Pope Benedict XVI is a known hardliner, but Americans may see his softer side during a 5-day US tour this week, the New York Times reports. During stops at the White House, United Nations, and various churches, Benedict will touch on abortion, divorce, war, and the priest sex-abuse scandals, but “what he will not do is wag fingers,” said one professor.
Vatican officials hope to shed Benedict’s pit-bull image. But he makes no apologies for his dogmatic style, seeing it as the only defense against secularism. One Vatican expert says his approach “smacks of the Old Church triumphalism," but such criticisms have not dulled the pontiff’s affection for America, which he deems crucial to the Church’s survival.