Earlier today the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI departed for his Apostolic Journey to Cuba and the Republic of Mexico. Regrettably, I won't be able to watch much of the visits over the next several days due to other commitments.
The big news thus far of the Apostolic journey is that, for the first time in public, Pope Benedict XVI walked with a cane on his way to the airport. The use of the cane undoubtedly lead to speculations about the Pope's health and what not, but if you look at this picture from the Associated Press you'll see such speculation will be rather unfounded:
In years past, I had used a cane many times because of my arthritis and often found it necessary not only in walking but also in rising and sitting. Looking at the Holy Father, he clearly does not need the cane.
Look at his right hand. He is simply carrying the cane. It may touch the ground from time to time, but he certainly isn't dependent upon it. An anonymous source in the Vatican told the Associated Press the Pope started using the cane in private a couple of months because it made him feel more secure.
I, for one, commend the Holy Father for using the cane. I can testify from my own experience that they do may walking much easier. Without even being aware of it, using a cane not only evens your pace, but also takes pressure of our joints, even without relying on the cane.
There was once a time when gentlemen routinely carried a walking cane with him. I wouldn't mind seeing such a custom return.
I often made use of a walking cane when I was in Effingham simply to speed my walk from the rectory to the high school. It quickly became a hit at the high school:
I also used this one from time to time:
Walking canes, after all, come in handy. You can press the button for the elevator before reaching the doors. You can give someone you want to speak with a gentle tap if he has just walked out of arm's length. It becomes something to play with when waiting pointlessly at a crosswalk.
At any rate, if you hear someone speak of the Pope's waning strength evidenced by the use of the cane, don't pay much attention to them.