Philistines And Renaissance Princes
One must truly wonder at the kind of people walking along the corridors of the Vatican.
The statement above was – Rorate reports – initially fed to a relevant Internet site, and only after more than little surprise was expressed at the alleged Pontiff’s words it was taken away and substituted for a more neutral comment about the Pope’s general lifestyle and preferences, and the fact he was so busy.
Concerning the words himself, either the Pope is their author, or he is not. If he is, we are clearly in front of a philistine of the most worrying sort, and one taking a very cheap shot at Pope Benedict to boot. If he hasn’t, he should stop having people near him putting words in his mouth that he has not said. To send out an official denial that he has said the words would also be useful.
Others will comment about the empty chair, and the general duties of a Head of State who is also the Successor of Peter. I would, in this blog post, limit myself to remark that in all probability, those who sent out the statement, directly attributed to him, about the “Renaissance Prince” – which, between you and I, sounds so much like Pope Bergoglio it’s even scary – thought they would make him a service, and increase his popularity.
Not very smart, I know; but thinking of it, if it worked with the bus-riding Pope, the home-cooking Pope, the black-shoes-wearing Pope, the Mozzetta-hating Pope, the bishop-of-Rome Pope and the newsagent-telephoning Pope one can see how some people might think it will work with the oh-so-hard-working, down-to-earth, Beethoven-shunning, “no time for luxuries”, “one-of-us” Pope.
In a way, it makes sense. Most people’s concept of musical achievement stops at the likes of Lady Gaga, and if one is so thick that he thinks riding the bus makes for a better Pope he might well think a Pope who fails to show up at a Beethoven concert is very much in tune with “the people”.
Alas, this time it has backfired. Apparently, to shun the Mozzetta is good, but to shun Beethoven is bad; to disparage pomp is good, but to disparage a classical music concert is bad; the Pope is praised when he breaks liturgical rules, but he is criticised when he breaks rules of etiquette.
Now, if you are one of the simpler kind you may well believe that the Pope did have urgent work to do, like the all-busy CEO of a troubled multinational company running from one emergency to the next; but I truly hope few of my readers think like this. What I think most of them will believe is that the Pontiff just doesn’t have much in common with Beethoven, considers beauty a kind of luxury, doesn’t really care much for rules and when he has no fancy to show up at a concert he just avoids it; not out of wilful discourtesy, mind, but of a semi-socialist, philistine mentality according to which a classical music concert is a pastime for the bourgeoisie, and his attendance to it more or less inappropriate whilst the favelas suffer poverty.
Remember, this is a man staging Pinocchio masses. Beauty must be a rather foreign concept to him. He doesn’t see beauty, he sees luxury and pomp.
My impression is that the time of the easy popularity is rapidly going to an end. Three months ago, most mainstream bloggers would have fawned about the Pope, the new buddy of the poor, shunning the luxury of a Beethoven concert because he is so far away from all these unnecessary frills, and so hard working for peace ‘n justice; now that people start to think clearly, all the limits of this quest for popular gestures – certainly fed by a lack of cultural depth – start to show up, and it hurts.
If you ask me, this Pope must still learn his job, in the sense that he seems not to have grasped – another sign of mediocre intelligence, or humble arrogance – what the job entails. On the contrary, he seems to think that he can behave as he pleases, rules aren’t so important, people fuss too much about immaterial things, and provided he is concerned for the poor he will be fine.
I am afraid he will learn the lesson the hard way.