Belfast Telegraph

Son of Ian Paisley 'cannot understand' why Protestant churchmen would meet Pope

'If Protestantism continues to weaken, it's only a matter of time before a Pope heads north' Kyle Paisley wrote

By Gareth Cross

The son of the late First Minister of Northern Ireland Ian Paisley, has criticised Protestant churchmen who decided to meet Pope Francis during his trip to Dublin.

Writing in The Times Rev Kyle Paisley said that he could not understand why any Protestant churchmen would want to meet the Pope due to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

His father founded the Free Presbyterian Church and served as moderator for many years.

Presbyterian Church Moderator Dr Charles McMullan joined other religious leaders, as well as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, at a civic reception for the Pope in Dublin Castle on Saturday.

The DUP, the political party founded by Ian Paisley, was the only major political party in Northern Ireland to decline to send a representative to the event.

Kyle Paisley warned that it was only a matter of time before a Papal visit to Northern Ireland as "Protestantism continues to weaken".

Rev Paisley wrote that since the death of his father in 2014 "there is hardly a Protestant protagonist of any note left in Ulster".

The Rev Paisley, who is a minister at Oulton Broad Free Presbyterian Church in Suffolk, wrote that he believed no Pope would set foot in Northern Ireland while his father was alive and admitted his surprise that Pope Francis had not elected to visit Northern Ireland as part of his trip.

"The best player can miss an open goal. But I cannot forget that Francis is a Jesuit. Jesuits are not known for being blunderers, but for their subtlety. They are wise as serpents," he wrote.

"If Protestantism continues to weaken and gives the impression of aloofness from controversy — perish the thought — it would make a papal visit inevitable."

Rev Paisley criticised unionists on Belfast City Council for abstaining from a vote on inviting Pope Francis to Belfast in 2014.

"What concerns me more than anything is the man’s view of himself and how it reflects on the teachings of scripture," he wrote.

"I cannot understand why any Protestant churchmen would want to meet the Pope anywhere."

Rev Paisley directly criticised Dr McMullan for deciding to meet the Pope saying he was paying "lip service" by signing a confession which called the Pope "the man of sin and son of perdition".

"I would have more time for Presbyterian ministers who rewrote the confession or separated from their church to form another than for those whose profession is in letter only and who go on to compromise the honour of the son of God," he wrote.

"Thankfully there are dissenting voices within Irish Presbyterianism."

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