Did anyone else hear that the pope is coming this Thursday? Just checking!
Frankly, you can hardly move on the blogosphere or the internet for what we must, out of deference to his German origins, call 'Benedicttalk'. There are still a few pot shots ringing out about organisational matters. Witness the latest own goal by the organisers with their jargon-busting Helpful Terms handout. I wonder, if they carry on like this, whether they will begin to benefit from Sargent's law which posits that British public sympathy for those in the public eye is inversely proportional to the excellence with which they execute any action.
Still, excitement abounds elsewhere. Fr Finigan has provided a helpful guide to the ticketless enthusiasts out there. Mac has sent us all into a jealous rage by waving her papal press pass! And The Catholic Herald is telling us grandiloquently that our moment has come to show the world that faith is still alive and well in Britain.
If this last piece is anything to go by, it tells us that the spin has started. It will only increase next week. In fact, we're going to hear a gaggle of interpretations of the papal visit, about what it shows and what it proves, what it highlights and what it misses. Where, I wonder, will the pope's voice be in all this?
The organisational blunders prior to this visit are well documented, but we need to draw a veil over those things for now. Ultimately, we cannot be too concerned about the detail. It's all so much flotsam and jetsam anyway. The key things are clear:
1) the vicar of Christ is coming to Britain
2) we ought to listen to what he has to say
The external critics of the Church will be so vigorous over the next week that we might be tempted to forget about the internal problems. Beware of spin on either side: by those who are so (rightly!) frustrated they cannot stop carping at the shocking catalogue of organisational screw ups, and by those who want to claim a victory for the Church before the visit is hardly begun.
The pope will not come to lash the backs of organisers and he will not come to tell us we're really all okay.
So what will he come to say and what will be its import? Let's just wait and see.