Reflect, Encounter, Move. These three words speak to the ethos of Pope Francis’ recent visit to the United States, says Fr. David Endres, Assistant Professor of Church History and Historical Theology at the Athenaeum of Ohio. Fr. Endres had the privilege of being interviewed by a local TV station during the pope’s visit. What follows is a reflection on his experiences during the momentous occasion.
Introduction: An Extraordinary Week
September 22nd to 27th was an extraordinary week to be a Catholic. Pope Francis made his first visit to the United States – not just as pope, but ever. His three-city tour of the East Coast put him before crowds of tens of thousands and through TV broadcasts to the living rooms of hundreds of thousands more. The visit was the first time a pope has addressed Congress and also the first time that a saint – St. Junipero Serra — has been canonized on U.S. soil. Pope Francis’ trip elicited a groundswell of interest and enthusiasm; it was the talk of the media and the internet for days.
At the seminary, we were swarmed by the media with requests for interviews. When the seminarians left on Tuesday night of that week to begin their bus trip to Washington to see the pope, several local TV stations filmed their departure. Most of the seminarians got to go on the trip but the priest faculty wasn’t included – no room on the bus and not enough tickets.
But even staying home ended up being an interesting experience. It’s not every day that a church historian who specializes in U.S. Catholic history is very sought after, but early in the week I got a call to do a live interview on a Cincinnati TV station. It was only 90 seconds long, but as I was walking out of the studio they asked me if I might come back later in the week for another interview. I agreed and it turned into about an hour of live commentary before the pope’s speech to Congress. I ended up settling into the role and actually enjoyed it.
But all the attention that the week generated has been good, if a bit surprising. The visit elicited reactions from Catholics, fallen-away Catholics, and non-Catholics. All of the enthusiasm reminded me of the Gospel verse in which Jesus says to his disciples: “For whoever is not against us is for us.”
Continue reading Pope Francis to America: What His Visit Can Teach Us.
Feature photo, Pope Francis Speaks to John Boehner,courtesy of Creative Commons/flickr.