Search This Blog

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Can the Protestant Empire Survive the Pope?

Pope Benedict has surprised the naysayers by attracting large crowds to his Masses and other events during his visit to Great Britain. At Westminster Cathedral I loved watching the altar servers bring forth the kneeler for Communion so the pope could feed the bread of life (on the tongue) to those kneeling. What a contrast to those receiving from other clerics in the hand and standing. Which posture shows more clearly our dependent relationship to our God and King who feeds us like a child and a lover?

The teachings of the Catholic Church stand in stark contrast against the moral collapse of Anglicanism as The Guardian article below shows. Even more so did the pope's address at Westminster Hall as he said, "I recall the figure of Saint Thomas More, the great English scholar and statesman, who is admired by believers and non-believers alike for the integrity with which he followed his conscience, even at the cost of displeasing the sovereign whose 'good servant' he was, because he chose to serve God first. The dilemma which faced More in those difficult times, the perennial question of the relationship between what is owed to Caesar and what is owed to God, allows me the opportunity to reflect with you briefly on the proper place of religious belief within the political process."  Read the complete address and celebrate the wisdom of Holy Mother Church. 

Pope's visit: Moral absolutes and crumbling empires
by Andrew Brown for The Guardian

This was the end of the British Empire. In all the four centuries from Elizabeth I to Elizabeth II, England has been defined as a Protestant nation. The Catholics were the Other; sometimes violent terrorists and rebels, sometimes merely dirty immigrants. The sense that this was a nation specially blessed by God arose from a deeply anti-Catholic reading of the Bible. Yet it was central to English self-understanding when Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1952, and swore to uphold the Protestant religion by law established.

For all of those 400 or so years it would have been unthinkable that a pope should stand in Westminster Hall and praise Sir Thomas More, who died to defend the pope's sovereignty against the king's. Rebellion against the pope was the foundational act of English power. And now the power is gone, and perhaps the rebellion has gone, too. Perhaps, though, it has not. First there was Rowan Williams, making the point that when the Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops of England mingled in Lambeth Palace, all alike were bishops. This the pope, of course, denies. Then there is our stubborn attachment to the notion that all you really need is decency, rather than theology. This, too, the pope denies, and the section of his speech dealing with that was the most interesting part. "If moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident – herein lies the real challenge for democracy." Read more....

No comments: