From Sept. 22 to Sept. 27, Pope Francis will make his visit to the United States. His goal is to visit Philadelphia and The World Meeting of Families. Only the most dedicated hermit will manage to avoid the regular reporting on his words and actions. His orchestrated and closely timed travel will bring him to Washington, New York and Philadelphia in rapid succession.
He will arrive in New York on the evening of Sept. 24 in time to celebrate the Evening Prayer in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. His schedule the next day will seem like a blur, since he will be attending the UN, the 9/11 Memorial and a Mass at Madison Square Garden. In between his hectic schedule will be a visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem. This last item, so typical of Pope Francis, gives him an opportunity to make a simpler and more personal visit amongst all the great events. Some of our SJU community will have the opportunity to see and hear him in person, though from a distance, during his USA tour. They represent all of us.
I confess that my Catholic pride might be showing when I insist that no other
international figure in the world gathers more attention regularly than the pope (even though John Lennon claimed that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus). Of course, there are people who disagree with some of the positions that the pope takes on certain issues, but everyone (except for the really hardcore) should still have a more respectful view of him.
He certainly views others in that sort of fashion.
In May 2015, Pope Francis issued an encyclical (an open letter) regarding the environment, which he addressed to “every person living on this planet.”
This powerful document argues for the needs of our planet and all of its inhabitants. Those who espouse the care for our world and its poor have certainly found an ally in this pope.
On another front, the Holy Father has declared a “Jubilee Year of Mercy” for the Catholic world beginning in December 2015. The exact lines of this proclamation have not yet been clearly defined, but the mercy connected with forgiveness and harmony will target the whole world. The Catholic Christian community will also hear a particular summons to make use of the sacrament of Reconciliation (also referred to as “Confession”).
The September visit of the Pope to our country has “family” as its primary focus. The Philadelphia gathering will center on this theme. All people of good will, notably Pope Francis, recognize the importance of family for both the community and the church. Yet, in the modern world, families can experience many attacks, from many different directions, some intentional and some not so. The assembly in the “City of Brotherly Love” will promote the sanctity of family and recommend practices to promote its safety. Pope Francis desires that the gathering will have a pastoral tone. For him, children represent the highest value to be safeguarded and cherished, which one can expect to be a dominant theme in this assembly.