Cloud of Witnesses: Pope Benedict beatifies Newman in Albion

I wish you could have seen, as we did on Sunday watching on EWTN, the cheering crowds that attended the beatification mass for Cardinal Newman celebrated by Pope Benedict in Birmingham on Sunday.

The press in the United States ignored the Pope's visit to the UK almost completely, generally using the occasion solely as an opportunity  to renew its predictable attacks against the Church as a hothouse of scandal and intolerance.

I have to credit the New York Times for making an effort, however, keeping in mind the tenor of its readers.  Pope Ends British Trip With Beatification notes pleasant surprise on the part of British Catholic authorities at the size of the crowds greeting Benedict.  Op-Ed Columnist Ross Douthat's rather timid, "two cheers" piece, The Pope and the Crowds, nevertheless reaped a harvest of angry comments from outraged readers.

Billy Graham's Crusades, in their heyday, were regularly broadcast on network television, but there was a kind of drama there.  Billy would say, at the final altar call, that we at home watching could also make a decision for Christ by simply standing up and approaching our television sets, and writing for helpful literature on our Christian walk.  And as absurd and comical as it might sound, I confess that I did stand before the TV as a boy and make that decision.

An outdoor mass, celebrated by the Pope, is different.  There is no altar call, no appeal to non-believers.  Why would you care, if you are not already Catholic?  You have to keep that in mind, if you feel aggrieved by the lack of coverage in the press.  Fortunately, we have EWTN now, and viewers all over the world e-mailed their gratitude for being able to watch the beatification mass and the other events of the Pope's visit


Martin H. said...

I don't think it sounds absurd or comical, to learn that someone has found faith. There will be many who envy you. I might count myself among them.

We had wall to wall coverage of the papal visit here, courtesy of the BBC. Appropriately, I must confess. I didn't watch any of it.

Brett said...

Thanks, Martin. I try to keep this blog mainly about books and librarianship, and to write things that most anyone can relate to and find interesting.

An Anglo-Saxon American Southern intellectual, (nominally Protestant), such as myself, who converts to Catholicism, finds himself in odd company. Ethnically English Catholics are truly rare birds here, possibly found in old Maryland families, I don't know. My soul-mates are Walker Percy and Flannery O'Connor.

But that's enough for a comment box. Maybe I will write about it sometime.