Aerial shot of Benedict’s crowd at Bellahouston Pk, Scotland(Via)
Last night, after listening to me coo about the papal audience a friend of mine said, “that’s so great; it’s just too bad it couldn’t be John Paul!”
She could hear the shock in my voice when I responded, “but why? I love Benedict!”
“I don’t like him much,” she said.
“Have you read him?” I asked.
“Well, no. But I never read John Paul, either, but I loved him. He was bigger than life.”
I realized my pal, like most, was not particularly interested in hearing a defense of Benedict. She responds to images and historic moments, and so it makes sense that our John Paul II, who was indeed “larger than life,” and whose participation in bringing down the Soviet state was catalytic, would “love” John Paul while disdaining his successor. Benedict is not glamorous or outgoing, and he is not involved in big-ticket, big-issue political theater as JPII was. Benedict is simply what he was before his gained the papal throne: hardworking, faithful, determined (since even before his papacy) to rid the church of what he aptly called its “filth,” and ultimately, always, a little overshadowed.
John Paul reached out to the world; he came into his pontificate while still a young, handsome and vigorous young man, and he was irresistible and savvy, and a trained actor. Benedict, while pretty spry for an octogenarian, is none of those things. He is a little awkward, a little shy, but so interesting, once you give him a chance, and with a fearlessness that belies his quiet demeanor.
In the eternal high-school of public opinion, if John Paul was the glam quarterback who got the girls, and some coverage for his mistakes, Benedict might be called the MIT-bound geek, content to watch others get the glory while he buckles down and sets things right.
John Paul was a grand, dramatic pipe organ of a pope; you could not ignore him. Benedict is a piano, deftly playing Mozart, and inviting you in, if you like. “Inviting” is the operative word.
I guess I’ve always been a girl to seek out the quiet piano in the corner, myself.
Just below, I’ll be keeping a running thread going, today, with most recent news first (ala Instapundit) so you can scroll down to see the older stuff; check back, from time to time, if you will, for constant updates. Although the press seems to believe this papal visit is pro-forma and routine, I am convinced Benedict’s visit to the United Kingdom is going to be dramatic, and have far-reaching consequences.
And the Papal Tartan is pretty cool, too!
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Press Office of the Holy See: Fr. Lombardi (yeah, I saw him in Rome!) says the Vatican could not be more pleased with the start of things. — 6:33 PM
Papal Mass Ends in Scotland: First leg of the trip is over, tomorrow the real drama, the passionate engagement begins. I loved the Scots singing Auld Lang Syne and Loch Lomand at the end of Papal Mass; great joy amid crowd. Christ, blest and broken, for the life and light of the world. No wonder the secularists hate it all so much! A pal in UK tells me some in punditry are aghast at the enthusiastic attendance of the youth; doesn’t fit the “Benedict is evil, and you must hate him” narrative. Just now, as he appeared on the jumbotron, almost ready to take his leave, the young people cried out for him.
They cry out for Christ, for the constant reality of the love of Christ. — 2:11 PM
Remembering Ratzinger when he Came to the UK: Scroll down for Robert Moynihan’s thoughts; set your locator for CONSUMER MATERIALISM AND CHRISTIAN HOPE.
“The reality is that the fundamental intuition concerning the moral character of being itself and the necessity for harmony between human existence and the message of nature is common to all the great civilizations; and thus the great moral imperatives are also a possession held in common. C S Lewis expressed this emphatically when he said: “This thing, which I have called for convenience the Tao, and which others may call natural law, or traditional morality, or the first principle of practical reason, or the first platitudes, is not one among a series of possible systems of value. It is the sole source of all value judgments. If it is rejected, all value is rejected. If any value is retained, it is retained. The effort to refute it and to raise a new system of value in its place is self-contradictory.”
Very worth seeking out. — 1:36 PM
Noting the unusually fast turn-around, Rocco posts the entire in-flight presser, which you will really enjoy reading. Benedict, as usual, is authentic, open and completely without guile. Also, his sermon, which he is speaking as I write, is equally open. He is speaking with unusual directness to the youth, and the emptiness of a life lived without restraint or discipline, or introspection. Very moving. “The church now belongs to YOU!” – 1:12 PM
Since we’re talking papal, today, do check out this excellent look at Pius VII and the distortions surrounding him. — 1:06 PM
Get Religion.Org: Benedict Visits the Circus — 11:59 AM
Some Protestant Perspective on Why God Won’t Go Away by Alister McGrath. — 11:49 AM
Sissy Willis: Is looking at the big picture from a religio-political perspective. — 11:46 AM
The Benedictine Nuns in UK: Also feeling very feisty at the blog:
Unfortunately, if the Regensburg address is anything to go by, the media will pick up on a sentence or two wrenched out of context and try to create a storm. Benedict isn’t a pope who speaks in sound bites but in nuanced and often intellectually demanding sentences. He pays his hearers the compliment of assuming that they too are educated and well-read. That doesn’t make him popular, but it does make him worth studying.
You’ll want to read it all, and subscribe to their groovy paper!
Also check out the Catherine of Siena Institute, which is not liking EWTN’s coverage, much– 11:36 AM
Just realized the UK Catholic Herald is also live-blogging. One entry:
12.50 Ed West
Police say 100,000 people have turned out to see the Pope in Edinburgh. Sky News estimates there are 60 protesters.
And here is a good piece on why tomorrow’s Address in Westminster Hall is going to matter.
Also, a look at the spiritual state of England; very good read! — 11:27 AM
Always touched to remember that Oscar Wilde so openly declared that he would only die in the Catholic church, despite its real or perceived flaws. — 11:23 AM
Damien Thompson: Already feeling extremely feisty about the atheists! — 11:16 PM
Ian Paisley leads the protests — 11:05 AM
First words are fearless and bold:
The Pope controversially likened the rise of atheism in Britain to Nazi Germany today as he warned against ‘aggressive forms of secularism’ at the start of his historic state visit.
Risking sparking a new row after one of his aides likened the UK to the ‘Third World’, the former member of the Hitler Youth invoked Nazi Germany in an attack on ‘atheist extremism’.
It came after Benedict XVI apologised for the Catholic Church’s handling of the child abuse scandal as he flew to Scotland this morning.
The 83-year-old Pope admitted on the flight that the church had not dealt with abusive priests decisively or quickly enough.
The comments are his most thorough admission to date of failings in the way the sex abuse scandal was handled.
His statements will never be “thorough enough” of course, not for the press, but as I wrote on Tuesday:
[Elizabeth and Benedict] know what the rhetorical jackboot sounds like and how seamlessly it can advance; they can speak to our time, if we let them.
John Allen: “We weren’t fast enough!”
Deacon Greg: “A Great Sadness”
St. John Bosco also seems to have thought a papal trip to England to be of some import. — 10:43 AM
Rocco, unsurprisingly, is off and running with Benedict’s first remarks. “The hand of friendship.” Writes Rocco:
For the record, the Popemobile’s journey down the Royal Mile has seen large, enthusiastic crowds — bigger than most Brit commentators anticipated in the visit’s run-up.
Not surprising. I remember during JPII’s World Youth Day visit to Colorado, one female reporter was so staggered by the size of the crowd, she wondered openly whether the young people were forced into participation. The press does not know what it does not know about the church, and when what it thinks it knows is not what is before their eyes, they cannot believe it. — 10:37 AM
As too often is the case, a Cardinal jumpstarts the coverage with a stupid remark. It is becoming tiresome that folks seem to think Benedict is responsible for every utterance that comes from the mouth of every Catholic. Do we expect Obama to have to answer for Schumer? — 10:30 AM