Sunday, 24 February 2013

Pope Benedict XVI in Venice - Blast from the Past

Photo: Comune di Venezia on Facebook
(Venice, Italy) With Pope Benedict's resignation stunning the world, and as whispers of scandal surrounding the Vatican abound, it made me remember how much joy and goodwill the Pope actually generated when he was here in Venice back in May 2011. Enormous crowds of people arrived from all over the world to see Papa, a cornucopia of languages enlivened Piazza San Marco, and the feeling was one of community and friendship. IT WAS SO COOL. I wrote about it here:

Papa is Here! Pope Benedict in Venice

Catholicism permeates the Italian spirit, and Venice and Venetians have their own unique way of expressing their faith. For myself, I was raised as a Catholic on my mother's side, and an agnostic on my father's side, a combination of faith and rationalism.

Photo:  Comune di Venezia on Facebook
Carl Jung wrote in The Undiscovered Self:

"In order to free the fiction of the sovereign State -- in other words, the whims of those who manipulate it -- from every wholesome restriction, all socio-political movements tending in this direction invariably try to cut the ground from under the religions. For, in order to turn the individual into a function of the State, his dependence on anything beside the State must be taken from him. But religion means dependence on and submission to the irrational facts of experience. These do not refer directly to social and physical conditions; they concern far more the individual's psychic attitude.

Photo: Comune di Venezia on Facebook
But it is possible to have an attitude to the external conditions of life only when there is a point of reference outside them. The religions give, or claim to give, such a standpoint, thereby enabling the individual to exercise his judgment and his power of decision. They build up a reserve, as it were, against the obvious and inevitable force of circumstances to which everyone is exposed who lives only in the outer world and has no other ground under his feet except the pavement. If statistical reality is the only reality, then it is the sole authority. There is then only one condition, and since no contrary condition exists, judgment and decision are not only superfluous but impossible. Then the individual is bound to be a function of statistics and hence a function of the State or whatever the abstract principle of order may be called."

Of course, scandal at the Vatican is nothing new; it has been going for centuries. In 1983, Richard Condon (The Manchurian Candidate, Prizzi's Honor) published a historical novel entitled A Trembling Upon Rome, which reaches back 600 years, about the exploits of Baldassarre Cossa (1370-1418), who started life as a pirate and, backed by the Medici, ended up as the first Pope John XXIII. Once Pope, Cossa made the Medici Bank the bank of the papacy. The logline for A Trembling Upon Rome at Google books reads: "Elevated to the papacy and involved with two remarkable mistresses, Baldassare Cossa--lawyer, soldier, and prelate--becomes embroiled in the political intrigue, financial machinations, and violence of late medieval Italy."

Personally, I find comfort in the fact that I can duck into an ancient church in Venice whenever the mood strikes me and surround myself with the mysterious and the unseen. The icons, the altars, the structure of the buildings themselves all awaken what Carl Jung called "the undiscovered self." 

Basilic of San Marco
 Carl Jung again:

"The statistical method shows the facts in the light of the ideal average but does not give us a picture of their empirical reality. While reflecting an indisputable aspect of reality, it can falsify the actual truth in a most misleading way. This is particularly true of theories which are based on statistics. The distinctive thing about real facts, however, is their individuality. Not to put too fine a point on it, one could say that the real picture consists of nothing but exceptions to the rule, and that, in consequence, absolute reality has predominantly the character of irregularity."

Conversion of Mary Magdalene by Paolo Veronese (1547)
No matter how scandalous the outer workings of the Vatican are, I can always feel the spirits of the Christ and the Madonna in the ether -- the foundation upon which the Church was built -- and recover my inner spirit. And, after everything, isn't that what it's all about?

UPDATE: February 27, 2013 - the original post ended there. I have since found another remark by Carl Jung that seems appropos: should not be forgotten that, unlike other religions, Christianity holds at its core a symbol which has for its content the individual way of life of a man, the Son of Man, and that it even regards this individuation process as the incarnation and revelation of God himself.

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog 


  1. With Pope Benedict's resignation stunning the world, and as whispers of scandal surrounding the Vatican abound, it made me remember how much joy and goodwill the Pope actually generated when he was here in Venice back in May 2011.

  2. Fides et ratio the best heritage to be given by partents :)