May I use this post to thank Dr Riccardo Turrini Vita, sometime President of Una Voce Italia, for the most wonderful present of a volume containing a full set of reproductions of the beautiful maps of Rome (La Nova Topografia di Roma) published in 1748 by Giambattista Nolli. The volume was dedicated alla Santita di Nostro Signore Papa Benedetto XIV. Prospero Lambertini, no less!
It has put into my mind something which, in these depressing days, I rather think might be an entirely new idea among all the endless repetitions of what has been said twenty times before. Really new!!! Let me explain.
Many people, including not a few who do me the honour of writing to me, are profoundly depressed, even disorientated, by this sad and dysfunctional pontificate. Many are angry; many feel themselves driven almost to the point of losing their Faith. And the signs are that things may get even worse.
One gigantic casualty has been the great respect which decent orthodox Catholics instinctively have for the person (not just the position) of the Roman Pontiff. This is a disastrous loss to the Church. And the tragedy is made all the worse by the probability that, however orthodox and ortholalic and orthopractic the next pope is, recovery of that almost automatic respect and love will be a lengthy business.
My NEW IDEA? ADOPT A POPE!! Choose a pope of some past time, and really get to know him. Wikipedia is not always either accurate or balanced, but, in its rough and ready way, it does provide masses of material to millions who cannot access an academic library. And links can be found to the fine old Catholic Encyclopaedia. Read about your chosen, adopted pope! Follow up the blue links! Find out what his birthplace, the places he lived in, and Rome itself, were like in his time. Read about the doctrinal, political, cultural controversies he was involved in.
I hope you get the idea. The process will remind you of a happier, saner, Rome in times when the Roman Pontiff was a sound and reliable breakwater, remora, against error. And, perhaps, put up the odd fine building or two! What was Christian iconography (sculpture, paintings …) like in his time? And, I pray, you will discover afresh the reasons why Christian people, ever since the Martyrdom of S Peter, have loved to go to Rome and cry Viva il Papa! God bless our Pope, the Great, the Good! Essentially, it is the immense joy of knowing that ‘Peter is speaking through Leo’, as the Fathers put it. It is a sense of the Soliditas Petri, a Leonine phrase of which non-Latinists will have no trouble guessing the meaning.
Yes; I know many of you are busy people. But, if you are unbusy, otiosi, enough to devote time to grumbling and to worrying and to disliking, you have time you can reallocate to ADOPTING A POPE!
[Er … it has just occurred to me … perhaps better not choose Liberius and Vigilius and Honorius, or not for starters! Nor Alexander VI and the Marosia popes of the first millennium! But … for example … John XXII was a very fine pope, even if he did espouse an opinion subsequently found to be heretical.]
ADOPT A POPE! ADOPT A POPE! ADOPT A POPE! ADOPT A POPE! ADOPT A POPE!