The papal visit and popular Catholicism

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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