The Crabtree Foundation - Australian Chapter

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Crabtree and the Vatican Letter

In May 2019, the Italian Chapter of the Crabtree Foundation sent the Australian Chapter copies of their 2019 Oration, and included a copy of a letter from the Vatican to their Foundation. The letter is a response to an invitation to the Pope to attend the Crabtree Oration. (Click here to see a larger copy of the letter.)

The text of the letter is:

Dato presso la Città del Vaticano il 15 maggio 2019

Gentile Presidente,

Sua Santità ha accolto con vivo apprezzamento l'invito e mi prega di fare pervenire a Lei e agli Scholar tutti il rammarico di non potere condividere la pregevole Orazione e l'illuminante serata. Nel corso del suo pontificato, Papa Francesco ha più volte ricordato con ammirazione la figura di Joseph Crabtree, talora da Lui definito un santo laico: il travaglio del genere umano sarebbe stato ben più penoso senza la presenza di apostoli di alta scienza e profonda spiritualità quali il Nostro.

Il Pontefice invia la Sua benedizione e non dimenfica di pregare per ciascuno dei presenti e per Joseph Crabtree.

Mons. Peter B. Wells

Prof. Claudio Di Benedetto
Presidente del Capitolo Italiano
Joseph Crabtree Foundation

A rough translation of the letter is:

My Dear President,

His Holiness welcomed the invitation with deep appreciation and asked me to convey to you and to the Scholars his deep regrets for not being able to share the valuable Oration and the enlightening evening. During his pontificate, Pope Francis has repeatedly recalled with admiration the figure of Joseph Crabtree, whom he sometimes defines as a lay saint: the travails of the human race would have been much more painful without the presence of such an apostle of high science and profound spirituality.

The Pope sends his blessing and does not forget to pray for everyone present and for Joseph Crabtree.

Mons. Peter B. Wells

What a wonderful endorsement of Crabtree! "Lay saint". "Apostle of high science". And this from the Pope himself in what is surely a Papal Bull.

Elders and Scholars of the Foundation throughout the world should rejoice at such a recognition of his virtues. Perhaps canonization, or at the very least beatification, will follow.


Close observers of the Church will doubtless be aware that the Monsignor Peter Wells who signed the letter is a prominent American clergyman who for many years was a senior diplomat at the Vatican. Monsignor Wells was consecrated a bishop in 2016 and appointed resident papal nuncio in South Africa. One can only marvel at Bishop Wells' time-travelling skills which enabled him to be back signing letters in the Vatican in his old rank and position some three years later.