Well, the news that the Pope is to visit Britain is hardly news, is it, and we still know absolutely nothing about the itinerary. A month or two ago, I speculated on what might happen if the Holy Father comes - as rumour had it he would to Oxford. Let me be more explicit. When Heads of State come here, the custom is for them to be given Honorary Degrees "by Diploma". This means that, instead of an Oration which might be, in parts, light-hearted, Mr Orator reads out a dignified legal document (most sections start with "Cum ...") on the excellences of the distinguished visitor. Clearly, this is even more appropriate when the visitor is himself of considerable academic standing. If it does not happen with regard to the Holy Father, I think I will be interested to know why.
More speculations from me: the media are distinctly more overtly hostile now than they were during the last papal visit in 1982. For one thing, John Paul's lifetime opposition to varying forms of totalitarianism tended to restrain the secularists a little at a time when memories of Stalinism were a trifle fresher. No such considerations apply now. And they've got a real head of steam going. I don't suppose the Hitlerjugend question will be much good except for a few sneers and cartoons; unless the "investigative journalists" who are undoubtedly even now burrowing away can come up with something really new and dramatic in this field, to make very much of it would just cause yawns. But one possibility is that they will attempt to smear the Sovereign Pontiff by suggesting that he was involved in paedophile cover-ups. They might use their familiar weapons of suggestio falsi and suppressio veri by examining all the cases that might have passed over his desk, and then testing whether any of the characters involved might have crossed the pontiff's path in other contexts: so as to suggest that he protected a vast network of iffy cronies.
When Benedict became Pope, he restored some items of pontifical garb which had become obsolete: red shoes, and so on. And journalists noticed that he wore sunglasses; and such things were combined into a narrative of campness, which was then linked with the claim that his middle-aged secretary was not totally ugly, so as to create a suggestion of homosexuality. He and Mgr G were alleged to have spent nights together - sinister, that - in Dr Ratzinger's flat. This is all totally risible, but the papers might try it on if they can't come up with something better.
And, talking about sexuality, there is the question of Newman's 'orientation'. I would be surprised and disappointed if the Grauniad did not do an article on that which would appeal to the credulous dogmatists who read that once great newspaper. Possibly, too, there may be pickings for Top Names in Academe, especially in the History Faculty. Diarmuid McCullough and David Starkey might be able to pocket some fees for various pieces of 'background'. However that may be, I have very little doubt that dissident 'Catholics' will be wheeled out to repeat their tired claptrap.
One thing you can be sure of: the Devil will not spend his entire summer sunbathing on some beach in Florida. Not a lot will happen while we have other things on our minds with a British General Election pending, nor while a new government is having its First Hundred Days. But a fortnight or so before the Holy Father's arrival ...