Troubles forgotten – for a while

In a

They came in their tens of thousands – for a while the scandals, the controversies the arguments forgotten.
In the warm early autumn sunshine – unseasonably nice for Glasgow – they waited patiently for the man they all want to see.
It’s a curious mix. One of our team said it felt like a music festival, with the strains of the organ rising above the general chatter of an excited crowd.
With the flags and the smell of burgers hanging in the air, the vendors pushing their programmes, to me it felt more like a football match.
Looking across the crowd – and there are easily 60,000 here, there are flags from Spain and France, from Ireland and Sweden, from Denmark and even India.
And there are the flags of the Vatican City, the world’s smallest nation and of course, the white cross on the blue background, the Scottish Saltire.
Throughout the afternoon, the biggest cheer came for Susan Boyle. She became an internet hit after auditioning for a UK TV Talent show.
Now she is an international star, a Scottish success story. The crowd roared their approval.
The pope came here from Edinburgh, where he met the Queen, mixed with supporters, ignored the protesters, lunched with the bishops and even had a nap. He is 83 after all.
On the plane on his way here, he perhaps made the most significant comment of the trip.
He criticised the church for its inaction over paedophile priests, for not doing enough, forgetting perhaps that he held a position of power in the Vatican when many cases were uncovered and is now the most powerful voice in the his Church.
And in Edinburgh there was the criticism of Britain – indirect but nevertheless stern – questioning the forces of “aggressive secularism” at work here.
In this park on the south side of Glasgow, there is nothing but love and adoration for the pope.
There are no protests here. But he will face others before this journey is over.

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