By Jonathan Creasy
Many British Catholics embraced the arrival of Benedict XVI in Edinburgh on Thursday, while protesters run the gamut from atheists rankled by the State’s funding of the trip, to Protestants vehement about the need for Benedict to address more forcefully the charges of child abuse within the Church.
The visit to Scotland alone is reported to cost the taxpayer no less than £1 million, this in a country where atheists and nonbelievers outnumber Catholics by a wide margin.
Reverend Ian Paisley has organised a group of protesters in Glasgow to champion “those who have been very, very badly treated by these priests of Rome”. Meanwhile, Cardinal Walter Kasper has been quoted as saying that the UK is a “third world country” overridden by “aggressive atheism.”
As vitriol spews from either side, one must wonder at the wisdom, or even the necessity, of a papal visit to the UK. It’s safe to say that if the Roman Catholic Church wishes a more congenial reception in the future, the Pope must address charges of corruption, sex abuse, cover-up, and – in the face of it all – pompousness.