Revived by sweet croissants and strong coffee we took our seats at the Papal audience on Wednesday morning with the sun beating down. Groups from every corner of the Earth were gathered around us from Mexican nuns to Anglican school groups from the UK. Having decided on what to shout (it took a surprising amount of discussion to decide on Viva il Papa) we waited to be acknowledged by the priest reading out the names of English speaking groups. When the moment came we did ourselves and the internship proud!
|Balloons let off during Papal audience|
Seeing the Pope up close as he floated by on a specially converted Jeep was a bit surreal but it also made everything we’d been talking about and all the places we’d visited suddenly seem to make sense. The Pope, as Michaela said, had been this omnipresent being the whole time we’d been in Rome and yet seeing him in person and the adoration shown to him by so many pilgrims made the ‘Vatican’ come alive and feel more than a web of bureaucracy.
After the audience, Mgr Paul Tighe, fresh from a conference on Social Communications in Australia, greeted us at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. He told us about the effort involved in dragging the Vatican not only in this century but into this decade, reconciling long encyclicals and sermons with 140 character tweets and facebook status updates. He was clearly dedicated to improving and expanding the way in which the Church communicates and passionate about reaching a wide variety of audience.
Our last meeting of the trip was with Fr David Chatres who is training in the Vatican’s Diplomatic Corps. He is the only English student there and was extremely friendly and interesting to talk to over lunch.
In our review of the trip we all took away different highlights and surprises but what seemed to strike us all the most was the humility and conviction of all those we had met. Important people with much better things to be doing had wiling given up their time to talk to us, respond with thoughtful answers to our questions and encourage us in our internships and future work.