Benny and the Jet: Greeting the Pope at Andrews Air Force Base


The narrative of Pope Benedict XVI as rock star is already beginning to play itself out in both of our sensational tabloids. The Post describes an audience of elementary school students who were on hand at Andrews Air Force base:
“When they caught sight of the white-haired, white-robed” Benedict, students from a local Catholic school screamed ecstatically.” The Daily News goes the much more obvious route with its description:

He raised both hands like a rock star the Pope is a little more than 14 years older than Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts — as the crowd screamed in appreciation.

Yes, the pope is a diplomatic rock star, and a super-special one at that, as we learn that this is the first time in President Bush’s two terms that he has met a visiting dignitary at Andrews. Both papers feature pictures of the Bush family— George, Laura and daughter Jenna — greeting the pontiff. The Post, however, has what I consider to be the best photo from the day, which is of Benedict walking down the stairs of the jet. Why is this picture so extraordinary? Because you get to see the pope’s amazing red shoes.

The Daily News provides a quick guide to “what to do if you meet the Pope” that lets readers understand where the “kiss the ring” cliché comes from: (if you’re Catholic, you have to kiss the pope’s ring on his right hand). Also, who knew that the pontiff doesn’t eat in public? I love that the hypothetical foods offered to Benedict are bagels and pizza.

I’m curious to how the coverage will turn after Benedict XVI addresses the United Nations on Friday. Will his anticipated anti-war message get much play? Will the priest abuse scandal and any subsequent remarks be explored more in-depth? (The News devoted a full article to the pope’s statement of how he was “deeply ashamed” by the scandal, while the Post has a mention of it in its coverage of the pontiff’s arrival.) I guess the answer probably lies within that snarky question: Is the pope Catholic?