Daily Archives: April 11, 2013
If you have any doubt that the modern world has a clear aversion to thinking logically, you only have to look at some of the newspaper articles and blog posts commenting on the Pope's decision to live in a suite of hotel rooms rather than in the Papal Apartments in the Apostolic Palace. You will find in many of those articles the usual mixture of utter illogical non-reasoning and too-clever-by-half, “sunday strategist” mentality that goes nowadays under the name of journalism.
A legend has been accredited in the last month that the Pope would prefer not to live in the Papal Apartments in order to avoid the “isolation”, and therefore the possibility of being easily manipulated, linked to such a choice.
If this is so, it appears nothing less than astonishing that no Pope among the very many who lived in the usual quarters ever noticed what is evident to every clever journalist. In fact, it appears almost miraculous that some of the Popes of the fairly recent past (one thinks of Leo XIII, Pius X, Pius XI and Pius XII) could be known for their relentless energy and/or strict control of the Vatican machinery. Pius XII was said to have informants from the furthest seminaries and universities, helping him to keep heresy in check, and there can be no doubt about his autocratic governing style. He had ears everywhere, and took all the important decision by himself. Look, all from the Papal Apartments!
Then there is the slight discrepancy of how comes that the very journalists who so cleverly extol the advantages of living “among the people” do not think that others might benefit in the same way. How about, say, taking a quaint little hotel in the vicinity of Whitehall and use it for a rota of local officials, majority Members of Parliament and party functionaries visiting London. David Cameron could live there and sit for breakfast every morning with the one or other Tory local councillor, or provincial MP, and know from them “what people think” instead of living in the upper floor of 10, Downing Street. The same obviously apples to the damn Nazi abortionist in the White House.
Thirdly, there is the obvious issue of space and catering possibilities. I have never been in the apartments in question, but I do not doubt they are magnificent, and provided with all comforts. I also do not doubt the space and infrastructure is there to allow for the largest hospitality. No one, therefore, could doubt if contact with “the people” is what Pope Francis wants, he can do it far more efficiently from the Papal Apartments. On a fine Monday, he could invite two dozen of nuns from one of the many surrounding institutions to lunch, and hear from their very voice what they think of the world at large. On the following day, he could just take on board the group of religious tourists from, say, Spain, extend to them a surprise invitation to a cold buffet and ask them how things are doing in and around Malaga, or Toledo. Then on the Wednesday he could surprise the school class visiting the Vatican Museums (lots of those; I have visited the Vatican Museums with the school four times at least, very probably more) and ask them to step in, visit the Papal Apartments for half an hour and ask the pupils and their teachers what they think of, say, abortion and contraception whilst enjoying some sandwich and fizzy drinks. Now that would be interesting!
In conclusion, the kindest that can be said of this argument of the “isolation” of the Papal apartments is that it just doesn't make any sense. It's like saying if you want to be more in contact with your domestic personnel you should sleep in the kitchen. It is also an insult to a Pope's intelligence, as it supposes he can be easily manipulated by just having him sleep in a certain room.
Many people don't think anymore. They merely let themselves carry away from the first novel impression or fancy idea that grasps their imagination. Whether something makes sense isn't the question anymore, whether it gives us a short moment of excitement (evoking the dark episodes of the Papacies of yore, the conspiracies and lies, the splendour and the sins of the Renaissance) is far more important.
Poor Pope St. Pius X, prisoner of a clique of shrewd manipulators in the Papal Apartments.
Imagine what he would have been able to accomplish if he had lived in a hotel!
This article from the NBC is a rather good example of what is wrong with the perception (I am talking here merely of the perception: the reality might be much worse) of this papacy.
If the trend described by the article is true – and there is no reason to suppose it isn’t, at least at the level of momentary fashion and purely emotional excitement – the new Pope is found an attractive proposition by lapsed Catholics for the wrong reasons. They look at him and see a Church that is less like the Church and more like them. “Cool”, they say, “I like it”, and you can see the nods of appreciation of the sympathetic journalist.
Pope Francis does everything he can to at least let people perceive that the Church might, divesting Herself of her traditions, her pomp, her liturgical exactness, become a place where they can feel comfortable instead of encouraging them to change and feel (actually: be; let us stop talking about feelings all the time) comfortable within the Church. As a result, those who end up “feeling” nearer to the Church will do so bringing with them the expectation that the Church changes in order to keep them. It is a wrong allegiance based on the wrong premises. It’s the same as liking a school because it does not bother you with those unpleasant things like spelling.
Also note the astonishing shallowness of some of the arguments: if one has the gut to say with a straight face that he or she now feels nearer to the Church because the Pope used to travel by bus, how solid can be his (or her) newly found nearness to the Church? This is not much different from saying one is encouraged to go to Mass again “because the Pope washes women’s feet”. It’s the wrong mentality, and the impact with the Truth can be softened as much as the Pope can, but in the end it will be there and it will still be brutal. Unless, of course, this Pope does not manage the feat of converting himself to un-Catholicism so that un-Catholics may identify with him.
This Pope is arousing hopes in the wrong people (meaning here: in people with the wrong mentality) for the wrong reasons. With his shallow message of ostentatious simplicity he is deluding the shallow and being ostentatious in the other way. They are attracted to him because they see in him glimpses of what the Church is not allowed to be: the friend of all their mistakes.
The last person interviewed by the journalist, allegedly a 70 years old ill-lived man striding towards hell, points out to the fact that this is in the end just another “retro-Pope”, and points out to all the contradiction of the present situation: a Pope who will never manage to be who he cannot be, but might manage rather well to be the caricature of who he should be. The Pope can’t avoid being “retro”. He can only become ridiculous, or heretical, in trying to be less so.