Behind The Empty Chair
Fascinating hypotheses are now making the round of the Internet concerning why the Pope failed to show up at the concert giving all of (I am informed) 180 seconds’ notice.
The most intriguing I have read is the one where the smart Pope and a couple of his fedelissimi planned the … unplanned absence in order to discuss some terribly smart move whilst all the Curia men that count (and were supposed not to take part) were away listening to Ludwig.
Unfortunately, this clever explanation neglects to consider Francis is – whatever he may say himself in moments of particularly grave attacks of humble-itis – the Pope. Being the Pope, he is literally the last person on earth who has any need of this kind of manoeuvring: he can fire everyone every time he likes, can surround himself with the above mentioned fedelissimi with merely a dozen of phone calls, and can in general afford not to care a straw for the great old men of the Curia, whom he could even send to a monastery for an extended holiday en bloc if he thought they are in dire need of it.
It is, in fact, an always new source of surprise to me to what extent many people – in good faith, no doubt; and moved by a sincere love for the Church – will go to try to find explanations for what is increasingly more evident. When the Imam Dolan denies Christ, no one comments that perhaps this is a tremendously clever move to convert the Mohammedans on the sly; and when he invites Obama to a guffawing photo-op, no one says the “wolves” are plotting to let him do what he does not want to do, or that he is putting in place some wonderfully cunning plan we are too thick to even understand.
Not so for the Pontiff. What the Holy Father does must be both right and smart, and it is for us to amuse ourselves trying to discover in which wonderful way this might have happened.
Please also consider that in this occasion, as in many others, the Pope has failed to do anything to deny what is attributed to him. A Pope who can’t resist having his utterances on the media with more than worrying frequency never found the time to say two words, obviously off-the-cuff, to explain that those who die in their atheism go to hell; or that he never said it is wrong to count – nay, pray! – the Rosary.
He also did not say – at the time of writing – the one with the Renaissance Prince is not his. Nor can it be said this is an aloof, very sovereign Pope, who would never consider it appropriate to even give such denials. The Holy Father has set the “aloofness” bar basically on the ground. As one talking all the time about whatever happens to cross his mind, does he really have no time to say a word that would tranquillise good Catholics the world over? A Renaissance Prince type would, very probably, consider it beneath himself to even deny; but not the all-approachable, all-humble, black-shoed, bus-travelling, self-cooking bishop of Rome, surely?
In the meantime, I read around (I wish I remembered where) that the suite where the Pope is modestly residing is going to be renovated at the favelas-friendly price of, if memory serves, one million Euro. I have not seen the bill, mind, and the information might be wrong, or wrongly remembered. It will, in any way, be some bill. I cannot avoid thinking that to stay in the Papal apartments would have reduced the bill to nearly zero, as I cannot imagine Pope Benedict left the place in an inhabitable state, or what is good enough for Pope Benedict isn’t good enough for bishop Bergoglio.
Apparently, he moved to the Hotel in order to preserve his own sanity. Gosh, that’s an expensive modesty therapy. I doubt it will catch on in the Favelas anytime soon.
Yours truly, being a simple mind, will be therefore forgiven for thinking in a very simple way: that in this case the empty chair means his occupier simply thought it no big deal to leave it empty; that one who does not give the impression of being exactly a genius probably isn’t; that one who has the time to chat about everything under the sun but does not spend two words to reassure good Catholics about rosaries, or the simplest truths of the Faith, simply does not want to.
Call me simple. I am proud I am. If an animal walks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I am so simple that to me it is a duck until you prove me it isn’t. Certainly I do not choose to see in him an eagle cleverly disguised, just because for some strange reason I think I have to.
Honestly, after the massive amount of news with which we have been confronted in the last three and a half months,it is slowly time to face the reality of a clearly inadequate Pope; a Pope completely out of his depth concerning both liturgy and theology, and made the more dangerous by his humble persuasion that he knows better than his predecessors.