To me, Pope Francis is a great man. He is humble, concerns himself with the poor and disadvantaged members of society, and preaches the gospel. I'm not going to classify him in a league table of good popes, trip-advisor style, but I will say this: I was present in Rome when he was elected by the cardinals in conclave after only a few hours deliberation. That tells us something about the appeal of the man. Then, I was in Assisi on the feast of St Francis, when the pope arrived by helicopter at 7.30 in the morning. His first appointment was to meet people with disabilities. He was then on the go until 8 pm without break, finally talking to 6,000 young people. He told them that marriage was for life, not to be abandoned after a few years for a change of lifestyle. Two weeks ago, after a tough day at the Family Synod in Rome, Pope Francis went straightaway to a centre for homeless men that he had helped to set up near to St Peter's. He spent nearly two hours there, talking to each of the men in turn. The pope has inspired me to reread the Gospel of St Mark. Why don't you do the same? I am preparing a Holy Land visit for groups based on St Mark's Gospel.
In 2017, I will be celebrating the 40th year of Pax Travel. It seems an era since I set up in a small office in Noel Street, London, all those years ago. Most of my present staff were not even born then! But my young team, have designed and produced our 2016 brochure, which is simply our best so far!
We are highlighting the Year of Mercy, which has been announced by Pope Francis. I commend our brochure, Journeys of Faith, to you. Why not join one of our pilgrimages, whether to Rome, the Holy Land, or even to Ethiopia to celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of Christ in January 2017. You will be very welcome to join us, whichever journey you choose.
Photo by: Prasanna Welangoda (edit: contrast increased)