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On March 13, 2015 Pope Francis celebrated his second anniversary as Bishop of Rome, Pope of the Catholic Church, and a spiritual leader for all people. The media, people around the world, our friends and colleagues are inspired by Pope Francis’ life, message, and witness.
Pew Research Study
Fully nine-in-ten U.S. Catholics now say they have a favorable view of Francis, including nearly six-in-ten who have a “very favorable” view. Francis’ favorability rating among U.S. Catholics is comparable to ratings for Pope John Paul II in the 1980s and ’90s, and has surpassed any favorability rating for Pope Benedict XVI in Pew Research Center surveys.
The latest Pew Research Center survey, conducted Feb. 18-22, 2015, on landlines and cell phones among a national sample of 1,504 adults, finds that the pope’s popularity is very broad based. He is most widely admired by Catholics, but six-in-ten Protestants and two-thirds of the religiously unaffiliated also view him favorably.
Francis also is liked by American Protestants. According to the most recent Pew Research poll, 74% of white mainline Protestants and 60% of white evangelical Protestants say they view him favorably.
Francis is popular even among those without a religious affiliation. Fully two-thirds of religious “nones” (68%) in the most recent Pew Research poll say they view the current pontiff favorably, up from just 39% in March 2013.
He is viewed more favorably by Americans over the age of 65 than among those under 50, but even those in the latter category express mostly positive opinions about Pope Francis. Both men and women give Francis a positive rating, and Republicans and Democrats are united in their esteem for him.” (Pew Research Center March 5, 2015)
Pope Francis’ Schedule
- On September 23 Pope Francis will meet with President Barack Obama at the White House. While in Washington, he will address a joint session of Congress on September 24.
- While in Washington Pope Francis will canonize Blessed Junipero Serra at the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
- On the morning of September 25 he will address the U. N. General Assembly. He will meet separately with Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general and with the president of the General Assembly. Ban noted that the pope's visit comes during the United Nations' 70th anniversary, in which its members would make decisions about sustainable development, climate change and peace. He said he was confident the pope's visit would inspire the international community to redouble its efforts for social justice, tolerance and understanding.
- On Sept. 26 and 27 Pope Francis will attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. The World Meeting of Families, sponsored by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family, is the world’s largest Catholic gathering of families and is held every three years. The World Meeting of Families 2015 will be September 22-27, 2015, hosted by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and will focus on the theme “Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive,” emphasizing the impact of the love and life of families on society.
- Prior to Pope Francis’s visit to the United States it has been announced that Pope Francis will publish an encyclical on climate change in the summer and plans to convene a meeting of faith leaders on the issue ahead of two crucial summits on the environment.
- From October 4-25, 2015 the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be held in Vatican City. The theme: "The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world." The XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will continue the work of the III Extraordinary General Assembly (2014) by reflecting further on the points discussed so as to formulate appropriate pastoral guidelines for the pastoral care of the person and the family. After an Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, it is common for the Holy Father to issue a substantive document, called a post-synodal apostolic exhortation, which takes up the themes of the Synod and deepens them further.
- Pope Francis has declared a Year of Jubilee of Mercy, beginning on December 8, 2015 and concluding on November 20. 2016.
“Dear brothers and sisters, I have thought about how the Church can make clear its mission of being a witness of mercy.” It's a journey that starts with a spiritual conversion. For this reason I have decided to declare an Extraordinary Jubilee that has the mercy of God at its center. It will be a Holy Year of Mercy.”
Thanks to Pope Francis, the comprehensive coverage by both the general and religious media and his popularity among all people, 2015 -2016 is an excellent opportunity for Catholics, Mainline Protestants, and Evangelical Protestants to join together in adult faith formation and spiritual enrichment programming focusing on the message and teachings of Pope Francis. It gives everyone a significant and timely opportunity for conversation, theological reflection and action.
Tips for Adult Faith Formation
1) Reflections from Pope Francis: An Invitation to Journaling, Prayer and Action by Susan Stark and Daniel J. Pierson,Tarcher/Penguin can be used individually and in both small and large group settings.
The reflections in this book, which are drawn from the words of Pope Francis and Sacred Scripture, speak to the hearts of men, women, and children everywhere about the things in life that matter the most. The book challenges and inspires us to practice Pope Francis’ message of mercy and compassion.
It is an excellent resource for a six-week small group faith-sharing program using the index to choose themes of interest to the group. It offers catechesis and spiritual enrichment for Pope Francis’ themes and teachings throughout the year
A congregation may want to present Reflections from Pope Francis to the entire community. Include information in church bulletin, website, social media, and announcement at Mass. Invite members to a church-wide assembly. At the gathering, offer a short presentation on the message and teachings of Pope Francis. Lead people through one of the “reflections,” inviting them to share with others in a small group. If possible, give all participants a copy of Reflections from Pope Francis Encourage them to use either individually or with others throughout the year of Jubilee of Mercy.
For more specific ideas for using Reflections from Pope Francis, visit www.faithAlivebooks.com and download 5 Ways to Use Reflections from Pope Francis.
2) Over the summer arrange viewing parties that will be hosted by members and held in homes in the fall.
Recruit individuals to serve as a host/facilitator, who will record the three major addresses of Pope Francis: Congress, United Nations, World Meeting of Families.
Each host selects date and time for gathering, invite members of the neighborhood, friends, church. Extend the invitation to Catholics, Protestants, nones, etc.
At the meeting watch the Pope’s address or excerpts and then facilitate the discussion using the following two questions:
a) The one idea that I found most interesting…
b) In light of what I have heard, the one thing that I/we could do.
3) While the World Meetings of Families in Philadelphia focuses on celebrating family in the Catholic Church, this event can be a catalyst for all churches to join together and explore ways that individual congregations can pray, celebrate, educate for the faith formation and spiritual enrichment of families.
Work together with neighboring churches in developing a family ministry that addresses the six areas of focus that have been identified through research of Vibrant Faith Ministries. These include
- Talk with each other about their faith
- Pray together in ways that are comfortable and comporting
- Ritualize their important moments
- Reach out in service and support of each other
- Share Bible stories
- Learn about faith together
For a complete description of these six areas, read “Forming Faith @ Home” by Leif Kehrwald, which appeared in the Winter 2015 online journal, Lifelong Faith, and visit Vibrant Faith.org.
In preparation for the World Meeting of Families the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has developed a website that includes articles, themes, resources, education, prayers, etc.
4) One of the emerging roles and responsibilities of the director of adult faith formation is the curation of resources and tools for faith formation and spiritual enrichment: articles, excerpts, quotes, video, podcasts, websites, email, social media. Explore ways to creatively use the Sunday bulletin for sharing these ideas and resources on family, immigration, mercy, peace, inequality, ecumenism, inter-religious dialogue.
Personalize the Sunday bulletin by inviting members of the church to offer a reflection by completing one of the following sentences Include photo. Include one a week.
I like Pope Francis because…
The one thing I have learned from Pope Francis…
The one thing I would like to share with Pope Francis…
5) Join together with neighboring churches and offer presentations and discussions on the apostolic exhortation, Joy of the Gospel, and on the encyclical on the environment. Coordinate small group discussions on these documents or on one the many books by or about Pope Francis.
Reflections from Pope Francis: An Invitation to Journaling, Prayer, and Action by Susan Stark and Daniel J. Pierson. Tarcher/Penguin
The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope
by Austen Ivereigh. Picador.
Walking with Jesus: A Way Forward for the Church by Pope Francis. Loyola Press.
Pope Francis' Revolution of Tenderness and Love: Theological and Pastoral Perspectives by Cardinal Walter Kasper. Paulist Press.
Family and Life: Pastoral Reflections by Pope Francis. Sadlier Religion and Paulist Press.
The Spirit of Saint Francis: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis. Edited by Alicia von Stamwitz. Franciscan Media.
The Holy See
News.VA Official Vatican Network – Facebook
America/Media: A Jesuit Ministry
Catholic News Service
Catholic Apostolate Center
Pope Francis Portal
Crux (Boston Globe)
Covering All Things Catholic
Salt and Light Media
National Catholic Reporter
The Pope App
By Pontificium Consilium de Communicationibus Socialibus
USCCB Papal Visit
World Meeting of Families
National Media especially CBS, CNN, PBS
What People Are Saying
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said, “The presence of Pope Francis at the World Meeting of Families in our country will be a joyful moment for millions of Catholics and people of good will. Our great hope has been that the Holy Father would inspire our families in their mission of love.
Mayor Bill De Blasio has called Pope Francis "the leading global voice on issues of social justice and income inequality" and said New York will "welcome him with open arms."
United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon has praised the Holy Father as "a man of peace and purpose. He is a voice for the voiceless.”
"He speaks loudly of his commitment to the poor, he has a deep sense of humility, his passion and compassion to improve the human condition," he said.
The UN Secretary General also praised the Holy Father's commitment in advancing inter-religious dialogue among the communities of faith. The appreciation of shared values, he continued, would "lead to tolerance, inclusion and peace."
President Barack Obama has praised Pope Francis. "The Holy Father has inspired the peoples of the entire world – and me too – with his commitment to social justice and his message of love and compassion, especially for people who are the poorest and most vulnerable among us. He doesn't just proclaim the gospel. He lives it."
Fortune Magazine has declared Pope Francis as one of the world’s greatest leaders in both 2014 (#1) and 2015 (#4).
“Since becoming pope in 2013, Francis (the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio) has been shaking up the management of one of the world’s largest bureaucracies: the Roman Catholic Church. That earned him the top spot on Fortune’s list of World’s Greatest Leaders last year—but his vision, fortitude, and commitment to reform were so extraordinary in 2014 that we’re including him again this year.
It is not just that he has led by example—by now it’s well known that the pope, who has long championed the virtues of charity and modesty, has forgone the traditional suite in the Apostolic Palace, opting instead to reside in a one-bedroom apartment in the Vatican guesthouse.
Less known is how decisive he is in personnel choices, replacing the boards of the Vatican Bank and its main regulatory body with highly respected business-people from around the globe. And though there has been pushback from entrenched interests at the Vatican, this pontiff is not easily conned: He gets information on all- important church personnel and organizations from a variety of sources and shuns toadies and cronies. Operating budgets are now pruned to ensure that as much money as possible can go to charity. This, after all, is a pope who lives his own lessons.”
Dan Pierson has served as a catechist, Catholic school teacher, parish and diocesan director of religious education. He is the founder of eCatechist.com, faithAlivebooks.com and Faith Alive Books Publishing. He is co-author with Susan Stark of Reflections from Pope Francis: An Invitation to Journaling, Prayer and Action. Tarcher/Penguin. 2015 and What Do I Do Now: A Guide for the Reluctant Catechist. Pflaum Publishing. 2005.
For discount pricing on quantity orders for churches, schools and organizations,
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