Pope Francis forced to miss more events due to recurrent nerve pain

Vatican City, Jan 23, 2021 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis has been forced to cancel three public appearances scheduled for Sunday and Monday due to a recurrence of the nerve pain that struck him at the end of 2020. 

The Holy See press office announced on Jan. 23 that because of sciatica the 84-year-old pope would be unable to celebrate Mass marking the Sunday of the Word of God in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Mass, on Jan. 24, will be celebrated instead by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization.

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Sun, Storm and Solitude

Addicted as I am to alliteration, the title of Karl Keating’s new book was an attraction, but more attractive was the prospect of reading about his hike along the Cammino di San Benedetto–one of the long distance footpaths in Europe. This path–starting in Norcia, the birthplace of St Benedict and ending at the great monastery of Monte Cassino winds through the Italian countryside stopping at various sites associated with the saint. Karl had mentioned to me some time ago that he was heading out on this trek and I was eager to read how he got on.

I enjoyed the Sun, Storm and Solitude, but travel books are a unique art form, and I’m not sure Keating has quite mastered it. While the outward journey gives the story substance, one also looks for a whole range of further information and entertainment from the intrepid traveler. We want to learn about the curious local details, the eccentric people the traveler meets,  the scrapes and adventures, the near disasters and lucky escapes. We also want some entertainment–the amusing story of the raconteur, the jolly pilgrim or simply the rascal having a good time. Bill Bryson is the master of this kind of travel book, and I suppose I was expecting a kind of Catholic Bill Bryson–the galumphing American in Europe at once awe struck and bewildered, amused and enchanted by the old country.

Keating’s book is not without these features. He meets some interesting fellow travelers, but just when I was getting interested in them he moved on. I learned about the local saints, picked up some historical details and made some new connections with Italy. Having visited some of the sites myself over the years it was good to re-visit them with Keating on foot. However, Keating’s record of his trip did seem heavy on personal detail–the number of times he set out the things in his backpack, double checked them and told us about his rain pants was perhaps too much information? The details of this right hand turn and that left hand signpost, the gravel on the path or the dirt road, the overgrown foliage or the steep steps–this level of detail is not surprising from a trained lawyer and Catholicism’s top apologist. Detail is what they do, but it was hard to visualize the detail if you weren’t there.

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Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the death of Larry King: Larry King was perhaps the greatest interviewer of all time. Unlike today’s cable news hosts, Larry came to the table without cue cards. There were no canned questions prepared by a producer, no teleprompter to lean on for support. Most of all, Larry […]

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