March 3, 2008. The National Catholic Register has opened up
a new web site at www.pope2008.com to help us
experience the Pope’s visit to the States in April, as
well as his encounter with the youth at World Youth
Day in Australia this summer. Senior Register writer Tim Drake’s
blog, entitled “The World Meets Benedict,” will provide readers with
up-to-the-minute reports and vivid descriptions of the events, people, sights,
and sounds from firsthand observation.
In the following interview, Tim discusses
some of his past experiences covering World Youth Days and
what he expects for the coming events with the Pope.
us a little bit more about why you decided to
do the “The World Meets Benedict” blog on www.pope2008.com.
idea for Pope2008.com came from a casual conversation with the
National Catholic Register’s editor, Tom Hoopes. In talking about my
coverage of the events in D.C., New York, and Sydney,
I mentioned the possibility of a blog, not only during
the events, but also in preparation for them. With that,
Tom worked with others at Circle Media to quickly get
a web site set up for the coverage.
we’ve had nearly 10,000 visitors to the site.
What were some
of the highlights for you when you covered World Youth
Day in Cologne?
Well, in many respects Cologne was Pope Benedict
XVI’s introduction. It was one of the first large-scale events
after his election and the secular press was saying that
the youth wouldn’t attend WYD because Pope John Paul II
wouldn’t be there. How wrong they were. So many young
people attended, especially from throughout Europe, that the train system
was repeatedly shut down. There were several highlights for me.
was on board a media ship when the papal ship
came up the Rhine River. It was incredible to see
the immense size of the crowds. Youth were gathered along
both sides of the river for miles. Their response to
Pope Benedict was quite enthusiastic.
In many ways, WYD in Cologne
was the WYD of two popes – one interceding from
above and the other carrying on on earth. I was
particularly touched late one evening as I passed by the
Cologne Cathedral. A large gathering of Polish youth had gathered
in the square. They were gathered before a huge poster
of Pope John Paul II, singing, and waving Polish flags.
It was a most loving and moving moment in honor
of Pope John Paul II that remains unforgettable in my
Also, I recall crossing one of the city’s bridges. A
number of young people came running at full-speed and passed
me by. I wondered where they could be running to
in such a hurry. When they approached a small group
of bishops ahead of me, they all immediately fell to
their knees and asked for the bishops’ blessing. The bishops
blessed the youth. It was a beautiful example of the
faith of these young people who had gathered in Cologne.
They are the Church’s future.
Finally, I recall the massive prayer
vigil and final Mass at Marienfeld. There were more than
1.2 million people gathered there. To witness the universality of
the Church present in one place, and to participate in
Eucharistic adoration, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and Mass there was
truly grace-filled and awe-inspiring.
What do you anticipate will be the
main message that the Pope will give to the youth
I certainly do not pretend to know what Pope
Benedict might say, but the theme of WYD is, ‘You
will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon
you; and you will be my witnesses.’ Therefore, I expect
that the Holy Father will speak of Pentecost and the
As he often does, I expect that he
will share a message that reveals the face of Christ,
especially with regard to Christ’s relationship with the Holy Spirit
and how that relationship manifests itself in each of us
There’s a second part to the theme, and I
also expect that the Pope would address the idea of
being Christian witnesses to the world and how we are
each called to evangelize.
Were you able to snag any special
arrangements to cover the Pope’s visit to the States this
Well, to be honest, it’s too early to know which
events I’ll actually be able to attend. Events such as
these always bring their own set of unique challenges –
the crowds, the traffic, communication difficulties, wireless access, unpredictability. The
way that these events work is that you put your
name into a pool. Broadcast media get the preference; print
media do not. I don’t know whether I’ll be able
to attend all of the events or few of the
events. One thing I do know is that I requested
tickets for the papal Masses in DC and New York
through our diocesan chancery office. I’ve been told that I
will receive those tickets. So, even if I’m not able
to attend those two events with the media pool, I’ll
be able to attend as a participant.
The majority of
the events - the speech at Catholic University, the prayer
service with the U.S. bishops, Mass at St. Patrick´s, and
the youth rally, among others, are private events. Thankfully, I´ll
have access to the media center, so that I can
watch events taking place even if I cannot participate in
Any advice for the “homebound” during these special events?
secular media will be covering many of these events, as
will Catholic media. I understand that both EWTN and Sirius
Satellite Radio’s "Catholic Channel" will be covering most of the
events live. We are in the process of negotiating with
EWTN to have a live streaming video feed at the
Pope2008 web site. In addition to visiting Pope2008.com, homebound folks
may want to follow the pope’s visit at these other
Tim Drake is an award-winning journalist and author.
A lifelong Minnesota resident, Tim attended the University of Minnesota,
Morris, graduating with a bachelor´s degree and social science teaching
certificate in 1989.
He has published more than 600 articles
in publications such as the National Catholic Register, Our Sunday
Visitor, Faith and Family Magazine, Catholic World Report, CatholicExchange.com, Columbia
Magazine, Gilbert! Magazine, This Rock Magazine, and many others.
as senior writer with the National Catholic Register and
Faith and Family Magazine.
Tim has been a guest on
both television and radio. He has appeared on FOX News,
Vatican Radio, EWTN, and a variety of radio programs nationwide.
has published three books and has contributed to several
others. He resides in Saint Joseph, Minnesota.