Tuesday, 11 October 2011
I grew up not just seeing his face but hearing anecdotes and wistful reminiscences about him. The same adjectives abounded: good, kind, avuncular, humble, genial, loving and lovable. The first pope, after centuries of frosty distance and deference, to give the papacy a friendly, benign face. The first pope to visit Regina Caeli prison and insist on meeting and blessing all inmates, including the most hardened and dangerous. The first pope to open wide his arms and embrace the world.
He was a farmer's son who, apparently, enjoyed a glass of good wine: so a good excuse, if one were needed, to raise a glass in his honour, toast his smiling memory, and ask him to pray for the health of the Church he so memorably served...