by Anura Guruge
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On the last day of Benedict XVI’s 4-day trip to Germany, i.e., Sunday, September 25, 2011, at 5 pm, a couple of hours prior to his flight back to Rome, the pope met with representatives of leading German Catholic associations. Prior to the trip the Vatican had billed this event along the lines of ‘… meet with a group of local Catholics luminaries.’ As it transpired it was quite an elaborate affair held at a concert hall in Freiburg im Breisgau, the last city on the pope’s 3-city tour.
The local Catholics had arranged a short concert for the music-loving pope — to provide him with relaxation prior to his 2-hour flight back to Rome. You can see a video of the whole event, starting with the concert, here.
Following the musical soiree the pope delivered a short speech whose punch line was: ‘It Is Time For The Church To Set Aside Her Worldliness.’
When I saw the headline in the Vatican Information Service report, highlighting this remark, I was delighted.
It immediately brought to mind dear John Paul I (#264) who planned to give away ‘half of the’ Church’s riches — though he never, alas, got a chance to implement this godly plan during his fleeting 33 days as pope. [Yes, among those that do not believe that this wonderful pope died of heart failure, there is a contingent that believes that he was murdered because the Vatican 'old guard' was mortified at the thought of the Church's riches being given to benefit the poor.]
I read the speech. It had statements such as: “A Church relieved of the burden of worldliness is in a position, not least through her charitable activities, to mediate the life-giving strength of the Christian faith to those in need, to sufferers and to their carers.”
The pope, thank God, also talked about the sex abuse crisis: “This scandal, which cannot be eliminated unless one were to eliminate Christianity itself, has unfortunately been overshadowed in recent times by other painful scandals on the part of the preachers of the faith.”
But, in the end, I did NOT see any concrete proposals as to how the pope was going to minimize the Church’s worldliness.
So here is my REAL problem. Look at the image above ^. That is the pope delivering this message.
He, noted for his vanity, is dressed in top-notch watered silk and wearing a hunking chunk of gold that any LA gang leader would be proud of. The least he could have done was wear a wooden cross. With gold prices what they are (though they did come down quite a bit at the end of last week), the pope could sell that jeweled, golden cross and feed a refugee camp in Africa for a day.
And here is where it gets worse. The pope doesn’t even see the irony of this! Yes, he definitely is getting old. The upside down pallium incident attests to that. But, this is where it gets even more scary. As with the pallium, his entourage is too scared to point any of this to the pope. Really becoming, quite literally, a case of of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”
Words are cheap. Gold, today, is at US $1,653/ounce. The pope is 84 and the Church is more flamboyant than ever — though spending billions of dollars (US) to stay ahead of the clergy sex abuse crimes.
Ahhh, for a John Paul I or John XXIII (#262). I would say John Paul II (#265) but for the pool.