Meet the banker helping an army
The Swiss guards need a new barracks and they’re getting help from the former head of Switzerland’s national bank, wrote Catherine Bosley for Bloomberg. While many ex-central bankers go to think tanks and academia, she said, “former Swiss National Bank president Jean-Pierre Roth, who oversaw the 2008 bailout of UBS, is now chairman of a foundation working to refurbish the quarters of the Vatican-based unit famous for its Renaissance-style uniforms, including striped pantaloons and helmets festooned with feathers.”
The guards have served the papacy since 1506, but their accommodation is no longer fit for purpose and needs to be rebuilt, Bosley said.
“It’s not only that the buildings need an overhaul, but there’s also the need for more space,” Roth said. “The number of guards will be expanded somewhat in the coming years.”
The sheer practicality of Confession
Fr Dwight Longenecker at the National Catholic Register hailed the “sheer practicality, dignity and grace” of Confession. He recalled hearing Confessions along with other priests at a conference. About 500 to 600 people “were able to consult with (hopefully) a wise, cheerful, well trained man who even for a couple of minutes would give them his undivided attention, help them see things more clearly … and assure them that they were loved.” These people didn’t need “umpteen sessions of psychoanalysis” or “expensive treatments”.
They were people with “great dignity”, Fr Longenecker wrote. “For one of the most dignified and fully human things you can do is to admit you are not totally together and you need help.”
When Revolution came to the seminary on the Westminster
on the Westminster Diocese’s website Fr Nicholas Schofield wrote about the problems faced by the English College at Douai during the French Revolution. First the college printer was lynched by a mob and hanged from a lamp post. Then armed guards arrived.
Eventually the students and priests were escorted to a citadel in the town of Doullens. Conditions there were harsh, with no mattresses and insufficcient food, but there were “heroic escapes”, wrote Fr Schofield. As the college had moved dioceses and priests lacked faculties to hear Confession, four students “climbed down a rope fixed at the top of the castle wall and disappeared into the night to apply for the appropriate documentation from the Bishop of Amiens. This arrived in time for the Christmas celebrations.”
After a year the men were released, but kept for several months at the Irish College, Douai. Upon hearing the news they would return to England, one of those present recalled: “I believe we never in the whole course of our lives experienced such lively emotions of joy.”
Soon afterwards, wrote Fr Schofield, they took the boat from Calais to Dover. “After 18 months of danger and imprisonment, they had reached safety at last.”
✣ A 12-year-old Irish Traveller has met Pope Francis for the second time.
Alison Nevie, from Swords in Dublin, asked the Pope for a selfie during an encounter at the Festival of Families. Her mother, Brigid, told a news agency that she was “over the moon” and that she had “very strong belief”. Alison was previously blessed by Francis in 2015 during an audience with Travellers in the Paul VI audience hall. Her mother said she was “in and out of hospital” at the time.
✣ A video of an overjoyed mother whose daughter was given a kiss by Pope Francis has gone viral.
Candice Hartigan and her 11-month-old met the Pope at a Capuchin day centre for the homeless in Dublin. “He just leaned down and looked at her and kissed her on the forehead,” she told RTÉ News. “I was like ‘Gracias, Father’, because it’s the only bit of Italian I know.” The reporter said, “Italian, yeah?” before continuing the interview. Commenters on social media were quick to point out that the Italian should have been grazie. But Hartigan did succeed in thanking Pope Francis correctly in his own language, Spanish. Hartigan also praised the work of the Capuchins. “They don’t ask you why you want something – they don’t ask you why you want to be fed,” she said.
✣The week in quotations
Read the statement carefully and make your own judgment Pope Francis on the Viganò letter In-flight press conference
The questions raised deserve answers that are … based on evidence Cardinal DiNardo Response to Viganò letter
The Holy Family stands out like a bright, dazzling light Cardinal Gracias on the model for the Church World Meeting of Families
I find them to be credible Texas Bishop Strickland on the Viganò claims Letter to faithful
✣Statistic of the week
300K The number of people who attended the papal Mass at Phoenix Park in Dublin Vatican estimate