What to say to the Pope

I’m not sure that folk in Scotland know quite what to say regarding the imminent arrival of the Holy Father. Bishop David has had a go, saying, “The Scottish Episcopal Church welcomes the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Scotland. His visit is a moment of great significance, not only for the clergy and people of the Roman Catholic Church but for all members of churches and faith communities in Scotland. Pope Benedict is a world-renowned religious figure. His visit will place questions of faith at the forefront of people’s thinking. Our prayer is that the mission of all of our churches will be strengthened by his visit.”

Hmm. I wonder how long that significance is going to last. Its not quite what folk from the SEC said that they would want to say to the Pope when Bishop David asked them on his blog.

There was rather a lot about gender in that exchange, which makes me think that the mural that is outside St John’s Episcopal Church in Edinburgh is rather on the button. (There is a page about their mural tradition here).

Fr Dougal doesn’t like it and I can kind of see that it is provocative and a rather rude greeting for the Holy Father when he passes by. However, it does rather seem to celebrate the fact that we do feel we can say what we like to religious authority, and that’s something else that Bishop David alludes to today.

I have a great admiration for the Roman Catholic church. So very much of what I believe is held in common with them. However, the things that put me off and mean that for the forseeable future it would not be possible for me to be that kind of a catholic are the same kinds of things that seem to encourage former (or resting) Roman Catholics to seek fellowship in Scottish Episcopal Congregations, including my own. Priestly celibacy, an unchallengable hierarchy, contraception, papal and concilliar infallability, abortion, gay issues, gender issues, contraception, condom issues in the face of AIDS and so on.

If anything, the attitude of Roman Catholics I meet on the ground seems to suggest that whilst we share similar prejudices and predilections locally, official pronouncements from the Roman hierarchy are getting more hard line.

Mind you, the same thing might be said of the Anglican Communion.

I don’t know what I want to say to the Pope. I do know that when he meets Rowan Williams over the next few days, I hope that there is someone whispering in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s ear, “…don’t you go getting any more silly ideas”.

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