(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis begins his three-city tour of the United States on September 22nd, in the nation’s capital, Washington, DC. The Archbishop of Washington, DC, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, held a broad-ranging conversation with Vatican Radio’s Chris Altieri ahead of the Holy Father’s departure, describing the political, social and ecclesial contours of the visit, and exploring some of the major themes.
Click below to hear Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, DC’s extended conversation with Vatican Radio’s Chris Altieri
Asked how the Church in the Washington, DC, archdiocese is preparing to welcome the Holy Father, Cardinal Wuerl said that – in addition to the complex and complicated practical challenges of coordinating so momentous a series of events for such an illustrious guest – there are basic spiritual and catechetical preparations. “We have been inviting now for months, all our faithful, and anybody else who would join us, to pray for our Holy Father, to pray for his intentions – because he has so many concerns that he is dealing with,” said Cardinal Wuerl. “A third level,” he continued, “[is] just helping people renew their knowledge and understanding of who the Pope is, and what is the Papacy – what does it mean to be the Successor to Peter, the Vicar of Christ? – and we have provided catechetical materials at our schools and our parishes – throughout the community.”
Cardinal Wuerl also shared some thoughts on the significance of a reigning Pontiff addressing a joint meeting of the US Congress – an historically unprecedented event. “I think that what we should look for is the Holy Father using this platform – and certainly, the Congress of the United States continues to be a very significant body on this planet – and he will be speaking to [Senators and Representatives], but through them, to the nation and to the world,” Cardinal Wuerl said, “ – and I expect him to be calling us to those Gospel values, about which he speaks all the time,” including the inherent and inalienable dignity of every human being, and the need to be respectful of that dignity, as well as the moral imperative to care responsibly for our common home – a responsibility that flows from our human dignity and shares a source with it in our Divine Creator.