Pope Francis’s visit to the USA in late September has come and gone amid great crowds and remarkable media adulation. The now common wondering will continue for some time: “It was great, but what difference will it make? Will it change anything in society? On Capitol Hill? In the Roman Catholic Church?”
En route home, Francis himself sought to moderate people’s expectations with a reflection on how anyone’s ability to make an impact on the world is transitory and that he is trying only to do what he can in the window of time available to him.
Missiologically interesting is the motto chosen by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for the papal visit to the USA: “Love Is Our Mission.” This appeared (and continues to appear) on the website for the visit alongside an appealing sketch of Francis lifting his hand in blessing over an urban landscape with the explanatory wording: “Pope Francis 2015 / United States of America.”*
“Love Is Our Mission.” Not: “Our Mission Is Love.” Beginning with the word “mission” might have put the emphasis on the wrong syl-la’-ble, as it were, making the concept of mission prior to the reality of love, rather than the other way around. In effect, the USCCB is saying on the pope’s behalf, “The first reality is the love that God has for the whole human community. Whoever we are and whatever we do, God’s longing is for the love of God to be revealed to and known by the whole human family.” Read More…