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In the Newsroom

February 6, 2009
The proud and dismayed pray for the pope

Pope Benedict XVI.

Worldfocus anchor Martin Savidge watched from Germany as Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI, and considers what the pope’s journey means to his native Germany.

When Pope John Paul II died in April of 2005, NBC chartered a plane to fly a huge team of reporters, producers and technicians to Rome to cover the funeral and the selection of a successor. I wasn’t among them. Instead, I went to London to fill in for all those who went to Rome.

When the conclave to elect a new Pope began, I was moved to Bavaria. German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wasn’t considered by many in the media to stand much of a chance of succeeding the man he advised for years, but you never know — so there I was standing in the tiny town of Marktl am Inn where Ratzinger was born. The local priest confirmed my suspicion that this was a Papal goose chase after I asked him how many other reporters had interviewed him about Ratzinger so far: “You’re the first,” he said.

The prevailing guidance from the foreign desk was that if no Pope was selected in the first ballot, then Ratzinger was definitely out of the running. The first, second and third ballots came and went with only black smoke — then it went white.

No longer feeling part of the story, the crew and I were still interested in knowing who the next Pope would be, so we headed to the only public place that had a television: The local brauhouse, or bar.

So there we sat with about 40 other locals nursing apple juice while they downed beer. We watched as the curtain in the Vatican was pulled back to reveal the new Holy See. Joseph Ratzinger! The bar burst into cheers and some men actually were crying in their beer with joy.

The bells at the church began to ring without stop. People poured into the street celebrating despite a cold and steady rain. The mayor came out of city hall and delivered some words and then everyone headed for the church for a special mass to pray for the new German Pope and hometown hero. It was a moment for the memory books.

In the four years since, it hasn’t been happily ever after for Pope Benedict XVI. He created great controversy upsetting Muslims with his speech that criticized the faith of Mohammad. Then, just two weeks ago, he infuriated many Jews by reinstating a former Bishop who has been a vocal denier of the Holocaust. Richard Williamson’s words — and the earnestness of how he delivers them — are frightening. The Holy See has since said that Williamson must “unequivocally and publicly distance himself” from his statements about the Holocaust.

In one fell swoop, Germany’s hometown hero has triggered world condemnation and done so over Germany’s national shame. Denying the Holocaust in Germany is against the law. And so it was that Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel would be the first world leader to criticize her native son, saying, “This should not be allowed to pass without consequences.” For many Catholic Germans, a more painful conflict of faith is hard to imagine.

And yet, I can see the faithful people of Marktl am Inn once again heading to the local church and praying for their hometown boy, just as they did four years ago — only this time adding a bit stronger emphasis on the request for God to grant him wisdom.

– Martin Savidge

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Ammar Abd Rabbo under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments

7 comments

#7

watch that nazi/ss

#6

I think the Pope is doing exactly as Jesus represenative on earth should do. Speaking out on evils of Islam that is causing all the wars on earth, denying Jesus as the son of God is not the true religion! We need more Bishops and Priests like him. He is speaking the truth in todays “political correctness” world that is falling apart. Pope!

#5

Words…
those ‘raindrop’ assayers of the depths of concious ‘oceanic’ comprehensions [of Religious and Humanistic philosophical terminologies] involving [from the view of our everpresent earthly mortality:] ephemeral (mis-)
understandings which might imply much potential [continual] searching [concerning Concrete and Abstract Thinking] as to why [as to what definite purpose] rain still falls on ‘grounds’ [‘places’ where matters (eventually) pass with all due haste] void of [immediately] observable ‘human’ life forms…even those very uninhabited areas of the Earth which [still] experience ‘clouds’ [of ideologies] which build up and release periodic torrents of ‘rain-descending’ opinions [on grounds of (and between) subjects of Love and Strife] which may ‘water’ those ’empty grounds’ where no creatures [wish to] ‘live’ whether by necessity or by definite choice though many do [due to reasons of self-preservation] pass through [as quickly as possible] the ‘harsh uninhabited regions’ [those ‘regions’ void of enduring ‘human’ consolations] with all due haste.

#4

Marco, it is a good rule of thumb for the Christian never to ascribe to malice what can be explained by ignorance.
While I do believe in the existence of “sinister forces” it does not follow that the forces themselves are human, (does that make me superstitious and medieval in my thinking?)
I think most of the people engaged in attacking the Pope or his actions do so in ignorance, and are the Useful Idiots of those who are, (or him who is,) the source of the evil.

I also find it cosmically funny that attempted “humiliation” is one their tools — it has no power whatsoever against a man as humble as Joseph Ratzinger.

(Save the Liturgy, save the World)

#3

The pattern is becoming clear (as with the rections to the Regensnburg speech, the Good Friday prayers, the gays and saving the rainforest distortions among others) – sinister forces within and without the Church are doing their utmost whenever they feel there is an opportune time, to humiliate the Pope and to shamefully distort the Pope’s words of wisdom and acts of charity into something grotesque and evil. A shame that most of the media don’t have the ability or desire to see this for what it is.

#2

Well, I do not know you, Mr Savidge, so I will not go so far as calling you a “disgrace” (I am a wretched sinner and in no position to speculate on or speak another’s state of grace,) but you do seem a little confused on some of your facts.
Do you realy think it fair to say Pope Ratzinger’s Regensburg speech “criticized the faith of Mohammed”? I find it impossible to beleive anyone who either heard or read the speech in its entirity (as opposed to limiting oneself to what other had said ABOUT the speech,) could come to such a conclusion.
Surely you are not one of those lazy journalists who can’t be bothered with primary sources, and let others tell them what to think and believe?
Your description of the lifting of the excommunication on Williamson, by leaving out the reasoning behind the SSPX’s break with the Church would allow the uninformed reader to think his loony beliefs anent the Jews and the Shoah had something to do with the original excommunication and the reinstatemtn, whihc of course is not the case.
All this wailing and gnashing of teeth puts you in the same position as an evidenc-planting detective or a currupt judge who would send a man to prison for a crime he did not commit, on the theory thatm “well, he must be guilty of SOMEthin’!”
And I would be willing to bet that not a soul in Markt is presumptuous enough to think that he is wiser than the Holy Father, and that if only God had thought of it He would have made Pope Ratzinger just as smart as Johann Q. von Publik.
(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

#1

Oh, you “see” the faithful of Marktl asking that the Pope be granted “wisdom?”

Mr. Savidge, you’re a disgrace.

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