HEG: I think the expression that stays in my mind is a visual image: the unforgettable, colourful ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, and what it symbolized, and the sense of excitement that everyone had when the President spoke to the Pope in terms that made Catholics feel very proud to be Catholic, and when the Pope spoke to the President in terms that made Catholics feel very proud to be American, and Americans very proud to be Americans – it really was an extraordinary exchange – some people compared it to a duet in an opera, and it was quite, I think – remember the context where Catholics in the United States were feeling a little dispirited about a lot of things: church closings and the tremendous cost of damages or settling sex abuse claims, and the Pope came and made people feel good again, and hopeful.For VR's audio file, click here.
TMcC: one of the highlights of that visit to the US was, of course, the Pope’s discourse to the United Nations. In its seminar at the UN this month, how did the Holy See recall the Pope’s speech?
HEG: There was a great deal of discussion of the Pope’s praise of the human rights ideas in the Universal Declaration [of Human Rights] and in the UN Charter, of the Pope’s very pointed warnings about how human rights ideascan be deconstructed, hijacked and distorted. That was a good part of our discussion. Another part of our discussion had to do with the duty to protect, which the Pope discussed – keep in mind, we all know how Pope Benedict compresses very complex ideas into a few words, and so this notion of duty to protect bristles there, begging for, as they say, ‘unpacking’, and there was a good deal of discussion about, well, who, exactly, implements this duty to protect, and how does that fit with the doctrine of Subsidiarity. What was impressive to me was that the Holy See’s voice in the UN is so respected, and it was such a sign of that respect, that not only did they pack the hall when the Pope came a year ago, and give him a rousing standing ovation at the end, but they came back a year later to ponder and ask questions about what he had said.
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