Less than four months ago Central New York Catholics had an up close view of Pope Benedict XVI during the week of Canonization for Mother Marianne Cope. The Holy Father made two public appearances during the week. The first was a Papal Audience in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday, October 17th and the second during the Canonization mass on Sunday, October 22nd.
During the visit Bishop Robert Cunningham and several priests from the Diocese of Syracuse were in the immediate presence of the Pope. They remarked how at 85 years old he was more frail than he had been in the past. The Pontiff's needed a helping hand to offer stability as he went up or down steps. His speech was articulate, but not particularly strong.
Even though we now know he was just months away from an historic decision to resign the papacy, he also showed strength and stamina in enduring the Canonization mass which lasted more than two hours. In the photo that I took that you see with this story Benedict passed just twenty feet from my position as he toured St. Peter's Square in his pope mobile. He was smiling, waving and not in need of any assistance as catholics stretched to be near him.
International media gathered to cover that occassion talked about plans to cover the next Conclave of Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel when the next Holy Father will be elected.