Some time ago I heard a sad and dreary little discussion on the Radio between two sad and deary little people. One was called Cornwell; the other Pepinster (does that name suggest that she is descended from a bastard line of the Merovingian dynasty? Personally - call me a trendy if you like - I tend to go for the Carolingian Renaissance).
Pope Benedict, Cornwell said, is 'accident prone'. I think this sort of nonsense has to be met head-on. We live in an age of quite hysterical prejudice; against 'Religion'; against Christianity; against Catholicism; against the Pope (in that ascending order). So if he says something erudite, carefully phrased, and carefully considered, this is distorted by those who are either too intellectually challenged to begin to understand it, or are so malevolent that they are determined to distort it (usually both). Accident prone he isn't. And we shouldn't go half-way to meet his enemies by assuming that this is the acceptable formula for distancing ourselves from him.
BTW, my guess is that in the run-up to the Papal visit there will be a crescendo of malevolent and lying abuse against the holy Father from all the usual foghorns and graylings.
And take the lifting of the excommunication of Bishop Williamson. Miraculously, it appears, excommunication is no longer, for the chattering classes, a dangerous and oppressive relic of the Dark Ages; no longer a grim act of aggression by a loathesome theocracy. It is the reaction of first choice by the cuddly people, the nice and the good, if someone dares to question one of their own orthodoxies. Just as calling somebody a heretic is no longer a dangerously medieval denial of the self-evident maxim that everybody has 'their own truth'; in the hands of Jefferts Schori, 'Primate' of some American sect, it is an obvious way to characterise an opponent (to be fair, poor George Carey began this game long before JS had even acquired her first canon lawyer).
'Absolutism' is unpopular, too; it suggests Louis XIV and that most un-Anglo-Saxon of things, 'Arbitrary Power'. Yet apparently Pope Benedict would have been the hero of the day if he had said "What the Hell; I've decide that some blokes will no longer be subjected to penalties because they were uncanonically consecrated; but I'll leave Williamson excommunicate, although he has done nothing else making him in law liable to canonical penalties, because I find his historical opinions distasteful".