I agree with you that those kinds of symbols are more important in understanding the new pope than scouring his past for statements on birth control and women priests. As you suggest, I think one effect of this nonstop coverage is to further connect JPII Catholics with Evangelicals. As Ralph Reed said to me the other night, "I feel like this is my pope, and I know many other evangelicals who feel the same way." The myriad of talking heads who are explaining the broad themes and details of the Catholic Church are providing an ecumenical service. I hope the coverage doesn't descend to one debate after another on women priests, contraception, abortion, and the sexual-abuse scandal. These should have their place in the discussion, but there is a vast church out there with many untold stories—some of those stories are now being told to large TV and radio audiences for the first time. This coverage will trump the "Da Vinci Code" phenomenon, and by the time Ron Howard makes his picture audiences will know better than to believe such nonsense.
Deal W. Hudson