‘Everything is a story’, I always say of my perception of daily
occurrences. Everything is an experience from which to draw a lesson,
and then tell it as a story to share the message or insight with others.
But then, I’ve always been a journalist.
The Pope takes that a whole lot further in his role as Chief
Shepherd of the world’s Catholics, and most prominent religious figure
on the planet. Besides papal encyclicals and theological books, he
issues weekly messages that take what’s happening in the temporal world
and put a spiritual lens on it. He seems as up to date as anyone on
world affairs, and the way the media handle them.
But the recent eruption of controversy over the excommunicated
clergy coming back into the Church really caught him in a bind that
surprised nearly everyone, including Benedict. Fortunately, he also
sees opportunity in crisis, and has worked very hard to take the
lessons from this affair to heart, to those most immediately affected,
and to the people at large.
Beyond the deeper ones, Benedict learned what we all find out the hard way…..‘pay greater attention to where you get your news.’
In all seriousness, you have to give the pope credit for
being a deft diplomat, and for having the humility to own up to an
error. Although for a guy who’s pleading web-non-savviness, the pope has a pretty good website.
And Benedict is developing this habit of giving interviews on long papal journeys….using airplane time well.
This morning, during his flight to Cameroon, the Holy
Father responded to a number of questions put to him by journalists
accompanying him on the papal plane.
“For some time, and in particular since your Letter to Catholic
bishops concerning the remission of excommunication on the four bishops
consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre”, asked one journalist, “many
newspapers speak of the ’solitude’ of the Pope. What is your view on
this? Do you really fell alone?”
“To tell the truth I cannot help laughing a little about this myth
of my solitude. I do not feel alone at all. Every day I hold meetings
with my closest collaborators, first among them the secretary of State.
… Truly, I am surrounded by friends in a marvellous collaboration with
bishops, with my collaborators, and with lay people, and I am grateful
They asked him about the economic crisis, and he said a fundamental
reason for it is the lack of ethics in the “financial structures”.
Since his next encyclical is expected soon on social issues, he’s
incorporating the global crisis into that work.
“It was on the point of being published when this crisis
broke out and we held the text back in order to respond more
adequately; within the ambit of our competencies, within the ambit of
the Church’s Social Doctrine, but with reference to the real facts of
the current crisis. Thus I hope that the Encyclical may also become an
element, a force to help overcome the current difficult moment”.
But all you’re hearing today in the major media are stories about the pope and condoms.
Benedict, arriving in Africa, said on Tuesday that
condoms “increase the problem” of AIDS. The comment, made to reporters
aboard his plane, caused a worldwide firestorm of criticism.
“It is my belief believe that the most effective
presence on the front in the battle against HIV/AIDS is in fact the
Catholic Church and her institutions. … The problem of HIV/AIDS cannot
be overcome with mere slogans. If the soul is lacking, if Africans do
not help one another, the scourge cannot be resolved by distributing
condoms; quite the contrary, we risk worsening the problem. The
solution can only come through a twofold commitment: firstly, the
humanisation of sexuality, in other words a spiritual and human renewal
bringing a new way of behaving towards one another; and secondly, true
friendship, above all with the suffering, a readiness – even through
personal sacrifice – to stand by those who suffer”.
Here’s today’s story, from a trusted news source.