Monday, March 14, 2005

Whiskey in a Chalice

Well, it's Paddy's Week, and a happy, happy one to all.

Justin Rigali gave his Irish side its annual airing yesterday at Philly's St. Patrick's Day parade. Now, let it be known -- no one really knows it because it's a hidden fact 364 days out of the year -- that Justin Rigali, il Re' dei Romani, is actually three-quarters Irish. And, as is his practice, Pharaoh gave his one TV interview of the year. He gets to talk about Grandmother Bridget from Roscommon, how the pope told the people of Ireland to come to Jesus and... well, that's basically it. Anyone looking for an answer as to how the church in Philadelphia's coming along on sex-abuse or the diocese's focus on a gospel of life will be left lacking. (Rigali's printed statement about Terri Schiavo on Friday got no play whatsoever.)

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that, if you want to interview Rigali in print or on camera, you have to pitch it as being about some obscure saint, human trafficking or a papal lovefest. It doesn't take Cronkite to get one of these sessions, either.

The blame here lies not with the Boss, but with his handlers -- Philadelphia likes an airtight bubble around Pharaoh, lest he be thought human and show signs of aging.

I like Rigali. I can't say the same for his infantile sycophants, but I respect the man, himself. He's sweet, somewhat shy but very gracious, and yesterday he just looked damn good. Of course, 99.99999999992% of the viewing audience had no idea that he just got off the plane from two weeks of Roman homecoming, but he seemed more self-assured and fluid in speaking than at any time I've seen him over his 18 months in Philly. This bodes well for his first palliumed Holy Week.

NOTE TO PRESS: My attendance at the roster of ceremonies is yet to be determined.


The word from Rome (the one John Allen won't give you, but that's why I'm here) is that the easiest way to get people shaking their heads and start navel-gazing is to mention Ray Burke. Just to show how well-appraised they are, even Jamie Allman's atomic tactics have been noted with disdain. This pretty much blows Allen's misguided theory out the window and ensures that Busch Stadium will remain home to the only cardinal red the Rome of the West will be seeing in the short-term future.


And John Paul II is home. Again. This time, however, the Household chose not to incense the Roman populace by creating another macabre Popemobile spectacle -- they got their dose of humility after that.

Looking at the photos of John Paul in the papal SUV, one will notice a religious woman in full (and we mean FULL) white habit, wimple and all. Who is she?

Sixty years after Sr. Pasqualina ran the apartment of Pius XII, La Popessa is back.



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