Wedding threatens to overshadow beatification

Friday would be a good day for anyone to admit to some secret scandal because you can pretty much predict that a significant portion of the media will be focused on the royal wedding. And then recovering Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is expected to watch her husband launch into space. Even if reporters break other news, it might be difficult to get people's attentions.

In case you have been under a rock, Prince William and Kate Middleton are planning to exchange vows on Friday, and Nathania Zevi of the Wall Street Journal points out that it could draw attention away from Sunday's beatification of the late Pope John Paul II.

It isn't the first time the British monarchy has stolen the spotlight from the Vatican. The article points out that just days after John Paul II's funeral in 2005, Prince Charles married Camilla Parker Bowles. Most of the brief article is behind the paywall, but here's a portion to get the idea:

Behind closed doors, Vatican officials told city event planners in Rome to prepare for as few as 150,000 people and only a handful of dignitaries, according to one planner. Now, Vatican planners sound less than confident.

"I have indeed noticed that the wedding is drawing a lot of attention," says Father Caesar Atuire, chief executive of Vatican pilgrims' organization Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, or ORP. "I wish these two young people all the best in life…but the events are on two different levels." ...

The Vatican has been doing its best to make the beatification go viral, with a website, a Facebook page and Twitter account, and a digital communication service to promote the event via social networking.

The article states that John Paul II's private secretary insisted the beatification should coincide with the May 1 Labor Day weekend, giving Poles enough time to travel to Rome. This led me to an AFP article on how more than 50,000 Poles are expected to flock to the Vatican for the Polish pope's beatification. The article highlighted interesting cultural and economic factors.

Szklarski said that alarmist Polish media reports which warned of crushing crowds and sky-high prices for accommodation during the beatification spooked many faithful Poles enough to make them stay home. "It was partially justified as hotel owners in Rome did indeed hike their prices and therefore succeeded in discouraging many people," he said. ...Cautious consumer spending in light of the economic crisis is not the main cause behind the lower number of pilgrims, according to Janusz Czapinski, a Warsaw University professor of social psychology. "Today Poles are much more wealthy than they were when Pope John Paul II died. The global crisis didn't really affect Poland, we nearly didn't notice it," he said. "The cultural paradigm in Poland is focused on paying last respects to the deceased, but there is really no tradition of the same kind concerning a beatification or canonisation ceremonies," he explained.

For media outlets that do pay attention, many stories will likely bring up angles on John Paul's handling of the sex abuse crisis. John L. Allen Jr. has a piece in Newsweek on the timing, only Allen's point rests more with questions about whether he should have been beatified so quickly after his death.

This was, after all, the pope who brought down communism, who was seen in the flesh by more people than any other figure in human history, who reinvigorated Catholicism after a period of doubt and confusion, and who gave rise to an entire "John Paul II" generation of young priests and bishops eager to take the church’s message to the street. ...Adulatory coverage in the global media amounted to a sort of secular canonization, making the formal ecclesiastical process seem almost anticlimactic. Today, however, that enthusiasm has been tempered by revelations about the role of the late pope and his aides in the sexual-abuse crisis--by any reckoning, the most destructive Catholic scandal in centuries, and one that critics say metastasized on John Paul's watch.

Let us know if you see other interesting stories that preview the significant event. For instance, NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty looks at how the Vatican investigates miracles (h/t RNS). Unfortunately, the analysis probably won't rise to the same royal level. After all, aren't we all waking up at 5 a.m. to see whether a tiara will be worn?

Please respect our Commenting Policy