BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Bishop Frank Caggiano of the Diocese of Bridgeport feels that Pope Francis visiting the United States within a few days of the diocese’s synod is “a gift that the Lord has given us.”
“To be able to participate in the synod mass as part of our diocese and then go directly into the visit of Pope Francis is, I think, a unique week of blessings and grace,” Caggiano said.
Caggiano will be the guest of Sen. Chris Murphy when Pope Francis delivers his address to Congress on Thursday, Sept. 24. He will also be present the day before for the pope’s midday prayer at the St. Matthews Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and will attend the Friday mass at Madison Square Garden.
Caggiano estimates that about 1,000 members of the Diocese of Bridgeport will be traveling to see the pope during his visit. There will be several buses carrying people from around Fairfield County to see Pope Francis when he visits Philadelphia on Saturday.
While Caggiano does not know what the pope will discuss when he addresses Congress, he feels that there is a timely lesson that can be delivered on the importance of not letting the country be divided.
“In our time, there’s too much division, too much polarization, not enough dialogue, not enough respect when people offer differing opinions,” Caggiano said. “So now, to consider that the holy father will come and stand in the well of the House of Representatives and he will speak a message of good will and challenge, talk about fraternity and brotherhood, talk about the need for us to tackle the issues that transcend religious division and ethnic and language division, is itself a symbolic challenge that we need to recapture what makes our country great: civility, dialogue, and respect.”
Part of Pope Francis’s appeal, Caggiano says, is not only his accessibility, but also his challenge to Catholics to practice what they believe and to show mercy and charity to people who are most in need. Caggiano referenced a quote from the pope where he likened the church to a field hospital after battle , and the importance of healing people’s wounds.
“What I take away from that lesson is that every single one of us in some way, shape or form needs healing. Some more dramatically than others, some more obviously than others. But no one has their act, their life completely put together perfectly. Everyone’s in need of healing, forgiveness, mercy, accompaniment, companionship, hope. Everyone,” Caggiano said.
The pope’s visit to the United States is important to Catholics because it reminds them that they are part of a larger, global community.
“When the Holy Father comes, he brings the whole world with him. All of its dreams, all of its hope, all of its pains, all of its suffering, and that for a Catholic is a moment of grace,” Caggiano said. “In addition to spiritual renewal and hope and excitement, he also reminds us of who we are and to whom we belong, because we belong to Christ first and foremost.”
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