Roman visitor

Staff Columnist

We certainly did have a Visitor on the east coast of our Country recently. There is something that we Americans like about visitors from overseas.  I think that it is the intrigue with the unknown, coupled with pride in our land, and some desire to show off.  That’s all good.

The Pope, the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome was here for 4 frantic days.  We watched, even if we don’t admit it.  I received the following from a relative in Connecticut.  I think he got it about right.  “The Pope has survived the trip with good press and a renewed mission to rebuild a reduced flock in America.  I applaud his sincerity in that effort and the unblinking process of dealing with a contrarian media in a very unfamiliar and wealthy country.”

I had held off in writing much about the Pope here at this time.  I thought that perhaps our readership here on this island might not be open to such discussion.  I think I was right, but will loosen up a bit, saving my comments for the end of this piece.

“As lay Catholics, one of us a ‘cradle’ Catholic , and one of us a convert, we add our warm welcome to you, Pope Francis, on your upcoming pastoral visit to the United States.”       (Introducing Pope Francis to America), By Jim Nicolson and Newt Gingrich,  as published in the Wall Street Journal, Sat/Sun September 19,20, 2015)

“Americans deeply admire – and share – your commitment, as affirmed in your  inaugural Mass, ‘to protect each person, especially the poorest.’  In that same Mass you called on all of us to share in this service to the person ‘so that the star of hope will shine brightly.’  Americans know this service well.  Our Nation   founded precisely on the basis of protecting the person.  Our founders proclaimed the ‘self–evident’ truth that all men are created equal and endowed by our Creator with  unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

“In his search for understanding America, 19th –century French visitor Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of the deepest source of America’s capacity for renewal:  ‘Religion in America takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must nevertheless be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country; for it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of free institutions.’”

“This ever-present challenge of winning freedom for the cause of good is why all of America joyfully welcomes you and your ministry.  You are clear about good and evil.  You have met with the victims of priestly abuse and mafia violence.  You speak of the devil as a reality to be confronted.  We need your wisdom and prayerful guidance to meet the challenge of freedom for a new generation.  What you will find is an America that never stops debating the best way to order freedom to the good for the benefit of all.

Far more significantly, many of our young citizens in uniform have fought and died to free others from tyranny, and to make possible the opportunities that we have enjoyed.

Much of the opportunity that characterizes our nation, a nation of immigrants, flows from a political and economic system that rewards hard work and creativity.  We strive to put the well-being of the human person at the center of economic activity.  You will find a free enterprise system that has lifted millions from poverty and has made America unique among nations.  Though it has flaws, our economic system is not some savage jungle.  Instead, it is founded on the rule of law and sustained by a strong national ethic of honesty, responsibility, thriftiness and care for one’s neighbor – virtues prized and propagated by the Catholic Church and by America’s Founding Fathers, as well.”

With thanks to the Mr. Nicholson who was U.S. Ambassador to the Holy Sea (2001- 005) and Mr. Gingrich who was Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (1995- 99).


A Brief Addendum

I’ve been attentive these days in anticipation of, as well as attentive to the visit of the Holy Father, Pope Francis to our Country.  It certainly has received sufficient attention from our media. Print and visual media have covered this as the visit of a star.  That coverage, especially TV may seem overdone; I thought it dignified and helpful in setting the tone for this, which was after all a Pastoral Visit.  I thought our President added to the event through his serious and dignified presence.

Whether the visit was planned as  political or not is beyond my competence.  This is not  for me to say.  This is not my first Pope.  I am much impressed with this one.  He and I are the same age.  I’ve seen and read my share of Popes.  This is an important man.  We are blessed by his presence in our Land.

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