A Running thread on Benedict in UK

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!

(Video of the Pope and Queen Meeting)

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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

Nice screen shots of the mass (going on right now, see the livestream)! –12:55 PM

The Eternal Question: “Why Remain a Catholic?” Hear some responses here, and my own answer to that question, here or as podcast. — 12:18

Get Religion.Org: Benedict Visits the Circus11:59 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

Rev. James Martin: wonders about the implications of the proposed feast day for John Henry Newman Also, Fr. Dwight Longenecker has background on Newman and a timeline. — 11:14 PM

Ian Paisley leads the protests11:05 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”

This video on John Henry Newman, “A Prophet for our Time”, looks good. More on Newman’s relevance here10:45 AM

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

The Itinerary is here and there is livestreaming here or here and Whispers in the Loggia’s Rocco Palma will be doing coverage and commentary each night at Currents.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com/ Bender

    It is true that when he first came on the scene, Venerable John Paul II got the superstar treatment from the media. But in the latter half of his papacy, not so much.

    Had he become pope later, he might have received the Benedict treatment too — oh, he’s a mean hardliner! To be sure, he did get that treatment in some quarters, as well as the media choosing to focus on JP2 the man, rather than substantively and sincerely addressing anything he ever had to say.

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com/ Bender

    The comments are his most thorough admission to date of failings in the way the sex abuse scandal was handled.

    If one wants to know the truth of anything, it is clear that the MSM is never the place to go. Of course, Benedict has spoken and written on the matter in depth repeatedly.


    As for being feisty, from the in-flight press conference –

    Question: The country has a past tradition of a strong anti-Catholic position. Are you concerned about how you will be received?

    Pope Benedict: . . . Of course Britain has its own history of anti-Catholicism, this is obvious, but is also a country with a great history of tolerance. And so I’m sure on the one hand, there will be a positive reception from Catholics, from believers in general, and attention from those who seek as we move forward in our time, mutual respect and tolerance. Where there is anti-Catholicism, I will go forward with great courage and joy.

    [I DO love that! -admin]

  • Annie

    The Mail’s interpretation of Benedict’s speech, comparing Britain today to Nazi Germany seems like a bit of a stretch to me. Don’t you love how they always are compelled to say “the former member of the Hitler Youth”…

    The pope actually said “Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live.

    I also recall the regime’s attitude to Christian pastors and religious who spoke the truth in love, opposed the Nazis and paid for that opposition with their lives.

    As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a “reductive vision of the person and his destiny”

  • Ellen

    I’ve been reading Benedict’s books lately and am struck by what a clear, lucid and understandable writer he is. There is no deliberate obfuscation and no jargon. It’s refreshing.

    [One of the things I really appreciate about Benedict is how accessible he is. Sometimes JPII's stuff was so dense it defeated me. -admin]

  • Diane

    As another girl who prefers to seek out the quiet piano in the corner, I also love Pope Benedict.  His writings are dense, but worth the effort.  I can’t imagine a person reading them capable of maintaining ill will toward the man.  It would only be possible in a person either ignorant of who he is or stubbornly opposed to the truths he so carefully reveals.

    Benedict reminds me of the old woman of whom the minister speaks in Frost’s poem, “The Black Cottage” –

    “Strange how such innocence gets it’s own way.
    I shouldn’t be surprised if in this world
    It would be the force that would at last prevail.”

    (For the record, I don’t agree with those who say Frost was talking about the fluidity of truth; rather he was talking about the shifting of belief in truth and the difficulty of contending with that error and those intent on committing it.)

    I pray for Pope Benedict’s safety on this trip and hope that his presence is reassuring to the hopeful and welcoming to the uncertain.

  • Kaisar

    I just love both Papas!! they’re awesome each in their own way.

  • Jeff

    Benedict’s writing is much more clear than JP II’s. But both great men.

  • Brian English

    Catholics who do not read Benedict are depriving themselves of a powerful source of strength for their faith. It never fails that reading one of his books, even if it is just a few pages when I have a spare moment, leads to me understanding something that I did not understand before, or thinking about something in a way I had not thought about it before.

  • Tonestaple

    I was glad to have John Paul II’s support in ending the Cold War, but Benedict XVI has something that JPII just didn’t. I love the twinkle in his eye, always looking like he knows something we don’t and he’s not sure if he should tell or not.

  • Pam

    Haven’t time at the moment to check out all the links re the Holy Father’s visit to Scotland and England, but will say that, contrary to your friend mentioned at the top of the entry, I am very glad that it’s not JPII making the remarks. I, an “inactive” Catholic for many years (and struggling to find an avenue of return), have loved Benedict XVI since his election. Never did really cotten on to his predecessor and am not sure why–too much drama, perhaps, or too much popularity–I am a wee bit contrary on that sort of thing. God bless the Holy Father on this foray and always. Thanks to you for all the good coverage and links.
    Sounds like you had a great time in Rome–so glad you got to go. Very best wishes, Pam

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com/ Bender

    Meanwhile, the usual crowd is looking hard to find things to criticize and complain about. While everyone else is happy and enthusiastic, they are over there spitting mad.

  • AMDG

    Welcome back, Anchoress.

    I would love to hear the audio from that press conference; in the transcript there isn’t one “um or “uh” and I am sure that was because Benedict didn’t utter one. He speaks and writes so clearly and knows exactly what he means to say. I think the thing that galls his opponents so much is his entirely unapologetic attitude toward the mission and purpose of the Church and it is one of the many aspects I love about him. There is no relativism in the man!

  • Anna Maria

    Re….”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.”
    Aw, I think BXVI is handsome in a frail, boyish kind of way. :)
    Anyway, his mind makes up for what he lacks! May our Lord guide and protect him throughout his visit.

  • F (Former Romana)

    Viva il Papa!

    Maybe in biblical times they said sword of truth but, to me, he comes out with both truth guns blazin’.

    High noon in England.

    This is one loveable but militant pope. Militating the truth. Love it!

    I can’t help but experience mirth when I see how vastly more intelligent, charming, mannerly, regal, humble, loveable and attractive he is compared to the shrill harpies in the media.

    I’ve been giddy all day. If he was a knight on a horse, I think he’d get his truth lance out and knock them on their duff.

    I’m definitely feeling like a cheerleader today.

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  • Mary

    Thank you for posting all the links. I love Benedict. I see someone so dear, so holy and so completely without guile. His writings are so clear and so deep and understandable. We are so blessed by God!

  • Jeff

    Another assassination plot now, by Algerians. Gee I wonder if they’re islamic.

  • charles

    Now, now Jeff – you haven’t been properly reeducated – the correct term is “disaffected youths”.

  • Ellen

    I was expecting a plot from the “disaffected youths”. The first story I read mentioned that one of the youths was 50. Dear me – when do they grow up?

  • Gordon Savage

    During the Papal Conclave after JPII died, I remember one night before bed hearing the MSM prattle on about the candidates for Pope. They agreed on only one thing: it wouldn’t be Ratzinger.

    I sadly accepted this. I’d loved Ratzinger’s writings. His book on the liturgy was the first book I purchased as a Catholic. But his becoming Pope would almost be too good to be true.

    Then later that night I had a dream that there was a rejoicing in Heaven — a real party — because Ratzinger had become Pope. I opened my eyes and literally jumped out bed to turn on the t.v.. There it was, the white smoke from the chimney.

    Perhaps some things are too good not to be true.

  • Jeff

    I remember the media totally blowing the call on the last conclave. And then I actually heard Norah O’Donnell on MessNBC categorically predict that the sex abuse crisis would lead to the “downfall” and resignation of this pope. Funny stuff.

    [I remember Sr. Joan Chittister declaring that if Ratzinger was elected pope, "we're going to lose many, many young women, and we're going to lost them quickly." A wag might say that we are, apparently losing them to the convents! -admin]

  • Maureen

    You do get some people who really like JPII’s writing and can’t really get B16′s. It’s just one of those thinking style things, like the people who don’t get Tolkien and those who do.

    So without going so far as to say “all Catholics”, I will say that I really really enjoy Benedict’s writing, and that people shouldn’t be intimidated by him. He’s the kind who thinks big thoughts but uses small words.

    ["He's the kind who thinks big thoughts but uses small words." - Heh. Just my speed! :-) -admin]

  • Sal

    Benedict is three days older than my dad, so I’m always in awe of what he’s accomplished in his papacy, on top of all he did before. I mean, my dad is in pretty good shape- he travels and plays golf, but he doesn’t have the weight of Catholic Christendom on his shoulders, like Benedict. So, I worry about him in a daughterly kind of way, and am very grateful the plot was foiled.

    I remember with amused hindsight, how before I entered the Church in ’85, friends were sure it was because of the charisma of JPII. “Oh, things look good now” they’d say. “But what about the next guy?”
    Oh, I don’t know- just as good, maybe better? Both suitable for the times?

    And as an EF attendee, we are hugely grateful to him for Summorum Pontificum.

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  • Teresa

    Benedict is truly a blessing from God. I loved him when he was a Cardinal and more so now. He radiates a loving, kindness and grace that no newspaper hack can destroy.

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  • JuliB

    I think that His Awesomeness, while not the handsome younger JP2, is still the cat’s meow! The love of God just radiates from his adorable face.

  • Mandy P.

    Hi again! I’m the gal who was inspired to join the RCC by Glenn Beck (I know how goofy that sounds). So, I’ve started my RCIA journey-going into week 3 now- and am really enjoying it. And the Mass at my local parish is just lovely. I’m very excited and almost can’t wait to be able to take part in the Eucharist during my first communion, even though I know that’s probably a long way off.

    Anyway, about Pope Benedict. I picked up his book, Jesus of Nazareth at the library a few weeks ago and finished it the other day. I’ve known intellectually for a long time that Jesus is the Messiah, and have followed him ever since. But I’ve always had a hard time with the whole “falling in love with Jesus” thing. I’ve just never made the emotional connection. Until I read Pope Benedict’s book, that is. He just brought Jesus into such crisp focus. What can be a very dense and dry discussion of the symbolism filling Jesus’ life, Benedict managed to turn into a very emotional and enjoyable journey with Christ. I am now absolutely in love with Jesus and with Pope Benedict.