In watching the news today, one couldn't help but notice that the Holy See visited Scotland, met with Her Royal Highness, and held mass in a park in Glasgow, all before heading off to Londontown. The head of the Catholic Church made stronger remarks on the molestation scandal than he has in the past, he made a reference to the strength of the British will in the face of the Nazis, and in general played diplomat.
And somehow, I couldn't care less.
I mean nothing. Dude, the Vatican has not been a seat of real political power since the Reunification of Italy, and maybe one could argue even before that. The fact that this guy is the Pope, the head on one of the major religions in the world, gives him the right to high respect. No one would begrudge him that. But the way that it was covered on local, national, and international news tonight, one would have thought that God literally made an appearance, instead of his (her?) human representative on earth.
When I went to the Vatican, and in particular once I stepped into St. Peter's Basilica, I was indeed awed. And let's face it, you are meant to be awed when you walk in. Sumptuous colors, huge statues paying homage to past Church leaders. And while it was an unforgettable experience, going into Santa Maria Maggiore, and hearing Mass there, was even more gripping for me. Oh, it was full of riches itself--it's evidently thought of as the Second Vatican, and I believe it's the oldest cathedral in Rome. It is full of relics, of gilding, and of beauty. But it was a feeling, an intangible force that I sensed that made it a much more pleasant, rewarding, and indeed humbling (in a positive way) experience. Certainly it cannot be said that I'm a faithful Catholic; I go to Mass when I want, and that's not very often, and there are some elements of dogma that I disagree with. But I was more at peace at Santa Maria Maggiore than I was at St. Peter's; one could even say that I was almost nervous at St. Peter's.
Maybe the novelty of the Papacy has worn off. I'll still always be a Catholic--I don't plan on changing religions--but I just don't see myself being endeared to the current leader. Maybe that has to do with his past, or his current (and historic) stances on various issues to which I am diametrically opposed. But I just don't see how this is all a big deal.