Our Opinion: Pope Francis stopover puts followers’ focus on their family obligations


Natalie Quintuna, third from right, holds her mother Miriam Pulla, both from Philadelphia, as they watch Pope Francis celebrate Mass on the large video monitors before his arrival Saturday at Independence Hall. (Alex Brandon | AP)


Don’t forget the family.

During Pope Francis’ whirlwind East Coast tour, you probably heard and saw plenty about selfies with the pontiff, sales of pope-themed merchandise, ticket scalping and weighty issues such as immigration. But the central purpose of the Roman Catholic leader’s U.S. visit, indeed, his reason for being in Philadelphia, is to address the World Meeting of Families.

Its gatherings, held every three years, inspire Catholic participants to invigorate their family relationships and to learn coping strategies for living their faith in modern society. Wyoming Valley native Bob Ciaruffoli serves as president of the World Meeting of Families; he told the Times Leader last week he expected 17,500 people to attend its City of Brotherly Love activities – making it the largest meeting since the group’s start in 1994.

So, while certain liberals might delight in the pope’s recent messages about climate change, capitalism and welcoming foreigners, they shouldn’t mistake his intent. Or his ideology.

“Though Francis is absolutely forgiving and charitable and merciful, including to homosexuals, when it comes to marriage and family, this pope has been unflinchingly orthodox in support of historic church teaching,” states a recent column by Paul Kengor, executive director of The Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College in western Pennsylvania. “Some of his language has been even stronger than his predecessors.”

Attendees of the papal festivities this weekend, and admirers elsewhere who are tuned in, might find the takeaway message after Francis’ American stopover has less to do with world affairs and more to do with household affairs. Or the intersection of the two. Consider, for instance, marriage.

Encouraging marriage, as well as work requirements, could be key to reforming welfare and decreasing U.S. poverty rates, as opposed to pouring more money into government programs, argues a columnist for The Heritage Foundation. (Senior research fellow Robert Rector’s opinion piece appeared in Friday’s edition of the Times Leader.)

Promoting marriage.

Respecting and embracing the elderly (as opposed to casting them off).

Valuing life.

Strengthening familial love.

Those are the lessons Pope Francis aspires to impart here, and presumably intends the Catholic faithful to teach around the dinner table long after he departs.

Natalie Quintuna, third from right, holds her mother Miriam Pulla, both from Philadelphia, as they watch Pope Francis celebrate Mass on the large video monitors before his arrival Saturday at Independence Hall. (Alex Brandon | AP)
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/web1_PopeFamily.jpgNatalie Quintuna, third from right, holds her mother Miriam Pulla, both from Philadelphia, as they watch Pope Francis celebrate Mass on the large video monitors before his arrival Saturday at Independence Hall. (Alex Brandon | AP)
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