Much has been written about the different approaches to the media of the last two Popes.  John Paul II had been an actor at one point in his life.  He understood the camera.  Benedict had been a scholar.  He understood the camera in a different way and it showed.  In the end, though, Benedict gave us some insights that are worth serious critical reflection.

Benedict’s unprecedented retirement was notable in many ways.  Unlike his predecessors of many Centuries, this Pope had an opporunity for a sort of valedictory tour, a kind of “exit interview” with the church and the world. In it, he revealed much about his J2P2thinking, and perhaps about the way Catholic authority in general thinks about (and more importantly can think about) things at this moment of transition in its position and in its fortunes.

On February 14, Benedict addressed the clergy of Rome for the last Benedicttime.  It is a long and fascinating reflection.  In it he reveals the view (shared perhaps by his predecessor?) that the Second Vatican Council was a watershed that got out  of hand.  And who and what is to blane for the chaos in its aftermath?

there was also the Council of the media. It was almost a Council in and of itself, and the world perceived the Council through them, through the media. So the immediately efficient Council that got thorough to the people, was that of the media, not that of the Fathers…

And we know that this Council of the media was accessible to all. So, dominant, more efficient, this Council created many calamities, so many problems, so much misery, in reality: seminaries closed, convents closed, liturgy trivialized…

There is much to say here and much to comment on.  What I found fascinating, though, was how profoundly he does seem to recognize the crisis in authority the Church faces as the result of the modern media.  The first sentence of the second paragraph says it all.  The capacities of modern media and modern mediation to stand at the center of public culture have made irrelvant the aspirations of authority such as the Church’s.

A lot to think about….