Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Pope of Hope

This picture says it all. At least, for me, that is.

I must confess that I didn't know what to expect when Benedict arrived in Washington a few days ago. Perhaps a tinge of cynicism colored my expectations of what the Pope would say and do. I'm very happy to report that I've been very pleasantly surprised by the entire experience.

Some people were expecting Papa Ratzinger to "come down hard" on Catholic Educators. That certainly didn't happen. Instead, we got Fr. Joseph, the longtime teacher and academic sharing insights on education that enlivened the leadership of our Catholic institutions of higher learning.

I'm really glad that the organizers arranged the secret meeting with the victims from Boston with Benedict. I thought that they handled that tense situation with grace, and with dignity. It provided the Pope with an opportunity to be a true pastor.

And over and over again, as I watched him kissing babies, reaching out to the disabled, speaking with the youth and the seminarians, and most especially in how he reacted to the great throngs of American Catholics who came out to support him, I thought: "We have a new pastor, and he really is like a wonderful grandfather."

This picture, more than anything, illustrates my change in view of Pope Benedict. I'm pretty sure that he's changed and grown also, as a result of this pilgrimage.
My hope is that he's been renewed by this experience as much as I've been renewed by this week.

I may even buy one of those Yankee jerseys that were on sale at the Stadium that have the number "B16" on them! They'll be worth lots of money in a few years!

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