Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Pope Meets the Queen: A Meeting of Minds

Damien Thompson of the Daily Telegraph and blogger extraordinaire on all things Catholic in the UK has a nice post on Pope Benedict XVI's meeting today with Queen Elizabeth II, whose guest he is in the UK this week. He explains succinctly why a low church, conservative Anglican would have more in common with this Pope than would a liberal, Anglo-Catholic like Rowan Williams. Thompson explains why conservative Protestants today have more in common with traditional Roman Catholics than they have with liberal Protestants.

Her Majesty the Queen, in common with most of her subjects, has mixed feelings about Popes. She takes very seriously her oath to uphold the Protestant religion. Like her father and grandfather, she is Low Church C of E – she is not keen on vestments or Anglican Communion services that look too much like a Roman Catholic Mass.

Her theology is far more Protestant than that of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Dr Williams regards himself as a Catholic, albeit a liberal one from the Anglican, not Roman, branch of the univeral Church. He has a great devotion to the sacraments and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Paradoxically, however, the Queen may share as much ground with the Pope as with her own Archbishop. The supreme governor of the Church of England and the supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church are both octogenarians dismayed by modern immorality. Neither of them thinks that gay unions are compatible with Biblical teaching, as Dr Williams appears to. (You never know quite where you are with +Rowan.) And, although the Queen has never expressed a view on the subject, she is not thought to be a great champion of women priests.

Today’s meeting undoubtedly reflects a clash of historical traditions and formal theology. But it is also an encounter between two devout, old-fashioned, conservative Christians – and, in that respect, a meeting of minds.

If it please Almighty God, may her Majesty outlive her muddled-headed eldest son and may Pope Benedict's reign exceed that of Archbishop Williams!

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