Saturday, 18 September 2010
Tolerance and Demoncracy and Freedom
I took the images above on my mobile phone. These were the crowds lining the streets waiting for the Pope to arrive at Westminster for his speech to the nation - which I was privileged to attend. The content of the speech echoed the reality outside. Democracy and freedom of speech are the foundations of the British nation, we pride ourselves on the right to hold differing views without recourse to violence. The mingling of the extreme anti Pope demonstrators next to banners saying "We love you Papa more than beans on toast!" demonstrate this juxtaposition of attitude.
The speech centered around the role of religion and reason in founding right judgment for government. There are absolute values which moderate and inform reason, they need each other. Without a duel approach extremism and inhuman regimes can arise. He urged people of faith to engage in the issues of our time - the financial sector, development, the environment, and add our voice to others but always listening and respecting. Religion isn't a problem to be solved but a fundamental part of national dialogue about how we view our society and the decisions we make. It was a profound and intelligent speech from a surprisingly gentle and frail man who has a sharp brain. These are not the words of a hard line dogmatist.
I hope this visit is seen as a success that allows a more measured approach to Catholicism, especially a deeper understanding of Catholic Social Teaching, which is truly a gift to the world. The dignity and rights of every human being, made in the image and likeness of God, are the foundation of a just and compassionate society.