It's been a week since our Holy Father returned to Rome. In the relatively short time that he was in the United States, I think he changed a lot of people's opinion of him, while simultaneously confusing the mainstream media to no end. In the preparation for the Pope's arrival, the MSM was doing it's best to make Pope Benedict look like a German hardliner who was going to put the smack down on dissident groups. Many articles that I read made him look like an old fogey who was out of touch with the youth, with issues in America, heck, out of touch with everything in general. Were they in for a surprise.
I found the surprise of the MSM to be quite evident when looking at the reporting in the newspapers and 24-hour news stations. Instead of dropping the hammer, Pope Benedict gave a very uplifting and positive, while still challenging, series of addresses. Instead of looking unpopular and out of touch, the fact that 20,000+ youth and seminarians came from around the country to see him spoke volumes about his appeal. Instead of looking tired and frail, Pope Benedict looked enlivened and energized by the reaction of the youth. He even had a bit of a sheepish grin when he forgot to read the Spanish part of his address.
Is Pope Benedict as lively and dynamic as Pope John Paul II was? No, it's still obvious that Pope Benedict is a German theologian, which is not a bad thing, just different from JP2. It was also obvious that he truly loves the People of God and wants to reach out to each and every one of us. That's what I feel this visit was all about. This was his opportunity to personally reach out to the Church in the United States and to be present to as many people as possible. He requested the youth rally, and it's obvious that he found great joy in being able to spend time with the youth and seminarians. It's obvious by the reactions that I saw that the youth and seminarians enjoyed his presence just as much.
The trip was long and tiring, but it'd do it again in a heartbeat. It was a wonderful opportunity to praise God and see the Church in all it's glory. Our Pope came to see us; the least we could do is return the favor.