Viva Papa!

Pope Francis has only been in the U.S. a few days and already he has made history! He canonized St. Junipero Serra on Wednesday – the first canonization on U.S. soil. He addressed a joint session of Congress – the first pope to speak to the U.S. legislature. And Pope Francis said mass for over 20,000 people at Madison Square Garden. He is also making himself more accessible than we have ever seen in America. In a whirlwind trip that would make anyone exhausted, our 78 year old pontiff said the blessing at St. Maria’s Meals, a Catholic Charities soup kitchen, visited with children at Our Lady, Queen of Angels in East Harlem, is meeting with the imprisoned at a Philadelphia correctional facility and has hugged and kissed innumerable children. He has three total Masses on his schedule in three different cities! And he addressed the United Nations, participated in a multi-faith prayer service at Ground Zero, followed by a tour through Central Park! His visit is culminating with his attendance at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

If you have seen any of his addresses this week, you know that Pope Francis is not shying away from the difficult topics. He eloquently but succinctly reminded his audiences to respect life at all of its stages, to respect the family, and to value the poor and marginalized.   His words of love and compassion touched everyone around him. And even more than his words were his actions – kissing the disabled, turning down the affluent to dine with the homeless, welcoming the little ones.

May we all follow his example as he strives to be like Christ, by becoming more welcoming, compassionate and loving.