When Benedict knelt to pray, you could hear only the clicking of the many photographers' shutters. (I don't know why they continued taking pictures, since he didn't move at all for about two solid minutes, but they did.) I enjoyed seeing the photos, so I can't complain about that disruption, but I do have to call your attention to the dumbest photo caption ever written. In case that link doesn't work (or the caption gets fixed): it's part of a slide show of pictures from Sunday. This one shows the pope, flanked by his clerical retinue, lighting the candle at the WTC site. One bishop holds the taper; another holds the glass cylinder that will protect the flame after it has been lit. And the caption says:
Then, with assistance from two clerical aides, he lighted a candle — apparently with a little bit of difficulty at first, perhaps because of technical problems.Okay, first of all, it was windy. As was completely obvious to anyone who watched the event on television, and, I imagine, to those who listened in on the radio (since the sound comes through the microphones). Also, have you ever been to that part of Manhattan? It's always breezy down there. But even if you somehow managed to observe this event, and you perceived that the candle-lighting process was taking longer than it ought to, and you couldn't figure out that this was due to wind blowing out the flame each time the taper was lit... Technical problems? What sort of "technical problems" might interfere with lighting a candle? The motherboard blew a fuse? The jet engines refused to ignite? The satellite had a delay? I mean, come on.
Look, journalists: I know all this pope stuff is intimidating to non-Catholics. (Hell, it's intimidating to most of us Catholics too.) I understand it can be scary to cover something that you know is governed by rigid rules and represents a rich and sacred tradition. I appreciate your efforts to get things right, or at least not completely wrong, even when you end up using purposefully vague language (e.g., identifying a member of the clergy as "one of the faithful") just to avoid making errors like (oh, for example) "symbolically transubstantiate." You try to get fancy and you might end up looking silly -- like the Daily News, when they printed a photo of the pope incensing the altar at St. Patrick's Cathedral and said he was using an aspergillum. (Duh, it's called a thurible?) But there are some things that we Catholics -- even the pope! -- do just like everyone else. And lighting a candle is one of those things. No complicated technical process involved. Flame + wick – strong breeze = new flame. So...
Oh, you know what, just forget it. He's gone now, so you can go back to your stories about Benedict and his cats. Popes! They're just like us!