Pope Benedict XVI's historic three-minute BBC broadcast this morning -- see yesterday's post -- can be heard and read here. It began with words of fond recollection of his UK visit in September and ended with warm assurances of his prayers for the English-speaking people of the world, with particular intentions for the elderly, the sick and those suffering hardship. In between was a simple and typically Benedictine message that by taking on the fragility of humanity and poverty Christ "opened up for us the path that leads to the fullness of life to a share in the life of God himself".
As you'd expect with a mainstream broadcast it was not remarkable theologically and, while expressed with his customary elegance and precision, contained no especially memorable phrases. But in its warmth it reminded me of those famous words of John XXII to the crowds in Rome to go home and give their children a hug from the Pope.
But consider this. As a quick google news search shows, the Pope's broadcast is currently one of the leading news stories across the world. Thousands of news outlets carry the story of his unprecedented action, but then follow it with paragraphs quoting what he actually said.
Since when did phrases such as "God is always faithful to his promises, but he often surprises us in the way he fulfils them" (Reuters), "Christ destroyed death forever 'by means of his shameful death on the cross'" (Press Association), "I ask Christ, the light of nations, to dispel whatever darkness there may be in your lives and to grant every one of you the grace of a peaceful and joyful Christmas" (Daily Telegraph) lead the mainstream news?
Pope Benedict hasn't just made the news at Christmas. He's made Christmas the news.
No wonder the secularists are furious.