Modest Successes and Missed Chances in Pope's Trip





... [The] Vatican seems to assume [Pope] Benedict’s actions and words are self-explanatory, when often they are not. Sometimes the gesture, timing and location count more than the close reading.

This shortcoming was on display at the event that aroused the most criticism during the trip: his speech at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial on Monday. Many Israelis were upset that the pope never uttered the words German or Nazi, did not speak of his own experience as an unwilling conscript into the Hitler Youth and gave the impression of being academic and removed in the face of such horror.

To many, the speech was a missed opportunity for both the headlines and the history books.

“This is the last pope, most certainly, who will have lived through World War II, grown up under the Nazi regime, and probably the last pope from Europe,” said David Gibson, the author of “The Rule of Benedict: Pope Benedict XVI and His Battle With the Modern World.” “In many respects I think he could have moved things forward in a remarkable way.”

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