The Massive Event in Washington This Weekend That You Probably Didn’t Know Pope Francis Had Invited You To

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 2.07.40 PMNews about Together 2016 has been circulating in Evangelical circles for some time, but got a bit of play in Catholic media (a VERY little bit of play, that is) when it was announced a few weeks back that Pope Francis would be addressing the event.  He won’t be there, of course; he’s only recorded a video invitation.  More on that in a moment.

July 16, 2016 has been reserved at the National Mall in Washington, DC for  a large ecumenical party, the aim of which is to invite all Christians of good will to push the “reset button” and put Jesus at the center of our mission ahead of politics, personalities, and anything else that might divide us.  Some of the names that will be part of the event: Michael W. Smith, Kirk Franklin, Ravi Zacharias, Josh McDowell, Lecrae, David Crowder, Hillsong United- basically an impressive list of people that you might not know that much about, but who are huge rock stars to your megachurch-going friends.  For you Catholics who own one praise and worship CD, the answer is yes, Matt Maher will be there too.

Obviously, there are challenges to unity, even at an event as general and inclusive as this one.  Questions of authority, of justification, of history, of the meaning of the human person and all those other questions that go back and forth on message boards and Facebook pages will still be in play after the sun sets on Saturday.  This event doesn’t even pretend to try and solve all of that, even if it still holds out hope that something that big might happen.  Catholics are usually a footnote to these sorts of things, if not all but excluded.  The mere fact that an Evangelical gathering would include in its vision of ecumenism an olive branch to us Romish types should be enough for us to acknowledge the gesture warmly.

At any rate, this blogger is going to be in attendance, even credentialed for the event.  I’m hoping that the stated goal of this gathering comes to fruition; that for at least one Saturday in the heart of the most divided city in this nation, a bunch of us who love Jesus can come together and use Him as the starting point for our conversations; that charity will bring clarity, and that we can move toward the unity that Jesus prayed for in the hours leading up to his crucifixion.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

And about that Pope Francis thing- here’s the invitation he recorded for Together 2016:

Video and screen capture courtesy of

About Matt Swaim

Matt Swaim is the Communications Coordinator for the Coming Home Network and the former host of the Son Rise Morning Show on EWTN Radio. His books include "Prayer in the Digital Age" and "The Eucharist and the Rosary." His shorter hot takes on the state of the cosmos can be found on Twitter: @mattswaim
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