Strange confluence of Catholic and royal events continues this weekend
Mother Teresa and Princess Diana together in New York in 1997, months before they died.
April 28th, 2011
05:10 PM ET

Strange confluence of Catholic and royal events continues this weekend

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Have you heard about the historic event this weekend that's drawing hundreds of thousands to one of Europe’s leading capitals for a long day of pageantry?

No, not Friday’s royal wedding in London. I’m referring to Sunday’s beatification of Pope John Paul II in Rome.

It’s hard to deny that international media coverage of William and Kate’s nuptials is overshadowing preparations for Sunday’s beatification, the last step before sainthood.

A spokesman for the BBC said he didn't know how many of its personnel will be on hand for Sunday’s beatification but estimated that 550 BBCers are covering Friday’s wedding festivities: "It's likely to be the most watched event of the century so far.”

This isn’t the first time a royal happening has eclipsed a Roman Catholic one. In fact, it turns out to be the latest in a series of strange confluences of big events within the two camps, whose relationship has been famously frosty for centuries.

The last time around, it was the church that trumped royalty. Pope John Paul II died days before the last royal wedding - Prince Charles’ marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles in April 2005.

Then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, both of whom were scheduled to attend the wedding, also were expected at the pope's funeral.

“There was a crisis meeting between the Vatican and the British royal family,” says Mark Saunders, a royal biographer and contributor to CNN's royal wedding coverage. “And it was pointed out that it would be easier to put off Charles and Camilla’s wedding than to put off the pope’s funeral.”

“You can imagine that relations are going be strained between those factions during the best of times,” he added.

Relations between the monarchy and the Roman Catholic Church have been tense since King Henry VIII broke with Rome in the 16th century and formed the Anglican Church.

With less than a week till Charles and Camilla's wedding, their ceremony was postponed a day, from Friday to Saturday, to make room for the pope’s funeral.

Eight years earlier, leading lights of the royal family and the church vied for international attention, this time both in tragedy: Princess Diana and Mother Teresa died within a week of each other in 1997.

“Many lamented that Mother Teresa, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and ‘living saint’ if there ever was one, was overshadowed by Diana's death and funeral,” says David Gibson, a Catholic journalist and Vatican expert.

The tragedy of Diana’s death in a car accident at age 36 garnered more media attention than Mother Teresa’s passing at age 87.

“But there were connections between those two women as well,” Gibson notes. In 1992, Diana met with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, a reported high point of the princess’ trip to India, and the two met again in New York just months before they died.

On the 10th anniversary of their deaths, in 2007, the two were featured together on a British postage stamp - an unusual sight in a country where the monarch heads a competing church.

Centuries after Henry VIII broke with the Vatican, a law barring a Roman Catholic or someone married to a Roman Catholic from taking the throne is still on the books in Britain. Prime Minister David Cameron denounced the law this month.

If royal-Catholic tensions continue this weekend - with some Catholics no doubt miffed about the beatification playing second fiddle to the royal wedding - Gibson says he doubts John Paul would have minded.

“He would certainly have loved the focus on the royal marriage as an event undergirding the importance of the family,” Gibson says.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Britain • Catholic Church • Europe • Pope John Paul II

soundoff (259 Responses)
  1. ComeAgainBaltoMD

    The Catholic Church and the English Royals looted and pillaged and plundered their way to the top, that is the greatest similarity the two bloodsuckers share. They must be very proud.

    May 2, 2011 at 8:32 am |
  2. tldixon

    Boy, topics along this bent sure does bring out the defensive whack-jobs...it makes me nervous to know there are so many crazies out there. I'm going to have brinch w/normal people.

    May 1, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  3. American Citizen

    Most of the sovereigns butted heads with the Roman Catholic Church in some form, whether it was to marry the woman they wished to instead of the individual that the church expected him to or for military intervention. But...of course the only way for the public to make these discoveries is to do a bit of research and find out...

    Lots of very interesting stories about the history of the Plantagenets and the French Capets, Angevin Dynasty, the Battle of the Roses, and more.

    May 1, 2011 at 9:00 am |
  4. musings

    The rivalry between the monarchy of England and the Catholic Church seems as silly as that between the Red Sox and the Yankees. Both of the former are into pagentry and mystery, while the latter are into baseball. They all survive, it appears, on their rabid fans.

    When it comes down to substance there is little difference between the Episcopalians and the Catholics. In fact there was a funny thing when Henry VIII broke with Rome: the actual ability to ordain priests resides not in the Pope, but in the bishops. So the Anglican bishops never lost it. It is this tiny theological point which keeps the two churches circulating clergymen between them. The mob doesn't seem to know it, but the insiders do: the two churches are really alike. I think I am leaning towards the Anglican because they are less uptight about having their formerly all-male club invaded by female priests (but the Catholics allow women to distribute communion).

    May 1, 2011 at 12:52 am |
    • Adelina

      @Musings, Anglicans(Episcopals) have fallen into condoning perversion; Catholics haven't. A BIG difference.

      May 1, 2011 at 3:32 am |
  5. Scarlett

    If the catholic church affirm that they serve god how come they do not follow the bibles doctrines?

    May 1, 2011 at 12:39 am |
  6. Inspector Clouseau

    I think they are right L.A., (although I am of-fended by the name calling).
    It was Benedict XVI, (aka Joseph Cardinal Ra-tzinger), who was a member of the H-i-t-l-er Youth. Not sure it's fair to hold that against him at this late date, when he was actually fairly young at the time. There was a fair amount of pr-op-aganda, the mo-ti-vation for which is very interesting, about P-ius XII, (Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli), and (Angelo Guiseppe Cardinal Roncalli), John XXIII, "helping" the N-a-zis in WWII, but I think that's been de-bu-nked. Pacelli did hide many J-e-wish people in Rome, in various churches, Roncalli also a-s-s-isted many in Hungary as I recall, both at the risk of their lives from the Italian and German Socialist machinaries.
    I also won't be watching the ceremony in Ro-me, but I did watch part of the wedding. Thought it was funny that the choir at Westminster Abbey was singing the Latin "Ubi Caritas" towards the end of the wedding. Ironic that it's more likely that one hears music in Latin, in an Anglican church these days than in the ins-t-i-tution from wheret it arose, and which then jettisoned it, in it's cultural purge in the 1960's.

    April 30, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Adelina

      @I-C-, They were singing of Jerusalem, too.

      May 1, 2011 at 3:40 am |
  7. Jacek

    There is a very few in my country who pay slight attention to William and Kate wedding. That's kind of local ceremony on the island astray between Europe and America.

    April 30, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Finger Puppet

      .....and that was supposed to make sense ?

      April 30, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Jacek, are we to guess what country you are from?


      April 30, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Adelina

      Jacek, the English language is every educated earthling's language. The British royal wedding is pretty a huge thing.

      May 1, 2011 at 3:38 am |
  8. Jim

    Jesus said the "gates of hell will not prevail against the church". If you don't like the Catholic church you're on the wrong side.

    April 30, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Scarlett

      Why do the catholic church do not follow the bible,s doctrines?

      May 1, 2011 at 12:33 am |
  9. David Johnson

    Princess Di was hot. Mother Teresa...not so much.


    April 30, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • JohnR


      April 30, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Neither one would care that you exist.


      April 30, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You said: "Neither one would care that you exist."

      Princess Di, loves me. I feel her in my heart. She died, at the hands of a drunkard, to save me from my sins. She is coming back for all who believe in her.

      Prove, that what I claim, is not true.



      April 30, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      David, I know you exist. I have to read all the nonsense you spew on whichever of the multiple handles you use.


      April 30, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      While I have your attention. You'd know God existed by reading His truth in the Bible. You'd comprehend His truth if you shelved your ego to read His wisdom. You'd also know that one day of the Lord is 1000 years of man's. Therefore, we've only been waiting about a week for His return (in this 2nd earth age) for those of you that haven't acquired patience. Notice I said, this earth age ... not the 1st earth age millions, upon millions of years ago for those that don't know how to cross reference His truth by all the books that make up the Bible.


      April 30, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • NL

      "You'd also know that one day of the Lord is 1000 years of man's. Therefore, we've only been waiting about a week for His return (in this 2nd earth age) for those of you that haven't acquired patience."
      Actually, if that were true then it would only be God who has only been waiting a week to return while people have still been waiting a couple thousand years. It's only a week if you experience time as God does, right?

      "Notice I said, this earth age ... not the 1st earth age millions, upon millions of years ago for those that don't know how to cross reference His truth by all the books that make up the Bible."
      Honestly, where do you folks get this stuff? Is it the same place where social security number and 'birther' conspiracies come from?

      April 30, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      NL. All that is written in the Bible. You'd know it too if you read the Bible while shelving your ego.


      April 30, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • NL

      I've read the Bible with my ego way up on the top shelf and I still come to different conclusions than you do, like millions of others also have. Maybe it's your ego that's getting in the way, keeping you from accepting that the Bible can be interpreted differently from your version?

      May 1, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  10. Greg

    Catholicism is the religion of the Inquisition but for some reason people choose to follow it. The media should not be advertising it. Educate people on the truth. The only problem with Muslims is that they look like Catholics with their use of the word heretic.

    April 30, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • Person

      What belief do you claim? Atheism has USSR, Islam has Mohammed's murderous crusades in Africa, Protestants have groups like the Michigan Militia and those other crazies who kill cops in preperation for Jerry B. Jenkins Apocalypse and bomb abortion clinics not to mention the part they played in Anti-Catholic revolts in Europe during the Reformation. What's your point? To flame? Because you put forth an argument without any defense or support of it. It appears like you open your mouth before you think. Just saying.

      April 30, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Evolved DNA

      Person.. There is no religion called Atheism.. and certainly no one was killed in its "name"

      April 30, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • myke

      Druidism, I choose Druidism as my religious beliefs! go stonehedge, with your bad self!

      April 30, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Unevolved Ape

      Atheism can either be a belief or unbelief. It all depends how you construct your sentence with your premise.

      If you'll say, Atheists don't believe in God, hence, it could be unbelief/lack of belief.

      But if you'll say, Atheists believe in no God. Yet, it could be a belief.

      April 30, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Unevolved Ape
      You said: "Atheism can either be a belief or unbelief. It all depends how you construct your sentence with your premise.

      If you'll say, Atheists don't believe in God, hence, it could be unbelief/lack of belief.

      But if you'll say, Atheists believe in no God. Yet, it could be a belief."

      Both sentences imply a lack of belief in a god. Why are they not equivalent?

      Curious in Arizona

      April 30, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Isn't it ironic that they all warred against the heathens.


      April 30, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • Floyd

      @Evolved DNA – atheists are hateful and they certainly kill for that.

      April 30, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • NL

      I guess that means we are all heathens and infidels to someone else's beliefs.

      April 30, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      NL, my post got blocked by the mod squadders. Too bad. It was about His truth.


      April 30, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • GAH!

      @Evolved DNA. Wrong. There were quite a few people back in the USSR killed specifically in the name of "scientific atheism." Bigots come in all shapes and creeds. Get off your high horse.

      May 1, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  11. JohnR

    I'm more than a little appalled that anyone cares about either of these exercises in empty pomp.

    April 30, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Only the heathens don't care and want to enforce their non-beliefs down on everyone. Thank God He is I AM. JohnR if you don't repent to Jesus for all your sins and sin no more God will grant you your wish of no eternity for you.


      April 30, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  12. Adelina

    Every human needs a romance in life. British royal couples, both past and present and as imperfect they are like any of us, are one of the providers of romance. They remind us something glorious beyond common people truly exist in this world and are coming... And Catholic saints remind us there are completely different universes beyond our own... all in the love of Jesus.

    April 30, 2011 at 6:08 am |
  13. sanmiguel

    Besides the pretty pagentry, how much of a positive impact will the new Royal couple have on the world? One wonders how long they will stay married...
    JP2's positive legacy is still being mined, among which includes the initiation of the downfall of the former Soviet Union and its central-european satellites. It has been suggested that JP2 was the most influential figure of the 20th century along with Albert Einstein. For the naysayers, how about reading one of his works–I challenge you to be open-minded enough to at least look at some of his writings.

    April 30, 2011 at 2:00 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Not only did I think the royal couple was beautiful to watch, I loved how folks throughout the world got to hear Jesus' ceremony about a man and a woman joining in His spiritual truth of marriage.


      April 30, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  14. mohammed ricardo johnson

    Catholic Church bashers have way to much time on their hands. Why don't you do something more constructive with your lives?

    April 30, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Non-believers are unemployed. What Christian employer would hire them?


      April 30, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Anyone Can Be HeavenSent

      "Non-believers are unemployed."

      But you keep insisting that they work for CNN - get your story straight, Babe.

      April 30, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Anyone, CNN aren't Christians. They are heathens that bought their network from another heathen. I've posted that fact many times.


      April 30, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • Anyone Can Be HeavenSent


      Nope. You said, "non-believers are unemployed". (period/full stop).

      April 30, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Everyone, even if they did get employed by other heathens doesn't mean they are productive except in their own minds.


      April 30, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • appalled

      Who was the Pope who said "We have to keep this fable going?" He obviously saw right through it but the money, the money...

      May 1, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
  15. Ronnie

    Stupid story.Last I heard no royal has molested children.The catholic church should be shut down in the US using the Rico Act.

    April 29, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • Incrediboy

      It's only stupid to stupid people..ie...yourself

      April 30, 2011 at 12:36 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Oh right Ronnie, so fools such as yourself can have your chaotic mess flourish without incident.


      April 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  16. Reality

    There never was and never will be physical resurrections i.e. no Easter, no Christianity, no sainthood for JPII and an end to the ranting of HeavenSent and his fellow red-neck Christians. Priceless!!!!

    April 29, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Reality its a darn shame you haven't fallen off a cliff yet.

      April 29, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • Incrediboy

      EGADS!!!!!!!!!!! Another Baker Act client.

      April 30, 2011 at 12:35 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Reality, Bobinator, phony heavensent, and numerous other handles you hide behind. You are officially a stalker.


      April 30, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  17. HeavenSent

    I whisper in your rear.


    April 29, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Now I know you work for CNN because you can throw my posts anywhere.

      Here it is again.

      Phony heavensent. I wasn't on-line to post on the 29th. I was busy helping friends.


      April 30, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • Anyone Can Be HeavenSent

      How does this prove that someone works for CNN?

      April 30, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Actually, it proves it to me. If the phony heavensent and I are on at the same time, I get thrown of the site. Also, if I try to post to the phony hs and he/she is working at the time, my post goes elsewhere and not under where I wanted it posted.


      April 30, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  18. ZCups

    I was raised Catholic but don't practice and have no love for the Church. That being said, JP II was a good and honest man. I don't think he would care at all that his 3rd step to being canonized is overshadowed by the wedding.

    April 29, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Phony heavesent. I was busy helping friends on the 29th and was not on-line. And you? Still stealing my handle which makes you a stalker at least ... to spew your carnal nonsense.


      April 30, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Inspector Clouseau

      Agree. As a former State Department employee, I was privileged to work with Cardinals Pacelli, Mon-tini, and Roncalli, all later e-lec-ted to a higher office. They worked very hard, sometimes 18-20 hours per day, seven days per week, 365 days per year. I did not share their faith, but they were kind, delightful, humorous gentlemen who were gracious and ho-sp-it-able to me and my wife and kids. (The Easter Egg hunts at Pacelli's beautiful family home were not to be missed). I never met JPII, (Karol Cardinal Wojtyla) or Dr. Joseph Cardinal Ra-tz-inger, but certainly Wojtyla did save many lives in WWII in Eastern Europe. Ra-tzin-ger had a reputation for being an em-in-ent scholar in Europe, and was said to be a wise and amazingly patient teacher with his graduate s-tu-dents. I know there is a lot of co-ntro-versy about some very ir-responsible, cri-minal people who have bes-chmirched the re-putation of this in-st-i-t-ution, (which does many good things..hos-pi-tals, schools, and for example take care of 1/3 of the people with HIV in the world in their inst-i-t-utions), but as a dad, I could never hand over responsibility for my kids to ANYONE, and I felt it was absolutely necessary for ME to as-sure they were ALWAYS safe, no matter what kind of collar the person was wearing, who they were "hanging around".
      If the Roman Church wants to give a "shout out" to someone they admire, and sa-lute their ideals as exemplified by someone, why shouldn't they ? Whatever happened to "live and let live" ?

      April 30, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  19. Romny

    To each his/her own. Everyone has AN OPINION!

    April 29, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • Nudge

      No kidding. To each what they already have. that's very helpful. thank you for coming out.

      April 29, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
  20. Dirk

    Keep them coming, Gumby. You're a pathetic troll. Wait until the end of the year when you're out of 3rd grade, then try again.

    April 29, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.