If you watched the papal funeral Mass and now watch the latest, unfortunately unavoidable cable coverage of the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, you have to scratch your head at the contrast, just as we had to scratch our heads at the contrast between the lives of Mother Teresa and Princess Diana when they passed away at about the same time years ago.
What I have seen thus far on the cable news coverage is a procession of absurdly dressed people--especially the female guests in ostentatious hats--playing the stereotypical part of a venal elite. How they really are I have no way of knowing. But they certainly do not look like devotees of Christian simplicity or humility.
All of which underlines the value of a papacy that has its own independent micro-state in the form of Vatican City. The lesson is clear, at least to me, when you compare the fortunes of the Church of England and of the Catholic Church: becoming a state church is deadly to Christian witness.
Christians cannot become props for a social class system. Rather, Christians must offer a parallel social structure that is subversive of the secular distinctions and snobbery that permeate secular society. Christianity says that Christ is so important that all the prestige distinctions, narcissism, and vanity to which we are naturally prone must evaporate as laughably irrelevant.