TODAY – DIRECTLY FROM POPE FRANCIS: “I wish to confirm according to the wishes of the Lord, that in September of 2015, I will go to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. Thank you for your prayers with which you accompany my service to the Church. Bless you from my heart.”

In addition to that wonderful announcement made this morning – Day One of the three-day colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman in Marriage – there was a ton of important news this past weekend. I’ve posted a few stories on my Facebook page (facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420) including Pope Francis’ powerful words to Italian Catholic Doctors whom he met Saturday, his previously unannounced visit to Castelgandolfo Sunday, and a piece on Chicago’s outgoing archbishop of 17 years, Cardinal Francis George, and its new pastor, Bishop Blase Cupich (soup ich). In this column, I’ll bring you most of the Pope’s impassioned talk to doctors (you will want to read the 7th paragraph several times!), quote Sunday’s Angelus reflections and then feature the Holy Father’s talk today to the colloquium on marriage.

When the Pope announced his intention to go to Philadelphia in September 2015 he did not mention – nor did the press office – trips to other US cities and archdioceses, It is known that he has been invited to New York to visit the Church there and also to address the UN (would make a lot of sense as this body starts its annual fall session) and to go to Washington, D.C. I am just guessing but I feel fairly certain that a number of dioceses from sea to shining sea have asked Pope Francis to stop by. It does seem, however, that the East Coast has had the lion’s share of papal visits and that the Midwest and all points west are overdue for a papal pilgrimage.


Pope Francis Saturday met with the Association of Italian Catholic Doctors as their organization marks its 70th anniversary and, in a pasionate defenseof life, stressed that “human life is always sacred, valuable, and inviolable.”

“There is no doubt,” said the Pope, “that, in our time, due to scientific and technical advancements, the possibilities for physical healing have significantly increased; and yet, in some respects it seems the ability to ‘take care’ of the person has decreased, especially when he is sick, frail and helpless.”

He spoke of the Church’s mission as “attention to human life, especially that in greatest difficulty, that is, the sick, the elderly and children.” He stated, “there is no human life that is more sacred than another – every human life is sacred – just as there is no human life qualitatively more significant than another, only by virtue of resources, rights, great social and economic opportunities.”

He told the doctors that “human life is always sacred, valuable and inviolable. And as such, it must be loved, defended and cared for. … “In fact, if the Hippocratic Oath commits you to always be servants of life, the Gospel pushes you further: to love it no matter what, especially when it is in need of special care and attention.” He highlighted the organization’s “statutory goals of implementing the teaching of the Magisterium of the Church in the field of medical ethics.”

“The dominant thinking,” explained Pope Francis, “sometimes suggests a ‘false compassion’ that believes that it is: helpful to women to promote abortion; an act of dignity to obtain euthanasia; a scientific breakthrough to ‘produce’ a child and to consider it to be a right rather than a gift to welcome; or to use human lives as guinea pigs presumably to save others. Instead, the compassion of the Gospel is … the compassion of the Good Samaritan. … I encourage you to take them on as “Good Samaritans”, caring in a special way for the elderly, the infirm and the disabled.

Pope Francis pointed out that “fidelity to the Gospel of life and respect for life as a gift from God sometimes require choices that are courageous and go against the current, which in particular circumstances, may become points of conscientious objection. And this fidelity entails many social consequences.

In passionate terms, the Pope said: “We are living in a time of experimentation with life. But a bad experiment! Making children rather than accepting them as a gift, as I have said. Playing with life. Be careful, because this is a sin against the Creator: against God the Creator, who created things this way. When so many times in my life as a priest I have heard objections: ‘But tell me, why the Church is opposed to abortion, for example? Is it a religious problem?’ No, no. It is not a religious problem. ‘Is it a philosophical problem?’ No, it is not a philosophical problem. It’s a scientific problem, because there is a human life there, and it is not lawful to take out a human life to solve a problem. ‘But no, modern thought…’ But, listen, in ancient thought and modern thought, the word ‘kill’ means the same thing. The same evaluation applies to euthanasia: we all know that with so many old people, in this culture of waste, there is this hidden euthanasia. But there is also the other. And this is to say to God, ‘No, I will accomplish the end of life, as I will’. A sin against God the Creator! Think hard about this.”

The Holy Father concluded by noting, “St. Camillus de Lellis, in suggesting the most effective method in caring for the sick, would simply say: “Put more heart into those hands.” Put more heart in these hands! This is also my hope.”


Pope Francis Sunday at the Angelus reflected on the Gospel parable of the talents – a great sum of money at the time – that a man, about to embark on a trip, entrusts to his servants, asking that they make this treasure even more fruitful. Two servants double the wealth but the third, fearful of losing his portion, hid it in a hole. Upon his return, the master asks for the accounts and, while he rewards the first two, punishes the third.

Francis explained that the master in the parable is Jesus, we are the servants, and the talents are the patrimony that the Lord entrusts to us. “The patrimony of His Word, the Eucharist, faith in the Heavenly Father, his forgiveness … in summary, many things, his most precious goods. Not just to guard them, but to make them grow. While in common usage the term ‘talent’ refers to a marked individual quality, such as talent in music, in sport, and so on, in the parable the talents represent the gifts of the Lord. … The hole that the ‘wicked and lazy’ servant digs in the ground indicates the fear of risk that obstructs creativity and the fruitfulness of love.”

The Pope then said, in unscripted remarks, “Jesus does not ask us to preserve his grace in a safe … but instead to put it to the good of others. All the gifts that we have received are to be given to others, and in this way they grow. … And as for us, what have we done with them? Who have we ‘infected’ with our faith? How many people have we encouraged with our hope? How much love have we shared with our neighbor?”

He urged the faithful several times to read and er-read Matthew’s account of this parable – Matthew 25:14-30.

After praying the Angelus, the Pope reflected on recent tensions in Rome, elsewhere in Italy and in other European cities between citizens and immigrants, calling on civil institutions at every level “to take up as a priority what has now become a social emergency that, if not addressed promptly and in an adequate way, risks degenerating more and more.” He said, “the important thing is to not give into the temptation to confrontation” and “to reject all violence. … It is possible to dialogue, to listen to one another, to make plans together, and in this way to overcome suspicion and prejudice, and to build a coexistence that is ever more secure, peaceful, and inclusive.” He pointed out that the Christian community must be engaged in this issue in a concrete way.


Barely a month after the close of the synod on the family, Pope Francis Monday opened the three-day colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman in Marriage organized by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Councils for the Family, for Interreligious Dialogue, and for Promoting Christian Unity.

Sharing a reflection on the title of the colloquium, Francis said, “You must admit that ‘complementarity’ does not roll lightly off the tongue!  Yet it is a word into which many meanings are compressed. It refers to situations where one of two things adds to, completes, or fulfills a lack in the other. Yet complementarity is more than this. … To reflect upon complementarity is nothing less than to ponder the dynamic harmonies at the heart of all Creation. This is a big word, harmony. All complementarities were made by our Creator, so the Author of harmony achieves this harmony.

He added that the complementarity of man and woman “is a root of marriage and family. For the family grounded in marriage is the first school where we learn to appreciate our own and others’ gifts, and where we begin to acquire the arts of cooperative living. For most of us, the family provides the principal place where we can aspire to greatness as we strive to realize our full capacity for virtue and charity. At the same time, as we know, families give rise to tensions: between egoism and altruism, reason and passion, immediate desires and long-range goals.

“But families also provide frameworks for resolving such tensions,” continued the Pope. “This is important. When we speak of complementarity between man and woman in this context, let us not confuse that term with the simplistic idea that all the roles and relations of the two sexes are fixed in a single, static pattern. Complementarity will take many forms as each man and woman brings his or her distinctive contributions to their marriage and to the formation of their children — his or her personal richness, personal charisma. Complementarity becomes a great wealth. It is not just a good thing but it is also beautiful.”

The Holy Father underscored how “today marriage and the family are in crisis. We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment. This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.”

He noted that, “Evidence is mounting that the decline of the marriage culture is associated with increased poverty and a host of other social ills, disproportionately affecting women, children and the elderly. It is always they who suffer the most in this crisis.”

Pope Francis also noted that, “the crisis in the family has produced an ecological crisis” and “we have been slower to recognize that our fragile social environments are under threat as well, slower in our culture, and also in our Catholic Church. It is therefore essential that we foster a new human ecology.”

“It is necessary, he underscored, “first to promote the fundamental pillars that govern a nation: its non-material goods. The family is the foundation of co-existence and a remedy against social fragmentation.  Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity. That is why I stressed in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium that the contribution of marriage to society is ‘indispensable’; that it “transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple.”

“In these days, as you embark on a reflection on the beauty of complementarity between man and woman in marriage, I urge you to lift up yet another truth about marriage: that permanent commitment to solidarity, fidelity and fruitful love responds to the deepest longings of the human heart.  I urge you to bear in mind especially the young people, who represent our future. Commit yourselves, so that our youth do not give themselves over to the poisonous environment of the temporary, but rather be revolutionaries with the courage to seek true and lasting love, going against the common pattern. Do not fall into the trap of being swayed by political notion. Family is an anthropological fact – a socially and culturally related fact. We cannot qualify it based on ideological notions or concepts important only at one time in history. We can’t think of conservative or progressive notions. Family is a family. It can’t be qualified by ideological notions. Family is per se. It is a strength per se.”

The Pope said he prays that, “the colloquium will be an inspiration to all who seek to support and strengthen the union of man and woman in marriage as a unique, natural, fundamental and beautiful good for persons, communities, and whole societies.”

And he closed with these words: “I wish to confirm according to the wishes of the Lord, that in September of 2015, I will go to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. Thank you for your prayers with which you accompany my service to the Church. Bless you from my heart.”