Thursday, April 28, 2005

PHILADELPHIA DIGEST (aka Clericalist Quarterly): Daddygate

OK, now for a trip to a strange place... I call it my hometown.

Fresh off the plane from Rome, Pharaoh -- known to layfolk as Justin Cardinal Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia (it's not an ad personam title, the Pharaoh distinction dates to the the 1930s) -- had to head off a swelling revolt about weddings... That's right, weddings.

In an availability before a midday Mass at the Cathedral to celebrate the resumption of the ordinary governance of the archdiocese, the Boss expected to be fielding questions about the election, Papa Ratzi, and speculation of a return to his Italian homeland. But the press pack was all abuzz over a long-expected missive to clarify the custom of Daddy walking his little girl down the aisle.

After months of panic from brides-to-be on message boards (I have seen this with my own two eyes), the Inquirer ran the story yesterday and the furor grew. A stampede of angry brides is like standing in front of an Acela train -- unless you can stop it, you run away from it.

And, brilliantly, Rigali stopped it. "No changes, no problems," he demurred. Crisis averted.

The problems would've been numerous -- non-canonical weddings, dropping bookings and the church's public image come quickly to mind. But, in the Philadelphia mindset, the real emergency was the potential of priests losing the (very significant) stole fees that come with weddings.

Don't be fooled: It wasn't about brides, it's always about priests. Welcome to Philly.

To be continued....



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