18 September 2010

Some thoughts on Pope Benedict XVI's speech at Westminster

Full text of the Holy Father's address here.

It is certainly quite a diplomatic piece of writing in the first few paragraphs, managing to establish common ground with his hosts on their own historical terms while still asserting the mythology associated with martyrs such as S. Thomas More; Prince Metternich would indeed be proud. However, one sees here the sheer driving power of this Pope's considerable academic intellect at work as he addresses the mutual need of social systems for the leaven of moral norms - in his case, arising from Christian thinking and those norms associated with Catholic social teaching. I'm certainly happy that the Pope is devoting his attentions to the need not only for humanitarian aid but also for effective implementation of that aid. It's a message to which I am immensely sympathetic, and which I think needs to be heard on a much broader scale.

One of the problems - and I say this as a party sympathetic to the Roman Church - is that the Pope's own moral voice (and this Pope's in particular) has been compromised by the grievous ethical breaches that have taken place within the Roman Church over the past several decades. For evidence of this one need only examine the protests against the papal visit. There is certainly a great measure of just cause in those protests emphasising the child abuse scandals, and I would like to think that the Pope, in beginning to actively cooperate with secular authorities to bring the criminals in the clergy to justice, is making an earnest and wholehearted endeavour at repentance. I say this because I want the Pope to be recognised for the worthy message he has to offer here about the need for a fairer and more egalitarian economic playing field in which labourers and small landowners are not subject to the avaricious whims of big investment banks, and I want him to be recognised for his contributions outside the clique of his own faithful (as his predecessor Pope John Paul II was).

Anyway, just a loosely-organised collection of thoughts here. I'll probably have more to add later.

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