Friday, April 13, 2007

The Secret Homilies of the Successor of Peter

~Sandro Magister writes about how little coverage is given to the Pope's homilies.
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There is a limit beyond which the words of Benedict XVI do not go. They reach completely only those who listen to them in person, whether present physically or thanks to a live television broadcast. The number of these persons is substantial, more than for any earlier pontificate. The Easter “urbi et orbi” message and the Way of the Cross on Good Friday were followed by huge crowds and retransmitted in more than forty countries. But even more vast is the number of persons who receive the pope’s message in an incomplete form – or not at all.

Benedict XVI experienced this communications block to an even greater extent in the other celebrations of last Holy Week.

In the Chrism Mass on Thursday morning, the pope dedicated the homily to explaining the profound meaning of being a priest, “clothed with Christ” and thus able to act and speak “in persona Christi.” He did this by reviewing the symbolism of the liturgical vestments. But how many of the more than four hundred thousand Catholic bishops and priests did his words reach?

In the homily for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday evening, Benedict XVI illustrated the novelty of Jesus’ Passover with respect to the one celebrated by the Jews.

In the homily for the Easter Vigil, he described the victory of Jesus over death by using the depictions customary in the Eastern Churches: with the risen Jesus who descends into Hades, and thus “brings the journey of the incarnation to its completion. By his death he now clasps the hand of Adam, of every man and woman who awaits him, and brings them to the light.”

But among those present at these Masses, only those who understood Italian were able to listen fruitfully to the pope’s homilies. The Catholic media outlets that translated and distributed the texts in various countries barely extended the listening area, to a niche audience.

For a pope like Benedict XVI, who has centered his ministry precisely upon the word, this is a serious limitation. The offices in the Roman curia that deal with communications have to this point done nothing new in order to remedy this, at least in part. For example, no one sees to a quick distribution of the pope’s texts by internet to all the bishops and priests of the world, in the various languages.

The only effective initiatives in this area are those of Benedict XVI in person. With his book about Jesus that will be issued in a few days in multiple languages, he will reach in a direct and personal way an extremely high number of readers all over the world.

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