What happened
Pope Benedict XVI returned to Rome on Monday after a six-day U.S. visit that included a meeting with President Bush and stop in New York City to bless the ground at ground zero, where the World Trade Center towers stood until the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The German-born pope was met with loud cheers in his last Mass, at Yankee Stadium, after a trip in which he repeatedly referred to the sexual abuse scandal that has wracked the U.S. church. (Voice of America)

What the commentators said
Pope Benedict was seen as a "stay-at-home, traditional guardian of church doctrine" when he was elected, said The Boston Globe in an editorial, but "it turns out he travels well." Benedict came to prominence as a theologian, but he “connected with Americans of many faiths through his simple preaching and pastoral work. Whether addressing diplomats at the United Nations or praying with victims of clergy sexual abuse in a Washington chapel, he took exquisite care to uphold the dignity of every person.”

Not everyone was impressed, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. "Anti-immigrant obsessive" Rep. Tom Tancredo and "Tancredo-like compulsive" Lou Dobbs attracted international attention for "insulting the spiritual leader of one in four Americans." The pope had called on his church to continue to welcome immigrants, which led Dobbs to accuse the pope of "insulting our country" with his "bad manners," and Tancredo to complain of the pontiff's "faith-based marketing." But Pope Benedict "isn't 'marketing' his faith. He's practicing it."

Whether he meant for it to be or not, though, his trip was a "PR coup," said Marshall Loeb in MarketWatch. And "leaders of business, government, academe, the military and our other basic institutions" would do well to pay attention. Benedict faced up to the problems that have torn up the U.S. church with candor, and showed that leaders should never “try to dodge the truth, no matter how awful it may be or whom it may implicate.” Apologize for “past misdeeds and beg forgiveness,” and the healing can begin.