‘Spectacular’: Reverend Bradford meets Pope Francis

While on a trip to speak at St. Andrew’s Church of Scotland in Rome, the Rev. Daniel Scott found himself on a platform in front of thousands of attendees and just a few steps away from the pontiff.

It’s not every day he meets the Pope, but the Reverend Daniel Scott of Bradford was blessed with good luck earlier this month.

While on a trip to speak at St. Andrew’s Church of Scotland in Rome, the local minister of St. John’s Presbyterian Church found himself on a platform in front of thousands of attendees and just a few steps away from Pope Francis himself in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. City on April 17.

Scott described the experience in one word: “Spectacular.”

It was also coincidental in what was Scott’s first visit to Italy, Rome and the Vatican.

He was scheduled to speak Sunday at St. Andrew’s about Peter’s second sermon, which he explained focused on the healing power of faith and the healing power available in Jesus, as well as attend a series of meetings Monday and Tuesday.

Before arriving, Scott said he checked the Pope’s schedule and didn’t see an appearance, but by Monday night, he saw an opportunity to buy tickets for a general audience on Wednesday.

Delighted, he told his friend and minister at St. Andrew’s, the Rev. Tara Curlewis, who is also the First Liaison Officer of the World Communion of Reformed Churches at the Vatican.

Curlewis suggested they could find better places for Scott and his wife Kelly.

“Not only was I pleased; I was absolutely surprised,” Scott said of discovering Wednesday morning how much better those seats would be. “We were escorted right onto the platform and sat just a few steps away from where the Pope gave his address.”

Scott estimated there were between 6,000 and 8,000 people in the audience as Pope Francis exuded a “charisma” that felt almost like a “rock star”, while his “grace and humility were incredibly evident”.

Recalling that the Pope spoke in Italian, Scott described his words as gentle and compassionate but impassioned with “significant” authority.

Scott explained that the Pope’s teaching that day focused on temperance, touching on Aristotle’s virtues and discussing ways in which people disagree.

After the Pope’s speech and prayer, the couple had the opportunity to shake his hand and hear a choir sing “Ave Maria,” after which Scott recalled that the crowd spontaneously began chanting “Papa Francesco, Papa Francesco.”

He described the experience as “a huge honor and something I will never forget”, noting “the influence he has on his church, but also on the world and his shared humanity and his shared love for Jesus”.

The Catholic Church was not always so tolerant of different points of view, disagreements leading to the Reformation led by Martin Luther in the early century, but Scott believes the Pope is trying to remove barriers between different branches of the faith and noted that he was even seated next to a Lutheran bishop.

“Here we are over 500 years later and we recognize that there is only one savior that unites us,” he said. “We have a lot of divisions, of course, but there is much more in common than what divides us.”

Scott emphasized the duality of the word “Catholic,” which also means universal.

“When Christians around the world profess their faith, they say we believe in one holy Catholic church, and I felt that universal holy church,” he said.

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