Monday, 28 June 2010

All the World's a Pulpit

(The Archbishop of Canterbury and The Pope discuss Globalisation)

Pope:  Firstly, Archbishop Williams, may I offer you my condolences regarding your football team's losses in the World Cup games in South Africa. It was most exhilarating, I mean, upsetting.

Canterbury:  (Confused) That is very kind, Your Holiness. Not that I...

Pope:  Follow the game closely?

Canterbury:  Well...

Pope:  I do understand. Neither do I.

Canterbury:  But may I also offer you mine, my condolences to your team... well to the Italian team at least... even if... the Vatican and, and... Italy are not exactly one and the same thing.

Pope:  Indeed, they are not exactly one and the same. But thank you for your consideration. I will pass it on to Signor Berlusconi when I next meet with him.

Canterbury:  I do feel that it's rather sad when men who are considered giants in their own countries - and with salaries to boot - lose some of their, shall we say, status when it comes to the world stage.

Pope:  Indeed it is. And it appears that your footballers are among the highest paid in the whole world. There is clearly no correlation between the money your managers pay them and their performance against other nations.

Canterbury:  It would appear not. This is perhaps one of the unforeseen consequences of globalisation, I fear. A man's value changes according to the context in which he appears, in which he acts, in which he transacts... It is the same, I suppose, for the Asian factory worker, who appears to have a different value to the worker in my country... or indeed in Italy, for that matter.

Pope:  Yes... unforeseen consquences indeed... this is a possible downside of globalisation... And something that gives many amongst us some cause for concern.

Canterbury:  (Nervous, hesitant) Of course... in a sense... you could say that we - our churches - led the way in this field.

Pope:  How do you mean, Archbishop Williams?

Canterbury:  Well... In globalisation, I mean. In a very real sense, we - our churches, yours and mine - invented globalisation. We can indeed acknowledge that our missionaries, our pilgrims were visiting far flung places and trying to 'globalise' the faith, if you like, long before Sir Walter Raleigh or General Clive or The East India Company were attempting to diversify their interests, their specific business interests... if I can put it that way.

Pope:  You can put it any way you like, Archbishop Williams. I always do. However, you are right. We did diversify, as you correctly say, long before the businessmen were spreading their own little 'Gospel'.

Canterbury:  And of course, if you don't mind my saying, your particular 'Gospel' was not always totally devoid of commercial endeavour. Would you agree?

Pope:  What can you mean, commercial endeavour?

Canterbury:  (Looks awkward, keen not to offend) What I mean is that the spreading of the early faith was, I would say, to some extent accompanied by the spreading of certain commercially lucrative practices.

Pope:  Commercially lucrative practices? What in the good name of the Lord are you talking about? There were no commercially lucrative practices.

Canterbury:  (Hesitant) Well, without wanting to er... cause offence, you could say that the spreading, the selling of indulgences had certain commercial ramifications... in that it paid for the building of St.Peters in Rome.

Pope:  How dare you, insolent Anglican. St. Peters was a dedication to the faith. Those who helped build it were doing God's work, not the work of Mammon.

Canterbury:  (Uncomfortable) Oh, er... No, I didn't mean it quite like that, your Holiness. And I am most sorry if I have caused offence.

Pope:  As so you should. There is no comparison between St. Peters and your East India company or your Lloyds of London or your Standard Chartered Bank.

Canterbury:  No, of course not. Nor would I venture to suggest that there were. I was really referring more to the selling of indulgences per se... as an issue. I am sure you would agree, none of us would like to see a return to that particularly global practice, would we?

Pope:  Can you Protestants stop busting my balls. Indulgence of all sorts are acceptable within the Catholica Church. As a matter of fact, one thing that a lot of us in the Church could do with right now is indulgence... if not indulgences.

Canterbury:  (Summoning up the courage) Well, if I may be so bold... Your, Your Holiness... Maybe - I would venture to suggest - a little less indulgence, or indulgences, on a global scale is, are what is needed right now.

Pope:  How do you mean, Bish?

Canterbury:  (Hesitant) Er, Archbishop, if you wouldn't mind.

Pope:  Bish, Archbish. Whatever. Anglican is what Anglican does.

Canterbury:  (Mildly hurt) Oh, I see... well... erm, what I was about to say was that, that... now that Catholic Priests the world over are being roundly condemned for the way in which they have been indulging themselves when they are, erm 'treating their flock', as it were...

Pope:  (Aggressively) Yes...?

Canterbury:  Well, maybe you'll be so kind as to keep your hands off... off my priests, if that is, well, acceptable to you.

Pope:  Do not understand. Please explain.

Canterbury:  Your Holiness... Would it be asking too much, if I, if I suggested, if I requested that you cease, as it were, grooming the somewhat higher Anglicans within my Church... with a view to turning them to Rome. That particular approach to globalisation is one that does not sit easily with a lot of people in my country right now, I have to say.

Pope:  Listen, Buster. If things carry on as they are for the Catholica Church, I am going to need to cast my net as far and as wide as I can. I'm gonna need to get a whole lot of new priests on board - wherever on the globe they might happen to be.

Canterbury:  (Calmly, Resigned) Hmm... I see. Yes... I suppose that you do have a point. I do not wish to appear uncharitable, of course, not at a time like this... Your church is indeed in a spot of bother, is it not?

Pope:  Not kidding, Buster.

Canterbury:  Archbishop. I'm an Archbishop.

Pope:  Yeah, whatever, Archbishop.

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