20 years ago, I got to see Pope John Paul in his Popemobile when he visited my then-home of Baltimore, MD. I didn't have a camera to document this. A lot has changed since his US visit in October 1995. Less than 10 years later, Pope John Paul II died. About 2 months after that visit, my father (who by that time was my last living ancestor) died. Less than a year later, I nearly got killed by my neighbors in Baltimore and had to move- and ended up in New York.
In 2015, I had to move back to the New York area after a disastrous 7 months in my hometown of Colorado Springs. I spent 2 months at a Catholic shelter in Jersey City before moving back to Rockaway. Since then, I got hired for what is probably the highest paying job of my life. I finally got to visit Ireland 27 years after I found out I had ancestry there (although I never got to meet any Clarke relatives). And earlier this evening (while at work), I finally got to see the current Pope.
Pope Francis has had a lot to say on the environment, the poor, sin, forgiveness, and prayer. Indeed, numerous times today, he asked people (many of whom aren't Catholic) to pray for him. A lot of people seem to have forgotten that one of the key missions of the Church is to help the poor. Here in New York, the Church is at the forefront of helping the needy. In other dioceses, the Church doesn't have enough resources to help the poor. In my hometown, Catholic Charities runs Marian House which feeds the poor and homeless and provides health services and many other resources except shelter. There is not enough shelter services in that town (especially for women, families, and men who are not substance abusers or veterans), and the so-called religious institution that runs the only all-purpose (200 bed) shelter in town is at best using the shelter as a way to extort money from the taxpayers of Colorado Springs. Austin is in even more dire shape, with about 500 shelter beds between 2 shelters and a homeless population between 3000-5000. And in Syria, the homeless population is in the millions and migrating towards Turkey and Europe due to a civil war primarily between the Baath Butchers of the Assad regime and the barbaric terrorists of the so-called Islamic State.
If Pope Francis and the Church can actually come up with concrete solutions to the environmental, social, and homeless/refugee problems that plague this planet, then they need all the prayers they can get. But I do trust the Church a lot more than I trust the Syrian, Russian, Turkish, or American governments at this point. Besides, if the Hildabeest, the Socialist, or Trump win the Presidency next year, I don't see any point of staying in the United States. Too many on the American left and the right fail to see how their policies hurt the poor and harm society.