The other night there was a concert scheduled in Vatican City as part of the Year of Faith events sponsored by the Holy See in Rome.
Pope Francis was a no show. No compelling reason was given. It wasn’t for health reasons. There was no dire missile crisis involving re-phone conversations with nuclear powers. I suspect he just didn’t want to go, so he blew it off.
Perhaps this is part of his continuing deconstruction of the papal person: listening to concerts of classical music (this time, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony) is not what El Pueblo does, thus he doesn’t do it.
Or, maybe he doesn’t like the concert thing, which was clearly organized with Benedict in mind.
The other part of me, however, the Romanized part, is wondering if the Holy Father didn’t use an occasion when he knew where all of his “handlers” were going to be, and how long they would be there, to have a one-on-one meeting with someone who knows what is going on in the Vatican and where the reform is most necessary. After those years in Rome I have a conspiratorial streak.
Either way, the Pope is keeping everyone guessing, and – in the Curia – on edge.
The empty chair image is going to be remembered for a long time, though not in the way it is with Pres. Obama.
My spies tell me that the Holy Father did not meet with any controversial or knowledgeable person while everyone else was at the concert. Moreover, the Pope does like classical music.
I was reviewing what the Fishwrap was saying about this and found an interesting paragraph by John Allen:
As a footnote, the empty chair sensation also illustrates how Benedict XVI can’t catch a break. Back in 2005, he withdrew from a planned Vatican Christmas concert, which led to a spate of angry interviews with musicians and singers as well as speculation that Benedict didn’t care for the pop culture feel of the event. In other words, his no-show was seen as a haughty gesture of disdain; with Francis, the same act has been praised as an evangelical statement of simplicity.
PS: I suspect that His Holiness was irritated that they left the empty chair out there, making the Pope more conspicuous by his absence.
You know… there is a “spare” Pope who likes concerts around… just a short golf cart ride away.