Judgments on the recent visit to Britain of Pope Benedict XVI have been coming in thick and fast over the past week or so. Here is my comment for the current issue of the Baptist Times.
"For me, the papal visit embodied both the possibilities and contradictions of being and doing church in a plural age. There was joyful celebration and bridge-building within the Christian community - but also pontifical prickliness and insensitivity towards a wider public which is more baffled than 'aggressively secular'.
"Pope Benedict perhaps underestimates the groundswell for faithful change in his own church. The alliance of altar and throne is passing. But this is not the death knell of Christianity, it is its big chance. Stridency towards others will tend to beget stridency in others. The best moments of the visit witnessed to the peace of Christ rather than the defensiveness of institutional religion."
Next week I have a feature in the BT looking at claims about 'aggressive secularism' and the challenge of Christian speech and action in a plural, post-Christendom context. http://www.baptisttimes.co.uk/home.htm
Simon Barrow is co-director of Ekklesia.
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