Wednesday, April 20, 2005

MH - Before We Say Goodbye

It's been an exciting, exhilarating couple of days. All of a sudden we have a new pope, Benedict XVI, and for the briefest moment our beloved late Holy Father, John Paul II, has moved into the background. I was going to say his legacy would be felt for generations to come, but why be bashful about it - his legacy will live until the end of the world. This moment, however, belongs to the new Holy Father, and I think his election means the continuation of a great age for the Catholic Church. Benedict will, I think, lead us courageously to face the hopes and fears, the trials and tribulations, and ultimately the glory of the future.

Before then, however, let's stop and and take one last look backwards in time. This is from the excellent 1983 book Pontiff, by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts. I think it's out of print now, but if you run across it in a library or used book store it's well worth a read. It's 1978, and John Paul has just been elected pope. Lambert Greenan, the editor of the English edition of L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, has just received a phone call from John Cardinal Cody, the archbishop of Chicago. Cody, who had been invited to dine with Greenan at the end of the conclave, is calling to express his regrets - the new Holy Father has invited all the cardinals to eat and pray with him. "Very Polish," Cody says. The story continues:
"Also very Irish, Eminence." [Greenan says]

"Polish. Irish. Same thing where I come from," growls Cody. "Okay. You ask me again. Understand?"

"Perfectly, Eminence."

A sudden thought strikes Greenan. The Chicago cardinal has a large number of Poles in his archdiocese. It's worth a try.

"Eminence, what's the new pope like?"


"You've met him of course?"

"Sure. Lots of times. A great man. Let me tell you a few things. . . ."

For the next twenty minutes Greenan listens to one cardinal's very personal view of the new pontiff. The editor will decide that what he hears is too privileged ever to reveal."

The riveting call ends on a high note.

"Lambert, you listen to me. This is going to be the greatest pope ever. You get that? Ever."

Without waiting to say good-bye Cody rings off.

Cardinal Cody may have had his faults, but as a prophet he did a pretty good job, didn't he?

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