This week, the nation was transfixed by the radical humility of Pope Francis. In the midst of an ugly campaign season already marked by xenophobia, scapegoating, and cruelty, this very different Pope brought a very different message. While addressing a joint session of Congress, and again at the United Nations, he urged leaders to see the humanity of those affected by their actions, or lack of action. They should view refugees "as persons... trying to respond as best we can to their situation." He cited the Golden Rule, but expanded it for his Congressional audience, urging the politicians to "seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves." At the UN he called for "an examination of conscience," and asked that "real human beings take precedence over partisan interests." It was a master class in true leadership, and the awesome power of humility. Let's hope the Pope's spirit lingers long after he leaves.
The flood of benevolent media coverage for Francis would seem a form of respite to the beleaguered archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, who has closed parishes in dealing with deficits from scandal-driven legal bills. But for David Clohessy, director of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), the prospects of Francis meeting with survivors held scant hope.
Boehner certainly picked an interesting time to step down. Before his announcement, we were facing the possibility of a government shutdown as early as next week. However, the Senate doesn't seem to be backing the "shut it down" caucus on this particular fracas.
In all the speculation leading to Pope Francis's address to the Joint Session of Congress, few expected to hear a sweeping reminder of four exceptional American visionaries -- noting less than a spiritual Mount Rushmore.
His most brilliant move of the morning was to own what is often a core contradiction of religion: although religion often relies on tradition and a consistency of dogma and practice to achieve its ends, the Pope reminded us, "we know that things can change."
The capital city on the Potomac resembled a parade scene from The Canterbury Tales as climate activists rallied to welcome "the green pope" while travelers from far-flung places gathered on the Capitol lawn on a sunny morning.
I look at the reception this week of Pope Francis who is being embraced by Americans of ALL faiths...and I love his nickname as "The People's Pope". What a perfect example of how people of all faiths can hear a message and recognize the 95 percent of things we all have and want in common, and not focus on labels and differences.
There's nothing partisan about Pope Francis's statements like these. Time and time again, he's simply noted that there are political solutions to moral problems -- and that failing to reach these solutions is a moral failure, not just a political one.
For the last 47 years, while virtually every other Christian denomination has approved of birth control and the majority of Catholics use birth control regularly the Catholic Church has fiercely maintained its position that the sperm has a God-given right to try to get to the egg.
Pope Francis, a champion of the vulnerable and downtrodden, has an opportunity to make the moral case, on behalf of the many faith leaders and faith-based organizations supporting comprehensive immigration reform, to break the stalemate in Congress.
A smiling Pope Francis emerged from the Vatican Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue on Wednesday morning and went directly to the crowds gathered behind barriers, shaking hands like a candidate on the trail with a visible air of calm.
In spite of all of the hopeful frenzy among the LGBT Catholic community about what the Pope may or may not say while on the gayest island anywhere other than Fire Island in July, I confess I remained circumspect.
In an era where "cultured despisers of religion" -- a term used by Friedrich Schleiermacher two centuries ago, critiquing the prevailing ethos of Europe during his day -- fail to note the power and feeling of authentic faith and practice, the mission of Pope Francis to America comes at a pivotal moment in world history.
We can hope that Pope Francis will receive a warmer reception from Congress, but, things could slide sideways rather quickly if he practices his usual habit of speaking truth to pride, power and prosperity.
May we rise to this challenge and act boldly to protect not only millions of poor, but our future and the future of our children.
Pope Francis will be arriving in the U.S. today, Tuesday. He has a crowded schedule ahead of him this week, with stops in Washington, D.C., New York, ...