Hey, Pope Francis…
Don’t Be a Stranger

 By Jim Berlin 

While the residents of New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. might disagree, Pope Francis is mistaken if he returns home believing he has seen America.

During the pontiff’s six days in the USA he barely brushed the shoulder and squeezed the hand of this greatest of all nations. Granted, the cities he visited are vibrant symbols of our economy (NYC), our democracy (D.C.) and our revolutionary birth – Philly. But they are only three of the thousands of legs America stands and moves upon.

America is an idea as much as a place on the global map. And no one, including an Argentine priest living in the heart of Rome, can grasp on a brief visit who we are and how we feel about ourselves.

But he has discovered something about our heart and personality. We are a raucous, irreverent bunch, happy to welcome a pope who doesn’t pretend to walk arm-in-arm with the God almighty.

He is only a man and he knows it. One of his most common pleas – words he even spoke to House Speaker John Boehner in a private moment – is “Pray for me.”

No matter how large his entourage, Francis knows the journey is long and ultimately lonely. Like all of us, he knows he can’t make it without help.

So…we will pray for the man, and he for us.

And, Francis, anytime you’re in the neighborhood – the door is always open.