Special to the AmNews
Pope Francis’ six-day, three-city visit to the United States may have either brought divisions closer together or provided the opposing forces enough calm to be comfortable in their separation. Watching Speaker John Boehner tearing up behind the pope as he addressed Congress—with some believing they were tears of regret, knowing he was about to announce his resignation—or tears of joy, realizing that at last he won’t have to take it anymore from ultra-conservatives and Tea Party fanatics relentlessly pressuring him to accede to their obnoxious wishes.
Perhaps Boehner, who, like Vice President Joe Biden, sat transfixed behind the pope as he pontificated, was saddened to hear Dr. Martin Luther King evoked with such reverence.
It was amazing to witness as the pope’s grace and spiritual presence seemed to bridge the great divides between Democrats and Republicans, between the factions on the right and those on left, to have Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio on the same page for a change, in effect, to see the lions of our culture lying down with the lambs.
During his appearance at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the pope expressed from the altar his solidarity and sympathy for the more than 700 Muslims who were recently trampled to death. It is still not clear what panicked the thousands of people crammed together for the pilgrimage, completing the Hajj to Mecca. One report speculated that they may have been disturbed upon learning that two pathways had been closed.
But the pope’s words reminded us again of his humility and humanity, his determination to bring about harmony among the Earth’s tribes, and at the same time working to preserve the planet.
He has left the country now. Let us hope we are not woebegone, but uplifted and enlightened by the holy man’s tour—a tour we may not see again from this pontiff.
The pope’s popularity is astounding, bringing the faithful, nonbelievers and lapsed Catholics to the several spaces he visited during his stay, from St. Patrick’s to the 9/11 Memorial Museum, to East Harlem to Central Park to Madison Square Garden, to the United Nations and finally to Philadelphia. The force of his whirlwind tour has touched some desolate places in our hearts, minds and culture, and he made it abundantly clear, lest we had forgotten, that we are a nation of immigrants—something that may even have an impact on the hard-hearted Donald Trump and other Republicans who have no love for the dispossessed.
Of course, there’s no stating here that the pope is perfect. It was a bit disconcerting and troubling to see his canonization of Junipero Serra, an 18th century missionary who accompanied the bloody campaigns of the conquistadores in California in his quest to establish missions. Dorothy Day, whom he cited in his speech before Congress and whose splendid work among the poor is peerless, would have been a better choice, though her having had an abortion may forever keep her from sainthood.
Indeed, as one pundit said, it was a lot of “pope and circumstance,” but his message, his sense of fairness, compassion and having all the attributes of the good shepherd, require more than one visit to cure the ills that plague our society.