BISHOP JOHN STOWE, O.F.M., CONV. Ever since Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio stepped out on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica to be introduced to the world as the first Pope Francis, he has not stopped sur- prising us. That night in March, 2013, the world was introduced to a pope of firsts: first pope from the Jesuit Order, first pope from Latin America, and the first to be called Francis after the little poor man of As- sisi who followed Jesus' call to rebuild the church. The new Holy Father joked that the cardinals had gone to the ends of the world to find a bishop for Rome; he bowed to the people of God and asked for their prayers before bestowing his first papal blessing. Other surprises quickly followed: he got on the bus with fellow cardinals, not allow- ing himself to be whisked away into the exclusive privacy of the papacy. He went to the hotel where he stayed before the conclave to pay his own bill. He celebrated Mass in the parish church of Vatican City and tried to greet people like any pastor would on Sunday morning-but of course he had a mob surrounding him. He decided not to live in the papal apartments, removed and protected from the bothers and concerns of ordinary people, and kept the room at the Vatican guest house that is used for the conclave and continues to eat in the cafeteria with bishops from around the world visit- ing Rome and the priests who work in a variety of offices in the curia and live in this residence. As a cardinal archbishop, he rode the bus in Buenos Aires to rub shoulders with the people of God. As a pope, he does all he can to be close to people-and more importantly to bring God close to them. Early in his papacy, Pope Francis assured a worried secret service official that he was not afraid and that those who come to see the pope should be able to see the pope. Pope Francis has received his share of criticism, especially for his stated priority of having a poor church for the poor. It is hard to criticize that, if one's criteria comes from the Gospel. If it comes from the world of business or politics, his emphasis may not make sense, but it certainly was the emphasis of the Son of God among us. Actually, Pope Francis' application of the church's teaching
Page 2 September 13, 2015
The Bi-Weekly Publication of The Catholic Diocese of Lexington
PUBLISHER: Bishop John Stowe,
EDITOR: Thomas F. Shaughnessy DESIGN & GRAPHICS: Skip Olson CIRCULATION: Dottie Tipton
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SEPTEMBER 2015 Sept. 7-16 Bishops' Orientation in Rome, Italy Sept. 20 Mass of the Holy Spirit & Installation of Fr. Steve Roberts as Pastor at Holy Spirit/Lexington - 5:00 pm Sept. 21 Mass & Blessing of Pilgrimage at the Cathedral of Christ the King/Lexing- ton - 5:00 pm Sept. 24 - 27 Papal Visit/Philadelphia, PA Sept. 27 Mass at Queen of All Saints/Beattyville - 9:30 am For more events on Bishop John's public schedule, go to www.cdlex.org homepage
Pope's emphasis on the marginalized based on Gospel criteria
to the economy builds on a long tradition and is virtually identical to that of Pope Benedict XVI and St. John Paul II. Even when Pope Francis wrote his recent encycli- cal on the environment, the content of his teaching is not new, although he presents it in a fresh and clearly challenging manner. No doubt the pope of firsts will not fail to surprise us in the course of his historic visit to the United States. Un- like his predecessors, Pope Francis has never visited the U.S. even before becoming pope. priority in the pope's heart-the same ones that had priority in the ministry of Jesus: the outcast, the marginalized, the one's over- looked by the majority. Pope Francis will be the first pope to ad- dress the U.S. Congress. The commentaries from right and left are probably already being written, but the pope will be consistent. He will present the Good News for all people as He has already surprised us by conducting a virtual papal audience with students at the Cristo Rey High School in Chicago, with immigrants along the border in McAl- len, Texas, and with the homeless in Los Angeles. There is no question about who has revealed by Jesus Christ. He will appeal to believers and non-believers. He will challenge Americans to live by the highest and noblest ideals contained in the founding documents of our nation's history, and he will teach by example his own gospel of inclusion. Pope Francis has suggested that the con- temporary understanding of the command- ment "thou shalt not kill" needs to be ex- panded to "thou shalt not exclude"-because in our context, exclusion equals death. From his first trip outside of Rome, to the site of the shipwrecked immigrants at Lampedusa, to his visits to soup kitchens and the instal- lation of showers for the homeless in the Vatican, Pope Francis is reaching the invis- ible and excluded members of society. That is a profound lesson in itself. Many have expressed their dislike for certain things Pope Francis has said and done. Here in Central and Eastern Kentucky, there has been a lot of dismay over the pope's words on the environment. To those who are disturbed by what the pope says and does, I simply invite them to consider what so frus- trates them and ask if it is consistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ or not.
Pope Francis' pastoral visit to the United States will be a great moment for all of us. May he continue to inspire us to be more Christ-like and to be more inclusive of the marginalized.
Pope Francis participates in an Aug. 31, 2015 video conference with Americans. Credit: ABC News/ CNA screenshotPrevious Page