Lassie is pleasantly surprised to be one of the few bloggers given media accreditation for the official Papal Visit. The Vatican, it seems, are aware of the shift away from mainstream media and are welcoming t'internet folk into the flock.
I won't be wearing the T-shirt, though must admit that some of the slogans - see left - on the merchandise are wittier than I expected. There are more here at jctees.
The visit is less controversial than the last one - a survey at the weekend showed the vast majority of Scots either welcomed it or had no view.
Preparations for the Scottish leg appear to be going particularly well compared to down south. The Telegraph's religious affairs correspondent Damian Thompson was today bemoaning the "tired and trendy" folk hymns chosen for some English events and praising James MacMillan's setting of the Mass, which will be heard in Glasgow. He wishes the MacMillan Mass could be repeated in London, but makes no bid for Susan Boyle...
Meantime, the visit has stirred up the (apologies in advance) poisoned chalice that is the Act of Settlement . Angus Brendan MacNeil MP calls for the repeal of the 1701 law which bans Catholics from sitting on the British throne and stops heirs to that throne marrying Catholics. It states that no monarch nor his heir “shall profess the Popish religion or shall marry a Papist”.
It is unequivocally sectarian and several politicians have previously made efforts to change it. New Labour certainly made lots of noise about it, particularly from Scotland. Dr John Reid called it "discriminatory and divisive" when he was Scottish Secretary and one of his successors, Jim Murphy, said he was pressing hard for change Even Michael Forsyth, the Secretary of State for Scotland under the Conservatives in the early 1990s, backed repeal. David Cameron also criticised the discriminatory law before he became PM but has done nothing about it since his election - it is not included in Nick Clegg's planned constitutional reforms.
Isn't it strange that none of these calls have actually resulted in change? After reading Allan Massie's book The Royal Stuarts, I suspect I know why. The House of Hanover only exists because the Act of Succession banned the Stuarts from the party for ever and a day. In the book Massie says it is ridiculous to suggest that repealing the act would result in the usurping of the Windsors (a name assumed for patriotic reasons when Britain was fighting the Germans). However I suspect someone in the palace disagrees.What other explanation can there be for political promises running into the sand?
It's always enjoyable to indulge in "what ifs" though. If The Act had been quashed and the Windsors squashed, perhaps Franz of Bavaria would welcome the pontiff instead of the Queen. Franz, widely recognised as the Jacobite heir, is from an eminent German Catholic family who were persecuted by the Nazis. He spent his teenage years in concentration camps including Dachau. I suspect he and Benedict would have lots to talk about.