The impact of Pope Francis’ on people who saw him at Masses and talks during his visit to the United States last week is what Bishop Malooly finds most memorable.
Whether the bishop was in St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C., for the pope’s address to U.S. bishops, at the papal Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception later that same day, or even watching the reactions of the crowds at other cities on television, Bishop Malooly said the pope’s affect on people was memorable.
“That’s what struck me from the beginning, because you could see his impact with the people,” he said. “Just their expression and the look, the connectedness they felt. Watching on TV with the popemobile coming down the parkway, everybody was riveted.”
Pope Francis is very “welcoming, by person, gesture and smile,” Bishop Malooly said.
The bishop was impressed that the pontiff asked the U.S. bishops to be pastors and shepherds, reminding them that a bishop’s flock “are your neighbors” and bishops serve their neighbors.
“I thought the concept of neighbor and servant was really a nice touch,” said the bishop. “It means you’re right down there in the trenches.
“When I came back from Washington Thursday night, I was in my neighborhood and they were all outside talking about the pope’s visit.”
Bishop Malooly said he appreciated the pope’s frequent references to family life and the dignity of life at all stages.
Pope Francis “always reaches out to the handicapped and to infants,” the bishop said. “So the emphasis to me is a reminder that we’re a pro-life church. I always think that when he approaches someone who’s handicapped, it’s kind of a ‘family thank you’ for taking on that burden.”
For people in the diocese who attended papal events or watched them on TV, Bishop Malooly said he hopes the experience was “an opportunity to get them to take a better look at their faith, no matter what their faith is, and to see here’s someone who’s very happy, very enthused, filled with faith. All the pressures of the world are on his back and, yet, you could never tell.
“My hope is that out of this our Catholics, if they’re floundering with their faith, might grab hold of it. And if there are people of other faith backgrounds, maybe it’s a help or a wake-up call to them also.”