Thursday, June 27, 2013
Hello SOLES Students, Alumni and Friends,
I'm in Rome on a seminar for administrators of Catholic universities. If you have not been to Italy or the Vatican, you really must visit one day.
Rome in Italian is 'Roma' or ' amor' -- love -- spelled backwards :-). So, I'm in the City of Love visiting the smallest sovereign nation in the world, The Vatican. It's only .44 square miles and sits on top of a low-lying hill. St. Peter's Basilica is huge and not only is it an amazing piece of architecture, but being in the church is truly a humbling and special experience. This morning we had mass right outside St. Peter's Tomb, which is in a grotto below the altar.
80 countries have embassies to the Holy See. Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting the British Ambassador to the Holy See, His Excellency Nigel Baker. He gave us a synopsis of Pope Francis thus far. He spoke about four Ps: peace, poverty, planet and people. As examples of peace, he said Pope Francis is emphasizing the importance of all Christians coming together; the importance of the protection of the law; good governance; and the evils of human trafficking, among other examples. Pope Francis is very much focused on poverty, orphans, homeless and the marginalized. And, he called him the "Green Pope" because he talks about human and environmental ecology. Finally, Ambassador Baker said Pope Francis talks about peace, poverty and the planet through the importance of people and how each is impacted by these issues. It was a fascinating synopsis.
Today we had lunch at the residence of the American Ambassador to the Holy See. His lovely home, in the heart of the city, has beautiful gardens and a gorgeous fountain. The new US Ambassador is Ken Hackett, who was the CEO of the Catholic Relief Services and International non-profit organization. He is a friend of USD's President, Dr. Mary Lyons. Mr. Hackett is yet to be approved by Congress so he isn't in residence yet. As an American I was so pleased to see that the Ambassador's residence has a gracious and welcoming staff.
I leave you with my final thoughts of Rome for today: gelato, flowers, Vespas, Fiats, more gelato, churches, ruins, gelato, pizza, cobblestones, fashion, gelato, music, street vendors, gelato, popes, crowds, rosaries, ristorantes, gelato!!
Hope you are enjoying the summer.