Sunday, April 20, 2008

And the *Noble* Peace Prize is awarded to...

If the Nobel Peace Prize wasn't such a damned joke, I'd nominate Pope Benedict XVI for it; however, as you and I know it's a joke at best and a political sham at worst so I won't bother. Instead, let us create our own Noble Peace Prize.

Granted, the Pope meets most of the primary definitions of "noble;" however, this particular Pope meets the more important definitions that are, oddly enough, a bit farther down the list:

4. of an exalted moral or mental character or excellence; lofty: a noble thought.
5. admirable in dignity of conception, manner of expression, execution, or composition: a noble poem.


I am not Catholic nor do I belong to any organized religion. Yet I find myself in awe of Pope Benedict XVI as he visits our country this week. I have followed the news, heard some of his speeches, and seen video and photos of his visit. I am awed by the humility with which this great man has delivered such earnest, meaningful messages to those suffering in our nation.

The families of those killed as a result of the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001 were no doubt moved by the message and prayer Pope Bendict brought to Ground Zero in New York City today.

[...] We ask you, in your compassion to bring healing to those who, because of their presence here that day, suffer from injuries and illness. Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy. Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope. [...]

[Source: WNBC News -- See video here as well.]

In his remarks and prayers there, he also remembered those who were killed and their families in the attacks at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The Pope seems very aware of what those losses have done to each and every person affected, whether directly or indirectly, by those heinous attacks. His words reflected the desire for courage and peace in each of us.

This pope did not shy away from direct and meaningful interaction with those who were hurt deeply by pedophile Catholic priests; the Jewish community bearing witness to hatred past and present -- some of which the man, Joseph Ratzinger, himself witnessed; the lawmakers who subjugate their Catholicism to a "woman's right to choose;" and, through his speeches, those of us who simply needed uplifting through a spirit much bigger and more forgiving than ourselves.

As small a thing as it might seem, I have been deeply disturbed and hurt by the vitriolic verbal attacks on our nation and its character since the Iraqi front was opened in this war against Islamo-fascism. The "Hate America" crowd has done more damage to the psyche of this nation than many of us care to admit. So, it is that we cannot help but be buoyed and renewed by the Pope's speech at the Whitehouse on April 16, 2008:

[...] From the dawn of the Republic, America’s quest for freedom has been guided by the conviction that the principles governing political and social life are intimately linked to a moral order based on the dominion of God the Creator. The framers of this nation’s founding documents drew upon this conviction when they proclaimed the “self-evident truth” that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights grounded in the laws of nature and of nature’s God. The course of American history demonstrates the difficulties, the struggles, and the great intellectual and moral resolve which were demanded to shape a society which faithfully embodied these noble principles. In that process, which forged the soul of the nation, religious beliefs were a constant inspiration and driving force, as for example in the struggle against slavery and in the civil rights movement. In our time too, particularly in moments of crisis, Americans continue to find their strength in a commitment to this patrimony of shared ideals and aspirations. [...]

Mr. President, dear friends: as I begin my visit to the United States, I express once more my gratitude for your invitation, my joy to be in your midst, and my fervent prayers that Almighty God will confirm this nation and its people in the ways of justice, prosperity and peace. God bless America!

[Source: Vatican Website]

And today, he reminded us all -- Catholic or not -- during remarks about the Mass he would give today at Yankee Stadium of the unique responsibility inherent in freedom:

[...] He called the Mass "a summons to move forward with firm resolve to use wisely the blessings of freedom, in order to build a future of hope for coming generations."
[...] [Source: WNBC News]

Pope Benedict XVI has not concocted some fictious tragedy to address (*cough* man-made global warming *cough*). Instead, this very humble pontiff has come to the United States in person to address some very real world suffering. What could possibly be more noble?

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