It should be clear to anyone who watched the video or saw the photographs from the meeting at Castel Gondolfo that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is in markedly different health than he was when he announced his resignation from the papacy. The white quilted coat over his cassock, worn even indoors; the tenuous gait assisted by a cane; the obvious change in his posture - all reveal an almost shockingly frail man and hopefully go to convince the conspiracy theorists that his failing health was certainly the reason for his decision to step down. The affection he and Pope Francis have for one another will hopefully quiet the Vatican fashionistas who pay an alarming bit of attention to the newly-elected pontiff's every wardrobe detail but shockingly little to his resemblance of the Christ Who charged us with caring for the sick, the poor, the imprisoned. One of the busy-bodies at Rorate asks: "Did anyone else notice that Pope Francis wasn't wearing (fill in the blank)? " Why, no, I didn't, I was too busy paying attention to the bittersweet beauty of the current pope greeting the former and kneeling with him in prayer. I was so struck by how youthful a 76-year-old man suddenly became next to the older and more fragile Pope Emeritus that I scarcely noticed anything else.
My prayer is that this meeting today will soften the hearts of the kill-joys at least to the extent that they will keep their mean-spirited observations to themselves.