Has Pope Francis struck the right note by expressing concern about European nationalist movements causing “divisions” (your report, 14 June)? He is right to say that each situation should be analysed case by case. He is wrong, though, to suggest that their impact could be negative in a social sense.
It is perfectly legitimate for any nationalist movement to question the viability of over-centralised states. Rightly or wrongly, the case for independence in Scotland is made out on economic rather ethnic grounds. Some appalling levels of poverty right throughout the United Kingdom, for example, can be explained partly on the grounds that Westminster-devised regional policies have not been effective.
It is valid, too, to argue that independence might create a wave of entrepreneurial flair that might tackle the problems of low pay and high unemployment. The ability to vary taxes might help promote more inward investment, encourage more tourism, and help indigenous enterprises to flourish. These are not necessarily divisive measures. They might help improve the performance of the economy of the British isles as a whole.
The real distinction Pope Francis should have drawn is between civic nationalism and nationalism based on ethnic identity. He should have nothing to fear from the former. Any attempt to bring government closer to the people should be welcomed. It is attempts to divide people on the basis of their background or ethnicity that should concern the Catholic Church and all authorities.
Shiel Court Glenrothes, Fife
AS A Church of Scotland member who is backing a Yes vote in September’s referendum, I fully welcome the thoughtful contribution of Pope Francis to our present constitutional debate. His Holiness calls upon each of us to closely examine the case for Scottish independence.
That case was perhaps never more eloquently described than by the late Cardinal Thomas Joseph Winning, who in 1998 told the Catholic Bishops of Europe that Scotland’s pursuit of self-governance was “unique in European terms” in having “nothing in common with the aggressive and violent nationalism which has scarred the Balkans”, but instead was “mature, respectful of democracy and international in outlook.”
This week marks the anniversary of Cardinal Winning’s untimely death in 2001. Thirteen years on, his prophetic words still provide a sure guide to those discerning how to vote on 18 September
DAVE THOMPSON MSP
Convener, Christians for Independence
Headlines may give the impression that Pope Francis is against independence for Scotland and a leading article in one newspaper states that effectively he said “vote No”, but added he was careful not to back or oppose separation. Rather he commented on examples such as Catalonia, Padania and Yugoslavia.
As an Englishman living in Scotland, I am more concerned about the special relationship with the United States, which has cost so many lives, and nuclear weapons, nuclear power, nuclear waste, and the nuclear deterrent, which does not deter: it is more likely to attract an attack.
High Street Aberdour