The Papal Rock Concert

As some of you may have heard, the Pope was in town a few weeks ago. I live in Washington, DC, and I have to admit I followed his visit closely – partially because my faithsharing group was doing an action around his visit (a story that might be worth a future post) and partially because I was absolutely fascinated with the Papal-mania that was springing up around me.

As an alum of Catholic University, I received email after email detailing CUA’s involvement in the visit. One email contained a video reel of students expressing their (only positive, of course) thoughts on the Pope coming to campus. One student said this, “…He is like descending from Peter and he is like God’s right hand man – right here – and so him coming to CUA is gonna change us so much…”

I only mention this statement because I think that this is what many people believe – especially many students at CUA. As Catholic Christians, every week at Mass we reaffirm our belief that Jesus is at the right hand of God and through Communion we are all the body of Christ and through that ritual we are changed. It certainly does not take one man on a three hour visit to CUA to create that change. On another note, we may need to do an education campaign at CUA about the lineage from Peter.

In an article in the Guardian, Jo-Ellen Can Nostrand from Long Island was quoted as saying “He’s the closest thing to God!” In many articles I read or conversations I overheard throughout his visit, this sentiment of the Pope being the embodiment of God was overwhelmingly disturbing. Each time I heard or read this, the song “This Little Light of Mine” popped into my head. I kept thinking don’t they remember that everyone – from the Pope to their neighbor to themselves – has the Spirit of Life within them.

I attended the Mass at Nationals Stadium. At first I didn’t want to go, but then I thought of it as an opportunity to pray with those with whom I both agree and disagree. I sat in the “Nun Section.” There were many young sisters in full habit in the section. When the Pope circled the outfield in his Mercedes-Benz, many of the young sisters ran up to the first row. One young woman came back in tears. Another looked as if she was about to faint. My co-worker leaned over to me and said, “I guess to them – this is like their rock concert.”

Certainly the Papal visit was an exciting time for Catholic Christians in the United States. However, I was left wondering why – to many – the presence of God is easier seen in an 81 year-old man in red Prada shoes than in the person sitting next to them. Really, every time anyone in the world walks out into the street, we should be throwing a parade and swooning in awe because we are all the embodiment of God.

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About Kate Childs Graham

Kate Braggs has recently completed her graduate studies in Gender and Peacebuilding at the University for Peace in San Jose, Costa Rica. In her graduate studies, she focused on the intersection of gender, sexuality, and religion in a human rights context. Currently, Kate is working as Justice Advocate for a community of women religious. She is also member of the Call to Action Next Generation Leadership Team, the Women's Ordination Conference Board, and a small faithsharing community in the Washington DC metro area.

9 thoughts on “The Papal Rock Concert

  1. AMEN!!!! That’s about all I have to say!

    You hit it on the nail and said so with words I hadn’t yet found. What’s so difficult is when we translate this difference in how we see things into a judgement of another’s faith’s validity. And it takes a lot of strength of spirit, will, maturity, etc. to listen to the stares and words of disaproval for not being so wrapped up in papacy and such.

  2. Well, the Pope is the Vicar of Christ, and deserves some respect, of course, but you are also partly right. To say that every person is the embodiment of God is actually a heresy. We shouldn’t even believe that the Pope is the embodiment of God, because he is human just like everyone else. I would strongly suggest being careful about this.

  3. I forgot to tell you how you are partially right. God is present in every person, yes, but not to the extent that you claim.

  4. According to Matthew 25, Jesus actually tells us that each and every person we meet is Christ Himself and should be treated accordingly. So I’m not sure it’s actually possible to overstate the extent to which God is present in every person.

    And if we read the final sentence of the post as saying that “we” collectively — all of us together making up the mystical body of Christ — it’s actually quite orthodox.

  5. Melange5, I had to delete your last comment as it was a violation of our Commenting Policy. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but we want friendly debate in the peaceful Spirit of Christ. Please refer to this policy for future reference.

  6. I would explain Papal Hysteria in the same way a faithful Democrat responsds to Barack Obama, or really how anyone in America reacts with the opportunit to see a national leader in person. Whether you agree with him and the hierarchy or not, the pope is at the top of it. He is a figure of worldwide renown and especially so because of so many misunderstandings of infallibility and the office of the pope.

    He does not have God’s voice whispering in his ear. He can make mistakes, just not when speaking ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals. Also – individual bishops are not, nor do they claim to be, infallible. When the College of Bishops come together to agree on a matter of faith and morals, such as a council like Vatican II, infallible teachings can occur.

    Please note that infallibility is not an impetus to always be correct in every deed and action. That is impeccability (ie without sin) and we all know that there was only one human without sin: Jesus.

    Sidenote – the pope goes to confession regularly – clearly not without sin!

  7. Nate, I appreciate your thoughts on hysteria. Through protests and demonstrations I can see how some people can just be caught up with protesting, for instance, and not the issue. They may know very little about the issue at hand, but just jump on the bandwagon.

    And I myself experienced a little awestruck moment when I went to see DC talk in college. I didn’t know they were going to be signing autographs and I thought it was terrible! I thought a Christian band shouldn’t be into that sort of thing; I saw it as glory seeking. But there I was waiting in line to get my cd signed. And when I got up to them I got all excited and experienced a little hysteria moment. I guess we’re prone in human nature to this sometimes.

  8. Nate @ 4:46 PM “we all know that there was only one human without sin: Jesus”

    Don’t forget to include Mary the Mother of God, too.

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