The Pope arrives today. It is his first visit to our country and I think I am right in assuming that the great majority of Catholics here are very excited about it. I know I am. This is the first papal visit to our country since I joined this Faith.
The Pope is often misunderstood in many ways. First of all, no Catholic worships the Pope. In fact, we are not even obligated to agree with him about everything. That is, if the Pope holds a personal viewpoint that is not necessarily a dogma of the Church, then we are free to either agree or disagree with him. The Pope is not perfect. He can, and does, make mistakes. When we speak of papal infallibility we are only referring to those rare occasions when the Pope must make an official pronouncement on some aspect of the Church's teaching. I think the last time this happened was in 1950. So it is indeed rare.
Having said that, the Pope is the successor to St. Peter, called by our Lord Jesus Christ to be the chief of the apostles. The Pope occupies this same position as the chief bishop if you will, the bishops being the successors to the apostles. As such, we accord him a great deal of honor. He holds a venerable and special place in our hearts.
I am especially happy to have Benedict as our Pope. Obviously John Paul II was a wonderful Pope and Benedict follows in his footsteps. He is a very orthodox Pope, meaning that he is faithful to teach the whole faith. He is also faithful to emphasize traditional morality. The Church is blessed to have him as our leader at this time.
I am looking forward to his visit. I will be watching closely to see what he says. I am also anxious to see what the reaction will be to his visit. In addition I will be praying for him and all of us during this time. Certainly, God is wanting to speak to us through what he says. May we have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church!
Welcome Pope Benedict! We are glad to have you here!