Pope Benedict’s visit: afterthoughts

Kids quiz the pope scan cropPope Benedict’s visit has come to an end. A whirlwind! So much TV coverage, so much going on and yes, so many challenging questions asked about the Catholic Church and the Catholic faith. And while those questions needed to be asked, and as challenging as they were to answer, we can all cheerfully say this has been an incredibly successful visit by our Holy Father!

The simple fact was that there was just so much positivity and joy expressed by ordinary Catholics. It was extraordinary!

And one of the most beautiful aspects was that it was so often, you, our country’s kids, who were at the heart of this incredible visit; it was the kids who managed to by-pass the barriers and beady-eyed security men to sneak an impromptu blessing from the pope, and it was those adorable babies who brought the rolling glass fortress of the pope-mobile to a halt, much to the delight of us all, as Pope Benedict cradled and kissed an unknowing babe’s head.

Alisha yr 4

You, the children, have also been delighting the many visitors to this blog. There were over five thousand views in just a few days! This ‘strange but interesting site’, as it was described by Rome Reports, features the questions that you would have liked to have asked the pope, if only you had had the chance.

The simple idea came to me during a social media training session organised by the Catholic Communications Network. Knowing that few parents would be able to take young children to the long and tiring events around the country (I missed out on seeing Pope John Paul II in 1982 for this very reason), I wanted to bring the pope to you. I also wanted to create something heart-warming and positive so as to knock down the barriers that many adults in the UK have about the pope.

luke yr 4And knock down barriers it did. People have been completely charmed by the blog (thanks to you), which is marvellous. And it also brought the pope to many of you.  During presentations I gave at liturgy groups and a local primary school, I asked the kids to imagine what it would be like to be in the crowd, waiting to see the pope. What would they do if he stopped and shook their hands? What one question would they ask?

The questions flooded from them, with everything from: “What is your favourite prayer?” to “What is your favourite football team?”   And with childlike candour, some even dared to ask, “Do you get paid?” and “What’s it like being in charge of the whole world?”

Yet the pope got the last word, or rather question, when he asked the many youngsters gathered at St Mary’s University College, Strawberry Hill, “Who is it you want to be?”

Who? indeed. I pray that in seeking the answer to this question, you will be led into an ever-deepening dialogue with Jesus; speaking one heart (yours) to His heart. Always.

Cheerio! Papal visit to UK heart speaks to heart

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September 20, 2010. Pope's visit 2010.

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