been particularly intense, as events in the world and in the Vatican succeed one another at a rapid, almost dizzying pace.

    There are hundreds of active and thoughtful journalists who specialize in covering the Holy See and the Catholic Church, many living permanently in Rome and yet many living in other countries and visiting Rome from time to time over the years.

    In this letter, I wanted to just run through, at a rapid pace, a few of these stories, starting with arguably the most important, the situation in Ukraine, where there have been “rumors of war” for some days, and hopes and prayers that war will not be ignited, with the inevitable death and destruction war brings…

    So here are some of the stories unfolding in Rome in recent days, or seen from Rome, on February 16, 2022… —RM

    Pope says war in Ukraine would be “madness,” backs talks (link)

    VATICAN CITY, Feb 9 (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Wednesday [February 9, one week ago] that war in Ukraine would be “madness” and hoped that tensions between that country and Russia could be overcome through multi-lateral dialogue.

    Speaking at his Wednesday general audience, Francis thanked those who took part in his Jan. 26 international day of prayer for peace in Ukraine.

    “Let us continue to beg the God of peace so that the tensions and threats of war can be overcome through a serious dialogue and that the Normandy Format talks can contribute to this aim,” he said, referring to negotiations involving Russia and Ukraine, facilitated by Germany and France.

    “And let’s not forget. War is madness,” he said.

    Russia has massed troops near Ukraine but denies Western accusations that it is planning an attack.

    Most Ukrainians follow Orthodox Christianity, but the country is also home to its own branch of the Catholic Church, which practices an eastern rite similar to Orthodox worship while proclaiming loyalty to the Pope in Rome.

    On Tuesday, the leader of Ukraine’s Eastern-rite Catholics said he has invited Francis to visit, calling it a huge gesture that would help bring peace.

    Ukraine’s Catholic leader invites pope to visit and help bring peace (link)

    By Philip Pullella

    VATICAN CITY, Feb 8 (Reuters) – The leader of Ukraine’s Eastern-rite Catholics said on Tuesday he has invited Pope Francis to visit the country, calling it a huge gesture that would help being peace at a time of tension with Russia.

    Speaking to reporters in a video conference from Kyiv, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk said there was no need to wait for conditions to be ideal and the visit could take place even in the current circumstances.

    “We have several times expressed the desire that the Holy Father visit Ukraine. We have invited him and repeated it often,” Shevchuk said. “We are hopeful. Gestures are very important and visiting Ukraine would be a very strong gesture for all of humanity.”

    Ukraine is predominately Orthodox but about 10% of the population belong to the Eastern, or Byzantine-rite, Catholic Church, whose followers are in allegiance with Rome.

    Russia has massed troops near Ukraine but denies planning an attack.

    “There is a consensus in Ukraine, not just among Catholics but also among Orthodox and even non-believers, that Pope Francis is the most important moral authority in the world today,” Shevchuk said in Italian.

    “The people say that if the pope comes to Ukraine the war will end. They see the gesture of a papal visit as one of a messenger of peace.”

    On Jan. 26, Francis led an international day of prayer for peace in Ukraine, calling for dialogue to prevail over partisan interests.

    To visit Ukraine, the pope would have to be invited by the government and religious authorities. Russia and its Orthodox Church, which has close ties to the Kremlin, would be unlikely to welcome such a visit.

    It could also complicate matters for the pope as he tries to improve relations with the Russian Orthodox Church.

    Plans are underway for a second meeting between the pontiff and Russian Patriarch Kirill. Their meeting in Cuba in 2016 was the first between a pope and a Russian patriarch since the great schism that split Christianity into Eastern and Western branches in 1054.

    Ukraine & NATO Agree Threat of Russian Invasion ‘Low’ — But US Continues “Apocalyptic” Rhetoric (link)

    Ukraine is again trying to give Washington a dose of reality and clamping down on overly alarmist hype surrounding the potential for a Russian invasion of Ukraine. As we detailed earlier, Biden’s national security adviser in Sunday interviews said the invasion could come “any day now” – or possibly even “tomorrow”.

    Further, Western and especially US media reports continue to push the idea that Moscow is intent on pursuing military action in Ukraine. For example The Washington Post demonstrated the ongoing contention over just what Russia’s “intent” is

    Over the weekend, senior Russian officials dismissed new U.S. intelligence reports that Russia could take over Kyiv in days as alarmist and as unlikely as an attack by Washington on London.

    “Madness and scaremongering continues.… What if we would say that US could seize London in a week and cause 300K civilian deaths?” Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyanskiy, tweeted Sunday.

    Ironically, the latest high-level statements out of both Kiev and Brussels suggest that both Ukraine and NATO headquarters actually side with Russia’s criticisms of Washington’s “apocalyptic” rhetoric.

    On Sunday Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged his fellow citizens to ignore “apocalyptic predictions” that a Russian invasion is imminent. Kuleba sought to calm his country by further saying, “Different capitals have different scenarios, but Ukraine is ready for any development.” It reaffirms President Volodymyr Zelensky’s words from a week ago saying there are “no tanks in the streets” and that foreign media must stop stoking unnecessary panic.

    Click here to continue reading

    Pope Francis Introduces Changes into Canon Law (link)

    The Catholic Church moved to codify what had previously been a corpus of rules and regulations on various issues into one Code of Canon Law in 1917 (then updated dramatically in 1983, under Pope John Paul II). Here is the text of Francis’s motu proprio dealing with this subject: (link)

    The Francis pontificate, says editor-in-chief at The Pillar website, J.D. Flynn, “seems to be moving towards a kind of ‘corpus’ approach to canon law, in which a variety of decrees need to be tracked and retained and synthesized in order for interested parties to know what the law is. That approach has its own set of strengths — it allows lawmakers to respond quickly to perceived problems — but it takes a lot of getting used to.

    And it is one of the most distinctive, though rarely mentioned, aspects of the Francis papacy.”

    Here is an overview: (link)

    In another commentary, Vaticanist John Allen calls Pope Francis the “Henry Aaron of Motu proprii” and wonders what the meaning of “decentralization of power,” often claimed to be a Vatican goal, can be in the wake of Francis’s frequent legislating:

    Continue Reading Here

    Vatican reorganizes CDF (link

    In another motu proprio, released February 14, Pope Francis has changed somewhat the structure of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

    According to the U.S.’s National Catholic Reporter, “The new legislation, Fidem servare (‘To preserve the faith’), represents the most significant organizational changes to the office in over 30 years.”

    The Pillar, again, contains an overview of the changes: “Promulgated in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano on Monday, the text calls for a more formal split between the doctrinal and disciplinary offices of the CDF, and for the appointment of two CDF secretaries, with each leading one section of the congregation under the leadership of a prefect.

    “The doctrinal office of the CDF is responsible for overseeing the work of theologians and responding to questions from bishops about doctrinal issues, while the disciplinary section oversees the most serious canonical cases in the Church’s life, including most clerical sexual abuse cases.”

    Here is the full text: (link)

    Vatican reporter Edward Pentin also comments on the possible future role of Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, currently serving as an adjunct secretary at the CDF: (link

    Benedict…and Gänswein on Benedict (link

    Veteran Vatican journalist Andrea Gagliarducci writes about Pope Emeritus Benedict’s February 8 letter, in which he adds his personal cry of “mea culpa” to the 82 pages of answers given, with the help of lawyers, to accusations that he handled cases of abuse poorly while Bishop of Munich and Freising, Germany, from 1977 to 1983.

    Gagliarducci says, “In that letter, he behaved like a Pope”: (link)

    Regarding the same topic, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Benedict’s personal secretary of many years, both during his papacy and afterwards, gave an interview to EWTN’s Rome bureau chief Andreas Thonhauser in which he further illuminated the thinking of the Pope Emeritus. The link is here: (link)

    Catholics by the Numbers (link)

    John Allen at highlights the changing demographics in the Catholic Church: by now, it is no surprise that Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, is hemorrhaging adherents, and has been for some time, in the intensely secularized, affluent West. The reverse is true in Africa and Asia. But the ratio of priests to Catholic faithful in North America, for example, is 1:1,746, while in burgeoning Catholic Africa, it is 1:5,089. Allen asks how the Church will deal with the disparity in the coming years: (link)

    Also on the topic of priests: according to Rome Reports, tomorrow, February 17, Pope Francis opens an international symposium titled “For a Fundamental Theology of the Priesthood”: (link).

    Marshaling spiritual forces in Ukraine (link

    Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, President of the Episcopal Conference of Poland, issued a letter dated February 14 to the Catholic and Orthodox bishops of Ukraine and Russia, urging them to engage the faithful of their different Churches in common prayer, along with the Christians of Poland, to avert war.

    “I address you, dear brothers, as the bishop of a country adjacent to both Russia and Ukraine. We are linked by a common history and by the holy Christian faith,” he said. Read his letter here (click the British flag at the top left for English): (link)

    Meanwhile, in a telephone interview from Kyiv on the same day, the new ambassador of Ukraine to the Holy See, Andriy Yurash, told Reuters that Ukraine would be open to Vatican mediation in its conflict with Russia. He also stressed that the Pope is very welcome to visit Ukraine, and such a visit would, in fact, “have a very great impact” on a positive outcome of the situation: (link)

    The Relationship Between the Vatican and Communist China (link

    One question that has resurfaced lately is “Are diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Beijing on the horizon?” It’s an interesting question, in light of the secret Vatican-Sino accord on the naming of Chinese bishops that was first signed in 2018, renewed in 2020, and is this year due again for review. It also is related to the position of Taiwan, which has diplomatic relations with the Holy See. CNA reports on the question here: (link)

    Vatican must “apologize for grievous error” in pushing vaccines (link

    Dr. Peter McCullough, one of the world’s foremost experts on Covid and the Covid vaccines – he has 54 peer-reviewed publications on just these two subjects – told Vatican journalist Edward Pentin on February 11 that the Vatican was violating the Nuremberg Code of Bioethics and must stop it immediately.

    “The Vatican should drop all mandates, drop all restrictions, and drop all advocacy or concern for the vaccines. The Vatican immediately should start a public interest campaign on vaccine injuries and vaccine deaths. They should formally apologize for taking a position on the vaccines that’s been deleterious and they will have to account for potentially hundreds of thousands of lives lost due to the vaccine worldwide because the Vatican has violated what’s called the Nuremberg Code — the Vatican has violated a critical code of bioethics and they must immediately recognize this. They must immediately apologize for this grievous error that they’ve committed,” he said.

    Read the rest of his interview here: (link)

    Catholic and Orthodox celebrate together Francis-Kirill meeting anniversary (link

    With themes inspired by their Joint Declaration, the anniversary of the historic meeting between Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill on February 12, 2016 is celebrated every year in a different place, with prayer, song and discussion.

    This year, the celebration took place in Paris, at the Russian Orthodox Spiritual and Cultural Center on Quai Branly, where a round table panel of Catholics and Orthodox discussed “The role of shrines and pilgrimages in the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue.”

    The two delegations venerated together Christ’s Crown of Thorns in a “joint pilgrimage” to the church e church of Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois; the relic had been brought from the Louvre Museum for the occasion.

    Read more here: (link)

    (Inside the Vatican leads pilgrimages in the same spirit of communion and spiritual enrichment; go to for more information.)


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