Two Popes, One leader

From the National Catholic Register. Very well-worth reading.

The new name fit John Paul’s larger-than-life presence. He was, in one iconic description, the “spark that flew forth from Poland to set fire to the whole world.” He rallied huge crowds of people as a bishop in Poland, and as Pope. In the images we remember, he is often driving through a sea of people in his popemobile, or standing in front of an ocean of faces with his arms raised.

Pope Benedict XVI’s name also fits his very different presence. He’s attentive and friendly, insistent but gentle, almost to the point of being shy. He is described as a bello spirito, a beautiful spirit. He will get used to the crowds, and they will love him, but it will be a new experience for them both.

The images that we might remember of Benedict’s first days as pope are the photos of him walking through the streets of Rome. He was visiting his old apartment while an appreciative cluster of people looked on, but the pictures make you realize that you can’t remember ever seeing John Paul walk along the streets of Rome.

And yet when humble, gentle Benedict appeared on the balcony of St. Peter’s for the first time, young nuns in habits shrieked with glee. Young American seminarians pumped their arms in victory.

How is it possible that a reserved classical pianist who loves cats gets that kind of reception? How is it possible that young people in the 21st century were delirious with excitement to find out that the new Pope had taken the name of a fifth-century monk?

Pope John Paul II made it possible.

Read the whole thing. As I said before that JPII was the shepherd who brought in the herd…now, perhaps Benedict is the one who gets it healthy. H/T The Curt Jester.

Browse Our Archives