Friday, April 18, 2008

Maybe I Was Wrong About Pope Benedict XVI....

I loved Pope John Paul II. Absolutely adored everything about that man. I grieved bitterly when he died in 2005. And I honestly didn't care much for Cardinal Ratzinger when he was elected the new Pope. He wasn't JP II - which is completely unfair to hold against him, I know! But I just didn't see anything about him that reminded me of the much beloved Pope who had just passed away. He just seemed like a grumpy old guy.

But I may have been wrong. In fact, I know now that I was quite wrong.

I've been watching his visit to the US with great interest. Along with so many other Catholics, I was wondering if he would discuss the terrible sexual abuse scandal that so rocked us here in America, and gave our beautiful faith such a black eye. Honestly, I had thought that he might mention it briefly in passing - how could he not? But it would be a quick, brief mention, and then a move on to other issues at hand.

I was so happy to see him talk about it at length - to admit to the shame and suffering of the victims, and the shame that it brought on the Church. And I was thrilled that he met with some of the victims. One of the ladies who was able to meet with him especially touched me. Her name was Faith and she talked about how, when her turn came to be in front of the Pope, that all she could do was cry.....

I remember that my Mom and I went to visit Ground Zero a month after Sept 11, and we visited some of the local firehouses. At that time, many of the firehouses were still kept open for the hundreds of visitors who came every day to pay homage, and say thank you. One firehouse in particular that we went to had lost, I believe, 6 firefighters. We signed their little guestbook, and I was able to hug one of the firefighters who was there that night, and I could only cry. My reaction surprised me very much - I am not typically someone who becomes overwrought with emotion, but that entire day had been incredibly emotional for me, and it all seemed to come to a head that night. And thankfully the firefighter seemed to understand what I wanted to say and could not.

I was reminded of that emotional night of mine when reading Faith's story of how she could not speak to the Pope, but only cry. And I got the impression that he understood. Sometimes tears can speak to another person's heart in a million more ways than a word ever could.

There are many who would say too little too late, and that may be so, but even a small something is better than nothing at all. Considering that this is the first visit by a Holy Father here since the abuse scandal became public in 2002, I'm impressed so far by how he has handled this sensitive issue, and thrilled that he did not just sweep it under the carpet.

I doubt Pope Benedict will ever be as beloved as Pope John Paul was, but it's nice to see him finally showing the world how kind he really can be. I hope it continues.


blog template by : header image by Vlad Studio