Catholic Student Association visits Philadelphia to witness Pope’s visit


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Photo by © Jonathan Ernst / Reuters |

Pope Francis arrives at Independence Mall where he is to deliver remarks on the theme "We Hold These Truths," a quote from the U.S. Declaration of Independence, in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, September 26 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst


It’s not every day the Pope is a mere bus ride away from Rutgers University.

On Sept. 27, the Catholic Student Association took a trip to Philadelphia to attend mass with Pope Francis. 

Attendees, which included both members and non-members of the Catholic Student Association at Rutgers, began their trip during the early hours of Sunday morning. They set off to Philadelphia at 8 a.m. to make their way through a city on a temporary transport lockdown.

The U.S. Papal Visit has dominated American media over the last couple of weeks, and the highly-anticipated tour finally arrived this weekend. 

“I’ve found the general response (to the Pope's visit) to be positive," said Gib Delacruz, a Rutgers Business School graduate.

But Delacruz believes it is important is that U.S. residents and people across the globe implement the Pope's ethos in their everyday lives.

Francesca Gilmore, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, spoke admirably of Francis’s reformed and humbled approach to his Papacy. 

“He has already spoken about issues regarding contraception, same-sex marriage and climate change, issues which the Catholic Church has rarely addressed openly before,” Gilmore said.

During his tour of the U.S., the Pope chose to be driven in a simple black fiat. In Rome, he has been known to reside in hostels with the homeless and other Jesuit priests over his residency at the Vatican, according to ABC News.

The Pope’s humble approach and his particular concern for the poor have been paramount to his appeal to a wider community.

Gilmore recalls her experience of seeing Pope Benedict as a child. She recalled not being "overly impressed" at such a young age.

“I was quite young when I visited the Vatican to see Pope Benedict,” Gilmore said. 

Pope Benedict was reputed for his more conservative approach and revived some of the Catholic Church’s more traditional values and wanted to revive the use of Latin in Catholic mass. Benedict was also the first Pope to resign voluntarily since Pope Celestine V in 1294.

Benedict was very traditional, Gilmore said. She recalled how, even at a young age, she recognized that Benedict was not relatable and his views on the Catholic Church were hard to identify with.

But some devout Catholics were in tears at the mass with Pope Benedict, she said. To these Catholics, and particularly to older generations of Catholics, Benedict’s message was relevant.

Francis is the first Pope of the Jesuit denomination and differed substantially in his approach from his predecessor, Benedict XVI. As a Jesuit, he is distinctively liberal by comparison to his predecessor and is keen for his message to reach Catholics and non-Catholics alike, according to Slate.com.

During his address to the U.S. Congress on Sept. 24, the Pope asked for the prayers of politicians. 

"For any who do not believe or cannot pray, I ask you please to send good wishes my way," Pope Francis said in his speech, according to jesuits.org.

Delacruz said he didn’t think the Pope was necessarily “reforming the church," but that he is opening up the church to a wider audience and is fulfilling his role by “opening people's eyes."

The Catholic Student Association highlighted the event on its Facebook page and emphasized that all students from religious and non-religious backgrounds were welcome to attend.

As an Australian Catholic, Gilmore identified with the many Americans, both Catholics and non-Catholics, that hold Pope Francis in high regard. 

“I feel Americans were incredibly excited about the Pope’s tour. He is very popular here and so has a great deal of influence over our day-to-day lives” she said.


Orla Francesca Lavery

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