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, ...
These philanthropists are another group who will be looking for inspiration and challenge from the Holy Father on his visit to the United States.
Pope Francis has switched the focus of the Catholic Church away from a high-profile fight against abortion and gay marriage and onto a mission to serve the poor and extend mercy to all. He is far more concerned with issues related to money than to sex.
It is impossible, Holy Father, to be serious about doing anything for the poor and at the same time do little or nothing for women.