Scottish independence: Pope Francis enters debate

Pope Francis said he was 'worried' by division. Picture: Getty
Pope Francis said he was 'worried' by division. Picture: Getty
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THE POPE entered Scotland’s constitutional debate yesterday when he appeared to raise concerns about Scottish independence.

The pontiff became the latest global figure to turn his eyes
towards the political situation in Scotland when he commented on European nationalist movements.

Asked by a Spanish newspaper about the Catalonian
attempt to separate from Spain, the Pope Francis said: “All division worries me”.

In the interview with the Barcelona-based La Vanguardia newspaper, the Pope suggested the break-up of Yugoslavia was justifiable but questioned other bids for independence.

“There is independence by emancipation and independence by succession. The independences by emancipation, for example, are American, that they were emancipated from the European states,” the Pope said.

“The independence of nations by secession is a dismemberment, sometimes it is very obvious. Let’s think of the former Yugoslavia. Obviously, there are nations with cultures so different that couldn’t even be stuck together with glue.

“The Yugoslavian case is very clear, but I ask myself if it is so clear in other cases. Scotland, Padania, Catalunya. There will be cases that will be just and cases that will be not just, but the secession of a nation without an antecedent of mandatory unity, one has to take with a lot of grains and salt and analyse it case by case.”

The Pope is the latest global figure to comment on the Scottish independence.

He follows President Barack Obama, who suggested on the eve of D-Day the UK should remain “united”, and Hillary Clinton, who made her views known this week.

Yesterday Alex Salmond took issue with the language used by Mrs Clinton after she spoke out in defence of keeping Scotland within the United Kingdom on Thursday night.

Reacting to her remarks, Mr Salmond said: “Mrs Clinton’s observations are quite interesting in that she infers Britain will ‘lose Scotland’ after a Yes vote. This reflects reports that David Cameron has said he doesn’t want to ‘lose’ Scotland, likening it to George III losing the United States.

“But, unlike that period in American history – when independence was only gained through conflict – we are deeply fortunate in that we have the opportunity to secure our nation’s independence in a profoundly democratic way, as president Obama and John Kerry, Mrs Clinton’s successor as secretary of state, have acknowledged.”

Dave Thompson, the SNP MSP and convener of Christians for Independence, said: “We welcome the call by Pope Francis for voters in Scotland to analyse the case for independence very closely as this is the biggest political decision any of us will make in our lives. We are also confident that when most people, including Christians, do study the case for a Yes vote they’ll conclude that independence is the surest route to a more socially just Scotland”

Speaking on behalf of the No campaign, the Stirling Labour MP Anne McGuire said: “The Pope is right to warn about the impact of division on society, and to draw the distinction between independence for emancipation and that for secession.”