A World of Speculation

A Catholic priest from a “traditionalist” parish was keeping vigil in St. Peter’s Square with thousands of others when the announcement came that the pope was dead.

To pick up the story:

Within moments, a cardinal announced to the crowd that the pope had “gone home to his Father’s house.”

After a moment of stunned silence, a reverent round of applause swept the plaza.

“It was not the raucous clapping like you might have at music events or something like that,” the priest wrote. “It really was a prayer for the pope.”

I don’t doubt his sincerity or love or loyalty, but how weird is it that smacking one’s hands together to produce a noise has become a form of prayer? I could expect it from American Pentecostals maybe, since that faith tradition has grown up in the shadow of the American popular culture. But Catholics, and among them a “traditionalist” Catholic, in Rome?

Maybe it’s just me — and I know I have my quirks — but this seems to treat the pope’s life and death as a long and successful performance, rather than a life of ministry.

Here’s a BBC piece on applause, from Caesar Nero to the present time. It’s all about performance, but not about prayer.