It's simply impossible to outpace or out do this Pope.
He lives in a simple room in a guest house beside the Vatican, eschewing the grandeur of the formal quarters. He instructed the Vatican to house, in the same building as himself, a Syrian refugee family.
He fired a bishop for spending $43 million on a mansion, and created a tribunal to judge bishops who covered up abuse of children. He washed the feet of women when traditionally only men received this rite. He cradled and kissed a man horribly disfigured from a rare disorder, fearless of his illness.
He brought in outsiders, the Big Four international accounting firms, to clean up the scandal-wracked, too often corrupt finances of the Vatican Bank. He revolutionized attitudes toward gays by saying, "Who am I to judge?"
Pope Francis updated century-old church rules for annulling marriages, making them easier, and less expensive. And we haven't even gotten to his effect on worldwide issues like cherishing the environment, advocating ethical capitalism, and facilitating a diplomatic breakthrough between the U.S. and Cuba.
It's clear to billions around the world that the Pope believes that, here on Earth, justice must be done for those who labor for low wages. The overwhelming majority of Earth's peoples are struggling merely to put food on the table, to clothe and house themselves, while the bulk of the world's money, thanks to government policies, gravitate to a small, super-wealthy elite.
At its best, the Catholic Church in the United States has been a haven for working-class immigrants, "the stranger in your midst" and "the least among you." Now, it's also an advocate for the vast army of men and women who labor for a living, willing to honor the dignity and worth of their labor.
All this activity has brought -- no surprise -- critics to the forefront. Brian Kilmeade, Fox network commentator, told Bill O'Reilly, "Yeah, I'm Catholic and (Pope Francis) could stay home. Some of his comments just have no place. He's in the wrong country."
I venture to guess that most are not tired of this Pope and his spiritual guidance. I welcome Pope Francis, confident that America will be inspired by his address to Congress. (Congress! Is there any group more in need of wisdom?)
Like Pope Francis, we believe that "inequality is the root of social evil." Built on the proposition that "All men are created equal," Americans do best when we provide for the common good, when no one is excluded or left behind. Any "economy of exclusion" is out-of-step with who we are as people of faith. We believe in strong communities that promote inclusiveness, equality and justice.
We believe in communities where we look out for each other -- because we are all part of the same family, regardless of our differences. It's been decades since we addressed the needs of our nation's poor. We need to ensure that we remember our obligation to them.
We must create a nation where the middle class has a fair chance; where working men and women are treated justly and equally; where we understand the importance of environmental stewardship; and where children and families -- all Americans -- have access to quality health care; where every immigrant is treated with dignity.
At the heart of our values is the belief that "whatever you did for the least of these ... you did for me." We're working to ensure that our society reflects these values. That is why I join millions of Americans, with open minds and joy-filled hearts, in welcoming Pope Francis
We need Pope Francis and his message. We are beset with a presidential campaign that is, to paraphrase Joe Biden, "sick." It's tearing down everyone who disagrees, belittles every public servant, justifies and glorifies crude speech, and portrays our federal system as never, ever, able to do anything right, a system that countless Americans died on the battlefield to preserve.
When this spring arrived I was filled, as always, with hope. I love getting out into my garden, which is mine to shape. I love working the earth or planting seeds; pulling weeds, or digging holes for baby plants that hold a future of blooms and blossoms invigorates me. It simultaneously humbles and elevates me. Spring is a season of Hope Reborn.
I love fall as well, which is arriving along with Pope Francis' visit. When fall comes, there's an anticipation of change -- turning leaves and cooling days, crunching leaves and gathering flocks.
Fall is the season of change. We don't need to fear it. Change is an essential part of realizing hope. That is why I'm so relieved, to be relieved, however briefly, of a bitter, divisive campaign, and listen to a man of God, with a message of hope and change.