The Pope’s visit to the US last month was described as a great success for him and the Catholic Church as a whole. He was personally greeted at the airport by the president of the US, an act that was unprecedented. It was inspiring to see the Holy Father being received by the leader of most powerful nation on earth. It highlighted the importance he gave to the Vicar of Christ.
Wherever the Pope went, he was greeted by huge crowds in thousands. Some of his destinations included the White House, Ground zero, United Nation (UN), visit to a synagogue and discussion with leaders of other religious communities. In a country that is known for its secularism and freedom and one which does not want human advancements to be restricted by religious constraints, it was indeed a pleasant surprise to see thousands turning out to greet and pray with the Pope wherever he went.
It indicates that, the Americans, despite all their advancements and affluence, they still have something missing in their lives – the presence of God. Yes they may have all the wealth, freedom and sophistication but there is emptiness in their lives as they have shut out God from their lives. They see God in the form of the Pope, the Vicar of Christ.
The international secular media gave wide coverage to the Pope’s visit to every destination. Our own Herald carried week after week elaborate reports describing the Pope’s visit to the various places. His meeting with President Bush, the address to the Unites Nations, paying homage to the dead at ground Zero, his discussions with leaders of other faiths and the celebration of mass in front of a huge crowd were very well publicized as though the Pope was just another present day politician.
It was unfortunate that the most Christ-like action of the Holy Father was given the least coverage and importance, even by our own Catholic media. This was the Pope’s emotional personal meeting with the victims of the clergy sex scandal that had rocked the US for so many years and discredited the Catholic Church in general. The Pope’s meeting with the victims was an act of humility that implies his admission of guilt and asking for forgiveness on behalf of the clergy from those affected by the scandal. His actions are comparable to Jesus’ washing the feet of his apostles, which no political leader would emulate today.
Instead of highlighting this humble act of remorse as a lesson for all, the media and the Church chose to emphasize on the more glamorous political aspects of the papal visit. In fact there appeared to be intentional attempts to suppress this Christ-like action for fear of shame. We all commit sins but what is important is to be bold enough to admit our guilt, seek forgiveness and make amends not to repeat them. To us, Christians that is the greatest teaching of Christ which he preached and by which he lived.