Monday, 13 September 2010

Going quietly among the noise and haste

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.


berenike said...



GOR said...

One of the things which impressed me with the Holy Father was his ability to suit his talks to his audiences. Perhaps I didn’t expect this, given that for decades he was ‘closeted in the Curia’ or ‘anchored in academia’. Maybe it was because the Parish Priest of my youth was for years a professor of Theology at Maynooth, was assigned to our parish as a ‘reward for service’ (it was one of the plum parishes in the diocese…) and never succeeded in relating well with the parishioners, particularly the young.

My view of Pope Benedict changed radically when I read his address to the First Communicants in St. Peter’s some years ago. It was so simple, direct and suited to the ages of the children – very paternal, in the best sense of the word. Then there was Regensburg – a very different setting and a very different address – but again, appropriately suited to his audience.

So I look forward to hearing what Pope Benedict will say at the various functions in Britain - and I’m confident that his words in each setting will be properly suited to his audiences and of benefit to us all.

roveto ardente said...

Yes GOR, some of us will be listening to what he has to say with all the attentiveness we can muster!

In one parish I know the plan is to get the youth group to dedicate their next meeting after the Pope's visit to discuss what he said while here. The intention is to encourage them to internalise his message rather than just letting his words become forgotten soundbites as the visit becomes a memory.