I personally struggle with how becoming the whole “cult” surrounding the Pope happens to be (I use the term “cult” in the sense of celebrity cult).
Does the cult surrounding the pope bring people closer to Jesus Christ or detract from that central message?
I happened to be in St. Peter’s Basilica this past Christmas, Easter and Christ’s Ascension (but then outside in St. Peter’s square). I have to say that all the ipad-smartphone-filming plus applause struck me as most unbecoming within a house of God (outside, I guess I can live with it).
To be frank, this experience at Easter struck as so very worldy that - being only a nominal Catholic attending Protestant services - I seriously considered cutting my ties with the Church for good. And so I began a programme of my own of truly understanding Catholicism (which is far from over), so as to at least make an informed decision. Only priestly counsel, delving into Catholic teaching and prayer saved me from this step and led me to re-embrace the Church.
My spiritual advisor suggested, me having also related similar discomfort regarding a visit in Lourdes and a papal mass here in Berlin, that I perhaps just wasn’t the type for these massive events. No doubt he’s on the mark.
Yet I still wonder: Does the whole papal cult go too far? Is it too worldly? Detracting from Jesus Christ?
Am I being too uncharitable towards believers who, after a long wait, built up expectation, finally get to see the Holy Father? And have little means of expressing their appreciation other than by all that hullabaloo - and do so even in church? Am I being a “party pooper” here?
I’m torn on this. What about the Christocentric character of the Church? Hasn’t the rock-star character of the Papacy of recent decades, with all its massive media visibility and undeniable positives, also come at a considerable cost?