The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

How did the pope play in Britain?

The response appears to have been generally positive — but grudgingly so:

British media Monday hailed Pope Benedict XVI for shedding his distant and authoritarian image on his historic state visit, but cautioned the Catholic Church still faced challenges in the nation.


The pontiff succeeded in presenting himself as a lovable, elderly figure — a far cry from the “Rottweiler” image, they said.

“What the visit accomplished above all was to unify Catholics and humanise a pope who has so often been perceived as cold, aloof and authoritarian,” wrote Catherine Pepinster, editor of The Tablet newspaper, a British Catholic weekly.

“The fabled Vatican ‘Rottweiler’ turned out to be a shy, warm and frail 83-year-old who perked up every time his security detail allowed him to greet people, especially youngsters and his own generation.”

Before the first ever state papal visit to Britain, Benedict had been viewed as a “remote Teutonic hardliner,” said the Times daily.


But he appeared in a different light entirely on the trip and remarks aimed at easing tensions between Anglicans and Catholics, such as on shared traditions and culture, played a great part in this transformation, it said.

“Ratzinger the rottweiler transformed into Benny the bunny,” enthused the paper, using the name of Benedict before he became pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

“We all want to cuddle up to him and get him to bless our babies.”

His four-day tour of mainly Anglican Britain, which took in Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Birmingham, defied fears that it would be overshadowed by enormous protests or gaffes and the press in general regarded it as a success.

“This was a much more successful visit than the Roman Catholic hierarchy had dared to hope,” said the Daily Mail newspaper.


“The crowds were larger than had been forecast, if not as big as they were when the charismatic Pope John Paul II came to this country 28 years ago.”

Read on.

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posted September 20, 2010 at 8:48 am

The media says that he shed his distant and authoritarian image. Shouldn’t they have said something along the lines of, “the media has created an image of the Pope that was completely wrong. Without actually gettng to know bim, we’ve spent three years referring to him as a Rotweiler but w’e were completely wrong…”

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posted September 20, 2010 at 9:31 am

I agree with Ttarp.
Thank you for posting this! I added it to the Right Reasons Coffee Shop this week:

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posted September 20, 2010 at 11:13 am

I think the press in britain and the usa..wanted his trip to be bad…protests/insults etc…well the british people proved them wrong
they loved him….he spoke from the heart to all the british people….and honestly they couldnt disagree with him….the catholics of the empire adored him…..i think this event gave the british people a great boost…i am impressed with the deep faith of the people of britain….the logistics were first class…the settings and designs were the best i ever saw….the music and songs were performed on all levels kids or adults in spectacular form/ sounds….the bbc did a fantastic job of covering the events….
3 cheers isnt enough for the people of britain….10 fold 3 moght be

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Noel Abbott

posted September 20, 2010 at 11:36 am

Anyone with an ounce of knowledge of procedures to be followed in the cases of “rappe” (sic!) would know that it is the responsibility of the local bishop to ensure that the diocesan body reports any allegations to the criminal authorities for investigation.
The procedure in Rome entails removal from the clerical state or request by applicants for laicisation.
A significant number of cases took place some years ago when precipitate action was not taken and as such is a past failing and some files may not even have reached Rome.
A number of cases were not even prosecuted criminally by the states concerned, so who failed the victims then?
It is Benedict XVI who has, only since 2001 as Cardinal and then as Pope, tightened and reinforced the Rome processes and impressed the message that report of allegations to criminal authorities are of paramount importance and urgency.
Certainly, in the United Kingdom, rigorous procedures have been in place for about 10 years now.

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posted September 20, 2010 at 11:52 am

This was a historic trip that surpassed even the highest expectations of the planners…and a great treat for us, since all of the Pope’s beautiful and inspiring talks were delivered in English.
Currents did a great job covering the events!

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posted September 20, 2010 at 11:59 am

No one esteems Pope Benedict and his unique charisma more than me…but “Benny the Bunny??!!”
Must be a British thing…

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posted September 20, 2010 at 2:57 pm

I think you are right that the Pope’s harsh image is a media creation. The trip speakers against all those voices in the media that talk about the Pope withholding communion from certain politicans (Tony and Cherie Blair received communion from him, as they did from John Paul II). He showed himself to be pastoral, nothing the “orthodoxy enforceer” that some in media want him to be (with their definition of “orthodoxy”). He was a big enough man to say the Church failed and the Church needs to say “sorry” for its failures.
God bless the Pope. It was a great trip.

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Andre John

posted September 20, 2010 at 8:50 pm

now we can never look at the national symbol of Belgium,
the Mannequin Pis – please cover up that statue, share ur clothes!!!
Read more:
CAPTCHA: derrcu Greatest

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Deacon Norb

posted September 21, 2010 at 5:24 am

Funny story about “Papa – Ratzi” and misconceptions.
I work with a very dear religious sister. Upon hearing that Cardinal Ratzinger had been elected as Benedict XVI, she went on an emotional rampage. She was convinced he was so doctrinally focused that he would bring damage to everything that she believed was good and holy about our church. I certainly was not concerned because I was enough of a historian of Vatican II to realize that Fr. Joseph Ratzinger was — in fact — a “peritus (consulting theologian)” to the Council Fathers and much of the final product of the Vatican II itself was as a result of Fr. Ratzinger’s very deliberate efforts.
This yelling and screaming lasted maybe a day or so and then everything was quiet and my friend could not praise Benedict enough.
I was so struck by this quick and dramatic change in her personality, I asked our parish secretary what was going on. She simply pointed to a news clipping that my colleague had posted on the office door.
It appears that Benedict is a “cat-person”! He, according to this article, has a special language he speaks when cats are around and they absolutely adore him. And, of course, my religious sister colleague does have a few cats she keeps. And NO “cat-person” ever dislikes another “cat-person.”

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