Religion

On this page you’ll find some of my stories on religion from different outlets.

Creideamh, Cànan agus Cogadh

Observations from a trip to the Balkans (in English below)

Stone Gate, Zagreb
An Geata Cloiche/ Stone Gate, Zagreb

A’ coiseachd tro Zagreb, prìomh bhaile Chroatia bho chionn ghoirid ràinig mi Kamenita Vrata, An Geata Cloiche. Tha soidhne dà-chànanach os a chionn – ann an Chroatianais agus Gearmailtis. Bha an dùthaich uair fo smachd Ìmpireachd na h-Ostaire agus na h-Ungaire. Tha an ailtireachd da-rèir. ‘S e geata a-steach dhan t-seann bhaile a th’ ann. An rud a tha iongantach mu dhèidhinn ‘s e is gu bheil ìomhaigh de Mhuire Mhàthair na bhroinn agus beingidhean feadha gus ùrnaigh a dhèanadh. Ach chan e a-mhàin is gu bheil daoine ag ùrnaigh an sin, chìthear fiù ‘s oileanaich a’ ruigh tron gheata dha na clasaichean aca is iad a’ dèanadh soidhne na croise. Gun teagamh is e àite a th’ ann an Croatia far a bheil an creideamh Caitligeach gu mòr mar phàirt dhe beatha poblach na dùthcha.

Sarajevo panoramic view
Sarajevo, BiH

An uair sin chaidh mi a-steach gu Bosnia is Herzegovina. ‘S e àite iongantach a th’ ann an Sarajevo far a bheil an Taobh an Iar a’ coinneachadh ris an Taobh an Ear. Chìthear sin ann an ailtireachd a’ bhaile agus cuid dheth a’ leantainn stoidhle na h-Ostaire agus cuid eile dheth a’ coimhead Turcach gun diochuimhneachadh air a’ phàirt a tha Serbeach far a bheil daoine a’ sgrìobhadh ann an litrichean Greugach. ‘S iad sin na trì cultaran mòra a thug buaidh air na Balkanan. Tha cuimhne agam air na dealbhan uabhasach dhen chogadh ann an Sarajevo agus chìthear tuill dhe na peileirean fhathast ann an iomadach togalach. Dh’innse tè-naidheachd ionadail dhomh gun robh na deicheadan mhìltean a’ coiseachd airson sìth beagan làithean mus do thòisich an cogadh. Air an là ron a’ chogadh bha i fhathast cinnteach nach biodh cogadh ann.

Sarajevo city centre meeting of cultures
Cultaran Muslamach is Crìosdail a’ tachart an Sarajevo/ Meeting of Muslim and Christian cultures

Ghlac mi tacsi suas dhan Dùn Bhuidhe far a bheil deagh shealladh air a’ bhaile. Thuirt an dràibhear rium gun robh Sarajevo làn agus nach robh Muslamaich an àite idir a’ cur fàilte air Muslamaich Arabach. Na bheachdsan cha robh cultar aca. Chuir sinn iongnadh mòr orm is nach eil Muslamach a’ cur fàilte air Muslamach eile. Gu dearbha chan eil a h-uile duine an sin dhen aon bheachd. Ach thug e orm smaoineachadh mar a thachair dha na Gearmailtich a b’ fheudar an dachaighean fhàgail ann an Silesia, Pomerania agus Pruisia an Ear às dèidh an dàrna cogaidh agus na sgìrean sin an-diugh a’ buntainn ris a’ Pholainn. Bha na sinnsirean agamsa nam measg. Cha deach fàilte a chur orrasan sna sgìrean Gearmailteach far an deach iad. Chaidh magadh orra.

Mura h-eilear fiù ‘s a’ cur fàilte air daoine bhon aon treubh is beagan iongnadh nach eilear a’ cur fàilte air fògaraich bho threubhan eile. Dh’fhaodte gu bheil cuid dhen sin a’ tachairt leis nach eil a h-uile duine a’ gabhail ri cleachdaidhean ionadail. Tha sin fìor airson cuid dhen luchd-turais bho Cheann a Tuath na Roinn Eòrpa a bhios a’ dol air làithean-saora air tràighean a’ Chinne a Deas is a tha airson fògaraich a thig dhan Roinn Eòrpa. Tha mise air tòrr mhearachdan gòrach a dhèanadh thall thairis, ach bidh mi daonnan a’ feuchainn ri beagan fhaclan dhen chànan ionnsachadh far a bheil mi, rud a chòrdas ri daoine. Mar a tha boireannach Muslamach ga chur: “Chan eil an sluagh sgaraichte. ‘S e an luchd-poileataigs a tha gar sgaradh a chum buannachd dhaibh fhèin.”

 

Divide and Conquer

The Stone Gate leads into the old town of Zagreb. It has a shrine to the Virgin Mary and not only do people pray there, but even students running to their classes in the morning can be seen making the Sign of the Cross. Catholicism is obviously very much part of every day life in Croatia.

Sarajevo city centre meeting of cultures
Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian architecture meet

In neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina the picture is more mixed. Austro-Hungarian, Turkish and Orthodox architecture represent the three ethnicities and religions in Sarajevo. I remember the pictures of the war that went around the world. Bullet holes in apartment blocks are a constant reminder. A local journalist tells me a short time before the war tens of thousands marched to prevent it – in vain.

Sarajevo

A taxi driver provides the unsolicited information that local Muslims wouldn’t welcome Arab Muslims because they had no culture. It really surprises me. But then I think of those Germans – like my own ancestors – who had to leave their homes in territories that now belong to Poland. They weren’t welcomed in present day Germany at all.

If individuals of the very same people aren’t welcomed it is maybe less surprising that not everyone receives refugees with open arms. Maybe this is sometimes due to incomers, tourists and refugees alike, not respecting local customs. I have made many a stupid mistake when abroad, but I always learn a few words of the language, which often brings a smile on peoples’ faces. A Muslim lady puts it this way though: “We aren’t divided, politicians divide us for their own gain.”

Catacomban Mhàiri Mhagdalene

Catacombs of Mary Magdalene (in English below)

Catacombs of Mary Magdalene
At first I thought the white fog came from my breath, but then it disappeared and its provenance remained unexplained

Air Eilean Lesbos sa Ghrèig tha catacomban ann a chaidh a chladhach le muinntir an àite às dèidh do Mhàiri Mhagdalene nochdadh dhaibh. Air an eadar-lìon chan fhaighear mòran fiosrachaidh mun dèidhinn ann am Beurla. Dar a ràinig mi baile Skopelos cha robh aon soidhne ri fhaicinn. Dh’fhaighnich mi do ghrunnan dhaoine, ach cha robh iad ga mo thuigsinn. Mu dheireadh thall lorg mi eaglais agus chaidh mi a-steach ann. Bha an eaglais ortadox sin làn stuthan cràbhaidh mar is dual dhaibh.

Bha cailleach ann an aodach dhubh na suidhe an sin agus dh’fhaighnich mi dhithse a-rithist: “Maria Magdalena?” Rinn i soidhne dhomh nach b’ e seo an eaglais cheart idir, ach gun robh agam ri falbh suas an rathad. Chan fhada mus an do ràinig mi eaglais eile, ach bha an geata timcheall oirre dùinte. Abair briseadh dùil. B’ e seo an aon chothrom a bha gu bhith agam gus tadhail oirre. Bha e 7.45 sa mhadainn ge-tà. Chaidh mi timcheall is thog mi dealbhan bhon taobh a-muigh. Dìreach mus robh mi am beachd falbh nochd cailleach eile ann an aodach dhubh le gàire air a h-aodann: “Kali mera!” – madainn mhath, ars mise. “Kali mera – katakombe?” dh’fhaighnich ise. Mu dheireadh thall bha fios aig cuideigin mu dhèidhinn Màiri Magdalene.

Church in Skopelos, Isle of LesvosLe iuchar mhòr dh’fhosgail i an toiseach an geata agus an uair sin an eaglais. Sheall i dhomh an icon a tha an-diugh na sheasadh na broinn, ach a-rèir choltais lorgar e gu h-ìosal san talamh. B’ abhaist taighean-còmhnaidh a bhith air an làraich seo. Bha Anton agus Eilidh Tsantarlioti a’ fuireach an seo timcheall air a’ bhliadhna 1900. A-rèir aon làrach-lìn co-dhiù nochd Màiri Magdalene dha Eilidh is i ag ràdh rithe gun robh i a’ fuireach sa ghàradh aice agus gum miannaicheadh i gun losgar coinneal dhi fad na h-ùine. Rinn iad sin ri taobh a’ chruinn-ola.

Aig an àm sin bha Eilean Lesbos fo smachd na h-Ìmpire Otomanach agus b’ fheudar dhaibh seo a chumail dìomhair. Ach chan fhada mus d’ fhuair daoine sa bhaile a-mach mu dhèidhinn agus thòisich mìorbhailean tachairt. Bhiodh daoine a’ cur gainmheach ann an gloinne agus ga thoirt dhan a’ chraobh-ola. An uair sin chuireadh iad dhan uisge e agus rachadh tinneasan a shlànachadh. Dh’àrdaich tobar faisg air làimhe chun na h-ìre nach fhacas riamh agus chunnacas icon na bhroinn ged nach b’ urrainn do dhuine greim fhaotainn air.

Thogar seada beag mar eaglais. An uair sin nochd Màiri Magdalene do dh’fhear, Haralambos Rallis, agus dh’iarr i air cladhach anns an t-seada. Còmhla ri daoine eile rinn e sin agus as dèidh greis fhada lorgar icon. Thuirt Màiri Magdalene ris gum bu chòir dhan icon a thaisbeanadh san eaglais, ach gum bu chòir dhaibh cumail orra a’ cladhach. Là brèagha a choireigin dh’iarr i orra stad. Thuirt i: “Tha mi a-nis òirleach air falbh bho aodann a’ chruinne-cè agus cha leig mi leas ach dà chladhach gus an tèid mo thaisbeanadh. Ach cha tèid an-dràsta.” Gheall i gun gum biodh mòran mhìorbhailean ann dar a thachras sin.

Catacombs of Mary Magdalene

Icon of Mary Magdalene
This icon is today revered in the church in Skopelos

On the Greek island of Lesbos there are catacombs which were dug after Mary Magdalene allegedly appeared to local people. The information about them on the internet in English is rather scarce. In the village of Skopelos I couldn’t see any signs and nobody seemed to understand English.

At last I found a church, but not the right one. An elderly lady in black pointed up the hill. When I arrived, the gates were locked and so I took a walk around the church. It was 7.45am and this was the only chance I had to see the catacombs. When I was just about to leave another elderly lady in black appeared with a big smile on her face: “Katakombe?” she asked while opening the gates.

In the church there is an icon and my understanding was that it had been found in the catacombs. Anthony and Helen Tsantarlioti had been living on this site in 1900. According to one blog, Mary Magdalene appeared to them and marvels started to happen. A nearby well rose to unprecedented levels and displayed an icon that nobody could reach. People’s illnesses were cured.

A small shed was built as a chapel. Mary Magdalene appeared to local resident, Haralambos Rallis, asking him to dig inside the shed. He did so together with other villagers and after a long and strenuous time they found an icon. Mary Magdalene told him to display it in the church and to continue digging. One day she told them to stop. She said: “I am now an inch from the face of the earth and do not need more than two digs to be revealed. But not now”. She promised there would be many wonders when the day came.

500 Years Since the Beginning of the Reformation

It’s 500 years since Martin Luther allegedly nailed his 95 thesis on a church door in Wittenberg. Below is a five part series I produced single-handedly for “An Là”, the news on BBC ALBA (in Gaelic, with English captions).

Episode 1 talks about the opening of an exhibition on the Reformation in Wittenberg. A candidate to the ministry in the Church of Scotland tells of his visit to the German town and how he feels Martin Luther paved the way even for Presbyterian Churches.

Episode 2 tells of the contribution by the Catholic Church. A Scottish priest says the division of Christianity wasn’t Christ’s wish, but the Holy Spirit has to bring about unity. Otherwise it won’t last.

Episode 3 focuses on Kirchentag (Church Days), a biannual reunion of tens of thousands of protestants in Germany.

Episode 4 explains how Protestants split in 1529. Luther and Zwingli met for the Marburg Colloquy, but couldn’t reach agreement on the Communion question. Only in 1973 did the two camps accept each other’s position without changing their own.

Episode 5 reports on the opening ceremony of the festivities in Germany. Reference is made to the Pope’s comments in 2016 saying that the Reformation has brought positive changes to the Catholic Church. The ecumenical Taizé community ask all Christian Churches to unite during this historic year despite their differences.

My view of the Conclave that elected Pope Francis:

Click here: Conclave

Community of Sant'Egidio on Peter's Square, Rome
Community of Sant’Egidio at the Conclave in 2013

A reflection on my first hand experience with a lay Catholic community of volunteers, St Egidio, who dedicate themselves to help the poor:

Click here: Homeless

This column asks whether British mining companies are harming indigenous people in Colombia:

Click here: Mining_in_Colombia

Craig Lodge Family House of Prayer

Craig Lodge is a Catholic lay community based in beautiful Dalmally, Argyll in Scotland. They offer a variety of different retreats. Hospitality, a very warm hearted welcome and charismatic services are among the things to expect.

They also offer the opportunity for young people to live and serve in community for a year.

 

6) Was there a Celtic Church?

This question is raised by scholars like Meg Bateman, lecturer at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. Simon Innes is currently writing a PhD at Glasgow University asking what Catholic tradition was like in the Highlands in the late Middle Ages and whether it was any different from the continent. He looks particularly at devotion to Mary and the poetry in the Book of Dean of Lismore. It tells us a lot about what people believed and the customs they had.

Simon wasn’t brought up with any faith and felt that religion was ‘closed’ to him. So he was curious to find out more. He came to the conclusion that the evidence he found fitted well into the picture he had from the continent. Whereas some might have wished for a stronger tradition that was peculiar only to the Gàidhealtachd it is interesting to see that at a time when communication and travel were a lot more difficult some stories e.g. appear in many different cultures.

Beehive Cell on Eileach an Naoimh
Beehive Cell on Eileach an Naoimh, Argyll

The myth of a promised land in the middle of the Atlantic is one such story. St Brendan tale of a voyage where he sees Heaven and Hell is the Gaelic version of it. Some of his adventures are told in the book “Celtic Christianity” by another Brendan. Mr Lehane argues that Christianity was different in the Celtic lands of Ireland and Highland Scotland, which were outwith the Roman Empire. He mentions that abbots were the highest ranking clergy not bishops.

We hear how St Columba converted the Picts. When he goes to visit their king Brude he finds his fort tightly locked. The saint makes the sign of the cross and knocks. The doors fall open and Brude is instantly converted. Lehane does mention though that others think St Ninian may well have converted the Picts two centuries earlier.

One of the stops on Turas Cholmchille
One of the stops on Turas Cholmchille – a pilgrimage trail in Donegal

He goes on to tell us about this feeling in Ireland that they are the chosen race and the Holy Spirit had come down on the country in a special way. This used to be much stronger, but is still to be found. At one time the Irish and Scottish cultures were linked much more closely than they are today. I sometimes feel that some of this special blessing is still to be felt in Scottish Gaeldom, too. Lehane mentions the following quotes: “How odd of God to choose the Jews.” Along those lines James Carney says: “How did God fail to choose the Gael?”

I feel the author doesn’t always reference in a way that one necessarily has to come to the same conclusion that Celtic Christianity was indeed very different from the European Church. He is very knowledgeable though not only about Gaelic history and culture, but about the European context as well.

Gaelic Gospel Choir “Soisgeul” on Isle of Iona

This track was recorded during a practice inside the abbey on the Isle of Iona, one of the earliest centres of Christianity in Scotland. It is sung by Soisgeul, the only Gaelic language Gospel choir. The song is called St Columba’s Hymn, St Columba being one of the first Irish monks to bring Christianity and the Gaelic language to Scotland.

(English version following below)

Dh’fhaodte gun deach òrain ann an stoidhle gospel a sgrìobhadh ann an Gàidhlig. B’ e sin a thuirt Gareth Fuller a tha na stiùiriche air diofar chòisirean ann an ceann a deas Shasainn. Gu dearbha cha robh ann ach fealla-dhà, ach bha e a’ feuchainn ri ràdh gun robh ceòl soisgeulach agus a’ Ghàidhlig a’ dol còmhla glè mhath. Dh’aidich e gun robh teagamh gu math mòr air dar a chunnaic e an t-eadar-theangachadh an toiseach ge-tà.

Thàinig timcheall air 50 de mhuinntir “Shoisgeul” còmhla an Eilean Ì air a’ mhìos seo. Chan eil fada bhon a thòisich iad a’ seinn òrain soisgeulach ann an Gàidhlig. Ach leis nach eil iad stèidhichte ann an àite sònraichte sam bith bha dùbhlan romhpa mun t-slighe air adhart. Cha bhi iad a’ cruinneachadh ach dh’fhaodte dà thuras sa bhliadhna. Ach an turas seo fhuair iad cuideachadh proifeiseanta. Dh’eadar-theangaich an seinneadair Màiri-Anna NicGualraig òrain a tha aithnichte ann an saoghal soisgeulach gu Gàidhlig. Ged nach eil e furasta eadar-theangachadh a dhèanamh a tha dlùth ris a’ chiall agus a tha ag obair a thaobh ruitheam rinn i fìor dheagh obair air.

Bha spòrs air leth againn. Nach e bha math ùrnaigh a dhèanamh anns an dòigh seo cuideachd. Cha robh na h-òrain furasta ionnsachadh ge-tà. Ach theirinnsa gun robh an Tighearna a’ coimhead sìos oirnn gu fàbharrach air sgàth is gun tàinig a’ ghrian a-mach timcheall air meadhan là agus bha feasgar àlainn ann an Eilean Ì. Choisich sinn suas bhon talla, far an robh sinn ag obair fad an là, dhan abaid. Abair fuaim a rinn sinn an sin is sinn cuideachd a’ seinn “Sìneadh/ Laoidh Chaluim Chille”. B’ i Màiri-Anna a chuir co-sheirm ris agus ged nach b’ e òran soisgeulach a bh’ ann bha e air leth freagarrach ga sheinn ann an àite aig a’ bheil ceangal cho dlùth ris an Naomh Chaluim Chille.

A’ coiseachd air ais dhan talla bha a’ ghrian air a dhol fodha agus a’ ghealach a’ dèarrsadh. Abair sealladh ga faicinn a’ dèarrsadh tro uinneagan tobhta thaigh nan cailleachan-dubha. Bha e mar gun robh na cailleachan-dubha a-staigh agus an solas aca air. Dh’fhaodte gun do chòrd an ceòl san talla ri a thaobh riuthasan cuideachd. Thàinig là air leth gu crìch le cèilidh far am facas dannsa gu leòr is eile.

Dh’fhuirich mise ann an taigh-ùrnaigh na h-Eaglaise Caitligich air a’ bheil Cnoc a’ Chalmain. Is e àite snog a th’ ann airson beagan fois agus sìth fhaotainn. Tha e suidhichte air cnoc le sealladh eireachdail dhan a’ mhuir. Bha Sr Jean a tha a’ ruith an àite glè fhialaidh gu dearbha, ach dh’innse i dhomh gu bheil i a’ gluasad gu obair ùir agus gun tig cuideigin na h-àite.

Cho-dhùn “Soisgeul” feuchainn ri cuirm a chuir air dòigh aig Celtic Connections na h-ath bhliadhna. Thug na h-òrain seo togail air leth dhomh is iad gam bhrosnachadh mo làn earbsa a chuir anns an Tighearna agus anns na comasan agam fhìn.

Maybe Gospel Songs Were First Written in Gaelic

Those were the words of Gareth Fuller, a well known gospel choir director during a workshop on the Isle of Iona recently. He admits he was puzzled when he first saw the translations of gospel songs into Gaelic, but soon found they worked really well. Not only did the translations by Mary-Ann Kennedy fit perfectly into the rhythm, but they remained true to the original meaning as well.

“Soisgeul” are a Gaelic gospel choir. They haven’t been going for very long and only meet about twice a year as they aren’t based in any particular locality. This challenge led some to question the future of the choir. Now they decided they needed some expert gospel training and around 50 people got involved this time round.

The Lord must have enjoyed the singing since the weather turned for the better as the day progressed. In the evening Soisgeul performed their songs inside the Abbey. They were so uplifting and really encouraged faith in the Lord and in one’s own abilities. At night the ruined nunnery was lit up by the moon in a way that it seemed as if the lights were on inside. Maybe the nuns enjoyed the singing, too. The day concluded with a good west coast ceilidh in the village hall.

I stayed at Cnoc a’ Chalmain, Catholic House of Prayer. It is a great place overlooking the sea and very well looked after by Sr Jean. She is leaving soon, but a replacement has now been appointed and so this place of rest and peace will remain open. After the gospel workshop Soisgeul’s conductor, Mary-Ann Kennedy said, they would now aim for a gig at Celtic Connections next year.

Religion in Großbritannien

Das große Familienfest zu Weihnachten findet in Großbritannien am Morgen des 25.12. statt. Soviel ist vielleicht noch bekannt. Aber in dem Land, in dem an Sonntagen das Einkaufen schon lange möglich war, bevor in Deutschland erste Geschäfte öffneten, geht an Weihnachten gar nichts. Das Fest der Christenheit ist hier hochheilig, was sich z.B. dadurch zeigt, dass im ganzen Land an diesem Tag keine Züge fahren.

Abbey above the beach on the Isle of Iona
Iona Abbey; hier gründete 563 der aus Irland stammende Heilige Columba ein Kloster und war damit ein Mitbegründer des Christentums in Großbritannien. Heute besteht in der mittelalterlichen Abtei eine protestantische Laiengemeinschaft, die Iona Community. Einige Protestanten sehen den St Columba als Vorkämpfer des Protestantismus.

Am Neujahrstag hingegen verkehren in England einige Züge, während in Schottland auch dann nichts geht. Obwohl das Vereinigte Königreich von Großbritannien und Nordirland insgesamt überwiegend protestantisch ist, bestehen doch deutliche Unterschiede. Religion ist die Angelegenheit der “Nationen,” England, Schottland, Wales und Nordirland. In Schottland besteht eine andere Form des Protestantismus als in England. Für die ist der Neujahrstag noch heiliger als Weihnachten.

In England dominiert die anglikanische Kirche, gegründet durch König Henry VIII, weil der Papst ihm die Annullierung seiner Ehe verweigerte. Die Church of England ist auf der ganzen Welt vertreten, vor allem aber in vormals britischen Kolonien. Es gibt in ihr verschiedene Strömungen. Die sogenannte Hohe Kirche sieht sich eigentlich als katholisch und geht zur (anglikanischen) Messe. Die Niedere Kirche hingegen hat fast schon freikirchlichen Charakter.

Zwar ist die Königin schon lange oberste Gouverneurin der Kirche, aber erst 1992 beschlossen die Anglikaner auch Frauen zum Priesteramt zuzulassen, und in 2014 wurde Libby Lane die erste Bischöfin. Wegen der Verbundenheit der britischen Krone mit der Kirche, dürfen Thronfolger noch heute keine Katholiken heiraten, denn deren Kinder wären nach kanonischem Recht ja auch Katholiken, was in der Zukunft zu einem Dilemma führen würde.

Die anglikanische Kirche existiert auch als Church in Wales, Scottish Episcopal Church und Church of Ireland. In Schottland hat aber in der Mitte des 16. Jh. unter der Führung von John Knox sich eine presbyterianische und calvinistische Kirche herausgebildet. In der Church of Scotland gibt es keine Bischöfe und der Pfarrer wird von der Gemeinde bestellt. Nicht selten findet man in einer presbyterianischen Kirche nicht einmal ein Kreuz, weil jegliche Symbole als Idole verteufelt sind. Von der Church of Scotland haben sich wiederum diverse Freikirchen abgespalten, wie z.B. die Free Church of Scotland.

Der Katholizismus wurde zur Zeiten der Reformation verboten und St John Ogilvie wurde wegen seines Glaubens 1615 in Glasgow erhängt. Erst 1878 konnte die katholische Kirche sich in Schottland reetablieren. Heute gibt es prozentual mehr Katholiken in Schottland als in England. Überwiegend sind sie Nachfahren irischer, italienischer und polnischer Einwanderer. In den Highlands und auf den südlichen Inseln der Äußeren Hebriden gab es aber auch Gegenden, die die Reformation nie erreicht hat. In Teilen der schottischen Bevölkerung bestehen noch immer starke Vorurteile gegenüber der jeweils anderen Konfession, die insbesondere bei Fußballspielen zwischen dem katholischen Club ‘Celtic’ und dem protestantischen ‘Rangers’ in Glasgow sich zuweilen entladen.

Shrine to Mother Mary, Isle of South Uist
Fàilte Dhut a Mhoire (Gälisch: Gegrüßest seist da Maria); die Insel Süd-Uist ist mehrheitlich katholisch, denn die Reformation hat sie nie erreicht.

Dennoch sind die Animositäten in Nordirland wegen der politischen Dimension noch viel stärker. Im 17. Jh. “pflanzte” (so die offizielle Bezeichnung) die britische Regierung protestantische Siedler im erzkatholischen Irland, vor allem im Norden. Als Irland 1922 unabhängig wurde, bildeten die Protestanten in Nordirland die Mehrheit und die Region blieb Teil des Vereinigten Königreiches. Da Katholiken aber in der Regel mehr Kinder haben als Protestanten, verändert sich das Verhältnis. Bei den letzten Wahlen zum nordirischen Parlament haben 2017 erstmals die (katholisch dominierten) Parteien, die für eine Vereinigung mit der Republik Irland sind, eine Mehrheit bekommen.

Nichtsdestotrotz hat eine Studie in 2016 ergeben, dass erstmals mehr Menschen im Vereinigten Königreich sich jetzt als unreligiös bezeichnen, denn als Christen. Missbrauchsskandale vor allem in der katholischen und in der anglikanischen Kirche haben ihr übriges getan. Dennoch schauen gerade im Jahr des 500-jährigen Reformationsjubiläums viele britische Protestanten nach Deutschland. Nicht nur die Anglikaner, die sich in Kommunion mit den Lutheranern befinden, sehen in Martin Luther ein Vorbild, auch die Presbyterianer schauen dieser Tage nach Wittenberg.

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