“Welcome to New York, Holy Father”

Last 25 September, the city vibrated with excitement as never before, and this means a lot in New York which is so used to superlative events and celebrities. But Pope Francis surpassed them all. Susanne Janssen, director of “Living City Magazine” reported on the event.

20150926-03“Welcome, Holy Father” posters appeared all around the city already on Thursday. The taxi driver watching the Pope on TV was not indifferent: “So, you’re going to see the Pope tomorrow? Congratulations!”

“Everyone finds the Pope appealing because he is authentic,” a non-Catholic man on the train said. He’s right: Francis does not need to attract attention or make himself appealing to all. And so he gave us a lesson before the UN’s General Assembly: on sustainable development, climate change and the issue of refugees: “We must not be appalled by the numbers… we have to look at their faces and listen to their stories,” he said in Washington. And at the UN: “Every man must be able to have concrete access to indispensable material and spiritual goods: a home, a dignified and well paid job, enough food, drinking water and religious freedom. ” He again strongly criticized drug trafficking, sexual exploitation of people, the arms rackets. In the same way as he had clearly denounced before the US Congress, he made another appeal to put aside divisions and antagonisms between political parties and to help the poor.

The sacredness of each human being is a theme he strongly feels, and at the end of his speech, there were unending rounds of applause. He then left and greeted the people from his Fiat car which seemed so tiny amid the huge limousines.

20150926-aAt Ground Zero, 500 representatives of various religions were all waiting to pray together for peace. Sue Kopp, a focolarina of New York who was able to participate in the rite, affirmed: “It was so meaningful also due to the diversity of this country. This place, which seemed so sacred to me, and marked by such immense suffering, has been transformed into a place of hope. The dream of a civilization of love, is becoming a reality.”.

Joe Klock, of New Humanity (an International NGO accredited at the UN) said; “The Pope   underlined the importance of building unity in diversity, where peace and love reign among the nations and the hearts of all. This reality demonstrates that the world needs the spirituality of unity, which seems to be precisely tailored to this country!”

Also in New York, the Pope visited some charitable organizations, among which a model school in Harlem. And then, in Central Park. The 80,000 lucky people were able to get entrance tickets, waited for hours, even to get just a glimpse of him.

The Mass was celebrated at Madison Square Garden, where the seats are usually occupied by basketball stars and pop singers. The people waited for hours to enter but no one complained. Then the big surprise: Pope Francis arrived 20 minutes earlier than planned!

20150926-02The altar, the chair and the pulpit were simply handcrafted . Cardinal Timothy Dolan had the impression that the Pope would have appreciated this more than if the items were made by a designer. And here, Francis became the pastor of the immense city, recalling the reading from the book of Isaiah 9.1: “The people walking in the darkness saw a great light.”. He spoke about the difficulties of the multicultural cities where the light is absent due to so much smog. “But Jesus walks down our streets today,” he said and continued to invite all to go out towards the others, with the heart of a “merciful father waiting for his children to come home.”
The church is alive in the cities, the Pope stressed, and so Christians have to bear witness to the light of the Good News. The applause went on and on.
As in all the other countries, also in the USA the Pope has touched the heart of each one of us.