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upper lips unstiffen at the dread name

By Diogenes (articles ) | Apr 24, 2005

The UK Telegraph's Damian Thompson reports -- with a candor rare in the secular media -- on the alarm and despondency Ratzinger's election provoked in the breasts of Britons.

'Lord, remember your Church throughout the world; make us grow in love together with Benedict our Pope…" This phrase, or variants of it, will be spoken by Roman Catholic priests at thousands of Masses throughout England and Wales today, just after the magical moment of transubstantiation.

In most churches, and especially traditionalist ones, the words will ring out joyfully. But in liberal parishes -- which, though relatively few in number, exercise a disproportionate influence on English Catholicism -- some priests will be trying not to choke on them. Make us grow in love together with Ratzinger? Not in their bleakest nightmares did the liberals think they would be asked to do such a thing.

I was in the crowd in St Peter's Square on Tuesday evening when Cardinal Medina Estevez announced "Habemus papam" and, with tantalising slowness, read through the ancient formula: "Eminentissimum ac reverendissimum dominum, dominum …" Then came the name "Josephum", and the black-suited American seminarians next to me looked as if they would expire with joy.

One doubts whether the feeling was the same in certain English and Welsh bishops' residences; in fact, it was probably gloomier than the reaction to the long-anticipated death of John Paul II. Imagine an academic common room in Berkeley, California, on the morning after George W Bush romped home and you will have some idea of the atmosphere. ...

In the lovely shaded garden of [Rome's Venerable English College] last Wednesday, one of the most distinguished writers in the English Catholic world was keeping his spirits up with this thought. "Ratzinger's heart isn't that good, you know," he said. "He's 78, and he was coughing like blazes at his first Mass this morning. We could be back here in a year."

Odd. With the money saved on his airfare the distinguished writer could have passed out 2,800 condoms in Lesotho.

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  • Posted by: Fr T (UK) - Apr. 26, 2005 4:38 AM ET USA

    The lack of genuine enthusiasm at the accession of our new Pontiff along the bench of bishops in this Island was almost tangible. Damian Thompson's article is wickedly incisive and insightful and well worth reading in full. The Truth will set us free.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 25, 2005 6:18 AM ET USA

    The whole article is well, well, worth reading. Diogenes has cut out some of the very best paragraphs when he jumped from the comment about the atmosphere in Berkeley when George Bush romped home to the last paragraph placed in the Venerabile. Damien Thompson is a Catholic journalist and knows the left-wing, politically correct scene, in so many bishoprics in the UK. He sees these as now being ripe for correction.

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