Getting to know Pope Benedict XVI

Pope heads to New York next week
April 9, 2008 4:40:53 PM PDT
In less than a week, Pope Benedict XVI will come to the United States.For many people, there is much unknown about the holy father.

Eyewitness News' Sade Baderinwa headed to Rome to find out more about the man behind the cloth, speaking to Cardinals-even tracking down his favorites places to go.

At Saint Peter's Square, thousands came to just jet a glimpse of Pope Benedict XVI. To get a flash of his smile, or a passing gaze, all hoping that in some way his presence could help them feel more connected to the pontiff.

"When you see him in person, it's a lot better than on a postcard," says one watcher.

Another follower adds, "As soon as he gets one on one with you, you can see his face light up."

Across the world stage the Pope is still viewed as stiff and rigid. An intellectual unable to connect with the masses. It's an image the Pope has been trying to shake for years.

Father Dennis Yurochko teaches at the pontifical North American college.

"They are expecting a pope who is cold and distant and that's not how he is," Fr. Yurochko said. "There is certain warmth to him and certainly caring for people."

And those who follow the Pope closely say seek out his words not gestures.

To many observers Pope Benedict XVI draws larger crowds at the vatican than John Paul II. In fact some would say you would go to The Vatican to see John Paul II and now you go to the vatican to hear Pope Benedict XVI.

"When you listen to this man and you try to undersand what he is saying it's memerizing. He attracts the mind and the heart because of that," said Father Lerray with the Pontifical Lateran University.

Unlike his predecessor, Pope Benedict stays out of the limelight and spends private moments walking The Vatican gardens or playing the piano.

In the years past, as Cardinal, you could often see him walking across the square alone.

"There was no pretension about him. There was no coterie of priests, just him, walking across the plaza with his bag, stopping for a coffee. He's a much simpler person than most people expect," adds Father Yorckko.

While in Rome Sade Baderinwa tracked down one of the Pope's favorite spots when he was a Cardinal, an Austrian restaurant called Cantina Tirolese.

Waiter Leonardo Caranan Tee remembers a gentle, quiet man and a good tipper. The pope's favorite dish, "Consumme with Julienned crab. He drinks orange juice, water, sometimes Weiss beer," said Tee.

Leonardo says the Cardinal came here for years, then one day, let's just say he had a higher calling. "when the bells go ding dong and open the window we see Ratzinger out the window. It was a surprise. Everybody was happy, but we never saw him again," adds the waiter.