The two chatted about a book the local man was reading.
CANFIELD -- Fred Scarsella, owner of Scarsella Furniture, said he wasn't surprised upon hearing the news that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected as the new pope after having met him during a 1997 Easter trip to Jerusalem.
Scarsella said he met the future pope while reading a book by Cardinal John Henry Newman, a noted 19th-century church scholar and theologian, who was given the designation of "venerable" in 1991 by Pope John Paul II.
He explained that Ratzinger approached him as Scarsella sat on a balcony at the Notre Dame Institute, where most Catholics stay while visiting there and where he had attended a mass concelebrated by five cardinals, including the German cardinal, and 15 bishops.
Scarsella recalled the cardinal asked him, "Are you reading that book? I'm reading that book." The church official also said, "Do you know who else reads that book? Pope John Paul."
The two talked for a time, and Ratzinger autographed Scarsella's book. He said he was very impressed with the future Holy Father.
"He was very personable, very pleasant, not aloof in any way," Scarsella said. " I felt very privileged to have met him. It was a confirmation that I was on the right track."
When news came Tuesday that the college of cardinals had made their choice for the new pope, Scarsella said he was more than satisfied with the decision. "All along I thought he would be selected. Cardinal Ratzinger was Pope John Paul's right hand and will continue the last pope's legacy."
Scarsella, a member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Youngstown, has made many religious pilgrimages over the years and saw the pope just three years ago after traveling to Mexico where John Paul presided at the canonization of Juan Diego.