|St. Patrick's in the Irish Settlement (Diocese of Des Moines photo)|
|Des Moines Register|
Tomorrow is the 36th anniversary of that visit, when Iowans saw a lot of things not thought possible before --- the Pope alighting from a helicopter in a farm field southwest of Des Moines, prayer with some 200 parishioners packed into tiny St. Patrick's Church in the rural "Irish Settlement" near Cumming, then Mass before an estimated 350,000 people at Living History Farms.
Somewhere around here, I've got a program printed for the Living History Farms Mass --- brought back by a friend who braved the crowds to be there herself.
Life was simpler then, or so it sometimes seems, and a major reason for the papal visit to Iowa involved Madison County farmer Joe Hayes, who got out some stationery, an ink-pen and wrote a letter to the Pope inviting him to drop by and talk about stewardship --- which John Paul II did.
I'm thinking Pope Francis probably would have been better off had he boarded a plane in Rome last week and headed for Des Moines --- instead of Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. I'm guessing he wouldn't have run into Kim Davis at Living History Farms.
How about that Davis business? She's the fundamentalist protestant Kentucky county clerk who has turned herself into a princess or pariah, depending upon outlook, by refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Somehow, she ended up getting a "secret audience" with Francis at the Vatican embassy in Washington, D.C. And that seemed to be all anyone could talk about after her lawyers leaked news of the handshake after the Pope was back in Rome resting his feet. The uproar that followed, including the news that the only "real" audience Francis had granted in D.C. involved a gay friend and his partner, kind of scuttled what apparently had been an informal attempt to canonize Mrs. Davis.
Personally, I think the old boy was snookered, most likely by members of the Brocade Brigade --- old queens accustomed to ruling Vatican City who look back fondly to Benedict and resent this apparently kinder, gentler and less ornate occupant of the chair of St. Peter.
But I could be wrong --- maybe just naive. It just seems like an uncharacteristic thing for a guy who has consciously turned down the volume on hot-button issues --- without actually changing anything --- to do.
This also was the week I "unfriended" a guy on Facebook --- something I've never done before, mostly because it seems rude, but also because I'm generally interested in what folks have to share, no matter how wacky I may think it is.
So I have Islamaphobes, homophobes, Obamaphobes and kaleophobes among my "friends."
But here's the deal --- the first time you post something that ends up in my news feed suggesting that anyone should be killed to further your phobias --- you're out of here.