Cardinal Sean O’Malley has invited Pope Benedict to visit Boston next year when the pope is expected to visit the United Nations and when Boston—and several other dioceses—are celebrating their bicentennial.
“Given everything Boston has been through, having the Holy Father come, I think, would be a great joy and a sense of affirmation to us as we celebrate the 200th anniversary of our church,” O’Malley, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Boston, said in response to a question from the Globe. “I’ve invited him, and I’m hoping that he will come to Boston.”
The last and only time a pope has visited Boston was in 1979 when Pope John Paul II kicked off his US tour with a rain-soaked Mass on Boston Common with 400,000 Catholics. My pastor has the full-color (which was a big deal back then) front-page of the Boston Globe from that day hanging framed in his office. (Fr. Murphy tells me that was the day he was informed he was to be made a pastor, the first pastor of his class, 1962 I believe.)
While the pope will likely get all kinds of invitations from the Western Hemisphere for his trip, I doubt he would make a lot of stops. He’s not the globe-trotter that Pope John Paul was. But Boston is just a hop and skip away from New York, on the way back to Rome really.
John Allen thinks while a papal visit would a sign of support for an archdiocese rising out of the ashes of the Scandal, he thinks that there will be some bishops here and in Rome who would be concerned about the potential for stirring up the hornet’s nest again. Frankly, any stop in an American diocese is going to stir the hornet’s nest. While the eruption in 2002 started in Boston, there’s hardly been a place in the US immune from the damage.
Cardinal O’Malley is understandably cautious about the prospects for the visit:
“A lot will depend, I think, on his own health and strength,” O’Malley said. “He seems to have withstood the trip to Brazil very well. He still has a trip to Australia [for World Youth Day in July 2008] ahead of him, and he’s a man 80 years old. But we would love to have him to Boston. I’ve expressed that to him, and I think the fact that he’s accepted an invitation to the UN is a hopeful sign.”
Meanwhile, if the Holy Father does accept the invitation, Kelly Clark has just the place for him to stay.