Pope Francis: Inspiring Popemania in America

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How wonderful to have the Pope bring his warmth and wisdom to our doorstep!

It’s true he’s not crossing the border to Canada but it’s probably also true that our neighbour needs a good healthy dose of Papal balm more than we do.

Besides, we’re already on excellent terms with Cuba; facilitating a deeper American-Cuban friendship was a big part of his motive for coming to North America — to promote “the culture of encounter and dialogue.”

The response to his visit has rightly been described as Popemania.

How can you not feel admiration and affection, no matter what your religious persuasion, for a man whose priority, after serving his God and leading his flock, is bringing about reconciliation in a world too much at odds — and not just between nations but between people, as well.

He has been adamant about that.

”Perhaps you were mad, perhaps plates flew,” he once advised, “but please remember this: never let the sun go down without making peace! Never, never, never!”

He was beloved by so many from the beginning of his papacy for taking the name Francis, after the saint who urged “the shelter of compassion and pity” for all God’s creatures.

Lover of animals, respectful of gays, modest to a fault, inclusive, outspoken, sensible, forgiving and approachable, Pope Francis is truly a gift from God to the Church that was so damaged by the abuse scandal.

It may seem that he’s too good to be true, but he’s certainly no goody-goody.

“Coolest pope ever,” declared the feminist site Jezebel after an interview in an Italian magazine highlighted his frankness and progressive views.

An example: “Some people think that – excuse my expression here – that in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits. No. Parenthood is about being responsible. This is clear.”

The 78-year old Argentinian is so cool, he plays the guitar. Two of his favourite movies are Babette’s Feast and La Strada —the latter by Federico Fellini whose La Dolce Vita was immediately condemned by the Catholic Church when it was released in 1960 and continued to be banned in Spain until 1975.

Pope Francis will be in the U.S. through Sunday.

*Thursday, he’ll address a joint meeting of Congress in Washington, possibly talking about climate change, income inequality, persecution of religious minorities, the death penalty and perhaps also abortion. Then, he’ll lunch with homeless people at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

*Friday, he’ll speak to the U.N. General Assembly In New York. It’s expected topics will include environmental degradation, global poverty, and migration. He’ll also visit a school in East Harlem.

*Saturday, he’ll meet with immigrants at Independence Mall in Philadelphia and may talk about the highly contentious issue of immigration in the U.S. and around the world.

*Sunday, the Pope will attend a Festival of Families and celebrate Mass. Reportedly, his more conservative views on abortion may be aired here.