INTERNATIONAL MEDIA ON THE PAPAL VISIT
The Vatican daily, L’Osservatore Romano, in its September 29th edition published some of the comments made by the international media at the end of Pope Francis’ September 19 to 27 trip to Cuba and the United States:
Pope Francis showed his “deft touch” in navigating the divisions in the U.S. The assessment was published in the 29 September edition of the “International New York Times”, which reveals that, despite the gruelling schedule on U.S. soil, the Pontiff took on the various commitments with remarkable ease.
The article by Jim Yardley and Laurie Goodstein at the end of his visit, points out that he “seemed to have had fun”. The daily newspaper states that Francis had landed for the first time in “a country that he did not know and that did not know him”, but now the situation has changed. The United States now truly knows who the Pope is, and its people know what lessons to assimilate after his visit. The U.S. landscape is “a minefield of political and religious divisions”, yet the Pontiff “demonstrated a nuanced political dexterity”, with a message based on dialogue and constructive debate: and the nation, at this moment, needs exactly this.
The visit, Yardley and Goodstein indicate, was a gift for the United States which, on many levels, is in a delicate phase of transition, and needed the presence in its own home of someone who truly embodies moral leadership. The visit was likewise a success for the Pope who, after winning the nation’s heart, has returned to the Vatican bolstered by the manner in which he managed to defend the Church’s position on particularly delicate issues.
Also on Tuesday, 29 September, “The Wall Street Journal” highlighted the Pope’s defence of religious freedom, which was a common theme at various stops during the pilgrimage on American soil. In this regard, the edition referred to Francis’ words to President Obama at the White House ceremony, “that Americans should be ‘vigilant’ to ‘preserve and defend [religious] freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it’”. The words used by the Pope during his U.S. visit were “masterful”, said Paul Vallely in “The Guardian”, again in an article on Tuesday, 29. Even his actions are worthy of high praise, for they were always wisely balanced. The Pope, the British daily continues, was able to move adroitly whether on “the grand stage” such as the White House, Congress, and the U.N. Yet at the same time he embraced the poor, immigrants, detainees: all with his characteristic simplicity and humility. “The Guardian” also noted the Pope’s call that bishops be less severe and divisive. In this regard, Paul Vallely pointed out the Pontiff’s agility in telling the bishops that he had not come to judge them nor to lecture them, however, the journalist writes, he did just that. Thus his softer style, seeking to encourage greater tolerance and more inclusivity, was even more effective, Vallely concludes.
In the 29 September issue of “USA Today”, Rick Hampson writes that Pope Francis is unique in his ability to be “plainspoken, pointed and provocative ”. And these traits find fertile ground in today’s world, where key words are immigration, economic disparity and environmental protection. Indeed, these extremely important, complex and delicate topics need to be dealt with without mincing words and without evasive language. It is in this precise landscape that Francis stands out and with him his style which make immediacy and transparency his tool of choice to get to the heart of every issue. Then, Hampson adds, with Francis every journalist feels particularly at ease: his addresses are so practical and direct that one never has trouble finding a title or the lead. Instead, it can be difficult to choose just one.
“Before concluding his six-day visit in the United States with an open-air Mass” — writes Stéphanie Le Bars in “Le Monde” on 29 September — “Pope Francis addressed the hundreds of bishops from around the world gathered in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families, giving them some instructions as to how help the Catholic Church live in a world that has become ‘a large supermarket’”. Running “the risk” — the journalist continues — “of clashing with the most conservative trends of the Church, Francis has above all recalled that Christians are not immune to the changes of their time”. Placing himself far away, Le Bars writes, from party positions in the United States, for a cultural war between the Church and the contemporary world, the Pope urges the bishops to invest their energy in the young, inviting them to be brave and willing to choose family and marriage. There is indeed an obvious link, the French daily states, between the conclusion of the historic overseas journey and the imminent Synod on the Family, which opens on 5 October.
In his blog on the web site of the daily “la Croix”, Dominique Greiner takes stock of the days in the States. On the occasion of the speeches to the U.S. Congress on 24 September and to the UN General Assembly the following day, “Francis’ message lost absolutely none of its force”. On these occasions in particular, the Pontiff outlined a sort of portrait of good government, whether national or international: it must follow the path of law and legislation to contain and regulate human presumptions; politicians must always remember that before them are men and women of flesh and blood, who live and fight and suffer, and thus they need practical concrete, effective and practical decisions in order to face the needs of the times; political action must be guided by courage and by intelligence, avoiding simplistic and reductive readings of the social and political landscape. Only thus does the common good truly follow.
In an editorial in “Avvenire” on 29 September, Mimmo Muolo underscores that “the Latin American Pope has managed to build bridges where until recently stood barriers of hatred and a lack of communication. Thus reconciliation among states, governments and peoples, in the first place. And this visit, he adds, “will stand in history also because Francis was able to extend the appeal to reconciliation beyond the area of international relations. In Cuba he preached reconciliation among the needs of governments and those of the governed. In Washington he joined liberty — the trademark of the United States — with justice, especially social”.