Pope John Paul II: Memories to Cherish

September 1987  

The Pope in America: Dialogue With Diversity

by Pat Windsor

St. Anthony Messenger
December 1987

Miami, September 10-11

'I Come as a Pilgrim'

"I come as a pilgrim, a pilgrim in the cause of justice and peace and human solidarity, striving to build up the one human family," said Pope John Paul II upon his arrival in Miami where he was greeted by thousands of people waving yellow-and-white papal banners.

Columbia, September 11

Welcomed in the 'Bible Belt'

Soon after arriving in the "Bible Belt," John Paul II challenged America to live up to its own ideals. "It would be a great tragedy for the entire human family," he said, "if the United States, which prides itself on its consecration to freedom, were to lose sight of the true meaning of that noble word. America: You cannot insist on the right to choose without also insisting on the duty to choose well, the duty to choose the truth."

New Orleans, September 12

Black Catholics: ‘You Enrich the Church’

Addressing 1,800 black Catholics in New Orleans, Pope John Paul had strong words against the racism in American society and encouraged black Catholics to contribute their cultural gifts to the wider Church. "Even in this wealthy nation, committed by the Founding Fathers to the dignity and equality of all persons, the black community suffers a disproportionate share of economic deprivation," the pope said.

San Antonio, September 13

The Pope Gets a Taste of  Hispanic Hospitality

In a Spanish-language address at Our Lady of Guadalupe Plaza, the pope said: "The vitality of a parish greatly depends on the spiritual vigor, commitment and involvement of its families." He then invited "all of you who are unsure about the Church...to come home to your parish. You belong there!"

Phoenix, September 14

Native Americans: 'Keep Alive Your Cultures'

In Phoenix, John Paul II began his day by meeting with some 2,000 healthcare workers. "The Church constantly proclaims and defends the dignity of human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death," he told them. The pope also referred to AIDS for the first time in an official statement, saying that those who care for AIDS patients are "living out the parable of the Good Samaritan."

That relatively low-key meeting was followed by a colorful display when the pope met with over 10,000 Native Americans, many wearing native dress. Alfretta M. Antone, vice president of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, told the pope that native peoples "seek to follow Jesus Christ in languages and cultures which God has given us."

The pope responded by encouraging Native American Catholics to "keep alive your cultures, your languages, the values and customs which have served you well in the past and which provide a solid foundation for the future." The Catholic faith, he added, can "thrive" in any culture.

Los Angeles, September 15-16

Dissent Comes to the Fore

Dissent—an issue much discussed before the pope's arrival—came to the fore in Los Angeles, where the pope listened to four U.S. bishops present the concerns facing an American Church marked by diversity and questioning.

At the meeting, attended by most of the nation's bishops and described by participants as collegial rather than confrontational, the pope said: "It is sometimes claimed that dissent from the magisterium is totally compatible with being a 'good Catholic' and poses no obstacle to the reception of the sacraments. This is a grave error that challenges the teaching office of the bishops of the United States and elsewhere."

Monterey and Carmel, September 17

Defense of Migrant Workers

In his homily, the pope defended migrant workers' rights and dignity. "No one person in the [agricultural] process—grower, worker, packer, shipper, retailer or consumer—is greater than the other in the eyes of God," said the pope. Later he visited the mission at nearby Carmel, where he prayed at the grave of Franciscan Father Junipero Serra.

San Francisco, September 17-18

AIDS Patients: 'God Loves You Without Distinction'

As some 2,000 gay protesters gathered outside, Pope John Paul on his visit to Mission Dolores Basilica in San Francisco preached about God's forgiveness. "God loves you all, without distinction, without limit," the pontiff said. "He loves those of you who are sick, those who are suffering from AIDS and AIDS-related complex."

Detroit, September 18-19

To America: 'Respect Life!'

In a major social justice address at Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit, the pope urged that today's challenges be seen in a global context. Notable was the pope's emphasis on the positive role of the United Nations in promoting a "new worldwide solidarity." He praised the U.N.'s work for disarmament, peacekeeping and the promotion of human rights.

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