L’Osservatore Romano
Tries to be Hip

by Christopher A. Ferrara
Nov. 28, 2008

There is nothing more embarrassing, and more excruciating to watch, than Catholic churchmen trying to be “hip.” The “hep cats” who came out of the Second Vatican Council have caused incalculable damage to the Church with their inane attempts to make Catholicism more agreeable to “the modern world.”

Back in October the neo-Catholic journal Communio approvingly announced plans for a newer, hipper version of L’Osservatore Romano (OR), the Pope’s semi-official newspaper. OR would henceforth “carry hard-hitting news, international stories and more articles by women.” OR would undergo a modernizing “makeover,” reported Communio. In other words, OR would find a way to become, quite simply, just as ridiculous as the rest of those hep cats who have descended into self-parody since the Council.

And what could be more ridiculous than a recent oh-so-hip item in the “new” OR: an editorial praising the Beatles on the 40th anniversary of their “White Album,” and excusing John Lennon’s infamous remark: “We’re more popular than Jesus.”

As reported by Telegraph.co.uk: “More than 40 years after Christians were infuriated by the Beatles’ claim that they were ‘more popular than Jesus,’ the Roman Catholic Church has made peace with the Fab Four… [T]he Vatican’s official newspaper absolves John Lennon of his notorious remark, saying that ‘after so many years it sounds merely like the boasting of an English working-class lad struggling to cope with unexpected success.’”

First of all, OR is not “the Roman Catholic Church” but rather a newspaper that happens to be published in Vatican City. Secondly, its status is only “semi”-official, as the Catholic Church does not have an official newspaper as such. Our Lord did not found a Vatican newspaper. That was purely the invention of men.

At any rate, the writer of this “hip” editorial clearly knows nothing about the subject of Lennon’s remarks and failed to conduct even superficial research into the worldwide controversy they engendered. Our hip editorialist appears to have assumed that Lennon, as a sort of ironic commentary on the state the world, uttered the words “We’re more popular than Jesus now” in isolation. But as the Telegraph was only too happy to point out, Lennon said much more in the article that appeared in the London Evening Standard on March 4, 1966. He said:

Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first — rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.

Now that’s a far cry from merely “the boasting of an English working-class lad struggling to cope with unexpected success…” Lennon had far greater pretensions. He was a middle-brow pseudo-philosopher and anti-religious ideologue, as anyone who has read the insipid lyrics to his ditty Imagine would know (“Imagine there’s no heaven, and no religion too…” etc). OR’s editorial hipster simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

In the aftermath of Lennon’s remarks in 1966, Catholics and even Protestants around the world were outraged, and the Vatican demanded, and received, an apology from Lennon. That is the difference between then and now. Today — in yet another sign of the apocalyptic decline of the Church since Vatican II — OR’s editorialist offers the fatuous observation that “The talent of Lennon and the other Beatles gave us some of the best pages in modern pop music…” Is this a joke? If only it were.

Even more fatuous, if that were possible, is this gem from OR’s resident hipster: The Beatles’ songs, he informs us, have shown “an extraordinary resistance to the effects of time, providing inspiration for several generations of pop musicians…” If only such admiration for works that “resist the effects of time” had been extended to a work of the Holy Ghost — the traditional Latin Mass! I feel a headache coming on.

Come to think of it, the pretended “abolition” of the Latin Mass by Paul VI happened only three years after Lennon’s mockery of Christ. The songs of the Beatles were better preserved over the next 40 years than the received and approved rite of Mass in the Holy Catholic Church!

And that tells us all we need to know about the unparalleled gravity of the current ecclesial crisis. OR’s editorial is not only a joke, but a scandalous sign of an alarming institutional decrepitude, provoked in large measure by the same mentality that lauds the vulgar ephemera of pop music while disdaining the immemorial Latin liturgy. May Our Lady of Fatima soon bring an end to the embarrassing and destructive lunacy of churchmen trying to be “hip.”