Three times each year, myFaith reporters have a chance to speak with Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki about anything young adults want to know – send a question to be asked anonymously in the next issue to firstname.lastname@example.org. The archbishop recently sat down to talk with myFaith staff reporter Maryangela Layman Román, who shares his responses, edited by myFaith Staff, below.
You’ve recently returned from World Youth Day 2016, one of several WYDs you’ve attended. How was this one special or different from the others and what are your thoughts on the media coverage it received?
The tremendous hospitality of the Poles. I think among all the bishops, they would give the Poles an A+ on hospitality. They were so friendly. You can imagine if you brought 250,000 young people into Milwaukee, they invaded literally, the city, clogged up all of the public transportations, the roadways and the stores, and everything, you’d think that the citizens would be angry. The Poles were wonderful.
They were so helpful to the kids, if they needed water, if they needed a place for shelter, for food, to use the bathrooms. These were kids who were not going into the high priced hotels. They were sleeping, literally, outside; they were living in tents.
There was that tremendous warm spirit of hospitality, like greeting family.
During World Youth Day, other bishops and I had the opportunity to be on the platform with the pope and to look out and to see a sea of 2.5 million young Catholics, as far as the eye could see. Modern society will preach that God is dead, that organized religion makes no sense, yet here are 189 countries of the world, their young people who have gathered together just because Jesus makes sense and the Catholic Church makes sense and they want to live what the church teaches. It’s inspiring.
They say on a pilgrimage, unless at the end of a pilgrimage, if you are not tired and dirty, you haven’t been on a pilgrimage. The young people just embraced that. Not that they want to be tired and dirty, but they embraced the fact of being challenged, they love being challenged.
Regarding a lack of media coverage, this is nothing new. I’ve said this before: the secular press ignores the impact of religion on the society. There is little doubt in my mind that this is true.
Having been on the March for Life, half a million to three quarters of a million of young people march for life, and the major news broadcasting networks ignore that.
Bring 2,000 people in the city of Milwaukee anyplace and you’ll have all the news agencies covering the story, half a million to three quarters of a million and they get ignored?
It tells you something about our society and about what we present to the rest of the community. It doesn’t surprise me that World Youth Day was ignored – that’s the best way to put it – but the great thing about the young people is they’ve said we don’t need the national broadcasting agencies, we’ve got Twitter, we’ve got blogs, we’ve got Facebook and we will get the story out.
We will share it with one another and we will get the story out. The great sense of the commitment of the young to live out what they are professing is tremendously inspiring.
Pokémon Go is a recent craze. What is a trend or fad that you’ve been caught up in and/or participated in?
I’ve never been much for fads, but I’ve lived through the Pet Rock period of time. I kind of smile more at the fads. The Pokémon phenomenon seems to help people connect to something that was a part of their past, and now brought through technology to their present so they can basically relive it again.
I look to my own life and I’ve always been involved in religion and churchy things or things involving basically the humanity side of our community. So my time to get involved with those things was very minimal.
Please share a lesson that you’ve been taught by a millennial or millennials in general?
I don’t know if it would be a lesson, but certainly something I admire in millennials is their ability to use modern communication. They almost have it as an extension of themselves. Take a look at millennials and look at the number of people they friend on Facebook or the ability to quickly Tweet, and to use those means of communication to stay in contact with others.
I appreciate and love being in contact with people who have influenced my life and I see in millennials a way they use technology to reach out and to maintain contacts even after people have moved or cease to be in their immediate purview.
I do worry about the constant use of technology because it takes us away from the personal relationships. In communication, always the greatest communication is – and I’ll give you the Italian term, “faccia a faccia,” face to face. It’s because it’s the truest form of communication in the sense I’m able to read the whole person. I don’t have the ability to do a reset. I don’t think we can ever lose that intimacy of the face to face.
We’re approaching a presidential election year like no other in the United States. What advice can you offer Catholic voters as they approach the voting booth this fall – considering that polls show both of the major candidates tend to have highly unfavorable ratings?
One of the things I like to say is I’m not a Democrat, I’m not Republican, I’m Catholic.
My advice to people who read the Herald, my advice to people who are reading my words, is be Catholic.
Take a look at what the church teaches and how the church teaches and take a look at whether society reflects that. Understand the importance of all the social issues, especially connected to life.
Once you take a look at that, study the candidates, study the documents put out by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Wisconsin Catholic Conference and in conscience make a good decision.
If you are doing it from conscience, you have at least made a sincere effort to study and maybe the last thing, “Pray for the United States.”
There’s high unfavorability of both of the candidates, but no candidate in any recent history is the perfect candidate. Hopefully, the office shapes the person.
Who will have the better season – Bears or Packers? Why?
That one is very easy in a purely football, analytical manner, apart from the heart, it’s very obvious to me that the Packers have the better roster, so they should do well basically this coming year. The Bears very much are in a rebuilding mode, especially their running game will be suspect.