Insights from the UK and beyond
from John Lloyd:
The British Isles are sentries in a turning world. The monarchy, pageantry, the mediaeval House of Lords, titles, accents, the established Church of England with the Queen at its head -- they all give the adroit illusion of continuity and the primacy of tradition over change.
But this summer there are diverse changes modernizing the Isles. These revolutions, small and large, will not be reversed, and will contribute significantly to a redefinition of what it is to be British (and Irish). The illusions of tradition will remain, as diligently served as ever. The core is hollowing out.
These changes are not unique to these wet and windy islands. But itβs more remarkable because for many centuries Britain and its offshoots punched above their weight, making history and creating (or inventing) traditions. The French are famed for having a beautiful and mostly efficient country and for grumbling furiously about it. The British change everything all the time, and worship the old customs whose essence they have long since destroyed, or are destroying.
Ireland, the smaller and much younger of the two sovereign states on the Isles, found its independence in the 1920s. That independence was fought for so hard in part because its majority religion, Catholicism, had been treated as an inferior, even a treacherous, affiliation for centuries. The Republic came into independent statehood with its religion militantly at the forefront of national, social and cultural life.
Pope Benedict will make his first visit to Britain as head of the Roman Catholic Church on September 16-19. This will also be the first official papal visit to the country. Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, talks with Reuters about theΒ trip in the context of the Church's child-abuse scandal, tensions with the Anglican Church and planned protests. (Photo: Archbishop Vincent Nichols (L) and the prime minister's special representative for the papal visit, Chris Patten, July 5, 2010 in London/Peter Macdiarmid)
Here's our news story on the interview -- Archbishop of Westminster says pope not fishing for Anglicans -- and below are excerpts from the transcript.
(Photo: Nationalist youths set a car alight in Belfast on July 13, 2010/Cathal McNaughton)
The British government and the Roman Catholic Church colluded to protect a priest suspected of involvement in a 1972 bombing in Northern Ireland that killed 9 people, an official report said on Tuesday.
The Police Ombudsman's report revealed that an Irish cardinal was involved in transferring Father James Chesney out of British-ruled Northern Ireland, highlighting again the role of the Church hierarchy in protecting priests against allegations of criminal activity.
The Treasurer of the United Reformed Church pointed to the relative stability of HSBC — despite market speculation about its capital adequacy — compared with the parlous state of some of its rivals.