Worried that you might get confuddled by all the pomp and piety of the Pope’s visit to Britain?
Fear not, the good old BBC has published a useful glossary of Roman Catholic terms that might crop up.
The BBC’s pope-tionary (not what it’s called, but it should be) contains 70-odd handy words and phrases such as Tridentine Mass, apostolic succession and magisterium – just the kind of words that you’d never heard before, but that you’ll suddenly start hearing everywhere now you know what they mean.
What does all this bizarre ecclesiastical jargon tell us? If you ask me, it’s that we’re looking at a massively arcane, chronically out of touch organisation that’s become so cluttered up with unquestioned doctrines, weird traditions and layer upon layer of rules, that you need a handbook just to know what on earth it’s talking about.
For the most part I have great affection for the BBC’s efforts to explain stuff to the layman in an unsensational, informative way – it’s the ideal antidote to shouty tabloids and mainstream news agendas that get carried away with themselves. But trying to make sense of this sort of guff is a lost cause.