Pope Benedict XVI and Queen Elizabeth II delivered separate Christmas messages to millions of faithful around the world Tuesday. One started like a rock concert, with screaming devotees and waving flags. The other was a solemn affair, quiet and steady. It was the Pope who was greeted with cheers, occasionally interrupted with applause, and gave little waves when warranted, while it was the Queen who stood stone-faced.
These unelected officials are, essentially, campaigning – trying to create a feeling of unity among their followers, to include outsiders, and to show support for the frequently forgotten. The Queen focused on 2012’s celebrations, while the Pope took aim at bloodshed. Here’s how two of the most recognizable world leaders squared off:
Queen:She’s addressing the Commonwealth, thus nodding to 54 countries at once. But, still, it was heavily weighted toward Britain.
Pope:He rattled through greetings in 65 languages, addressed 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, and prayed for world peace.
Queen:Her message was pretaped, but broadcast in 3D. She (presumably) used a teleprompter.
Pope:It was a live sermon, so he had to own any verbal stumbles. He read his sermon off actual paper, with the video posted to the Vatican’s YouTube channel – less than 500 views by 6:30 p.m. (ET) Tuesday.
Advantage:The Archbishops of Canterbury and York trumped them both by tweeting their sermons.
Location, décor, time, language
Queen:White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace; Christmas tree in the background; no audience; clocked in under nine minutes; unilingual.
Pope:Central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica; surrounded by high-ranking holy helpers; crowds of thousands; more than 25 minutes; multilingual, including a dead language.
Queen:She reflected on her Diamond Jubilee celebrations, London’s “splendid summer of sport,” volunteers, the armed forces and Jesus Christ.
Pope:He reflected on Jesus Christ, wars, “savage acts of terrorism” in Mali and Nigeria, had harsh words for Syria, and spoke of political transitions – including special mentions for Egypt and China.
Advantage:The Queen for optimists, the Pope for pessimists.
Queen:The British Paraorchestra and The Military Wives Choir. Both groups dressed in black.
Pope:Official-looking groups of colourfully costumed folks playing official-sounding music.
Advantage:All the musicians who cleared the security tests, although they were overshadowed by the headliners.
Queen:Pearls, a broach, a watch; a white and silvery dress.
Pope:The big gold ring; a white robe with all the gold and red papal fixings.
Advantage:Queen for the stylish, the Pope for traditionalists.
Queen:“For many, Christmas is also a time for coming together. But for others, service will come first. Those serving in our armed forces, in our emergency services and in our hospitals, whose sense of duty takes them away from family and friends, will be missing those they love.”
Pope:“Consequently, there is hope in the world, a hope in which we can trust, even at the most difficult times and in the most difficult situations.”
Advantage:Tie. A message of hope is always a crowd-pleaser, while thanking those who work to protect the rest of us – from nurses answering our calls to soldiers in the field – is worthy, too.
Queen:“I wish you all a very happy Christmas.”
Pope:“Happy Christmas to all of you!”
Advantage:Tie. Both equally lacking originality.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper also released a minute-long Christmas video, addressing the economy.
“Despite the global economic uncertainty all around us, Canada remains an island of stability and the bright hope for people the world over,” he said. “In the year ahead, we will continue to focus on growth, jobs and prosperity for all Canadians. But for now, let us be mindful of those who are less fortunate, be grateful for the service of our men and women in uniform, and let us give thanks for Canada, the best country in the world.”
In the spirit of Canada’s mosaic, he went with an all-denominational ending: “Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Seasons Greetings, and best wishes for health and happiness in the New Year.”