By JOSEPH VOSS, Special To The Bulletin | Published April 24, 2008
I was fortunate enough to have been able to go and see the pope in New York this weekend. It was a very special and touching experience. Catholics from every single diocese in the entire United States came to Yankee Stadium to see Benedict XVI. For me, it gave a new meaning to “catholic,” as in “universal.” But, through it all, we must remember that while the pope came to the U.S., it wasn’t about the pope. No, it was about God. And, for the pope, it was also about us. The pope said he came to the U.S. to better serve us, for which I am still amazed and grateful. He spoke to the president, and he spoke to the United Nations. He spoke to bishops and to priests. He spoke to victims of the clergy abuse scandal, and he spoke to victims of 9/11. And he spoke to us—the lay people. Throughout it all, he was guiding us and helping us—helping those to whom he was speaking. We must remember that while the pope’s visit is full of more pomp and excitement than the Beatles and Led Zeppelin put together, it wasn’t about him. It was about all of us, worshiping God. He came, and he gave words of advice and consolation to the victims. Words of thanks to the firefighters. Words of pleading, for the unborn, for peace. An 81-year-old man flew to Washington and New York to help us out. He praised and honored American values, and he encouraged us to keep them up. Although the entire Mass was filled with applause and shouts of “Viva il Papa!” (Long live the pope!), the pope’s homily was interrupted by applause only twice: when he asked for openness to vocations and when he pled for defense of the unborn. We must remember that the pope is our spiritual father, and he came here to help us better serve God. So now let us do it: Instead of cheering for or defending the pope, do what he told us to do. Work and pray for peace and the stability of the Catholic Church.
Joseph Voss, a sophomore at Holy Spirit Preparatory School, Atlanta, went to New York City for the papal Mass with his parents, Paul and Mary Voss, and two of his siblings.