VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope John Paul has received a flame red Ferrari from the Italian world championship racing team — a model of one, that is — for having what they said was the inside track on the roads of humanity.
Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher and the rest of the Ferrari team met the Pope in the Vatican’s frescoed Clementina Hall on Monday to give him the 1:5 scale model of the car that won both the championship and constructor titles in 2004.
Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo told the Pope Ferrari drivers, mechanics and management wanted to honour him because his courage and defence of human rights had put him "for the past 26 years in the pole position of the roads of humanity".
Pole position refers to the most favourable position at the start of a race, given to the fastest car.
"It is the first time that one of our cars — even though it is a model — has entered the Vatican," Montezemolo told the Pope. "We consider this the most prestigious finishing line for us. We feel like you are one of us and we thank you for the example you have given."
There was a poignant contrast between the speed represented by the model car whose real version can reach 350 kph (218 mph) and the slow movement of the 84-year-old Pope, who no longer walks and was wheeled into the room on a special chair.
But an emotional Schumacher later told reporters he found inspiration from being close to the Pope and from seeing how he copes with the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease and severe arthritis. [Source]
A poignant contrast between the speed represented by the model car … and the slow movement of the 84-year-old Pope? Whenever reading articles about the Pope from the secular press you always wonder just how long it will take them to take a crack at the Pope’s health. I think there is a poignant contrast between the shining intellect of the Holy Father and the intellects of many reporters reporting on him.