People have asked us our opinion of the Pope's visit to Britain. As with most things, one has to carefully "balance" a range of issues. On the one hand, his words and visit may rebuke, for a few days, the arch-atheists and also serve to shame the sometimes rude and partisan BBC. On the other hand, publicly canonizing Cardinal Newman is not a very good idea, as we rejected saints in this country, over 500 years ago.
I have little faith in the integrity of church institutions, as opposed to small groups of Christians. I have little faith in the ability of any Church to be open about the shortcomings of its priests, whatever the Church. Probably I would not single out the Catholic Church, in that respect. On the other hand, I do think that Catholic exclusiveness in relation to "saving faith" is very unattractive, particularly when people who are Catholics converted to Christ, say that their priests never led them to read the Bible.
As a Christian, I cannot side with the arch-atheists. Nor can I side with the Catholic Church. I guess it all disturbs and even mildly annoys me. I am a keen reader of the Reformation. Only last weekend, I read about the massacre on St Bartholomew's Day, in Paris, in the 16th century, when thousands of Protestant wedding guests were slain in cold blood at dawn, by Catholics and the criminals to whom they gave "carte blanche" to cut the throats of innocents.
One can say this : at the end of the day, God accepts faith in and obedience to the Biblical revelation of His Son and the Cross (alone). Anyone who follows any other path will have to stand before God, subject to the fire of His pure and impossibly demanding Justice. From that white light of Judgment and revelation, when all one's sins will be revealed (and when one sin is enough to condemn one) neither the Pope nor atheism offers me any shelter. The Cross alone is the remedy and to it, I flee - from the unloving and intolerant spirit of arch-atheists and from the "third rate theatre"* of this Pope's visit.
*Charles Dickens' observation on the Pope taking Mass, in the Vatican.