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26 September 2015


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Johnny Reims

The Donald apparently claimed he has never asked God for forgiveness, although he is backtracking on that one now.


As for Papa Francisco – like most everyone else, I am enthralled -- but I wish someone would give him a memo that the warmongering neocons and interventionists in the US have invoked Lincoln, either rightly or wrongly, to justify the carnage of our of “liberty loving” US FP of late. Bush’s Mission Accomplished speech was on the USS Lincoln and that crowd chose the USS Lincoln for a reason.

Again, invoked Lincoln either rightly or wrongly – take your pick -- but it is a indisputable fact they have relied on Lincoln to maim.

Knowing how that crowd works, they will now say Lincoln would support a war against Russia to spread liberty, thus inferring de facto papal approval, which of course is a lie.

Richard Sale

I too have been enthralled. Last week, before the Pope’s visit, I was viewing footage about the Middle East. As I watched their helpless desperation of the migrants, a thought smoke me with great force -- it was that of our common humanhood. All people want to serve and protect their wives, husband and children. It was a picture that deeply struck my heart.
Then the Pope came, bringing with him his respect for each individual as a separate well of life, a life that demands to thrive and overcome obstacles but which deserves to be cared for, protected and loved. The extraordinary generosity of the Pope’s heart overwhelmed me.
His gentle plea for others to pray for him as an appeal to the better angles of our natures. I now pray for him every day, as I do for my wife and children.

Richard Sale

Margaret Steinfels

Now my favorite pope along with John XXIII. Both of them trying to drag the Catholic Church into the modern world while holding onto its essential beliefs (quite few actually, but mind-boggling even to those of us brought up on them).



IMO Francis will administratively lift the ban on married diocesan priests. There is no scriptural basis for it and we already have the Eastern Church example as well as priests who swam the Tiber leaving the Anglican communion. Then he will commission some sort of group to consider the scriptural implications of women's ordination. pl

Johnny Reims

Me too.

My sister (Episcopalian) keeps saying, “Something about that man just makes me cry.” Plus, she wrote, “There is just something about him – the presence of Grace”.

My sister runs a special church school for the disadvantaged, so I tend to listen to her on these kinds of matters, as I don't have that kind of talent.

Plus my wife to be – recently converted to Catholicism – has echoed the same. She has never experienced anything like it. Neither have I.

Boehner’s tears were genuine, imo.

I have wondered if Papa Francisco’s visit represents a final brilliant outpouring of grace in a world increasingly falling into darkness, division, and war. That setting for the 9.11 memorial service kept reminding me of the aftermath of a nuclear war.

Papa Francisco's speech at the memorial was one of the greatest ever delivered on American soil, imo. Hope someone translates it and takes historical note.

Babak Makkinejad

Rightly so, in my opinion; he was the first "Liberal Imperialist" president in US history.


The visit of Pope Francis had a powerful impact on me, and I have only watched 20% of the coverage. He, and particularly the people responding to him, have completely altered my cynical and judgmental worldview. I am much more optimistic about the world. Mercy is infinitely more appealing than justice. Pope Francis beginning his service at St. Patrick's Cathedral with prayers for the Muslim pilgrims who were killed that day in Mecca was moving.

It is really spooky that Pope Francis would come at this time. And it was a very surreal scene to be watching the Pope's movement to St. Patrick's Cathedral and see coverage of Donald Trump outside of Trump Towers waiting to catch a glimpse of the Pope. I was/am a Trump supporter and was caught up in the excitement. But I have taken a time-out from everything to just reevaluate my life and philosophy. From now to November 8, 2016 should give me enough time.

Margaret Steinfels

Agree. Unless there are married priests, there will be no priests--to speak of.

Francis might appoint a commission to study women priests, but remember the last commission appointed to study an important issues--contraception. Didn't work out so well. My line on women priests is: Not in my lifetime. Of course, that is of limited duration. And I can't say I ever wanted to be one. Better to preach from the pews.



I would be curious to hear comparisons of Pope Francis to Pope John Paul II during his first(?) trip to the United States early in his papal tenure . That era was different, e.g. the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union and John Paul's opposition to Liberation Philosophy. Perhaps contrasts as well?

Margaret Steinfels

Translation at the NYTimes, prepared by the HS. http://nyti.ms/1jlpNRa

Francis: "Among the words: Here, amid pain and grief, we also have a palpable sense of the heroic goodness which people are capable of, those hidden reserves of strength from which we can draw. In the depths of pain and suffering, you also witnessed the heights of generosity and service. Hands reached out, lives were given. In a metropolis which might seem impersonal, faceless, lonely, you demonstrated the powerful solidarity born of mutual support, love and self-sacrifice. No one thought about race, nationality, neighborhoods, religion or politics. It was all about solidarity, meeting immediate needs, brotherhood. It was about being brothers and sisters. New York City firemen walked into the crumbling towers, with no concern for their own wellbeing. Many succumbed; their sacrifice enabled great numbers to be saved."



JP2 was understandably deeply suspicious of the Left. How could he not be? I met him twice. The first time was in 2000. He was much crippled up by then. I was at a meeting in Rome and with about 20 other people was given a private audience in the pontifical palace. When my turn came I knelt before him and contrary to the usual protocol took the hand he held out and kissed it. He focused on me and said, "my father was a soldier." He knew nothing of me. I had not been introduced. I was just one of the people in the group. "You worry too much," he said. "I see nothing bad in you." A bishop in my group said that he did that kind of thing frequently. A couple of years later I was in a line of guests that he walked by. He paused at me, looked up and said "ah, the good soldier." He nodded and continued down the line, making heavy going of it in his condition. I have tried since then to avoid blotting my copy book too badly. pl


God protect him. Francis is a wonderful man.

no one

Sir, those are awesome anecdotes from your encounter with JP2. I had wondered about his powers of perception when he was in those final years and seemed so physically compromised. Apparently he was as mentally/spiritually keen as ever. What a blessing.


no one

This was like contemplating a Rothko painting, a glimpse of another and very different state of being. pl

Mark Logan

The Donald's private personal security detail is frequently on camera whenever he is walking as there are so many of them. I've never seen him mix with a crowd that isn't vetted, even the kids of his Iowa helo ride were separated from their parents and wearing Trump shirts for the photo op.

I learned the hard way to fear cowards. We are told that bullies are cowards and so we should not fear them but that is not true. Cowards are moved by their terror of retaliation to strike viciously. They worship power, seldom feel they have enough, and relish employing it. They are sad creatures whose capacity for joy is limited at best.

The new Pope is a wonderful contrast to that.


A marvelous anecdote sir.

Nancy K

I think the goodness and holiness in Pope Francis shines out and makes us all want to be better people. I'm not Catholic, my husband is Jewish and my mother who is 90 has never identified with any religion, yet all three of us are in awe of him.



You may well be right about the administrative ban. If such a thing does occur, Benedict should get a certain amount of credit, since it was he who established the ordinariate for Anglican priests, and I am sure he knew exactly what he was doing when he opened the door to married clergy.

By quitting Benedict also established a precedent for retiring when you no longer feel up to the job. I'm sure witnessing the long decline of JPII, when things really started to go to pot, had some influence on him.

If Francis did retire, however, I believe he would leave the Vatican and go home, getting out of his predecessor's way.

There was a practical reason for Francis not to move into the palace, a reason which says a lot about him, I think. Usually a new Pope is accompanied by a considerable entourage of long standing. Francis had lived very simply with an elderly colleague. No entourage. Had he occupied the palace he would have been mostly rattling around the place by himself.

Richard Sale

And we pray for our wonderful friends.


Margaret Steinfels

If Papal encounters are being allowed, I have one. In 1962, I was a college student in Rome studying in a semester abroad program.

We students (perhaps some fifty of us) were invited to an audience with John XXIII. We knew that great things were underway...a Council had been called and was in preparation. The nuns and clergy we met in Rome were thrilled. Excited. Hans Kungs book, "The Council, Reform, and Reunion was just out in an English translation.

Ushered into a largish audience hall, we stood around in great anticipation. The pope was ushered in by two gigantic American monsignori, one of whom I think translated his remarks. (And when I say ushered, remember he was a very small man...afterward I got it into my head that the scene was a bit like the comic strip, "The Little King, with the pope being lead around by a couple of Marines.)

What did we expect? What we heard were words of affectionate welcome, cautions to do well in our studies, and to always obey our parents (thousands of miles away). It was a bit of a surprise that the pope saw us as youngsters, when of course we saw ourselves otherwise.

While the pope's words didn't have quite the salutary effect on us that Pat Lang reports JPII had on him, John XXIII still came to seem through his life, his deeds, and the council to be a wholly admirable man and a very good pope.



My wife was in college in Boston when Archbishop Cushing and Ted Kennedy came around to sell Teddy's candidacy for the senate. Hard to say who was more patronizing. I prefer my encounter. pl


"Mercy is infinitely more appealing than justice."

I believe that is one of the most intriguing comments that I have ever read. It speaks to me. Thanks.

The Twisted Genius

I have never come close to meeting a Pope. I've only come close to a bishop twice with no effect, but I was blessed to grow up in the shadow of Father James F. O'Dea. He was the only pastor I have known. I was an alter boy under him for eight years, until I went off to college. Needless to say he was a major influence in my development. He was a font of God's mercy, joy, understanding and wisdom. I see Father O'Dea in the eyes of Pope Francis.

I remember our neighbors horse getting loose and galloping up the aisle of our church in the middle of Father O'Dea's sermon. Father O'Dea calmly and gently grabbed the horse's halter and lead him down the aisle to the the waiting usher. He then lead us all in a good laugh and finished his sermon. When the Jehovah's Witness missionaries began knocking on our doors, he spoke admirably of their faith and devotion and commanded us to treat them with kindness and respect. "Don't believe a word they say,"he added with a twinkle in his eye, but see them as brothers and sisters in Christ. One day he was standing under one of our maple trees surrounded by my brothers, sisters and a pack of the neighborhood kids. I have no idea why he was there that day. One of the kids asked him if his dog would be with him in Heaven. He told us that Heaven is a place of eternal happiness and joy. If includes our dogs, "I don't see why your dog wouldn't be there with you." This memory came to me when Pope Francis said, "Who am I to judge?"

These are just some simple little memories I have of Father O'Dea. I have many more, much more profound that shaped the better parts of my soul. Because of him, I like Colonel Lang, try to avoid blotting my copy book too badly.

Paul Escobar

Mr. Lang,

Thanks for sharing that amazing anecdote. I got chills, and a little tear reading it.



The Maronite Church from Lebanon, in full communion w/ the Holy See, has always allowed married priests, although the marital status may bar upward promotion in the episcopacy. There is even a Maronite RC Cardinal. Likewise, the Melkite Church has married priests. Melkites are Eastern Orthodox rite churches that are in communion with the Holy See.


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