Monday, September 20, 2010

More cheers than jeers in Pope's British visit

Pope Benedict's visit to Britain seems to have defied expectations. From all of the bluster in the media and from some anti-clerical groups (is there really a distinction to be made there?), you would have expected mass protests against the Pontiff. What you got instead were larger than expected crowds of supportive Brits who, despite discouragement from the police, showed up in large numbers at the Pope's stops and along his travel route.

The protests, on the other hand, were puny in comparison. And where was Richard Dawkins anyway? He was going to lead all of these angry atheists and call for the Pope to be arrested. I hope he didn't get arrested in the process.

What struck me while watching some of the coverage was the sense of history in the whole thing. The first Pope ever to visit Westminister Cathedral walking by the tombs of Britain's kings and queens, as well as the graves of figures such as Dickens, Robert Browning, and Geoffrey Chaucer. And the visit by the Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to the tomb of Edward the Confessor was astounding in its historical significance.

“You have spoken to a nation of six million Catholics, but you have been heard by a nation of over 60 million citizens,” Cameron said.


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