The frenzy with which the media and the chattering classes are attacking Pope Benedict XVI is truly remarkable. I've always steered clear in the past of those who give too precise accounts of how a highly personal devil might be conducting his affairs, but this lot really make me wonder if Screwtape may not be as real as, for example, the abortionist Obama.
Mind you, there is a very funny side to the business about that poor fool Williamson. For most of my life, the very concept ... I'll go further: the very word Excommunication ... has been a bete noire of the trendies. It evokes for them lurid pictures associated with notions of Truth Suppressed ... of brave and lonely Freethinkers struggling against intellectual tyrannies ... of bell and book and candle ... of the Inquisition ... of everything the Enlightenment dislikes most about doctrinal authoritarianism ... of prisons, of faggots piled round the stakes, of whatever the plural is of Auto da fe.
But - as the Nawab of Bannipur would have said - Goodness Gracious. Excommunication is now - would you believe it - the darling of the scribbling elite. And so the Ratzinger whom, with characteristically impoverished imagination they used repetitively to describe as a Rotweiler, as the Panzer Cardinal, as the sinister Grand Inquisitor, has now, they tell us, in his devilish ingenuity, dreamed up a new and even more fiendish crime, a new unheard of horror with which to crown the rest of his crimes against humanity. He has had the brazen effrontery, the wanton and heinous cruelty, to REMIT AN EXCOMMUNICATION!
It gets even funnier. In that portion of the Lord's vineyard just behind the potting shed, where nothing much grows very well because it's where Granddad used to dump the arsenic (we call ourselves the Church of England), there is a noisy little group that calls itself Inclusive Church. A few years ago I found a pile of their literature in S Mary Mags church in this city (once a great Catholic centre). They apparently believe in not excluding anybody from the Church. All, it seems, without exception should feel welcomed into the Church. Everybody, wherever they stand in the rich spectrum of human diversity, whatever their views, whatever their practices, belongs inside the Lord's Family.
I'm waiting for Inclusive Church to make a high-profile announcement of their support for the action of Benedict XVI in remitting Williamson's excommunication. My breath is totally bated.