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Pope Francis visit: Junipero Serra is now a saint

On the first day of his American visit, Pope Francis wasted no time delving into difficult issues: clergy sex abuse, immigration and climate change. By the afternoon he had declared Junipero Serra a saint during a Mass before 25,000 people. And in lighter moments, he was welcomed to the White House by thousands of cheering onlookers, posed for a selfie with spectators and took a brief ride on the Ellipse in a popemobile. On Thursday he speaks to Congress.

 

And here are the pipers

Piping for the pope

Juan Leyva, 18, left, and John Siebenmorgen, 21, both of York, Pa., play bagpipes outside the World Meeting of Families at the convention center in downtown Philadelphia.

Siebenmorgen said they were playing to draw attention to a petition by their group, the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.

"We stand up for traditional marriage, for traditional moral family values," he said, and that's their message to the pope in the petition.

"We just want to see him stand up for traditions, hold firm to the teachings of the church."

Piping for the pope in Philly

Politics and the pope

Pope Francis spoke in halting English, sometimes a whisper, pressing his flock to be stewards of the Earth -- a familiar Catholic homily delivered with the bearing of a humble parish priest.

He opened his unprecedented conversation with the United States by shrewdly contrasting the pomp of his grand Washington welcome with a political message conveyed in a pastor's gentle tone: The time has come to preserve the planet.

"Climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to our future generation," Francis told the crowd on the South Lawn of the White House. "When it comes to the care of our common home, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the change needed to bring about a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change."

The opening tableau of his six-day visit to the U.S. showed Francis in all his paradoxical glory -- the church patriarch with the demeanor of a lowly pastor who also possesses an ambitious drive to influence world leaders. Proving his political savvy, Francis' quieter presence was a novelty amid a political climate defined by overheated rhetoric, and it even overshadowed President Obama's lengthier introduction in his now-familiar dramatic oratory.

On Thursday, he speaks to Congress.

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An unexpected invitation

Margie Winters never expected to get invited to the papal reception at the White House.

Winters, 50, became a polarizing figure among Philadelphia Catholics in June after she was fired from her job of eight years as director of religious education at Waldron Mercy Academy in the city's tony Main Line neighborhood. Parents had complained to the principal that Winters was gay and married.

Winters and her wife, Andrea Vettori, were invited to the White House reception welcoming the pontiff to the United States.

"We're going to represent so many others," Winters said before speaking at a panel about religion and sexuality in downtown Philadelphia, then driving to Washington, D.C. "The only way people like me will be protected is if church teaching changes."

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Little Sisters of the Poor

Pope Francis made an unscheduled visit to a group of nuns who have been fighting a federal insurance requirement to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees.

The pope's visit to the Little Sisters of the Poor in Washington was "a sign of support for them" in their legal fight, said Father Federico Lombardi, a papal spokesman, at a televised news conference.

A representative for the nuns could not be reached at their residence in Washington after hours Wednesday.

The nuns' battle stems from an Affordable Care Act mandate for employers to provide contraception to female employees.

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Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

Sit. Stay. Meet the pope.

Pope's clergy sex abuse words don't sit well with victims

Pope Francis attends the midday prayer with more than 300 U.S. bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. (Photo by Jonathan Newton/Pool Photo)  ()

Pope Francis attends Midday Prayer of the Divine with more than 300 U.S. Bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. (Photo by Jonathan Newton-Pool/Getty Images)

When Pope Francis briefly addressed the clergy sex abuse scandal, he appeared to praise church leaders' "courage" in responding to the crisis.

Critics called that a setback for justice and healing.

Speaking to hundreds of U.S. bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in downtown Washington, the pope told them he was "conscious of the courage with which you have faced difficult moments in the recent history of the church in this country without fear of self-criticism and at the cost of mortification and great sacrifice."

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Pope Francis to St. Serra critics: He was a protector, not an oppressor

The signature of Father Junipero Serra from July 1784. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times) ()

The signature of Father Junipero Serra from July 1784. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Pope Francis called Father Junipero Serra a defender of "the dignity of the native community," as he canonized the man some call the apostle of California.

The ceremony to name the 11th American saint and the first canonized on U.S. soil comes nearly 250 years after the Spanish Franciscan friar changed the culture and history of California.

Serra's canonization had not been without controversy. Native Americans said Serra oppressed their people as he established the mission system, and that missionaries sometimes beat natives into submission. Many wondered whether the pontiff would address the criticism.

In a sermon to 25,000 people crowded in and around the ornate Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Francis portrayed Serra as a protector, not an oppressor.

The "mistreatment and wrongs ... today still trouble us, especially because of the hurt which they cause in the lives of many people," Francis said. But Serra sought to protect Native Americans "from those who had mistreated and abused" them, the pope said.

Serra's critics did not organize any protests to the canonization ceremony. Some opponents said there was no use in trying to sway the church or the immensely popular pope at this point.

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Father Serra had a motto which inspired his life and work, a saying he lived his life by: Siempre adelante! Keep moving forward! For him, this was the way to continue experiencing the joy of the Gospel, to keep his heart from growing numb, from being anesthetized.
Pope Francis

Four of the best pope moments

Pope Francis has his photo taken with children whose parents work at the Lithuanian Embassy. (Molly Riley / AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Francis has his phot taken with children whose parents work at the Lithuanian Embassy. (Molly Riley / AFP/Getty Images)

The day is not yet over and a few passages from his speeches and snapshots among the people are making news.

See a few of them.

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Pup Francis

A few pups around the country decided to celebrate the pope's visit in their own way -- by dressing up like him.

It's official! SAINT Junipero Serra

Pope Francis has elevated Junipero Serra, the founder of the first California missions, to sainthood in the first canonization on U.S. soil.

Francis made the declaration before 25,000 people gathered outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

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Serra becomes a saint

Archbishop Gomez waves 'hello' to L.A.

Archbishop Gomez walks with other bishops in the procession for the canonization of Father Junipero Serra. (Courtesy of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles)

Archbishop Gomez walks with other bishops in the procession for the canonization of Father Junipero Serra. (Courtesy of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles)

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East to west, crowds on both coasts are waiting for Serra's canonization

About 25,000 people are gathered at Catholic University to watch Pope Francis canonize Father Junipero Serra during the pontiff's first Mass on U.S. soil.

The popemobile weaved in and out of the large paths set among the audience. Francis took two laps along the main thoroughfare that separated the media risers from the assigned seats, waving as the crowd erupted.

Will pope take on Junipero Serra complaints?

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa in San Luis Obispo was founded in 1772 by Father Junípero Serra. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times) ()

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa in San Luis Obispo was founded in 1772 by Father Junípero Serra. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

When the first pope from Latin America celebrates his first U.S. Mass, he will speak in Spanish and canonize Junipero Serra.

The Mass is meant be a celebration of Latino culture and an acknowledgement of Latinos' growing importance to the Roman Catholic Church.

Serra, after all, was a Spaniard sent to the New World to spread the Gospel. A leader of the Franciscan order, he founded nine of the 21 missions that formed the backbone of Spain's colonizing effort in California.

But his sainthood has been controversial.

Many native American groups have protested Serra's canonization because the Spanish flogged those who disobeyed and captured those who tried to leave the missions, while bringing diseases that devastated the indigenous population. Serra's defenders argue that he must be viewed in the context of his era, the end of the 18th century.

Serra will be the 11th saint with connections to the United States, including those who lived here before the nation's founding.

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Even bishops want pope pics

Pope Francis arrives for the

Pope Francis arrives for the "midday prayer of the divine" with more than 300 U.S. bishops at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington. (European Pressphoto Agency)

One sentence captures it all: Clergy sex abuse, abortion and immigration.

Speaking to hundreds of U.S. bishops at St. Mathew's Cathedral in Washington, Pope Francis delved into one of the church's most difficult issues: the clergy sex-abuse scandal. The pontiff told bishops that they must "work to ensure" that those crimes "will never be repeated."

"I realize how much the pain of recent years has weighed upon you, and I have supported your generous commitment to bring healing to victims -- in the knowledge that in healing we too are healed -- and to work to ensure that such crimes will never be repeated," Francis said.

He also spoke on behalf of immigrants and against abortion and environmental devastation.

One powerful sentence captures it all:

"The innocent victim of abortion, children who die of hunger or from bombings, immigrants who drown in the search for a better tomorrow, the elderly or the sick who are considered a burden, the victims of terrorism, wars, violence and drug trafficking, the environment devastated by man's predatory relationship with nature -- at stake in all of this is the gift of God, of which we are noble stewards but not masters."

Dispatch from L.A. Archbishop José Gomez: What Serra's canonization means to me

Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez, leader of the largest archdiocese in the nation, is serving as a blogger and commentator for the Los Angeles Times, offering personal reflections during a five-day journey with the pontiff.

On Wednesday, Gomez said he was particularly inspired by the pope's "energy and joy."

"To see him smiling and laughing -- it is a sign of hope and inspiration to me," he said.

Click through to read the archbishop's first dispatch to Los Angeles.

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And in New York, preparations at St. Patrick's

Lucia Popian polishes at St. Patrick's Cathedral in preparation for the pope's visit on Thursday. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Lucia Popian polishes at St. Patrick's Cathedral in preparation for the pope's visit on Thursday. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Lucia Popian wants to make sure that St. Patrick's Cathedral will be gleaming when the pope arrives there on Thursday.

On Wednesday morning, she finished polishing the gold and bronze at the famed New York landmark.

"I've done all the front doors, the pulpit and the altar," Popian said. "We love to have him here."

Here's what the pope said at the White House

Alex Wong / Getty Images ()

Alex Wong / Getty Images

Pope Francis opened his conversation with Americans this morning with call to care for the Earth as "our common home."

"It seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation," he said.

The pope insisted that there is still time to make necessary changes for "our children" and "the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them."

This group of people "cries out to heaven," he said, quoting Martin Luther King Jr. in charging that the world has "defaulted on a promissory note."

"Now is the time to honor it," he said.

Click through for a full transcript of his prepared remarks.

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Obama shows the pope how he brushes off questions

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President Obama showed Pope Francis around the Rose Garden on Wednesday, and then showed the pontiff how a president brushes off questions from reporters.

Over the sounds of camera shutters, CBS' Bill Plante asked the two men what would be the most important issue they'd discuss.

With no answer, another reporter asked a question about the Syrian migrant crisis.

Obama said only, "Thank you everybody," and his aides began to usher reporters away from the historic encounter.

The whole interaction with the White House press corps lasted less than a minute.

During their meeting, Obama presented Francis with a sculpture of an ascending dove, an international symbol of peace and the Christian symbol for the Holy Spirit.

The "one-of-a-kind metal sculpture" incorporates an original armature bar from the Statue of Liberty, a White House official said. The pedestal was made with wood reclaimed from the White House lawn.

Obama also gave Francis a key from the Maryland home of Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first native-born American to be declared a saint.

This is meant to celebrate the dedication of both the pope and the saint to "opening doors for the poor, sick and vulnerable," the White House said -- in a prepared statement from an aide, of course.

Francis arrives at St. Matthew's Cathedral

Ready to see the pope in Philadelphia

A group of students from Loyola High School wait at LAX before their departure to Philadelphia. ()

A group of students from Loyola High School wait at LAX before their departure to Philadelphia.

Daniel Annarelli, dean of men at Loyola High School, and Pablo Muñoz (fifth from the top right), co-editor in chief of Loyola's newspaper, are two of our citizen bloggers who are traveling from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. The boys will be there from Sept. 23 to Sept. 28.

Here's their first dispatch from the airport:

"With the Pope's arrival at the White House this morning and the warm welcome address from President Obama, we feel even more confident and inspired to participate in the papal events in Philadelphia with the eyes of our fellow citizens, classmates and friends around the world on us!

So exciting!"

Watch live: Pope visits St. Matthew's

Meet our citizen bloggers for pope's U.S. visit

In addition to the Times staffers who'll be reporting on Pope Francis' landmark visit this week, we have asked a few Angelenos to send us their reports as they witness the events from diverse perspectives.

Among those we will be hearing from: Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, the leader of the nation's largest Catholic archdiocese; Pablo Muñoz, the editor in chief of Loyola High School's newspaper; and Julie Marquez, who is active in two Los Angeles parishes.

Our bloggers have journeyed to Washington, Philadelphia and New York and will offer up-close looks at the scenes of the most widely watched events during Francis' historic visit.

Jersey Vargas

Jersey Vargas meets with Archbishop Jose Gomez in 2014. (Genaro Molina)

Jersey Vargas meets with Archbishop Jose Gomez in 2014. (Genaro Molina)

Jersey Vargas flew from Los Angeles to Rome last year, met Pope Francis and asked him to help her father get released from a U.S. immigration detention facility.

Her encounter with Francis led to her father's release.

Jersey, an 11-year-old from Panorama City, has continued to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform.

Jersey is flying to Washington, New York and Philadelphia with her family and their attorney for the pope's visit. She hopes to personally thank him for what he did for her dad.

Archbishop Jose Gomez

Archbishop Jose Gomez leads the largest archdiocese in the nation. (Eric Gay / Associated Press)

Archbishop Jose Gomez leads the largest archdiocese in the nation. (Eric Gay / Associated Press)

Archbishop Jose Horacio Gomez, 63, leads the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest in the nation.

A champion of immigrants, he became an U.S. citizen in his 40s, having traveled back and forth as a child between the U.S. and Monterrey, Mexico. In 2011, he was installed as archbishop by Pope Benedict XVI.

He is the first Latino to serve as the Archbishop of Los Angeles and is the highest-ranking Latino bishop in the United States.

Daniel Annarelli

Daniel Annarelli of Loyola High School leads a student delegation to Philadephia ()

Daniel Annarelli of Loyola High School leads a student delegation to Philadephia

Daniel Annarelli is the dean of men at the Jesuit-run Loyola High School in Los Angeles.

Annarelli, 36, grew up in Philadelphia and jumped at the chance to lead a group of student pilgrims to see the pope, who is a Jesuit.

Annarelli is a product of an all-Jesuit education: a graduate of St Joseph's High School in Philadelphia, Fordham University and Villanova University.

Leading this group of Loyola High School students is a milestone in his education career, he says.

Pablo Muñoz

Pablo Muñoz is a senior at Loyola High School in Los Angeles. ()

Pablo Muñoz is a senior at Loyola High School in Los Angeles.

A senior at Loyola High School of Los Angeles, Pablo Muñoz is involved in a variety of activities at the Jesuit all-boys prep school, including holding the post of co-editor-in-chief of the student-run newspaper, the Loyalist.

A native Spanish speaker, he participated in a school-sponsored exchange program to Argentina this summer. Pablo, 17, is part of the group of students attending the Festival of Families event in Philadelphia. His bilingual skills are certainly going to come in handy this week, as the pope will be speaking Spanish much of the time.

Rosa Manriquez

Rosa Manriquez, a lector, is travellng to Philadelphia. (Al Sieb / Los Angeles Times)

Rosa Manriquez, lector, is traveling to Philadelphia. (Al Sieb / Los Angeles Times)

Rosa Manriquez, a "cradle Catholic," is a lector at a nearly century-old parish west of downtown Los Angeles. On Sundays she stands before her congregation and reads the Scripture.

Manriquez, 63, traveled to Philadelphia for Pope Francis' Festival of Families gathering with a mission: to show the pontiff and the million people expected there that families like hers are just as blessed as anyone else's.

Both of Manriquez's daughters are lesbian, are married and have children who were baptized in the church. Both, she said, "were loved before they were even imagined."

Julie Marquez

Julie Marquez, active in two Los Angeles parishes, will be in Washington. ()

Julie Marquez, active in two Los Angeles parishes, will be in Washington, D.C.

Julie Marquez, 58, is the mother of two and has worked as banker in downtown Los Angeles for 30 years.

Active in two parishes, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and St. Francis Xavier Church in Pico Rivera, Marquez serves as cathedral associate and Eucharistic minister at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. She also is a lector and Eucharistic minister and finance committee member at St. Francis Xavier.

She will be attending the canonization of Father Junipero Serra in Washington with her husband.

"We are eager to be seeing our pope," she said.

Que viva el papa!

"Que viva el papa!" the crowd chanted as Pope Francis began his mini-parade at the National Mall.

Waving flags from countries all over the globe — the U.S., Argentina and the Vatican — revelers were in good spirits, despite the long lines and security checkpoints.

Earlier this morning, they sang along to the national anthem blaring from the White House speakers.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Nick Fontana of Washington, who came with his wife, Wanda, and daughter Virginia, a 7-year-old Catholic school student who was allowed to miss class today.

Peru native Mimaribel Guillen, 50, who came with her friend Max Rodriguez, 51, of Mexico, held American and papal flags and said having a pope from Latin America who speaks Spanish is special.

"He is going to think more about our problems," she said, mentioning war. "He cannot do everything, but maybe he can make a little change."

Should Pope Francis get a Nobel Peace Prize?

Pope Francis has supporters and detractors on Capitol Hill, but one lawmaker, California Rep. Adam Schiff, wants colleagues to help nominate the pontiff for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Burbank-area Democrat has drafted a letter to the Nobel committee, which he began circulating to his colleagues.

"Pope Francis is an articulate and effective voice for fundamental human rights and is highly deserving of recognition by the Nobel Committee," the letter says.

It goes on to say that Francis "has been a powerful advocate for peace, urging an end to conflict and support for constitutive ties among nations."

Schiff is the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and a party leader on international and national security matters.

Pope Francis, Obama in Oval Office

Pope Francis and  President Barack Obama talk in the Oval Office during the arrival ceremony at the White House.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)   ()

Pope Francis and President Barack Obama talk in the Oval Office during the arrival ceremony at the White House. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Obama paraphrases the Bible

President Obama and Pope Francis walk to a meeting in the Oval Office. (Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images)

President Obama and Pope Francis walk to a meeting in the Oval Office. (Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images)

President Obama turned to the Bible as he welcomed Pope Francis to the United States during a sun-splashed ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House.

"Good morning! What a beautiful day the Lord has made," Obama said.

The greeting was a paraphrase of lines from Psalm 118: "This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."

You can read Psalm 118 here.

Prepping for midday prayer

Pope Francis will hold midday prayer with about 300 U.S. bishops at St. Matthew's Cathedral, the seat of Washington's archbishop.

The cathedral is named after St. Matthew the Apostle, the patron saint of civil servants.

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White House lawn shout-out:

As Obama and Francis turned to walk into the White House, a man's voice cried out loudly over the rest of the crowd, "We love you, Pope Francis!"

Pope Francis defies political labels

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In tenor and tone, Francis subtly pushed back against efforts to place him in a liberal or conservative category of American politics in his first address to the nation.

During a speech in English at the White house, he said that the church is committed to building a society that is "truly tolerant and inclusive" and to reject every form of unjust discrimination -- phrases with resonance for the political left in the U.S.

He gently raised the issue of immigration right from the start, introducing himself as "the son of an immigrant family" and as a "guest of this country, which was largely built by such families."

Francis also alluded to his support for traditional marriage as between a man and a woman, saying he will travel to Philadelphia to "support the institutions of marriage and the family at this, a critical moment in the history of our civilization."

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I would like all men and women of good will in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world.
Pope Francis

It seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation.
Pope Francis

A country built by immigrants

As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families.
Pope Francis

A nod to religious freedom

You remind us that people are only truly free when they can practice their faith freely.
President Obama

Obama on 'the imperative of peace'

You remind us of the costs of war, particularly on the powerless and defenseless and urge us toward the imperative of peace.
President Obama

'The least of these'

You call on all of us, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, to put the 'least of these' at the center of our concern.
President Obama

I believe the excitement around your visit must be attributed not only to your role as pope, but to your unique qualities.
President Obama

Two views from the White House

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Our backyard is not typically this crowded.
President Obama

Earlier: Selfie time

Spotted: Angelenos on the South Lawn

Some people on the South Lawn flew in just for the chance to see the pope.

Erica Jacquez, a former Obama appointee who traveled from Los Angeles, brought a purse full of rosaries and other religious items to bring back to her four godchildren, family and friends.

"I love everything he stands for," she said. "It's the only time I'm actually OK with church and state coming together. But I love this president and I love this pope."

She added: "The fact that he's bringing everyone together, that he's bringing it back to Jesus' teachings of community, of service, of humility -- that he's bringing back to the basic 'love one another' -- that's something that we definitely need to bring back."

Crowds awaiting Pope Francis' arrival

 (AFP / Getty)

(AFP / Getty)

At President Obama's invitation, more than 15,000 people gathered on the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday morning for the formal state arrival ceremony for Pope Francis.

As the crowd eagerly awaited the pope's arrival, hundreds more greeted the pontiff shortly before 9 a.m. as he emerged from the Vatican embassy in northwest Washington to make his way to the White House.

Under a bright blue sky, Francis waded out into a crowd waving yellow flags, reaching over a row of small gates to shake hands, embrace and speak with dozens of people.

The White House has long anticipated the visit of a pope that officials say has many common values with this president, even as they insist there is no political design to Wednesday's pageantry.

After the South Lawn welcome, Obama and Francis will sit down for an extended bilateral meeting in the Oval Office.

Watch live: White House welcome ceremony

A presidential good morning

Pope's schedule: Meet Obama, canonize Serra

All times are Pacific

6:15 a.m: Welcome ceremony at the White House

President Obama will formally welcome Pope Francis to the United States during an elaborate ceremony at the South Lawn of the White House, where approximately 15,000 invited guests will witness the event. Francis will receive a 21-gun-salute, and both he and Obama will speak. The two leaders, who first met in 2014, will then have a private meeting.

About 8 a.m.: Mini-parade

Francis will board a popemobile and parade around part of the National Mall, where throngs of spectators have gathered.

8:30 a.m. Midday prayers with U.S. bishops.

The pope will speak to the bishops at St. Matthew's Cathedral, the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.

1:15 p.m.: Mass of canonization of Junipero Serra

Francis will celebrate an outdoor Mass on the East Portico of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Roman Catholic church in the United States. During the Mass, he will canonize Serra, an 18th century Franciscan who founded nine missions in California.

People and security line the route for Pope Francis' parade in Washington on Sept. 23. (Alex Brandon / Associated Press) ()

People and security line the route for Pope Francis' parade in Washington on Sept. 23. (Alex Brandon / Associated Press)


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