The media center is abuzz with the news that Pope Benedict met this afternoon with five victims of clergy sex abuse from the Boston area. According to the Vatican, the pope and Boston Cardinal Sean P. O' Malley met at the apostolic nunciature with "a small group of persons who were sexually abused by members of the clergy." You can read more about the meeting by clicking here.
The pope certainly has not shyed away from the topic of the sex-abuse crisis while he's been here in the U.S. He spoke of it before boarding the plane for the trip, at the Basilica last night in a meeting with the bishops and today during his homily at Nationals Park.
The surprised response the meeting evoked for some underscored my belief that I don't think Americans have given the pope much of a chance from the get go. In one of my earlier posts, I said that Pope Benedict had big shoes to fill in following John Paul II. Extrovert versus introvert. Actor versus professor. On any given day, guess who people are going to be drawn to more. No, I don't think we have allowed this pope to be comfortable in his own shoes--or accepted him for that person.
But I think he's getting there. Watching him the past couple of days and when he entered the Catholic University of America just a while ago he's looking more and more comfortable as pope. As he faced the crowd he wore a huge grin and wiggled his fingers as he waved. At Nationals Park he leaned out the window of the popemobile to wave to the crowd as he drove around the field. Yes, at times he still looks a bit overwhelmed by all the attention, but he seems much more comfortable than he did when he was first elected. I think that if this visit has done anything, it has introduced Pope Benedict to the United States--and us to him.