Rome (Monday, August 31, 2015, Gaudium Press) The head of the U.S Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, says Pope Francis will come to his country as a pastor and a prophet, to walk with people but also to challenge them to conversion of heart.
With less than a month to go before the papal plane touches down in Washington DC at the start of the Pope’s week-long visit to the U.S, Archbishop Kurtz joined other American Church leaders to brief journalists at the annual Religion Newswriters’ Association Conference, which concluded in Philadelphia on Sunday.
The president of the USCCB spoke of the central theme of the family, which the Pope will address as he closes the 8th World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. But he also pointed to freedom of religion and faith in action in service to the poor and needy as important challenges the Pope will deliver to American Catholics during the September 22nd to 27th visit.
Philippa Hitchen caught up with Archbishop Kurtz during the conference and asked him about the practical preparations for this eagerly anticipated papal visit….
The president of the USCCB says that while the papal visit will be hectic, he hopes that people don’t work so hard to prepare that they forget to enjoy and to really welcome the Holy Father to the United States, noting that the Pope himself often says, “don’t be Martha all the time, be Mary…” He says he hopes the trip will be a chance for American Catholics to show their loyalty and gratitude but also for the Pope to appreciate the richeness of the U.S. Church and to challenge it a little…
Asked about recent polls showing that half the American population does not know about the papal visit, Archbishop Kurtz admits that most people “are more aware of the NFL season, what football games are coming up”. “That’s part of our culture”, he says, “let’s be realistic about that”. But he says he hopes the interest of the 8.000 journalists already accredited to cover the visit will offer opportunities “to touch the lives of many people” during the trip.
Archbishop Kurtz adds that he has visited President Obama and the leaders of Congress and found “a great desire to welcome” among them. Although he says he is concerned about the way soundbites can reduce the meaning of the Pope’s message, he hopes that people will “hear the full teachings” that Pope Francis is bringing
Source Vatican Radio