While his visit so far has been more ceremony than substance, the following comments can already be made:
[Note: Some may want to comment on the "good" that will come from the Pope's visit, my concern in this intitial post is simply to address statements from the Pope that contradict Biblical teaching or practical wisdom. While I'm grateful for my Protestant heritage that has historically come through the Catholic church, differences between the Pope's statements and position (or those made to the Pope) and that of Scripture are worth pointing out.]
"I come as a friend, a preacher of the Gospel and one with great respect for this vast pluralistic society," Benedict said in a speech after Bush welcomed him to the White House at a ceremony that included 21-gun salute.
Response: While the intent of his statement referencing "respect" for this "vast pluralistic" society was probably to gain greater acceptance by a broader audience, statements such as this will in the end do more damage than good. While some can differentiate between having respect for a people even though they hold pluralistic views, on the surface it can come across (and many will take it to mean or suggest) that pluralism is good. (While President Bush commented "We need your message to reject this dictatorship of relativism ...; the Pope's statement could do the opposite).
Looking forward to his speech to the United Nations, the pope said the need for global solidarity is "as urgent as ever if all people are to live in a way worthy of their dignity" and secure a place at "that table which God's bounty has set for all his children."
I'd love to know what he meant by this. While global solidarity is important (along issues in keeping with justice, mercy, etc.), it's important to note that God's blessings come to us as gifts "secured" by Christ, not by man. Yes, only those "qualified" will receive the blessings, but man does nothing to merit or "secure" bounty from God.
Later on Wednesday, the pope was addressing U.S. bishops at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where he was to discuss the scandal of sexual abuse of children by priests, which he said had left him "deeply ashamed."
While the victims are looking for actions rather than words, I'd also be interested to see his defense of the requirement of celibacy for the priesthood.
"Most of all, Holy Father, you will find in America people whose hearts are open to your message of hope," made by President Bush.
Depends on what message of hope he's referring to. If he's referring to the hope that comes as God's people exercise faith and serve as salt and light, etc., then yes, I'm open on one level. However, if he's referring to the "gospel" the Pope brings, ...My heart has received God's message of hope, which is based on grace alone through faith in Jesus.