The Pope of Rome in America 2008: Why Now?

The pope later attended a reception at the White House itself, and held a private meeting with Bush. And at the annual “Catholic Prayer Breakfast”, attended by 2000 people, Bush said it was a privilege to welcome the pope to the United States. The theme was “A Celebration of Benedict XVI in America.” Bush spoke about the pope’s visit to Washington and the White House, saying, “This has been a joyous week. It’s been a joyous time for Catholics – and it wasn’t such a bad week for Methodists, either. The excitement was just palpable. The streets were lined with people that were so thrilled that the Holy Father was here. And it was such a privilege to welcome this good man to the United States.” [4] He added, “And it was a special moment to be able to visit with the Holy Father in the Oval Office. He is a humble servant of God. He is a brilliant professor. He is a warm and generous soul. He is courageous in the defense of fundamental truths.”

It’s amazing how a man so exalted by human beings around the world, who lives in the splendours of the Vatican, surrounded by unequalled wealth and earthly glory, who wears triple crowns, gold, silver, and precious stones, who sits on a throne, and who accepts the adoration of over a billion of the world’s inhabitants and the exalted titles of Deity itself, can be referred to as a “humble man of God” – and no one bats an eyelid! Nor does anyone seem to notice that the Roman pope himself happily basks in such fawning praise, and never bothers to correct those giving it! As the saying goes, He’s so humble he’s proud of it.

How can a man who presides over a religio-political system that covers up gross sexual and other sins, deifies its leader, starts wars, murders opponents, and a thousand other iniquities, be a “good, warm, and generous soul”? George W. Bush might be willing to brush such things under the carpet, as do multiplied millions of others, but we hold firmly to the true portrait of this pope and all popes, drawn by the Holy Spirit in His own Word with an infallible hand: he is “that man of sin, the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God; whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thess. 2:3,4,9,10).

So: why did Benedict XVI visit the United States at this time?

The theme of the five-day trip was “Christ Our Hope”, but that means nothing. A theme title like that is deliberately vague and pious-sounding. “The pope,” as one Roman Catholic editor put it, “had many missions in the US” – indeed he did, and this is not the place to go into them all in detail; but – “healing the still raw wounds of abuse occupied a position of priority.” [5] Above all, the purpose of the trip was “to heal past wounds and to address current issues”.[6] In this article, we will examine the main purpose of his visit – to contain and repair the damage done by the massive priestly sex abuse scandal in the U.S.; and just one of his other “missions” in that great country – the mission of whipping his American flock into line. This one we will examine first, and briefly: