I love the fine good manners of our Pope.
Pope Benedict is on his way—crossing the Atlantic on his first trip to Mexico and Cuba. But as he flies, he crosses through the airspace of many nations; and courteous guest that he is, he’s taking the time along the way to send a personal greeting to each of the heads of state whose countries he traverses. France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Greenland (Denmark), Canada, and the United States: Pope Benedict has flown over all of those nations, and has sent a greeting to each national leader in his or her own language.
I am reminded of a phone call from an imaginary old friend, passing through my hometown. “I don’t have time to stop,” he apologizes in a hurried phone conversation, “but I wanted you to know that we were thinking of you. Hope to see you next time!”
His telegram to President Barack Obama looked like this:
THE HONORABLE BARACK OBAMA
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
AS I PASS OVER THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ON MY JOURNEY TO MEXICO AND CUBA I OFFER YOU GREETINGS AND THE ASSURANCE OF MY PRAYERS THAT ALMIGHTY GOD WILL GRANT PROSPERITY AND EVERY BLESSING TO ALL THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
I’m not sure that our current President fully appreciates the efficacy of a papal prayer. The rest of us do, though—and it’s wonderful to know that we’ve been on his mind and in his heart.
This is actually not the first time that I’ve written about the papal airplane. A few months ago, the Pope visited Germany, and I noticed that his airplane had done some skywriting—not by vaporizing fluid, as is customary for aerial messages, but with prayer. Pope Benedict had made the Sign of the Cross over his homeland. I wrote about it for Patheos at the time:
He said with a smile, “I crossed Germany from north to south, from east to west.”
And indeed he had. Our Holy Father, traveling by air from Berlin to Erfurt, from Eichsfeld to Freiburg, had drawn the Sign of the Cross over his homeland. Amid the flurry of state visits, papal processions and encounters with abuse victims, the Pope had thoughtfully overlaid this symbol of grace and faith.
Read the rest here.