The problem for Christians today is not primarily 'aggressive secularism', but the confusion of Christianity with power, says Simon Barrow. That and the the distortion of public debate about religiosity and secularity into a false dichotomy between dominating belief or privatised belief. A better way is needed - based on living by example, not the lust for control.
Many progressive Christians found themselves experiencing profoundly mixed feelings both about Pope Benedict’s visit and about the protests against it, says Simon Barrow. This is perhaps because neither imperial religion nor rejectionist forms of secularism are adequate to the task of remaking public life and public faith.
So sudden have been the marked trends showing disaffection from organised religion that leaders have not internalised the evidence, says Martin Marty. They need to wake up. “Being spiritual” alone is not going to help keep the stories, the language of ethics, and the pool of volunteers embedded in religious bodies thriving.
As Pope Benedict's visit to the UK comes to an end, I am left with a sense of sadness. Despite the words of Archbishop Vincent Nichols, attempting to paint the visit as he would perhaps have wished it to be – an endorsement of pluralism and a call to quiet dialogue rather than shrill confrontation, it seems hard to imagine a clearer example of differing cultures failing to understand each other than we have observed over the past few days.
Public gaffes made by Pope Benedict and his retired senior adviser Cardinal Kasper, in aligning atheism with Nazism and describing Britain’s social mix as being ‘like a Third World country’ show that the church needs to re-learn how to communicate by listening not lecturing, says the religion and society think-tank Ekklesia.
Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the UK needs to promote mutual understanding, says Father Shay Cullen, to encourage common commitment to all areas of human need and suffering, and to emphasise world peace, justice and equality.