The Telegraph has a good take on the exchange. Here’s a portion:
"When we look up at the limitless heavens and meditate on the creation of it all, we are struck by the mysteries of His greatness. In the midst of your intense work and research, do you ever stop and reflect like this, perhaps even to say a prayer to the creator?"
Italian astronaut Roberto Vittori told him that he did, and floated a silver medallion coin in the weightlessness of space, given to him by the Pope prior to his launch from Florida aboard the shuttle Endeavour last week. The medallion depicts Michelangelo's Creation of Man. Astronaut Paolo Nespoli, who returns to Earth next week after five months on the ISS, will return the memento - which will have flown more than three million miles by the time it gets back to Earth - to the Vatican.
In a moving exchange, the Pope paused to comfort Major Nespoli, 54, on the loss of his mother, who died two weeks ago while he was aboard the outpost 220 miles above the earth.
"Dear Paolo. I know that a few days ago your mother has left you and in a few days when you come back home you will not find her waiting for you. We are all close to you. Me too. I have prayed for her," he said.The subject of ecology came up. MSNBC noted that
Benedict also asked about the future of the planet and the environmental risks it faces, and wanted to know what the astronauts' most important message would be for young people when they return home.
Space station astronaut Ronald Garan Jr. spoke of the paper-thin layer of atmosphere "that separates every living thing from the vacuum of space." And shuttle crewman Mike Fincke described how he and his colleagues "can look down and see our beautiful planet Earth that God has made."
"However, if we look up, we can see the rest of the universe, and the rest of the universe is out there for us to explore," Fincke said. "The International Space Station is just one symbol, one example, of what human beings can do when we work together constructively."Once again, Benedict XVI has shown the world that there’s much more to this pope—and to the Church—than stereotypes.
God bless Benedict XVI, and all who labor for the betterment of mankind.