Statement on the State Visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom

On this the 450th Anniversary Year of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland, we call upon the Pope to recognize that we stand for ‘civil and religious liberties for all, special privileges for none’ and to respect these settled and cherished principles of the United Kingdom on his first state visit here.

Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, the fruits of the Glorious Revolution 1688-89, allows various groups, religious and non-religious, to voice and demonstrate their concerns during the Pope’s visit. This is permissible in our democracy where there is freedom for expressing religious, political, moral, and ethical attitudes and responses.

The claim of the Pope to be the Vicar of Christ with supreme and universal primacy over church, state and world is unacceptable to us. He is the Head of the Roman Catholic Church, and ruler of the theocratic City State in Rome, without authority or jurisdiction within this sovereign state, which is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

We have a proud Protestant heritage in which we name a few of the many who have contributed hugely to the wellbeing of people here and throughout the world.

· William Tyndale translated the Holy Bible into English so that all may read it.

· Thomas Cranmer bequeathed the Book of Common Prayer to the English Church.

· John Knox spearheaded the reform of the Church of Scotland.

· William Bedell commissioned the translation of the Holy Bible into Irish.

· John Locke was a philosopher of political and religious freedom and tolerance.

· William and Mary safeguarded civil and religious liberty for every citizen.

· William Wilberforce led in the campaign which abolished the slave trade.

· David Livingstone pioneered medical missions.

· Florence Nightingale brought better training and practice to nursing care.

· Thomas Barnardo provided for and protected neglected, orphaned and vulnerable children and young people.

· C.S. Lewis, Christian apologist and author, challenged people to think deeply on life’s realities and what the faith has to say on them.

· HM Queen has exemplified Christian love and charity in the service of all.

The Protestant Reformed faith has contributed largely and positively in the making of the United Kingdom, the tolerant and diverse society in which its people can live together whatever their differences. We believe in the all sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures, in the knowledge that our salvation is a gift of God through Christ alone by faith alone. We appeal to our members and people generally to be guided and governed by the example of Jesus Christ and to live peaceably and happily together for the common good.

A Prayer for the Clergy and People

O God, the Creator and Preserver of all mankind, we humbly beseech thee for all sorts and conditions of men; that thou wouldest be pleased to make thy ways known unto them, thy saving health unto all nations. More especially, we pray for the good estate of the Catholic Church; that it may be so guided and governed by thy good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life. Finally, we commend to thy fatherly goodness all those who are any ways afflicted or distressed, in mind, body, or estate; that it may please thee to comfort and relieve them according to their several necessities, giving them patience under their sufferings, and a happy issue out of all their afflictions. And this we beg for Jesus Christ his sake. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer)

Rev. Canon Dr. S.E. Long