From Cardinal Seán's blog

As is my custom, I am posting my blog a few days earlier than normal this week, so I can spend time around the Thanksgiving holiday with my family.

I want to begin this week saying how very saddened we were to learn of the passing of Dennis Looney. His funeral was celebrated Monday by Father Bryan Hehir. Bishop Robert Reed represented me at the funeral since, as I mentioned last week, I had to return to Rome after the Fall Plenary Assembly of the USCCB.

Dennis, his wife Marie, and his daughter Susan have been so involved in the life of the archdiocese for many, many years. He did an extraordinary job in his leadership roles in the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. He was a member of the Grand Magisterium of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre in Rome and was lieutenant of the Northeast Lieutenancy here in the U.S. He was a very dedicated man of faith and had a beautiful family and a long wonderful marriage to Marie.

United Nations event

Thursday night, I attended a banquet to celebrate the United Nations' decision to inaugurate Nov. 18 as World Day for the Prevention of and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Violence.

It was held at the Chiostro del Bramante (the Cloisters of Bramante), which is in the middle of Rome, not far from the Pantheon, and named for the architect who worked on St. Peter's Basilica. It was a very beautiful and interesting venue.

At the banquet, a number of people were honored for their role in child protection. In particular, it was an occasion to honor and thank the first lady of Sierra Leone, Fatima Maada Bio. She herself was abused as a child. So, she was very happy to promote the adoption of this day in the United Nations through her country's ambassador.

Among others honored during the evening were Dr. David Holland of Harvard University and Father Hans Zollner, who was also celebrating his birthday. They presented him with a gift of a portrait of himself!

Mass at the Vatican

Friday afternoon, we had Mass with a group of survivors and others involved in child protection from around the world at Santo Stefano degli Abissini (St. Stephen of the Abyssinians) on the Vatican grounds. This is a very ancient church and serves today as the national church of Ethiopia.

Meeting with the Holy Father

Saturday morning, I joined about 20 victim-survivors and child protection advocates for an audience with the Holy Father regarding the U.N.'s declaration of World Day for the Prevention of and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Violence.

I presented Mrs. Bio to the Holy Father and also delivered some remarks on the significance of this moment.

Three of my brother Capuchins -- Father Radek, Father Brian, and Father Roberto -- were in Rome for a formation meeting. So, I invited them to lunch at the Domus Santa Marta and, afterwards, we went to visit St. Peter's Basilica.

I once celebrated a baptism at the baptistery at St. Peter's Basilica. It was for the son of one of our lay missionaries who worked with us in the Virgin Islands.