Catholics across the country and right here at home are watching Pope Benedict XVI's visit with great excitement. We went inside a Catholic mass to discover the significance and meaning of the visit to them.
Father Peter Mangum addressed parishioners during midday mass inside St. John Berchmans Cathedral along Jordan Street in shreveport. He referred to the Pope's visit, who is often called the Vicar of Christ. Later, during an interview, Father Mangum explained, "he (Pope) doesn't take the place of Christ because he's a vicar. He shares in that authority vicariously."
Father Mangum described the message he's hearing during Pope Benedict's visit. "If anyone's listening, they hear a very humble and intellectual man trying to speak in terms of God being love and Christ being our hope."
Beyond the obvious excitement about the Pope's visit to America comes one of the Pope's decisions not long before he made the trip. That involves his selection of a new bishop, only the second bishop in the history of the Shreveport Diocese since its birth 22-years ago.
Almost a year and a half after the retirement of Bishop William B. Friend, the ordination for Bishop-elect Michael Duca of Dallas comes next month. Donna Barnard, a St. John parishioner added, "we're just elated and he's supposed to be a very good shepherd and just, wonderful people person and so we're all excited."
During a visit to the Vatican two years ago with a group that included Father Mangum, Barnard even had a chance to shake Pope Benedict's hand, as he slowly rode by in the so-called 'Pope mobile." She and others told us they're also encouraged that His Holiness is addressing the thorniest issues facing the church head-on, including the priest sex abuse scandal.
Bishop-elect Duca will be ordained into the leadership of the Shreveport Diocese during a ceremonial mass on May 19th. It is scheduled to begin at noon that day at the Shreveport Convention Center.