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We Told You So: Britain Gobsmacked by Pope Benedict
Life Site News ^ | September 20, 2010 | Hilary White

Posted on 09/21/2010 10:54:02 AM PDT by NYer

ROME, September 20, 2010 ( – While anti-Catholic, secularist and homosexualist activists, with generous help from the media, have spent most of the last year attempting to derail the papal visit, the smart money was always on Benedict XVI taking every fight without breaking a sweat. And when the bell rang, and the eyes of the world were trained on the little island ring, it became clear from the first moment that Benedict’s opponents were hopelessly outclassed. 

From the first moments of the trip, while his plane was in the air, it was clear that Benedict knew exactly what he was doing. He pre-empted much of the criticism over Vatican handling of the sex abuse scandals by issuing, again, a strong statement expressing his personal shame and sorrow, but indicated, at the same time, that he was well-prepared and unafraid.

“Benedict Bounce”: warmth and gentleness wins over the media

In the words of the NYT’s Ross Douthat, the pope held Britain spellbound, with the anti-papal rallies and demonstrations as nothing more than “a sideshow to the visit,” with a brief assassination plot scare to show the British “what real religious extremism looks like.” Journalists tweeting from the plane on the way back to Rome on Sunday evening reported that there was an “air of celebration among the papal entourage.” They said, “This time they won with the Pope.”

After months of hearing the increasingly shrill attacks (as one journalist put it, the devil himself could hardly have had worse press), the British people were ready to hear the other side. Before the visit was even over, Keith O’Brien, the cardinal archbishop of Edinburgh, had already spoken of the “Benedict bounce,” in which the very harshness of the attacks contributed to the turn-around in public opinion in the pope’s favour.

But it was Benedict’s personal warmth, gentleness, and the sheer rationality and sense of his message, that hit the cynical British media and political establishment right between the eyes. All the talk in Rome today is of how well the BBC handled the commentary, with positive guests and few fumbles, even on fairly obscure Catholic terminology.

And Britain’s tabloid press, not usually known for backing the side of the angels, are left in awe. The News of the World, England’s largest circulation Sunday paper, and one that often acts as a bellwether for genuine public opinion, ran the headline, “Bene’s from heaven” with the subhead, “People’s Pope leaves Britain with a smile on its face.”

Benedict delivers “knock-out”

At a conference in Rome this evening, barrister and president of Britain’s Catholic Union, Jamie Bogle, told me, “The secular atheist liberals and their friends in the media are going to take a long time to get over this visit. Because they thought they were on a winner. They thought they were going to, if not arrest the pope, at least seriously embarrass him.

“And this little guy in white just flattened them. His gentle, calm, soft-spoken approach just won everybody over. And the demonstrations faded away.”

Bogle warned not to give too much credence to media claims of 20,000 at the anti-papal rally, the organisers’ main event in London on Saturday. The unofficial police count, he said, was no more than 2,000, and organized protests were cancelled during the pope’s time in Scotland due to lack of interest, “while hundreds of thousands lined the route to wave to the pope. There were people chasing him down the streets to keep up. It was a knock-out.”

“I don’t know how he does it,” a smiling Bogle said, “but there’s something about that guy. It’s plainly sanctity.”

And now that Benedict is home, even the hostile media are having difficulty trying to pursue their campaign because “they’ve discovered that the vast majority of people don’t hate the pope, actually, they quite like him. And some of them really love him. Because he’s a lovable guy, and it’s very hard to hate somebody’s lovable grandfather.”

“It was really quite astonishing to see the change that took place,” in the media coverage. “They may be up to it again in the future, but I have to say, I think he just knocked them sideways.”

They listened.

And how did the British people, millions of whom followed the papal events on the BBC’s live feed on the internet and on television, react to the pope? “They listened,” said Fr. Hugh Allan, the superior of a community of priests, called Norbertine canons, in Chelmsford, Essex, who attended some of the events.

“They really wanted to hear him, and that is going to make the difference. I’ve heard it from so many people.”

On the phone today, Fr. Allan confirmed that the anti-pope crowd have badly lost the argument, and the sympathy of the British public with their months of shrill, fever-pitch attacks. The British people, he said, wanted to hear what the pope had to say.

“One of the most beautiful things has been to see an eighty-three year old man completely taking the wind out of the sails of the Peter Tatchells and the rest of the crowd,” Fr. Allan said.

The pope’s addresses, delivered barely above a whisper, made his detractors look “ridiculous, like children throwing their toys out of the pram because they couldn’t have their own way.” And today the pope’s opponents are left with little to say. “They’re nonplussed and confused” Fr. Allan said, “astonished.” “They didn’t expect people to respond as they have done.”

“They don’t understand why the British people listened to him. Why they wanted to see him. Everything the pope said is outside their mindset.”

The pope’s messages, that Christianity has a foundational place in the building of a just society, one that cannot be suppressed without destroying the foundations of freedom, were delivered fearlessly but gently, in a tone that one had to strain to hear and with an accent one had to concentrate to understand. 

“He was just stating the truth,” Fr. Allan said. “It’s really swept people off their feet.”

“Absolute Silence”

The part that was perhaps most surprising, to those who don’t know Benedict, was the spirituality. Here was not just another politician in a cassock. This was a religious leader, interested in the hearts and souls of his listeners. And the greatest moment was the silence in the park. At least 150,000 were at the Mall on Saturday evening, lining the pope’s route leading up to Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park, in many cases only to have the briefest glimpse. Well over the officially ticketed numbers of 80,000 were in the park for the evening service of Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. 

While Dr. Richard Dawkins and the Independent’s Johann Hari harangued the pope, calling him an enabler of pedophilia and demanding that the police go over and arrest him, the people in Hyde Park, most of whom had waited all day, knelt and prayed in “absolute silence.”

I was watching on two live internet feeds simultaneously, one from the BBC with commentary and the other from the UK bishops’ website without and as the ornate monstrance was placed on the altar, and for that brief time, even the BBC chatterers fell silent.

A member of Fr. Allan’s community was at the park and said that almost no one was on their feet. He called it “astonishing” that nearly 100,000 people knelt and prayed. “The response, the silence... To go from ecstatic cheers one moment, welcoming the pope, to profound silence the next, it was really remarkable.”

Benedict has ended the argument.

If nothing else comes of this visit, one service Pope Benedict did this weekend in Britain was to answer the anti-religious accusations. For years, the secularist hard core have held the floor without challenge. The bishops have made polite noises, in the tradition of English Catholic recusants keeping their head down after centuries of persecution, leaving the Evangelicals to do the heavy lifting in the rational defense of public Christianity.

In interview after interview the British bishops have equivocated, circumlocuted and generally sidled away from giving straightforward Christian answers, backed up by the immemorial teaching of the Church, the witness of the great minds of Christendom. This weekend, Pope Benedict put an end to it. 

Even though we had already called it, the completeness of Benedict’s triumph in Britain was astonishing to watch. The spell lasted up to the last possible moment, with Prime Minister David Cameron and a large government and ecclesiastical entourage assembled at Birmingham airport to see Benedict off. Among the last shots from the BBC’s live broadcast was of the group of dignitaries and bishops waving to the departing plane, as if seeing off an old friend.

TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; Ministry/Outreach; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: pope; uk
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1 posted on 09/21/2010 10:54:10 AM PDT by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; markomalley; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; ...
He called it “astonishing” that nearly 100,000 people knelt and prayed. “The response, the silence... To go from ecstatic cheers one moment, welcoming the pope, to profound silence the next, it was really remarkable.”

What's surprising is .... their surprise. People are not fools ... they seek authentic teaching and recognize it when it is in their midst.

2 posted on 09/21/2010 10:57:41 AM PDT by NYer ("God dwells in our midst, in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar." St. Maximilian Kolbe)
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To: NYer

I agree. This is not surprising. This is humanity as I’ve known it... generious, spiritual, humble people. It the squeeky radical left that has perverted this simple understanding.

3 posted on 09/21/2010 11:00:15 AM PDT by facedodge
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To: NYer

How many divisions does Stalin have?

4 posted on 09/21/2010 11:00:43 AM PDT by MuttTheHoople (Democrats- Forgetting 9/11 since 9/12/01)
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To: facedodge

Well and wisely said.

5 posted on 09/21/2010 11:01:10 AM PDT by agere_contra (...what if we won't eat the dog food?)
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To: NYer

PLEASE stop with that idiotic, meaningless collection of syllables already!

6 posted on 09/21/2010 11:16:19 AM PDT by the invisib1e hand
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To: the invisib1e hand
idiotic, meaningless collection of syllables

It must be a British thing.

gobsmacked [ˈgɒbˌsmækt]
Brit slang astounded; astonished
[from gob3 + smack2]



1. gobsmacked - utterly astounded
colloquialism - a colloquial expression; characteristic of spoken or written communication that seeks to imitate informal speech
Britain, Great Britain, U.K., UK, United Kingdom, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - a monarchy in northwestern Europe occupying most of the British Isles; divided into England and Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland; `Great Britain' is often used loosely to refer to the United Kingdom
surprised - taken unawares or suddenly and feeling wonder or astonishment; "surprised by her student's ingenuity"; "surprised that he remembered my name"; "a surprised expression"

7 posted on 09/21/2010 11:21:15 AM PDT by Brian Kopp DPM
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To: NYer
I watched it all on EWTN’s live coverage. I could not have described Benedict's delivery of the sweet message of truth more accurately — barely above a whisper, heavily accented to the point of having to concentrate hard to make out the words, but nonetheless, an over-powering gentleness and spirituality unmatched by most today. I was greatly impressed with the British Bishops. They spoke clearly and articulated the gospels and prayers with such beauty of language. I was spell-bound.

Raymond Arroyo's group gave such historical accounts of the Church in Britain and my eyes welled up with the stories of the martyrs and the persecution of the Church in England. What sweet savor and balm to the soul of all Christians to hear the true voice of the Church gently calling all to come home to its mother. Tender words like kisses blown to children and arms open wide for the hugs that await. It was a sweet time — oh and the choir and musicians — cannot let their beautiful performance go without a Bravo! Of course my favorites — The Three Priests - had my heart soaring with the Benediction.

Britain, you did it up PERFECTLY. Hats off to you all!

8 posted on 09/21/2010 11:22:58 AM PDT by Constitutions Grandchild
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To: MuttTheHoople
How many divisions does Stalin have?

"God is dead"

"Ummm ... well no, actually. Stalin is dead."

9 posted on 09/21/2010 11:23:07 AM PDT by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: the invisib1e hand

“Gobsmacked” is a traditional English expression for astonishment, since “gob” is an English colloquialism for “face”. In the context of an article about the English, it is particularly appropriate. My thought is that when you write your own posts, you can use the language you choose, until the vocabulary impinges on the standards of this forum. Let us not criticize one another in our discussions of the Holy Father’s triumph.

10 posted on 09/21/2010 11:24:28 AM PDT by ottbmare (off-the-track Thoroughbred mare)
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To: NYer

As Arroyo pointed out, “England was Catholic BEFORE it was England”. The stamp of Christ was there way ahead of all else that followed.

11 posted on 09/21/2010 11:25:06 AM PDT by Constitutions Grandchild
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To: ottbmare; Dr. Brian Kopp
cute, always some hairsplitting know it all pipes up.

It's idiotic, and essentially meangless. If it's olde englishe, it died for a reason. leave it buried. As for this...

Let us not criticize one another in our discussions of the Holy Father’s triumph.

...sanctimonious drivel, I wanna vomit.

12 posted on 09/21/2010 11:32:14 AM PDT by the invisib1e hand
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To: the invisib1e hand

It’s not dead olde englishe though, it’s pretty common. I watch an inordinate amount of UK TV and I hear it regularly. They have a wonderful collection of colloquialisms. There’s actually another word that starts with gobs that is far more useful but I can’t use it here. That’s a good thing now that I think of it.

13 posted on 09/21/2010 11:39:50 AM PDT by Legatus (Keep calm and carry on)
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To: ottbmare; The Invisible Hand
As a self appointed "know it all" on the British vernacular, Cockney rhyming slang and other irrelevant minutiae, allow me to interject. "Gob" is slang for "mouth", not "face". As in ........."shut yer gob"!

Thus, "gobsmacked" derives from the act of slapping the palm of one's hand across one's open mouth when startled or surprised.

A "face" is sometimes referred to as a "dial" (as in clock face, or dial) and in Cockney rhyming slang is known as "a boat race".

Yes, I know..............too much information.

14 posted on 09/21/2010 11:48:00 AM PDT by marshmallow ("A country which kills its own children has no future" -Mother Teresa of Calcutta)
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To: Legatus
whatever. it started showing up on the pseudo-intellectual catholic blogs that were being posted here a year or so ago (idunno, check the last time I objected to it, that should nail down the date).

Anyway, last time I checked, this was the USA and we had so many of our own colloquialisms we didn't need to lift the prissy ones from across the pond to sound cosmopolitan.

It's a little like using the word "shedjewel" or maybe just dropping a little latin into your sentences as though it was something all the homeys do.

NO STOMACH for pretentious anything, esp. writing.

peace out.

15 posted on 09/21/2010 11:50:01 AM PDT by the invisib1e hand
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To: marshmallow

ogawd. it’s like picking a scab. it just gets worse.

16 posted on 09/21/2010 11:51:36 AM PDT by the invisib1e hand
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To: NYer

Watched some of it. Wish I could have seen it all. Thanks for posting this article. I can’t wait to share it.

17 posted on 09/21/2010 11:55:44 AM PDT by CitizenM (If we ever forget that we're one nation under GOD, then we will be a nation gone under.-Ronald Re)
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To: NYer; netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; markomalley; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; ...

I’m curious... does anybody here know how the muslims acted during the pope’s visit? Were there any demonstrations by them or statements by their imams? Or were most of the protests and noise from the leftists and secularists?

18 posted on 09/21/2010 11:56:21 AM PDT by aquila48
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To: Constitutions Grandchild
As Arroyo pointed out, “England was Catholic BEFORE it was England”. The stamp of Christ was there way ahead of all else that followed.

And it should be pointed out, for those who didn't hear Arroyo, that Christian legends abound regarding Britain. For example, it is reputed that Joseph of Arimathea was the first to evangelize Great Britain, having settled in Glastonbury. True? Who knows. But without a doubt interesting (at least to me).

19 posted on 09/21/2010 12:01:11 PM PDT by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
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To: marshmallow; The Invisible Hand
As in ........."shut yer gob"!

There's a bit that comes after that normally...

The only time I've noticed gobsmacked on freep is when it was associated with a story from the UK or a UK blogger.

Obviously though someone needs a Python care package for Christmas...

20 posted on 09/21/2010 12:03:02 PM PDT by Legatus (Keep calm and carry on)
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