More Whiffs of Cologne
Benedict's Thursday cruise on the MS RheinEnergie was a triumphant one, greeted by thousands of cheering and flag-waving youth on both banks of the river. The pope stood on the upper deck of his boat, smiling and waving to the gathered young people who erupted whenever he passed. (They also erupted from time to time when the accompanying press boat passed; some may have confused it with the papal vessel.) Many of the youth were dressed in the native costumes of the countries they represented....The pope's boat was accompanied by five other boats with participants from each of the five continents, in addition to several smaller police vessels. The boat from Oceania, for example, sported a number of Australians waving their national flag and oversized stuffed kangaroos.
Given how spread out the crowds were along the river, many of the youth didn't realize when the pope had begun to speak, continuing with their chants of Bene-detto! and various other cheers throughout his address.
The pope delivered his address to youth in multiple languages, opening in German, then speaking in English, French, Spanish and Italian.
From my own conversations and observations, some things stood out:
- The crowds along the riverside kept chanting, cheering and screaming through the intro to the Gospel read on the boat. Much like the Beatles at Shea Stadium, it so drowned out the sound system that organizers had to bellow into microphones: "Let us listen to the words of the Gospel!" in five languages.... Though unintended, it reminded me of the Eastern chant, "Wisdom! Let us be attentive!" that serves as a prelude to the Gospel proclamation in divine liturgy. Serendipitous touch.
- Georg (Ganswein, Ratzi's private secretary) was everywhere today -- and he wanted you (yes, you!) to behold that. According to more than one witness, he shook more hands at the airport than B16. On the boat, when he could've knelt behind his seated Boss to whisper in his ear while staying out of camera range, he hulked over Benedict in full glare. This stands in marked contrast to the Dziwisz role of giving out rosaries and medals to everyone the Pope touched. The Legend really was the master of discretion. But then again, that's what happens when secretary and boss share an instinctive sense of communication with each other.
- While you weren't looking, and as if we needed further proof, Piero Marini reminded the world (and everyone who hates him) yet again that there is no more competent, inconspicuous, brilliant hand in the flawless coordination of papal ceremonial. Using subtle cues of his eyes and hands which would attract no attention from the untrained eye -- despite his central location over the Pope's shoulder -- microphones moved, crowds were silenced, seminarians were put into gear all by gentle signals of Marini's eyes and hands. The man is the great liturgist of the age. Many won't recognize this until after he's gone.