Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Habemus Papam! One year later ...

Amy has a beautiful post reflecting on this past year. This is what I wrote in the comments over there:
Oh a year already! Amy -- that was beautifully put and right on. I remember the day clearly ... I was at a meeting with area church workers. "It must be Ratzinger, if they've decided so early!" I said as the meeting was inerrupted with the announcement that there was white smoke. And as soon as Cardinal Medina Estevez said "Dominum Iosephum" I gave out a whoop of joy. The rest wailed like banshees. I was also on the phone with some of the students at the campus ministry, who had all clustered around a TV set. Most of them had never heard of Ratzinger ... but they were overjoyed at being Catholic, of being part of the Church at this historic moment. It was surreal. Those two reactions are etched in my mind. The groans of the mid-level church workers I was with and the enthusiastic joy of the college kids. A little vignette that illustrates, to me at least, so clearly where the Church has been, and where she is going, God willing.

As to this past year? I'm thrilled. And I've been reading everything he says and writes in a way I never did think of doing with his beloved predecessor.
Against the Grain brings a roundup of his Holy Week and Easter stuff. And American Papist links to a roundup of stories at Ignatius Insight (including John Allen in the NCR)
Hence in the immediate aftermath of his election, most commentators fell back upon tried-and-true labels: “archconservative,” “authoritarian,” “hard-line.”

Probably the best expression of this came in an editorial cartoon in L’Unità, the newspaper of the old Communist Party in Italy. Understanding the cartoon requires a bit of background. In Italy, perhaps the most revered pope of modern times is John XXIII, know as il papa buono, “the good pope.” One treasured memory of John XXIII is an evening in October 1962, the opening of the Second Vatican Council, when the Catholic Action movement organized a torchlight parade that finished in St. Peter’s Square. The pope was not scheduled to address the crowd, but when it arrived, John XXIII wanted to speak. He said something burned into the consciousness of most Italians, repeated endlessly on television and radio. Smiling down on the crowd, he said: Tornando a casa, troverete i bambini. Date una carezza ai vostri bambini e dite: questa è la carezza del Papa. It means, “When you go home, you’ll find your children. Give them a kiss, and tell them that this kiss comes from the pope.” It summed up the legendary love of the man.

Thus the L’Unità cartoon showed Benedict XVI at the same window, saying, “Tonight, when you go home, I want you to give your children a spanking, and tell them that this spanking comes from the pope.”

It perfectly crystallized the expectations many had of this allegedly draconian, Darth Vader figure. Many people expected that if Ratzinger were elected on a Tuesday, by Wednesday priests would be saying Mass in Latin with their backs to the people, and one would hear a great flushing sound across the Catholic world as all the dissidents and liberals were washed out of the system.

The most striking thing about Benedict’s first year, therefore, is how relatively little of this sort of thing we’ve seen.
Read on!

1 comment:

St. Elizabeth of Cayce said...

Late comment:

Michael Dubriel is looking for just this sort of story for an upcoming work: Where Ratzinger was a Swear Word.

Check it out.