“It was like Catholic Disneyland.” That’s how my friend, Rachel Bond, described the exhibitor plaza at the World Meeting of Families which she attended with her husband and two young daughters. Nearly five hundred Catholic organizations, ministries, companies and communities set up their booths at the Philadelphia Convention Center. Some twenty thousand attendees visited these vendors in the moments between the densely packed schedule of masses, keynote addresses and breakout sessions – all in all close to one hundred talks in the course of four days. It was a whirlwind week of Catholic formation and celebration that culminated in the visit of Pope Francis at the Festival of Families Saturday night and the Papal Mass on Sunday morning.
Just being there amidst these thousands of Catholic pilgrims, just experiencing the jubilant and faith-filled atmosphere, just witnessing the coming and going of so many families from so many places was all worth as much as hearing the inspiring talks or participating in so many special activities. We were among friends – strangers, yes, but also friends. There was a spirit of fraternity and camaraderie among people that was like a little foretaste of heaven. Here we were together, the Church universal, with all of our diversity beautifully melding into a true unity.
Simply put, it was encouraging to be there in Philadelphia. It was refreshing to be in the company of tens of thousands of people who agree with Pope Francis’ comments Saturday night that “the family is a factory of hope,” and that children “are the future, the strength that moves us forward.”
But I have to say, the best part of the trip was coming home. The time we spent in the presence of our global Catholic family helped me to appreciate our little domestic universe. Here in our home, we have the privilege of living out the noble mission of Catholic family life. “How precious is the family,” says Pope Francis. Indeed, being part of a family is one of the greatest blessings that God the Father gives to us, his beloved children.
Love Is Our Mission: Pope Francis in America is a rich collection drawn from Catholic News Service photographers and journalists to be released October 30. It will be a keepsake for anyone interested in the papal visit. Learn more about the book, and about Pope Francis’ visit, by clicking here.
On women priests, that cannot be done. Pope St. John Paul II after long, long intense discussions, long reflection said so clearly. Not because women don’t have the capacity. [i.e., it’s not because women are not (fill in blank with “skilled, talented, able to get things done… capable”)] Look, in the Church women are more important than men, because the church is a woman. It is “la” church, not “il” church. The Church is the bride of Jesus Christ. And the Madonna is more important than popes and bishops and priests. I must admit we are a bit late in an elaboration of the theology of women. We have to move ahead with that theology. Yes, that’s true.
BTW… papal pressers will be eliminated during the upcoming reign of Pius XIII. So will papal trips and virtually all audiences. Pius XIII will be seen so rarely that the MSM will run stories that he may actually be dead. But I digress.
So, if you listen to Francis’ “No.” on the impossibility of women’s ordination and want to know more, turn to the pontificate of John Paul II and read Ordinatio sacerdotalis. (Spoiler: He said “No.”) Then you can read Card. Ratzinger’s explanation of Ordinatio sacerdotalis. (Spoiler: He said that the teaching which OS repeats is infallible). And if you want, you can follow the footnotes and references back to Bl. Paul VI. (Spoiler: He said “No.”)
By the way, the chief task of the Roman Pontiff is to say “No.” The same goes for bishops and priests.
Anyway, I bring this up because you might want to make some popcorn, put on some teflon bibs and gloves and eye protection, and go look also at the combox under that piece at NSR. Some people are having a nutty. Better yet, put on bibs and gloves made of BAM if you are venturing into the fever swamp that is the Fishwrap combox. Blech.
You will notice, inter alia, that some are basically saying, “Well, he’s not an intellectual.” (Read: He doesn’t think that women should be ordained so he’s not very smart.) Others suggest that referring to John Paul II was bad. Their brass ring is, of course, the elimination of the Magisterium of John Paul II. Others say, “He didn’t really mean it.” Uh huh.
Note well:Fishwrap adherents demand that you accept – without specific reasoning – everything Pope Francis utters about their pet projects. But if he says something Catholic about the fact that women can’t be priests or that homosexual sex is a sin, gender-bending theory is harmful and that it’s wrong to redefine marriage… no no!… he apparently has to explain himself. Still others are quivering over the word “capacity”.
Pope Francis brought his well-documented humility to the United States. The timing could not be better. He has come to what was once the most powerful nation on the planet and reminded us that we, too, are human—a part of the family, not the whole. Pope Francis looked our nation’s leaders in the eye, then the world’s, and yesterday ours. And he did so “as a brother.”
Yesterday, he stopped to bless a disabled child. Today, he reminded all of us we are no different with a warm embrace. Francis confronted the mistakes made by Church leaders in the United States regarding sexual abuse. With the same voice, he offered gratitude to the victims and their families for offering us hope for forgiveness.
“These survivors of abuse have yourselves become true heralds of hope and ministers of mercy. We humbly owe each one of you and your families our gratitude for your immense courage to shine the light of Christ on the evil of the sexual abuse of children.”
The AP has clarified that Francis is structuring a new Vatican Tribunal that will hold bishops who cover up for abusive priests accountable for their actions—or lack thereof. Truly, Pope Francis is a shepherd of men.
“This ‘watchfulness’ is not the result of talking but of shepherding. Only one capable of standing ‘in the midst of’ the flock can be watchful, not someone who is afraid of questions, contact, accompaniment.”
Francis called on the bishops further. “Christians are not ‘immune’ to the changes of their times. This concrete world, with all its many problems and possibilities, is where we must live, believe and proclaim.”
“When a priest abuses, it is very grave because the vocation of the priest is to make that boy, that girl grow toward the love of God. For this reason, the Church is strong on this and one must not cover these things up. Those who covered this up are guilty. Even some bishops who covered this up.”
“I hold the stories and the suffering and the sorry of children who were sexually abused by priests deep in my heart. I remain overwhelmed with shame that men entrusted with the tender care of children violated these little ones and caused grievous harm. I am profoundly sorry. God weeps.”
The Crowd Reaction from Day 5
Even the locals seemed more relaxed. Though some families seemed exhausted, it was more a reminder that Sundays are meant to be restful. Something we should recall more often in our nation.
There were food trucks serving during Mass, pubs were open, souvenirs being sold. But it felt as though Francis already threw the tables of division over. We were embracing a new model together as the faithful.
There were climbers, dancers, and violinists on street corners. There were newborns snuggled tightly to their mothers, cameras everywhere, and thousands piled in front of jumbo trons as if Philadelphia was one giant Catholic living room.
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.“—Plato
Reading about the preparations Washington, New York, and Philadelphia have made for the Papal Visit are scaring me. One might be lax. Another is over-buttering their bread. The third seems indifferent. All of them seem at the same mad tea party of constant propaganda campaigns against one another. All of them reading newspapers aloud to the other in stuffy accents, over too-long moustaches. One is the conservative network. Another is the liberal. The other cares more about their 401K, or maybe that’s all three?
I suppose I am beginning to see this week-long hullabaloo as a type of metaphor for what it means to be American in today’s day and age. We want everything to be four-dimensional, but we don’t want to teach our children the physics of the fourth dimension. We want the political angles, the money angles, the people story, the security story. Who will live? Who will fall in love? Who will miss their appointment due to gridlock? Who makes the best sandwich? Who has the most ironic mustache? The best-tailored suit? Where will the terrorists be? When will we all die?
If you sit on Twitter for 24 hours, you might notice a very specific tone of voice. You might hear a resemblance to your three year-old nephew’s constant, forever stream of questions. You might also forget the Pope’s visit here is historic. You might not remember we are supposed to be celebrating.
Your nephew is capable, but ignorant. Happy, but afraid. Aware, but unable to tie his own shoes. At the same time full, not sure what he just ate, and one hundred percent certain it was shaped like a brontosaurus and filled with some yellow substance vaguely resembling cheese. Your nephew also only remembers his birthday when you remind him every day for a month.
It’s a wonder any of us ever lives past that state of hyper-vigilance and constant learning that can only be found within a three year-old’s mind. But we do. And we learn about things like urban planning, states of emergency, martial law, and heavy metal concerts. We learn acronyms like FEMA or FOMO or LOL. And we use them regularly in conversation, sometimes out loud, while laughing.
I wonder if my phobia of the mall around Christmas time stems not from my fear of crowds, but of the overwhelming greed in the air. I wonder if my fear of air travel stems not from my fear of heights, but of the heightened state of fear in an American airport. I wonder if my fear of the Pope’s Visit stems not at all from His Grace, but from all the nephews I might be surrounded by in Philadelphia.
In closing, I’d like us all to pray for our fellow Americans. I would ask we learn how to take a deep breath. Slow down, just a bit. I would ask we listen to and look out for one another. I would ask that our forever-vigilance turns into instinctual empathy for the unknown. I would ask that a fearful sideways glance dissolve into a head-on embrace. I would ask airbnb owners and uber drivers to demand the rates stay even.
The pope’s visit to our country should be remain—what it always was in my mind—a reason to celebrate. I hope one day we can evolve past the degradation of finding the next terrorist or labeling the Pontiff as a socialist Marxist Communist. These topics are not even worthy of discussion or argument. They’re from your three year-old nephew. Let’s pray all the nephews can feel pure joy like they should. Let’s pray soon, they grow up. Strong and happy and American.
"And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome, which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood.
I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will."
-Papa Francis quote
He does not know you, yet he prays for you.
He will most likely never meet you, yet he loves you.
This is your chance to show your love, for as the Bible teaches, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven."