I stumbled upon the comments of an old blog post of mine, and you can read there some interesting comments about the way Catholics react when the Church is attacked.
The comments start from Shane’s (he of Lux Occulta; see also the link on my blogroll) fear the Papal visit of 2010 could have become a disaster because of the rabid anti-Catholic activity it would unleash (and was already unleashing), with myself espousing the opinion the Church actually thrives on this kind of confrontation.
In my eyes, it is fair to say the events of 2010 seem to support my own view: the Pope was welcomed by huge and enthusiastic crowds, and it is not far from reality to say at least some of those who attended were there as a reaction to the rabid anti-Catholic messages invariably launched from several media outlets; first of all, as always, the Broadcasting Basket-cases Corporation.
As I also noticed in the comment section, a similar phenomenon had happened in Easter 2010, when unusually strong attacks to the Church had caused the churches of the realm to be so packed as I had never seen before (or have ever seen since).
What do we conclude from this? Is this just a “gesture” people do to “feel good”, or is there something more profound at play?
If you ask me, episodes like Easter 2010 and the Papal visit the same year show us a very clear pattern: many Catholics feel uneasy with their own relationship with the Church. They do not go to Mass and they know (at some level of consciousness, just there among the things one doesn’t want to think about; like, say, cancer…) it is wrong, though probably they can’t even remember the last priest who had the gut to tell them so. The way they react is to simply remove the problem and not think about it, but when a provocation comes which forces them to say to themselves on which side they stand, most of them have no doubt. They won’t become observant Catholic the next day for that, but they will show they don’t want the Church to be attacked.
I remember several other episodes of the kind; the Crucifix-controversy in Germany in 1994, and the similar confrontation in Italy in the last years. In both cases, the crucifix-party won, and in both cases the popular support went far beyond the churchgoers.
I can’t take out of my mind the simply infuriating thought the Church does not win many battles simply because the clergy does not have the gut to fight them; out of sheer cowardice, or underestimation of their own power, or simply because they side with the other side.
We will know in November the way the US Catholic have reacted to the HHS mandate controversy and, now, to the “Outing” of President Obama. It can certainly be more time is necessary, but if the English, German and Italian experience is any guidance, this will be another demonstration that many tepid, inattentive, or “peripheral” Catholics are ready to take a stand when they feel they can’t ignore the problem anymore.
I still think there is a huge cannon out there, just left unused.
I am very sorry to tell you if you clicked here hoping to find the usual copy-and-paste blog post about the last papal trip you will have to click somewhere else. The same applies if you want to read what has been said thousands of times before, and will be said thousands of times in future: the young are the future, the papal visit has inflamed so many hearts, Pope wants peace, and water is wet.
This blog is of a rather more critical and, if you wish, more cynical nature, and his humble author tries to understand what results these papal visits achieve rather than to dish the soup warmed one thousand times already.
Mexico, then. I have lived the Papal visit in the UK in September 2010, have seen the masses it has attracted – this was really a surprise much different from the “water is wet”- newsline, considering the climate which the BBC & Co. had tried to create and the popularity deficit of the present Pontiff if compared to the former one – and even so I can tell you, eighteen months later, that the papal visit has left no permanent mark whatsoever. On the contrary, whilst eighteen months ago the so-called homo-marriage was not in the cards, it has now become a very real possibility, and euthanasia has started to make its first timid steps towards official – first judicial, than legal, as it happens very often over here – recognition.
One is, therefore, forced to ask oneself what use these papal visits are, if after the departure of the Pontiff the local clergy – generally the most immediate cause of problems – is left in the same dismal state as it was before.
The use is, I am tempted to say, the headlines. A bit of PR here, a bit of headlines there, a bit of smoke a bit everywhere. It seems to work as an alternative to serious action, as we see that serious action never follows the quest for the headlines; and when people start to wonder, you can always plan the next visit.
The harsh reality is that a papal visit is the equivalent of a straw fire in your own fireplace, generating a very short phase of beautiful flame followed by, pretty much, nothing.
One could say that the world Catholics need – or have a right, even; all read already – to see their Pontiff. This is a novel concept, never applied in the past two thousand years of Catholicism. It is also a rather impracticable one, as if you accept Catholics are entitled to the expectation of a papal visit you had better expect the Pope doing nothing else than travelling. Besides, we are in the age of internet and tv, with the Pope accessible everyday to a large part of the planet’s Catholics.
I am a very old-fashioned man. In my world, the Pope is the man who sits in Rome and cares for his job of successor of Peter pretty much from there; whereas the work of evangelisation is mainly directed by those appointed for the job (they are called, then, bishops) and executed in daily life by their aides (they are called, then, priests) or people sent ad hoc (they are called,, then, missionaries).
If the Church on the ground does not work, no amount of papal visits will ever manage to let it work. If the Church on the ground works, a Papal visit is a nice addition but is in the end not needed.
This point is, it seems to me, sorely neglected. The Church in Germany does NOT work, and the – if I remember correctly – two papal visit there from Pope Benedict have achieved pretty much nothing in improving things. The same goes for the visit in England, though here the impressive popular participation was unexpected; but again, notwithstanding that pretty much nothing happened as a direct result of the visit.
One could say that in England the reintroduction of the meatless Friday was due to the Papal visit, but I would disagree; this was a decision of the bishops all right, taken one year later, to pay some lip service and compensate for a continued disregard of orthodoxy, and for which the anniversary of the papal visit was merely a convenient excuse, to try to give themselves some credentials for their otherwise dismal lack of action.
The same goes for all the talk of the local hierarchy being oh so energised, and the faithful oh so enthusiastic. Bad bishops will continue to be bad exactly in the same way, and poorly catechised Catholics to use contraception exactly like before.
I am, I am sure, not the only one who wishes the Popes (the former one, the present ones and, no doubt, the next one) would dedicate less time to flying around the world and show more decisiveness in dealing with the vast, but plain to see and rather easy to deal with problems of the Church particularly in the West (it’s not difficult, really: you kick out the bad bishops and substitutes them with good ones. There’s no other way, though I admit it’s more controversial than travelling). You can’t substitute decisiveness with air miles, and your bad bishops won’t become better because suddenly inspired by your visit.
The problem is, when the Popes is gone the problems remain exactly the same, and the headlines are very short-lived anyway. Seriously: what has changed in England? What in Germany? What would a visit to Austria change?
I wonder how many foreign trips Pius IX ever made, and how many Catholics were angry because he never visited them; but again, Pius IX didn’t seem very interested in headlines, either.
The “Independent” had certainly hoped in empty roads, the embarrassment of the catholic hierarchy only disturbed by the noise of the perverts protesting against him.
Alas, things have gone badly wrong for the usual alliance of liberals and sexually deviant. Turns out that everyday Britain still understands when something special is happening and doesn’t start to insult the Pope at the command of a bunch of wannabe intellectuals.
Put in front of a reality televised live and not to be ignored even by the strongest effort of liberal will, the editorial cut of both article is rather a dry appraisal of the facts and an utter silence about what can only be called popular enthusiasm for the visit. There are even – rara avis – some facts which the “Independent” reports correctly, like the Pope being drafted into the Hitlerjugend, then deserting; facts that only a minority would have subscribed to months ago and that are now so much into the public domain that not even the “Independent” can deny them.
This damage control of the “Independent” (whose criticism of the Holy Father is then outsourced to some predictably unintelligent readers’ comments) is the first element that takes the attention. But there is another one: in the day in which the entire experience of the visit is reflected upon, the protesters are not thematised. So utterly ignored they have been, so insignificant they have been in countering the enthusiasm of ordinary people, that even the Independent prefers not to mention them.
The “protesters” have managed to get as much public attention as the “propagandamentary” of Mr. Tatchell, that is: almost zero. They have utterly failed in making of this trip a public outcry against the Pope; on the contrary, they have shown the extent of their own irrelevance in the Country at large. When even the “Independent” is embarrassed at mentioning you, you know you’re in deep trouble.
One can hope that even the one or the other pro-pervert politician will now listen and learn. Whatever the liberal press and the BBC may say, popular support is not on the side of Stephen Fry & Co.
Spiked Online has another interesting article (they have written an entire series and seem to enjoy the issue immensely; good for them) about this year’s favourite sport: Catholic-bashing. The author Kevin Rooney is, not unlike other contributors, rather on the secular side of things; but like them, he has a commendable intellectual honesty allowing him to see through the easy slogan for the gullible and the me-too sunday-progressives.
Here are only some of Mr. Rooney’s many interesting observations:
The current Catholic-baiting springs from the cultural elite’s suspicion of anyone who, unlike them, has strong beliefs.
How very true. Modern secularists are like blind people wanting to blind those who see the light. They criticise our certainties because they envy us. At the same time, they do not want to follow us into the light. This seems to be a constant trait of human nature, visible already in those children becoming aggressive towards those who have what they haven’t (a certain toy, wealthier parents, or just a better personality). It is widely acknowledged that damned souls hate those in Paradise, hate their own misery, but at the same time would never do anything to become like the blessed. Looks like Peter Tatchell & Co. to me.
the intolerant view of Catholicism that has been so visible in recent weeks has come not from the working classes or from the traditional establishment, but rather from so-called liberals
This is important, as the most vocal critics think they care for the people and think they can represent it. Interestingly, the people doesn’t care for them. Cue the masses greeting the Pope they would want in jail.
somehow, the New Atheists seem incapable of acknowledging Catholics as potentially intelligent people who happen to subscribe to a set of beliefs.
Very True. Consider only the various blasphemous jibes of the typical atheist jackass, describing God as “your imaginary friend” or saying unspeakable things about the Blessed Virgin.
Many in the ‘Protest the Pope’ campaign seem to reserve much of their anger, not for Catholics per se, but for any group in society that professes a strong faith and belief.
Also true. But I would add: anger mainly for everyone who resists their desire to be “free” to do whatever they please.
The author unfortunately ruins his brilliant analysis (unsurprisingly, considering the ideological premises) when he says that The Pope’s visit “should have passed off without comment”. If the author had thought his premises to the end, he would have reflected that all those Catholic might actually be on to something and that such a massive phenomenon should – whatever one’s own personal position on God – never be dismissed as not worthy of attention.
Still, a rather brilliant analysis.
Excellent entry from Owl of the Remove about what there is so much rumour about the (let us say it out loud: homosexual) paedophile priest scandal.
This post is so brilliant that one is embarrassed to choose what to quote. I will therefore suggest that it be read in its entirety, as its content is particularly fitting in these Papal Visit days.
This was rather good:
“There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere,”
This was even better:
“There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none”.
But the best was probably this one:
“And there are those who argue – paradoxically, with the intention of eliminating discrimination – that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience.”
This being a diplomatic visit with a Head of State visiting a sovereign Parliament, I assume this obvious reference to the adoption agencies scandal has been instantly understood by anyone present.
On a different note, it was very nice to see the Pontiff honouring St. Thomas More, in the same Westminster Hall where he was tried and sentenced to a glorious death as a Martyr.
The most notable development, though, continues to be the absence of loud protest and the popular participation way above expectations. Weather continues to be fine, the Pope continues to be in form and, it seems to me, rather in high spirits.
Will be interesting to know more about the people arrested in the next hours.
Classic FM is the biggest radio station for classical music on the planet. It is listened daily by more than 5 million people. As it is fitting for such a broadcasting heavyweight, they have their own news team.
Unfortunately, this news team sounds like the lovechild of the “Guardian” and the “Independent”; so much so, that I generally switch away before the news as there’s nothing worse than beginning the day by being infuriated by those people.
This morning, I imprudently omitted to do so and therefore I heard that the Pope would held today 1) an ecumenical ceremony 2) in a “show of unity with the Anglican church” (the very words! I kid you not!).
I almost had my caffellatte going down the wrong pipe. Besides the obvious absurdity of the “show of unity” with an ecclesial community of which the Church doesn’t even recognise the validity of the order (and which, by the way, goes to show the extent of wrong information and utter tosh spread even by national media outlets), I was not at all pleased at hearing that still another “ecumenical encounter of the wrong kind” would take place. The words led me to assume that it would be a mass, which would be unsurprising by people thinking that this would be a “show of unity”; but honestly I do not remember the exact words now as the “show of unity” bomb and the caffellatte took all my attention.
Can you imagine Pius IX having an ecumenical Mass with the so-called archbishop of Canterbury? Pius X perhaps? Pius XI? What about Pius XII?
There is a reason for this. Whatever the theological gimmicks used to justify such exercises, every ecumenical Mass engenders the idea that there be no big difference whether one is Catholic or Anglican, whether his communion is the Real Presence or a fraud, whether the celebrant is a priest or a layman, a Catholic or a Heretic.
This cannot be right and in fact it isn’t. Every old doctrinal text or booklet will tell you that a Catholic is supposed not to pray together with members of other faiths, let alone participating to ecumenical masses.
Therefore, after succeeding in sending my caffellatte down the right pipe and as I felt the usual adrenaline surge of such occasions, I thought that this was a very bad mistake.
Thankfully, though, the website of the papal visit seems to give a different view. The program merely mentions a “fraternal visit”, with the Evensong. The papal visit website doesn’t even say whether it will concelebrated. It might be that the Pontiff merely listens, I do not know yet.
Bad as this is, this not an ecumenical mass, which softens the blow considerably. Still, I do think that this is a mistake and that the Papal visit should have sent a stronger message in defence of Catholicism and should have paid more attention in order to avoid any confusion between the Only Church and the rest. You can be diplomatic without being ambiguous after all.
How inappropriate this Evensong is, is showed by the likes of Classic FM, for which this largely diplomatically motivated encounter becomes “a show of unity”. One could say that the Pontiff is not responsible for the superficiality of utterly ignorant liberals and one would be right; but once again we are in front of the importance of sending a clear message.
A lot of people inform themselves only superficially; the Church should, if you ask me, help even superficially informed people not to have any doubt about what is what.
The angry fraction a’ la Tatchell & Fry (both of them, let it be noticed, fags) must be increasingly embarrassed as the hours go by.
The Mass at Bellahouston has been a success, with 70,000 people attending, some of them crying. I didn’t follow much of the Mass, but I must say I wasn’t displeased from those parts of the MacMillan Mass I could hear. It really seems the slight chill toward the end (not good for an 83-year-old, for sure) might have been the only problem of the day.
Out of 5 million Scotsmen, a number around 200,000 has managed to attend in some way, on a working day. Whilst it is clear that many of them were not Catholics, it is difficult to say they were there out of hostility to the Holy Father.
I wonder now whether these crowds are all formed by insensitive bastards indifferent to the cruel slaughter of children, or whether the characters like those mentioned at the beginning will not find themselves looking increasingly more stupid.
As they certainly should.
Ad multos annos!
1) As largely expected, no show: no “ground kissing”, no crowds at the airport.
2) Motorcade could have been better: the Holy Father squeezed into a Jaguar XJ (wonderful car, but almost a coupe’); the car is a fairly new product and a beautiful example of the ability of the British automotive industry. One cannot avoid to suspect that the vehicle was chosen with publicity, more than the Holy Father’s comfort, in mind. Those of you who follow these things will have noticed the “60” registration: the car was registered after the 1 September 2010. The rest of the motorcade was a heterogeneous mixture of BMWs (the “5” at the head), Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, even a MPV. Different colours. Not really impressive.
3) Holy Father less fragile than I had expected. Looks like he can bury Hitchens, easily, and pray for his soul after he has gone. He went up the stairs of the welcome podium unaided and with rather sure foot; his voice is firm. My congratulations to the other two, in splendid form. The Queen walking with the Pope reminded me of dear Margaret Rutherford.
4) Thankfully, Pope Benedict has not waited before launching the first salvos. As I had hoped, he has basically repeated (in diplomatic form) Cardinal Kasper’s remarks of yesterday. As I had feared, he has made it diplomatically enough as not to cause embarrassment.
5) The thing with the scarf was very nice. He even wore it on the (horrible, almost demeaning) Popemobile. Salmond and a couple of other people wore it too. A nice touch that will, I think, be fondly remembered by the people over there.
6) Participation seems rather good. Police says 100,000 in Edinburgh. I am against overvaluing this element, but one sees that a generalised hostility to the Pope is most certainly not there.
Interesting article from Daily Mail’s Stephen Glover.
Mr. Glover is the son of an Anglican vicar and, as such, not the least biased to consider everything Catholic. His deficiencies in matters of Catholicism are crudely shown by his assertion that the Anglican orders have been invalid since 1896 (which is obviously wrong: they have been invalid since the reign of the Bastard King, Edward VI; in 1896 it was merely repeated that they are invalid because many Anglicans were trying to pretend they weren’t) and that the Pope has been infallible since 1870 (obviously wrong for the same reason, the Pope having always been infallible and the Papal infallibility being merely declared dogmatically in 1870). He also gets it totally wrong when he says that Benedict was “slow to grasp” the extent of the homosexual priests’ child abuse problem, when the evidence shows that the man was uncommonly perceptive and decisive in his actions.
We can therefore see that this man has everything one needs to be virulently anti-Catholic: wrong religious background, erroneous conceptions about the Church and even what he thinks is, basically, an offence done to dad. (His comparison with a “witch doctor” in reference to his father is again totally irrational and wrongly emotional: the comparison with a lay preacher, albeit one in grave error, is the more appropriate one).
Still, even a person with such a biased background can reason and point out to some interesting facts:
1) there has been so much talk about the costs of the visit but I can’t remember (nor can he) the same kind of talk by the visit of African dictators, or the like. It is only when the Pope comes that suddenly everyone is interested in the costs. That the British government doesn’t pay for the cost of the pastoral visits and the £10m mentioned are largely forked by Catholic faithful also seems not to interest anyone. In fact, Mr. Glover also seems to have overlooked this simple fact;
2) Even an Anglican like Glover admits that “Pope Benedict expounds what he believes is Christian doctrine in a courageous way” and “does not bend to fashionable secular trends, and holds fast to beliefs which are those of the traditional Church”. Once again we see that unless one is completely blinded by his ideological hatred (Dawkins, C. Hitchens) or, probably more often, by his sexual perversions (Tatchell, Fry) one is naturally inclined to show proper respect to those who have ideals bigger than their own existence and fight for them. “Isn’t it admirable?” is the rhetorical question Glover asks his readers and we all know the answer.
3) He criticises the fanaticism of the hard-core atheists and more importantly the space given to them by the media, in primis by the BBC . If even biased Anglicans start to see that the BBC is truly crossing a line, perhaps there’s hope that something will change. Mr. Glover explicitly agrees with Cardinal Keith O’Brien on the matter, about which I have already reported here.
Let me conclude with the beautiful words of Mr. Glover:
Notwithstanding all the hatchet jobs that have been executed and others that are planned, Pope Benedict’s visit will probably make a deep impression on many people, including non-Christians.
We may not agree with everything he says, or even with his most fundamental beliefs. But his visit should be welcome because he is something rare in the modern world. A decent man of principle.
I know, I know…
another grey and cold day in what should have been the Summer 2010. After the Met Office foresaw that the second part of August would have been a disaster many of us hoped in two wonderfully sunny weeks; alas, every now and then even the Met Office gets it right.
Therefore, I felt the need to do something for your mood (and mine) in another uniformly grey and cold August day and I thought that this might be of help. A group of wymyn not only sets up to say the usual absurdities, but even spends a lot of money on it. Good, say I. It’ll help the economy in such difficult times.
Next month we dwellers of the Capital of the former Land Of Hope And Glory will have some moments of amusement totally free of charge as the feminist group Catholic Wymyn Ordination spends some fifteen thousand of their hopefully hard-earned Pounds to tell the Pope that he must embrace heresy. As they assume that the Popemobile is out of fashion or perhaps in a desperate effort to be “green”, they will use the London buses to get their message across.
The message is as simple as the wymyn themselves: ordain wymyn priest, or die. “We do not want to be disruptive”, says the spokeswomyn Something Something, “but I think the Church has got to change or it will not survive”. I wouldn’t expect her to notice how stupid what she says is; but I would expect that she at least notices that it is heretical on two counts: 1) when she thinks that the Church might nor survive and 2) when she thinks that Doctrinal point must be changed. On the right day, this is very funny indeed.
I can now vividly imagine Martin Luther saying “I do not want to be disruptive, but I really do not think Church Tradition is of any use”, but I think Luther was at least intellectually more honest than this deluded bunch of minus habens who either can’t read, or can’t think, or can’t do any of both.
Still, it will inject some money into the economy; money which might otherwise have been sent to some wymyn group in, say, Canada or Mexico.
Goes to show that no one is completely useless.
The Catholic Herald deals with the effects of the Papal visit, or better said with the hopes of Archbishop Nichols about the same.
My personal opinion is that the effects of the papal visit are being vastly exaggerated and that this exaggeration is conveniently used to cover the fact that like their American counterparts, the bishops of E & W can’t do their job.
These events only have a momentary effect due to some days of intense media coverage, but are largely forgotten once the media coverage has shifted somewhere else. There will certainly be a positive effect on some individuals, but the work and the future of the Church in England cannot be based on short-lived media events. On the contrary, the future depends on serious and courageous work made on the ground every day. Looking at the English clergy it is clear that this is exactly what is not happening.
The past, “historic” visit of JP II – a success by any standard with vast media coverage, massive popular participation and many people touched at a personal level – has been followed by a sharp decline in mass attendance in the following decades. There can be no better evidence that no amount of media coverage can take the place of making one’s homework.
Archbishop Nichols has just seen the last Catholic adoption agency forced to abandon its Catholic character or close altogether. In front of the current situation of Catholic adoption agencies, a courageous Archbishop would have been firing from all cannons for months now, not neglecting one single occasion to make his voice strongly, aggressively heard, rallying his sheep to vocal and organised protest, becoming a serious electoral threat for all those publicly advocating anti-Catholic values and not hesitating to distribute all the excommunications needed to give force to his battle.
Archbishop Nichols prefers to give interviews about the Papal visit instead.
The real problem in this country is not the organisational blunders of the Papal visit, but that we have a toothless clergy feeling perfectly comfortable with their own irrelevance.
Archbishop Nichols is not delivering the goods, nor is any one of his E & W colleagues.
No degree of success of the Papal Visit will ever be able to counteract this.
The Catholic Herald reports of the alertness of the Police in the preparation of the Papal visit, now less than two months away. Not only there are (as Anna Arco reports) Muslim fringe organisations aiming at disrupting the visit, but an aggressive welcome to the Pope is also planned from other sides as well – from Peter Tatchell pink desperadoes to Orangist groupings to aggressive Atheists -. It seems as if the papal visit could become a showdown between radically different mentalities.
This has led many commenters on Catholics blogs to wish that the visit may be postponed, or that it should not take place at all. I disagree with this thinking for the following reasons:
1) The United Kingdom is not a tin-pot African country. They’ll be able to provide for the Holy Father’s security quietly and efficiently. It is not as if the Holy Father were visiting the Gaza Strip wearing a Moshe Dayan t-shirt.
2) This is a State Visit. The Holy Father has been invited by the Queen. To postpone or cancel it would be tantamount to saying to the British Government “you can’t provide for my security”. Perhaps not the diplomatic equivalent of accusing them of being a tin-pot African country, but not far.
3) We must be pleased that the Pope is controversial. I am glad when the Church is controversial, I am worried when she isn’t! JP II was perceived as a largely harmless mediatic Glastonbury Festival, but B XVI is perceived as a real threat to secular society. This is why the secular press smiled on the former and hates the latter.
4) Once reassured (as I think we all should) about the personal security of the Holy Father and his entourage, we should look at disturbances and assorted provocations not only without worries, but with a shade of anticipation. Provocations and disruptions are going to come from fanatical nutcases and assorted fringe groups. There’s nothing to fear from them. On the contrary, the average man and woman in this country will instinctively symphatise with the old man having the gut to visit the wolf’s den and to be insulted and slandered for our sake.
The Pope on one side, loonies and leftist journalists on the other: who do you think is going to make the better impression on Middle England?
There will certainly be a lot of dirt being thrown around and the press will not have any scruple in gigantically amplifying every hint of new scandal or revelation – founded or not – in the days preceding the visit. But the perception of the press – that they mould the conscience and opinion of the country – is just an illusion. Decades of proto-marxist BBC have certainly not given us a country even remotely similar to the one they’d wish, the Guardian has supported the Yellows for the first time and as a result….. they have lost seats, and the “Sun” is best known for supporting the candidate they think is going to win.
There is not much of a downside in this visit, but there are tremendous opportunities for a strong message fearlessly delivered in the middle of the most secularised and aggressively anti-Catholic country in Europe.
If the message is loud and clear people will listen to the Pope, not to the fringe groups’ static noise.
I have written some time ago about the lost and now slowly rediscovered solemnity and pomp of papal appearances. I read today from His Hermeneuticalness ‘s blog that the Papal tiara donated by members of the Belgian Court to Pius IX in 1871 could be used during the Papal visit to the UK.
This is good news for more than one reason. Firstly, it shows that Pope Benedict is – would be, might be – determined to give back to the Papacy the dignity which belongs to such a high and sacred office. Secondly, it is a beautiful reminder that not everything must be dumbed down to the lowest common denominator of shallow mass TV audiences. Thirdly and probably most importantly, it shows the will to proceed in a determined way with such a symbolic recovery of papal authority in the country where such authority is most likely to be aggressively fought against.
If the papal tiara is really used during the UK visit, this will be a clear sign that the Holy Father intends to visit the United Kingdom not in a defensive spirit – that is: merely trying to minimise the damage made by the inevitably loud protesters – but with a clear pastoral intent: to refuse to bow down to the rhetoric of the mediocre and the populism of the hypocrites and to show the Greatness, Holiness, Truth and Universality of the Only Church in an assertive and unashamed way.
The Britons – very much fond of ceremonies – will rapidly get the symbolism of the papal tiara and rightly see in its use a show of authority and a claim to spiritual supremacy to which they are not accustomed. They will be perhaps surprised at first but I do trust that, on reflection, they will understand the message. Some will like it and some other won’t, but no one will be able to ignore it.
Let us hope that Pope Benedict will listen to the advice of some of his more conservative minded counsellors and resolve to take a step toward the restoration of assertive Catholicism.
We had more than enough populism during the Pontificate of his predecessor. More than enough shows of humility which became humiliations. More than enough playing down the authority of the Pope. Now is the time for assertiveness, for conservative and undiluted Catholicism, for the return to what is right rather than popular.