Pope of Hope Wants You For His Pilgrimage

Via Roman Catholic Blog, I noted the AP take on the Pope's recent spontaneous Q&A w/ a bunch of diocesan priests. They headlined it, "Pope Laments 'Dying' Churches in West," and others who picked up the story also gave it that "downer" spin. If you followed my link to most of what he said a few days ago, you know it's true he made such a comment --and yet utterly untrue to the flavor of his remarks as a whole, which were hopeful and filled with charity. There seems to be an effort to see the Pope as a pessimist --and not just on the part of the MSM. I would say the trend is stronger among right-leaning Catholics, who want to use whatever the Pope says to say, "See, I toldja, the whole world is going to hell in the proverbial handbasket" (whatever that may be).

Faithful readers of this blog know I blame this reading of Benedict on a shallow reading of an address Cardinal Ratzinger gave, and that I dispute the premise that Benedict XVI has ever called for a purer, more compact Church made up of "creative minorities" (explanation here). I would say that contrary to any pessimism, what comes through repeatedly in his writing and comments is his joy and hope in Christ --a faith so unshakeable that he can look at any trouble or problem with an utterly unjaundiced eye and with total serenity --as if to say, God is charge, and therefore there is nothing to get all shaken up about.
This essential hopefulness comes through in his Angelus address from Sunday (Italian here), in which he mostly talked about his expectations for the upcoming World Youth Day. It's simple, but it echoes his homily at JP II's funeral --"The Church is alive! The Church is young!"
Si avvicina la ventesima Giornata Mondiale della Gioventù, e noi siamo già in viaggio. Questa Giornata, come sappiamo, si svolgerà a Colonia, e alla quale, a Dio piacendo, parteciperò anch'io -anche se non sono più giovane, ma il cuore è giovane - dal giovedì 18 alla domenica 21 agosto prossimi. Da ogni parte d'Europa e del mondo, nei prossimi giorni, si metteranno in viaggio verso la Germania gruppi di ragazzi e ragazze sull'esempio dei santi Magi, come suggerisce il tema: "Siamo venuti per adorarlo" (Mt 2, 2). Vorrei invitare i giovani credenti del mondo intero, anche quanti non potranno prendere parte a così straordinario evento ecclesiale, ad unirsi in un comune pellegrinaggio spirituale verso le sorgenti della nostra fede. Secondo la felice intuizione dell'amato Papa Giovanni Paolo II, la Giornata Mondiale della Gioventù costituisce un privilegiato incontro con Cristo, nella salda consapevolezza che solo Lui offre agli esseri umani pienezza di vita, di gioia e di amore. Ogni cristiano è chiamato ad entrare in comunione profonda con il Signore crocifisso e risorto, ad adorarlo nella preghiera, nella meditazione e soprattutto nella devota partecipazione all'Eucaristia, almeno alla Domenica, piccola "Pasqua settimanale". Si diventa in tal modo veri suoi discepoli, pronti ad annunciare e testimoniare in ogni momento la bellezza e la forza rinnovatrice del Vangelo.

Translating loosely and poorly, he says: The 20th World Youth Day approaches and we are in a sense already on our way. This special day, as you know, will take place in Cologne, and God willing, even I will take part in World Youth Day, even though I'm no longer so young --but young at heart! In the next few days, from every part of Europe, groups of young men and women will come to Germany, following the example of the holy Magi, as the theme, "We have come to adore him" suggests. I would like to invite all believing young people throughout the world --even those who cannot take part in this extraordinary event-- to be united in a spiritual pilgrimage to the wellspring of our faith. World Youth Day, as established by our beloved Pope John Paul II, is a privileged encounter with Christ, in recognition that he alone can offer the human person the fullness of life, joy and love. Each Christian is called to enter into profound communion with the crucified and risen Lord, by adoring him in prayer and meditation, and above all through devout participation in the Eucharist at least on Sunday, our little "weekly Easter." We become in this way truly his disciples, swift to announce and give witness in every moment to the beauty and renewing strength of the Gospel.
Now I ask you, does that sound like a pessimistic man to you?