“The most positive effect of the Pope’s visit was one that even the BBC could not prevent-and that was the public display of Roman Catholic ritual at its most gorgeous and replete,” wrote British philosopher Roger Scruton perceptively.
For many television viewers the Mass at Westminster Cathedral was their first experience of sacramental religion. The mystical identity between the ordinary worshiper and the crucified Christ is something that can be enacted, but never explained. It is enacted in the Mass, and as Cardinal Newman recognized, it is the felt reality of Christ’s presence that is the true gift of Christianity to its followers. . . . For many Englishmen, I suspect, the Pope’s Westminster Mass was the first inkling of what Christianity really means.