Feb 032011

by Anura Guruge


Click for YouTube video

At yesterday’s weekly general audience by the pope, in the Paul VI Hall, a charming, precocious, Brazilian boy, of around 10, slipped past security and ran up the steps to kneel in front of the pope. It was actually quite touching and no big deal in terms of papal safety — other than that it was another embarrassment to the pope’s security detail (given its similarity, in terms of somebody getting past the barriers, to the pope being waylaid in St. Peter’s just before the 2009 Christmas Eve Mass).

Click on the picture for the YouTube video — though it doesn’t actually catch the boy getting past the metal crowd control barriers and the black suited security personnel.

MSNBC has some very good pictures — though the last picture distressed me, and I can only hope that the caption is wrong, and that the person carrying the boy is his father rather than a security guard. On a day where the other major story related to the Vatican has to do with the $77 M (US) settlement by the Delaware Catholic Diocese of Wilmington re. clerical abuse, this was NOT a good takeaway image. Kind of akin to the topless acrobats.


In case you are wondering who that dashing, movie-star like cleric that rushes to the side of the pope, I think that is the 54-year old, German, Monsignor Georg Gänswein, the pope’s personal secretary. [I could be wrong. I am not very good at identifying people.]

As a biological father (who remembers his son, around that age, rushing to see John McCain, during the 2000 primaries, with John immediately kneeling down to talk to him, face-to-face), I watched the YouTube video, multiple times last time, with conflicting reactions. Given that my own father is 82, I also had another reference point when watching the pope interacting with the boy.

Yes, I was delighted for the boy. He will remember this all his life. Bravo.

Kind of made me sad too. The pope sitting in splendid isolation makes you think. It sure must be lonely at the top. It also has to be difficult for a officially celibate man to really connect, with ease, with a young boy. I was trying to think back to the pictures and movies of John Paul I (#264) with young children. Yes, John Paul I was twenty years younger. I don’t know. The pope, nonetheless, did well. That made me happy.

[John Paul I video. Pictures of John Paul I with children, from the wonderful site created by my ‘friend’ Gloria C. Molinari (who when I first got started, gave me blanket permission to use anything and everything from her site.)]

The whole issue of papal security that leads to the degree of separation that the video and the MSNBC photos highlight makes me think. Yes, the pope, like any head of state (or VIP), needs to be protected, BUT doesn’t the pope have other ‘heavenly’ means that could let him get closer to his flock?

Well, as a father, I only hope that that little brown boy is OK … and that he was in no way traumatized by Swiss Guards with shaven heads.

Thank you. Cheers.

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