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Tag Archive: Pope Benedict XVI

You need to know what you believe

Posted: Monday, June 6, 2011 (5:35 am), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Monday, June 6th, 2011:

Pope Benedict XVI, from the forward to Youcat, the new Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church published last year, and released recently in English by Ignatius Press:

You need to know what you believe… Yes, you need to be more deeply rooted in the faith than the generation of your parents so that you can engage the challenges and temptations of this time with strength and determination. You need God’s help if your faith is not going to dry up like a dewdrop in the sun, if you want to resist the blandishments of consumerism, if your love is not to drown in pornography, if you are not going to betray the weak and leave the vulnerable helpless.

Amen. I might have preferred a book that utilized a few more pages to make sections a bit easier to find from the TOC, but this is an important work – a long time coming – that needs to find it’s way into the hands of young people anxious to understand the great questions of human existence, and God’s love for us all.

Public Health Leaders Should Be Carefully Scrutinized

Posted: Sunday, December 5, 2010 (3:04 pm), by John W Gillis


Quote of the Day for Sunday, November 5th, 2010:

Matthew Hanley over at The Catholic Thing on Thursday, commenting on the public reaction to Pope Benedict’s recent statement on condom use in the Peter Seewald book, in a post entitled Misrepresenting Benedict’s Bravery:

The New York Times tells us the pope’s words, in the newly published book Light of the World, were received with “glee from clerics and health workers in Africa, where the AIDS problem is worst.” The pope as anachronistic obstacle to global health has long been a fashionable narrative. But consider: decades of robust condom promotion (and other technical interventions) utterly failed to curb Africa’s AIDS epidemics, and common-sense changes in sexual behavior accounted for Africa’s handful of AIDS declines.  Is one misrepresented remark from the pontiff now to do what lavish and sophisticated condom campaigns couldn’t?  Public health leaders should be carefully scrutinized. They, not the pope, are explicitly charged with containing epidemics.   

Although I think the post tries to tries to say too many things in its allotted space (a temptation I can sympathize with), the most important point Hanley makes is the implication of culpability on the part of public health officials who have stood around fondling themselves for decades while this epidemic has wasted millions of human beings, too afraid (either of hurting other people’s feelings, or –more likely– of being perceived as uncool) to state the obvious if unwelcome truth: this disease is spread almost entirely by immoral behavior – especially by disordered sexual licentiousness and lack of self-control – and can be avoided and defeated only by a rejection of the narcissistic public morality that promotes such soul-destroying indulgence as normal and acceptable behavior.

It’s far easier, of course, to ban Happy Meals than to criticize socially toxic sexual immorality, though the discrepancy of dereliction therein implied clearly constitutes gross criminal negligence on the part of our public health “leaders”.

via FirstThoughts

Benedict XVI on Condoms & Gigolos

Posted: Saturday, November 20, 2010 (4:08 pm), by John W Gillis


Benedict XVI, quoted on the possible justification of condom use in an upcoming book by German journalist Peter Seewald: "Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and The Signs Of The Times," as excerpted in today’s L’Osservatore Romano:

“There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility.”

Boy, is this likely to grow legs! The AP has the story, and the Boston Globe is spinning it with the headline: “Pope: condoms can be justified in some cases”.

No doubt, this comment will be welcomed by many on the left as a kind of Trojan Horse (couldn’t resist!) introducing contraceptive mentality into the Church’s moral reasoning, beginning with an interpretation that asserts the comment “condones” condom use in some situations. But by the same logic, we could also say that the pope is condoning male prostitution, at least in some circumstances.

Of course, neither claim would be true. What Benedict said is not very remarkable at all. He is merely indicating that evil comes in degrees of complexity, and one may find the path toward the good entails several steps of reasonable yet still deeply flawed standing, before reaching something that could be identified as an objective moral good.

BenedictXVI kids This may appear to be an acceptance of the concept of embracing a lesser evil, but it really proposes just the opposite: the embrace of a lesser good. There is an important distinction in the subjective sphere between choosing a recognized evil – no matter how “lesser” – and choosing to mitigate evil, even according to a consequentialist calculus. Nonetheless, the limits of subjective understanding do not provide a license for suppressing the reflective critique of objective reality, especially in the realm of moral truth. The contraceptive use of condoms is still objectively immoral, as is prostitution – male or otherwise.

Despite what folks are bound to encounter ad nauseum in the mainstream press over the coming days (not to mention from the dissident wing within Catholicism), Church teaching has not changed. One can always hold out hope that the coming kerfuffle will prove to be an occasion for many to come to see the Church’s moral doctrine to be not so much a set of prohibitions as a guide to genuine personal and communal fulfillment, both now and forever.

For a perspective on Benedict’s teaching on condoms in Africa commendably lacking in hysterical short-sightedness, see medical anthropologist Edward C. Green’s much-discussed WaPo article from March 2009.

Part of the Difference Between Mission and Agenda

Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 (10:59 pm), by John W Gillis


While Pope Benedict XVI is busy bracing the winds of ill-will to find a way to heal rifts of schism within the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion continues to rush breathlessly toward implosion. Harvard’s Episcopal Divinity School announced today the appointment of the Reverend Dr. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale as the new president and dean of the seminary, a woman with apparently no academic credentials whatsoever, but who luckily happens to be an ordained lesbian Episcopalian priestess. Not only that, but she is a stalwart supporter of the legal right to kill prenatal children, and executive director of a self-identifying “progressive” organization, Political Research Associates, devoted to saving the world from conservatism – which includes, says their homepage, reports explicitly aimed at “debunking” the value of marriage in combating social ills such as poverty! Yes, God save us from marriage, and other right-wing conspiracies – by all means.

I reckon that, at this point, that’s about all the credentials you need to be charged with the formation of the ECUSA’s intellectuals and divines. I’m tempted to say “last one out please shut off the lights,” but I have a hunch carbon footprinting is probably the highest priority moral issue in those environs these days, so there’s probably no need. I’m sure I sound cynical, but, well…

An All-Too Common Word

Posted: Monday, August 4, 2008 (11:40 pm), by John W Gillis


Yale Divinity School last week hostedLoving God and Neighbor in Word and Deed: Implications for Christians and Muslims,” a conference on global inter-faith dialog, which was a follow-up to a written dialog commonly referred to as “A Common Word,” started back in late 2006 by several dozen Muslim leaders responding in an open letter to Pope Benedict XVI regarding Benedict’s famous University of Regensburg address, in which he infamously used some quotes from an obscure Byzantine text of Emperor Manuel II Paleologus to help make what was an extraordinarily well articulated appeal to the importance of nurturing a renewed understanding, in Western intellectual circles, of the profound and necessary interrelatedness of faith and reason.

Quite a bit could be said about this ongoing effort at promoting world peace through the attempt to moderate religious fanaticism, but if the opening keynote address of the conference, given by Senator John Kerry, is any indication of the direction this dialog is taking, I do not hold out much hope for the outcome. Perhaps it is not fair to tar the working group with Kerry’s views, but they did invite him to give the address, which at least raises some questions about their understanding of the character of the problem they assemble to confront. He’s not even credible within his own religion; I don’t see how he could be taken seriously as a spokesman for inter-religious dialog

Mr. Kerry, of course, is the junior U.S. Senator from my home state of Massachusetts, as well as a former Democratic Party nominee for U.S. President (2004). He is also a Roman Catholic, by upbringing and by personal affiliation, but is one of several prominent American politicians who have become lightning rods for criticism in conservative Catholic circles for their continued superficial embrace of Catholicism – and assertions that they remain in communion with the Church – despite their very public and materially efficacious dissent on fundamental matters of faith and morals, among which abortion perhaps looms largest, but hardly alone.

Senator Kerry’s address contained numerous occasions of what I consider to be, at best, muddled thinking, but there is one particular statement that I think reflects not only the lunacy of commonly held Western views of religion’s role in global issues, but also just how badly the intellectual world needs to listen closely to the pope’s message of the imperative of reintegrating faith and reason – the alleged jumping off point of this entire enterprise:

Somehow, we have to find a way to agree that faith may be worth dying for, but it cannot be worth killing for. John Kerry, 7/28/2008

At first blush, this statement perhaps looks very noble – enlightened, even. It appeals, if you will, to both sides of the aisle: by paying homage to the seriousness of held religious belief, while aiming to express the very common sentiment that religion should foster peace – and peaceableness. Implicit, however – and not too subtly – is the idea that this will require some kind of change: that religion currently – and historically – foments violence and animosity.

Now, the question of whether religion has done more over the course of human history to cause warfare and violence, or more to tame the same, I will leave unexplored here – though personally, I think an honest and reasonable assessment of the question would infuriate religion’s cultured despisers. Rather, I’d like to look at the admittedly very popular proposal that religion (“faith,” as Mr. Kerry actually puts it) cannot be worth killing for.

This claim may sound innocuous enough, but only of we don’t stop to ask the question: is anything worth killing for, and if so, what?

The question might make many people uneasy, but only because our modern culture has weaned us on euphemism. Simply put, it’s a question of whether or not there is anything in the world worth going to war for.

I’m quite certain that John Kerry is not a pacifist. It is well-known that he honorably served two tours in Vietnam, and he campaigned only four years ago to be commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful military. I think it’s safe to say that John Kerry – like almost everyone in the world, thinks at least some things are worth killing for. If I asked Mr. Kerry if “freedom and democracy” (which is shorthand for “American political ideology”) is worth fighting for, I’m pretty sure he’d come back with a pretty quick affirmative.

So what does it mean to insist that faith, or religion, is not to be counted among those things worth fighting or killing for?

The reasons people go to war are complex. Not only are there almost always in each case a complex of reasons, but it is a different question to ask why states go to war versus why people participate in war. It is a different question again to ask why people engage in other acts of collective violence that do not fall (at least not at first) into the category of war proper, such as rebellions. Likewise, states and tribes do not war in the same way, and it seems dangerous to try to reduce the whole matter to an historically pertinent formula.

Still, not being above trying to make myself look foolish, it seems to me that the motive for warring can be broken out into three general categories, which are by no means mutually exclusive when it comes to providing motivation, and which each contain a wide breadth of expression.

  1. Gain. Let’s be honest: this is the primary motivator for most warring, whether it takes the guise of greed for booty, slaves, or natural resources; the lust for power; the pursuit of glory; or perhaps even the modern euphemism “national interest.” Other examples abound. Despisers of Christianity would want to see pursuit of indulgences included here – fair enough.
  2. Ideals & Conviction. While some wars may be fought purely for selfishly immoral ends, some are fought for convictions. I have no illusions either that these ends are mutually exclusive (I’d say they’re usually pretty much mixed together), or that some convictions, however well-intended, might be thoroughly immoral. But that fact remains that there is a world of difference between fighting for ideals and fighting for gold. I think these convictions can be broken out into two sub-groups: religiously formed conviction, and political ideology.
  3. Duty. I again see two basic sub-categories here: self-defense, and love of neighbor – where love of neighbor involves things such as the willingness to sacrifice in defense of your family, community, or nation, as well as the willingness to come to the aide of other vulnerable peoples who have been or are being wronged by a greater power. The promise of indulgences aside, it is here that I would place the greater part of the motivations for the Crusades. That observation raises the point that perhaps these duty-oriented motivations should really be subsumed under the above subheading of religious convictions – which I think is absolutely true – but I’ll leave that for now.

So, where does that leave John Kerry, and the myriad others who think like him?

If there exists a human being naive enough to think that man’s propensity for warring can somehow be mitigated by barring religious conviction from the calculus of political decision making, he can look to the grotesque and murderous history of the last century to see just what a religion-free political ideology will buy you. Somewhat ironically, I write this on the day I read of the death of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, so he won’t be available for comment, but his body of literary work should suffice.

Indeed, Solzhenitsyn would seem to have had little patience for attempts to marginalize religious conditioning of political thought, a modern trend which he saw as a bane of both modern East and West: “the calamity of an autonomous, irreligious humanistic consciousness.” At Harvard, in 1978, he had this to say on the subject of the “cleansing” of religion from political life:

It has made man the measure of all things on earth—imperfect man, who is never free of pride, self-interest, envy, vanity, and dozens of other defects. We are now paying for the mistakes which were not properly appraised at the beginning of the journey. On the way from the Renaissance to our days we have enriched our experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility.

No, Mr. Senator, war would not go away if we banished faith from the table of those things we find worth fighting for. Instead, the ideals and duty motives that are part of the calculus would be reduced to those that are informed by ideology. Ideology, by definition, rules not by appealing to truth – to something “out there” by which all can be judged – but through power accomplished by compelling conformity to a desired, manufactured, status quo. Religion, in however perfect or imperfect a form, at least has the advantage of seeking its goal in some kind of transcendent meaning, rather then the purely political and self-interested machinations of ideology.

The highest ideals that people possess are their religious ideals- whether they are explicitly religious, or even atheistic. Claiming that society must advance by making peoples’ highest ideals about the only things not worth fighting for is sheer lunacy. There is no way that such an approach to statecraft could make the world anything but more barbarous.

It is precisely this kind of divorce of religion from public rational processes that Pope Benedict inveighed against the German scholars for in Regensburg, which prompted this whole discussion to begin with. Benedict, of course, was not promoting religious warfare – he was in fact condemning it as an irrational means of advancing religion. But as long as states resort to warfare, it is imperative that religion provide civilizing boundaries. Furthermore, it is religion, with its transcendent moral requirements, which must provide the framework for reason to work out the differences among peoples, so that warfare can be avoided.

Not all religion is created equal, but the real value of inter-religious dialog needs to be the pursuit of truth for the sake of reforming religion, not the marginalization of religion from the public sphere.

If faith and reason are cooperative forms of God’s revelation of Himself to man – as Benedict, speaking for the Church militant, expectant, and triumphant, insists – the end result of genuine dialog will not be a means for all of us to get along cheerily with our differences, but the correction of bad religion, and, ultimately, unity of faith. If God is truly One, then there can be no other end but unity.

We may be a long ways off, and we may need to ensure that the road leading us there is peaceful enough to be fruitful, but we should not confuse the means with the end – or allow muddled thinking to subvert our highest ideals by renouncing them for ideology.

Benedict’s Challenge to American Anti-Authoritarianism

Posted: Saturday, April 26, 2008 (10:01 pm), by John W Gillis


Pope Benedict XVI’s Yankee Stadium homily last Sunday was quite a celebration of American Catholicism, but the pontiff never strayed far from his theme of the unchanging need for faithful Christians, as a community rooted in the apostolic heritage, to be a sign of the gospel’s hope for mankind in the face of sin and death, through bearing witness to the unity of the truth found in the Word of God, revealed in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

This rootedness is not something Benedict sees simply in the hierarchical form of the Church (even if he makes a point of the necessary visibility of the Church’s apostolic unity), but also in the faithful handing down of the gospel from generation to generation, and in the public presence of the fruits of our life in the Spirit, as manifested in various works of mercy and charity. He praised the “successive waves of immigrants” for the ways they have enriched American society, and called upon their descendants to faithfully follow in their footsteps, so as to “hasten the coming of God’s Kingdom in this land.”

In a society, not unlike the one he himself hails from, that suffers from distorted understandings of freedom, it was important that he speak of what freedom truly means. For too many Americans (and other Westerners), freedom is what excuses one from being subject to authority, or bound to obedience. Even in our families, the idea that parents have, by nature, an authority over their children is coming into conflict with the sensibilities of the age. The notion that children owe their parents obedience is being eroded by the new sensibility, which maintains that parents should reason with children, of any age – that parents owe their children explanations for every decision. Furthermore, it’s a cultural expectation that children will rebel – indeed, must rebel – against their parents, in order to “come into their own.” The public schools are a mess with rampant disrespect. And in the spheres of religion or morality, the idea of the legitimacy of authority has become almost laughable.

The concept of authority is in disrepute, indeed.

In all relationships that are not governed by either the power of actual or implied violence, or the hierarchy of economic dependency in employment, authority is generally viewed as an unwanted relic of a now-overturned, oppressive order from a pre-critical age. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Authority can no more be put aside than air could be put aside – it can be polluted, but it cannot be “replaced” by freedom.

Indeed, what we see happening in Western culture is not at all the disappearance of authority into a new order of egalitarian bliss, but instead the movement of the locus of authority from relationships based on community order, to relationships based on the exercise of dominative power. Authority is being reduced to having the power to exercise one’s will: do this, or I will hurt you, jail you, fine you; this is legal because we have the votes, or we have the money. In short, might makes right. This is the predictable offspring of ideology. In fact, isn’t power the whole point of ideology?

But as the Catholic Church rightfully understands authority, it is not reducible to power. Indeed, power is itself subject to authority, because authority comes from God. Authority is ultimately nothing but the truth. Authority is that which is authoritative. It is reality. It is what is, and reflects Him who said “I am who am” (Exod 3.14).

When human exercise of authority is not in conformance with the revelation of the Author, it ceases to be genuinely reflective of the good, becomes socially dysfunctional, and leads to idolatry. But this is not a valid reason to reject authority itself; it is reason to work to ensure that authority is exercised in conformance with the truth – meaning not as a function of opinion and ideology. The rejection of authority itself is the rejection of the order established by God – it is, in other words, a rejection of reality, and every bit as much a descent into idolatry as any kind of impious authority worship.

This is why freedom cannot be coherently understood as existence outside of, or beyond, authority. Such an existence is an existence in falsehood. Any attempt to be one’s own authority, to make up, or “discover,” one’s own morality – or “reality” – is an attempt to take the place of the Author. And this is not freedom, but rebellion – which leaves one enslaved to sin, as it manipulates the passions.

Freedom, on the other hand, – true freedom – can exist only when it is aligned with reality, when it is grounded in the truth that Christ promised would make us free (Jn 8.32). Freedom must be subject to truth, or it is false. The Holy Father put this quite well in his homily:

The Gospel teaches us that true freedom, the freedom of the children of God, is found only in the self-surrender which is part of the mystery of love. Only by losing ourselves, the Lord tells us, do we truly find ourselves (cf. Lk 17:33). True freedom blossoms when we turn away from the burden of sin, which clouds our perceptions and weakens our resolve, and find the source of our ultimate happiness in him who is infinite love, infinite freedom, infinite life. “In his will is our peace”.

In this, Benedict’s penultimate address during his apostolic visit to America, he left no doubt that he thinks it is time for the Church in America to pick itself up from its recent troubles, seek the unity of faith found in the freedom of a lived fidelity to the living apostolic witness, and go about the task of bearing our own witness to the liberating truth of the gospel – in particular the truth of the Divinely defined dignity of the human person, a truth so often obscured in our day by ideologies – and religions – that would reduce the human person to a means to an end.

Hasten the coming of God’s Kingdom in this land, and bear witness with the authority of the apostolic faith, and so honor our fathers and mothers.

ΑΩ

Recovering from the Papal Mass

Posted: Monday, April 21, 2008 (9:44 pm), by John W Gillis


As evidenced by my last post, I tried very hard to get myself pumped up for yesterday’s occasion of attending the papal Mass at Yankee Stadium. The Mass was very nicely done, and it was wonderful to hear a stadium full of people thunder “Amen” and the other responses, but it was still a massive crowd attending an orchestrated “event,” and both these factors, unsurprisingly, wore on me greatly.

I think it probably would have been an unmitigated pleasure for me had the organizers of the event chosen to focus solely on the pope’s coming to celebrate the Sunday liturgy with the assembled throng of faithful – including, of course, his application of the readings of the day in his homiletic address. As it worked out – and forgive me if this seems cynical – the papal appearance came across to me more as the headlining act in an afternoon of far-flung entertainment. Not that I think the Holy Father intended any such thing, but the three hours (or whatever it was) of nonstop entertainment preceding the Mass was simply not a fitting or effective way to prepare to celebrate the sacred mysteries, as far as I’m concerned. I know many people really enjoyed it, but I felt like I was at a spectacle, not a Mass.

I got off on the wrong foot as soon as I got to the stadium, as I had to stand in a line (the word being used here quite loosely) outside of Gate 4, unwillingly listening to a bullhorn-type speaker, which sounded as if it must have had a frayed cone (or whatever the technology was), blaring out at an obnoxious volume the music that was beginning to be played inside. Through the cacophony, I surmised it must have been organ music (which seemed sensible enough). Later, having a program to help me interpret what was going on, I realized that there were several marching bands that were supposed to be part of the show, but which I never saw. I could barely believe it…

The cacophony that had been blaring incessantly out of that dilapidated speaker outside Gate 4 was not organ music at all, it was marching bands! It sounded so bad, I couldn’t tell the difference! My senses felt absolutely assaulted, and while the instrumentation was at least discernible once inside the bowl of the stadium, it was often still too loud to hear clearly. But the bigger question seems to be this: What do marching bands and the lounge-sound shtick of court jesters like Harry Connick Jr. have to do with preparing for the arrival of the Bishop of Rome to celebrate the liturgy of the 5th Sunday of Easter?

How does expression move from entertainment to liturgy, from performance to prayer? This strikes me as the central problem of yesterday’s experience. The worst of it is that there didn’t even seem to be an implied discontinuity: the spectacle segued into the sacrosanct as smoothly as any other made-for-TV production. The “opening acts” climaxed just before the pontiff’s arrival with one of those ridiculous, choreographed “presentations,” complete with men in white leotards running around the stadium carrying huge paper ducks on sticks (Joyce insists they were supposed to be doves – they looked like ducks to me). It was indistinguishable from the schmaltz that a “big event” organizer would use for something like the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games.

What does it mean to bring the Holy Father into that kind of context? What are we saying by that? -And no serious Catholic can deny that context always speaks volumes about meaning – the Incarnation and sacramental economy stand squarely in the path of any such attempted denial.

The music got a lot better once he arrived, and Benedict carries the insignia of his office with such humble dignity that it almost made it possible to forget the tribulations that waiting for him had entailed, but by the time he opened the Mass, I was worn out, frazzled, and thoroughly uncollected. I needed some quiet time, and I sure wasn’t going to get it in Yankee Stadium.

Hitting the Road to Worship with Pope Hope

Posted: Friday, April 18, 2008 (11:14 pm), by John W Gillis


In less than 36 hours, Joyce and I will be in New York, for the papal Mass at Yankee Stadium. I’m very much looking forward to the experience, even if it means getting on a bus at 6:00am, and spending four hours traveling each way, just to sit high in the upper deck of the stadium.

As much as anything else, I’m looking forward to the community. I expect celebrating the Mass with 50,000 Christians, or whatever it works out to be, will be exhilarating. I get energized on Holy Days when several hundred people crowd the church where I typically celebrate daily Mass with 30 or 40 folks (maybe twice that during Lent). The presence of the Pope should raise the amperage for everyone as well, giving such visible and concrete form to the unity of the Church through his person there among us. If there is ever to be a time I feel what I already know to be true: how, in the liturgy, we each pray together with the entire believing Church, this should be the moment. I hope I am able to hold on even more deeply to that realization as I move through my life in the days to come.

Even the bus trip should be edifying. It will be a charter bus full of about 50 worshipers from surrounding towns, all traveling together with a single purpose. Of course, it’s always possible that I may end up surrounded by people who just won’t shut up – either on the bus, or even in the stadium. If that turns out to be the case, it will just be that much more of a challenge for me to take away from all this a wonderfully illuminating and ennobling experience.

Of course, I am looking forward to hearing the Holy Father address us as well, though in all honesty I do not expect to be able to understand him very well – between his accent, my general struggles hearing speech, and the geography of the encounter. I will understand him better when I can read the published homily, which I will certainly do. Still, I will use the opportunity of physical proximity to personalize my listening, to really treat his words as addressed to me: to be personally encouraged by his encouragement, and to be personally challenged by his challenge to us. Of course, when he addresses the Church – or the world – he always addresses me as a member, but I hope I can be forgiven the conceit of wanting to use the opportunity to interpret this address as being somehow more directly for me, in order to intensify the personal depth of my encounter with it, and motivate me all the more to take ownership of the message. Being there, after all, should make some sort of difference.

I don’t quite know what to expect to hear from him at this point. I’ve been too tired this week to follow much of the visit on TV (not to mention doing more strenuous things like feeding the blog), but from what I’ve seen in the papers and such, he appears to have covered everything on the agenda already. The newspaper coverage has been, for the most part, pitiful – fixated on the media darling abuse crisis (unsurprisingly, given that I’ve mostly been looking at the local scandal rags: The Boston Globe and The Boston Herald). But I saw one thing in a blog entry by Boston Globe staffer Michael Paulson on the day of the White House lawn welcoming ceremony that made me smile. As he was describing the crowd of the faithful gathered in hopes of seeing the Holy Father, he wrote: “I did see some cute little girls with handmade signs reading ‘We love you Pope Hope!’ ”

Pope Hope. I love it.