A Papal Shout-Out

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From an address by Pope Francis to a joint session of Congress on September 24. The pope honored the memory of four Americans, including the Catholic essayist and poet Thomas Merton ’38CC, ’39GSAS.

A century ago, at the beginning of the Great War, which Pope Benedict XV termed a “pointless slaughter,” another notable American was born: the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton. He remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people.

In his autobiography he wrote: “I came into the world. Free by nature, in the image of God, I was nevertheless the prisoner of my own violence and my own selfishness, in the image of the world into which I was born. That world was the picture of Hell, full of men like myself, loving God, and yet hating him; born to love him, living instead in fear of hopeless self-contradictory hungers.”

Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church. He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions.

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