I've been vaguely aware of the hype and swelling excitement, but have to admit that yesterday I had to look up the dates he was going to be here. (Sept. 22 - 27 for those similarly unaware.) I haven't felt the need to keep track of anything because I knew that once he hit our shores I wouldn't be able to avoid it even if I wanted to.
However, I was interested enough to prepare slightly by listening to this podcast yesterday.
Pope Francis: The Times are Changing
It is from The Torch, which is the sampler podcast for The Great Courses. This special episode features Professor William Cook who has done series about St. Francis of Assisi and the history of the Catholic Church. Both have been excellent and very fair and evenhanded so I felt I could trust his comments about Pope Francis. Indeed, they proved to be illuminating and interesting.
During the visit, I'll be counting on several trusted sources for news and commentary:
- John L. Allen, Crux: Allen is insightful, fair, and extremely experienced in covering the Catholic Church for Americans. His piece, A Guide for Americans to "Decoding" Pope Francis is good preliminary reading. For example, Francis uses the term "fundamentalist" in a very different way than we understand it here.
- GetReligion: I link to their pieces frequently, as regular readers know, because they are experts at examining how the press is reporting on religion. That means they will ask common sense questions which help us understand how pieces may be incomplete or skewed for a particular viewpoint. They also point out excellent reporting which I'd never have seen otherwise.
- Whispers in the Loggia: the place for reading what the Pope actually says, often in full, not just what the media sound bytes would have you believe.
- The Deacon's Bench: Deacon Greg Kandra had a long career in broadcast journalism and has a good eye for stories that are both interesting and pertinent. He doesn't often comment on the stories himself, preferring to point you to the original source.
Of course, I'll be linking to other interesting things as they arise.