Correlation (Signs of the Times)
A Deep Wodehousian Question

More Reaction to Pope Francis

Maybe I just wasn't paying as much attention, or maybe I've forgotten, but I don't remember there being quite so much fuss at Benedict's election. I do remember all the leftists who smeared him as an unrepentant Nazi, and of course the progressive Catholics who had always disliked him (to put it mildly), and the more conservative ones who loved him. But the range of complaints and hopes (some very much misplaced) for Francis seems much greater. 

There's a great deal of frenzy, positive and negative, about his economic and political ideas, and the usual jockeying to appropriate him as a weapon against one's enemies in that arena, a business which I find pretty dreary and to which I am not paying much attention. And there's an attempt to condemn him for having cooperated with the murderous military regime of Argentina in the late 1970s. 

Many are worried that he will undo, or at least not support, the renewal of the liturgy which was a great concern of Benedict. Fr. Dwight Longenecker has some good things to say about that.

Amy Welborn also thinks the reaction has been greater than usual, makes some reasonable-sounding guesses about why, and expresses irritation at the tendency to draw an unfavorable contrast between Francis and Benedict. That's annoyed me, too, and so I think this is probably my favorite single sentence written, not about Francis, but about the reaction to Francis:

I’m startled by the number of people who are under the impression that Pope Benedict neglected to mention Jesus Christ, mercy or the poor during his pontificate. 

Or maybe this one:

But what has been so bizarre and even saddening over the past few days is a tone and implication that Benedict was somehow about something else besides Jesus Christ.

And Janet Cupo has a fine admonition for everybody to quit fretting and listen.


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The only really sensible response, imo, is to get on with life, trust God and to simply "wait and see."

I'm very fortunate to be too busy with my own stuff to pay too much attention, even with my regular spells on the 'puter.

Well, after I wrote my comment (about the influence of the internet on the pope discussion) on the "uneasiness" thread last night and went to bed, I started wondering what if anything you wrote when Benedict was elected. I know there were only SNJs then, but I figured you would have written something. So, I looked and though you wrote about the election before the conclave, you didn't even mention it the week after. It's just a whole different world online now even though it was only 8 years ago.


There is a subset enthusiasts of the 1962 missal who (by all appearances) live to b***h. (Michael Brendan Dougherty's commentary was penned in a matter of hours and could not have been based on anything more substantial than unverified fragments of internet commentary). There is also a corps of leftoids who seem to think that clergymen resident in authoritarian states of an unapproved species are obligated to take public political stances (while clergymen in their own country are obligated to be craven and silent).

Oh, and witless reductionism:

And I meant to say thanks for the link.



Sunday Night Journals.


"Witless" indeed, Art. I never heard of this guy, as far as I can remember, but I see he is actually a journalist of some prestige. I would call that combination scary if I hadn't already seen so many examples of it.

Re the difference between 2005 and 2013, I guess y'all have seen that picture making the rounds that juxtaposes views of the St. Peter's crowds in both years? In the 2013 one it looks like everyone is holding a little gray candle: iPhones etc. in action.

In 2005 my 20g iPod was a cool new device. Now it's a relic.

If I'd had an actual blog then, I probably would have said a good deal more, as the blog world was already very active by then. The old site was hand-coded so posting something was pretty time-consuming. Still, your point is valid. Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter weren't what they are now (if they were even there at all--I'm not sure). Live streaming video was still sort of iffy.

Facebook wasn't opened to the public until 2006. YouTube started in Feb. 2005, two months before Benedict's election, so none of that stuff was around in any way that would contribute to the discussion of the new pope. There were blogs, and probably some message boards still, but nothing to transmit information so rapidly. Was the Vatican website even around yet? As for live streaming, I wonder how many people had computers in 2005 that could handle that.


I think the Vatican website was set up at least by about 1996. I remember going to it soon after I went online for the very first time, which was about then.

Time is so strange. And in 17 years they haven't figured out that they need to change that background.


Just like the Vatican, in a way, to put those documents out there in a form that seriously discourages anyone from reading them. And leave it that way for 17 years.

Streaming video requires high-speed internet, and a lot of people were still on dial-up in 2005. And I think probably the whole infrastructure had far less capacity then, so that even if you had high-speed video was still often start-and-stop.

Art's comment put me in mind of a professor I once heard say, with no apparent consciousness of irony, "I think it's shocking the way the Vatican has squelched liberation theology. The Church has no business meddling with political questions."

I well remember my first attempt to consult the Vatican website, in 1999. The background loaded, but nothing else. Four or five times.

At least now you can get the entire painful thing pretty quickly.

No, your professor wouldn't see the irony. It's only illicit meddling when it's retrograde.

Just like the Vatican, in a way, to put those documents out there in a form that seriously discourages anyone from reading them. And leave it that way for 17 years.

So true! I know I was blogging in 2005 and probably wrote quite a bit about the new pope, but I might go back to my (now private) archives to have a look.

Art's comment put me in mind of a professor I once heard say, with no apparent consciousness of irony, "I think it's shocking the way the Vatican has squelched liberation theology. The Church has no business meddling with political questions."

That is hilarious!

Peggy Noonan had posted some thoughts on Francis over at
her blog at the Wall St. Journal. These three paragraphs especially caught my eye:

"I am thinking of John Paul II as the pope of freedom, in both the spiritual and the political senses. He went home to Poland and told the Soviet Union that it could not stop God and could not hold the people from him. And of course freedom in the deeper, more crucial sense of finding one’s truest freedom only in belief in God. He liked to quote St. Augustine: 'To the extent to which we serve God we are free, while to the extent we follow . . . sin, we are still slaves.'

I am thinking of Benedict XVI as the pope of reason and intellect in a world abandoning both for sensation, stimulation and sentiment. I read last night in John Thavis’s “The Vatican Diaries” of Benedict's informing a crowd at a World Youth Day mass that Holy Communion can be compared to nuclear fission—the Eucharist is an 'intimate explosion' that sets off a series of transformations. Benedict was an intellectual and somewhat abstract: It was hard for him to be fully heard, fully understood.

But Francis in these first days—this pope seems to me the pope of sweetness, not of a shallow or sentimental kind but some deep sweetness that has to do with words like tenderness, and mercy, and protection."

I think that bit about it being hard for Benedict "to be fully heard, fully understood" is on the mark.

I don't see Benedict that way at all, but I suppose a lot of people do. Most, maybe. To me he's a wonderful poet of theology.

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