A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE WORLD
FR. PAWEL ROZPIATKOWSKI
After his journeys to peripheries, pope Francis goes to the United States – a global powerful continent, the worldly super-empire, a country to which he has never been. It is at least only one thing which makes the whole world – the poor and the rich one – await this visit in a particular way and be able to look at it with hope for a change of its fate or with anxiety because Pope's words destroy the convenient status quo
An official reason for the visit of pope Francis in the USA is the World Meeting of Families which will be held in Philadelphia. A discussion in the Church, often fervent and violent, about marriage and family and ways of coping with a crisis which painfully touches these two institutions which are fundamental for every human society, has been held since the beginning of his pontificate. Its culminating point will be a synod in Vatican in October, and an important point will be what Francis will be what Francis will tell families of the whole world, just in Philadelphia. It will be the reason why this moment will be awaited especially in the Church, although also outside it.
Pope in the Congress
As many opinions before the pilgrimage prove, the world will concentrate on other issues of the papal visit which will be a mixture of ecclesiastical and political issues. In political groups it has been the most awaited papal pilgrimage to the USA since the times of the first visit of John Paul II in this country in 1979. Everyone is interested in what the Pope will say to the Americans in the context of his earlier statements and undertaken issues, especially criticism of capitalism, which he expressed during his recent pilgrimage to South America, as well as appeals for ecologic conversion, to which he called all people of good will in the encyclical 'Laudato si'. In both cases, the thought was going towards the USA and the Americans, because population of this country, being 5 per cent of the world population, uses nearly ¼ world energy. Even if this is a right opinion, the Pope addresses this appeal for ecologic conversion not only to citizens of the United States. Nevertheless, considering the above-mentioned issues, the speech made in English to the both Congress chambers, will be the only one during the pilgrimage which will be particularly awaited and commented. It may happen that – mainly in the USA – it will not be favourable.
A global issue
Recently, all over Europe, all politicians and all mass media have been talking about the issue of migrants. For this reason, what is happening in Hungary, Greece, Italy and in other countries, is in the headings. It is also an issue dividing the public opinion in the USA and all over the world. It is hard to expect that it will disappear suddenly, as it appeared suddenly. People in many regions of the world, especially in the Near East, are escaping in masses from material poverty, bloody conflicts and religious persecutions. That is why, in the recent time, the number of refugees has been counted in millions, and 'have been produced' by the wrong policy of the West, especially in the Near East, from where most refugees come from. This global issue, one of the dearest to the Pope, who has been expressing it since the beginning of his pontificate, will probably be one of the main issues of his speech in the UNO.
Pope of concrete issues
These are the expected main issues of the papal teaching, which will flow not from the peripheries but from the centre of the city, however on behalf of the peripheries. Francis will arrive in the economic and political centre of the world, and on behalf of millions of people, with whom he had met on Lampedus, the Philippines, Albania, Bosnia and Hercegowina, Equador, Venesuela and Paraguay earlier. A few week later he will go to peripheries again: to Kenia, Uganda and Central-African Republic. People will wait for hope there. No, not abstraction – the Pope is its enemy – but concrete issues, because, as he spoke in the beginning of his pontificate, it is necessary to see Christ's face, to whom one must serve and in particular way. That is why his concrete words arouse so much evangelical unrest in the world.