I was fascinated by this article. The author views the Pope’s visit as a representation of robust, intellectual, evangelical engagement of secular culture. At one point, the message and style of the Pope is compared to those growing, culturally engaged evangelical churches such as Holy Trinity Brompton, which is the church that started the ALPHA program. All this to say that seeing a passionate and clear proclamation of the Gospel from the Pope was enough to shine the light on what is perceived to be a morally compromised, tired, and theologically confused Church of England. Do make sure to read the whole thing.
Pope Benedict’s declarations over the past few days have been remarkable and, in modern Britain, virtually unprecedented.
They were delivered in the calmest, meekest, least ranting way possible, and yet they carried a great authority that largely comes, I think, from the Pope’s sense of holiness and evident goodness, as well as from the dignity of his office.
Even hard-hearted cynics and sceptics could not fail but listen.
Most extraordinary of all, here was a religious leader prepared to confront the modern secular world – and modern secular Britain – with the timeless values of Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular.
These values, said Pope Benedict in his final address yesterday, had been traduced by abusive priests who had seriously undermined the moral credibility of the Roman Catholic Church.
It is almost a shock to hear a religious leader speak in so blunt a way, so inured are we to our own religious leaders, particularly Church of England bishops, accommodating themselves to secular values.
I realise that any Pope has an in-built dominance which partly rests upon the bizarre doctrine of Papal infallibility.
An Archbishop of Canterbury is merely first among equals, and cannot summon up the authority of a Pope.
Yet wouldn’t it be wonderful if Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, dared to speak with a fraction of the authority of the Pope?
The tragedy is that Dr Williams and Anglican bishops probably agree with almost everything Pope Benedict said about the dangers of secularism – and yet they do not have the courage, or whatever it takes, to say it.
And whereas the Pope speaks clearly in English, which is his third or fourth language, Dr Williams often speaks opaquely or in riddles in the language that is his own.
In his concluding address, Pope Benedict said that he had discovered ‘how deep a thirst there is among the British people for the good news of Jesus Christ’.
He is right. And yet how often our national Church – the Church of England – fails to proclaim this good news.
In large parts of the Anglican Church there is a sense of defeatism in the face of the incoming tide of secularism, as congregations dwindle and parish churches close.
But look at the young people in Hyde Park or those lining Princes Street in Edinburgh or those standing outside Westminster Cathedral.
They yearn for the good news, and they invite moral certainty. Would it be too much to hope that Anglican bishops might learn something from the fearless commitment of the Pope?
I realise, of course, that there are some individual parishes, mostly Evangelical ones, in the Church of England which display much of the same fidelity to traditional Christian teaching.
And these, of course, are the very churches to which the young are flocking in droves.
Read the whole thing here. Make sure to scan the comments at the bottom of the page.