to encourage the brethren

By Diogenes (articles ) | Apr 17, 2008

In yesterday's address to the U.S. bishops the Pope stunned his audience by giving them more than 6,000 consecutive English words without using the adjective "vibrant" (as in "your diverse and vibrant faith community"), thus breaking the record for a Latin Rite prelate set in 1994 by Fabian Bruskewitz (5,173). Let it be reckoned unto him as righteousness.

The speech itself was a hybrid, as such things tend to be, composed partly of the Talking Points the U.S. bishops must have fed to the papal nuncio ahead of time, and partly of the Pope's own thought. It's seldom hard to tell which is which, and most of us could take a couple highlighting pens to the text and clearly mark out who contributed what. We can be pretty sure that it wasn't the bishops who wrote about "the eternal life which God promises in the age to come," and we can be positive it wasn't Benedict that coined the phrase "a safe environment that gives greater protection to young people"; the same is true of the expression "your efforts to heal and protect are bearing great fruit." In fact it hurts a little to hear the bishops' buzzwords -- as a kind of product-placement -- coming from the mouth of the theologically fastidious Benedict. To pilfer a line from Mark Steyn, it's "a bit like hearing Maria Callas sing 'Yes, We Have No Bananas'."

So what we see is the generally accepted division of labor in action: the Pope comes to us as an evangelist and gives us the Good News ("He who was slain for our sins, lives"), and he returns enriched by the gift of a Good Touch Bad Touch ball cap.

We can also expect the unfailingly courteous Benedict to address the Catholic universities in the same spirit, exhorting them to cultivate a deeper and more intrepid faith and, instead of dwelling on their shortcomings, putting the emphasis on their positive post-Conciliar contributions to higher education, such as the Veer Offense. And if he can get through THAT event without resort to a "vibrant," he should be given the Cy Young award honoris causa.

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  • Posted by: - Apr. 18, 2008 11:32 AM ET USA

    It also must be rmembered that Aninais and Sapphira died bdfore the "Throne" of Peter the Apostle and that the ancient Catholic laity was ready at any moment to lay down their lives in the defense of the Faith. As far as I understand, habitual Mortal sin among them was not tolerated. An individual had three times to reform from blatant serious sin and then they were "put out," that is excommunicated.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 17, 2008 11:35 PM ET USA

    The Lion is now a Shepherd. He has said that following in the steps St. Peter means to learn patience and humility. "We want God to be strong in the world and to change the world on the spot, according to our ideas and the needs that we see. But God chooses a different way. God chooses the way of the transformation of heart, in suffering and in humility." It's hard for me to accept this but I have to trust the Holy Spirit is guiding him and pray for discernment for him.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 17, 2008 7:34 PM ET USA

    Thank you for the remark on "vibrant"; I have hated it for years. Coming up, a new word: At a business site I saw an ad for a talk on how to be a "resonant" leader!

  • Posted by: - Apr. 17, 2008 3:54 PM ET USA

    the problem, as pointed out in Chiesa not long ago, the "official" texts are readily available But what the Pope actually says is heard only by those who can go. It would be a great gift if someone would make the Holy Father's actual remark available

  • Posted by: - Apr. 17, 2008 3:45 PM ET USA

    In a Pauline year, we must recognize that Saint Paul did not cut knees off like Saul. He used their own words to teach them. He did not pour salt on an open wound, but attracted others to faith with reason and the honey of truth. Wanting to attract the faithless, the faith-sharing brethern, the cafeteria faith-less-full, and even the devout & ultra orthodox/praxis BXVI stands and delivers, letting the words be heard, going out and preaching the Good News & as a good shepherd call them to follow.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 17, 2008 12:55 PM ET USA

    " giving them more than 6,000 consecutive English words without using the adjective "vibrant..." Very profound, Diogenes..., and safe and definitely politically correct...Catholic mode... The Holy Father is now physically in the midst of Bishops and clerics who in his absence defy and scorn him... and up till now he appears to have done nothing... The Lion who used to be Ratzinger has changed... ...and which ways are defintiely a matter for debate...