The outrage potential of some radical Traditionalists can, at times, be bewildering. Rather than look at a picture that surprises them and try to think of the most charitable explanation for that picture, apparently, their reactions are set on default to "See! More evidence that Neo-Church is out to get us all!"
Take this picture of two elderly brothers spending some downtime together, a snapshot that I find simply adorable, and test your default reaction to it:
Evidently the photograph was published in the European magazine Point de Vue on February 15, 2006 (at least according to the attribution given the picture by the radical Traditionalist site Tradition In Action). In any event, the picture is likely to be a post-election photo of Pope Benedict XVI, perhaps taken when he visited Germany last year.
(UPDATE: Comboxers have dated the photo to a 2004 retreat the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and his brother took together. See the combox for more information.)
The RadTrad site's reaction:
"Either during his trip to Germany last year or in Italy -- the magazine Point de Vue did not specify a place for this recent photo -- Benedict XVI meets his brother Fr. [sic; it's Msgr.] Georg Ratzinger at a piano to dicuss some scores of Mozart.
"Both the Pope and the priest are wearing suits. One can see that
Fr.[Msgr.] Georg chooses a more relaxed open shirt, while his 'conservative' papal brother Joseph keeps his closed. Although the photo is not very clear on this detail, it seems that Benedict is wearing a tie.
"At any rate, Pope Ratzinger [sic] wears a well tailored double-breasted blue-grey suit.
"At least Joseph Ratzinger maintains the 'tradition' of wearing suits. It should confirm some conservatives in the fact that Benedict maintains old customs...."
Horrors! Shouldn't a pope know better than to wear anything but a white cassock during his personal time? After all, hasn't every pope since St. Peter done so?
Oh, wait. White papal clothing was introduced by Pope St. Pius V, who decided not to wear "traditional" papal finery during his downtime but to continue to ordinarily wear his white Dominican habit. Future popes continued wearing a white cassock until it became "traditional." And, speaking of St. Peter.... Didn't he once strip down to his skivvies while fishing on the Sea of Tiberias and have to dress quickly and swim to shore so he could meet the Lord (John 21:7)?
But don't tell TIA any of this. Their default setting might overload.
(POST-PUBLICATION NOTE: It is likely that the photo is pre-election, rather than post-election, but the general point remains the same: There is nothing wrong with a pope, cardinal, or priest not wearing Traditional Clerical Garb during his personal time. Granted, doing so can be prudentially advantageous, especially if a priest is "on call." But doing so purely for the sake of Image can actually be prideful [Matt. 23:2-7].)