The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Tea for two: Benedict and Elizabeth, and the tide of history

posted by jmcgee

“Both Elizabeth and Benedict have seen war and its woeful aftermath, up close. They have watched totalitarian regimes advance and decline, and seen religion used as a justification for slaughter. They know what the rhetorical jackboot sounds like and how seamlessly it can advance; they can speak to our time, if we let them.

Over eight decades, much that formed this pope and this queen-from simple manners to excessive ritual-has been dismantled and reconstructed; the terrain must seem very odd to them, yet they have managed to remain faithful to their roots and callings. The churches they serve have been rocked by social upheaval, doctrinal controversy, and scandal, and both the monarchy and papacy are today facing criticism about the size and necessity of their offices, but duty, for these two, trumps personal comfort. Retirement is a luxury denied them.

Elizabeth and Benedict, despite obvious differences, may take some comfort in each other’s brief company. Almost no one on the planet knows what they know; perhaps no one in current leadership can see and-with the eloquence born of experience-speak to past and future days, from their lonely thrones and balconies.

History has a way of looping, of revisiting past business with an ironic touch, and as we anticipate the arrival of the Roman Pontiff to England’s green and pleasant pastures we can’t but wonder what these great figures of the twentieth century-the last still astride the world’s stage-will have to say to each other, to us, and to the amateur-hour leadership plaguing too-many shores, about unity, common-purpose and co-operation as the Queen of England, descendant of Henry VIII, welcomes the Bishop of Rome, successor of Peter. Their coming together warrants watching with good will, and perhaps a few whispered-up prayers.”

– Elizabeth Scalia on the two giants who are about to meet.


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nnmns

posted September 14, 2010 at 8:32 pm


I’m no expert on British Royalty but I have the impression Elizabeth tries to do good, or at least no harm, for her subjects and I don’t think a lot of people would loudly disagree with that.
A strong case can be made Benedict has harmed his subjects and his church (via participating in protecting child molesters, e.g.), and the world through his continuation of the RCC’s very harmful opposition to real contraception. At a minimum. I believe a lot of people would loudly agree with those propositions.



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pagansister

posted September 14, 2010 at 8:37 pm


Well Said, nnmns.



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Dana MacKenzie

posted September 14, 2010 at 9:27 pm


Utter balony and hogwash, nnmns and pagan. If you actually knew what you were talking about, you’d know that Benedict, far from “participating in protecting child molesters” has actually done more than anyone (including, um, public school officials) to both protect young people and bring perps to justice where possible. That you prefer “truthiness” that makes you feel good about your opinions, than actual fact, is sad. But then again, you think procreation is harmful to the world, so you must know better.



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romancrusader

posted September 14, 2010 at 9:40 pm


“A strong case can be made Benedict has harmed his subjects and his church (via participating in protecting child molesters, e.g.), and the world through his continuation of the RCC’s very harmful opposition to real contraception.”
nnmns, you’re an idiot.



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Louis

posted September 14, 2010 at 10:10 pm


Hogwash. Trying to make a point where there is none to be made. The two couldn’t be more different. The pope led a normal life as son of a postmaster until drafted into the war, then rose thru the ranks of the church by merit of his intellect and his strenght as a powerful theologian. His work requires administrative skill, leadership, diplomacy. The other a dowdy old lady who has never even been required to dress herself, an anachronism, a museum piece, whose skills, whatever they may be, have hardly even been seen except for a modicum of tact, the ability to keep her mouth shut, and to look good on coins. We would know even less of her if it weren’t for her loony family.



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nnmns

posted September 14, 2010 at 10:59 pm


Ok, so neither one is without detractors. Some of you do have an unnaturally high regard for your leader.



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jGoodguyex

posted September 15, 2010 at 5:32 am


I have the notion that Benedict is much better in a small group or one-on-one that with crowds. Pope John Paul II was different. Jesus seems to have had this type of charisma also, but as I read the Gospels I think He may have been annoyed by the thrones of well wishers, visitors, and spectators.
I think Benedict almost had Laura Bush eating out of his hand when President Bush visited the Vatican. Maybe something interesting comes out of this. I hope so.



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nnmns

posted September 15, 2010 at 8:52 am


Here’s a CNN article on the visit.

Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Britain this week amid criticism over the landmark visit’s cost to taxpayers and anger over the Vatican’s record on child abuse and human rights.

A huge security operation is being mounted to protect the pontiff during his four-day tour — the first papal state visit to Britain — bumping estimated costs beyond £20 million ($31 million), with over half coming from government funds.

But with apathy and anger denting the UK’s Catholic following (estimated at 9 percent of the population), the atmosphere greeting Benedict is expected to be very different from that festivities which met a pastoral visit 18 years ago by his predecessor John Paul II

So it’s an expensive trip, at least for the British taxpayer. But he will have tea with the Queen so maybe it’s worth it.



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romancrusader

posted September 15, 2010 at 9:00 am


nnmns,
Handling the sex abuse scandal is a responsibility that belongs to the bishops, not the Vatican.



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nnmns

posted September 15, 2010 at 10:24 am


Well we’ve gotten some idea of how badly they bungled it. Pardon me, but as an outsider I thought the Pope was in charge.



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romancrusader

posted September 15, 2010 at 10:42 am


nnmns,
The Pope is not some CEO of a major corporation and is not interested other people’s jobs. Bishops are not employers of the Vatican if that’s what you mean to say.
Read Mystici Corporis by Pope Ven. Pius XII



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Zuzanna

posted September 15, 2010 at 11:21 am


I commend Elizabeth Scalia for her ability to see the big picture and to draw some remarkable conclusions from them. By ‘big picture’ I mean that she views our lives today not as some isolated piece of fabric in time, but rather as being ‘woven’ by our creator into the great tapestry of time that is the story of humankind created in God’s image. Stop to picture Elizabeth and Joseph as young people growing up amidst a world very different than ours, but one which would give birth, in time, to the days we are living today. I stand in awe at the potential for truth and understanding that will come from their meeting.



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pagansister

posted September 15, 2010 at 7:29 pm


RC, if the Pope isn’t “in charge” of the church, then just who is? Wouldn’t he be like former President Truman—who was man enough to take responsibility—-“The Buck stops here”?



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Andre John

posted September 15, 2010 at 8:58 pm


Let us pray for Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger of Germany).
May we pray for the safety of our current Pope, and for the success of his visits, may he strengthen the relationships between different Christian denominations (esp. Anglicans, Evangelicals) and promote cooperation with other Christians and peace with other faiths. +AMDG+
Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/deaconsbench/2010/08/stop-the-presses-is-the-popes-media-team-ready-for-the-uk.html#comments#ixzz0zeJfWb5x
this is really a historical event, CNN reported that the last time a pope visited the U.K. was in the 16th century (before/during the reformation). I’m really excited to watch this on EWTN live!
Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/deaconsbench/2010/09/a-prayer-for-the-popes-trip.html#ixzz0zeKplANM



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BobRN

posted September 15, 2010 at 11:19 pm


Ms. Scalia’s article is insightful and timely. Nevertheless, there will be those who don’t wish to hear the truth or learn from the experience of great personalities because they’re too busy listening to the incessant cacophony of nonsense from their ipod earpieces. Not being able to think for themselves, they rely on the secular culture to tell them what they’re supposed to think, always being careful to avoid adherence to wisdom judged to be oh so five minutes ago.
It does beggar patience to be told again and again by self-described outsiders how the Catholic Church works, what we’re supposed to believe and how intolerant we are when we don’t accept their ignorant opinions on all things Catholic.
Yes, of course, the pope is in charge of absolutely everything in every Catholic diocese and parish around the world. Why, only yesterday, I sent him an email complaining about the poor choice of music during last Sunday’s Mass. Efforts by the NY Times and others to target the pope as conspirator in the cover up of sex abuse have all met with two responses, 1) hard evidence to the contrary from those who, unlike the journalists writing the stories, actually bothered to research the cases and, 2) unquestioning acceptance of his guilt by the chattering classes of the anti-Catholic chorus line.
Yes, too, let’s make sure the Church is to blame for the expense of the trip, even though his visit is in response to the invitation of the Queen and the Catholic Church in England is footing the bill for all of the pastoral parts of the visit. Never mind that England has hosted any number of other dignitaries of other states in recent months, and any number of murderous dictators in past years, all at the expense of the UK taxpayer. It is the visit of the pope that causes scandal over the expense and demands for his arrest as an international crime lord.
Do these critics really have nothing else to do than sit at home thinking of comments to post on this blog that will make them look ridiculous to those who actually know a thing or two about the Church?



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romancrusader

posted September 15, 2010 at 11:42 pm


“RC, if the Pope isn’t ‘in charge’ of the church, then just who is? Wouldn’t he be like former President Truman—who was man enough to take responsibility—-‘The Buck stops here’?”
He is head of the Church silly. And I never said he wasn’t. You mistake the Church for a business corporation. That’s not how the Church works. It’s a divine institution. If you mean the Pope is a micromanager of other people’s affairs he isn’t. That’s not how the Pope is trained. The fact that some bishops made horrible mistakes is not the Pope’s problem. You don’t have a clue how our Church works. So stop pretending to be the expert.



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Andre John

posted September 15, 2010 at 11:53 pm


In My Humble Opinion,
sarcasm and mockery of the church is the best kind of flattery,
this proves that it is still very much envied by its critics, for deep in their hearts and minds, the church still holds the truth.
May G=D’s HolySpirit guide us through these troubling times.
CAPTCHA: so materch



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Andre John

posted September 16, 2010 at 12:13 am


IMO, It is not the Pope who has done wrong, it was a handful of perverts who are demons/wolves in sheeps’ clothing that infiltrated the church who are responsible and should be punished.
Let us focus on the present, not the past sins, and by what i see in the news, the church is very much doing what it can now to correct what they have done wrong and hope it will never happen ever again.
Let us pray that G=D’s justice will prevail in the end.
Hate the sins, let G=D punish the sinners, comfort the victims.



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