Shepherd One Touches Down

Hasn't been worth doing a Potpourri the past few weeks, given that the entire blogosphere is covering my beat these days. As you know, the President is greeting the Pope at the airport-- as eager as we all are to welcome him, apparently. We're off to the White House grounds tomorrow to wave hello, then Mass rehearsal, then the Mass itself on Thursday --for which the kids have to be in place by 6:45 am.

Here's a little piece on the papal Q&A aboard Shepherd One. The headline is the Pope's comment about clergy abuse, which is of course good, but I'll leave you to read it yourself. My scourge-of-journalists' eye naturally fell on this sentence near the close:
After making little headway in his efforts to rekindle the faith in his native Europe, the German-born Benedict will be visiting a country where many of the 65 million Catholics are eager to hear what he says.
Got that? Apparently this trip is the last-ditch effort of an exhausted man to get someone, anyone, to pay attention to anything he says. Snort. That is the way journalists apparently heard George Weigel's description of the the Pope's love for the United States:
As you read the works of Joseph Ratzinger, particularly in the last 10 to 15 years as he has become more and more concerned with the corrosive impacts of an aggressive secularism in Europe, you have to be struck by the fact that he comes on several occasions in his writing to the point that it was in the United States that the problem of church and state was first resolved. And when he says problem of church and state, he doesn’t simply mean institutional relationships, questions of establishment and non-establishment, legal relationships; he means more broadly the problem of religion and modernity. How is the modern world at the same time a world of profound, deep, churning religious searching and conviction?

That that problem has been solved, in a sense, in the United States first seems to him, I think, another difference between the U.S. and his own native cultural universe of discourse, which is of course Europe. I would simply underscore what John said, both for this pope and for an increasing number of senior people in the Vatican, the biggest difference is that the U.S. is not a post-Christian society, whereas Europe, Western Europe at least, they perceive as being thoroughly caught in the net of post-Christian depression, if you will. And however they may regard the confusions and diversity and wild plurality – the market character of religion in the United States, to pick up John’s phrase – they know that there’s something different in the culture here. And this pope knows that that makes a difference in both society and politics.

I thought this audience might be especially interested in this discussion of Tocqueville's influence on Joseph Ratzinger over at Against the Grain.

For comprehensive coverage, of course watch EWTN (delightful Raymond Arroyo interview with the President a few days ago), and also (which has the EWTN feed & NC Register editor Tom Hoopes + Tim Drake live-blogging --Hoopes reports my old HS band played well --which means they've improved since the 80s) and Benedict in America.

The Pope looks great!