I don't see how anybody but the fiercest bigot could fail to be moved by the Holy Father's letter to his Venerable Brethren. The only bit that made me raise my eyebrows was the apparent undertaking to comb the Internet. Won't he need a lot more staff to do that? But perhaps he anticipates that all those who were so critical of him for not keeping up-to-speed on Williamson's blog will be sending him loads and loads and loads of dosh to pay for the the vast new hyperdikastery which will be needed to monitor the airwaves and fibre-optics. And what becomes of Ecumenism? Just suppose, for example, the Sovereign Pontiff makes a positive move towards Orthodoxy. And it then turns out that some Orthodox prelate somewhere has said something daft. Will Benedict again be held responsible and pilloried? After all, the number of Orthodox bishops in the world is considerably in excess of four; and eccentricity ... even plain dottiness ... is not unknown in the colourful culture of Byzantium. Not that I'm sneering at my Orthodox friends; after all the stodgy and tedious Church of England contains the surreal figure of the Barmy Bishop of Bux.
I particularly liked the bit where our Holy Father sorrowfully compared the venom of his 'friends' with the attitude of sympathetic Jews. I feel, by the way, that not enough publicity has been given to the support he received from by far the greatest of today's Jewish theologians and scholars, Jacob Neusner - the same Neusner whom I rammed down the throats of my students for more than two decades and whose brilliance I intermittently commend to readers of this blog. And finally ...
At times one gets the impression that our society needs to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown; which one can easily attack and hate. And should someone dare to approach them - in this case the Pope - he too loses any right to tolerance; he too can be treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint.
Benedict's words, not mine. What a bull's-eye! What a man! What a Pope!
I have just seen Thompson's blog and his transcription of the "summary" put out by the English RC bishops. I assume his account is accurate. If so, their malice seems almost unbelievable. When I wrote above about "the fiercest bigot ..." I never guessed that my rhetoric would be outflanked by that lot. What a mean miserable little gang of nobodies they are. From time to time, kindly well-meaning people suggest that I should go knocking on the door of some English RC bishop ... need I say more?
POST POST SCRIPTUM
And now I've just read the contribution of the Archbishop of Liverpool. Suddenly into my mind came the words of the late, great, Anglican monk and mystagogue, Dom Gregory Dix. He claimed that he had chosen the name Gregory in Religion not with a reference to Pope S Gregory the Great, but Gregory VII, Hildebrand; and had done so because "he sacked more bishops than any other man in history". Doesn't the English RC Church need a bit of a clean-out?