Vatican's Lombardi: In US, Francis wants to address global questions

This story appears in the Francis in the United States feature series. View the full series.

by Joshua J. McElwee

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Pope Francis wants to use his six-day, three-city visit to the U.S. to address pressing global questions, Vatican spokesman Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi said at a press briefing Tuesday evening.

After traveling nine other places around the world since his election in March 2013, Lombardi said "the experience of the pope as universal pastor is growing."

"I feel that now the pope is ready to address global questions," said the Jesuit, speaking at a briefing in Washington following the pope's arrival in the country at Joint Base Andrews Tuesday afternoon.

The spokesman said he expects Francis to give speeches in the U.S. "of a person who has reached a great moral authority and is able to ... try to give orientation and answers to the people of the entire world."

The pontiff will have the opportunity to give such remarks throughout the U.S. trip, as he visits Washington, New York, and Philadelphia. On Wednesday, Francis meets with President Barack Obama; on Thursday, he addresses a joint meeting of Congress; on Friday, he addresses the U.N.

Because this is the pope's first visit to the U.S., Lombardi said that "gives him an attitude of humility, of respect, of interest" toward the country. Francis considers it "a great occasion of new encounter," said the spokesman.

Lombardi also said the pontiff may express appreciation for the role of the U.S. in history but also said that "a question we have to address is a question of responsibility."

"In this land there is a great power" that can lead to progress "if it is put to the service of the common good," he said.

"I think the pope appeals surely to the richness of resources ... that are here to be put to the common good of humankind," said Lombardi.

[Joshua J. McElwee is an NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

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