IMG_2590I was fortunate to be on the south lawn of the White House for the arrival ceremony with President Obama and Pope Francis. You can check out a photo on our Facebook page.

In taking my connecting flight to Washington, D.C. out of Minneapolis, I have to say it was fun to be on a plane with so many people who were obviously Catholic. There were lots of Pope Francis t-shirts, bishops and priests, lay people reading diocesan newspapers (take that Twitter) – not things I normally see on that flight.

Pope Francis’ visit to the United States received an amazing amount of media coverage. As someone who works every day in the intersection of our Catholic faith and politics, I was both a little nervous about the possible political effects of the pope’s visit and excited about the possibilities. It was like a dream come true to hear the pope’s rendition of the principles of Catholic social teaching repeated throughout the media. This past week the pope consistently encouraged us to promote the common good and reminded us of our responsibility to protect human life at every stage of its development.

During his speech to Congress, the pope’s making special mention of four Americans to remind us of our best principles was effective. He cited Abraham Lincoln as the guardian of liberty, Martin Luther King for equality, Dorothy Day to highlight social activism, and Thomas Merton as a promoter of dialogue and openness to God. (The last reminded me of former Des Moines bishop Maurice Dingman, who was known to call for “constant and patient dialogue.”) Pope Francis’ gentle manner of “proposing,” and not “imposing,” helped explain the Church to many people. I have also been surprised to see so many interviews with people who are going back to the Church because of the pope. Who knows if that will last, but what a wonderful thing!

Click here to read the speeches and homilies given by Pope Francis in the United States.

Tom Chapman, Executive Director, Iowa Catholic Conference

P.S. For action alerts regarding national legislation following up on the pope’s visit, go to cqrcengage.com/catholicbishops/action.

OCTOBER IS RESPECT LIFE MONTH

October is Respect Life Month in the Church. To see the informational materials from the U.S. bishops, go to www.USCCB.org/RespectLife.

In the meantime:

  • NCHLA, the U.S. bishops’ pro-life arm, is asking us to take action to support those states that choose to deny Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood or other abortion providers. Please take a moment right now to click here to contact your Representative in Congress. The “Women’s Public Health and Safety Act” (H.R. 3495) will allow states to refuse Medicaid funding for providers that perform elective abortions such as Planned Parenthood clinics.
  • The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (20-week abortion ban) failed to advance from the U.S. Senate. While receiving a majority of votes on Sept. 23, 54-42, the measure required 60 votes to advance. The U.S. House had passed the bill on May 13.
  • Save the date for Saturday, Jan. 16 for the Midwest March for Life. All of Iowa’s Catholic bishops are expected to participate in the event in Des Moines, including a Mass that morning.

AND FINALLY,

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has a new mobile app. You can download it for free by visiting www.USACatholic.Church on your smartphone or tablet.