Like many Catholics across Northern Ohio, Bishop Richard Lennon is excited for Pope Francis' visit to America.
He'll be in Washington, D.C. for the pontiff's first leg of his U.S. trip. Lennon will join bishops from across the country to celebrate mass with Francis.
"We will spend time with him Wednesday. We will have morning prayer, then he'll go visit children, I think. Then in the afternoon we'll be with him at the Basilica (of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception) for the mass of canonization of Junipero Serra," Lennon told newsnet5.com's Chris Flanagan during a one-on-one interview at the St. John Cathedral Rectory.
Bishop Lennon told Flanagan the Pope is resonating with catholics, and non-catholics, because people identify with him and that he understands the challenges and burdens that many face today. "And yet our Holy Father is someone who comes with hope and mercy and I know he'll talk about both of them. So he's not going to leave that off the table because its what people need to hear," Lennon said.
Pope Francis has been vocal about several social issues. He recently announced priests will be authorized to forgive the "sin of abortion" when the church begins a "Year of Mercy" in December. The Pontiff also radically revised the process by which catholics may annul their marriages by streamlining steps that many in the church considered too cumbersome and clumsy.
"He's saying, look, if we can simplify this we can help the process which then allows one to get on with one's life," Lennon said.
If Bishop Lennon gets the Pope's ear in Washington, he said his message to Francis will be a simple one about the nearly 800,000 catholics in Northern Ohio.
"I would love for him to know the great love the people in Cleveland have for those who are in need. Catholic Charities in our diocese is extraordinary what they do for people," Lennon added.
Bishop Lennon also said he would tell the Pope about catholic education in Cleveland and its deep-seeded legacy.
Lennon will return from Washington, D.C. on Thursday.
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