30 Apr 2011

Why are billions of people following every single minute of the coverage of the Royal Wedding and of the Beatification of Pope John Paul II?

A Prince, a Pope and Hope

Royal Wedding and Beatification Pope John Paul II

It’s an interesting week-end: billions of people are glued to their TV for two events which taste of bygone times, the wedding of a prince and the beatification of a Pope. Two figures which one would expect to raise so much interest in the Middle Ages but not in the 21st century.

I was (and am) one of those who were and will be glued to my TV. The truth is that in this times of widespread bewilderment, where it’s getting harder and harder to define where the limits of individual freedom lie, to make sense of changing values and social models, where everybody has his own opinion and feels entitled to impose it on other people, where public lying is standard practice in public debates, I think people look at these events as to two symbols of steady values and hope.

The wedding of Prince William and Kate (or should I say the Duchess Catherine now?) was a fairytale event for the people. William and Kate represent a world which might be surpassed but at the same time is also the image of century-old tradition, of the roots of a nation. They are the head of the nation, they represent the country, they should be “the best exemplars of everymen”, the highest possible “state” in social terms, the utmost goal. The fact that a commoner is going to be the Queen of England one day gives people hope: hope that good things can happen.

Hundreds of thousands of people are going to be in Rome to celebrate a Pope. But Pope John Paul II was not just a Pope. Once again, he was one of those people who are able to give hope. He was gentle and determinate. He changed the world with kindness. He was a good father for the global catholic family. He had a way of talking about the human feelings which went beyond catechesis.

He was the greatest communicator of all, and could speak to the heart. Never before had a Pope said things such as:

“Artistic talent is a gift from God and whoever discovers it in himself has a certain obligation: to know that he cannot waste this talent, but must develop it.”

“Faith and Reason are like two wings of the human spirit by which is soars to the truth.”

“The earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.”

“Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

“Without wonder, men and women would lapse into deadening routine and little by little would become incapable of a life which is genuinely personal.”

Incredible words, always uttered with kindness. I am not sure how you decide that someone is a saint, but if respect of otherness is a criteria, it can’t be bad to make John Paul II a saint.

The two figures can’t really be compared… William and Kate pertain to the world of “politics” (and gossip), John Paul II to the world of faith. But it’s funny that much interest in 2011 will be devoted to a king and a pope, like 1000 years ago.

Nothing really changes. People need reference points be them a strong state or a strong church. I believe that they are nothing but the amplification of the most basic need of all: the need of a family. After all, as John Paul II said himsef “as the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live“.

William and Kate are a new family, they chose each other, they have to be the reflection of the future of the monarchy (and metaphorically of British society at large) after decades of scandals and divorces. People want for them to last, to live happily ever after. John Paul II is the good father of the church, the voice of positive values, those which must regulate civil life through peace, love, compassion and respect.

They are symbols of hope: hope that a complex society may find in simple, basic values like love, respect and commitment the way out of this chaotic, individualist, litigious times.

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