DAILY CATHOLIC     FRI-SAT-SUN     January 15, 1999     vol. 10, no. 10

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Why has Pope John Paul II chosen to visit St. Louis later this month? Msgr. Timothy Dolan, the rector of the North American College in Rome and a native of that American archdiocese, has offered his own reflections on that topic. Msgr. Dolan sees three reasons for the papal decision:

          First, when 300 bishops from North and South America met in Rome for the Synod of the Americas in November and December of 1997, one major theme of their discussions was the fundamental unity between North and South America. The Synod-- at the Pope's prompting-- consistently treated the Western hemisphere as a single continent, with closely related needs and challenges. Msgr. Dolan believes that the Holy Father "wanted to emphasize that point by passing through the United States, thus creating a sort of bridge between the two parts of the continent."

          St. Louis itself plays an important role in the Church, said Msgr. Dolan, and thus provides an apt site for a papal visit. As the historic "gateway to the West," St. Louis was the point of departure for missionaries and Catholic migrants in earlier years. Thus Msgr. Dolan observed that the St. Louis archdiocese is "at the heart of the Church in the United States, in that this diocese gave birth to many other ecclesiastical provinces."

          Finally, Msgr. Dolan pointed out that in his earlier trips to the United States, the Pope has visited cities on the coastlines and borders of the country, rather than penetrating into the center of the United States, where St. Louis is located. In 1979 the Pope's pastoral voyage to America took him to the cities of the East coast: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington-- with just a short swing inland to Chicago. After short visits in remote Alaska in 1981 and 1984, the Pontiff came for another extended tour in 1987, but again his itinerary took him along the outskirts of the country, beginning on the southeastern coast and swinging across the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific coast, with visits to Miami, Columbia, New Orleans, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and San Francisco; again he made one stop in a north- central city, Detroit. In 1993 the Pope visited Denver for World Youth Day, but in 1995 his US voyage again emphasized the East coast, with stops in New York and Baltimore.

          Msgr. Dolan mentioned one other factor that might have affected the Pope's decision to choose St. Louis as his US destination. Archbishop Justin Rigali worked for 20 years in the Roman Curia-- in the Secretariat of State, the Pontifical Ecclesial Academy, and finally the Congregation for Bishops-- before his appointment to head the Archdiocese of St. Louis. During his years in Rome, the archbishop became a close friend of the Pope.

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales. Both CWN and NE are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

January 15-17, 1999       volume 10, no. 10


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