By Tanya Connor
Bishop McManus is scheduled to pray and concelebrate Mass with Pope Francis in Washington, D.C., and later meet with Worcester diocesan pilgrims in Philadelphia during the Holy Father’s visit to the United States next week.
“I’m looking forward very much to what he has to say to the bishops,” Bishop McManus said.
Pope Francis arrives in Washington on Sept. 22, travels to New York Sept. 24 and to Philadelphia on Sept. 26.
Bishop McManus said someone remarked that Pope Francis, once a Jesuit novice master, treats his papacy like one big examination of conscience for novices and seminarians. Bishop McManus said he expects the pope will also relate to the bishops that way, and call for simplicity of life and going out to the periphery.
Pope Francis speaks of the Church as a missionary church, so all the baptized are to introduce others to the person and message of Christ, Bishop McManus said. He said he thinks the pope will challenge the American Catholic community to do that in this nation.
“I think he’ll be very impressed with the vitality of the Church” in the United States, and see the role new immigrants, especially Latinos, play, the bishop said.
Retired Bishop Reilly said he would love to meet Pope Francis, because he’s met every pope since Pope Pius XII, except Pope John Paul I, whose pontificate was too short. But both Bishop Reilly and retired auxiliary Bishop Rueger have trouble walking that would make such a trip very difficult. Bishop Rueger said Msgr. James P. Moroney, a Worcester diocesan priest who is rector of St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, invited clergy who studied at St. John’s, including him, to make a contribution so the seminarians could go see the pope.
Msgr. Moroney said he is going with all the resident seminarians to the Mass of canonization of Junipero Serra. It is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. Wednesday on the grounds of The Catholic University of America in Washington, outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception .
Bishop McManus said he thinks the pope will process through the upper Basilica, where seminarians and novices of religious congregations are to be gathered to watch the outdoor Mass on large-screen televisions.
He said he thinks Congress will be interested to hear him, and some things he says will please Democrats and some will please Republicans and some will displease both. And, some things will probably please both. He said he expects the pope will not mince words.
“He’ll talk about the moral and social implications of the Gospel,” Bishop McManus said.
He said Pope Francis has spoken of abortion as a sign of a throwaway culture. He assumes that he will also talk about caring for the environment, immigrants, the poor and those on the margins, and the Church as a field hospital, themes he’s sounded repeatedly.
Bishop McManus gave his schedule during the papal visit as follows.
He is to join the other bishops in Washington for midday prayer with Pope Francis at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at St. Matthew Cathedral. There the pope is to address them.
The six American cardinals and about 60 bishops on the administrative board of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are to greet him personally, in the name of all the bishops, since there are so many, Bishop McManus said. He is not among them.
But, he said, he met Pope Francis briefly in Rome after a Wednesday audience a couple years ago. He gave the Holy Father the Worcester Diocese’s greetings and the pope thanked him.
After their meeting with the pope Sept. 23, the U.S. bishops are to be bused to the John Paul II Center for lunch, while the pope dines with the Apostolic Nuncio, Bishop Carlo M. Vigano, elsewhere. After lunch the bishops are to be bused to Catholic University, where they are to concelebrate the canonization Mass with the pope.