Papal Visit

I recognise that the visit is over and most people have moved on but if only to prove I'm still alive I thought I would share some rambling thoughts.

1. I’m not sure why it was made a ‘state’ rather than ‘pastoral’
visit but I’m not convinced this was wise. Notwithstanding the opportunities it
gave for the Pope to address politicians and my desire that this country treats
visitors with courtesy and respect, a state visit sends unfortunate messages
about the links between church and state as well as raising questions about the
appropriateness of using taxpayers money to fund the visit.


2. My highlight was undoubtedly the events in Lambeth
Palace and Westminster Abbey, not
least because I was fascinated by the way that both Ratzinger and Williams
navigated their way through a complex ecumenical moment with grace and
theological acumen without compromising their views. There is a lesson here that
ecclesiology matters because important issues are at stake yet they can be
handled with tact and love. 

3. Whilst some of the elements in worship services were
magnificent (particular credit to Anglican Church / Westminster Abbey) there
were elements in the open air services that were dire. (Though I was impressed
by Anne Widdecombe’s succinct explanation of transubstantiation on Sky News).  

4.  The Catholic Church
missed an opportunity. Whilst I’ve been interested in what the Pope had to say
by focussing his visit round the church based set-piece events the visit lacked
an occasion to address the wider public in ways which could be understood by
those outside the church.


5. In
the longer term I suspect two aspects of this visit will be noted. First, the
Pope’s commitment to traditional Catholicism will be a bench mark in ecumenical
affairs. Second, the absence of substantial engagement with thorny issues means
that nothing has really changed.

One thought on “Papal Visit

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  1. 1. I have a problem. As an outsider, if I criticise or attack the Pope it is viewed as an attack on the Catholic Church which, at one level, I suppose it is. I do not believe that the Catholic Church discerned the will of God in appointing Ratzinger. But I wish to stress that I am not anti-Catholic and do not under any circumstances wish the BUGB to withdraw from ecumenical discussions with Catholics.

    2. However, I do have a problem with Ratzinger and question his suitability to lead the largest church in the world. His treatment of dissenting (progressive) elements within the church, particularly in Latin America and Africa has been disgraceful. His insistence on “traditional” Catholic values have forced those Catholics who were engaging with society through politics – and yes even revolution – either to disengage with society or to leave the church. He has, therefore, contributed to the very secularisation that he attacked when he was here!

    3. The beatification of John Henry Newman strikes me as one of the most shameless acts of political manoeuvring ever. The so-called miracle which allows them to proceed with this farce was that a man in the USA is now able to walk without pain following an surgical operation! It was attributed as a miracle only after a TV appeal for such a miracle.
    The beatification of Newman owes far more to the fact that he was a convert from the Church of England at a time when Ratzinger is attempting to fill the gaps in the priesthood by encouraging opponents of women’s ordination to convert to Rome.

    Such cynical behaviour is unworthy of the leader of the largest part of the Body of Christ on earth.

    Sorry to rant, but I have very dear friends who have been severely damaged by Ratzinger and I remain angry.



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