Returning to the embrace of the Eternal City is never difficult. Its many charms make one easily forget the minor inconveniences: the strikes, noise pollution, and general chaos. The city’s many glories, both pagan and Christian, are always on display, easily accessible, even to the most unsophisticated of visitors.
Over the past decade, my wife and I have visited Rome regularly, on our way to see relatives south of the city—part of my ongoing effort to rediscover my father’s Italian roots. In fact, we’ve come to know certain areas of Rome so well that we can now suggest with some confidence where the best amatriciana is served west of the Tiber, or which church has the most intimate side chapel for a quick visit to the Blessed Sacrament.
A recent trip to Rome before the start of Advent led to the almost requisite walk across St. Peter’s Square. I never tire of seeing the seat of the universal Church. This time, with the results of the U.S. presidential election in mind, I found myself deep in thought. And as I looked across the square toward the side colonnades, I recalled a small conference I had attended in Vatican City two years earlier.
The theme of that conference had been “Poverty and the Common Good.” Organized by the Rome-based Dignitatis Humanae Institute (DHI), the conference was held in the Casina Pio IV,...