by Father Mark Goldasich
Why doesn’t Pope Francis wear those red shoes?
This question puzzled some people after he was first elected. The answer is actually quite simple. In fact, I have it displayed on the inside door of my office at The Leaven. It’s explained in a three-panel cartoon, called “Francis,” by Patrick J. Marrin.
Panel one shows one of Pope Francis’ staff offering him the red shoes. Panel two shows the pope wearing the shoes under his cassock. Panel three shows Pope Francis, after clicking the heels of said shoes, standing with a surprised look on his face
in front of a sign that says: Welcome to Kansas.
Now, we all know that if Pope Francis ever set foot here in the Sunflower State, he’d never want to leave. So, rather than risk that happening, I’m guessing the pope’s staff has hidden those red shoes from him!
Personally, I wish that they’d let him have those shoes and that he’d click those heels. To be honest, it’s disappointing that the pope won’t be visiting us in the Heartland in his upcoming trip to the United States this September. Like many foreign visitors to our country, he’ll only get to see the East Coast cities of Philadelphia, New York and Washington. While I’m sure there are nice folks there, they can’t hope to compete with the Heartland when it comes to faith, friendliness, hospitality . . . and barbecue.
All is not lost, however. There’s still a way to get Pope Francis here, courtesy of Catholic Extension. In case you’re not familiar with it, Catholic Extension is a “papal society that makes visible the power of faith in America’s most marginalized communities by strategically investing in people, infrastructure and ministries.” Founded in 1905, Catholic Extension “has distributed more than $1.2 billion to provide funding and resources to diocese and parishes that cannot support themselves.”
While all of that is well and good, you’re probably wondering how all of that ties into Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to the States. Well, Catholic Extension started a social media campaign right before Holy Week. I’ll let Father Jack Wall, its president, elaborate:
“We’re thrilled to launch this campaign to welcome the Holy Father to the U.S. and show him not only the face of American Catholicism but also the excitement surrounding our faith. We hope people will participate as a way to share their enthusiasm for our pope while, at the same time, spread awareness about the mission of Catholic Extension, which works to build up the Catholic faith in the poorest communities of the U.S. — something that Pope Francis has called all of us to do.”
So, what is the campaign exactly? Take it from me, it’s a lot of fun. It’s called #FlatFrancis and is simple to do. Extension is encouraging people to take a photo with Flat Francis; there’s a downloadable PDF at: FlatFrancis. org. Cut out the image of the pope, glue some cardboard to the back and start taking pictures with him. Finally, post those photos to #FlatFrancis. If you’re not on social media, email your photos to: socialmedia@ catholicextension.org.
According to the Extension website, by the end of April, more than 500 photos from 43 states were received from bishops, priests, religious, deacons and kids in Catholic schools. Flat Francis has been taken on service trips, retreats, field trips and family vacations. He’s also been a part of numerous Catholic celebrations.
Let’s flood that Catholic Extension site with so many Flat Francis photos from Kansans that he might consider squeezing in a visit here someday. And while you’re sending in those photos to Extension, send a copy to The Leaven at: todd. email@example.com. We’ll round them up throughout the summer and put some in the paper prior to the pope’s U.S. trip.
Oh, by the way, if you don’t have access to the Internet, I’ll be happy to send you your very own Francis . . . for a “flat” fee, of course!