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Pope Francis is visiting the United States this week and there is a question that begs an answer. Here are the facts.
- By the time his visit is complete he will have been received at the White House and will have visited the homeless.
- He will have addressed both a joint session of Congress and the United Nations.
- He will have said mass multiple times for well over a million people, doing so both in English and in Spanish and he will have visited the birthplace of American democracy in Philadelphia.
- He will have been serenaded by both Andrea Bocelli and Aretha Franklin and he will have visited prisoners in the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility.
- He will have gone on parade through Washington DC and Central Park in New York and hundreds of thousands of Americans will have seen him.
Not all the people who show up to see the pope will be Catholic. They are not all there to pay homage to their religious leader, yet they come by the hundreds of thousands. They inconvenience themselves, standing and waiting for hours, often in profound discomfort – some overnight – just to catch a glimpse of him.
The question is: Why do people do that?
The answer: hope.
You don’t have to be a Catholic to want a piece of what this pope represents. You just have to have a hunger for something that you can’t seem to find, something that gnaws at you and creates a hollow spot within that is frustrated for something substantial.
We’ve come to a time in America and in much of the rest of the world when our challenges seem overwhelming, when cooperation has been displaced by crude hostility. Neither our politicians nor those in Great Britain, Israel, Greece and many other countries seem to be able to carry on a civil conversation, much less solve problems.
We are far more than weary of the selfish, greedy posturing of politicians, lobbyists, and of slick marketing lies. We are far more than weary of self-destructive denials of reality and the rejection of learning. We are far more than weary of being marginalized and of seeing the hopes for our children crushed under the heel of brutes. Little wonder we feel nearly hopeless.
Pope Francis arrived in America with a message. It isn’t one of proselytizing or bible-thumping and, in fact, other than the masses he will say, his message isn’t particularly religious.
Even without saying a word his message is one of hope. It is a message we hunger to hear. It is a message we want our leaders to hear and act upon.
We need hope for a better tomorrow. It is the only way forward and every one of us knows that in our bones.
Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.
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Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
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