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Figuring out why Pope Francis has upended so many expectations, how exactly he has changed the Catholic church in his first year and what he might be contemplating for the future has become a Catholic parlor game that is almost as popular as the pontiff himself.
A single key can best answer all of these questions: Francis' longstanding identity as a Jesuit priest.
Indeed, behind that "Jesuit" label lies a centuries-old history and a unique brand of spiritual formation that go a long way toward understanding who Francis is and where he is taking the church.
From his passion for social justice and his missionary zeal to his focus on engaging the wider world and his preference for collaboration over peremptory action, Francis is a Jesuit through and through. And as the first Jesuit pope, he brings sharply etched memories of being part of a community that's been viewed with deep suspicion by Rome, most recently by his own predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.
Jesuit priests are explicitly discouraged from becoming bishops, much less pope, and that outsider's sensibility helps to explain Francis' almost breezy willingness to dispense with centuries of closely guarded and cherished tradition.
"We never imagined that a Jesuit could become pope. It was an impossible thing," said Fr. Antonio Spadaro, a Jesuit who conducted a book-length interview with the pope and knows him well. "It sent me into a crisis, in a sense, when he was elected. We Jesuits are supposed to be at the service of the pope, not to be a pope."
David Gibson, National Catholic Reporter
George Coyne S.J., the McDevitt Chair in Physics, discusses the recent Papal Encyclical on climate change on "Newsmakers with Dan Cummings" on WSYR Channel 9.
Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in the United States on the evening of September 22 and will begin his first official trip to the US with a stop in Washington DC. During his two day stay he will have breakfast at the White House, meet with bishops, officiate a Canonization Mass at the National Basilica and visit Catholic Charities. On the second day of his time in Washington, Pope Francis will become the first religious leader to address a joint session of Congress.
Upon leaving Washington DC, Pope Francis will arrive in New York City late in the day on September 24 and conduct Vespers with Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio at St. Patrick's Cathedral. The following day he will visit Ground Zero, visit a Catholic elementary school in Harlem, address the United Nations and officiate mass at Madison Square Garden.
During the final leg of his visit, Pope Francis will arrive in Philadelphia and speak in front of over 1million at the World Meeting of Families. He will again meet with bishops and seminarians, conduct mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul and speak at Independence Mall. On his final day in the US the Pope will visit inmates at a local prison, appear in the Popemobile and officiate Mass for a projected 2 million people at the World Meeting of Families.
"My goal is to provide others with “a safe, clean and sober place to live.”
“I knew that we’d be making history. However, I was mostly inspired to go because I wanted to show the leaders that change is necessary and that people do care.”
"That is our mission - helping souls."
"Among us, who is above must be in service of the others. This doesn't mean we have to wash each other's feet every day, but we must help one another." - Pope Francis
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