Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian recently met with Pope Francis at the Vatican, presenting the Pontiff with a Roman cross cut from a Delta engine blade and a generous six-digit financial gift to a papal charity.
Pope Francis Holds Vatican Meeting With Delta CEO Ed Bastian
Bastian was educated in Roman Catholic schools and later attended the Franciscan-run St. Bonaventure University in New York. Earlier this month, Bastian ended his commencement address remarks at the University of Georgia with the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Just five days later, he was granted an audience with the pope who was named after St. Francis of Assisi. The meeting was arranged by Father Jim Sichko, who is part of the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky and a very frequent Delta flyer.
During a 2021 meeting with Bastian, Fr. Sichko asked for a new deicing truck for Lexington Airport (LEX), wanted Bastian to try his mother’s spaghetti sauce, and asked to speak to Bastian about Pope Francis’ “missionaries of mercy” (a special group of priests from around the world whom aim to spread mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation).
Delta Air Lines became the official carrier of the Missionaries of Mercy, with Delta picking up the tab to fly 100 USA-based priests to the Vatican for their next meeting with the Pope. Bastian also “made a call” to get the deicing truck to LEX and ended up buying a case of spaghetti sauce.
It was Fr. Sichko who arranged the meeting between Bastian and Pope Francis, which took place on May 18, 2022 at the Vatican. Bastian presented Pope Francis with three gifts:
- Roman cross constructed from a Delta engine
- Delta’s environmental sustainability report translated into Spanish
- 1,000 trees have been planted in Francis’ name
- A $100,000 gift for Papal charities
Heralding Pope Francis, Bastian told the National Catholic Reporter:
“We live in a world that’s challenged. We have a lot of divisions and COVID-19 added to the isolation, the fear and the angst…”
One solution, per Bastian, are the words of St. Francis of Assisi, which transcend other faith traditions.
“Give and you will receive.”
As for the Pope, Bastian had glowing words:
“He’s an inspiration and someone you want to lift up.”
Delta CEO Ed Bastian met with the Bishop of Rome at the Vatican, exchanging kind words and presenting Pope Francis with a trio of gifts. I wonder if he asked the Pontiff to pray for a miracle concerning to Delta’s recent operational difficulties…
image: Father Jim Sichko