This week we welcome Papa Francisco to the USA! I want you to pay close attention to what the Holy Father actually says and not what the media says he said. This will help your blood pressure. You may have seen the Interview that one of the networks carried between Pope Francis and an audience in the USA. In one of the scenes the Pope congratulated a single mother for having courage to bring her child into the world and not kill it before birth. Well in a lot of reporting on other networks and in print that part of the story was left out. It just became "Pope Francis supports single mothers".
For some reason with Pope Francis the media act like he is the first Pope ever to smile, kiss a baby, preach about mercy and forgiveness. He's just the fluffiest Pope ev-her! It seems they really want him to be a progressive democrat. I am just waiting for someone to ask him if he would vote for Hillary. The truth is Pope Francis is very Catholic, one of the people he quotes the most is Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, whom the media framed as a neo-Nazi conservative. So brace yourself for lots of distortion in the media.
The Holy Father will first visit the White House where the media will let us know how simpatico he and the President are about climate change. Then Pope Francis will speak to a joint session of Congress (not sure if he will ask them to defund PP, but here's hoping). He will also, in an open air Mass in Spanish (Trump won't be happy about that little detail) in front of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. canonize Blessed Junipero Serra. The first ever canonization ceremony to take place in the US. (That brings the US saint count to ten.) Fr. Serra, a Franciscan priest who came from Spain founded the famous California Missions and helped bring the Gospel to many native peoples on the West Coast. He was also pretty much responsible for naming all the cities and towns from San Diego to San Francisco. But be prepared to hear a revisionist form of history that tries to turn him from being a saint to being a colonial imperialist.
The Holy Father will then go to New York City to address the United Nations and visit the 9/11 Memorial. He will also visit a Catholic school in East Harlem, showcasing to our country the Church's ongoing commitment to education and to operating schools in the poorest neighborhoods. He will also celebrate Mass at Madison Square Garden.
Then it is off to the City of Brotherly Love for a cheesesteak. In Philadelphia the Pope will attend the World Meeting of Families, which is really the reason for his trip to the US. Pope St. John Paul II often said that the "future of humanity passes the way of the family". That's a big statement. If the family disintegrates so does the culture. Pope Francis I am sure will pick up on this theme. For certain his words will be put under a microscope to see if he embraces "alternative" families.
In Philadelphia the Pope will have a meeting with all US Bishops, held at my alma mater, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. He will also visit a Correctional Facility and spend time with inmates and their families. Yours truly used to be the chaplain at that jail; in fact I was its first chaplain and helped in its construction, well at least the chapel part. I'm sure somewhere in there is a plaque with my name on it. I hope Pope Francis notices!
His visit will conclude with a massive out door Mass in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you know the steps Rocky Balboa used to run up. Wonder if Pope Francis will try? This is the same area where Pope St. John Paul II celebrated Mass on his first trip to the US in 1979. I remember clearly being there and his visit definitely pushed me to go into the seminary. So I hope Pope Francis' visit will inspire many priestly vocations.
Then it's back to Rome via Alitalia and clean up the mess from the huge pre-Oktoberfest party the Bavarian Pope Emeritus Benedict had at the Vatican while the boss was away.
All in all it should be a week to make us proud to be Catholic and more importantly to listen carefully to the message Pope Francis is bringing to our country and the agenda he is giving us the Catholic citizens of this country to carry out.
Bienvenido Papa Francisco!
Love, Fr. John B.