It’s Official, Pope Francis Is Coming

By Marvin Adams

Marvin Adams is a parishioner of St. Anthony’s Parish in Washington D.C. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Franciscan Action Network.

Marvin Adams

In all probability, one of the worst kept secrets on the planet became a matter of record this past week: Pope Francis will indeed visit the United States. While here, his itinerary will include visits to New York, Philadelphia and Washington. Additionally, while in Washington, he is tentatively scheduled for a meeting at the White House and has also accepted an invitation to speak before a joint session of Congress. All of this is to occur within the last week of September.

As a Catholic, I look forward to his visit for myriad reasons. I was too young to understand the significance of Pope Paul VI visit to the United States in 1965. Specifically, up until that time, no reigning Pope had ever visited the United States. However, as I grew older and became apolitical, I began to understand how important that visit really was. Paul’s visit occurred less than five years after our country elected its first Catholic president, John F. Kennedy. It also occurred on the heels of the assignation of President Kennedy and the passage of both the Civil and Voting Rights Act of 1964 and 1965, respectively.

I wasn’t old or smart enough to suggest some issues I would have liked for Paul to have addressed. But if I were, I probably would have mentioned the second-class treatment blacks had to endure in the United States during that time. Specifically, I would have suggested that he use the power of the Papacy to draw attention to the dehumanizing aspects of the “separate, but equal” doctrine, and the evils of Jim Crow. I would have also mentioned the inordinate amount of blacks incarcerated and killed without recourse during the time of his visit. I would have mentioned that blacks were not allowed to use public accommodations, such as libraries, hotels restrooms or dining facilities. I would not have stopped there, because I also would have made mention of how blacks were systematically denied access to quality education. Finally, in all probability, I would have respectfully implored him to, like my Bishop, Ernest L. Unterkoefler, take a stance and be supportive of the Civil Rights Movement.

As I sat to pen this blog, I had an epiphany. I realized how eerily similar the circumstances surrounding Francis visit is to that of Paul’s. Today, in the United States, we have the largest concentration of prisoners incarcerated than any other country in the world. And African-Americans, even though they constitute approximately 12% of the overall population represent over 40% of those incarcerated! Granted, since Paul’s visit, we have elected and reelected our nation’s first African-American president, Barack Obama. But on the heels of that historic election, there is a movement afoot to gut the voting rights, for which many fought and some even died. There’s also a movement to disenfranchise a significant number of those who presently live among us. I am speaking in reference to the many immigrants, who through no fault of their own, are here and have spent all of their lives here as Americans. The individuals to which I speak are often referred to as Dreamers.

I am cognizant of the fact that Pope Francis can’t be all things to all people. That said, I respectfully implore him to at least call attention to the aforementioned issues which are important not only to me, but to our nation’s future as well. It is in my most humble opinion, that there’s only one individual who can, and dare I say must, in the vernacular of Governor Rick Perry, “Bring it” and that would be Pope Francis. I wait, in earnest for September, in anticipation of Francis to do just that. And that is my H-O-P-E!

Published in: on February 12, 2015 at 12:06 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Blacks are disproportionally
    Incarcerated because they commit a disproportionate percentage of violent crime. You argue, like all liberals, from emotion and wishful thinking, rather than from truth or logic.
    P. S. I will be happy to provide documentation for my statement.
    May the truth and peace of Christ be with you
    David Joseph Weir , OFS

  2. Mr. Weir,

    As the iconic one, President Reagan, would state “There you go, again.” Let me help you out, if I can. First, and foremost, the vast majority of those of color, who are incarcerated, both African-American and Latino, are N-O-T there because of violent crimes. I am not cognizant of your age, but a little history lesson here may be apropos.

    President Nixon waged his ‘War on Drugs” and that, my friend, is what led to the proliferation of mass incarceration of an inordinate amount of individuals, Perhaps you are not familiar with the “Three Strikes You are Out” or the “Mandatory Sentencing” which came about as a result of this nonsensical “War.” The vast majority of the individuals arrested during and subsequent were for non-violent drug offenses. As I write a bi-partisan group of four politicians (Senators Corey Booker, D-NJ and Mike Lee, R-Utah; and Reps Bobby Scott, D-GA and Thomas Massie, R-KY) are spearheading the charge, #SmarterSentencingAct, which will end mandatory sentencing.

    As for who commits the most violent crime, C’mon man. It matters not who commits the crime, or at what percentage. We are a violent society, period, end of discussion. And that is fodder for a different discourse for another time.


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