James Martin is a Jesuit priest, editor at large at America magazine and author of “The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything.” He is at work on a book about Jesus. Follow him on Twitter: @JamesMartinSJ
I found it amusing that the biggest news from World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro was not that Pope Francis attracted 3.7 million people to his Sunday Mass on Copacabana Beach (inevitably nicknamed “Popacabana” for the week). Nor was it the pope’s dramatic speech before an enthusiastic crowd in Rio’s Varginha slum, where he affirmed the Catholic Church’s stance on combating poverty, deploying terms like “social justice,” “economic inequalities” and “solidarity.” Nor was it even when his motorcade took a wrong turn and ended up on a crowded street, with the papal car suddenly swamped by well-wishers.
No, the worldwide headline-grabber was the pope’s off-the-cuff comment during what one reporter friend told me was an “insane” (in the best possible way) news conference on the flight back to Rome. Despite some turbulence, Pope Francis expertly fielded questions for 82 minutes. And in response to a question about a supposed “gay lobby” in the church, he answered: