Vatican News

Pope keeps out of Falklands dispute

Pope Francis has no intention of intervening between Britain and Argentina over the Falklands Islands’ disputed ownership, the Vatican’s press office has clarified. 

During a general audience on August 19, a group of Argentinians gave Pope Francis a sign reading: “It is time for dialogue between Argentina and the United Kingdom about the Falkland Islands.” A photograph of the Pope holding the sign subsequently spread on social media, with Argentinian government authorities – including President Christina Kirchner – among those sharing it.

Fr Ciro Benedettini, vice director of the Holy See Press Office, has explained that the photo was taken at an event in which many people give objects to the Holy Father and photograph him holding them.

“There has been no change of position on this issue. The Pope does not want to enter into this debate. Holding something does not mean that he is taking a position either way,” he said. According to the press office, Pope Francis did not even know what the small poster said when it was thrust upon him.  

Pilgrims to book to pass through open Holy Door

A reservation system is to be used for pilgrims who want to cross the threshold of the Holy Door at St Peter’s Basilica during the Year of Mercy, the Vatican has announced. The door, typically bricked shut, will be opened on December 8 to launch a special year of grace and pardon.

Drawing on the experience of the public exposition of the Shroud of Turin between April and June this year, the Vatican will be activating a free, online registration system in October.

“Since a large number of pilgrims is anticipated, it is strongly recommended that pilgrims register their arrival in Rome and the possible times at which they wish to make their pilgrimage,” according to the Year of Mercy’s official website.

Knowing how many pilgrims to expect on a given day and giving them an appointment so they can avoid hours of waiting in line will “ensure that the pilgrimage remains prayerful”, the Vatican said, explaining that pilgrims who do not book in advance will not be barred from crossing the Holy Door’s threshold, and can make last-minute reservations at a pilgrim’s office near St Peter’s Square.

Extravagant funeral for mafia don condemned

A mafia don’s extravagant funeral has been dubbed a “scandal” by the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

Vittorio Casamonica’s funeral Mass was celebrated on August 20 at Rome’s St John Bosco church, where a poster over the church door said: “You conquered Rome, now you will conquer heaven.” A helicopter scattered rose petals after the Mass, and the coffin, which was brought to the church in an antique gilded hearse drawn by six horses, was taken to the cemetery by a Rolls-Royce hearse.

Prayers for the dead are one thing, L’Osservatore Romano wrote, but “the media spectacle, the display of power and the rambunctious and vulgar manipulation of a gesture of Christian piety” is another.

Dr Giuseppe Marciante, one of Rome’s auxiliary bishops, said that the parish priest did not expect the show of mafia propaganda that took place at the funeral, and that if the diocese had known what was planned “we absolutely would not have accepted to have the funeral”.

“During the Mass, mercy, hope and repentance were the only things talked about. What happened outside – diocesan sources said – was done without authorisation,” Vatican Radio reported.