Things That Matter

I Didn’t Care About the Pope Until I Got to See Him

Sara Agate is a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Fellow working on Capitol Hill and this is her experience during Pope Francis’ visit to the White House. 

Working on Capitol Hill has some perks.

Credit: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

The biggest one is being present when history is being made.

A major perk – for many – was being offered tickets to sit on the West Lawn for Pope Francis’ visit.

Credit: Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Our office offered staff tickets and most took advantage of the opportunity to be in the Pope’s presence – and that of 50,000 other people.

But I passed.

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I know. Who would pass, right? But I felt neutral – which is rare for me. I usually am on one side or the other of things.

However, another opportunity came around.

Beyonce Clapping
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Our office announced they were raffling five extra tickets to see Pope Francis arrive at the White House. So I entered because, why not?

Then it hit me…

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To see my beloved President Barack Obama next to Pope Francis would be EPIC.

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I felt my late, devote Catholic Nonna would be so happy. Growing up in a Mexican and Sicilian Catholic family (although some are Christian), I knew the importance of the Pope. In my families’ homes you can find statues, photos or candles of Virgin Marys, Our Lady of Guadalupes, Saint Josephs, and of course, rosaries – in every room. Plus, everyone has a cross necklace.

Surprisingly, I won!

Credit: Sara Agate

Still rather than being excited about the pope, my first thought was, I’m going to be in the presence of the first black President of the United States and in his DC backyard.

Credit: Ron Sachs / Pool via CNP / Getty Images

That’s what I was honestly most excited about. And, as a Chicagoan, I felt proud to think of my roots back there connected to President Obama.

Then gratitude started kicking in.

Credit: Sara Agate

Finally, I was in the White House backyard. I began chatting with my colleagues and during our quiet moments I thought about how this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I couldn’t help but think about how few people of color there were in the crowd of people. I felt glad to be there, yet fully conscience of my commitment to strive for justice and equality.

Three hours later – the moment everyone was waiting for.

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President Barack Obama and Mrs. Obama warmly greeted Pope Francis. My favorite part of this moment? When President Obama said, “…to stand up for justice and against inequality, and to ensure that every human being is able to live in dignity.” This really resonated with me and the privilege I had to stand there in those moments represented a small way of standing for justice and equality – I have to believe it.

Standing here on this day now represented everything I believe in.

Credit: Sara Agate

I have to believe that standing there was upholding all those who supported me getting to that moment. To all the justice seekers and sponsors who value my diversity. I have to believe that next time there will be a sea of all shades of people getting access to high profile events like this one and I have to be a part of keeping and creating those pipelines.

For a moment, the arrival celebration transcended all human differences.

Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images

I appreciate the Pope’s candor on issues like immigration, climate change and his progressive attitude to use his influence to make the world a better place.

Then he said, “When it comes to the care of our common home, we are living at a critical moment of our history.”

Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Catholic or not – the path to justice and equality is mixed with struggle and celebration. Today was a celebration with a conscience.

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Pope Francis Condemns People Who Are “Taking Advantage” of the Coronavirus to “Create Economic or Political Advantages”

Things That Matter

Pope Francis Condemns People Who Are “Taking Advantage” of the Coronavirus to “Create Economic or Political Advantages”

Pope Francis, usually one to remain largely apoliticfal, has recently made headlines for his second public appearance since the COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm starting in March.

Last Wednesday, 83-year-old Pope Francis made headlines for publicly wearing a mask–a garment that has become quite controversial in recent months.

via Getty Images

After months of virtual appearances, Pope Francis addressed an audience of around 500 people in the San Damasco courtyard in the Vatican. According to the Associated Press, the audience members were sitting on spaced-out chairs to accommodate social-distancing guidelines.

The Pope was seen entering and exiting his vehicle wearing a white mask. He was also seen using hand sanitizer in between greeting visitors. It is worth noting that Pope Francis had one of his lungs removed when he was younger, likely making him a high-risk person. Although he is usually known for his love of engaging with crowds, kept his distance this time.

In his speech, the Pope urged everyone to use the unusual circumstances of the pandemic to work towards the common good. He then warned against people using COVID-19 to exploit their own agendas.

“Unfortunately, we are witnessing the emergence of partisan interests,” he said, skirting around calling out anyone specifically.

“For example, there are those who want to appropriate possible solutions for themselves, such as (developing) vaccines and then selling them to others.”

He chastised these anonymous bad-faith actors further, adding: “Some are taking advantage of the situation to foment divisions, to create economic or political advantages, to start or intensify conflict.”

This isn’t the first time Pope Francis has condemned politicians and profiteers.

via Getty Images

He previously publicly criticized the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from the parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

In 2018, Reverend Joe S.Vásquez of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement saying “forcibly separating children from their mothers and fathers is ineffective to the goals of deterrence and safety and contrary to our Catholic values”.

In an interview with Reuteurs, the Pope expressed his support of the statement, saying he was “on the side” of the Bishop’s conference. “It’s not easy, but populism is not the solution,” he concluded.

A few days later, he wrote on Twitter: “We encounter Jesus in those who are poor, rejected, or refugees. Do not let fear get in the way of welcoming our neighbour in need.” Some saw it as a clear sub-tweet directed at the Trump administration.

This time, it’s worth wondering if Pope Francis’s decision to wear a mask means he’s subtly making his politics known, even if he isn’t making grand political statements.

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Twitter And The Internet React With These Hilarious Memes To Pope Francis’ Viral Moment Slapping Away A Woman’s Hand


Twitter And The Internet React With These Hilarious Memes To Pope Francis’ Viral Moment Slapping Away A Woman’s Hand

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It happened on New Year’s Eve as the pope was greeting a crowd of people in Vatican City. One rather eager woman grabbed his hand, yanked him toward herself, and clutched onto him. The pope responded by swatting at her –and some Twitter users say, calling her ‘Bruja’— before she let go.

Pope Francis has apologized after slapping the hand of a woman who wouldn’t let go of him, and the memes are already rolling in.

The video immediately spread all over the world, with people eager to weigh in on whether the pope was right to respond as he did or if he had overreacted. Or if this means we should all feel free to slap people.

Pope Francis apologized for the now-viral moment on Wednesday before celebrating Mass.

The incident occurred as Pope Francis made his way to the Nativity scene in Vatican City. On Wednesday, the Pontiff apologized for losing patience with the worshiper before using his New Year’s Day address to denounce violence against women.”Love makes us patient.” “We lose patience many times,” he said, according to CBS. “It happens to me too. I apologize for the bad example given yesterday.”

The Pontiff continued in his address: “Women are sources of life. Yet they are continually insulted, beaten, raped, forced to prostitute themselves and to suppress the life they bear in the womb. “Every form of violence inflicted upon a woman is a blasphemy against God, who was born of a woman.”

While the Vatican probably now considers the matter laid to rest, the internet is not done making memes and jokes about the slap-happy pope.

Since becoming pontiff in 2013, Francis has preached openness – a reform-minded agenda that has irritated a small but vocal group of ultra-conservatives in the church. During the New Year’s Eve Vespers service in St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis urged people to practice more solidarity.

The memes keep rolling in, days after the incident —and we’re not getting tired of them just yet.

I think all of us have experienced this literally in our lives. At least anyone who has a cat, has been around a cat, knows someone who has a cat or has scrolled Facebook videos for more than 60 seconds. Am I right?

How about this one? 

Then there’s this slice of heaven that pretty much sums up what happened…

May your 2020 be blessed with bountiful memes, and may it slap harder than 2019.

During his address on Wednesday, the Pontiff also spoke about gender equality, telling the congregation that women “should be fully included in decision-making processes.” “Every step forward for women, is a step forward for humanity as a whole.”

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