By Lorelle Brune
Last year, when my high school choir got to visit Rome, I was blessed with the opportunity to listen to the Sunday papal blessing at St. Peter’s Basilica. Before I got to actually see Pope Benedict XVI, though, I was one of those born-after-1978 Catholics who had never heard a name other than Pope John Paul II. I used to have the attitude similar to this: “He’s (Pope Benedict) not really the pope. JP is MY pope.” However, I have since become very inspired by Pope Benedict XVI.
As I was reading some things about Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict’s baptismal name), I learned a lot about him that really impressed me. For example, he has a strong conscience and does not let the opinions of others affect what he knows is right. Even at a young age, when he was drafted into the Nazi (youth) army, he deserted because he disagreed with what the Nazis were doing. He has been considered perhaps “too conservative,” but instead of letting more liberal ideas influence him, he stays true to church teachings about things such as abortion and contraception. However, he also reaches out to other faiths, showing that tolerance and acceptance are important when dealing with other religions. And one fun fact: the pope plays the piano and loves music, something I find really interesting because I also play the piano.
One of the things that I remember most about listening to the papal blessing was the way our pope spoke. He did not sound bombastic or forceful like a politician. He sounded like an everyday person with a bit of a German accent. Even though, at the time, he was saying everything in Italian, his words filled me with a sense of peace. I may not have known what he was saying, but I understood the meaning. He also included parts of the blessing in other languages — French, German, English and a couple of others. As I looked around, I was amazed to see people from all over the world, all of us with tears in our eyes, loving that we were in St. Peter’s that day for the same reason. We came to see and hear a great man who is a blessing to all Catholics.
So why do I love this pope? He is special to me because of his genuineness, his personality and the way he brings people together from all different cultures. May God bless the pope for years to come.
(Lorelle Brune is a senior at Holy Trinity Catholic Junior/Senior High School in Fort Madison and attends St. Mary Parish in West Point.)