US Tour; first day

Last evening I had my first official engagement of my US tour.  I am beginning here in Washington. A group of about a dozen representatives of various different reform groups gathered at the house where I am staying, and we had a long discussion on the Church, the tour, and the sort of issues that are likely to surface here in the States.  The immediate thing that strikes me as different from Ireland is the sheer size of the country. Compared to how relatively easy it was for the ACP in Ireland to make an impact, over here it is much more difficult for these movements.

Also, it is clear that the bishops in this country, with some exceptions, are strongly traditional, and much more public in their positions than our Irish ones.

As far as I can see I will not be speaking in any Catholic venue over the next month. That gives me a strange, and uncomfortable, feeling. By and large I will be in churches or halls of other Christian Churches. It is such a contrast to what Pope Francis is trying to do, in bringing openness and free discussion into the Church.

I’m sure it will all be a great experience.  Today my engagements are mostly with the media. In the morning I have a press conference at the Press Club here in Washington, and I am being hosted for lunch.  In the afternoon I do some interviews, and later meet with a group of priests.

My first public speaking event is tomorrow evening.

I have just read the piece in today’s Irish Independent. One would wish that they might occasionally resist the urge to make sensational headlines.  Of course the Vatican will be monitoring what I am doing here.  We have all got used to that over the past thirty years or so; it is part of the way they operate.  Hopefully Francis might eventually be able to put an end to that nonsense.