Monday, August 15, 2005

The Singer and The Song

Tomorrow, as you know, is the 26th anniversary of the death of Elvis. But this year, the candlelight vigils which mark Elvis Week won't be confined to Graceland.

Benedict XVI leaves Thursday morning for Cologne. It's his first foreign trip, the most significant event of his pontificate to date, and the homecoming of the first German pope since before the advent of Martin Luther. Yet for all that, Papa Ratzi isn't the star of the show. That distinction belongs to the man whose massive icon has been plastered on the side of a downtown wall.

Hint, hint -- the figure in question is not Jesus.

After Rome hosted World Youth Day in 2000, the Holy See went batty over reports in the Italian press that... um... more than a few thousand used condoms were found on the field at Tor Vergata -- an area now named for John Paul II. Pressed for a response, the late pope's advance man, now Cardinal Roberto Tucci (a Jesuit and the former head of Vatican Radio) replied that "I didn't say anything about their liking the song, just that they liked the singer."

At the beginning of a signal week -- one that, inevitably, casts him against the shadow of his larger-than-life predecessor -- B16's challenge is to resonate to his young flock that, though the new singer is less flashy, the song remains the same.



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