Papal canonisations more Woodstock than World's Fair

Amazing spectacle

Whatever its other problems may be, the Vatican has always had a terrific sense of theatre. The canonisation ceremony for Popes John XXIII and John Paul II was a riveting spectacle but it was also an event of transformational significance, writes John Allen.

- The Boston Globe

By the standards of showmanship, it was an undeniable hit. The question now is whether it was more akin to the World’s Fair or to Woodstock – in other words, was this just another big event, or a cultural 'happening' destined to pass into history as a symbol of broader transformations?

Here are four reasons to think that Woodstock may be the better parallel. First, it confirmed that Pope Francis cannot be pigeon-holed in terms of conventional ideological categories, and for that matter, neither can Catholicism itself.

It was already clear that assigning halos to these two pontiffs together was a call to unity. However simplistic or false the perceptions may be, John XXIII is often seen as an icon of the Catholic left and John Paul II has the same appeal to the right, so combining them is an obvious invitation to think past those labels.

What the day itself added was another symbolic splash of unity, which was the display of affection and respect between Francis and his predecessor, Benedict XVI.

As expected, the 87-year-old Benedict was on hand for the ceremony, the first time he’s appeared in St Peter’s Square since his resignation in late February 2013 and the first time he’s taken part in a public Mass since that moment. Francis made a point of greeting him both before and after the ceremony, having encouraged the retired pontiff who vowed to remain 'hidden from the world' to get out more often.

FULL STORY Sainthood for two popes more Woodstock than World’s Fair (The Boston Globe)


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