Universal Church

This will perhaps be the most exciting new feature on your favourite website. You will be able to see the distribution of dioceses around the world on an interactive map! This will allow researchers and laypeople alike to concretely grasp the universality of the Catholic Church!

A picture is worth a thousand words. Here is a map of the dioceses in Asia:

Each type of circumscriptions employs a different symbol. Dioceses use a Latin cross; archdioceses have a double-bar cross; patriarchates and major archdioceses use a triple-bar cross. Eastern-rite sees are denoted by brown markers, and Latin-rite purple.

Here is a map of North America:

You will be able to zoom in seamlessly:

You will be able to filter by rite. This is the map for the Ukrainian rite:

When will this new feature be available? The interactive maps will be released when total donation reaches $2,000. Much more work is needed for fine-tuning and integration to the website. If you donate, this will encourage me to work faster! Please read the rationale behind the much needed donations.

Finally, this is my favourite map:

You can see clearly the demographics of the African population, with the Sahara desert separating Northern Africa from the thriving sub-Saharan countries. A huge Catholic population can be found in Western Africa, as well as countries around Lake Victoria.

We can really learn a lot from these maps. I hope you are excited about this! Please donate according to your ability to give!

Appeal for Donations

I am a computer scientist and software engineer by profession. I created the GCatholic website 17 years ago to gather things that I was interested. Website maintenance was done in my spare time and on weekends. On average, I spent more than 4 hours every day after work to make the website up-to-date as well as doing research. I devoted entire extended vacations to create new features. (For example, I spent 5 days in Cuba to create the new section on papal documents, and 7 days in a cruise to lay the groundwork and input the data for all churches in Canada.)

There is a lot that I have wanted to work on. In order to find more time, I quitted my work months ago to devote myself to the website. This is why I am now appealing for donations.

A lot of time and energy is involved in maintaining GCatholic. Data is gathered from the internet, books I bought, libraries that I travelled to, as well as supporters of the website. The data is laboriously entered to the database. I then write the computer code to present the data in webpages. New tools are often created to simplify the process.

Man-hours aside, there are many operating expenses. Due to ever increasing visitors to my website, I had to pay to upgrade the web server three times in the past to deal with bandwidth demand. Presently, there are on average 120,000 hits every day. The website experiences twice the traffic during Christmas time when people look for churches to attend midnight Mass. During sede vacante and prior to consistories creating new cardinals, the hits increased up to five times.

I am happy and feel honoured to provide this service to the Church and researchers. I have always produced the fruits of my research online free-of-charge. I tried adding ads to the website but removed them, because the revenue is minimal and people do not like them. Since I am now working full-time on the website without other means of revenue, donation is necessary.

The present goal is raising $5,000. 

It may seem a lot, but this only covers a tiny fraction of what I would normally earn. If you use the website daily and find it helpful, consider donating $10 or $20. If you can afford, $100 or more will be appreciated. Donate according to your ability to give, in the remaining 2 days of Lent as well as in the festive season of Easter. $5,000 will cover the basic cost of living for me.

Here is an impetus for you to donate generously. Once $2,000 is reached, an exciting new feature will be released on the website:

You will be able to see the location of dioceses around the world in an interactive map. Read more about it here.

Please donate today!

Yours truly,
Gabriel Chow


Valentine Special

Twenty Cardinals were created in the second consistory of Pope Francis earlier today, on this red Saturday, feast of St. Valentine, the bishop-martyr whose skull is enshrined in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. As happened last time, Pope emeritus Benedict accepted the Pontiff's invitation to be present in the rite, to the joy of the cardinals and everyone present.

Each new cardinal, except eastern-rite Patriarchs, is assigned a church in the Diocese of Rome as his titular (in case of Cardinal-Priests) or diaconal (in case of Cardinal-Deacons) church. Historically, cardinals were clergy of Rome in charge of certain churches. Even though nowadays the title is mostly symbolic, a newly created cardinal picks a day for his installation in the church.

I have been to more than 300 churches in Rome and taking pictures of them. This enables to create his poster. I hope you will enjoy it.

Titular and Diaconal Churches of the Cardinals Created in the Consistory of 2015

Prior to the consistory, there were 5 cardinal titles and 12 deaconries that were vacant. There were 17 Cardinal-Priests and 3 Cardinal-Deacons that were created today. In the past, when there were insufficient vacant titular churches, deaconries could become titles temporarily to be assigned to new cardinals. However, with the ever-growing size of the College of Cardinals (due to younger cardinals and the limit of 120 only applying to cardinals less than 80 years of age), more and more Roman churches have been promoted to cardinal titles.

Two cardinal titles were created in 2007, one was created in 2010 and in 2012, and three were created in the last consistory in 2014. Today, 13 cardinal titles were created in the consistory, breaking previous records easily. This is also because fewer bishops from the Roman Curia or diplomatic services and no theologians are created by Pope Francis. The title of San Marco is left vacant in reservation for the Patriarch of Venice, who will very likely be elevated to the cardinalate next time.


Titulo vacante

With the Apostolic See filled with the new Supreme Pontiff, the title of S. Roberto Bellarmino is now vacant. I paid a visit to the titular church formally occupied by Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio this morning.

The church was dedicated to the Jesuit cardinal, saint, and Doctor of the Church, St. Robert Bellarmine, who is similar in many ways to our present pope. The coat-of-arms was never hung on the façade of the church, and so nothing needs to go down. Given the circumstances, I am sure that the parish church will have a commemorative plaque for her former cardinal priest.

I also revisited the Church of Santa Maria Vergine Addolorata a Piazza Buenos Aires (St. Mary the Sorrowful Virgin at the Buenos Aires Square), the Argentine national church in Rome.

The beautiful church features a replica of the statue of Our Lady of Lujan, the patroness of Argentina. The original 16th-century statue of the Virgin of Luján is featured in the National Basilica of Our Lady of Lujan, 60 km away from the capital and metropolitan see of Buenos Aires, the proud archdiocese once governed by Pope Francis.

Pontifex Franciscus

What an experience at St. Peter's Square yesterday. After more than 10 hours standing under an umbrella, white smoke came out, joy erupted and the rain stopped. I will let the pictures tell my story.

Rain has been pouring on and off all day in Rome.
Habemus avem! The first seagull appeared at 4:30 pm, and the second one (or is it the same one?) came at 5:40 pm and stayed on top of the chimney for 40 minutes, seemingly aiding the cardinal-electors underneath with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
The crowd has filled up St. Peter's Square before 7.
Near 7 pm, I knew things would turn well. Given that there are no infirmaries, if no pope was elected in the 4th and 5th ballots, smoke would come out at 6:45 pm. And voilà. White smoke came out at 7:06 pm!
Unlike 8 years ago, the bells of St. Peter's Basilica began to ring right away.
The Swiss Guards and the Vatican Gendarmes came out in formation in their best dresses.
The Cardinal Protodeacon proclaimed "Habemus Papam": Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum; habemus Papam: Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum, Dominum Georgium Marium Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Bergoglio qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum.
No one around me knew who the new pope is. I had to explain to everyone about the Argentinean cardinal!
There he comes out! Pope Francis!
I am glad I bought a 1000mm-lens camera just for this occasion! The pictures are priceless!
Pope Francis began to address the Roman people in Italian.
Msgr. Guido Marini prepares to put on the stole on Pope Francis.
Learning from the mistake of his predecessor 8 years ago, Msgr. Guido Marini balanced the stole for the Pontiff before he gave his apostolic benediction. (Too bad Pope Francis refused to wear a mozetta.) I was glad to receive a plenary indulgence.
He continued to address the crowd in Spanish.
What a night! I am sure people slept well last night knowing that the Church is in good hands!