Monday, December 12, 2005

Remembering Our Mexican Pope

OK, so I'm still blown away by the Mananitas from last night's kickoff to Guadalupe Day. Remember I said there were 200,000 people in the Basilica plaza at Tepeyac? Well, strike that -- and double it.

That's right, campers: 400,000 people -- and 200 Aztec drummers and dancers at full tilt -- stood outside in the dead of a winter's night to salute the Empress of the Americas. (And she loved it.) Estimates from today were that another 4 million showed up at some point of these 24 hours to say "thanks" and send love to the tilma.

God love every single last one of 'em -- all the Guadalupanos. I pray that they get everything they seek, because God knows they deserve it, unlike their prissy inferiors in Los Angeles who've got nothing better to do than fight about plates and divide the diocese.

Yet again, as they have for 474 years, the children of Guadalupe are a lesson for their lagging brethren -- they realize that their church is not a democracy. And, being people of authentic faith as opposed to political tools masquerading as Roman Catholics, the people who came out last night don't really care; they just came to sing, pray and ask Mamacita's continued love, and they've earned the blessings which come with such good faith and genuine love.

Next year in Ciudad Mexico!

In between the 80,000 or so pictures of the tilma which the faithful brought with them (even though the real thing was right there), one couldn't help but notice more than just a smattering of large photos, statues and posters of John Paul II also being held aloft. (For the curious, no such photos of Benedict XVI were spotted.)

One particularly moving tribute, however, showed the late Pope in profile, his head nestled in the shoulder of the Virgen Morena [that's "Dark Virgin," for you gringos].

Viva il Papa and all that good stuff, but on seeing that, I almost started crying again.

I spent most of today -- well, the part that wasn't spent covering the Big Shocker at the North American College -- writing a retrospective piece on John Paul. And I still get rocked to the core watching footage of him, every time. It's amazing stuff.

As we go along, the sitting Big Daddy has the potential to become Benedict the Enlightened, but to see Wojtyla moving among people is like ecclesiastical heroin -- just the most mind-blowingly euphoric experience possible on God's Green Earth. Say what you will, but even if you hated the man's policies, called his 25th anniversary the "Jubilee of Repression" or claim you loved him just to exploit his image while calling every last bishop he named in the United States a "gay-loving schismatic," none can say that he was not possessed of a brand of magic so potent and so holy his predecessors could not even imagine it. And, for 27 wild years, he did it all without a tiara nor a cappa magna, but with all the humanity in the world.

What a good lesson for a clergy and episcopate seeking every remedy but the right one to restore their cred, no?

PHOTO: AP/Rodrigo Abd