Pope Benedict XVI - Essays and Reflections on His Papacy

He Wanted to Be There

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. The buzz and anticipation among the crowd were palpable. Then someone appeared at the doorway. A somewhat small, white-robed figure literally bounded down the steps. He was obviously delighted, excited, waving at the crowds, who were wildly cheering. It’s like a grandfather coming to see his family, I thought. Forget the “Rottweiler” image, folks. And I knew, no matter what snags we might have in the days ahead, the rest of the visit would be wonderful. He wanted to be here. We wanted him to be here. It would be a great family reunion.


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“…beyond his great erudition, he carries within him the qualities of a great pope for our times, with a sensitive pastoral heart….”

Cardinal Francis George, OMI