Whirlwind of a pope takes up grandparents, kids, Milan and Haiti

Whirlwind of a pope takes up grandparents, kids, Milan and Haiti

Whirlwind of a pope takes up grandparents, kids, Milan and Haiti

Pope Francis holds a baby as he meets an association of elderly workers during an audience he held in the Pope Paul VI hall, at the Vatican, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016. (Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini.)

Pope Francis is always a whirlwind of activity and the last 48 hours have been no exception, with the pope meeting with elders and discussing the role of grandparents, confirming a day trip to Milan, and contributing to disaster relief in Haiti.

ROME — Pope Francis is legendarily a whirlwind of activity, which means often one development hasn’t had a chance to sink in before the next three erupt.

In the spirit of trying to at least keep up, however, here’s a short rundown of papal activity over the last 48 hours, which ranges from donating money for aid relief in Haiti to advocating inter-generational quality time.

Grandparents, hang out with your grandchildren!

On Saturday, Pope Francis met with an estimated 7,000 grandparents and thousands of members of the National Association of Older Workers and the Federation of Seniors Italy as part of Italy’s Celebration of Grandparents.

“Talk to your grandchildren, talk. Let them ask you questions,” Francis told them. “They are different from us, do different things, enjoy different music … but they need the elderly, of this continuous dialogue.”

This dialogue, the pope said, gives young people wisdom.

“You are an important presence, because your experience is a precious treasure, essential to looking to the future with hope and responsibility,” he said.

During the audience, the pontiff, who’s spoken about the elderly many times and even joked about his own age, 79 — recently calling a woman “elderly,” and, upon being told she was 80, saying that’s “not that old” — praised the elderly for what they do for the Church.

Many of them, he said, are catechists, they help during the liturgy by “decorating the house of the Lord,” and being witnesses of charity.

“And what about their role in the family?” he said. “How many grandparents care for grandchildren, simply by transmitting to children the experience of life, the spiritual and cultural values of a community and a people!”

Meeting with the Argentine president, and the girl who stole the show

Francis himself had some one-on-one time with a child on Saturday, when he met with Mauricio Macri, president of his home country.

At the express request of the pope, Macri traveled to Rome with his whole family, which includes his wife Juliana Awada and their daughter Antonia. Both of them have a children from previous relationships, some of whom were also at hand.

According to Argentine newspapers, after the meeting Macri gave a short press conference, where he said Antonia had asked Francis three questions: what he eats, what he wears when he sleeps, and about his own parents, all of which the pontiff reportedly found to be hilarious.

Answering the questions, Francis said he does in fact have parents, but that they are already in heaven. On going to bed with his white cassock the pope said no, he uses PJs, and that as pope he eats the same food she does.

Macri is currently in Rome to participate in Sunday’s canonization of Father Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero, the first saint who was born and died in Argentina. Although his sainthood cause arrived at the Vatican several years before Francis, the pope did a lot to hurry the process along, declaring him blessed only two years ago.

Future papal day trip

On Saturday, the Vatican announced that Francis’s postponed visit to Milan — which was supposed to happen earlier this year, but was cancelled due to the Jubilee of Mercy — will now occur on March 25, 2017.

“This visit of the Holy Father is a sign of affection and esteem for the Ambrosian Church, the city of Milan and the whole of Lombardy,” Milan’s Archbishop, Cardinal Angelo Scola, said in a statement.

St. Ambrose, a famed 4th century Bishop of Milan, is considered the founder of the Catholic tradition in Milan.

“We want to express to the pope our gratitude because he will come to confirm us in the faith. We live from now on waiting for the pope in prayer, in preparation for this great gift,” Cardinal Scola said.

When the Milan trip was cancelled earlier in the year, the Vatican had said no trips inside Italy would be taking place during the Holy Year of Mercy.

However, because of mostly unforeseen circumstances, the pope made several in the last months, including a visit to Assisi to participate in an interreligious day of prayer and to the central Italy region devastated by an earthquake late August.

Papal donation for Haiti

On Friday, the Vatican announced Pope Francis was sending an initial donation of $100,000 to hurricane-stricken Haiti to be distributed through the hardest-hit dioceses to assist flood victims.

The first round of funding was meant to be a “concrete expression of Pope Francis’s feelings of spiritual closeness and fatherly support for the people and places” that have been affected, a Vatican statement said.

The money is being sent through the Vatican’s Pontifical Council Cor Unum, which oversees the Church’s charitable agencies, including Caritas Haiti, part of the umbrella organization Caritas Internationalis.

An estimated 1.2 million people in Haiti have been affected by Hurricane Matthew in the country’s southwest region. As of October 9, five days after the storm’s 145-mile-an-hour winds and torrential rains slammed into the country, the death toll had reached 1,000.

 

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