It’s a stressful weekend in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The roads are being closed one by one, and the once loud streets are becoming quieter. “My friends and I are most nervous about how the parking restrictions will affect our ability to utilize street parking in our neighborhoods,” says Andrea Williams, a Philadelphia resident. In less than one week, however, the streets will erupt with festivities and prayer as the Cool Pope, also known as Pope Francis, arrives in the City of Brotherly Love on September 26. His apostolic journey to the United States is scheduled to take place from September 22 to September 27. His trip involves visiting Washington D.C., New York, and Philadelphia, where he will attend the World Meeting of Families. The World Meeting of Families is an international convention, held every three years, where families from all around the world come to pray, celebrate, and learn about the gift of family. The convention, which was created by Pope John Paul II in 1994, has worked to help create strong relationships between families around the globe. Each time the event is held, there is a different theme that gives the event significant insight into the appreciation of families. This year’s theme is “Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive”, which draws attention to the influence the love of family has on one’s life.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a.k.a Pope Francis, is most commonly known as the “Cool Pope” around the world. Some possible reasons for this nickname: :
- He chose his name after St. Francis of Assisi, who chose to live in poverty because he lost all fondness of his materialistic life.
- He is the first non-European pope since the year 741.
- He frequently takes public transportation.
- He refused to move into the papal palace.
- He has a twitter.
- Said twitter has over seven million followers.
- He was once a bouncer at a nightclub in Argentina.
- He sold his Harley Davidson motorcycle and gave the money to a soup kitchen in Rome that serves the homeless.
- He remained at the same level as the Cardinal-electors, after being elected pope, rather than sitting on a throne.
- He speaks three languages: Spanish, Italian, and German.
Pope Francis was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and is the first Jesuit pope, a member of the Society of Jesus, a Roman Catholic order of priests, as well as the first Latin American pope to lead the Roman Catholic Church. He became a Jesuit at the age of 32, in 1969, just 10 years after he lost one of his lungs due to illness. Although Pope Francis appears strong on social justice, he is heavily orthodox on sexual matters. In the past he has argued that adoptions by gay parents discriminate against children. Antonia Blumberg of The Huffington Post quoted the Pope, saying, “[The children’s] identity matures being confronted with the love their father and mother have, confronted with this difference.” According to the Pope, the differences between men and women are what make heterosexual couples strong. Not only is the pope’s message on this issue offensive to LGBT families, but it is also offensive to members of the Catholic Church who support same-sex marriage. A poll organized by the Pew Research Center states that about 60% of Catholics now embrace the idea of gay marriage.
The pope, much like many others, has opinions that people may not always agree with. However, he said in an address to the public last fall that “we must lend our ears to the beat of this era and detect the scent of people today, so as to be permeated by their joys and hopes, by their sadness and distress.”
After choosing the name of Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi, the pope continues to show the world how humble he is by working on his nonmaterial mission to place the poor at the center of the Catholic Church. A recent example of this is Pope Francis’ tweet from August 28 that states, “Lord, help us always to be more generous and closer to poor families.”
His visit to the United States this week will present an important test. His papacy has put stress on the borders between nations that have, or had, tension. Before visiting the US, he is making a stop in Cuba, attempting to make point that the borders are connected, both geographically and factually.
Pope Francis has not shied away from controversial issues. David Brooks, a writer for The New York Times, said “Francis’ great gift, by contrast, is learning through intimacy, not just to study poverty, but to live among the poor and feel it as a personal experience from the inside.”