Will I be the only American to sense the insult that may lurk behind Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S.? While Ross Douthat considers the Francis effect, let’s not forget about Omar Little who worked the streets of Baltimore, the city that was the capital of American Roman Catholicism for its first 125 years at least. (Can you say Baltimore Catechism? Sure you can.)
Rorate Caeli has a set of images of the churches that Pope Francis will visit while in the U.S. But what about this one, the original Roman Catholic cathedral in the U.S.:
Of course, a visit like this has lots of symbolism. I was relieved to see that discussion of Pope Francis arriving in the U.S. by way of a Mexican-border crossing fizzled. I imagine that photo-op went no where once adults in the room figured out how much security it would take for the pope to identify with Mexicans seeking entry to the U.S. How strange might it have appeared to have 8 to 10 black SUVs along side the pope’s little white Fiat crossing from Mexico into Texas from the town of Sarita (just north of Laredo)? Would the SUV’s have to put the papal Fiat on a flatbed to cross the river? Some are not convinced, though, that the pope is immune to posing for cameras.
Still, imagine the two-fer that Pope Francis could have executed had he spent one more day in the United States and visited a city rich in Roman Catholic history. After all, Baltimore is only 40 miles north of D.C., and only 100 south of Philadelphia. He could have honored those Roman Catholics of English descent, like John Carroll, the first American archbishop who organized Roman Catholicism in the new nation. And he could have scored points by identifying with the mourners of Freddie Gray’s death and the many others who have protested the brutality of urban police against African-Americans.
Missing an opportunity like that suggests a pontiff that knows not life in the United States. We get our first Bishop of Rome from the Americas and he turns out to be — well — European.