Pope Francis' Visit: The Conversation in America Will Change Next Week

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Next week, the conversation will change in America. All the media attention recently given to political figures will now shift to a moral leader who is changing the global public discussion about what is compassionate, just, good, and right — and Christian.

This is a fundamental spiritual shift that we deeply need in our country right now. Three major East Coast cities will have their typical traffic patterns and lodging arrangements severely disrupted. I’m not predicting an earthquake or a hurricane — instead, for only the tenth time in our nation’s history , the pope, spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics worldwide, will visit the United States.

The last papal visit was from Pope Benedict XVI in 2008. Pope Francis’ visit to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City, which will take place from September 22-27, is expected to be historic in terms of the crowds it generates, with well over one million people anticipated for the Philadelphia portion alone.

Majority of U.S. Catholics Accept 'Non-Traditional' Families

new survey released from Pew Research Center, conducted in the lead-up to the pontiff’s visit, examined U.S. Catholics’ attitudes on family, marriage, and sexuality, as well as on issues close to the pope’s heart — concern for the poor, care for the environment, and forgiveness of sins. The results found Catholics “remarkably accepting of a wide variety of non-traditional families.”

This is not to say longstanding church teaching on marriage has changed — the church very much still upholds lifelong heterosexual monogamous marriage with children as the divine plan for coupleship, and nine-in-ten U.S. Catholics say this is the ideal arrangement. But large majorities now say other familial arrangements are acceptable, too.  

According to the survey of U.S. Catholics, 85 percent say it is acceptable for a man and woman to live together as a couple outside of marriage, and 84 percent say it is acceptable for raise children in this arrangement. Two-thirds say it is acceptable for same-sex couples to raise children. And 70 percent say married couples who choose to not have children are choosing a lifestyle that is just as good as any other.

Pope Francis Tells the Poor: ‘Don’t Let Yourselves Be Robbed of Hope’

Pope Francis arrives to meet youth in Cagliari, Sardinia. Photo: Via RNS. By Paul Haring/courtesy Catholic News Service

Pope Francis criticized what he called the “idolatry of money” on Sunday in a trip to one of the poorest regions of the European Union.

The pontiff, visiting the island of Sardinia off Italy’s western coast, departed from his prepared remarks to talk about his own family’s struggles as Italian immigrants in Argentina. Speaking on an island where more than half of workers under 30 are unemployed, Francis told the masses: “Don’t let yourselves be robbed of hope.”

The Catholic Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal and the Paradoxical Legacy of Pope John Paul II

The Catholic church is reeling from the several sexual abuse allegations that have come to light over the past three months. Downplaying the severity of this scandal will only further damage the already beleaguered church's image and credibility. Many in the media blame Pope Benedict XVI for the mismanagement of the sexual abuse crisis.