Sunday, September 27, 2015

Francis in America

Pope Francis at the 9/11 Memorial
I kept my television tuned to EWTN for most of Pope Francis' visit to America, so I'm pretty much "poped-out." Overall I give the Holy Father high marks for his visit. His ministry to the very young children, the disabled and handicapped, the bereft families of 9/11, and the Philadelphia prisoners were all very moving and powerful to watch. His use of a regular commercial jet aircraft and a little Fiat to ferry him about were perfect examples of "walking the talk" from which most world leaders could take critical lessons.

Of great significance--largely ignored by Old Media--was the pope's unscheduled stop to see the Little Sisters of the Poor in Washington DC. This religious order of nuns, who provide nursing care to the elderly sick, just happens to be suing the Obama Administration over the mandatory provision of birth control in the Affordable Care Act. Their case is pending at the US Supreme Court. For a pope who is known for non-judgmental stands and statements, Francis certainly seems to be choosing up sides here.

Less impressive to me was his recurring theme of climate change. Now, I'm no biblical scholar, but I don't recall Our Lord talking much about the weather. There is, however, a gospel story of Jesus zapping an unproductive fig tree into instantaneous firewood. It doesn't seem to me that Christ was an environmental purist. So the pope lost me a bit in all the politically correct climatology lectures.

I also think Francis was a bit timid on the abortion issue. There were a few mentions of protecting life "at all stages of development." But that's not going to ring bells with the fringe that believes life begins when the baby leaves the hospital. Perhaps all that baby-kissing-and-blessing Francis went out of his way to do is a subtle way of communicating the sacredness of life. I can only hope abortion rights fanatics will pause long enough to connect those precious dots.

As far as his chummy visit with the brutal leaders of Cuba goes, I don't know what the papal agenda was there. But the Cuban people sure seemed happy to see him, so I'll give Pope Francis a pass on that. After all, who am I to judge?