EWTN was one of many television networks to broadcast Pope Francis’ trip through the United States. Mother Angelica’s cable and satellite service presented five days of coverage that often spanned 12 hours, ending on Sunday in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Holy Father’s historic journey revealed why his timeless message is being embraced by the modern world. The power of this man’s character is bridging the gap between traditional media forces and an evolving social media culture, reaffirming that kindness is popular in any age and among all peoples.
After departing Cuba, Pope Francis arrived in Washington, DC. Addressing elected officials allows the head of the largest continuous institution in the world to be noticed by wide segments of the pubic in whatever society a modern Pope may visit. His accepted presence is also reflective of the level of influence this specific moral leader maintains in a world that is sometimes presented as fractured. However, surface appearances often cover the depth and resilience of humanity’s collective heart.
The business epicenter of the United States is located in New York City. The Pope’s address at the United Nations reaffirmed religion’s ideological place at the world’s table. The ecumenical service at the 9/11 Memorial spotlighted the inherent brilliance of the Founding Fathers. Those men understood that freedom of religious expression, rather than suppression, enables a true sense of personal satisfaction among a diverse population. The Mass at Madison Square Garden transformed a sports shrine into a sea of resplendent solitude.
Philadelphia represents the heart of the United States. The Pope’s address at Independence Hall, in front of a podium that Abraham Lincoln used, wisely contrasted independence with the challenges of globalization. This humble hero then traveled through the streets of the city, stopping to kiss babies that were brought to him by security personnel. The Pope also touched the heads and hearts of the physically and mentally challenged, as he had done earlier in the week, while on his way to The Festival of Families on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The personal testimony of families at that event projected a verbal demonstration of true inclusion. The extemporaneous and often humorous segments of the Pope’s speech that followed further deepened his connection with the gathered crowd.
On Sunday, the Pope met with Bishops at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, where he was staying during the final leg of his trip. He addressed recent challenges the Church has confronted and pointed toward the upcoming Synod on the Family that will be held in Rome next month. Then, the Pope traveled to a correctional facility where he conveyed his belief in the power of redemption through words and personal greetings with inmates. Over 850,000 people were reported to have attended the Mass that was said at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway later that afternoon. The Pope was taken to the Atlantic Aviation hanger at the Philadelphia International Airport, where he thanked the organizers, volunteers and benefactors who were part of the World Meeting of Families.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who chose the name Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, who served the poor, was then driven in his modest four-door Fiat to the airplane that flew him home. Of course, his luggage won’t be taken to the Apostolic Palace upon arrival. Instead, it will be set inside the two-room Vatican guesthouse, where he has chosen to live since the beginning of his pontificate. Per request, this scribe, along with countless others across the world, plans to pray for Pope Francis, who continues to grace this part of history.