In anticipation of the Pope's visit to the UK next week, The Tablet has been running a series in which they asked prominent British Catholics the question: If you had five minutes with Pope Bendict, what would you say to him?
Here at Q & A, we decided to turn that question around and ask four editors at The Tablet what they think Pope Benedict needs to say while he is in Britain. For those who do not subscribe to The Tablet, you should. In addition to being available online to subscribers, the print edition, which is published on Thursdays, arrives in the mail every Monday here in Washington. Like NCR, The Tablet is committed to strong writing, solid reporting and incisive analysis.
Our first submission comes from Catherine Pepinster who is the editor of The Tablet.
The question: What is the most important thing Pope benedict must say or do while he is in the UK?
Catherine Pepinster:This is a hard time to be a Catholic. Perhaps it always has been; perhaps it is rightly a difficult challenge. After all, aren’t we called to pick up our cross and follow Christ?
But ordinary Catholics at the moment are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They love their Church but are dismayed by the way it has handled child abuse, by the way clerical culture dominates, particularly at the most senior levels of the Church. But although they themselves are critical of the Church, they are also horrified by the extent to which it is so harshly judged by critics outside the institution; by secularists who trash everything it does. They know some criticisms are justified but they find the wholesale attacks on their community deeply wounding.
So when the Pope comes to Britain, we want to hear words of encouragement from Benedict. We want him to offer a message to Catholics and to the rest of Britain about the good news of Christ. We want people to recognise that the Catholic Church has much to offer the world, through its work with the poor and the dispossessed; that it is engaged with the great issues of our time, such as the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals and the problem of climate change. The British government has worked that out, which is why the Pope is coming to Britain on a state visit. But most people in Britain don’t know this. So let us hear from the Pope words of wisdom, words about Christ, and words of compassion.