Pope to Visit New York as well as Philly and D.C.

As rumored, Pope Francis will likely make a trip to New York as well as Washington, D.C.

Newsday has the scoop, quoting Joe Zwilling, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese.of New York.

Zwilling said a visit to New York makes sense for a number of reasons. This year is the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s address to the United Nations in 1965, when he was the first pope to visit the United States.

One of the more exciting things in this story is that Pope Francis may be making a trip to Fordham, my alma mater.  Some have said that the Pope wants to visit some areas where people struggle with poverty.  The Bronx is certainly an area where poverty is evident and I spent a good deal of time at POTS, the Fordham soup kitchen called Part of the Solution which serves many of the hungry in the borough.

So pack your bags.  I’m planning to try to be there.

Pope Francis Names Cardinals on the Margins

The Pope named 15 new Cardinals today most from countries that have not had representation recently. No Americans as Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia would be options for red hats but there’s usually a wait for the former Cardinals of those Archdioceses to pass the voting age of 80.

The Pope is preferring Bishops from the global south and moderates including as John Allen reports at Crux

Archbishop John Atcherley Dew from New Zealand, for instance, argued for allowing divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion at a 2005 Vatican synod of bishops. Archbishop Ricardo Blázquez Pérez is president of the Spanish bishops’ conference and generally seen as a moderate opposed to the harder line of former Madrid Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela.

The other newly named Cardinals are:

Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura

Archbishiop Manuel José Macario do Nascimento Clemente, Patriarch of Lisbon (Portugal)

Archbishop Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, C.M., of Addis Abeba (Ethiopia)

Archbishop Edoardo Menichelli of Ancona-Osimo (Italy)

Archbishop Pierre Nguyên Văn Nhon of Hà Nôi (Viêt Nam)

Archbishop Alberto Suàrez Inda of Morelia (Mexico)

Archbishop Charles Maung Bo, S.D.B., of Yangon (Myanmar)

Archbishop Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij of Bangkok (Thailand)

Archbishop Francesco Montenegro of Agrigento (Italy)

Archbishop Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet, S.D.B., of Montevideo (Uruguay)

Bishop José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuán, O.A.R., of David (Panamá)

Bishop Arlindo Gomes Furtado, of Santiago de Cabo Verde (Archipelago of Cape Verde)

Bishop Soane Patita Paini Mafi of Tonga (Island of Tonga)

In addition honorary Cardinals beyond the age of 80 were named:

José de Jesús Pimiento Rodriguez, Archbishop Emeritus of Manizales

Archbishop Luigi De Magistris, Major Pro-Penitentiary Emeritus

Archbishop Karl-Joseph Rauber, Apostolic Nuncio

Luis Héctor Villaba, Archbishop Emeritus of Tucumán

Júlio Duarte Langa, Bishop Emeritus of Xai-Xai

Pray for the new red hats who will be officially given their red hats in February.

The Jesuitness of Pope Francis

charis_logoSo my colleagues at Charis Ministries in Chicago have asked a rather provocative question:

Why Should Pope Francis attend a Charis Retreat?

And so I would like to offer the Top 10 reasons why a Ignatian Retreat and specifically a Charis Retreat would benefit the likes of Papa Francisco.

images-11) A Transition is a Great Time for a Retreat: Pope Francis is in the midst of an unexpected transition. Moving from Argentina to Italy alone has got to be jarring, never mind the move from his simple quarters to the Papal Suite in the Vatican (reportedly, the Pope said it was too large for him and said “You could fit 300 people in here). So I’d like to recommend that he attends a What’s Next Retreat–which is based specifically on the experience of making transitions. You should join him if you’ve gotten a new job, moved to a new city, graduated college or graduate school, entered the job force for the first time, just gotten married or divorced or are expecting a child. Transitions are crazy! And Ignatian spirituality focuses us on the principle of indifference—trying to have the faith that says that no matter what befalls us and no matter how scary things are, God will get us through anything.

2) The Value of Silence: Each Charis retreat really values silence and the opportunity to take time away from the noise that often constantly surrounds us. Do you remember those first moments on the Papal balcony? The Pope actually asked for silence and you could hear a pin drop in the square as people prayed for our new Pontiff. Perhaps we all need just a few moments in our lives to cultivate silence for even just a short time.

3) Simplicity: If nothing else, the new Pope loves being with people and sharing stories of his own. That’s precisely what Charis retreats are based on. The experience of finding God in everyday life is where we all are. So the retreats meet us firmly on that ground and then moves us to consider where God might be in that experience. I read today where the Pope called the newsstand where he got his morning paper and cancelled his subscription. Can we find God in the simple moments of the day like buying the morning paper or riding the bus. It seems to me that the Pope can help others understand this well.

4) For the Least of Our Brothers and Sisters: Charis Retreats always center on the experience of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. The Pope has seen much suffering in the slums of Buenos Aires and the experience of the global south certainly knows poverty much better than we do in the United States. Do we have the ability to see God in these experiences of poverty and how are we poor ourselves? For the least provides an opportunity to reflect on the experience of serving others who are in need instead of merely doing a good deed and then going on our way. Have we been able to name where we find Christ in these experiences?

5) Ignatius and Francis: Why would a Jesuit take Francis as his name? Well, it’s actually quite appropriate! Ignatius was a big admirer of Francis. During his period of convalescence he read all about Francis and placed himself in the stories of Francis and in his imagination he discovered that he enjoyed imitating the life of Francis much more than the gallant knights that he had tried to become like before. On Charis retreats, you’re able to use these imaginative exercises where you place yourself in the stories of Francis, Ignatius and Jesus and other imaginative scenes. By putting our creative imagination at the service of our faith we find that we meet God more clearly in these experiences and are able to more readily integrate our deepest desires about who we most want to be into action.

6) Contemplative in Action: Ignatius implores us to be people in the world but not of the world. To be contemplative in action, to not merely experience our lives by living them but also by reflecting back on our experiences. With the number of stories we’ve already heard from Pope Francis, I am certain that he shares that value and has reflected deeply on his more than 75 years.

7) Forgiveness: Charis retreats always center on the experience of being a “loved sinner.” And Pope Francis has clearly talked about a God who always forgives us in the early days of his Papacy. I often lead the reconciliation service on the retreats that I coordinate with one of our team members. And it’s always a moving experience to see people come back from the sacrament of reconciliation renewed and refreshed in the forgiveness of God’s love. Imagine being able to go to confession to the Pope?! And imagine being a priest and hearing the Pope’s confession?!

8. Servant Leadership: Charis retreats are run by young adults for young adults. They are based in peer leadership where we serve the needs of one another. We now have a Pope who is doing that with his brother priests and more importantly, brother Cardinals. His spirit of collegiality would fit in well on a Charis retreat and while he’s not a young adult, I could see him leading us as spiritual director and showing other priests the importance of being with young people.

9) Magis: The great Cardinal Tagle of Manilla once reminded us that we don’t just work for the glory of God, but rather we work for the GREATER glory of God. We stretch ourselves beyond our usual modes of participating in life, to become somewhat uncomfortable, to reflect on matters we often have no time for in our busy lives. We do so in order to define what the Magis is for each one of us. We discern, rather than simply decide who we are to be. The Pope has been echoing those words in the early days of his papacy and it’s pretty clear that he’s working not only to fulfill the demands of the Papacy, but also to show each of us where greater glory resides in the experience of fulfilling our roles in life. Sitting on a weekend with Charis Retreats, we hope to find that greater glory that calls to us, that helps us become all that God calls us to be.

10) Open to Questions: Don’t you get the feeling that you could just ask Pope Francis anything and he’d answer you with love? That’s a great principle of Ignatian Spirituality, being open to the questions and exploring all facets of them. We come to God with all of who we are: our hopes, our dreams, our gifts…but also our fears, our doubts, our insecurities. Charis retreats offers a non-judgemental sacred space to explore those aspects of who we are.

Lastly, the Pope should come and join Charis Retreats in the great spirit of Ignatius, not merely because he’s a Jesuit and not merely because Charis expresses much of his own personal spirituality and not even because the Pope needs to be around young people. Rather, the Pope should be able to take some time for himself and renew his own sense of where God is calling HIM! Young people in their 20s and 30s are eager to share their journey of faith and have been moved by the Pope sharing much of how he sees God working in his life even in the simplest of ways.

Be it a bus ride, a morning paper, a visit to the slums, a phone call or even a simple kiss and hug, Papa Francisco is able to share with his actions and his words just how vibrant God is working in his life.

And that’s exactly what happens on a Charis Retreat.

So I’m conducting Charis’ What’s Next Retreat in the Buffalo area on June 7-9…that’s the one focused on transitions. Perhaps the Pope will need a mini-break from this whirlwind tour he’s been on and I would love to provide him with an opportunity to be with us….even if just in spirit. (Email me for information: mike.googlinggod@gmail.com)

ignloyAfter all, he is and always will be a son of Ignatius. That spirit has made him all that he is.

And now it inspires all of us as well. Seeing God in all things is our challenge and taking just a bit of time to examine that in our lives is something we all should do and need to do.

And if that’s good enough for the Pope, than it’s good enough for all of us.

The Early Pope Haters Need to Give It a Rest

So I’ve been talking with many old friends and reading a lot of what people have to say about the new Pope. Many have said that when Fr. Bergoglo, SJ was the Provincial of the Jesuits in Buenos Aires, he was not well liked. One article went on to say that he “ruled with an iron fist.”
Another person said he was a “divisive” person and that nobody liked him. A third said he failed to smile the whole time he was provincial.

It kind of reminded me of the story of a Paulist, Fr. Frank Diskin, CSP who is now deceased. I was very close with Padre Francisco, as the Latin Americans in our parish called him. He started the Hispanic Ministry at St. Paul’s in New York City, learning the language and doing a lot of outreach in Hell’s Kitchen to hispanics in the housing projects and in the outlying neighborhoods. In his old age, I began working for his religious community and we became fast friends, sharing a love of baseball, him the Red Sox and me the Mets and the Cubs. He was simple a sweet old man and I enjoyed his old stories of doing missions in Utah and working in hispanic ministry and his tales of his beloved Boston. A BC guy, he’d chide me about my Fordham loyalty as well.

I loved him, we all did.

But if you’d ask some of the guys who were about 20 years younger than Frank, they’d say he was a very tough pastor, not a bad man, but someone very, very demanding and a harsh critic. They didn’t have the fondest memories of the 20-years-ago-Frank.

One Paulist remarked to me,

EH! All the older guys were like that. Frank was no better or worse than any of them. Now they’re all retired, so they’ve all “mellowed out.”

And I think that’s exactly what we’re seeing in our new Pope. He’s an older man who now realizes some things aren’t worth getting all worked up over. I can hear him saying “Cars pollute the air, so I take the bus. This is the way it is.”

There’s nobody who says he wasn’t a good listener. They may not have liked the results of some of his decisions, but they respected him looking at all angles, especially on Liberation Theology.

But it drives me crazy when certain people dredge up old grudges and talk about them as if they were fresh wounds, or mention that it makes the Pope a more conservative Jesuit.

If this is conservative…I’d wonder what liberal is like.

Like myself, the Pope is a social conservative but a liberal economist. He cares about the poor and finds that fundamental to his theology, but on sexual issues he remains silent, keeping the doctrinal status quo. I’m more of a middling social conservative (pro-life but not so staunch on anything else–or better stated, I’m not so concerned with the other hot button sexual issues…but that’s a column for another time).

I can live with this guy. And let’s face facts, we weren’t getting anything different with any of these guys. They’re all conservatives..but the fact that this Pope is vociferous on the needs of the poor and has some first hand experience with the slums, leads we to believe that his first encyclical will be on care for the poor.

A few weeks back I made a checklist for what I thought the Pope should be like. Here’s how the new Pope ranks on the Hayes Scale:

Enthusiasm: Got it in spades.

Humility: Again got it in spades.

Vitality: OK, so he’s old. That could be a good thing. Read on.

Language: He’s no polyglot, but he’s adequate.

Collegial: Cmon the guy takes the bus with the Cardinals. He wants his priests to get along. Period.

A good preacher: Did ya catch yesterday?

Off the cuff, humble, open…a good preacher. Whattya know?

A first hand experience of the poor: Hello! The guy went to the slums.

Intelligent: Smart enough to do something different. So far, so good.

Understands the media: So far he’s a rock star.

Healthy and scandal free: Tom Reese had an excellent column about Pope Francis’ past today in NCR:

Here was my big takeaway:

In the face of tyranny, there are those who take a prophetic stance and die martyrs. There are those who collaborate with the regime. And there are others who do what they can while keeping their heads low. When admirers tried to claim that John Paul worked in the underground against Nazism, he set them straight and said he was no hero.

Those who have not lived under a dictatorship should not be quick to judge those who have, whether the dictatorship was in ancient Rome, Latin America, Africa, Nazi Germany, Communist Eastern Europe, or today’s China. We should revere martyrs, but not demand every Christian be one.

So to all you haters out there…can ya give the guy a chance to piss you off before you rip him in your columns and online? I mean he hasn’t even got pasta sauce on the white outfit yet! You’re becoming that critical teacher from high school who you could never satisfy and who nobody liked.

So prayers and more prayers for the kinder, more mellow Papa Francisco. We can only hope that your inspiration can help us all restore dignity to the poor and in so doing do the same thing for our church.