Irish Independent : Part 2 - Urbi et Orbi et Bonosamedi 25 septembre 1999
Source : Irish Independent
Still, for a rock singer branded a ``po-faced, pious prat’’ by the apostles of irony in the hip media, his sun glasses trick and the accompanying ``he’s legged it with my fly-shades’’ quip was an imaginative promotion on behalf of a worthy cause. And sneering at Bono would be smearing Jubilee 2000’s campaign to help resolve the debt crisis afflicting the world’s poorest countries.
He was the publicity bait for Thursday’s visit to the Pope at his summer palace in Castelgandolfo by an eclectic international troupe of entertainers, aid agency leaders and economists seeking to add John Paul 11’s moral authority and political influence to their campaign.
The delegation included a member of that exotic species, a Protestant born in the Irish Republic, Bono ; a lapsed Irish Catholic, Bob Geldof ; a ``holy roller’’ black American Baptist, musician Quincy Jones ; and a ``Jewish boy from Detroit’’, Harvard-based Professor of Economics, Jeffrey Sachs.
Their arrival at the breathtakingly beautiful old palace on a hill 25 kilometres from Rome was like a visit by a head of state from a medium-sized European country, although few political leaders would have teenage fans screaming their names as their cortege was whisked through the gates by armed security men.
The delegation was ushered through a succession of anti-chambers until they arrived in the room to await the Pope’s arrival. Bono, a sucker for metaphor and symbolism, said their pilgrims’ progress, through the rooms that increased with grandeur as they got progressively smaller, reminded him of a video game.
When he appeared before them in dazzling white and sat down on a throne, the Pope’s physical frailty shocked the delegation nearly as much as his intellectual sharpness surprised Bono and Bob Geldof.
``It was an act of will for him to just stand up,’’ said Bono later. ``I think he is just hanging on, and will choose his own time to leave the world, probably when the millennium celebrations are completed,’’ said an uncharacteristically chastened Geldof.
John Paul II didn’t disappoint them. He spoke of the Catholic Church’s teaching that there is ``a `social mortgage’ on all private property, a concept which today must also be applied to `intellectual property’ and to `knowledge’. The law of profit alone cannot be applied to that which is essential for the fight against hunger, disease and poverty.’’
Then he added : ``I appeal to all those involved, especially the most powerful nations, not to let this opportunity of the Jubilee Year pass without taking a decisive step towards definitely resolving the debt crisis. It is widely recognised that this can be done.’’ Bulls-eye : the Pope is on message with Jubilee 2000.’’ It was the Secretary to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Bishop Diarmaid Martin, another Irishman, who wrote much of the address the Pope had just delivered, introduced the singer as ``Mr Bono’’.
After giving John Paul II a leather-bound edition of Irish poet Seamus Heaney’s collected works, Bono reminded the Pope it was also the 20th anniversary of his visit to Ireland.
``It was September ’79,’’ said the Pope even before Bono had finished speaking. The U2 rock star later recalled watching the historical Papal visit on television in his home in Dublin’s Ballymun as a 20-year-old rookie rock star.
Bono wasn’t kidding when he told the Pope that he was a great showman as well as a holy man before handing JP II his wrap-around shades. ``I disagree with him on many things, particularly his views on women, but he is also a powerful force for good,’’ he said.