The Pope has landed.
The most visible, respected, hated, controversial, beloved, feared, and well known spiritual leader on planet earth, Head of the church of Rome, and chief executive of the country known as Vatican City, Pope Francis the First, is arriving in America for an official visit that will take him from meetings with president of the United States of America, to giving a huge speech in the city of brotherly love in Philadelphia, to another before congress.
The most powerful man in the world who has joined the ranks of the progressive human rights movements striving for an end of abortion as well as irresponsible climate change practices worldwide, the Holy Father will be meeting Barak Obama, who agrees with him on the latter but not the former. The Pope is not expected to push him on the subject of a child’s right to life. The president will have to join the modern world all on his own.
While a highly popular Pope who does not wear the old ceremonial garments as often as his predecessors did, who also has a Twitter account, and who sneaks out at night, so the stories go, to give bread to the poor, Francis I does still have some antiquated baggage. For instance, in a desperate harkening back to the past, he remains an opponent of capitalism, still unwilling to bring his church all the way into the 21st century.
The Pope will also meet privately with America’s most powerful and arguably most hated Republican, John Boehner, who is Speaker of the House of Representatives. Who knows what they will talk about? Maybe sports, as the Pope is known to be a fan. (He doesn’t pray for his favorite teams to win, however, saying that that would be an unfair advantage for them.)
The papal visit comes at a time when a high number of candidates or perspective candidates in the presidential race have been forced by the media in recent months to say how their beliefs line up or disagree with the pontiff’s. These include names such as Jeb Bush, Joe Biden, Rick Santorum, and Marco Rubio. The Pope’s visit may prove a trying time for them, as Joe Biden will have to explain why he disagrees with the Pope on the human rights of unborn children, and Jeb Bush could be forced to explain why he disagrees with the Pope on the subject of climate change.
Security will of course be tight, as one of the most visible figures in the world, and probably the only one who can inspire the kind of enthusiasm in America that our own president inspires elsewhere, Francis has been known in the past to disregard official schedules, go out into the crowds, and even give young children rides in his car. It will probably be a security nightmare for his detail.
There are those have been predicting the end of the world, (I think it happens once every year or so) for September 22-23, right smack-dab in the middle of the Pope’s visit. These doomsdayers point to a variety of things, from the Pope’s appearance in the US to the release of the trailer for Disney’s new movie Tomorrowland, as evidence for their odd case. It would be a pity if the world did end, not only because the Olympics would not be played next year, (I understand the absence of a planet makes it difficult for track and field events) but also we would never learn how Clara is scheduled to leave Dr. Who.
But on a more serious note, the Pope’s visit comes during a tumultuous time around the world, with migrants pouring into Europe fleeing the barbarian hordes that make up ISIS, as our own country is beset with doubt and fear on the economic front, and infighting and upheaval on the social and political ones. And now the most powerful member of the most powerful and largest denomination of the world’s largest and most powerful religion has arrived in the most powerful country in human history to give a speech. It’s like a scene from out of a movie.
The world is not going to end, and it isn’t likely the speech will finally bring about the healing our country so desperately needs. But what it might do is bring us all, for one hour, to pause, and reflect that the only place to look when all about you is in chaos, is Heaven.
Andrew C. Abbott