Sunday, 26 September 2010
Pope Benedict XVI UK Visit , 2010
“Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord".
The Pope’s visit to the UK from 16th to 18th September , 2010 , tagged “Heart speaks to Heart” was , undoubtedly , a huge success .
The Vatican based the theme of Pope Benedict XVI’s first missionary journey and official visit to the UK upon the life and works of Cardinal John Henry Newman ( 1801 – 1890).
Newman was the outstanding cardinal of the nineteenth century Roman Catholic Church who converted from the Anglican Church and whose ministerial motto was “Heart Speaks to Heart”.
It is commendable that the Vatican and Pope Benedict defied all odds and went ahead to make this visit a reality.
Defiance is the appropriate response to threats from all bullies , terrorists and fear – mongers.
That is the stuff Cardinal Newman was made of .
Newham would have taken on the challenge head on ;like he did when he took a remarkable standard of faith against the throne in his day.
Before the Pope’s visit , there were oppositions to the Roman Catholic Church's handling of the sex abuse scandal which some Catholic priests were accused of .
Millions of people ,world-wide, were disgusted and alarmed by the bad press the proposed visit was generating .
The Holy Father and the Roman Catholic Church were being vilified for the crimes of some of its clergy and officials .
But the vitriol of such criticisms were toned down by the fact that the Catholic Church has been a blessing and succour to millions of lives world-wide; in providing schools , hospitals , shelters , counselling , community services , training and relief.
The Pope’s visit was about consolidating and expanding on the good work for which the Church is famous.
Upon arrival in the UK , the Pope was warmly received by the government and people of the UK.
In every venue and city , he was accorded full honours as a Head of State and the leader of one billion Catholics.
Pope Benedict XVI was a worthy ambassador of the Vatican and the Vicar of Christ.
The Pontiff carried himself well and he exhibited strength and soundness of mind and intellect ; throughout the tight schedule of his four day visit.
There was an aura of confident and awe around him .
Massive crowds , of all races , ages and creeds lined the streets in Edinburgh , Birmingham and London to welcome the Pope.
Such was his confidence that at a point, he alighted from his Pope mobile , walked to the crowd and shook hands with several people in the crowd !
He won over many hearts in the UK ; even amongst the Church’s detractors.
Many female admirers in London rated the Pope as “Sauvé and Very Gorgeous”
And the Pope did wink at the crowd , a couple of times, in appreciation !
The Pope bears the name of Jesus Christ and he came in His name.
“One Lord. One faith, one baptism”. Ephesians 4 :17,18.
That did it for me .
I wouldn’t have missed the opportunity of another Papal sighting , for anything!
My friends , family and I were amongst the 200, 000 strong crowd that lined the streets of Central London up to Hyde Park to cheer for the Pope as he drove past to celebrate the Mass in Hyde Park on Saturday , I8th September.
It was my third Papal sighting . The previous two were of the late Pope John Paul V1.
As a Christian , I cannot but be impressed by the boldness and empathetic ministerial expressions which were the clear messages from the Pope to all throughout this Papal visit .
Sex abuse of any kind is a heinous crime. Anyone guilty of such crimes must face the full weight of the law. No one is above the law.
No church would support such dastard acts by its members.
The point is: do we throw away the baby with the bath water ?
There shouldn’t be a blanket condemnation of the Catholic Church because of the offence of a fraction of its members.
The Pope has neither supported nor encouraged sex abuse by priests; neither has he been accused of committing sex crimes , himself.
The scandalous sex abuse is not the usual pattern of behaviour of the generality of priests of the Roman Catholic Church who have taken oaths of celibacy.
The guilty Catholic priests ONLY, should face the wrath of the law .
For every Catholic priest who is guilty of rape and sexual abuse , there are 100 others who are not guilty .
All over the world , there are thousands of Catholic priests who labour from dawn till dusk to serve their communities , without any whiff of scandals.
I am not a Catholic but I am a product of Catholic boarding schools , both at the nursery , primary and high school levels .
The Catholic boarding school system is one of the best in the world.
I have fond memories of the American and Irish priests and nuns who were my tutors and mentors during those formative years of my life.
Surely , most of the critics of the Pope and the Catholic Church are or were , in one way or the other , beneficiaries of the selfless services rendered by the Roman Catholic Church.
The success , the glory and glamour of this Pope’s visit has defied and embarrassed the enemies of God , who used the sex crimes scandal as an excuse to peddle their hatred for ANY church and for any one who bears the name of Christ .
The huge turnouts in all the cities and venues hosting the Pope , were a big surprise and they shamed those Nay-Sayers who had predicted that the Pope’s visit to the UK would be a huge flop because “ very few thousands were picking up the tickets to go and see the leader of a failed and discredited organisation ; which is a relic of the past”!
Now, who is the flop and the liar and which is the discredited group ?
Even the notorious British autumnal rainy weather , behaved itself!
That there was not a single drop of rain throughout the four-day , visits ; especially in Scotland and Wales , is a miracle!
To my friends , Rose and Gianni in Spain who had feared that the Beloved Pontiff would be exposed to ridicule “ by heathen mobs who have been allowed to take over the UK”; I can say , now ;
“I told you so. The majority of the British public are not a wild heathen mob, like you said !
It was a glorious visit and wish you were here !”
What are the Spiritual benefits of this visit?
Any sign of changes in the ancient beliefs and doctrines of the Catholic Church ; as regards the ordination of women , homosexuality and the use of contraceptives ?
No mention of those.
However , as to the evangelisation of Europe , there is a steely determination to do just that ; with no apologies to any group of antagonists!
The salvation of souls is the evidence of any successful apostolic and evangelistic missions .
Apart from the Pope’s charm and bold statements what else?
How many souls were “won” by this visit ?
Some may ask how many times did the Pope “quote from the Holy Bible” ?
Different strokes , different perspectives and different methods , for different folks.
The Pope did quote from the Holy Bible a number of times during his speeches.
From his own unique perspective , the Pope was able to convey his messages which made millions of souls to begin to reflect on the urgent need to reassess their faith and their relationship with God .
They were touched , impressed and revived in their Faith by the Pope’s visit.
Enough for them to determine to stand firm in their faith as Christians.
I believe this is a vital first step in the conversion and revival of any soul.
In this dispensation , especially in this era as the Second Coming of Jesus Christ draws close , political influence and financial clout are the indispensable keys which will open doors for the preaching of Gospel.
Bible knowledge and the ability to dish out copious quotations from the Holy Bible to listeners ; are vital tools necessary for preaching the Gospel .
But sometimes and in some places , doors and ancient gates need to open to enable access to make far –reaching impact in winning souls.
Show me your works and I will show you my faith. James 2 : 17,18.
The Church should desire and pray for open doors which the Holy Spirit will give to the Church to enable ACCESS into nations and into strongholds for the effective preaching of the Gospel of Christ.
Men like the Pope have the respect and political influence in addition to Bible Knowledge; which enable them to gain unlimited access to anywhere on Earth.
When the Pope speaks , the Kings and the Queens of the Earth listen.
May the Husband of the Church raise up more men and women as Champions of the Gospel ; who will qualify to gain VITAL access into the various strongholds on Earth. Amen.
The re-evangelisation of Europe by Pope Benedict XVI ,is on course ;and it is evident that this Pope is not for turning.
In this mission and push for evengelism , the Pope is not alone.
In the same course and with the same Spirit is a huge army of Believers ; silent , defiant , confident and victorious . 2 Corinthians 10:4-6. Revelation 12:11.
No force , no power and no amount of threats on Earth can stop the move of the Spirit.
As it was in the beginning , so it is now and forever will be . Amen.