The Rev. A. R. Bernard, pastor of New York City's largest church and president of the Churches of the City of New York that represents 1.5 million Christians, called the multi-religious worship experience with Pope Francis at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum an "amazing experience." He also addressed concerns some Christians might have about "the concept of the papacy."
"I will tell you, it was beautiful, it was deep, it was moving and I think with the backdrop of 9/11 where it was religious extremism that created that situation and brought America to a whole new place in this country, as that being the backdrop and to have religious leaders from around the world, in terms of the religious expressions around the world, coming together like that was very, very special," Bernard said, reflecting on the Sept. 25 gathering during a broadcast of his radio program.
Bernard also revealed that he was chosen to greet Benedict XVI on behalf of the Protestant community when the then-pope visited New York City in 2008. The pastor of the 37,000-member Christian Cultural Center marveled that "here it is seven years later and I have the opportunity to actually go from greeting to worshipping with the new pontiff, Pope Francis." more >>
Pope Francis' historic visit to America has the entire nation abuzz with energy. The news media has covered his every move. Social media is on fire with comments about him.
I am not a member of the Catholic Church. I am a Protestant, a Baptist to be more specific. I reject numerous doctrines embraced by my Catholic friends: prayers for the dead, veneration of angels and dead saints, the exaltation of Mary, worship of images and relics, celibacy of the priesthood, transubstantiation, confession of sins to a priest, the apocryphal books added to the Bible, the belief in purgatory, and the infallibility of the Pope in matters of faith and morals, to name a few. I don't mean by these remarks to minimize or disparage, but only to state the differences.
There are many other points with Catholics on which I do agree: the inspiration of the Scriptures, the deity of Jesus Christ, the virgin birth, the miracles, the resurrection of the Body, a future judgment, heaven and hell and many other Bible truths. In such common ground with Catholics, I rejoice. more >>
Pope Francis and President Barack Obama were on opposite sides of the ongoing dispute between religious freedom and gay rights in separate remarks.
Obama said on Sunday that freedom of religion does not mean that any Americans should be denied their constitutional rights, and suggested that traditional marriage supporters need to "catch up" to the rest of the country. Pope Francis has meanwhile said that conscientious objection is a "human right," when asked about the Kim Davis case.
"We affirm that we cherish our religious freedom and are profoundly respectful of religious traditions," Obama told members of the LGBT community on Sunday, according to CBS News. "But we also have to say clearly that our religious freedom doesn't grant us the freedom to deny our fellow Americans their constitutional rights." more >>
Pope Francis spent time on Sunday during the last day of his U.S. visit to meet with five adults who had been sexually abused by Roman Catholic clergy as children, declaring that he remains "overwhelmed with shame" at what was done to the victims. A survivor's group has criticized the meeting as a "feel good, do nothing" gesture.
"I hold the stories and the suffering and the sorry of children who were sexually abused by priests deep in my heart. I remain overwhelmed with shame that men entrusted with the tender care of children violated these little ones and caused grievous harm. I am profoundly sorry. God weeps," Francis told bishops at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Pennsylvania.
The Vatican leader reportedly met three women and two men who had been abused as children during a half-an-hour meeting. The pope spoke with the victims, listened to their stories, and prayed with them. He also thanked them for revealing the truth, and promised that the Church will do all it can to bring those guilty to justice. more >>
NEW YORK — When the white golf cart suddenly entered Madison Square Garden Friday evening and started coasting past the aisles, the estimated 20,000 worshippers in attendance went wild. One might have thought Harry Connick Jr. or Jennifer Hudson was still on stage singing "How Great Thou Art" or "Hallelujah." But no, it was only Pope Francis. And the man viewed as the vicar of Christ on earth by the Catholic faithful reminded the flock of their duty to go and tell others about God and what He was doing in their city.
The pope, leader of the world's more than 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, has a noticeable effect on his flock.
Men and women scream, some cry and couples extend their newborns and toddlers toward the pontiff in hopes of receiving a blessing. No one can get the pope and his vehicle to slow down quite like children can. Francis, when he greets the faithful, seems to have a special affinity for the young and, also noticeably, for the disabled or those with medical challenges. more >>
NEW YORK — It would be several hours before Pope Francis would eventually arrive for a solemn interfaith service at the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum honoring victims of the September 11 terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan Friday morning but he was already proving to be a unifying force among the diverse throng of invited guests who were patiently waiting to meet him.
And for Monsignor Donald Beckmann of the St. Ignatius Martyr Church in Long Beach, Brooklyn, it was a sign. A sign said Beckmann of Francis' unifying effect which he says is due to more than anything else, the pontiff's simple presentation of himself as a proclaimer of Jesus. Nothing more.
"I think one of the things that I've been touched by is the way so many groups of Christians, including Evangelicals, have noticed the way that his focus is not on himself, his focus is on Jesus," said Beckmann as he waited along Church Street between Liberty and Cortlandt Streets to get past the security check-point to the museum. "Jesus is the one we share in common, Francis sees himself as someone who proclaims Jesus and in that, he can be what we Catholics feel the papacy is meant to be — a focus of unity for all the Christian people." more >>