Thursday, November 15, 2007

Rudy Giuliani to receive private audience with the Pope?

Katie Thomas (Newsday asks): "Given the Rudy-friendly itinerary, is there a chance the pontiff will grant an audience to Giuliani -- a lifelong Yankees fan known worldwide for his handling of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks?" -- papal pundits are divided on the question:

"I'm sure the pope would be happy to grant Giuliani an audience," said David Gibson, author of "The Rule of Benedict," a biography of Pope Benedict XVI. "If there was something at Ground Zero, I would be surprised if Giuliani were not there."

But Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, said he doubted the pope would grant a tete-a-tete with the former mayor. Although Giuliani may appear at an event with other officials, "The pope normally deals with current government leaders -- not past leaders," Reese said.

If Giuliani is still a presidential candidate come April -- the Republican nominee should be chosen by then -- a papal meeting would lend a bit of gravitas to his bid. Still, if Hizzoner engineers an audience with His Holiness, the visit could backfire. After all, Giuliani is a candidate for the presidency -- not the priesthood. Although he attended Catholic schools all his life, he's on his third marriage, has an estranged relationship with his children and holds liberal views on abortion and gay rights. Such a public meeting might remind voters of his less-than-saintly past.

"He's walking a tightrope," Gibson said of Giuliani. "If he appears to look like an altar boy, it's not going to play very well."