Or at least, he has the outfit ready to go. Check out what the Space Station crew brought the Holy Father.
Pope Francis already knew the crew of the International Space Station, having spoken with them last October via satellite link.
Today, he met them face-to-face in Rome. And should the Successor of Peter ever need to minister in outer space, he’s ready to go, having received from the astronauts a custom-made space suit.
Complete with the flag from his home country of Argentina, his papal coat of arms, and his crew name, Jorge Bergoglio is ready for flight. A white cape ensures that he’d still be recognized on board as pope.
Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli and four other astronauts presented Francis with his unique gift today.
Commander Randy Bresnik from Fort Knox, Kentucky; Joe Acaba from Inglewood, California; Mark Vande Hei from Falls Church, Virginia; Sergey Ryazanskiy from Moscow; and some of their family members, were also part of the delegation meeting the pope.
Here’s some of what happened when the pope spoke with the crew last October:
The exchange lasted for about 23 minutes.
Pope Francis was particularly appreciative of the answers to his question about the reasons why they chose their job, and the joys it brings them.
One Russian cosmonaut explained that he was following in the footsteps of his grandfather, who was an engineer for the Sputnik satellite. For his part, an American astronaut said his greatest joy is “to look outside every day and see God’s creation — maybe a little bit from his perspective.” These answers, the pontiff exclaimed, characterize well the universal need of human beings to have roots and hope.
Another of the Successor of Peter’s questions was what they thought was the meaning of the great Italian Renaissance poet Dante’s phrase, “Love is the force that moves the universe.”
Russian cosmonaut Aleksandr Miskrin answered by referring to a book that he brought to space with him: The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. He said that the book has helped him to understand that “love is the force that gives you strength to give your life for someone else.”
“That’s true!” said the Pontiff, admiring the fact that Russians carry that truth in their “blood and in their humanistic and religious tradition.”
On his part, the Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli emphasized that he is “a technician, an engineer.” He hoped that soon theologians, philosophers, and even poets, could share that view of the planet from space, “in order to explore what it means to be human.”