May I share some of my thoughts-observations-conclusions about the Pope’s visit?
- For a rottweiler, he’s pretty nice.
- He doesn’t do the “pompous Pope” act very well. Although he dresses the part, his eyes and voice give him away as more friendly, shy, and pastoral than how we normally think of someone in his position.
- For an 81-year-old, he’s quite vigorous. Simply reading his detailed itinerary for the 5 days he was here leaves one tired, but he kept up the schedule and never appeared wiped out or “aged.” That gives me hope for my own advancing years (though I’m still a few decades shy of 81).
- The U.S. really rolled out the red carpet for him: the greeting ceremony with the President, the closing ceremony with the Vice-President, the provision of the President’s limos (amazingly thick doors!) and helicopter. Maybe other world leaders get that kind of treatment when they make state visits here, but I doubt it.
- My crib sheet held up pretty well. The Pope is Catholic, just as I predicted, and his talks were big (for example) on his role as the apostolic successor to St. Peter, the centrality of “the Church,” and Catholics’ necessity for obedience. Those aren’t the parts I chose for inclusion in my daily highlights, but they were assuredly there.
- Although there are significant, even intractable, differences between Catholic and Protestant theology, both sides of the fence have found a lot of common ground. And that’s not by denying the differences or deciding they don’t matter, but rather by realizing that the things we agree on transcend many of those differences. The divinity of Christ and the dignity of human life would be two of those things; there are more.
- Finally for now, I find it highly interesting that the atheist sites I keep up with generally ignored the visit. Except for one flippant entry on FriendlyAtheist.com that didn’t even make much sense, I have seen nothing that shows any of the anti-religion advocates taking a serious look at the Pope’s visit and, more to the point, the philosophy behind the Pope’s many (and lengthy!) addresses. Instead, they seem simply to have pretended that the visit of the spiritual leader of one billion people just didn’t happen and that hundreds of thousands of people didn’t storm the gates to see him. Mockery looks shallow against this Pope, and perhaps the atheist bloggers, in a fit of insight, realized they were outclassed. Instead, they directed attention toward the movie, Expelled. Really, now.