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Special National Catholic Register Web Site to Cover Pope´s Visit to the U.S. and World Youth Day
The National Catholic Register has opened a new blog “The World Meets Benedict” to cover the Pope’s visit to the States in April and the World Youth Day events this summer.

Pope 2008

March 3, 2008. The National Catholic Register has opened up a new web site at 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.

Tell us a little bit more about why you decided to do the “The World Meets Benedict” blog on

The idea for 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.

To date, 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.

I 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 mind.

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 in Sydney?

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 Holy Spirit.

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 individually.

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 April?

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 them personally.

Any advice for the “homebound” during these special events?

Naturally, 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, homebound folks may want to follow the pope’s visit at these other media sources.

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,, Columbia Magazine, Gilbert! Magazine, This Rock Magazine, and many others.

He serves 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.

Tim has published three books and has contributed to several others. He resides in Saint Joseph, Minnesota.



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