Thursday, September 24, 2015


Today in Washington DC Pope Francis spoke to the U.S. Congress with a brilliant and uplifting Address.  Read it in its entirety to capture the depth and the inspiration of his sentiments and words.
Please find below excerpts from his heart-felt appeal to all of us to open our hearts and lives to our immigrant brothers and sisters, especially those living among us in the USA.  In addition, he urged us to continue to be a nation which continues to assist the world's millions of refugees in their escape from terrorism, conflict, hunger, and fear.  His words:
"In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom.  We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners.  I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants.  Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected.  For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation.  
Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present.  Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past.  We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us.  Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best.  I am confident that we can do this.
Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War.  This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions.  On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities.  Is this not what we want for our own children?  
We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation.  To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal.  We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome.  Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).
This Rule points us in a clear direction.  Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated.  Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves.  Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves.  In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.  The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.  The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development."

[View the Pope's entire Address to Congress: ]

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


It is a great joy and grace to be in Washington DC and to witness Pope Francis arrive for the first time in our country.

He comes to us as the Successor of Peter and as the Vicar of Christ.  But he also brings with him a message straight from the Gospels of Jesus Christ:  open your hearts and lives, be embraced by the love and mercy of God!

Pope Francis as our Pope is doing two amazing things:  first, he is calling each of us to a deeper life in Jesus, and urging us to imitate in our lives the words and actions of Jesus during his life and ministry.  And secondly, he is calling us as members of His Body, the Church, to be more authentic, welcoming, and inclusive in reaching out to all peoples--especially the poor and those on the fringes of society.

People ask me all the time:  "What kind of Church is Pope Francis proposing for us?"  The answer is simple:  the Church of the Acts of the Apostles.  Pick up your Bible, and begin re-reading slowly the Acts of the Apostles--and you will see unfolding the community of believers where the focus is on the local level:  parishes and Dioceses.  The Second Vatican Council called this subsidiarity--decisions and actions are best taken at the lowest level possible.

I am particularly interested in listening as Pope Francis challenges us--members of a nation of immigrants--to welcome the newest wave of immigrants and refugees to our shores.

Let us join our prayers in welcoming Pope Francis, and in opening our hearts and souls to his inspiring call to love, mercy, acceptance, and welcome!