Pope Benedict XVI - Essays and Reflections on His Papacy

Up Close and Personal

Bringing Him a Piece of Home

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson Archbishop of St. Louis

I have had the privilege of meeting His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on three different occasions—at the Pallium Mass in 2009, a general audience in October 2008, and a private meeting in the spring of 2006. It was then that I had just finished a pilgrimage from Germany to Poland, and among the places visited was the birthplace of Pope Benedict XVI in Marktl Am Inn, Germany.


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A Father with His Children

Cardinal Francis George, OMI • Archbishop of Chicago

During Pope Benedict’s visit to the United States, every
moment was programmed, every event scheduled, every person instructed so that everything came together as planned and as necessary. Watching the visit unfold hour by hour within the net of security and the prescriptions of the Pope’s staff was fascinating; but even more fascinating was watching the Pope as he broke out, at odd moments, to respond to those who had come to see him.


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He Wanted to Be There

Helen Osman, Secretary for Communications • United States Conference of Catholic bishops

I could not sit or stand still on the grandstands at Andrews Air Force Base on April 15, 2008. The Pope was due to arrive at any minute. I probably hadn’t slept more than three hours a night for weeks, as we crammed what was usually 18 months of preparation for a papal visit into less than six months. Now the plane was on the ground, and we were waiting for the door to open.


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Still Witnessing at the Empty Tomb

Cardinal John Foley • Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem

After he appointed me Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, Pope Benedict XVI kindly invited me to accompany him during his visit to the Holy Land. For me, a very memorable moment was when he faced the entrance to the Holy Sepulchre and he said that, like St. Peter, he was looking at the empty tomb and giving witness to the Resurrection of Jesus.


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Healing Compassion

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley • Archbishop of Boston

Prior to Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United States in 2008, much discussion took place about whether or not the Holy Father would address the clergy sexual abuse crisis. Once the Pope arrived, his words and actions made clear that he would not avoid this painful reality.


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Concern for the Flock

Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond • Archbishop of New Orleans

Each time I have met Pope Benedict I find him most personable, and he has extremely effective eye contact. His humility has impressed me as he always asks for prayers in order that he may carry out his ministry effectively.


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“From the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Benedict has sought to build bridges of friendship between the Church and the Jewish people.”

Father James Massa