This blog has been chronicling Pope Francis’ 10 days of missions to the Cuban and American peoples in anticipation of the Pope’s having a significant impact on their spiritual and political lives. Whenever possible these blog posts have included the complete texts of Francis’ speeches and homilies so that anyone can examine them for himself or herself as I intend to do in subsequent posts.
I first stand in awe at his humility. He concluded nearly every set of remarks with a request for the people to pray for him and if they were not believers to wish him well. He did the same with children, detainees and victims of abuse, and one could tell that he truly loved all with whom he met.
Francis also consistently preached the Good News of the Gospel: God loves us. God forgives us all for we all fall short of what God asks of us. We all are sinners.
I also stand in awe of Francis’ intelligence and stamina. Undoubtedly with the assistance of others at the Vatican, before he left Rome for this trip, he had to think and write at least 27 important speeches and homilies to give in the two countries. He had to travel by plane from Rome to Havana, Santiago to Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia back to Rome with shorter plane trips within the two countries. He delivered four lengthy and important speeches in a language (English) in which he was not completely fluent. He had to have been briefed on the thoughts and personalities of the many people he would meet. He did all of this as a 78-year old man with occasional sciatica pain. As a man only two years younger with the same type of pain, I especially empathize with Francis on this last point.
Finally I must register my outrage at the commentary of a Roman Catholic columnist, Ross Douthat, who obviously favors the traditional Church “faith” and practices. In the first paragraph of a recent column Douthat accuses Francis of having an ”ostentatious humility,” i.e., a pretentious or false show of humility or conducting a cynical ploy to curry favor with those wanting to see change in the Church. The second paragraph goes on to say that Francis is “the chief plotter” to change Church doctrine to “allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion without having their first marriage declared null.” Douthat should get down on his knees and beg for forgiveness from Francis and from God.
 Pope Francis’ Mission to the Cuban People: First Day, Second Day, Third Day and Fourth Day. Pope Francis’ Mission to the American People: First Day, Second Day, Third Day, Fourth Day, Fifth Day and Sixth Day.
 Douthat, The Plot to Change Catholicism, N.Y. Times (Oct. 17, 2015).
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