"'Once you actually see him, you can feel him, his eyes are just glowing and he's so happy,' Gaggioli said. 'Everyone just goes crazy.'" [For the full article, see here.]
No! This young woman wasn't talking about Jesus or the reality of the Holy Spirit residing within her! She was talking about a mere fallible human being, the Pope.
About this pope, the article says, "In his writings before and since becoming pope, Benedict has stressed the importance of a strict adherence to orthodoxy, and opposition to a wide array of modern cultural trends, including feminism, gay rights, and demands - especially among American Catholics - for greater democracy and administrative transparency within the church."
So, this mere fallible man who talks about the need for "a strict adherence to orthodoxy," and who decries civil and sacramental rights for Gay people and, indeed, who demonizes them and their families every chance he gets, and (if I'm interpreting the article correctly) who seeks to dispel the crazy idea that there should be "greater democracy and administrative transparency within the church," is fawned over by such gullible people that they loudly cheer and congregate around him to merely just figuratively touch the hem of his garment.
The institutional Church, particularly the RC Church as constituted since the age of Constantine, has been enmeshed with the State (Indeed, the Vatican is its own State.), and usually with the most reactionary forces within the State, and has become so bureaucratic and autocratic that it attracts and reinforces authoritarian personalities that veritably fawn over authority figures (especially when they are associated with pomp and circumstance), and are all too frequently one-dimensional, closed-minded, inordinately rigid people who are extraordinarily uncomfortable in contemplating and/or dealing with ambiguity that entails so much of life as it is lived on this earth.
The authoritarian personality is characterized by: "excessive conformity; submissiveness to authority; intolerance; insecurity; superstition; rigid, stereotyped thought patterns."
It is this kind of personality structure that is both eminently suitable to rigid, conformist-oriented, disciplined bureaucratic structures and, in the secular world, it is those with authoritarian personalities who are usually the careerists who know whose rear end to kiss in order to "work" their way up the corporate ladder.
What is so pathetic about the authoritarian personality of lay people within the institutional Church (beyond its inherent unchristian nature) is that they usually receive no financial rewards for their fawning over authority figures. Indeed, it is they who pay those authority figures in both money and in fidelity.
A mark of an intelligent person is that he or she is able to handle ambiguity in life. Those with highly developed authoritarian personalities are most comfortable in bureaucracies that inculcate and reinforce in the individual the need to be "methodical, prudent, disciplined," to use the Sociologist Robert Merton's term. ("Bureaucratic Structure and Personality)
The RC Church doesn't merely encourage such a personality structure, it virtually demands it of its followers, lest they be considered not really "good" Roman Catholics at all, and are thus often derisively termed "cafeteria catholics." The unfortunate fact is that the Pope and the Vatican usually don't have to twist the arms of their supplicants too hard in order for them to conform (save for the issue of artificial contraception), as those with authoritarian personalities, many of whom are largely attracted to the RC Church precisely because it's conducive to such personalities, are more than amenable to whatever messages emanate from the Pope's speeches and encyclicals.
Even when such a large-scale abomination as the priest ephebophilia scandals, and the coverups by assorted Bishops (and had they not been RC Bishops, they undoubtedly would have been serving hard time for criminal facilitation) came to light, costing the RC Church roughly two billion dollars in settlements, and the Vatican then engaging in a witch hunt so as to use gay men in seminaries as scapegoats to help divert attention from those scandals, relatively few Roman Catholics expressed revulsion sufficient to motivate them to leave that institution. Indeed, even many who did express such revulsion decided to stay within that denomination!
People with authoritarian personalities want to be told what to do! Indeed, they even want to be told what to think! Life is much simpler for them when they can be assured that what they are being told is a truth that they can count on, even if the maker of those remarks is just as befuddled (if not more so) by the mysteries of life as are his supplicants.
Every Christian worships God and no one and nothing else! He/she doesn't worship the Pope, the Vatican, clergy, deacons, tradition (see, for example, Matthew 15:3), or any other elemental thing in this world. Only God is worshipped by the Christian, and to worship anyone or anything else, including the Bible itself, is to commit the sin of idolatry, and those who commit such a sin are not Christians, no matter how often they attend a church, and no matter how much they profess to be Christians!
Once anyone places fealty in a mere human being, or uses any human being or object as an idol, or as a virtual replacement for Christ Himself, he/she is removing that fealty from God, and is, thereby, turning his/her back on God!
Part of the above linked article reads: "The thousands hearing the pope at Mass included a group of women from Milwaukee - wearing red 'Wisconsin welcomes Benedict' T-shirts - who cheered the pope with rock-star-like adoration."
I have the feeling that if Jesus came to our shores, or to any shore, for that matter, He would be scorned, debased, humiliated and, perhaps, even killed by a howling mob who would share the very same authoritarian personality as did those who "cheered the pope with rock-star-like adoration."
You see, Jesus wouldn't be arriving in the equivalent of a Popemobile, amid pomp and circumstance, dressed in the utmost finery, and wearing Prada shoes. He'd undoubtedly come with calloused hands, dressed like anyone else, and preach grace, love, faith, forgiveness, peace, reconciliation, and inclusiveness.
In other words, He'd preach the Gospel, the "good news," the only Gospel to be found in Christianity!
And those with authoritarian personalities, those who would idolize a mere human being, and who love and want to be told what to do and what to think, and who would in any way demean or discriminate against any of God's children, would hate Him!
And they would be so secure in their prejudices, so secure in their place in the institutional Church, that they would undoubtedly have no compunction about crucifying Him afresh! (And it must be noted that most Roman Catholics are no different in this regard than are most within the Protestant traditions.)
And why would they? They are repeatedly crucifying Jesus every time they believe those authoritarians who preach and practice discrimination (be it against women or LGBT people) whom they have chosen to follow, rather than believe and follow the One Who personifies grace and love, and Who promises us freedom from yokes of bondage placed upon us by the very people that that cheering mob simply adores.