The Pope is coming! The Pope is coming! Pope Benedict Ratzinger and His All-Starr Band are on their way to the States for Ratzi's first American tour! It's the Apostolic Journey to the United States '08! Helllllloooo, Baltimore—are you ready to ruminate on the relationship between reason and faith??? Yes, America is thrilled to finally mean Pope Ratzi, the first pope of the Internet Age, according to noted papacy and information technology expert Peggy Noonan, whose column on the visit is a seriously backhanded compliment about how she knew cuddly teddy bear pope John Paul II, and Ratzi, who looks like a breeding experiment between Pat Robertson and a raccoon that somehow became a zombie Sith Lord, is no John Paul II.
John Paul II made Peggy cry, you see. Like, every single time she saw him, or thought of him, or looked at the framed picture she has of him on her desk next to the framed picture of Ronald Reagan bowling with Jesus. Ratzi, though—"John Paul made you burst into tears. Benedict makes you think."
(The use of the second-person in this column, as in all Peggy Noonan columns employing it, will eventually wear down your spirit and drive you mad. "Benedict, the reporter noted, is the perfect pope for the Internet age. He is a man of the word. You download the text of what he said, print it, ponder it." I... I do? Why??)
Oh, yes, that Internet age thing. Peggy means that Ratzi writes very intellectual speeches about vagaries of Catholic dogma, and also how the Islamists are demons who we need to destroy, because they're currently doing a better job of recruiting desperately impoverished third-worlders than the formerly reigning champion Catholics, but whatever. It all sounds to us a bit less "information age" than some other "ages" we could name.
Also wouldn't the first Pope of the Internet age deliver Mass not in the original Latin but in comical LOLSpeak? Or perhaps in the form of a 10 Ten List of YouTube clips? (Let us Digg.)
Ok, here is more from Ms. Noonan's column about the Pope she is sad she doesn't like as much as the last one:
An American journalist took it upon himself to remind papal representatives that the pope turns 81 while in Washington. Perhaps people could be urged to sing . . . "Happy Birthday"? Benedict some time back wowed a group of schoolchildren when he spoke to them of Antonietta Meo, who may in time become the church's youngest nonmartyred saint. Is he meeting with schoolchildren here?
Another small fear, born of hearing him last week at the mass. Benedict spoke in many languages including English, which he speaks fluidly and with a strong German accent. This is an accent that 60 years of World War II movies have taught Americans to hear as vaguely sinister, or comic. The nicer commentators may say he sounds like Col. Klink in "Hogan's Heroes." I hope he speaks even more than usual about love, for that may remove the sting, as love does.
Yes! Perhaps people could be urged to sing Happy Birthday to Nazi Pope Klink! Children, maybe? A band of Austrian siblings, perhaps! Led by their plucky governess!
Something Beautiful Has Begun [WSJ via our favorite new blog, Christ Our Hope: Pope Benedict XVI: Apostolic Journey to the United States (Part II: Back in the Habit)]