From 10 years ago… ‘Benedict’s impact? “It will be seismic”‘

I wrote this the day the following article was published and post-dated it to be published in ten years…

In 2008 I am wondering:

  • What was the impact?
  • Yesterday Pope Benedict left America after his first pastoral visit as Pope… Talking on the phone with Father J. Steele of the Holy Cross Fathers he seemed to be uncertain what impact this visit was to have.  (In his defense he was unable to watch most of the broadcasted portions of the visit due to his pastoral duties this weekend!) I believe it to be the case that this visit will have a long and lasting influence on strengthening the vision of the papacy as a strong leader in these times of moral crisis, and that the liturgical experneices we saw (we the unfortunate exception of the Mass at National Stadium! – it looked like a multi-cultural review, not a Mass!) strengthened and confirmed more tradition-minded liturgists what the new norms were going to be – far closer to more traditional norms.  Was that the case?
  • 10 years later did we see the expansiono of vocations as predicted in this article?


Monday, April 21, 2008

Benedict’s impact? “It will be seismic”


People are doing the inevitable Monday morning quarterbacking after the Pope’s visit — but nearly everyone is giving him raves.

This piece nicely captures a lot of different voices and perceptions, from USA Today:

Benedict XVI celebrated Mass before a loud, jubilant crowd at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, capping a U.S. visit marked by the pope’s focus on clergy sexual abuse and by his emergence as someone more than an enforcer of doctrine — a pastor.

“For years, I’ve been telling people about Benedict’s depth, warmth, humor and humility. Now I can say, ‘See!’ ” exulted Scott Hahn, professor of theology at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.

The pope’s final public appearance of his six-day U.S. trip brought exuberance from 57,100 in the stadium and thousands more outside.

“Oh, my God, I feel so blessed to be here!” said Capri Christianson, 10, who with her mother, Maribel, won a ticket lottery at St. Lucy’s parish in the Bronx. “So far this is the best day of my life.”

Applause, unusual during a Roman Catholic sermon, twice interrupted the pope’s homily: when he called for respect for “the most defenseless of all human beings, the unborn child in the mother’s womb” and when he appealed for more religious vocations in a church running low on priests and nuns.

Benedict’s visit raised two big questions: How would he address the clergy sex-abuse scandal that has rocked the U.S. church, and how would this famous champion of orthodox church teaching relate to American Catholics, equally famous for going their own way?

Benedict lamented the scandal on each of the first three days of his visit and met with a group of sex-abuse victims from the Boston area. He accepted a hand-bound book bearing the names of almost 1,500 people who say they were abused by priests.

“It was a clear signal to the bishops, not all of whom have a strong record of meeting with victims, this is how you deal,” said Amy Welborn of Fort Wayne, Ind., a Catholic writer.

As for his personal style, Benedict’s affable, grandfatherly persona won over Catholics — and non-Catholics — of all kinds. Instead of the strict scholar Benedict was often portrayed as before becoming pope, Americans saw an avuncular priest who bestowed his blessing at every stop, arms wide open and brown eyes sparkling.

“I think it’s a tribute to our church that an 81-year-old pope has the vibrancy and message to connect and communicate with so many people,” said Tom Strahle of Ridgewood, N.J.

This is the Benedict that packed the famed baseball stadium.

“Size-wise, it’s like a Yankee crowd, but it’s a whole different atmosphere,” said Louie Dituri, owner of the Yankee Eatery across from the stadium. “Yankee fans are excited about the game. These people are excited about more important things.”

They included not only those with tickets, most of whom arrived on special buses, but also the unticketed, who pushed against metal police barricades outside the stadium, hoping to see the pope.

Benedict arrived in the Bronx after a morning stop to pray at the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

People came to the Mass for many reasons — to worship God, to cheer the pope, to see the spectacle. Sisters Lydia and Hilda Estrada came to be healed. Lydia Estrada’s spine is fused; Hilda suffers from arthritis. Both said they were in pain. But Lydia Estrada was confident she would not hurt much longer: “I know that being in his presence will be healing.”

Benedict also was changed by his visit, suggested George Donnelly, 56, a retired Catholic school administrator from Brooklyn. “I think he, too, is on a journey,” Donnelly said. “I think he’s evolved as a leader and come to understand that he has the opportunity to do some healing. I’m especially proud of how he’s reached out to so many other communities … the disabled, the 9/11 victims, the Jewish community.”

Benedict’s addresses and homilies shared several characteristics — praise for American faith, energy, charity and interreligious cooperation, and blunt attacks on secularism and people who want to evade eternal truths to base their spirituality on “feelings.”

Rather than lecturing, however, Benedict was the pope of the “perhaps,” as when he told U.S. bishops that “perhaps” they’d be more effective if they improved their preaching and teaching.

“Nearly flawless!” R. Scott Appleby, Notre Dame University professor of Catholic history, said of the visit. “Given the context — what was expected of him, what John Paul II did before him, Benedict outperformed all expectations.”

The impact of the visit “will be seismic,” Hahn said. “You’ll see it five or 10 years from now when there’s a rise in the number of seminarians and young priests and young adult men and women looking for something bigger than themselves to believe in.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: