Peggy Noonan on why so many people ran to St. Peter’s Square (and to their television sets) when the new pope was announced:
The faith is dead in Europe, everyone knows that. So why did
You say, "They just wanted to be there. It’s history.
People are experience junkies. They wanted to take pictures with their cell
That would be true of some. But why did so many weep as the
new pope came out? Why did they chant "Benedict, Benedict" as he
stood at the balcony? Why were they jubilant?
Why were so many non-Catholics similarly moved? And why in
America, where the church is torn in divisions, did people run to the TV and
the radio when word spread?
People are complicated. You can hit distracted people with
all the propaganda in the world, you can give it to them every day in all your
media, and sometimes they’ll even tell pollsters they agree with you. But
something is always going on in their chests. Some truth is known there; some
yearning lives there. It’s like they have a compass in their hearts and turn as
they will, this way and that, it continues to point to true north.
We want a spiritual father. We want someone who stands for
what is difficult and right, what is impossible but true. Being human we don’t
always or necessarily want to live by the truth or be governed by it. But we
are grateful when someone stands for it. We want him to be standing up
there on the balcony. We want to aspire to it, reach to it, point to it and
know that it is there.
Because we can actually tell what’s true.
We can just somehow tell.