Gusty winds and pouring rain in freezing temperatures. That would be Easter 2010 in London then. The BA and rail strikes were to follow, offering an equally optimistic outlook. So what's a Londoner to do?
First to mass, like any other self-respecting person brought up in ‘the faith’ but long lapsed, for those holidays and holy days still have a pull, and tradition appeals once in a while. (The Southbank Centre had already provided a very different pull on Friday - Holy Friday to the majority religion - a tea dance. Whatever next, a lap dance course on Christmas?)
So off to my favourite Catholic hang-out on Easter Sunday. Not the Brompton Oratory, I leave that to the Chelsea crowd. No, for me it is St James’ Spanish Place just beside the Wallace Collection. I love their very traditional Latin Mass on Sundays. An amazing choir makes this place a real treat, and the church itself a thing of beauty. And today there was going to be, I hoped, a grovelling apology from the Pope to look forward to.
Though the choir was in top form, and the priest began his sermon with a statement of regret and expressed a wish for remorse and redirection, somehow it wasn’t enough. There was a whiff of paranoia in the air instead of a clear naming of institutional responsibility. The faithful were being reminded that the Pope's visit would lead to further troubles for them. Strange that, after all they had done nothing wrong, it was the priests accused of abuse and rape of children, as I recall.
What was needed, a letter from the man himself, an institutional apology was not forthcoming. The papal Easter annual blessing 'Urbi et Orbi’ had not soothed my soul at all, and having just read the Pope's comments on 'gossip', I was much too angry to hear any - however well-meant - comments that did not expressly include an admission of institutionalised failure. Especially from someone dressed in what appeared to be gold Baco foil. (Not a great look, but I suppose the church has to keep a dress-code of sorts).
If this Pope could throw out Hans Küng and try to finish off Liberation Theology in his more flamboyant younger years as a Cardinal in Germany then he could have thrown out a few paedophiles. The admirable Leonardo Boff and Küng were hung out to dry, and they had done nothing but disagree with Cardinal Ratzinger’s conservative exegesis of Catholic doctrine. It is obvious to all that he puts his priests above his flock, maybe Andrew Sullivan’s prediction in the Times will come true, and he has just lost his flock...