Catching Up With the Pope

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

On Tuesday, Pope Francis will land on American soil. (NB to all those who are clearing their throats and starting to say, in their best announcer voices, “Shepherd One is preparing to land”: John Allen Jr. over at Crux points out that the plane isn’t actually called that.) A lot has already happened on this trip, which started on Saturday in Cuba—if you’re looking to catch up, here’s what we’ve covered so far.

Last week, Jason Berry had a piece on how the Roman Catholic Church survived in Cuba, even through years of communism. Miriam Celaya pushed back on all the hype: “Many Cubans recognize that Francis’s visit will not make a difference in their daily lives and problems,” she wrote on Saturday. She’s not the only one to protest Francis’s visit; on Sunday, at least three people were arrested during the pope’s mass in the Plaza de la Revolución. And speaking of dissidents, the pope met with Fidel Castro, who gave hope to track-suit-wearers around the globe:

Adidas, the official brand of communists (Alex Castro / AP)

Francis has also spoken out on a number of issues, political and theological, during this trip. He made a plea for peace in Colombia, dangling the possibility of a visit in exchange for an agreement between the government and the FARC. He spoke about the role of women religious in the Church, and he helpfully encouraged Millennials, “Don’t be wimpy.”

As we look ahead to the papal invasion, check out my colleague Priscilla Alvarez's great piece on Pope Francis and Hispanic American Catholics. Also, we made a sketch of what the pope will have to brave before making it to the rostrum when he talks to Congress on Thursday; you’re welcome. More tomorrow.