Monday, April 28, 2008

Joseph Verner Reed: Benedict had a "magisterial" presence

U.S. diplomat Joseph Verner Reed recalled his personal audience with the pontiff (Neil Vigdor, Greenwich Time April 23, 2008):

Reed, 70, an undersecretary general at the U.N., was part of a group of about 30 senior officials of the international organization who met with the pontiff Friday after his General Assembly address.

"There's an aura, almost magisterial in his robes, in his presence, in how he greets people and the crowds," Reed said. "He's got a wonderful smile and riveting blue eyes."

A chief of protocol in former President George H.W. Bush's cabinet and U.S. ambassador to Morocco under President Reagan, Reed said he lowered his head in deference to the pope and congratulated him on his speech.

"He said, 'Thank you for your words,'" Reed said. "I'll remember it for the rest of my life. It was a highlight. What a privilege and honor it was to be presented to him."

Reed's audience with the pope, who concluded his six-day U.S. visit with a Mass at Yankee Stadium Sunday, is the second time he has met the head of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1990, as Bush's chief of protocol, Reed met Pope John Paul II during a visit to the Vatican. The late pope later tapped Reed as a knight commander in the Order of Pius IX, an honor bestowed by the Vatican.

Reed said he wore the rosette pin on his left lapel during Benedict's visit. He also asked the pope to bless 10 papal medals that he brought along to give friends and family, which Benedict did.