Pope Francis

This morning  Janet and I are in Rome for a few days awaiting our pilgrimage group as we embark across Italy and then by ship voyaging around Greece and Turkey to follow the footprints of St. Paul and the Early Church.

This morning, from the rooftop of our rented apartment as we eat breakfast, we’re looking out over the Vatican (see St. Peter’s dome over my head) and we can imagine the rushing wind and the flutter of wings as the Holy Spirit is busy at work – as the Synod on the Family takes place below. 

I can imagine the dust cloud as ideas and controversy and theology swirl about. Many of the Prelates from Africa and other conservative areas of the world are wondering why the West is so fixated on irregular marriages and homosexuality. And those in countries where these issues abound the question is, “What do we do?”

More than one Archbishop has asked if Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, not to mention St. John the Baptist, were wrong in their assessment of a irregular marriages. Others ask if the German Bishops think they know better than Jesus Christ.

As we sit sipping our espressos we pray for our Church, realizing it’s not really ours but Jesus Christ’s and He is the one building and protecting it. He’s done a good job for 2,000 years and we decided to trust him for the next 2,000 years :-)

So we pray for God’s wisdom and the superintendence of the Holy Spirit as we sit here looking out over the place where the Holy Spirit is certainly busy doing what he does best. We feel an anxious calm.

We pray for our leaders, the bishops and the Pope, that they will make decisions in compliance with the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and toward the salvation of souls and the integrity of our one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church. 

UPDATE AT LUNCHTIME:  Here is what we saw as we walked out later in the day for lunch. The Synod must have let the bishops all out for lunch. Bishops and Cardinals everywhere. I saw five in a matter of two minutes! God bless them and their decisions.


I can’t lie and say I was overly enthusiastic about the Pope’s address to Congress and the United Nations. There was a lot I wish he would have said that was not. However, I agree with the Acton Institute’s assessment of his address to Congress.

Given Washington DC’s nature, Pope Francis’s address to Congress was always going to be dissected along predictable Republican-Democrat lines. Within minutes of the pope’s text being released, headlines like “Pope Delivers Big for Dems on War, Climate, Immigration” began crisscrossing the Internet.
Such captions made me wonder if I was reading the same speech.

Careful readers would recognize that while the pope did indeed address immigration, climate change, war and poverty, it’s not as if conservative Americans are against immigration, want to destroy the environment, desire endless war, or are oblivious to people living in poverty. Nor did Francis endorse any one policy-option for addressing these questions. Significantly, Francis also underscored, in gentle non-partisan terms, the non-negotiable Catholic commitment to protecting human life from conception to natural death, and expressed, in pastoral terms, his concern that “Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family.”

For me, however, as a migrant to the United States, it was especially gratifying to watch Francis say very positive things to say about America. The word “liberty” was used no less than five times, “freedom” seven times, and “subsidiarity” (a Catholic expression for protecting liberty) twice. He also invoked America’s “spirit of enterprise,” and repeated what he’s said elsewhere: that “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world.” And while insisting that more needs to be done to address poverty, the pope also exclaimed, “How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty!”

All this suggests that Francis has listened — as he said he would — to those American Catholics who’ve suggested that some of his previous statements about economic life weren’t attentive to the facts about poverty and the most effective ways of diminishing it.

That’s what’s real dialogue is about: the search for truth. Pope Francis, it seems, has affirmed some key economic truths — and not just for America, but the entire world.

Samuel Gregg, Research Director, Acton Institute

PS All of the Acton Institute content regarding Pope Francis’s visit to the United States can be found here.

Other news from the Acton Institute
Acton Institute President Rev. Robert Sirico appeared on Fox Business immediately following Pope Francis’s address to Congress. Watch that segment here.

New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called the idea of people scalping their tickets to see the Pope “against everything Pope Francis stands for” and “disgusting” respectively. But wouldn’t poor people, for example, be able to sell a ticket to markedly improve their lives? “If you want to help the poor, one of the things you should do is give them the freedom to sell their luxury goods,” writes the Acton Institute’s Joe Carter. “A ticket to the Pope’s procession is a limited, luxury good.”

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Catholic World News - October 06, 2015  (for the full letter we sent, please click here)

Over 100 adult converts to the Catholic faith, most of them Americans, have signed an open letter calling upon the Synod of Bishops to affirm Catholic teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.

The signatories include an Australian bishop (Bishop Peter Elliott), the head of the ordinariate for former Anglicans in the United States (Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson), and dozens of laity, many of them associated with universities. In a letter published by Aleteia on October 5, they expressed their

concerns about certain proposals to change the Church’s discipline regarding communion for Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried. We are frankly surprised by the opinion of some who are proposing a “way of penance” that would tolerate what the Church has never allowed.

In our judgment such proposals fail to do justice to the irrevocability of the marriage bond, either by writing off the “first” marriage as if it were somehow “dead,” or, worse, by recognizing its continued existence but then doing violence to it. We do not see how these proposals can do anything other than contradict the Christian doctrine of marriage itself. But we also fail to see how such innovations can be, as they claim, either pastoral or merciful.


Synod on the Family: Pope Francis’ Address to First General Congregation

October 5, 2015

Synod 15 – Pope Francis’ Address to First General Congregation “Let us remember, however, that the Synod will be able to be a space of action of the Holy Spirit only if we, the participants, are clothed with apostolic courage, evangelical humility and confident prayer.” By Staff Reporter Vatican City, October 05, 2015 (ZENIT.org) Here [...]

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Trying to Figure out the Pope and his Visit to the USA? What does being a Jesuit have to do with it? (Link Fixed)

October 3, 2015

Sorry the link did not work. Here is the correct link to the interview http://americamagazine.org/content/all-things/hes-disruptor-interview-first-things-editor-rr-reno-pope-francis-us-visit Right before he left New York for Philadelphia, “First Things” editor R. R. Reno discussed the Pope as a “disrupter” and discusses his visit to the USA. I found particularly interesting the section about how being a Jesuit has shaped [...]

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What the Pope will Say and App to Follow the Pope

September 22, 2015

First, here is a nice app to follow the Pope’s visit to the USA: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/usa-catholic-church/id1023005804?mt=8 Second, here is a 5 minute concise and helpful overview of what the Pope will probably say and do in the USA. Fr. Sirico sounds right on to me.

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Canon Lawyer Ed Peters’ Concerns about New Revions regarding Annulments

September 9, 2015

Read his article here. Jimmy Akin also weighs in with his “Nine Things you should Know and Share“    

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Holy Year Gestures on Abortion and the SSPX: 12 Things to Know and Share

September 2, 2015

The article below is written by Jimmy Akin and available on his blog. Pope Francis has just released a letter in which he made several announcements concerning the upcoming Year of Mercy. This includes absolution for those who have procured abortion and the ability to go to priests of the Society of St. Pius X [...]

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June 26, 2015

The Pope has made it known that a decision on Medjugorje soon. Many things are being said and much speculation is swirling about. Jimmy Akin breaks down the latest reports and suggestions in this excellent article Waiting for a Medjugorje Decision, 12 Things You Should Know. If you have an interest in this issue, this [...]

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Pope Francis’s Encyclical: Updates, Reviews, Critiques

June 23, 2015

A lot is being said about Laudato Si both from supporters and critics — of which I guess I am both. I would fall in the camp of the Acton Institute… Here are eight links worth reading and watching as you digest and work through the new encyclical. 1) Acton Institute critique by my friend [...]

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Draft of Pope’s Environment Encyclical Leaked: 12 Things You Should Know

June 16, 2015

Jimmy Akin has done a great job summarizing the situation and the encyclical to-date. It starts out: With just days to go before the release of Pope Francis’s highly anticipated encyclical on the environment, a draft copy has suddenly appeared on the Internet. Here are 12 things to know and share . . . 1) [...]

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Pope Going to Fatima – Beat him there and miss the crowds!

April 27, 2015

We just took a great group of pilgrims to Fatima, Avila and Lourdes. We have another trip going in July to visit Fatima, Santiago de Compostela and Lourdes. Join us and miss all the crowds!  Pope Francis Plans to Visit Fatima in 2017 Trip to Coincide with 100th Anniversary of Marian Apparitions, By Junno Arocho Esteves [...]

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Disturbing Report of Book on the Family Blocked from ‘Synod on the Family’ Participants

March 3, 2015

The head of secretariat of the synod of bishops was reportedly “furious” about “Remaining in the Truth of Christ,” [Ignatius Press publication] which includes chapters by Cardinals Burke and Brandmüller   (February 25, 2015 12:00 EST   Carl E. Olson)   Both Kath.net and Edward Pentin are reporting that Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, head of secretariat of the synod of bishops, [...]

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Canada’s Supreme Court Legalizes Euthanasia: The US will be next…

February 15, 2015

Neither Dignity Nor Justice: Canadas Supreme Court Legalizes Euthanasia By Father John Flynn, LC ROME, February 15, 2015 (Zenit.org) – On February 6 the nine judges of the Canadian Supreme Court legalized euthanasia in a unanimous decision, reversing a previous 1994 ruling. The move continued a tendency towards judicial activism that started with the striking down [...]

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Needed: A New Church Policy toward Islam (Pt. 1)

February 3, 2015

By WILLIAM KILPATRICK In a speech to Egypt’s top Islamic authorities (see YouTube video below), President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi called for a “religious revolution.” Why? Because he believes that Islam has problems: “That corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the centuries … is antagonizing the entire world.” He continued: “Is it possible that 1.6 [...]

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Pope Gives his Take on Divisive Family Meeting

December 10, 2014

Notice a good friends comments below :-) VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Francis says bishops spoke their minds, and may have even fought among themselves during a divisive church meeting on family issues. But he says no one questioned church teaching on marriage. Francis gave his first complete assessment of the October synod during his [...]

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