Before the Pope went to America, it was as if the media wanted to cover themselves for anything that might happen there. There was little that was positive. It seemed as if the only concern of anybody in the US would be that the Pope would say or do something about sex abuse and that he would be controversial, to put it mildly.
Looking at the situation from the outside, I was saddened. From having seen Benedict at close quarters, I felt that the media was not prepared to give him a chance to be himself… and then something changed. Suddenly all the stories were good. He was saying and doing all the right things. From being described as ‘God’s Rottweiler’, suddenly we heard him described as a grandfather figure. It was an amazing change.
A similar thing seems to be happening with regard to World Youth Day in Australia.
Once again, the first subject that was raised was that of sex abuse. Once again, the Pope has dealt with it and moved towards other issues whilst not sweeping the abuse under the proverbial carpet. Even since yesterday, the media is gradually beginning to be positive about the Holy Father’s journey to Australia and in the same way as events unfurled in the US. Already, he is gently pointing beyond their original banner headlines towards a deeper, more real and more urgent concern: healing.
Once again, his journey is seen as one of healing, not only concerning sex abuse, but also the fact that he will be acknowledging the 40,000 year history of the Aborigines, the damage to climate and the environment, towards so many other concerns…
…and he has also reached out in support and compassion towards the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion at this time of suffering and turmoil…
May God be with Pope Benedict at this time and watch over him as he begins his pastoral visit to Australia. May those who gather in that beautiful Continent be drawn closer to an understanding of his message.
The Jesuit Superior General recently quoted a Japanese (?Chinese) proverb to the effect that when someone points to the moon, we look at the moon. We do not stop short at the finger.
The Pope is pointing to a closer relationship with God. More than that, he cannot do. Let us pray that he be an effective instrument of the peace, healing and reconciliation that the world needs so much.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008