Fr. Raymond J. de Souza

Fr. Raymond J. de Souza

Fr. Raymond J. de Souza is the pastor of Sacred Heart of Mary parish on Wolfe Island, and chaplain at Newman House at Kingston, Ont.’s Queen’s University.

One of the most astute commentators on the Catholic scene today is John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter. He was present on the papal plane for the press conference heard ’round the world, and had this to write about what united Pope Francis’ remarks on a range of subjects.

Watching World Youth Day from afar, my favourite moment was the address of Pope Francis to the Argentine youth — a meeting he had specially asked to be added to the schedule. Some 5,000 packed the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Sebastian, while another 30,000 waited outside in the rain. The Holy Father gave what is becoming a hallmark of his new pontificate — an address that was spontaneous and passionate that left everyone energized, even if a little unsure of what he meant.

I write just as Pope Francis has arrived in Rio, before any of the major events have taken place. Yet on his travelling day alone, one already sees the hallmarks of reporting on this pontificate — a focus on style over substance.

The two things the world learned about the Holy Father’s departure and arrival was that he carried his own hand luggage on to the plane, and that his more informal motorcade in Rio got lost amid the joyous throngs. Interesting, but irrelevant to what Francis wants the world to hear about Jesus Christ.

Pope Francis is a genuinely humble man of simple tastes, who desires that nothing get in the way of the proclamation of the Gospel. So it must bother him when his comportment draws even more attention to himself, especially when it involves implicit invidious comparisons to his predecessors...

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KRAKOW, POLAND - The approval by Pope Francis of a miracle worked through the intercession of Blessed John Paul II was met with great joy in the Polish pope’s hometown, where nary a church can be found without an image of the blessed. Indeed, just last month the John Paul II Be Not Afraid Centre — a religious, educational and cultural complex on the grounds of the Divine Mercy shrine — was dedicated, the crypt chapel of which already contains the relics of John Paul II. So there was joy at the announcement, but not much surprise, even though at less than nine years after his death John Paul’s canonization will set a modern record.

GARDEN GROVE, CALIF. - On the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the parish of St. Callistus will have a procession, but not any ordinary procession. This being California, it will be a motorcade. And the congregation won’t be coming back.

SAN DIEGO, CALIF. - Last week the American bishops met here to pray, study and reflect upon the role of the bishop in the New Evangelization. But before they began, the Latino leadership of the American bishops devoted their attention to the emerging new America, on the pressing subject of immigration reform.

SAN DIEGO, CALIF. - The American bishops are gathered this week in a special assembly — and a special one it is. The American episcopate meet twice a year, in November and in June, and every third year the June meeting is given over to a retreat rather than a business meeting.

There are those priests who write — columns, novels, academic papers, books — and then there was Fr. Andrew Greeley. He wrote. Certainly too much, but the Lord made him a writer, so he wrote, and he can hardly be blamed for that. Some 5,000 words a day for a very long time, turning out serious sociological research on the Catholic experience in America, analysing survey data as a long time scholar with the respected National Opinion Research Centre. He wrote a newspaper column for the Catholic press for decades. And there were his dozens of novels — tens of millions of copies in print — bestselling yarns that included the infamous sex scenes that rather made him famous among the elite media who think that celibates know nothing about sex.

Will the mafiosi attempt to march in the Corpus Christi processions this Sunday in Sicily? The beatification last Saturday of Fr. Giuseppe Puglisi — Don Pino as he was affectionately known by his people — of Palermo should dissuade them.

GANANOQUE, ONT. - A year ago I visited the diocese of Whitehorse, heading north to the Yukon for the first time. Last week, the bishop of Whitehorse — which comprises all of the Yukon and a little of northern British Columbia — returned the visit as it were, preaching the priests’ retreat for the archdiocese of Kingston, here in the Thousand Islands.