Thursday, March 13, 2008

Ambassador Glendon: "Anticipation is running high on both sides of the Atlantic"

Zenit News Service interviews U.S. Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, on her new position as envoy to the Holy See and the coming papal visit:

Q: What are your thoughts on Benedict XVI's upcoming visit to the United States and what do think some of the main themes of his trip will be?

Ambassador Glendon: Anticipation is running high on both sides of the Atlantic. The Pope said during my credentials ceremony that he was looking forward to his trip to the United States, and from his address on that occasion one can see that he is very interested in the way that faith and reason have been intertwined in our democratic experiment.

We also know from his writing is that he is very intrigued by certain contrasts between America and Europe, and certain distinctive features of American culture. He seems intrigued by our version of the church-state relationship and how that seems to be compatible with great religious vitality.

As for the themes he may address, that is the question all of us are asking. Everyone is waiting and intensely speculating. I think all one can say is that whatever themes he chooses to emphasize, there will be much food for thought from this brilliant scholar who has stepped so smoothly into the role of a spiritual leader whose moral voice resonates throughout the world.

I would not be surprised if -- like Tocqueville in his reflections on "Democracy in America" -- the Pope's speeches in the United States contained much material that is also addressed to Europe.

Q: Many Americans, like the rest of the world, had such a devotion to Pope John Paul II. What do you think the reception of Benedict XVI will be?

Ambassador Glendon: One can speculate based on the way that Pope Benedict has been received by audiences that are getting to know him for the first time here in Italy and in other countries.

From the moment he delivered the homily at Pope John Paul II's funeral -- and I was there that day -- people the world over were moved and astonished by his pastoral eloquence. They saw a man most had known, mainly through his writings, as a very scholarly person. But on that day and since then, we have come to know him as a "humble shepherd," as he has called himself, and a wise teacher who can speak clearly and profoundly yet in ways that are accessible to everyone.

Click here for the full interview with Ambassador Glendon.

Mary Ann Glendon is the Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard University and president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences established by Pope John Paul II. She has also served on President Bush's Council on Bioethics. In 1995, she led the 22-member delegation of the Holy See to the Fourth U.N. Women’s Conference in Beijing and and served on the Holy See’s Central Committee for the Great Jubilee 2000.