Oliver Cromwell was a sadist and psychotic by modern standards.  The same for Sir Thomas More.

Popes being chaired through crowds was to emphasize the Kingdom-of-God was greater than earthly monarchs

More is Saint Thomas in the Roman Catholic Church, martyred for his faith.  Cromwell is revered by many Protestants for delivering them from Popery.  The Irish peasants he slaughtered never had a choice in the matter.  The Lutherans Sir Thomas fired at the stake died for their convictions as he begged them to rejoin the Church Universal.  More wasn’t the grandfatherly humorist portrayed by Paul Scofield.  Richard Harris more or less had the stern Cromwell down in cinema.

We’ve changed much in the Western World when it comes to religious tolerance.  Or I mostly think we’ve evolved for the better.  I did have an old man at a Presbyterian Church once wag a finger in my face.  “I don’t like papists!” he barked.  Maybe his anger was caused by his belt being chest high.  His pastor, a former Catholic, was embarrassed by the display.

The other day I saw a post on Facebook where it appeared a Pope was being chaired through the Vatican.  The photograph is decades old and the reformer John-the-XXIII ended the practice 55 years ago.  The man behind the post explained the Pope leads a plush life and Lords it over Roman Catholics.  In the sense he’s revered there is some lordliness but the rationale behind previous Popes being chaired through crowds was to emphasize the Kingdom-of-God was greater than earthly monarchs.  As Divine Right rulers faded in Europe so did the reminder from Rome.

A Baptist niece of mine was once alarmed when I took her inside an opulent cathedral.  I appreciate the humble appearance of many Protestant houses-of-worship but the whole point of artistic cathedrals (and there are some in Protestant denominations) is to try our best as frail humans to express the Kingdom-of-the-Almighty.

As for wealth, The Roman Church spends three quarters of its budget on radio broadcasting.  It brings people from the Third World to Christian faith.  While languages vary during Mass there are generally three readings directly from the Bible.  Old Testament, New Testament and Gospel.  These when woven together show us the deliberate fashion in which God revealed Himself to humanity.   We believe the bread and wine become the literal body and blood of Christ.  For you literalists you may recall He didn’t call these “representations”.

When I was a young man I remember reading a profile of the late Jerry Falwell.  He lived quite a high life and when the evangelist was asked how he squared his approach with the Bible he had a simple response.  “I believe the Lord rewards those doing his work with material possessions!”  Most priests I know live very simple lives confined to small apartments at rectories.  Nuns grow old and frail and have no material possessions.

Yet, I still meet people in high, tight pants who think their Christian faith demands they pick-a-fight.  Maybe you can slit some nostrils or stake and fire people in disagreement.  One well known and growing Abrahamic faith has a similar approach.  Are you making common cause?

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