The following editorial appeared in Newsday on Wednesday, Nov. 14:
The papal style of Pope Benedict XVI is more low-key than his predecessor's, but he has the same moral authority: the power to lead and to speak for more than 1 billion Catholics. That makes his trip to New York and Washington next April something to be anticipated eagerly.
Pope John Paul II was a unique amalgam of actor, playwright, scholar and canny player of the geopolitical game. Benedict is a highly accomplished and thoroughly orthodox theologian, a talented pianist and, like John Paul, a prolific writer. Now, with a few powerful, well-crafted words, he can make a major contribution to international affairs.
When he meets with President Bush, it will be interesting to see if he reminds Bush how sternly the Vatican warned against the Iraq invasion. At the Ground Zero site in Manhattan, his mere presence could be a potent symbol, as John Paul's was at Jerusalem's Western Wall in 2000. And he could offer profound comments not only on the evils of terrorism but on the morality of the responses.
At the United Nations, Benedict will have his first grand-scale chance to speak to the global community on issues ranging from immigration and refugees to global warming. A strong statement on the church's ringingly clear teaching on torture would also be a welcome contribution.
So, even though Benedict does not aspire to John Paul's star quotient, the importance of the venues and the power of his intellect should make it a memorable few days.
(c) 2007, Newsday, Melville, N.Y.
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