MY FAVOURITE detail in the tale of Pope Benedict XVI’s shock resignation was how the race to break the news was won.
Giovanna Chirri, a reporter with the Ansa news agency, was the first to file her “snap” – journalese for those breathless single-sentence despatches which fill news tickers – because, get this, she knew Latin.
Ha ha! In your face, 21st century!
While the rest of the pack were scratching their heads, reaching for Google Translate and wondering why His Holiness was issuing forth on the need to “dispel the pear tree beneath the vertical paragon”, Ms Chirri immediately understood his words and calmly scooped the world.
She deserves a bonus, or perhaps a celebratory reworking of an old schoolboy rhyme: Latin’s a dead language, as dead as dead can be. It killed off all the Romans, but it got me on Sky TV.
However. Well, that is what I am supposed to write next. The laws of rhetoric demand that, having heaped praise on this quaint little moment, I move that it cannot happen again, that the world has moved on, that instant communication is King .
I explain why, of all institutions, the Catholic Church must urgently drag itself into the modern age with crazy newfangled notions like communicating in a language understood by more than a dozen coffee-breathed public school masters and one slightly odd Italian journalist.
Well, sorry. No can do.