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Pope groupie meets Pope

On Catholic media and meeting the Holy Father

By on Thursday, 7 October 2010

Anna in St Peter's Square just after meeting the Pope

Anna in St Peter's Square just after meeting the Pope

An emotional and slightly self-indulgent blog post from Rome where I have been taking part in a conference on Catholic media organised by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. There were a couple of fantastic talks which really stuck out: John Thavis of the Catholic News Service gave a talk on Catholic media covering the abuse crisis in America in the 1990s, while Ludwig Ring-Eifel of Katholische Nachrichten Agentur gave an interesting insight into the Catholic press in Germany, explaining that a Catholic press that was subsidised risked not noticing that no one was reading it any more.

Meanwhile, on a panel about the internet, Sandro Magister, Italian über-blogger spoke about how he developed the digital coverage of the Church while an African Dominican gave a fascinating talk about the digital divide between Africa and the developed world, and made us see everything with a bit more perspective. The physical reality of the internet – fibre optic cables – became incredibly relevant.

But I would be lying if I didn’t say the best part of the whole conference was getting to meet the Holy Father today after he addressed the group of around 200 Catholic journalists about the future of Catholic journalism. Sadly the speech doesn’t exist in English yet, but here it is in Italian.

I wasn’t expecting to meet the Pope so I was happy I had packed a black frock but was worried because I thought protocol would require me to wear a mantilla. After a slightly hopeless search I went to see a friend who works with the Order of Malta and miracle of miracles he helped find one I could borrow.

The Holy Father looked tired but was sweet and gentle. Fighting back the tears of excitement and emotion I told him that his visit to Britain had brought joy and hope to people. He asked, “Really?” And then I said: “Yes really.” And he said: “Thank you. God’s blessing [Gottes Segen]“.

  • nytor

    Thank you, I am glad you told him that because it is important that he should know how much it mattered to us that he came to us. Yes, we can see him in Rome, but on the streets of our own country, a country in which we are not the official religion and are often belittled, was highly emotional.

  • Robert16

    How wonderful! You are most deserving of this honor! I was also privileged to meet him once and was touched by his humility and kindness. When he looks at you directly and says with great sincerity “God bless you” it is very moving indeed!
    Keep up your fine contribution to Catholic media!

  • Ratbag

    Anna Arco – Pope Groupie! I thought another 'Anne' had that crown (or should that be triple tiara?) – Anne Widdecombe! The woman was virtually everywhere The Holy Father was when he was here! Watching the coverage on the telly with my mum and sister, we would exclaim -”Look! It's Anne Widdecombe!”

    Bless her heart!

    When I was one of the (V)IPs at Cofton Park, my fiance and I couldn't believe it when we saw that one of the reserved seats (with a good view of BXVI) was for – wait for it! – Anne Widdecombe!

    As for mantillas, I agonised over that one when the Holy Father was here. In the end, I brought a purple scarf to cover my head with, in case we got within close proximity of the Holy Father (what were the chances of that happening? I thought the same thing before we were told we got the tickets. In the end, we weren't that near but near enough and jolly well grateful for it).

    I'm sooooooo glad you told him how his visit to Britain went down. His answer was as humble, sweet and gentle as the big hearted man himself.

    When intending to go to Rome – pack your passport, tickets, clothes and washing stuff…. and a mantilla!

  • Michael McDonough


    I thought the deepest realization of what the Pope addressed on the UK-Wales-Scotland trip was your own. He was constantly talking about the vocation of the laity in the Church. Nice of you to appreciate that and mention it afterwards.

  • Logicalcalculus

    A mantilla is a see thru headscarf. A proper scarf is more modest. Your skirt is way too short.

  • Edgar de Borbon

    How lovely!