Gamiila (gamiila) wrote,

  • Mood:

May flights of angels lead you into Paradise

What a send-off they gave him! It's almost unbelievable the Vatican could have organised such a splendid funeral Mass for Pope John Paul II in such a short space of time; and I take my hat off to the Italians for the way they've managed to make everything run smoothly in the last week, the massive influx of faithful wanting to pay their last respects notwithstanding. There is this standing joke in Europe, that hell is where everything's organised by the Italians, but this week they've certainly proved that to be unfair.

For me, the most interesting part of the service were the prayers offered by the priests and patriachs of the Eastern Churches -- I didn't recognise all of them but I saw representatives of the Greek-Orthodox, Coptic and Ethiopian churches; it meant a lot to see them participate in the liturgy and pay their respects to a Pope who worked so hard at oecumene...although we might have wished him to have been a little more successful at it. It was also very good to see representatives of the other world religions in the VIP enclosure, plus all the heads of States and no fewer than 3 American presidents, none of whom are Catholic.

That made the absence of any member of our Royal House that much more painful. Our government decided that sending the (staunchly protestant) prime-minister alone would suffice, and said the Scandinavian royals weren't going either. So what was Carl Gustav doing there, then? But of course, the decision for any royal to attend or not lies ultimately with the Queen, and the fact that she hasn't deigned to go has deeply offended the Catholics in Holland. She is, after all, supposed to be our Queen, too; and some have said it felt like we had travelled back 150 years in time, when to be Catholic meant being a second class citizen, not allowed to worship freely, not allowed to enter the civil service, etc. If she felt that she couldn't very well go herself, she could at the very least have sent her Catholic daughter-in-law, or either one of her Catholic sisters; or even Princess Marilène, the Catholic daughter-in-law of her protestant sister. The Prince of Wales even postponed his wedding to that horsey woman by a day so that he could be present, and Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan attended a memorial service in Tokyo.

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