Amid the overwhelmingly positive coverage of the pope’s visit, Rocco Palmo’s praise stood out especially fulsome. He described New York City as buzzing with energy over Benedict’s visit. Perhaps Brooklyn doesn’t count, but having spent some time this weekend in several neighborhoods in both the most populous borough and the most famous one, I have to say I didn’t notice anything special about the city’s buzz outside the locations where the pope spent time–apart from the traffic rage emanating from thousands of East Siders. (At the Mass I attended on Saturday evening, the pope’s visit was not mentioned.) This is not to say that the city remained unmoved.
Sitting across from me on the 2 train this morning, a father was deep in conversation with his toddler son about the boy’s imaginary insect friends, when the boy caught a glimpse of his dad’s Daily News. “Who’s that, Daddy?” Pope Benedict graced the cover, superimposed over a wide-angle shot of a de-Yankified Yankee Stadium, smiling wide and waving to the ebullient crowd. “He’s the pope,” the father said. “Catholics like him. In his whole life, he’s never done anything wrong.” At that, the thirty-something Latino gentleman seated next to the father chimed in: “Not true.” The father shrugged, and turned the page. But the boy turned it back, transfixed by the photo. He pointed at various details on the pope’s vestments. “That’s his tall hat, and his long robe,” the father explained. “He takes money from the people and buys fancy clothes with them.”
“He’s old,” the boy observed.
“Yes, but he’s nice. Says nice things, and does nice things, and prays for people. We like him.”