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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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