Friday, 17 September 2010
Some school children were persuaded to care by a morning out of the classroom. They lined the streets of Edinburgh in order to scream and wave Scottish Saltires as the pontiff’s entourage swept by.
Devoted Catholics care. Yesterday they mustered in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, having travelled from across these islands and beyond. Despite congregating in a venue with a much larger capacity, they numbered fewer than 70,000.
Ian Paisley cares. He gathered with a handful of fellow enthusiasts from the ’reformed church’ to record his opposition to the papal visit. It’s fair to say that even he cares less these days though. Fellow Presbyterians have been subject to more vituperative protests by Lord Bannside in the past.
The ‘New Atheists’ care. Like ‘anti fascist’ demonstrators they feed off the forces they claim to oppose. If it ever became apparent that no-one was listening to the Pope, how could they drum up interest in their books or sell their tedious newspaper columns?
People with a personal grievance against the Catholic Church care. Spurned divorcees, homosexuals and abuse victims, they rail against the faith which they believe has turned upon them. Their anger is understandable.
For the rest of us, comprising the vast, vast majority of British people, we couldn’t give a hoot. The pontiff’s arrival is no more interesting than the visit of the next head of state. Less so, in fact.
Even Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, presiding over a society supposedly crippled with religious division, don’t care. One didn’t want to meet the Pope and the other didn’t want to meet the Queen. They agreed to stay at home and ignored proceedings in Scotland with a minimum of fuss.
So that’s it. The commonest responses to the papal visit are apathy and boredom. Even those who should care are putting on a fairly unconvincing show.
It’s all to the good. I’d rather live in a society which doesn’t care about the Pope than one which cares too much.