When the popemobile drew within 20 yards, I removed my microphone and told the two (welcoming and warm) anchors that I couldn’t cover this part of the event because I wanted to experience it. The popemobile moved toward our spot, and when it passed directly in front of us, Pope Benedict looked at us, or at least seemed to, and raised his hand in blessing. And Cardinal Edward Egan pointed at me, smiled and waved. And out of me came a loud cry of joy!
I had felt hoarse all day, until that moment. Somehow I had found my voice!
At that moment, I felt a tremendous sense of gratitude. For what? For being a part of a worldwide church. For being a part of a community of believers. For being part of the communion of saints. And also, for being able to see that while some of my old disagreements with the former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger are not unreasonable, that he is the Vicar of Christ, and is, for this poor and flawed Catholic, and for all Catholics, the Successor of St. Peter. So this “man of faults,” as he called himself last week, connects me with the apostles, and so connects me with Jesus Christ.
The church is like a family. It drives you crazy sometimes, but you still love it. Not grudgingly, but fully and unreservedly. As well, you may drive everyone else in it crazy, and you will still be a part of them. Not grudgingly, but fully and unreservedly. It will always be flawed, and so will you. It will always be a part of you, and you will always be a part of it. Moreover, I have committed myself to this imperfect and beautiful, traditional and progressive, confusing and clarifying, bizarre and familiar, graceful and sinful community for the rest of my life.
So for being Catholic I cry out, just like I cried out at Yankee Stadium yesterday afternoon, under the bright sun, along with 60,000 of my brothers and sisters in Christ.
The NYT photo above is credited to Chang W. Lee.