Pope Francis’s long-awaited U.S. visit was a celebration of unity, compassion, and open-hearted embrace of those who suffer—from poverty, violence, family separation, environmental hazards, and the insensitivity or blindness of government policies. In Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia, in speeches before Congress and congregations, to students in small classrooms and to a filled Madison Square Garden, the pope emphasized healing these “open wounds” together.
Since Pope Francis assumed his duties, his example and entreaties have touched us with their humility and kindness, with their spirit of inclusion and their calls for solidarity. In his correspondence with Father Sean and the Kino Teens earlier this year, he wrote of the youths’ work with deported migrants, “These young people…can contribute much to show the world a church without borders…a church that extends to the world a culture of solidarity and care for people and families that are affected many times by heart-rending circumstances.” Before Congress, he aligned himself—and his audience—with newly-arrived migrants: “We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants.”
Pope Francis continued, espousing the principles that are at the heart of the KBI’s mission: “On this continent, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is that not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation.”
In each city, before each audience, Pope Francis echoed these sentiments, and stressed our responsibility—as individuals, as churches and schools, as governing bodies—to respond to those in need. In the months ahead, the impact of the pope’s visit will become clearer. Right now, his week in the U.S. reverberates with the challenge, wisdom and sheer practicality of seeing ourselves in others, and to responding to those in need, personally, institutionally, and legislatively.
For more about the Pope’s visit, please take a look at the following articles. The British daily, The Guardian, featured an article about the KBI and the Pope’s visit: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/sep/18/pope-francis-deported-immigrants-kino-border-initiative.
- From The New York Times:
9/23/15, Pope Francis’s Arrival in the U.S. is a Low-Key Prelude to Pageantry, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/23/world/americas/pope-francis-cuba-us.html?emc=edit_th_20150923&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=68564230.
- 9/24/15, Pope Francis, in Washington, Addresses Poverty and Climate (w/video), http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/24/us/politics/pope-francis-obama-white-house.html?emc=edit_th_20150924&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=68564230.
- 9/25/15, Pope Francis, in Congress, Pleads for Unity on World Woes (w/video), http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/25/us/pope-francis-congress-speech.html?emc=edit_th_20150925&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=68564230.
- 9/26/15, Pope Francis, in New York, Takes On Extremism and Inequality (w/slideshow), http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/26/nyregion/pope-francis-visits-new-york-city.html?emc=edit_th_20150926&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=68564230
- 9/28/15, Pope Departs, After Showing a Deft Touch, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/28/us/pope-departs-after-showing-a-deft-touch.html?emc=edit_th_20150928&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=68564230&_r=0.
From the New Yorker: Pope Francis’s Timely Message to Congress, http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/pope-franciss-timely-message-to-congress?mbid=nl_150925_Daily&CNDID=31758749&spMailingID=8102304&spUserID=ODE3ODQ2MTI5NzAS1&spJobID=762749137&spReportId=NzYyNzQ5MTM3S0