Peggy Noonan on Two Popes’ Elections

Peggy Noonan for Pope Benedict:

There were many moving and dramatic moments in Rome two days ago, but this is the one I think I’ll remember: the sight of them running.

Did you see them running to St. Peter’s Square as the bells began to toll?

They came running in from the offices and streets of Rome, running in their business suits, in jeans with backpacks over their shoulders. The networks kept showing it in their wide shots as they filled time between the ringing of the bells and the balcony scene.

So many came running that by the end, by the time Benedict XVI was announced, St. Peter’s and the streets leading to it were as full as they’d been two weeks ago, at the funeral of John Paul II.

Why did they run? Why did this ancient news–“We have a pope”–representing such irrelevant-seeming truths and such an archaic institution–send them running? Read more…

Peggy Noonan for Pope Francis:

I’ll tell you how it looks: like one big unexpected gift for the church and the world.

Everything about Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s election was a surprise—his age, the name he took, his mien as he was presented to the world. He was plainly dressed, a simple white cassock, no regalia, no finery. He stood there on the balcony like a straight soft pillar and looked out at the crowd. There were no grand gestures, not even, at first, a smile. He looked tentative, even overwhelmed. I thought, as I watched, “My God—he’s shy.”

Then the telling moment about the prayer. Before he gave a blessing he asked for a blessing: He asked the crowd to pray for him. He bent his head down and the raucous, cheering square suddenly became silent, as everyone prayed. I thought, “My God—he’s humble.” Read more…

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