Pope Francis continually tried to lift our spirits. He encouraged all of us to live joyfully because of his knowledge of God's love. He never stopped stressing joy because the central message of Christianity is joy.
Pope Francis is the true vicar of Christ on earth today. During his first visit to the United States, he touched us deeply with his wisdom and love. He encouraged us to live joyfully and to keep our hopes high. Countless millions, young and old alike, through the miracle of television, experienced the sights and sounds of the cheering crowds reacting to his smiling presence.
It all began with the jubilant Cuban youngsters. Imagine this, these kids were born and raised in an atheistic state, and yet they were ecstatic as the pope told them to work together, to keep their hopes high for better days. "Dream that with you the world can be different," he said to them.
On the plane to the U.S., the press questioned him about perceptions by some that he wasn't Catholic or that his views leaned to the left of the political spectrum.
"I don't believe that I have said anything not found in the Church's social teaching," he explained, adding that he follows Church teaching and that's what's behind what he says, does and writes about.
On the White House lawn, his "God Bless America" thrilled us. To the U.S. Congress, he spoke of the "richness of your cultural heritage" and said that "you are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics."
In New York City, at Madison Square Garden, he spoke of the riches that cities represent: "Big cities are a reminder of the hidden riches present in our world: in the diversity of its cultures, traditions and historical experiences. In the variety of its languages, costumes and cuisine. Big cities bring together all the different ways we human beings have discovered to express the meaning of life, wherever we may be."
Yet for all the good he speaks, some have put a label on Pope Francis, or painted a picture of a person he is not. Some have labeled him an anti-capitalist. The truth is that Pope Francis has denounced greed, not capitalism. He is not afraid to afflict the comfortable, even as he goes about comforting the afflicted.
Pope Francis continually tried to lift our spirits. He encouraged all of us to live joyfully because of his knowledge of God's love. He never stopped stressing joy because the central message of Christianity is joy. This supernatural truth was revealed to us by our savior Jesus Christ, in whom we live and breathe.
He is the inspiration behind everything this pope says and does. We thank Pope Francis for his visit and ask that God continues to bless him as we continue to keep him in our love and in our prayers.
FATHER CATOIR IS A COLUMNIST WITH THE CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE.
- FATHER CATOIR IS AN AUTHOR, FORMER HOST OF “THE CHRISTOPHERS” TV PROGRAM, AND A CATHOLIC PRIEST FOR OVER 55 YEARS.