Pope Benedict XVI will receive the highest honor the United States can bestow upon on a visiting head of state: the President will meet him at the airport. Afterwards, the White House will host the largest gathering of Bush's presidency, as over 12,000 guests will receive His Holiness. Quite an honor.
Sadly, Catholic hate mobs will be out in force, too. Excommunicates who believe they know God's designs for the church better than the Pope will travel from St. Louis to embarrass themselves and the church they refuse to obey.
Why would a Methodist president show more respect for the Pope than cradle Catholics?
Pride. Donna Quinn, a former nun excommunicated recently by St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, wants to be a priest. Her pride drove her to separate from her church. Presidents are proud men at some level, but this one is not so proud as to blind him.
Benedict continues a rejuvenation of the church that John Paul II began. In this reform, the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s begin receding. The old prayers are returning as the church remembers that ancient admonition: lex orandi, lex credendi.
Fr. John Corapi, a preacher every Catholic should know well, tells of a meeting late in the Second Vatican Council. The Cardinals took turns extolling the virtues of "fresh air." The idea was to renew the church by opening the windows, metaphorically.
As Corapi tells it, an old French Cardinal sat and listened for hours. As the proceedings neared a close, he rose to speak. He said, "Openness is good, and we could all use some fresh air. But be careful. When you throw open the windows, you might let in fresh air. You might let in every stench from the gutter, too."
Donna Quinn's perverted, disordered views, her self-importance, her pride, result from those gutter stenches that wafted into our churches when we threw open the windows. The poor woman never received the education, the formation that the church knows to give. Like so many modern Catholics, she learned a disordered catechism penned by men, not by God. The spirit that moved the church's leaders were not of Heaven, but of profanity.
Thank God that our president will give Pope Benedict his due. May the world, and particularly Catholics, see his visit as the chance to return to the church Christ ordained, following the shepherd He left to tend His flock. And may Donna Quinn and I be in that number.