"There is a cute pope teddy bear alternative for those looking for cuddly Catholicism," according to Deutsche Welle. We think this bear (above) -- which looks to be a Steiff -- is much cuter than the Build-a-Bear version, for whom "the first officially sanctioned Washington souvenir for Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming visit to the United States" -- a "Christ Our Hope" T-shirt -- was designed. Update: Not Steiff but Hermann Spielweren designed "this finely dressed bear which honours the new pontiff" and is "limited to only 265 pieces for the UK . . . as Pope Benedict XVI is the 265th Pope." Our sis noticed right away the absence of the button in ear that would have confirmed a Steiff identification.
"He needs to say that what the pope is expressing goes beyond a sectarian Catholic audience, as it addresses the core issues of Western civilization," writes Robert R. Reilly, who was President Reagan's liaison to the Catholic community from 1983 to 1985, in an InsideCatholic.com advice column to John McCain on how to get the Catholic vote. According to a recent WSJ report, Catholics of late are tilting toward the Democrats, especially Hillary:
About one in four Americans is Catholic and while the anti-abortion and anti-gay-marriage contingent has been vocal, a new wave of progressive Catholics focused on increasing minimum wage, ending the war in Iraq and implementing universal health care has emerged as a key Democratic bloc this election year.
In a recent survey of 19 states that have held presidential primaries this year, 63% of Catholics identified themselves as Democrats compared with 37% for Republicans, a sharp increase from 2005 when 42% of Catholics identified themselves as Democrats.
"Not a good augury for McCain," writes Reilly, who advises the Republican presidential candidate to campaign on issues important to Catholics, "just as Reagan did. He cannot simply claim that point of view; he needs to promote it. He needs to articulate it":
He needs to say that Benedict was right at Regensburg in assessing moral relativism as the greatest threat to the West and to the integrity of reason, and that he was right also about the nature of the threat from an unreasoning version of Islam.
If this is the side you are on, Senator McCain -- as I believe it is -- you have this opportunity of letting others know, so they can rally to you.
InsideCatholic.com photograph of Pope Benedict XVI. Are we going soft, or is there something about Papa Ratzi's warmth and humanity and even -- dare we say it? -- cuddliness that calls to mind that white teddy bear above?
Elsewhere at InsideCatholic.com "William Donohue notes that the spin keeps spinning," writes The Anchoress in one of her breezing-through-the-blogosphere posts full of interesting one-liners and links. The gist of Donohue's argument:
One week after Pope Benedict XVI touches down in the United States, the Pennsylvania primary will be held. All indications are the media would much prefer to concentrate on the latter; they certainly feel more at home covering a subject they know something about. Nonetheless, they will have to give Hillary and Barack a back seat, at least for a few days.
Unlike the two Democratic senators, and their Republican rival and colleague, the Holy Father is not interested in public opinion polls. Nor is he interested in tailoring his comments to the prevailing sentiments of his American audience. Having been named pope at the age of 78 -- fully 20 years beyond where his predecessor was at the time he was elected pontiff -- he knows he has a short window of opportunity. Ergo, he is not about to waste his time courting good will at the expense of truth.
"Super-Nuncio" -- as Rocco Palmo calls him -- Archbishop Pietro Sambi's "If you want to avoid turbulence, you have to stay at home" comes to mind. Be sure to read all of Donohue's "Spinning the Pope's Visit" for an excellent capsule of what the Holy Father is about. As we wrote in Donohue's comments:
I totally agree with [commenter] Deal Hudson: Your excellent article should be a must read for anyone who will be "covering" Papa Ratzi's visit. I have blogged about "the Pope who loves cats and Mozart" early and often and am forever quoting Oriana Fallaci's striking observation:
I have a strong feeling that coverage and analysis by bloggers who have taken the time to get to "know" Benedetto will have a net positive effect on spreading the good word amongst our fellow Americans.