Pope Francis opens Vatican’s Judicial Year, has aide read speech due to ‘bronchitis’


Pope Francis engages with a youngster at the inauguration of the 95th Judicial Year of the Vatican City State on Saturday, March 2, 2024.

Pope Francis engages with a youngster at the inauguration of the 95th Judicial Year of the Vatican City State on Saturday, March 2, 2024.

Vatican City: (By Matthew Santucci for CAN) Pope Francis presided over the inauguration of the 95th Judicial Year of the Vatican City State on Saturday morning, however he delegated the task of reading the speech to an aide due to bronchitis. 

"I thank you all. I have prepared a speech, but you can hear I am unable to read it because of bronchitis," a visibly fatigued and hoarse sounding Francis said to the Vatican’s magistrates gathered in the Hall of Blessings. 

The 87-year-old pontiff canceled his public engagements last Saturday and Monday due to a “mild-flu.” After his remarks at the general audience on Wednesday, which were also read by Monsignor Ciampanelli, the pope went to Rome’s Gemelli Isola Tiberina Hospital for “diagnostic tests.” 

On Saturday, however, the pope maintained a full schedule, including several meetings with curial officials and a private audience with the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. 

The pope’s remarks to the Vatican magistrates highlighted the virtue of courage, which he observed was at the very center of justice. He said that when “combined with fortitude, [courage] ensures constancy in the search for good and makes one capable of facing trials.” 

Observing that “in well-organized, well-regulated and institutionally supported societies, it always remains that personal courage is needed to face different situations,” the pope stressed that courage is underscored by a “healthy audacity.”

In the absence of this, the pope warned, “We risk giving in to resignation and ending up overlooking many small and large abuses.”

Expanding on this reflection, the Holy Father noted that courage is a core virtue that allows people to confront difficult inner and external trials.

“Let us think of the victims of wars, or of those who are subjected to continuous violations of human rights, including the numerous persecuted Christians. In the face of these injustices, the Spirit gives us the strength not to give up, it inspires indignation and courage in us: indignation in the face of these unacceptable realities and the courage to try to change them.”

“Courage,” the pope continued, “contains a humble strength, which is based on faith and the closeness of God and is expressed in a particular way in the ability to act with patience and perseverance, rejecting the internal and external conditioning that hinders the accomplishment of good. This courage disorientates the corrupt and puts them, so to speak, in a corner, with their hearts closed and hardened.”

The pope also noted that courage is not an isolated virtue, but exists in tandem with “prudence and justice,” both of which are underscored by charity. The nexus of these virtues, the pope observed, form the basis for exercising sound judgment.

“The administration of justice,” the pope added, “[is] demonstrated by the serenity of judgment, the independence and impartiality of those who are called upon to judge at the various stages of the process. The best response is industrious silence and serious commitment to work, which allow our Courts to administer justice with authority and impartiality, guaranteeing due process, in compliance with the peculiarities of the Vatican system.”


(Matthew Santucci is a CNA Rome correspondent based in EWTN's Vatican bureau. He grew up in Connecticut and has been living in Rome since 2020. He has a B.A. in History from Fordham and an M.A. in International Relations from Luiss Guido Carli) 

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