As more than one commentator has pointed out, Pope Benedict - German intellectual, scholar and theologian-may never match his charismatic predecessor's claim on public affection. However, that may be changing, at least in the city hosting the pope this weekend.
The New York Post, that bell-weather of New York tabloid coverage, today features a full, front-page cover photo of a smiling Benedict being warmly greeted by long-time interfaith advocate Rabbi Arthur Schneier at the Park East Synagogue, with the headline "Shalom: Pope's Passover greeting" emblazoned on the page.
Inside, a story on the Manhattan crowds greeting the pope on Friday contain quotes from by-standers saying that Benedict is the "closest thing to God," and "the most recognizable, and most beautiful person, in the world." (!) One sign greeting the pope proclaimed: "You Rock!" Today on a subway train I saw a young Spanish-speaking woman wearing a colorful t-shirt with Benedict's visage done up in a colorful pop-art style.
An amazing public makeover for the man born Joseph Alois Ratzinger.