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Reformed Literature
A Presbyterian Internet Journal

Pope Benedict XVI and the United Kingdom

Free Presbyterian Publications

Available from the Bookroom

The blurb on the back of this new paperback reads, ‘For well over a thousand years there has been a succession of men claiming an astonishing position for themselves, both in religion and in the affairs of nations. When one dies, another takes his place. The latest in this extraordinary dynasty has been invited by the former Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, to visit Britain. Who is this man and why is his visit a danger to the United Kingdom?

The book is a collection of essays by 3 ministers and 3 elders from the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland and has been written to draw our attention to the issues that are before Protestants in the face of a Papal visit to the shores of our United Kingdom. It is not intended as an extended critique of Romanism, although it does refer to a variety of sources, such as Boettner, that would fall into that category – it is simply a direct summary of many of the issues involved.

An excellent introduction by Rev. D. Somerset, draws attention to the fact a Papal visit is a token of divine displeasure and that the purpose of a visit by a head of State is to promote good relations between two nations, where the Papal visit is trying to bring Britain into subjection to the ‘Holy See’.

It then begins with an article on who is Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger), where we are shown his background as a member of the Hitler Youth, his academic credentials as a serious theologian (unlike the previous Pope who was an actor) who defends the historic Romanist position and his more sinister role in the cover-up of the recent sexual abuse scandals that have beset the Roman Catholic Church.

The second article, by Rev. Hugh Cartwright, outlines the clear Protestant constitutional position of the United Kingdom. He examines the 39 articles of the Church of England, the National Covenant of Scotland, the Irish articles, the Westminster Confession, the Revolution settlement, the Treaty of Union and the Union with Ireland Act. Cartwright proceeds to quote Prof. Lyall and Prof. D. Walker showing that the articles relating to the Protestantism of the Throne are framed in a way which makes it clear that they are intended to be perpetual.

The third article by Roy Middleton shows nature of Romanist thinking and how it is not the teaching of the Bible. The article quotes extensively from the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church and the differences between Romanist and Protestant thought. It ends with a pointed quotation from Prof. Murray who writes, ‘The Reformation polemic is not obsolete. It will continue as long as there are soul burdened with the sense of the wrath of God and emancipated by the righteousness of God through faith of Jesus Christ. As long as Rome.. enslaves the souls of men and gives them a hope of life by a religion that has its issue in the blackness of darkness, as long as she propounds human righteousness as the way of meriting eternal life, it will be necessary to burn with holy indignation against that well organised and articulated system…’

The fourth article by Alexander Ross, shows how the papacy has cloaked itself with the doctrine of infallibility in fairly recent times. It utilises the work of Dollinger from an historical perspective to show how this has not been a consistent doctrine either in principle or practice.

The fifth article, by Rev. John Macleod, is possibly the most powerful. It begins with the comment, ‘It is a very high honour for any foreign dignity to be welcomed to our country and even more so when he is entertained at the level of a state visit. The privilege is one usually extended only to leaders of such nations as have shown us friendship and afforded us help in times of difficulty.’ He goes on the show that the Popes are the Antichrist and that on the stage of history they have acted in a fashion that threatens and challenges national sovereignty. In the minority Rome acts like a lamb, in equality like a fox and in the majority like a lion. He shows how Rome has persecuted Christian minorities throughout the ages and the Romanist leanings of much of the Nazi hierarchy. However, the articles ends by showing how Rome will fall. Macleod says, ‘At a certain spot in Ayrshire, a few days prior to his death at Airdsmoss, the Covenanter Richard Cameron prayed for three things: the removal of the House of Stewart from the British throne, the ingathering of the Jews and the fall of the Antichrist. The first was answered in 1688, the last two petitions have yet to be answered but they shall be.’ He then quotes Rev. 18:8 and ends with an appeal to any who are caught up in Romanism to leave that system for the sake of their souls. The last words of the article are taken from Cowper, ‘Rome shall perish, write that word, in the blood that she has spilt.’

After this set of articles it republishes a final one from the American theologian, Robert Lewis Dabney on the attractions of popery. I would hope that the readers of this web journal will all buy a copy of this small paperback, indeed, don’t buy one buy several – and give them out to friends and colleagues. Lets hope that the witness of Protestantism will be clear within our nation over these forthcoming months and that if the visit goes ahead, there will be clear protests against it.