Pope Week: Wednesday
Welcome to Wednesday of Pope Week: If you see something, say something.
Today, Pope Francis meets with President Obama at the White House, and concludes his day with the canonization of Junipero Serra, the priest who built California’s missions in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Three things to know about the visit:
• The pope says he isn’t a liberal: He’s facing growing skepticism from conservatives both inside and outside the the church — not for his pronouncements of “Who am I to judge?” on gay issues, but for his critiques of capitalism and climate change.
“Maybe there’s an impression I’m a little bit more leftie, but I haven’t said a single thing that’s not in the social doctrine of the Church,” he told reporters Tuesday on his flight from Cuba to the United States. He later added: “I follow the Church, and in this, I do not think I am wrong.”
Still: The pontiff speaks to Congress on Thursday. There will be a lot of political attention paid to the issues he decides to emphasize.
• Here’s what to do if you meet Pope Francis: Play it cool, Fox 5 News in New York advises, using Julie Byrne, the chair of the Catholic Studies Department at Hofstra University:
“It involves kissing his ring, it involves not touching him unless he approaches you first,” she said. “However this pope is someone who is so friendly and he regularly dives into crowds.”
Aside from formally referring to Pope Francis as “Your Holiness” or “Holy Father,” standing when he enters the room, and applauding if there’s a crowd, for the most part it’s all fair game.
“Off limits may be fist pumping the pope, kissing the pope or slapping him on the back,” Byrne said. “These are things maybe not to do for the pope.”
• That’s a whole lotta wafers: The Guardian profiles the 13 sisters of the Monastery of St Clare in Langhorne, who have spent the last few weeks making 100,000 wafers for the pope’s Sunday mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
The pontiff will celebrate mass in Philadelphia on Sunday before a gathering of up to 2 million people. Around 500,000 are expected to receive communion, requiring huge quantities of wafers to be available. Most have been ordered from religious communities.
The sisters at Langhorne – part of the worldwide Poor Clares order – were delighted to be asked to supply 100,000 wafers. “We were very happy to provide breads for the mass, but we had to increase our production rates,” said Sister Jean Therese.
With overtime, including some double shifts, the order has been completed and despatched to Philadelphia in plenty of time before the Pope’s arrival in the cityon Saturday.
Expect more #PopeInPhilly news throughout the day. And as always, check out our Complete Pope in Philly Survival Guide.