Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pope Benedict's visit to Germany: Part 2 Some possible answers to questions posed in Part I

1. The Berlin Mass.
On further reflection I've become increasingly convinced that Pope Benedict and his Master of Ceremonies were at least half-prepared for this Mass. Regardless of what the German Bishops may or may not have said beforehand, the Pope must have been perfectly well aware of the state of the Church in his native land. He knows all about the power of that Central Committee of the Catholic laity and its Council. Apart from anything else he is extremely close to his brother and reads the German Press. The question is, why did he not allow Mgr Marini to attempt control of matters, as happened before the UK visit? Of course Mgr Marini may have managed to tone things down a little, but to the outside world, the Mass was nothing less that an insult to the Holy Father and proof that those who run the Church in Germany disagree with his teaching on liturgy and assume a right to ignore it. Many of the grass- roots laity, who feed the wealth of the German Church,  seemed completely ignorant of that teaching, .

My reflection therefore leads me to ask another question. Perhaps I was almost right in my post on the morning after the Mass, when I suggested that the Holy Father may have said to Mgr Marini, 'We'll have to let them do this.' Now I am wondering whether he added, 'We must let them tell the truth about themselves'. Our Holy Father is in constant search for the TRUTH. He would not want to be a willing part in its misrepresentation. Maybe he wanted orthodox Catholics in the rest of Europe to see what he and they are up against.

2 & 3. The absence of Adoration and Benediction from the Youth 'Prayer Vigil and the louche decadance of the 'cabaret' that was performed in their stead, thank God not in the presence of the Holy Father.

With the memory of Hyde Park and more recently of World Youth Day still fresh in the mind, this was a real shock. One had been confidently looking forward to what has now become a familiar scene, that of the Holy Father leading a silent multitude in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The first sentence of his address to the German youngsters bolstered that confidence because he referred to WYD and said said that he 'hoped' he would be able to repeat that special moment here with them in Freiburg. His hope was not to be fulfilled, and one is left wondering whether something happened during the course of the event that made him think better of it. I have tried to watch the entire event again on kto, but found to my astonishment that contrary to their usual practice they do not supply a video of the full event. In fact all you can see is a four minute resume which is the sum total of what the kto bosses judged fit for repetition in posterity. Considering the beauty of the Eucharistic Adoration from the Holy Father's Lourdes visit in 2008, I am not surprised at their decision. (Indeed Pastor in Valle, ' Il faut que la France survive.')

At the time, I thought it was a fatal mistake to have all this crass pop performance stuff while the Pope was present.(At Hyde Park, it wasn't so crass, and in any case all took place before the Holy Father arrived. Once he did, the atmosphere changed utterly.)
The following lament from Peter Seewald's interview about the German Papal visit, linked on WDTPRS this morning, speaks volumes: 'As a preamble to the youth meeting at Freiburg organisers gave young people the chance to vote on various  topics such as women priests and homosexuality, leaving out any spiritual preparation for the event.'

As it was, the Holy Father seemed acquiescent enough during the lighting of the candles, and he reminded them when he spoke that they had just 'imitated' the Easter Vigil. Who knows how many of them knew that that was what they had done. It still at that point seemed a perfect introduction to Adoration and Benediction. The Holy Father left and one thought he had gone to vest in a cope and to bring Our Lord back with him. It did not happen.

What took place instead  was an absolute disgrace. German youth was appallingly let down by those 'organisers'. I still thought we were waiting for the Holy Father to reappear, but then  a rather rough looking male individual came on wearing huge white wings and something, I cannot remember exactly what, clamped to his head. As I watched I began to feel as if I was in some Berlin 'boite de nuit' of the Sally Bowles era. At this point I began to pray with all my might that the Holy Father had called it a day and gone off to have a late supper. Worse was to come. With the 'white winged' person there was a troupe of half naked male adagio dancers, who began to climb all over each other. Now I know the skills involved in this kind of performance. I am no prude; I know the theatre and all its many styles. Some of you may recall that both straight Drama and musical theatre were areas  of expertise during my long career as a teacher and performer. But in this horrendous German aberration a limit was reached and passed.

But before that, I think Benedict XVI had changed his mind about bringing the Lord into such a snake-pit. Don't know when it happened or what exactly caused it . But something happened, I am sure.

Part 3 tomorrow: (In which one will be forced to consider the role of the media both of the Church herself and of the MSM)

4. Virtual Silence on the Erfurt Mass
5  The many unbroadcast meetings
6. The attitude/influence of the German bishops
7. Almost complete lack of effect of Pope Benedict's example regarding reception of Holy Communion
8  The timing of talk about his possible resignation
9 Failure to be realistic about his increasing physical frailty

Also to be considered: the power of a laity out of control;  German Catholicism: rich and routine; and. looking at the camera.


Genty said...

You are articulating so well many things which have been bugging me. What one had heard about the state of the Catholic Church in Germany, one saw with one's own eyes.
You mention looking at the camera. At one event which stuck in my mind, though I can't remember which, it was more of a mass love-in with the camera, even in the presence of the Pope.
Why did they think they were there - to be validated by seeing themselves grinning and waving on a big screen?
Accompanied by bottom-feeding rock-style music and a band that jigged around, it was such a travesty that I hit the off-switch pdq.
That such awfulness was allowed is inexplicable. Did the German hierarchy tell the Pope that no-one would turn out for a solemn liturgy or vigil? Was the Pope being particularly generous to his countrymen, perhaps aware he may never see his homeland again?
A great puzzlement to be sure. And as for that more than louche "cabaret" well, words fail me.

Jane said...

Genty: Thanks for your much appreciated comment. I'll do my best not to disappoint you with Part 3!