Thursday, April 17, 2008

Again with the "real Catholic" thing...

In my mind's ear, I can hear my Jewish mother heaving a big Brooklynesque sigh and saying, "Oy vey, Maria."

This morning, I got around to reading yesterday's Wall Street Journal, the only secular newspaper I read. (I'm also a big fan of The Week magazine which delivers top stories and news analysis from a zillion national and international periodicals.)

Front page, below the fold: an article about scalping tickets for Pope Benedict's public appearances.

The lead: "Brooklyn native Charlie Pigott says..." blah blah about his ability to score seats for baseball games and his inability to get "his mother into the bleachers for New York's hottest event." Next, he explains why people are going to such costly lengths to see the pope. "To a real Catholic," he says, "it's the closest thing to God you're going to get."

Tempted as I am to correct Charlie's grammar and syntax, it's his view of Catholic reality that needs tidying up. Yes, Catholics tend to go gaga over the pope, but because "it's" the closest "thing" to God? Lord have mercy.

Someone -- maybe his mother? -- should remind Charlie that the papacy traces its origins to St. Peter. (Mt. 16:18) For this convert from Judaism and real Catholic, it's the extraordinary reality of apostolic succession that stimulates feelings of awe and reverence relative to the pope. Also his outfits, especially the shoes.


  1. Well, I could care less about Charlie's inability to put a proper sentence together, get a load of Papa's red shoes, he's the hippest Pope Yet!!!

  2. Hearing people describe the pope (any pope) as "the closest thing to God" is distressing. In the NY Times Papal Discussion blog, Fr. Jim Martin referred to this phenomenon most appropriately as "papalotry."

    However, since Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) decided he was the "Vicar of Christ" as opposed to the "Vicar of Peter," that is in fact the claim of the papacy.

  3. Funny, I always thought that the Host we receive at Communion not only is "the closest thing to God" we're going to get. And never mind that God is always right next to you, above you, below you, to your left, to your right, in front of you, and behind you. And if you received Communion this morning and you've been behaving yourself, He is within you, too.

  4. That first sentence should read, "... the Host we receive at Communion not only is 'the closest thing to God' we're going to get, it is the Body of Christ, and you don't get any closer than that."

    So fast we edit, so slow we proofread ...

  5. Thanks, Bill, for your comment. I got it even before the proofreading correction! Amen and amen.


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