Tag Archives: Pope Francis

Pope Francis at six months

17 Sep

SEPTEMBER 17, 2013 — Patrick Novecosky, editor of this blog and editor-in-chief of Legatus magazine, was a guest on Iowa Catholic Radio in Des Moines, Iowa, this morning. He appeared on the Iowa Catholic Radio Morning Show with Jeanne Wells and Mark Amadeo. They asked Novecosky about Pope Francis and his impact on the Church over the first six months of his pontificate. Iowa-Jean-Mark

Novecosky, who was in St. Peter’s Square when Pope Francis stepped out onto the loggia after his March 13 election, said that the new pope has built his reputation as a reformer, a man who will continue to do things differently without compromising the Gospel message.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Pope Francis has pledged to reform the Roman Curia, the administrative apparatus of the Holy See and the central governing body of the entire Catholic Church. The Pope recently appointed Italian Archbishop Pietro Parolin as his new Secretary of State.

Pope Francis will meet with his “Gang of Eight” cardinals charged with advising him on curial reform in early October.

Listen to the entire interview.

For life and peace

16 Sep

by Patrick Novecosky

The world has been on edge for more than a month over the civil war in Syria, and whether or not the U.S. should intervene militarily after the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime on Aug. 21.

Pope Francis called for a day of fasting and prayer on Sept. 7. Catholics and non-Catholics alike from around the world prayed for a peaceful solution to the conflict, and more than 100,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square with the Pope for a five-hour vigil on the eve of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Pope Francis prays during a Sept. 7 vigil in St. Peter's Square

Pope Francis prays during a Sept. 7 vigil for peace in St. Peter’s Square

“This evening, I ask the Lord that we Christians, and our brothers and sisters of other religions and every man and woman of good will, cry out forcefully: Violence and war are never the way to peace!” he said. “War always marks the failure of peace; it is always a defeat for humanity.”

Incredibly, some in the mainstream media were critical of the Holy Father’s message. Mark Phillips, reporting for CBS This Morning, said that the Pope had “taken sides” and waded into “politics” by calling for peace. He hinted that Pope Francis has chosen Russian President Vladimir Putin’s position over that of President Obama.

There are several lessons to be learned here. First, the Church will always stand against violence when there is an opportunity for peaceful dialogue. Blessed John Paul II pleaded for peace in the lead-up to the first and second Gulf Wars. The secular media embraced his position. Pope Francis is doing nothing different. The message is the same. The difference is politics — specifically the politics of the man in the Oval Office.

Tim Tebow

Tim Tebow

My critique here is not of President Obama, but of the liberal secular media whose members stretch their news reports to fit their political ideology. This leads to the second lesson: Do not trust the secular news media. If you haven’t picked up on it, the mainstream news machine has an undeniable bias against Christianity — and in particular against the Catholic Church. Case in point: Their blind mission to destroy Sarah Palin and Tim Tebow.

Informed citizens must have access to truthful, unbiased reporting. Unfortunately, that’s a rare commodity these days. Fortunately, alternative media — blogs and web-based news sites like Breitbart, LifeSiteNews, OneNewsNow, The Blaze and others are delivering what the mainstream media refuse to give us.

No matter what side the secular media comes down on, the Catholic Church will always stand for peace over war, life over death, and Christ over the world. And it’s our job to make sure we are on His side because our choices have eternal consequences.

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is the editor of this blog and Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.

Coming soon: Double papal canonization

25 Jul

Iowa-Radio-newJULY 25, 2013 — Patrick Novecosky, editor of this blog and editor-in-chief of Legatus magazine, was a guest on Iowa Catholic Radio in Des Moines, Iowa, this morning.

He appeared on the Iowa Catholic Radio Morning Show with Jeanne Wells, Mark Amadeo, and Billy Shears. They asked Novecosky about his four meetings with Blessed John Paul II. They went on to discuss the Vatican’s July 4 announcement that Pope Francis has called a consistory for this fall at which the Holy Father and Cardinals will set a date for canonizing John Paul II and Blessed John XXIII, the pope who convened the Second Vatican Council in 1962.


Blessed John XXIII (left) and Blessed John Paul II will be canonized at the Vatican later this year

Novecosky talked about the canonization miracle attributed to John Paul II and Pope Francis’ decision to waive the miracle for John XXIII’s canonization. He also noted that it’s unusual for a consistory to set the date of a canonization or — in this case — canonizations.

When the Pope and cardinals meet this fall (no date has been set), the Holy Father will likely create new cardinals as well. They also discussed whether a rumored October canonization date would be possible given the short time to plan such a major event in the life of the Church.

Listen to the entire interview.

Running the race … or how to run a marathon on a whim

17 Apr

by Patrick Novecosky

ROME (April 17, 2013) — It’s been a month and my knees still hurt, but that’s the price you pay for making a spur-of-the-moment decision to run your first full marathon. But like the saying goes, “When in Rome…”

Fresh off my first two half-marathons (Naples on Jan. 20 and Fort Myers on March. 3), I was on my way to Rome for the papal conclave. Pope Benedict XVI had stunned the world on Feb. 11, announcing that he would step down officially on Feb. 28. After consulting with my wife and my boss (in that order), I was given the green light to go to Rome for the conclave. I blogged extensively from Rome (Report 1, Report 2, Report 3, Report 4) and did several radio and television interviews from the Vatican.

On the plane from Atlanta to Rome, I met Deacon Bill Jacobs and his wife Toni from the Diocese of Knoxville. We got around to discussing the conclave and Bill mentioned that the Rome marathon — which would be taking place in six days — may have to alter its route around the Vatican because of the conclave and the high traffic comes with it. “Well,” says I, “that’s funny because only two weeks ago I ran a half marathon. I’ve always wanted to run a complete marathon.” George W. Bush had run a marathon, and so had Oprah Winfrey. And if Oprah could run 26.2 miles, then by heck so could I!

12,000 runners competed in the 2013 Maratona di Roma.

More than 14,000 runners competed in the 2013 Maratona di Roma.

I had brought my running gear to Rome with the intention to run around the Vatican walls. The circumference of the entire city state is a mere 3.2 km (2 miles). It’s a short jog considering I was averaging more than 4 miles per run and I was staying a stone’s throw from the Vatican walls. However, the first few days in Rome were rainy and frigid, barely edging into the 50s Fahrenheit or double digits in Celsius.

I had planned on waiting for a warmer day to run, but on my second day in Rome, I struck up a conversation with two young ladies from Ireland. They were in Rome not for the conclave, but for the marathon. “Hmmm,” I mused. “Since I am in shape, in Rome, with my running clothes… perhaps I should sign up!” Given that it was happening on St. Patrick’s Day, this was an easy decision. After all, my only plans for the day were to go to Mass and to take in Pope Francis‘ first Angelus.

Decision time

logo_maratona-romaI prayed, consulted my marathon-running friends back home via Facebook, did a little research of my own, and decided to go for it. Since I wasn’t a member of an official running club, I had to get a letter from my doctor saying I was OK to run. A quick Skype call took care of that problem and her letter came e-mail and fax. On Friday afternoon, I took the metro to the Marathon Village in the Palazzo dei Congressi in the south end of Rome and plunked down my €80. I was in… but I didn’t know what I was in for other than pain and 42.195 km/26.2 miles.

My next stop was a big pasta dinner with former Ann Arborite, Fr. Mark Thelen, LC. We were long-time Facebook friends and despite having lived in the same city for a short time, never met in person. Among our first topics of conversation … running. I told him I had just signed up for the marathon only to discover that he was also going to be among the 12,000 strong running on Sunday. The funny thing is that when I arrived at the Colosseum to start the race, he was among the first people I bumped into! I got a priestly blessing from one of his colleagues to boot!

Even the "Pope" ran the marathon. I think he was an anti-Pope because an hour into the race I saw him relieving himself in a bush.

Even the “Pope” ran the marathon. I think he was an anti-Pope because an hour into the race I saw him relieve himself in a bush.

Race day

The race began at 9 am, which is a late start. Most races start at 7 am. I was grateful for the extra few hours’ sleep because it took an hour to navigate the metro system. The Colosseum station was out of order, so I had to walk an extra 10 blocks to the Start line. Navigating the immense crowd wasn’t a problem, but the lines for the porta potties was. I waited 10 minutes for my turn.

I heard the gun go off shortly after 9 am, but I was probably 10,000-deep in the crowd. I didn’t get to the Start line until about 9:06 am. Thankfully, the chip timing device embedded in the race number I wore tracked the “gun time” and the “real time,” which is the time from the Start line to the Finish line.

My marathon-experienced friends advised me to “take it easy and not push myself for the first 20 miles or so.” Easy for them to say! My longest run prior to this had only been 13.1 miles! However, it was sound advice. The weather was a little chilly for Rome in March — about 44 Fahrenheit or 7 Celsius, but with my tunes in my ears and my Runkeeper app keeping me on pace, it felt good to be running in my favorite city in the world. I don’t remember the first song as I crossed the Start line, but I’ll never forget rounding the corner to pass the Colosseum with “Eye of the Tiger” in my ears!

Marathon1Marathon organizers ensured that most of Rome’s top sites were along the route (click here for a map of the entire route). Only 6 km from the Colosseum, the first landmark along the route was the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside The Walls where the mortal remains of the great evangelist reside.  More important to runners, however, are the water/Gatorade stops. Historic sites and classic architecture are wonderful, but no one can run a marathon without hydration and food!

One interesting aspect of this race was that every 5 km or so, they had a sponge station. Volunteers would had runners a water-soaked sponge to wipe off their sweat. Interesting concept. I resisted until near the end, but ended up enjoying it! It was fun running through some of the “sponge stops” and tromping over the hundreds of hand-sized sponges dropped by previous runners.

My lone criticism of the well-organized event was that the toilets and hydration stations were a little too far apart. I ended up carrying a water bottle for about two-thirds of the race. OK. Truth be told I have a second criticism. Just as Deacon Bill had predicted, the race was rerouted away from the Vatican because of the conclave. Since it was the day of Pope Francis’ first Angelus, it was probably a good thing. My friends told me that St. Peter’s Square was absolutely packed that day.

A Roman centurion (or reasonable facsimile) crosses the finish line during the 19th annual Rome marathon on March 17, 2013.

A Roman centurion (or reasonable facsimile) crosses the finish line during the 19th annual Rome marathon on March 17, 2013.

The race continued from St. Paul Outside the Walls north along the Tiber, through Trastevere, past Castel Sant’Angelo, reaching the half-way point near Santa Maria della Vittoria, the minor basilica opened in 1620. My goal for the entire marathon was 5 hours, since I had run my best half marathon time of 2h 8m just two weeks earlier. When I realized my half-marathon time in Rome was 2h 38m, I knew 5 hours was out of the question.

The route continued north and crossed the Tiber again to the Piazza delle Muse before turning south. When I was near the Castel Sant’Angelo, an American woman along the route noticed my Detroit Tigers’ t-shirt and shouted, “Go Detroit!” I met Canadians, Brits and several Americans during the race, many of them from the Allied Joint Force Command in Naples, 140 miles south of Rome.

The second half

The route back to the Colosseum was far more interesting. They had saved the best sites for the last. However, I was not at my best. The first half of the race was a relative breeze, but 30 km (18 miles) in, I started cramping up a bit. I stopped every couple of miles to stretch. I was bound and determined to finish. I was not about to quit or worse, be carried away on a stretcher.

The last 8 km of the route passed through the Piazza Navona, Piazza del Popolo, Spanish Steps, Piazza Trevi, and the famous Trevi Fountain before the final bit of torture called El Último Kilómetro — the final/ultimate kilometer — which is the final 1,000 meters uphill to the Finish line.  Just after I passed the Trevi (around 39 km), I tripped on an upturned cobblestone. Thankfully, less than half of the race was over these ancient blocks of rock, which are far more difficult to run on than pavement. The stone that tripped me was not lying flat as it should, but was turned on its side and still in its hole. I didn’t see it, but my foot caught it as I passed. By God’s grace, I caught myself rather than crashing to the street. I’m not sure I would have been able to finish if I had fallen. Ever since the 18-km mark or so, the back of my right knee and the top of my left foot were giving me cause for pain. They still do.


A few steps from the finish line on the torturous Último Kilómetro

As the finish line drew near, every step was more difficult than the last. My muscles simply would not do what I wanted them to do. They felt like massive lead blocks as I alternated between a quick walk and a light jog. I probably only lifted my foot an inch off the pavement for each step, but I did it! My official/real time was 5h 30m 18s. Not bad for a first marathon when I hadn’t trained for it.

savedpicture-2013319215313At the finish line, a volunteer handed me my medal (a beautifully crafted souvenir) and another wrapped me in a shiny metallic emergency blanket. I was warm within seconds! Then I got in line for a short rub-down — essential to post-race survival for marathoners. From there, I staggered to the Metro.

Last on my list for the day: Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, a full massage, then my first full meal of the day! Now I know know what St. Paul meant when he said, “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me” (2 Tim 4:7-8). No crown for me, but the medal is nice!

This year I added two new bumper stickers to my car.

This year I added two new bumper stickers to my car.

Despite the pain, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, I might just start shopping for flights to Rome already!

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is the editor of this blog. He ran his first full marathon in Rome on March 17, 2013. Officials report that 14,183 athletes entered the race (11,871 men, 2,312 women). Novecosky came in 10,123th place.

Radio Maria Interview: The Bible Lady

1 Apr

radio_mariaVANCOUVER, Canada (April 1, 2013) — I was a guest on Radio Maria’s The Bible Lady with Gail Buckley this morning. I had just arrived in Vancouver an hour before getting on the phone with her, so I was a little jet-lagged.

We talked about faith, family and Francis — the Pope, that is. She asked me about my time in Rome during the conclave and the first days of Pope Francis’ pontificate. My posts on the conclave and the new pope are published here on this site. Just click on the HOME button at the top and scroll down to access those blog posts, radio and television interviews.


Gail Buckley, The Bible Lady

We both marveled at the new pope’s humility. Gail also asked me about Legatus, the organization I work for.

My interview starts around 11 minutes 30 seconds. Click here to listen to the entire interview.

Our man in the Vatican: The SiriusXM interviews

23 Mar
Steve Peroutka

Steve Peroutka

MARCH 23, 2013 (VATICAN CITY) – Patrick Novecosky, editor of this blog, was a guest on SiriusXM’s Family Talk Channel for two consecutive weeks. Steve Peroutka, president of National Pro-Life Radio and host of Sirius XM’s Face the Truth Coast 2 Coast, interviewed Patrick during his March 16 and March 23 programs.

On the first program, broadcast March 16, Patrick talked about being part of history during the election the dynamic new Roman Pontiff — Pope Francis — the former Buenos Aires Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as the 266th successor of St. Peter. The Argentinian cardinal took the name Pope Francis.

On the second program, they spoke about Patrick’s last-minute decision to run in the 19th Rome Marathon. Other topics of conversation: Pope Francis, his audience with journalists, and how John Paul I set the stage for a new era of the papacy.

FamilyTalkListen to the March 16 program by clicking here.

Listen to the March 23 program by clicking here.

Francis, pope to the poor

23 Mar

by Patrick Novecosky

MARCH 23, 2013 (VATICAN CITY)Although his pontificate is not even two weeks old, it’s clear that Pope Francis does things differently. Before he even stepped out onto the loggia on March 13 as the 266th successor of St. Peter, he eschewed the gold pectoral cross reserved for the newly elected pope and instead opted to wear his own simple dark metallic cross depicting the Holy Spirit descending upon the shepherd returning with a lost sheep.

Pope Francis pays his hotel bill on the first day of his pontificate

Pope Francis pays his hotel bill on the first day of his pontificate

On his first day as pontiff, Pope Francis visited the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome with a small security escort before returning to the hotel where he had stayed prior to the conclave. He cleared out his room, carried his own suitcase, and then paid the bill himself.

A few days later, just before celebrating Sunday Mass at the tiny parish church of Santa Anna inside the Vatican, the new Pope stepped onto the sidewalk to greet passersby, astonishing pilgrims making their way to St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis greets people after celebrating mass at St. Anne's Parish within the Vatican March 17. The new pope greeted every person leaving the small church and then walked over to meet people waiting around St. Anne's Gate. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis greets people after celebrating Mass at St. Anne’s Parish within the Vatican March 17. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

A new pope

As a journalist and a Catholic, I was blessed to be in Rome during the conclave and the first days of Francis’ pontificate. I arrived in Rome on March 12 — about 12 hours before the first black smoke issued from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel on the first day of the conclave.

While the square was perhaps half-full on that cold and rainy night with temps dipping into the 30s, it was a different story 24 hours later. It was still cold, but nearly 150,000 had packed the square, clutching umbrellas as the rain occasionally turned to flurries.

My view of St. Peter's Square on March 13

My view of St. Peter’s Square on March 13

When the curtains on the basilica’s loggia opened — more than an hour after the white smoke appeared — I was shivering atop the colonnade waiting for the new pope. A Spanish journalist next to me speculated that Italian Cardinal Angelo Scola had been elected because his Twitter account had been removed. However, a couple of minutes before the new pope appeared, she told me his name was “Bergoglio from Argentina.” As it turns out, she was right. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was the new Holy Father — now named Pope Francis. He was installed on March 19, the feast of St. Joseph, patron of the Universal Church.

Atop the colonnade of St. Peter's Square awaiting the new pope

Atop the colonnade of St. Peter’s Square awaiting the new pope

The inspiration

Like his famous namesake — St. Francis of Assisi — the new pope has a heart for the poor. As cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires, he left the opulent bishop’s residence to live in a small apartment with a retired bishop. He did his own cooking and rode the bus to his office. Being pope hasn’t changed him. After his election, he rode on a bus with the cardinals back to the residence in the Vatican Gardens where they were staying during the conclave.

During his March 16 audience with journalists where he became known as the “Hugging Pope,” Francis expressed a desire to refocus on the poor. Regarding the inspiration for his new name, he explained that late in the voting during the conclave, he was sitting next to his friend, Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, OFM, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy.

“When things were getting a little ‘dangerous,’ he comforted me,” the Pope told journalists. “And then, when the votes reached the two-thirds, there was the usual applause because the pope had been elected. He hugged me and said: ‘Do not forget the poor.’ And that word stuck here [tapping his forehead]; the poor, the poor.

“Then, immediately in relation to the poor I thought of Francis of Assisi. For me, he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and safeguards creation. In this moment when our relationship with creation is not so good — right? — he is the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man. Oh, how I wish for a Church that is poor and for the poor!”

In Paul VI Hall during the audience for journalists with Pope Francis on March 16

In Paul VI Hall during the audience for journalists with Pope Francis on March 16

Pope Francis has surprised almost everyone with his charm, his simplicity and his ability to communicate the truths of the faith in word and action. I have no doubt that we can expect much of the same during his pontificate. This man, who has the humility of Benedict XVI and the charm and ease of John Paul II, will do things differently. And that’s a good thing.

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is the editor of Legatus magazine and this blog. A modified version of this article appeared in the March 17 edition of the Prairie Messenger.