Unbeknownst to many, much of the organisation for the ecumenical visit at
I'm afraid I'm still unable to work out exactly how many Roman Catholic nuns work at
It's easy, far too easy really, to name the horrendous and despicable child sex abuse of the Roman Catholic hierarchy and to talk about the church's failure to promote condom use in countries riven by AIDS. It is also important to declare those truths and not muffle the voices of the victims. It is not difficult to consider instances of misogyny in the church or to bring to mind people who cannot conceive that "gay" is a label that many human beings rejoice in. Am I offering a defence of gross exploitation or acts of uncharity? No. There can and should be no defence of injury to others. I'm as stumped as the next person upon being asked to prove there is a God, to argue how evil can exist in the presence of said God, or to prove that the generic good of religion outweighs the generic bad. The best I'll probably ever manage is to point at a healthy order of nuns who give up their lives to serve the needy and undeserving in the face of a sometimes obdurant hierarchy and a similarly baffled world.
In the meantime, there has been some Tweeting about the Pope's visit to Vauxhall, the sacred beating gay heart of
But when the Popemobile (will it be sponsored by Barclays, we wonder?) has been retired to its garage, when the jet departs and the faithful return to their dioceses around the country, who will be repairing the fabric of beautiful church buildings? And who will be holding the hand of an elderly person who hasn't got long to live? And who will have a faith that's strong enough to maintain that human beings have dignity, even when they're drooling and incontinent and scared? Maybe it will be the secular humanists and the agnostics and the "don't knows". I'm pretty certain that it won't be the State, not after the October public sector jobs cuts. The Pope is visiting Vauxhall, and then he'll be off again. So it won't be him.
If I had to choose who'd see me off in my last days, it probably wouldn't be Anne Widdecombe or Johann Hari or the Pope, for that matter. I'd hope to be accompanied by my friends. I'd want to walk with the people who'd kept some semblance of faith when the Pope had departed, and Monday morning had arrived again, as it inevitably does. And next week, when Monday morning comes around again, when the Pope and protesters have left, when we cycle the rosary beaded blue tarmac of