Pope Francis will be wrapping up his Apostolic Journey to the United States this weekend…maybe you heard? He visited Washington D.C., New York, and Philadelphia, spoke to Congress and the United Nations, and characteristically, made some surprise moves, as well. If we could summarize his visit in a brief phrase of some sort, it might sound something like…BOOM. NAILED. IT. Admit it America, we’ve set the culture bar pretty low lately, but he rocked the house. He came, he saw, he preached the Gospel. Here are 12 times Papa Francesco dropped the mic.
1. Spun donuts over North Carolina
Pope Francis’ plane arrived early to the U.S. So naturally they headed back to North Carolina airspace and spun some air-donuts. The above image is the actual flight path of the Pope’s plane. I like to think he had “Wagon Wheel” crackin’ on his iPod while they spun those turns. A man can dream.
2. Pulled up to White House in a Fiat
You can take the man out of Italy, but you can’t take…you get it. LITRALLY the only thing that could have made his roll up to the White House better is if he would have drove stick himself.
3. Stopped motorcade for little girl
Here’s proof that the values of the Kingdom are not those of the world: During his parade through Washington D.C., a little girl stepped out to try to hand him a note (reportedly about her mother who is about to be deported). Security stepped in to try to escort her back behind the barricade. But Francis saw her and motioned for her to approach him. A security officer picked her up and the Pope embraced her and received her note.
“Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them,but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)
4. Canonized new American saint
What up, America? You’ve got a new saint! Fr. Junipero Serra was canonized during the Pope’s visit, marking the first time a Pope has celebrated a canonization on US soil. Fr. Serra was responsible for founding a number of missions in California and a statue of him represents the state in the U.S. Capitol building. Pope Francis reminded those in attendance that, like Fr. Serra, all Christians are called to be missionaries and evangelists.
5. Emphasized religious freedom with the President…
After rolling up to the White House like a boss, he and President Obama exchanged greetings on the lawn of the White House. In his speech, Pope Francis turned and looked at the president, saying,
“Mr. President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination. With countless other people of good will, they are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty. That freedom remains one of America’s most precious possessions. And, as my brothers, the United States Bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.”
6. …then visited the Little Sisters of the Poor
In an unplanned visit, Pope Francis visited the Little Sisters of the Poor, who have been targeted by the Administration for their refusal to comply with the mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide contraceptives and abortifacients. Guess whose side Papa Francesco is on? HINT: It begins with L and rhymes with “ittle Sisters of the Poor”.
7. First Pope to address joint session of Congress
The first Pope ever to address a special joint session of Congress, the Pope didn’t pull any punches, calling US leaders to unity and action on the family, human dignity, care for creation, and the American Dream. Many wanted the Holy Father to fall neatly in the tidy boxes of American Political discourse…but he wasn’t havin none of it. Read the text of his address HERE
8. Skipped lunch with Congress to eat with homeless
After addressing Congress, Boehner was like, “so let’s go have lunch” and Papa Franceso was like, “naw…Imma go see my brothers and sisters on the street.” He walked the talk, opting to spend his lunch with more…important people.
9. Addressed United Nations
Pope Francis was not the first Pope to address the U.N. (so did Paul VI, JPII–twice, and BXVI) but when Peter speaks, the world listens. Think Jesus isn’t “relevant” anymore? His Vicar on Earth just addressed the whole world, y’all. Here’s a gem from the address:
“Man is not only a freedom which he creates for himself. Man does not create himself. He is spirit and will and also nature. Creation is compromised where we ourselves have the final word….we must recognize a moral law that is written into human nature and an absolute respect of life in all its stages and dimensions.”
10. Rallied the bishops
Let’s be honest, the U.S. bishops probably needed a pep talk about now. Lots going on in this still great nation of ours. The Pope reminded them of the importance of their role:
“I know that you face many challenges, that the field in which you sow is unyielding and that there is always the temptation to give in to fear, to lick one’s wounds, to think back on bygone times and to devise harsh responses to fierce opposition. And yet we are promoters of the culture of encounter. We are living sacraments of the embrace between God’s riches and our poverty. We are witnesses of the abasement and the condescension of God who anticipates in love our every response.”
11. Attended World Meeting of Families
Also in his address to the US bishops, the Holy Father said,
“I appreciate the unfailing commitment of the Church in America to the cause of life and that of the family, which is the primary reason for my present visit.”
Walking the walk once again, Il Papa showed up at the World Meeting of Families in Philly. Family was a theme that was highlighted again and again in his addresses, including his address to Congress:
“I will end my visit to your country in Philadelphia, where I will take part in the World Meeting of Families. It is my wish that throughout my visit the family should be a recurrent theme. How essential the family has been to the building of this country!”
12. A sign of contradiction
This Pope was on a mission. If there’s anything that should serve as evidence that the Holy Father preached the Gospel, that his words were not his own, and that he did exactly what he came to do, it’s the fact that he’s received criticism from pretty much every angle since the moment he arrived. Good. That means he’s preaching Jesus and not bowing to the machine of the world. If the Pope doesn’t make you uncomfortable, you should be worried.
Add your favorite moments from the Holy Father’s visit in the comments below!