Papal Audience

I’m sure they must have updated the system by now. It seemed so antiquated in 2009, it would seem even more so today.

I figured since we were going to be in Rome we should take in a papal audience. Not a private one you understand, but the Wednesday public gathering in St. Peter’s Square. So I went on the Vatican website to find out where I should send the email request for tickets.

It didn’t work that way. Turns out it still doesn’t – I just looked it up.

I had to send my request by fax. The response came by snail mail, and then I had to pick up my tickets in person at St. Peter’s the day before. I guess that helps weed out the less dedicated.

It was a stinking hot July morning, and we arrived at St. Peter’s Square relatively early so we could get a reasonable seat. We talked with those around us while we waited.IMG_1176

No, strictly speaking that’s not true. My wife talked with those around us. I’m an introvert, I don’t talk to strangers. I don’t remember much about the wait except the heat; I think one couple was from Australia and we later swapped some photos. The square holds thousands and it was pretty full.

Nor do I remember what Pope Benedict had to say that morning, other than that it was in six languages. It wasn’t the best sermon/homily I have ever heard – but it wasn’t the worst either. I remember more his ride through the crowd in the Popemobile – he came very close to us, as you can see in the picture.IMG_1167

So why would I, a non- Roman Catholic want to give up a morning of my vacation for a church service? My wife indulged me on that one; she’d been to Rome before and had never bothered with the weekly audience. Even though she is of German heritage, seeing the German Pope up close wasn’t high on her list of things to do. Or maybe it was just jet lag that tempered her enthusiasm.

It seemed important to me somehow to take part. St. Peter’s has been the seat of the Roman Catholic Church for almost 2000 years. You don’t need to be a member of that particular denomination to have an understanding of Christian tradition that goes back a couple of millennia. I might have a few theological differences with the Pope, but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect what the Church of Rome has done over the years to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It would almost have seemed rude to be in Rome and not drop by to say hello. I’m sure the Pope would do the same if he were to visit Ottawa.

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