Thursday, May 27, 2010

News From The Other Side Of The Pond
From my favorite Brit writer, Damien Thompson
Anxieties over the Papal visit to Britain
By Damian Thompson

There are some good omens for the Pope’s visit to Britain in September. We now know that some (not all) of the music at the Papal Masses in Coventry and Glasgow will be worth hearing, thanks to the decision to perform James MacMillan’s lovely new Mass setting (but, my goodness, those old trendies fight hard: led by Mgr Gerry Fitzpatrick, Glasgow’s musical bureaucrats did everything in their power to get their stuff performed instead. Imagine if the poor Pope had been forced to listen to this). Also, it’s likely that, by the time the Holy Father visits, the Vatican will have announced long overdue worldwide guidelines for the handling of allegations of sexual misconduct. So that should do something to appease public opinion, though I’d lay good money on a certain newspaper dredging up an abuse story just as the papal plane touches down.

What I am picking up, however, is a lot of discontent in Catholic circles at the restrictions on numbers at the Papal Masses – 400,000 combined – which seem to have been imposed by Labour’s health and safety fascists and embraced readily by the papal visit’s politically correct organiser, Mgr Andrew Summersgill.

There is one good argument in favour of restricting the size of the Papal Masses, and that is the embarrassing possibility that not enough people will show up. The ridiculous (and risky) proposal to have Susan Boyle sing in Glasgow is motivated by worries about bums on seats, I’m told by a Scottish Church insider. But I have a feeling that Britain’s Catholics could surprise us, as Portugal’s Catholics did, by turning out in unexpectedly large numbers. They know that Pope Benedict XVI has been subjected to vicious smears in the media; this is their opportunity to stand up and be counted.

If the Church lets them. Mgr Summersgill’s talk of “participating” by watching the Pope on television or online has irritated ordinary Catholics who are also being asked to fork out for the cost of the visit, and some English parish priests are worried that their parishes will be allocated very few tickets to attend the Beatification Mass. Here’s an email I received this week from a non-partisan, loyal, not especially traditionalist priest:

Damian, how would one go about a freedom of information request to see whether it’s true that the Government (rather than Andrew Summersgill) have put a limit on numbers permitted to see the Pope?

I think ordinary Catholics are wondering why they are simultaneously being told to pay for the Papal visit and that they can’t go to see him! So far my parish has been allocated 1 ticket!

If we obey the bishops and all stay at home the only ones on the streets will be protesters.

One ticket? For a really thriving parish, too. That can’t be right. Unfortunately, the Magic Circle loves nothing better than health and safety regulations and “best practice” and all that public sector malarkey. Perhaps the new Government should take the lead, and relax the rules. Failing that, Catholics could always turn up without tickets. That would send a powerful message to Eccleston Square’s control freaks – and to the secular world.

2 Comments:

Blogger Coffee Catholic said...

I love it. They want us to stay home and watch it on TV. Someone is afraid to let the world see how many Catholics are here in Britain!

5:56 AM  
Blogger Former Altar Boy said...

I hope throngs of Catholics, even fallen away Catholics, and plenty of conservative Anglicans, all show up on their own. It will also send a nice message to the rising Moslem tide in Great Britain.

1:09 PM  

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