Young People, Mature Conversation
When meeting people at WYDs and other events, John Paul would tap everyone on the head, say "God Bless you," maybe another word or two and that'd be it. That was his way. But aside from the pediatric cancer patient presented to him last night, Benedict hasn't touched a single person on the head. His one-on-one time on the boat, at yesterday's lunch and what we'll see tonight has been marked by intense exchange, often lasting in the area of about 30-45 seconds each. In a public setting like that, that kind of time is simply extraordinary.
Sidenote: The Pope is entering Marienfield, and someone's playing "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes.... For the first time, Georg is not in the Popemobile -- Meisner and Rylko have the seats.
Allen's Correspondent's Notebook for the day has just been posted, and he's putting a lot on the question of "Can there be a World Youth Day without the Pope?" It heavily implies that Ratzi will not choose to prolong the JP hallmark of spectacle once he's able to control his old schedule.
[Andrea] Riccardi, whose Sant'Egidio community is known for its success in attracting a following among young Catholics, said he felt World Youth Day could be staged successfully without the physical presence of the pope.
"Brother Roger Schutz did a kind of World Youth Day without the pope," he said. Schutz was the founder of the Taizé Community in France, and was killed just before the Cologne event opened. Tens of thousands of young people come on pilgrimage from around the world every year to Taizé.
"In effect, we did this last Easter without the pope," Riccardi said, referring to the poor health of John Paul II that prevented him from taking part in most events.
"Ratzinger is convinced of the necessity of the role of the pope as the successor of Peter," Riccardi said. "But he's not excessive about it."