Visitors to Rome remark about how the whole city seems to take the month of August off. It is true that schedules at Vatican City will be vastly reduced this month.

But some cardinals are taking advantage of that time for opportunities outside of Rome.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone just wrapped up a visit to the Knights of Columbus and others in the United States. Durin g it, the Holy See’s secretary of state spoke with great familiarity and candor about major issues facing the Church in America and worldwide.

He also showed a great love and respect for Father Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, whose cause he has taken a personal interest in.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Franc Rodé, the Vatican’s point man on religious congregations, visited the United States and participated in the convention of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men. He also visited the Youth and Family Encounter presented by my congregation, the Legionaries of Christ, and the  Regnum Christi movement.

Both cardinals were impressed with what they saw: Knights of Columbus and Regnum Christi members in the thousands welcomed them and introduced them to the vibrant faith of America.

Both organizations received encouraging words from these emissaries of the Vatican — but their presence should be an encouragement to all of us.

There used to be a feeling in America that our country was not understood in the Vatican.

With Cardinal William Levada heading the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and with the lively interest shown by these visits, it would be hard to argue that now.

The Vatican is clearly intrigued by the vitality of the Church in the United States, even in the midst of hard times and painful episodes.

It is the Register’s mission to chronicle this vitality and show how God’s grace is continually at work. Enjoy!