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Brother Gabriel Cillo, MIC

seminarian

To see the Pope in person was an extraordi-

nary gift for me. We were all seated in the

National Shrine of the Immaculate Concep-

tion watching him arrive onTV screens. He

was blessing the people, and one of his bless-

ings did something noticeable to me. I felt a

sense of release that gave me a new interior freedom and joy.

It happened so fast and with such authority that I physically

jolted forward. I thank God! I have been so touched by Pope

Francis since his election, and I hope that, for many Ameri-

cans, this visit has done the same and evenmore for them.

ple during this papal visit.

First among his actions, of course, was the decision

to come to the U.S. by way of

Cuba,

both a tribute to the

historic reopening of diplomatic relations between the

two countries that had been aided by Pope Francis, as

well as a signal that such bridge-building by the

pontifex

maximus

(chief bridge builder) was only going to con-

tinue. As he said during his

in-flight press conference

on

the way back to Rome, “All walls fall. Today, tomorrow

or in 100 years, they will fall. We must find solutions.

We must encourage dialogue between different nations,

to find them. Walls are never solutions. But bridges are,

always, always.”

Again and again, from people in the crowds and

media commentators, a common refrain went up: The

Church was so restrictive, so rule-bound, but now Pope

Francis is saying to love everybody, to welcome every-

body. It’s changed my heart, it’s drawn me back, it’s

why I’m in the crowd today.

Now, Catholics who have known and loved our pre-

vious popes may well be confused or even alarmed by

such sentiments. The Holy Fathers have always taught

we are to love our neighbors, our families, our ene-

mies, all of humanity as Jesus did. The Church hasn’t

changed her teaching, after all. On matters of faith and

morals drawn from the deposit of faith, she can’t. So

Six days. Three cities. Millions of the faithful. Before he headed back to Rome on Sunday, Sept. 27, Pope Francis wowed

a nation with his defense of religious freedom, his call for robust environmental stewardship, his defense of the dignity

of life in all its stages, his call for love and care for the poor and immigrants, and his criticism of political polarization. He

said,

Jesus keeps knocking on our door in the faces of our brothers and sisters, in the faces of our neighbors, in the faces

of those at our side.

Brother Leonard Konopka, MIC

The timing of Pope Francis’

visit for the conclusion of the

World Meeting of Families,

canonizing the great evangelist

St. Junipero Serra, coming in

the midst of the synods on the

family, right before the

Jubi- leeYear of Mercy—

it’s remarkable. I don’t

knowwhether he planned it or whether it’s

really the direction of the Holy Spirit that this

was all coming together. It’s very providen-

tial, to say the least.

F

r

. A

ngelo

C

asimiro

, MIC

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