In this job you tend to read a lot of furious argument about
events of colossal importance which are forgotten in two weeks’ time. This week it is the Pope’s visit
to England and Scotland. For once I am grateful that I seldom read the British
papers, which have been full of articles fulminating against Benedict XVI, the
Catholic Church and religion in general. The media there seems to be in the grip of an intellectual
St Vitus Dance in which dozens of sober, intelligent, Oxbridge types thrash about
uncontrollably, hissing through their carious fangs at the Pope’s presence on
British soil. The popular Channel 4 in the UK even commissioned a vigorous campaigner
for lowering the age of consent to 14 to do a documentary about the Pope and the sex abuse scandal. Go figure.
It’s so perplexing that I turned to one of my favourite books, Winnie-the-Pooh, for enlightenment.
Flicking through it, I came across a passage which explained it all. Pooh (“I am a Bear of Very
Little Brain, and long words bother me”)
is a wise companion:
"Rabbit's clever," said
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit's clever."
"And he has Brain."
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit has Brain."
There was a long silence.
"I suppose," said Pooh, "that that's why he never understands
Too much cleverness can be a crippling burden sometimes. That
is, to my mind, one of Joseph Ratzinger’s outstanding traits: cleverness AND understanding.
Perhaps he is humble, like Pooh.
Anyhow, to the job at hand. Carolyn Moynihan tackles the
Koran-burning controversy. She thinks that there is something amiss if free
speech means the freedom to make hate-filled attacks on other people’s sacred
books, places of worship and symbols. Michaela Kingston explains the latest
instalment of the controversy over stem cells. Michael Coren muses on the
mysterious death of a British spy last month. And Vincenzina Santoro has good
news for us about the declining popularity of abortion in Italy.