My hope for the world from the visit to America last week of Pope Francis comes from one of the prayers for a newly married couple in the marriage service in the book of Common Prayer. It reads, “Grant that all married persons who have witnessed these vows may find their lives strengthened and their loyalties confirmed.”
That is, I hope for the Catholic Church, that all of its lukewarm and disaffected and fallen away members see in it again what they once saw and help it right the wrongs and heal the wounds of the past. And my hope for my own and all other denominations is that they will also be inspired by the message of Pope Francis to be more merciful and understanding in our relationships one to another and more committed in our devotions.
I think this is not far-fetched because of something I saw on TV on the Friday evening of the Pope’s week in America. It was the Bill Maher show at 10 p.m. Bill is, as you might know, a former Catholic and now an avowed atheist who doesn’t miss an opportunity to ridicule the church’s teaching about a life after death. On his show that evening, all three of his panelist were also like-minded with him – but all professed not just respect but admiration for Pope Francis and his message to America.
I think the positive after-effects of the papal visit might well be long lasting and far reaching in the turning of the hearts of countless individuals to their higher calling to live more saintly lives. I pray that it may be so.
Ron Hicks, Parish Verger, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, 29-September-2015.