New Englanders Await Pope's Arrival in New York

Pope Francis will have a busy two days in New York, including an address to the U.N. and an interfaith service at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

"It's kind of like the Grateful Dead for me - except it's the pope," said Boston College professor Tiziana Dearing.

Having spent her career working on poverty and social justice, Dearing knew she'd be there as soon as she knew the pope would be in the U.S.

"I believe he is the single strongest voice on the intersection of social justice and poverty in the world right now," said Dearing. "And he's bringing that message to halls that right now, politically, are usually not receptive to those conversations."

For Dearing, the trips to Washington and New York are an opportunity to witness, first-hand, how Pope Francis is impacting public opinion and how his message is being received.

She feels this pope is the moral leader that has been long absent for many Americans.

"We actually have not had anyone in more than a generation, I would argue, who has come forward and boldly taken ahold of the mantle of moral leadership and called us, as a species, to develop some shared moral values," she said.

Dearing will be listening for the pope's words on immigration and the Syrian refugees - and she expects there to be an economic message aimed squarely at Americans.

"We are one of the biggest exporters of the free market morals in the world, and so I would be very surprised if he doesn't take on those questions, and try to offer a different moral framework for how we think about markets and the economy," she said.

Dearing will also be watching for the pope's signature moments when he says or does something unexpected. So will Springfield, Massachusetts, Bishop Mitchell Rozanski.

"When the pope goes off script, it really shows him as a pastor speaking from the heart," he said.

Bishop Rozanski will be following Pope Francis throughout his U.S. visit, including the address to Congress, thanks to a ticket offer from Congressman Richard Neal.

"Which I most readily accepted," said Bishop Rozanski. "I think that would be one of the most interesting of the speeches that the pope makes when he's at Congress, because he does not shy away from any of the controversial topics."

He believes the pope's Friday morning visit to Ground Zero and interfaith prayer service at the 9/11 Museum will be a particularly powerful moment.

"He wants to show his solidarity with all those who have lost loved ones there, and he also wants to illustrate that, as leaders of faith, no matter what faith group, it is incumbent upon us to work for peace," he said.

The bishop think Pope Francis's presence in will buoy American Catholics to be proud of their faith.

Contact Us