Last night on the BBC Radio 4 news and in various newspapers today reports of the mass tango in St Peter's Square to mark the Pope 's 78th birthday. Designed to make the Argentine born pontiff feel at home the event was reminiscent of some of the more bizarre public events of the pontificate of St John Paul II.
It seems very different from the reactions of St Pius X and his Curia to the tango as recorded in the splendidly readable 1913:The Defiant Swansong by the late Virginia Cowles. Pope Pius, like other social leaders of the time was anxious to find alternatives to the lascivious rhythms and moves of the tango. Should the Church recommend something more proper and discreet? That was a genuine concern in 1913.
How times change.
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