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Protestant Reformer to greet Pope in Scotland

August 24, 2010

EDINBURGH

An actor playing John Knox, one of the 16th century Scottish Protestant reformers, will head a special parade through Edinburgh, when Pope Benedict XVI arrives on a state visit in September, and it is the Pope’s own church that is planning the event.

“We want the day to be joyous, charitable and inclusive,” Peter Kearney, a spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, told ENInews on July 27.

The Pope arrives in the Scottish capital at the beginning of his four-day visit to Britain on Sept. 16, which is the feast day of St. Ninian, the earliest known Scottish saint.

“St. Ninian is a saint held in common by all Scottish Christians, and indeed by all Scots,” said Kearney.

Still, 2010 marks the 450th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland, an event that led to a break with the papacy in Rome.

“It is a sign of a healthy nation that diversity within the Christian community is something to be celebrated, as opposed to a source of division and struggle,” the Rev. John Christie, moderator of the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland, told ENInews. “It is a gift to those of us of a Protestant persuasion that, by including this figure, the Catholic Church is contributing to the celebrations of the Reformation.”

The parade to mark St Ninian’s Day follows a proposal by Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who is archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, and leader of Scotland’s Catholics.

He asked, “Why don’t we resurrect the great festivities that used to surround St Ninian’s Day in this country? A grand Scottish spectacle to welcome Benedict XVI.”

Arrangements for the papal visit are continuing amid concern about the expense of the event, described as a pastoral as well as a State visit.

The cost of a Mass in Glasgow has been put at $1.55 million, and those attending are being asked to buy a “Pilgrim Pass” costing $31. “No one will be forced to pay,” said Kearney.

Separately, a spokesperson for the Catholic Women’s Organization (CWO) said the group would be spending 10,000 pounds to have posters on the sides of London’s red double-decker buses that pass Westminster (Catholic) Cathedral in the capital. The posters will call on the Pope to, “Ordain Women Now.”

For CWO, Pat Brown said, “We love the church and do not want to be disruptive. We are very concerned about what is going on at the moment.”

A recent Vatican document, which dealt mostly with sexual abuse, described the attempted ordination of women to the Catholic priesthood is a “grave crime” under church law.

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