"Benedict XVI's arrival for the open-air mass that culminated World Youth Day was the most subdued any of the reporters who cover the Vatican could remember," wrote CBS correspondent Allen Pizzey, opening his online "reporter's notebook" entry on World Youth Day 2005.
Pizzey did avoid openly slamming the pontiff from the Left on his culturally conservative positions, but hinted repeatedly that the German Pope Benedict was given polite but uneasy deference from his countrymen: "Benedict gets the adoration and professed love and respect one would expect for a man in his position, with a sense that there is also a 'but...' hanging in the air."
It's amusing to see secular reporters portray a religious leader, like the Pope, in political terms as Pizzey does by focusing on the staging, theater, logistics and public relations of World Youth Day 2005---as though he were a 2008 presidential hopeful testing the waters by glad-handing and baby kissing at Iowa county fairs---while failing to reflect on the meat and potatoes of the event.
What exactly did the Pope have to say? What was the reaction from the faithful gathered? What is it about this ancient faith which compels thousands of ostensibly liberal youth to gather celebrate Mass together with an elderly, conservative pontiff whom liberal secularists paint as "out of touch" with modernity? Any reader remotely interested in answering these questions, in getting into the minds of World Youth Day celebrants and organizers, is ill-served by the glimpse afforded us by mainstream media reporters like Pizzey, who long ago gave up trying to afford the public comprehensive, informative reporting on religious issues in favor of window dressing.