Growing Catholic anticipation!

Excitement is building as we wait for Pope Benedict’s arrival. Over the past few days, this author has carefully watched the barrage of news releases that offer commentary on just about anything that deals with Pope Benedict. Questions are raised. What will he wear? What will he say? While the crescendo of this Papal visit is not quite the same as experience for his predecessor, Pope Benedict’s visit indeed has Catholics and secular observers keenly watching for indications of the coming papal messages. Benedict’s brief message yesterday on the internet shows the Pope as clearly looking forward to the apostolic visit. For American Catholics, the clip broadcast yesterday is indicative of the great role of communicator to the world that is inherent in Benedict’s position.

The papal visit is one that will provide an opportunity for the Pope to build a spiritual bond between the Church of Rome and the Church in America. While the bond already exists this trip will allow both Pope and faithful Catholics to interact with their spiritual leader for the first time since his election. The message of Pope Benedict for the United States will no doubt include admonitions about the purpose of Catholic educational facilities, the need for Catholics to adhere to Church morality and social teachings, an acknowledgement of the effects of the sex scandal in the United States and perhaps the role of the laity in the Church’s ministry. Whatever his message, the Holy Father will continue as a bridge-builder and messenger of peace between all opposing social and theological viewpoints.

For Pope Benedict the insistence for all Church members to adhere to the moral and social teachings of the Church will be nothing new. However, the manner in which he calls American Catholics to a renewed and restored life of Catholic identity might dramatically change. The papal messages are indicative that the Catholic Church is evolving into a larger global presence and influence on a daily basic. One role Benedict seems certain to envision for the Church’s faithful is that of a global witness to the Gospel that transcends just the personal expressions of our Catholic faith. Catholic believers in the mind of Pope Benedict are not only individual members of the Church, but part of a larger collective group of Catholic faithful that are part of the larger global social and political scene.

Perhaps the message Benedict presents to the United Nations will illustrate the great international role the Church and its members play in emerging global politics.

Catholic morality and the universal rights to human life and dignity should also play a part in the Pope’s message. On a daily basic, the Catholic Church is intimately involved with activities that assist the human person in overcoming political tyranny, social injustices, famine, hunger and religious discrimination. Pope Benedict’s message will call on Catholics to accept the challenge of participation that goes along with membership in the Catholic faith.

Continuity is perhaps the most important message Benedict will bring to the United States. His declarations at Catholic University should clearly mark the importance associated with Catholic educational principles, and the need to faithfully adhere to those precepts. In summary, the Benedictine call to Catholic identity involves continuity of belief in established Catholic principles of morality and ethics. Liturgical expressions of the Mass and the Sacraments are clearly the most evident signs and symbols of Christ’s Presence among his faithful followers. Benedict’s message surely will focus on the essential importance of Eucharistic celebration as the uniting focus among our Church, with the goal of ecumenical dialogue to restore unity among all sections of Christianity.

Finally, religious understanding and tolerance for all faiths is a point the Holy Father should clearly make as well. In the developing understanding of our relationships with Islam and Judaism, the Church has an opportunity towards religious harmony and dialogue. Such Catholic participation towards such a monumental goal is reflective of the game plan of Benedict’s papacy

Hugh McNichol is a Catholic author that writes on Catholic religious topics and subjects. His articles can be found at  and , and  

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