Monday, June 24, 2013
The Empty Throne: A Renaissance Mystery
I don't beleive the Pope said "Non sono un principe rinascimentale che ascolta musica invece di lavorare", I am not a Renaissance prince who listens to music instead of working, but it is interesting that these words have been attributed to him, presumably in an attempt to distance Francis from his predecessor and presumably to make Francis seem like a haughty, boorish, capricious, well..., like a renaissance prince. The phrase I am sure was thrown into the mix maliciously and deliberately.
Fr Z has an interesting theory, which I wouldn't entirely dismiss but it is a bit renaissance, it is about a cloak and dagger secret meeting taking place in the new Papal Apartments whilst the whole Papal Court was out of the way attending the Concert, in fact it is deliciously renaissance.
Because the Papal Physician attended the concert it was suggested that there was no health problem but then maybe the Pope needed an early night, perhaps with a few aspirin for a headache or something for one of those stomach problems Italians are so prone to.
However it is intriguing, why did the Pope announce his absence just before the concert was about to start, when everyone was assembled. If he has a disdain for such worldly pleasures as Beethoven, as some have suggested, then why was an announcement not made days before? If it was some minor illness, then the rather unfortunate empty throne could have been removed, before the audience assembled, half an hour before the concert was due to start, similarly if the Pope, who admitted to the Latin American religious he is rather disorganised, had discovered for some reason he was delayed but it appears the absence was actually last minute. Is his diary so disorganised or so capable of being disarranged or is there some great crisis in the Church about to emerge?
There could I suppose have been a 'Game of Thrones' going on, either the Pope wanted the empty chair to be seen as some kind of gesture, or more likely an official having had a little more notice than the minute before the concert when the announcement was made, deliberately leaving it in place as a very clear sign throughout the concert to the audience and to the paparazzi of the Pope's disdain. Thrones are important in Court life, even the simplicity or absence or presence convey almost as much as an eighteenth century lady's fan.
Whatever was happening presumably will be discussed throughout the Court this coming week. One or two people have suggested recently that turkeys don't vote for Christmas and that possibly Papa Bergoglio was very much the Curia's choice, the real Reformers wanted Scola, hence the speed of Francis election, and that having a 'pastor' 'from the other side of the world' who has had no apprenticeship in Vatican intrigue, normally considered a sine qua non for the Pope, might be beginning to feel a backlash, and a few reminders of who is actually in charge.
Another question: who is pushing the 'Francis is so humble narrative', it is not the Pope himself, it is certainly becoming irritating, it is a house built on sand, that is likely to come crashing down the moment the media chooses.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake