On Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 pm, Pope Benedict XVI arrives at Andrews Air Force Base for his long awaited Apostolic Journey to the United States. It will be a historic encounter as the more than 70 million Catholics in the United States have their first encounter with the Holy Father. One can only hope that the faithful will be able to listen, instill in their hearts, and one day confidently proclaim in word and deed the crux of the Pope's message of hope.
Indeed, the theme of this papal voyage is "Christ Our Hope." In his latest encyclical Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict wrote that there exists a hope that encompasses all of reality, and that it comes in the form of a gift from God. It is that very gift that the Pope will be presenting in his 11 speeches, which range from the White House to the United Nations, from talks to the U.S. Bishops to an address before a youth rally in New York. I just hope people listen to the Pope's words and not necessarily what they hear said about him.
This evening I sat in my hotel room along with fellow producer Kris Dmytrenko and our cameraman Wally Tello watching the local TV coverage of the Pope's immanent arrival. The news reporters were to be commended for their excitement and attention given to the Pope's trip (Indeed, the entire half hour newscast was dedicated to the arrival and itinerary of Pope Benedict). However, they failed to once mention the words CHRIST, HOPE, FAITH, REVIVAL, INSPIRATION...and these are the words that truly describe what a papal visit should mean for Catholics.
My wish during my week in Washington DC and New York is that Christ our Hope becomes not a cliché that is quickly forgotten, but a clarion call to U.S. Catholics, inspiring priests and lay persons in their vocations, and the U.S. Church as a whole to embrace the hope which is the root of our Christian faith. In the words of Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Vatican's Nuncio to the United States, "To return to your roots means to go back to the sources of your identity, and by doing so, to find a path to the future."