Bishop hopes people will hear that Pope Francis is calling for moral responsibility

Pope Francis meets with U.S. bishops in the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington Sept. 23. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

CHARLESTON—Ever since Pope Francis arrived in the United States, his words and actions have been splashed across every possible media outlet, bringing applause from some and angry disagreement from others.

Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone said the reaction is due in large part to the politics of the issues, which is a mistake. The words of Pope Francis are not about politics, he said, they are about the moral responsibility people have to look out for each other and the world as a whole.

When the pontiff spoke to over 400 U.S. bishops at a prayer service for them at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C., it was very specific to them, and addressed how important it is for bishops to support and encourage their priests, who are the ones on the front lines evangelizing to the people, Bishop Guglielmone said.

During Mass, the bishop said he was captivated by the quiet voice of Pope Francis that reels people in to his words.

“We prayed with him and we listened to him,” the bishop said. “He’s able to bring us a sense of energy and comfort.”

Bishop Guglielmone also listened to the pontiff’s address to Congress. He said Pope Francis tackled a multitude of issues, which are always controversial to someone, whether it’s immigration, the environment, religious freedom, the dignity of human life, or the need to fight poverty. The bishop said Pope Francis spoke kindly and gently, quietly telling elected members they must stop bickering to get things done.

The Holy Father is not looking at politics, the bishop continued, he is looking at the morality of people and the search for a better life and his speeches are presented as moral lessons on how to make the world a better place.

Underlying every speech is the need to strengthen and support family life, which is the primary purpose of the pope’s visit.

“Family life is the basis of all we are and all we can become,” Bishop Guglielmone said, “and family life is threatened in so many ways today.”

Pope Francis’ trip will culminate at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, where he will celebrate Mass for an expected crowd of 1 million people and issue a challenge to bolster family life on a global scale.

Bishop Guglielmone said he can only hope people will listen.