Pope Francis visited the United States this past week. Media coverage was extensive. Politicians and citizens of all stripes welcomed him and waited to hear his message.
He made several important stops, including the White House and a joint session of Congress in Washington, Ground Zero and the United Nations in New York and finally the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.
In between his official visits he made some unscheduled stops, much to the delight of the people, whether a 102-year-old Little Sister of the Poor, some prisoners or victims of sexual abuse.
The Prairie Messenger is carrying reports of his most important talks this week. We cannot report on all of them, but his messages were simple, to the point and challenging. Above all, they were positive. His tone is not condemnatory, but exhortative and appealing to what is best in the human heart. His constant appeal is to show mercy, as generously as God does. God lets the sun shine and the rain fall on all indiscriminately — the righteous and the unrighteous.
Two groups wanted to hear more from Pope Francis.
Five hundred women’s ordination advocates and leaders from 19 countries and five continents gathered in Philadelphia to call for ordination and equality for women in the Roman Catholic Church. They urgently call on the institutional church to model equality and end the unjust treatment of women.
While Pope Francis met with a group of survivors of sexual abuse Sept. 27 and later told bishops that he was overwhelmed by a sense of embarrassment and was committed to holding accountable those who harmed children, the Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, said the pope and bishops are not doing enough to address this issue. The 30-minute meeting was with three women and two men abused by members of the clergy, their families or their teachers.
Pope Francis must be exhausted after his packed schedule. But he faces another busy three weeks once the synod of bishops on the family opens in Rome on Oct. 4.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan has passed a policy on conscientious objection that is disturbing. As reported in this issue, the college passed its policy on “physician-assisted dying” after only 15 minutes of discussion, and despite objections.
The Canadian bishops strongly opposed such a policy at their meeting earlier this month. Doctors may now face disciplinary action for honouring the Hippocratic Oath. More importantly, the policy, if left unchanged, will deter conscientious students from entering the medical profession.
Perhaps candidates willing to kill people could be found more easily at the federal penitentiary than in a doctor’s office.