Pope Francis to visit Morocco in 2019


Vatican City, Nov 13, 2018 / 04:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis will head to two cities in Morocco March 30-31, 2019, the Vatican announced Tuesday.

Pope Francis will visit the cities of Rabat and Casablanca, a Nov. 13 message stated. The schedule of the trip is not yet published.

According to papal spokesman Greg Burke, the visit takes place at the invitation of King Mohammed VI of Morocco and the Catholic bishops.

Francis will be the second pope to visit the country, after St. Pope John Paul II went in 1985 as the first pope to visit a Muslim country at the invitation of the state.

Morocco, which is located on the north-west side of Africa, is a majority Muslim country. The total population, as of 2014, was around 29 million. There were an estimated 21,000 Catholics in the country in that year; just .1 percent of the population. 

The country has two archdioceses; one in Ribat, the country’s capital city, and one based in Tanger.

After Pope Francis received an invitation to visit the country from King Mohammed earlier this year, there had been rumors about whether he would attend a United Nations gathering in December for the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration.

Now that the trip has been announced for March, what the pope’s agenda in Morocco will be has not yet been revealed, though it will likely focus on Christian-Muslim relations and migration.

The visit to Morocco falls just two months after the pope will travel to Panama Jan. 23-27, 2019, the only other Vatican confirmed apostolic visit in the upcoming year, though there have been comments from heads of state and bishops that say Francis may also be traveling to Romania and to Mozambique.

He has also expressed the desire to visit Japan. Cardinal Désiré Tsarahazana said at a Vatican press briefing Oct. 9 that the pope will visit Madagascar in 2019. Holy See spokesperson Greg Burke said at the time he could not confirm the trip, but that the possibility was “well under study.”


Francis makes appointments to Roman Rota, Vatican Court of Appeal


Vatican City, Nov 8, 2018 / 05:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis appointed Thursday two lay lawyers to tribunals of the Holy See and Vatican City.

On Nov. 8 Enrico Ferrannini was appointed substitute promoter of justice for the Vatican Court of Appeal, and Maria Fratangelo was named defender of the bond of the Roman Rota.

Fratangelo is likely the first woman to hold the position of defender of the bond of the Roman Rota.

The promoter of justice of the Court of Appeal is Raffaele Coppola, appointed by Pope Francis in 2013. The promoter of justice is the equivalent of a public prosecutor.

Ferrannini will be his substitute, or deputy. A canon lawyer, he was also a member of the ecclesiastical court of Benevento, and is an official of the Roman Rota.

Fratangelo, already a lawyer within the Roman Rota, now takes over as defender of the bond.

The Roman Rota is one of three courts within the Holy See. The others are the Apostolic Penitentiary and the Apostolic Signatura.

The Rota is akin to a court of appeals or court of "last instance," and is also where marriage nullity cases are judged. The defender of the bond is the lawyer who argues for the validity of the marriage.

For this reason, the defender of the bond has the right to be present during the depositions of the parties, witnesses and experts, to view the judicial documents and to examine any documents produced in the case, to be called when requested and is called to present to the judging panel his or her concluding observations.

Fratangelo replaces Robert Golebiowski, who held the position since 2016.


Vatican Christmas stamps feature artwork by inmate


Vatican City, Nov 12, 2018 / 11:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The artwork featured on the Vatican’s postage stamps for Christmas 2018 were painted by a man serving a life-sentence in a Milanese prison.

The two stamp designs, painted by Marcello D’Agata, depict the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Nativity of Christ.

The postage stamps were unveiled by Archbishop Mario Delpini of Milan at a Nov. 9 presentation in the Milan prison and can be purchased at the Vatican City post office. They are available in denominations of 1.15 or 1.10 euro ($1.29, $1.24), which is the postage required to mail directly to Europe and the Mediterranean region.

An Italian journalist had the idea for the Vatican stamps after having followed a philately initiative within the Milan prison for several years.

According to L’Osservatore Romano, a Vatican-supported newspaper, D’Agata was drawn to art from an early age. “I confess that as a child, as soon as a blank paper appeared before me, I never failed to draw on it,” he told the newspaper.

“Of course, they were just scribbles, but I liked it so much, because on those papers I gave shape and color to my emotions and, most of all, to my dreams.”

D’Agata said he had fallen away from artistic expression until a few years ago, when the director of the prison allowed a group of prisoners to take part in a drawing course, which served as a “source of inspiration and the dormant talents came back to life.”