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11-PATRIARCH-KISSES-POPE

Pope Francis’ humble steps and our time this Advent

This week’s editorial

Pope Francis’ visit to Turkey has been widely reported with the emphasis on what he said about Christian unity, the middle east and interfaith relations with the Islamic world. Yet the Pope did not arrive like a conqueror, a returning hero or, in fact, a dignitary.

Without question, his time in the country last weekend involved his hosts offering their best hospitality and displays of respect and honour befitting his office. It was the pontiff himself, however, who showed, in the style we have become accustomed too, great humility—from receiving the fatherly kiss bestowed on his head by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople on Saturday to visiting Mesrob Mutafyan, the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, in Istanbul Hospital on Sunday, not forgetting, of course, the moment the Pope stood in ‘silent adoration’ in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque alongside the Grand Mufti of Istanbul, Rahmi Yaran, who said a Muslim prayer.

From lay Catholics to refugees, the Papal itinerary to Turkey showed Pope Frances to be as much a man of the people and of his times as a man of God.

 

Some people’s Christmas card lists get longer every year, others get shorter. Recent readings about not knowing the hour of Christ’s coming have a different meaning to each of these groups. For the first—young people and families— there is never seems to be enough time to prepare and plan ahead for Christmas and in life in general.

For the second category, often older, retired people, there can be too much time to reflect and think at this time of year. A third group also springs to mind this week in light of the Clutha Vaults one-year memorial service at which Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow gave the homily.

This third group contains those whose lives have been cut tragically short in the helicopter crash; others like them and those who mourn. Whether you have too little or too much time on your hands this Advent in the run up to Christmas, there is to be a lesson learned about cherishing every minute and everyone who has come into your life.

As the infant Jesus brings joy to the world, spare a thought for those in mourning and for those who find Christmas a hard or a bitter-sweet period. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers or even add them to your card or party list.

 

 

 

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