I hope that the 'Spirit of Assisi', which has so worried many good Catholics, may be losing its power to offend.
It is well known that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger felt that he must absent himself from one of the 'Assisi Events' sponsored by his admired friend and Pope S John Paul II. Indeed, I do not think it is disrespectful to suggest that the great 'showman pope' may have been even culpably careless with some of his gestures; or that some of the arrangements at 'his' Assisi came near to the sacrilegious. Complaints were in order.
But I felt that some traditionalists failed to give Pope Benedict XVI credit for the differences which he introduced when he made his own papal journey to Assisi. Had he simply discontinued these events during his own pontificate, he would have left, among the precedents from the previous pontificate, objectionable arrangements which subsequent popes might have accepted as normative, and followed. I believe that this is one important reason why Benedict went to Assisi ... to change the precedents; to correct and sharpen the implicit meaning of the event.
And now our Holy Father, in his Address at Assisi, has explicitly and clearly renounced "syncretism and relativism". This is splendid; and, because of its formal and scripted nature, is worth far more than those off-the-cuff observations which cause such justified unease.
'Assisi events' may still not be entirely to our taste. I can't imagine taking part in such things myself. But I think that anybody who claims to raise questions of principle must think very carefully about which details he/she finds radically unacceptable.
I add, as a footnote, my own warm approbation of the repetition by Pope Francis of the spirit and much of the language associated with S John Paul's condemnations of war. I wish that the Camerons of this world had listened more attentively to such teaching when they were wildly and irresponsibly clamouring for Regime Change in the Arab world under cover of the daft and murderous slogan "the Arab Spring". It was like handing out matches and encouraging the kiddies to run along and celebrate Bonfire Night in the forecourt of a petrol filling station. There is much blood on many fastidious hands. But not on the hands of successive Roman Pontiffs, who have discerned with clarity and have given their warnings in unmistakeable language.