Benedict’s visit to England and popular Catholicism

His Hermeneuticalness has a good entry about the upcoming papal visit to England.   I am glad it also provides a link to the wonderful Anna Arco.

Yesterday, Anna Arco posted her interview with Archbishop Nichols concerning the papal visit. His Grace rightly draws attention to the importance of the meeting of the Holy Father and Queen Elizabeth. That will surely be one of the greatest photo opportunities of recent times.

There is still considerable frustration about many aspects of the visit, and particularly the failure to organise a major event which people can attend en masse. Of course we can watch it all on the television and I arranged a while back for the big screen in the parish club to be reserved for the duration of the visit, but we can, after all, watch footage of the Pope most days via the Vatican’s YouTube channel or EWTN. People want to be able to say "I was there" not "I watched it on the telly".

Apparently there will at least be the possibility of lining the streets: it is important for Catholics to do so in large numbers, cheering, singing and waving flags. (Now would be a good time to start learning by heart the verses of God bless our Pope!) There also needs to be plenty of footage posted on YouTube of the crowds in response to the inevitable mainstream channel "not as many people as expected" claims.

In Loss and Gain, John Henry Newman characterised Catholicism as "the popular religion". An estimated 286,650 people turned out for the visit of the relics of St Therese last October. The liberal establishment did not expect that. Popular Catholicism is far from dead in England.

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22 Responses to Benedict’s visit to England and popular Catholicism

  1. I would encourage the clergy of Britain to encourage their faithful to fill the streets as they would a royal extravaganza. Let the nation know that Catholics are alive and well in England by showing up in record numbers every place possible. It is a witness by presence. Anyone can watch and listen afterwards on TIVO, etc., but the main thing is to have a substantial presence while the Pontiff is in the UK.

  2. MarkJ says:

    Let us pray that the Queen’s gift to the Holy Father is to give him back the Church of England and that she herself submit to the authority of the Pope.

  3. AnAmericanMother says:
  4. oldCatholigirl says:

    Thanks to AnAmericanMother for “Long Live the Pope”. I did not think I knew it until I linked to the music. As soon as the organ started, two verses welled up from the depths of memory. (We evidently didn’t usually do the third.) It’s been at least 70 years since I learned it in grade school–to honor Blessed Pius XII.

  5. Oneros says:

    “There also needs to be plenty of footage posted on YouTube of the crowds in response to the inevitable mainstream channel “not as many people as expected” claims.”

    Why? Is maintaining that sort of propaganda facade essential to the Faith?

    Maybe there won’t be as many people as expected and if there aren’t, we shouldn’t try to actively work to “disprove” that.

  6. TonyLayne says:

    No matter how many people do show up, there will never be “as many people as expected”, because record-breaking crowds won’t fit the “declining Church” media reporting paradigm. For the most part, the world infotainment outlets have already prepackaged the Pope’s visit to be an anti-climactic affair.

  7. New Sister says:

    Were I a Catholic in the UK, and my bishop did not organize an event we could attend en masse, I would feel demoralized – even betrayed. My prayers are with them, that all who wish to see the Pope get to. There is nothing like hailing our beloved Pontiff in person; Benedict XVI is a living saint!

  8. asperges says:

    The Hymn Father refers to, sung in the UK, is not the one above: it is “Full in the Panting Heart of Rome” of which the chorus is “God bless Our Pope, the Great the Good.” Only sung these days by traditionalists needless to say.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTBJgZcSvRY

  9. Jack Hughes says:

    @New Sister

    Thank you !!!

  10. asperges says:

    From what we have heard so far,and read in blogs, the organisers of the Pope’s trip are so far making an appalling hash of things and, according to one local priest, the extra collection at Masses to cover the ever escalating costs of the papal visit was not at all well received nor generously given to – but this is more than likely a reflection of the annoyance Catholics still have with the Church and its recent behaviour (albeit mostly elsewhere) and the economic situation. It also seems that numbers will be strictly limited if they ever sort out the venue.

    There is not the crowd mentality here that there is in the States. Whereas Americans love mass rallies and displacing themselves at great cost and with enthusiasm, here things are much more muted. This is both national character and the difficulties of roads, rail etc. I know of no-one yet who intends to go to Coventry to see the Pope live. Most will stay at home.

    Nevertheless all faithful Catholics will and should support the Holy Father in this critical visit with all their hearts and souls. He needs every shred of our loyalty and prayers. There are far too many enemies out there. Lining the streets along his route is probably a more sensible approach than the attending the main events for many and a good way to show practical solidarity.

  11. dcs says:

    There is still considerable frustration about many aspects of the visit, and particularly the failure to organise a major event which people can attend en masse.

    Does that mean no mega-Mass? Deo gratias!

  12. Henry Edwards says:

    asperges: Only sung these days by traditionalists needless to say.

    Really? Seems to me a wonderful hymn for all English-speaking Catholics to sing. What conservative-liberal issues does it raise?

    Full in the panting heart of Rome
    Beneath the apostle’s crowning dome.
    From pilgrim’s lips that kiss the ground,
    Breathes in all tongues one only sound:

    GOD BLESS OUR POPE, GOD BLESS OUR POPE,
    GOD BLESS OUR POPE, THE GREAT THE GOOD!

    The golden roof, the marble walls,
    The Vatican’s majestic halls,
    The note redoubles, till it fills
    With echoes sweet the seven hills

    GOD BLESS OUR POPE, GOD BLESS OUR POPE,
    GOD BLESS OUR POPE, THE GREAT THE GOOD!

    Then surging through each hallowed gate,
    Where martyrs glory, in peace await
    It sweeps beyond the solemn plain,
    Peals over Alps, across the main.

    GOD BLESS OUR POPE, GOD BLESS OUR POPE,
    GOD BLESS OUR POPE, THE GREAT THE GOOD!

    From torrid south to frozen north,
    The wave harmonious stretches forth,
    Yet strikes no chord more true to Rome’s,
    Than rings within our hearts and homes.

    GOD BLESS OUR POPE, GOD BLESS OUR POPE,
    GOD BLESS OUR POPE, THE GREAT THE GOOD!

    Nicholas Card. Wiseman Archbishop of Westminster (1802 – 1865)

  13. Marcin says:

    Does that mean no mega-Mass? Deo gratias!

    Well yes, a Mass is a Mass is a Mass.

    BUT, in these circumstances mega-Mass would be highly desirable:
    1. again, Mass is a Mass (never enough)
    2. to stick up to the establishment, both secular (media) and ecclesiastical (by in your face ‘we love our _back-to-the-future_ Holy Father!’)
    3. to boost a tribal Catholic morale (there’s nothing wrong with that)

    After all, that’s more or less what happened during the first visit of JP2 to Poland, as far I remember (having been 12 at that time).

    The only thing I dread is MRC (Massively Remote Concelebration)

  14. pelerin says:

    Thanks to Henry Edwards for the words to the hymn. After 45 years as a Catholic in England I have not yet had the opportunity of singing this.

  15. avecrux says:

    I would disagree with Asperges – one only need to look at the public crowd participation in events like the funeral of Princess Diana to see that people will turn out when they have good reason. I believe Pope John Paul II’s Mass at in 1982 at Bellahouston Park, Glasgow – bringing out 300,000 people – still ranks as the largest turnout for anything in the UK, ever. Provide it and they will come!

  16. @ Oneros:

    “There also needs to be plenty of footage posted on YouTube of the crowds in response to the inevitable mainstream channel “not as many people as expected” claims.”

    Why? Is maintaining that sort of propaganda facade essential to the Faith?

    If you REALLY have to ask…then no amount of explanation will satisfy you.

  17. irishgirl says:

    If I had the money-and a new passport-I’d jump on the first plane to England and show my support to the Holy Father!

    Thank you, AnAmericanMother and Henry Edwards, for the words of BOTH Papal Hymns! The first one is the old St. Gregory Hymnal, a copy of which I have at home. I never knew the tune [can’t read music ‘cold’], but thanks to the YouTube link, I can remember it!

    I love the one with Cardinal Wiseman’s words! It should be learned-and sung-in every Catholic parish in the UK before the Holy Father comes!

    I jotted the words of both hymns down in my little notebook.

    Thank God for YouTube for things like this!

  18. AnAmericanMother says:

    Thanks asperges and Henry Edwards! I had never heard that one before (we have the St. Gregory Hymnal at our parish so I knew that one).

    You can tell it’s sung in England by the boy sopranos on the second verse (so English, I love it!)

  19. asperges says:

    Henry Edwards: Seems to me a wonderful hymn for all English-speaking Catholics to sing. What conservative-liberal issues does it raise?

    I agree, a fine hymn. But it is a traditional hymn and these are heard less and less these days in the average parish. Pelerin would seem to agree. That was my point.

    As to Liberals, they don’t like the papacy and what it stands for. I don’t think “The Tablet” will be pushing it much!

  20. irishgirl says:

    AnAmericanMother-I agree! I love the voices of an English cathedral choir! Wonder if it’s Westminster Cathedral’s choir in the YouTube video?

    I’ve been singing ‘sotto voce’ the words to both the English and American hymns, now that I wrote down the words.

  21. Supertradmum says:

    English boys’ choirs are the best in the world. For years, the Westminster Cathedral boys’ choir won “best choir of the year”. They have also won “best recording of the year” and other awards. I used to go to sung Vespers, and sung daily Mass when I could in London. I prefer the all male choir to a mixed choir.