Thursday, April 10, 2008


As the shadow of the Volo Papale -- or Shepherd One, as it's called in English -- begins to hover in earnest over the Nation's Capital and the place the Vatican considers the "Capital of the World," both DC's Catholic Standard and Gotham's Catholic New York have rolled out special chock-full "Welcome" editions commemorating the PopeTrip.

B16's first Stateside host (and highest-profile US appointee to date), Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl, welcomes the pontiff by quoting him:
Our joy is rooted in the realization that Pope Benedict XVI is the successor of Saint Peter in his ministry as head of the Church and Vicar of Christ. The Pope walks in the footsteps of Peter.

The enthusiasm of our welcome grows out of the recognition that this is also a time of a renewal of faith and deepening of our hope as we strive to bring the Gospel and light of Christ into the world in which we live. Our Holy Father confirms us in our commitment to Christ and announces the faith we hold so dear. In his voice we hear the echoes of Peter's proclamation.

The Pope comes as a preeminent teacher of the faith. His first encyclical letter Deus caritas est ("God is Love") reminds us that "the Church's deepest nature is expressed in her threefold responsibility, of proclaiming the Word of God (kerygma-martyria), celebrating the sacraments (leitourgia), and exercising the ministry of charity (diakonia). These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable" (25).

As we welcome our Holy Father, we reflect with him on who we are as members of the Church and disciples of the Lord. In his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Sacramentum caritatis ("Sacrament of Love"), Pope Benedict XVI teaches us that "the Eucharist makes us discover that Christ, risen from the dead, is our contemporary in the mystery of the Church, his body" (97).

These deeply spiritual reflections on the Church and the Eucharist find a beautiful resonance in Pope Benedict's most recent encyclical, Spe salvi ("On Christian Hope"). Here he teaches us that "the one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of new life" (2).

In the course of his visit, we look to the Holy Father for guidance for families who face the challenges of a culture that too often lends little support to enduring married love and wholesome family life. We know he will inspire our young people to an openness to God's call to religious life and the priesthood. We anticipate his words of encouragement for our Catholic schools, for the religious education programs in parishes throughout the country and for a witnessing to the faith that should identify Catholic institutions of higher learning. Our rejoicing reflects our anticipation of his message sustaining us in a life of virtue and our efforts to build a good and just society grounded in genuine moral values.

The Pope's itinerary brings him to the seat of our nation's government and a visit with the President, to meetings with the bishops of the country, educators and leaders in the interfaith dialogue before he leaves for New York. There he will speak to the United Nations his message of peace, and experience as well prayerful gatherings with representatives of young people, priests, religious and seminarians. In both Washington and New York, huge open-air Masses will provide all of us the opportunity to hear his words that echo so clearly the words of Christ's gospel of life, salvation and God's love for us.

In gathering around the Vicar of Christ, we affirm our commitment to see that the threads of the encounter with Christ and his life-giving message are woven into the fabric of our human experience, our society, our culture. What the Holy Father brings to us and why we salute him so joyfully is the reaffirmation of our Catholic faith.
...and from 452 Madison, Cardinal Edward Egan links this week's bicentennial of the church in New York with the papal pilgrimage:
In April of 1908, the Archdiocese of New York celebrated the 100th anniversary of its establishment by Pope Pius VII in April of 1808. An entire week of Masses, lectures, concerts and such in every corner of the Archdiocese culminated in a "Solemn Pontifical Mass" in St. Patrick's Cathedral with the Archbishop of Armagh in Ireland, Michael Cardinal Logue, as celebrant, and James Cardinal Gibbons, the Archbishop of Baltimore, as preacher. On Fifth Avenue thousands led Cardinal Logue to the Cathedral for the Mass, with the commentators and newspaper writers of the day observing in chorus that he was the 114th Successor of St. Patrick in the Primatial See of Armagh. All were sure that there would never be a celebration in the Archdiocese to match the one in which Cardinal Logue was the centerpiece....

The commemorative medal that is pictured along with this article was struck 100 years ago on the occasion of the Centennial Celebration of the establishment of the Archdiocese of New York. On one side there is a large image of [1908-era archbishop] Cardinal [John] Farley in the center surrounded by smaller images of the Bishops and Archbishops of New York who preceded him in office.

On the reverse side of the medal, one sees St. Patrick's Cathedral in the center with the original Cathedral building to the right and our first German parish church, St. Nicholas, to the left. As we prepare to conclude the festivities of our 200th Anniversary with the extraordinary "Pastoral Visit" of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, to New York, the Centennial Medal seems to put things into context very well indeed.

For our 100th anniversary, the Irish Cardinal, who was the 114th Successor of St. Patrick, led us in our Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving; and for our 200th anniversary, the German Pope, who is the 265th Successor of St. Peter, will be doing the same. "No one would have imagined that you New Yorkers of 2008 would outdo our celebration of 1908," Cardinal Farley will be saying from his place in heaven with a broad smile on his face. "But you have, and for this heartfelt congratulations! May the People of God of New York grow each day in love and esteem for the illustrious celebrant of your Bicentennial Mass. He is a gift for which the Church in New York and across the world will never be able to thank the Lord enough."

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Speaking of welcomes, in what's become the first great national stride toward new media on the part of a host of dioceses, each of the US' 195 local churches were invited to prepare a brief video welcome to the Pope, all of which'll be shown before next Thursday's morning Mass in Washington's Nationals Park.

Gratefully, several have made it to YouTube... among which -- like the old Catholic Directories in the days before Atlanta became a metropolitan see -- first place by right belongs to the Premier See of Baltimore...

...and from today's elected primate of the US bishops and his fold of 2.1 million, the Windy City welcomes Papa Ratzi:

More of the vids -- and a good bit else PopeTrip -- you'll find at the AmericanPapist blog. And the Pope2008 blog. And Beliefnet's Benedictions blog. And, starting today, a NYTimes blog on The Visit, with contributions from a cast of thousands, including several friends.

Company... it's a good feeling.

And for anyone out there new to keeping company here, welcome to the party -- it's great to have you. Fret not; the soup's warm, the regulars are friendly, and the beer's cold (...and, of course, Bavarian).

In other words, thanks for dropping in -- make yourself at home, and enjoy the show.

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And, lastly, while we're on things YouTube -- where, of course, no less than The Pope Himself made his debut the other day -- the now-famous "Banned in Washington" Benedict Bobblehead spot from the Capital Metro has racked up a stunning 40,000 views... in little over 24 hours.

(On a related note, a friend close to the papal apartment called earlier today, admitting to never having heard of a bobblehead -- that is, until now....)

In case you missed it the first time, or could just use an encore, enjoy... and, as The Visitor would say, "che gioia."