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Viewpoint from Rt Rev Dr Alan Winton 27/06/2014 

alan winton‘Untying the Knots’ 

Rt Rev Dr Alan Winton
Bishop of Thetford

as published in the Yarmouth Mercury
I recently read a fascinating book about Pope Francis by the journalist, Paul Vallely. Its subtitle is ‘Untying the Knots’, and derives from a copy of a painting that Jorge Mario Bergoglio brought back to Argentina after a spell in Germany in the 1980s. The picture shows Mary, the mother of Jesus, untying the knots in a ribbon. In part, the idea of the image goes back to an early church writer who spoke of “the knot of Eve’s disobedience being loosed by the obedience of Mary”
Whatever we think of the idea of that painting, and the spirituality that lies behind it, the picture of sin and failure being a knot that needs to be untied is an intriguing one

dove leftThe book goes on to tell the story of the Pope’s life before he reached this high office, and includes quite a detailed account of the period when Argentina was under military rule. There were subsequent allegations that Bergoglio didn’t do enough at that time to resist the evil and violence that took place. It’s hard to get to the truth of what happened then, but it seems clear that Bergoglio grew to regret some of his actions or failure to act. He was a relatively young man who had been put into a position of huge responsibility at a very difficult time in his nation’s life


Dove rightBut what seems clear is that he recognized there were some knots in his story that needed to be untied, and Paul Vallely’s book goes on to recount something of the way the Pope learned from his past and, under God, changed some of his deepest convictions. He moved on from being suspicious of priests who worked with the poor and became involved in the difficult politics of South America, to become the Pope whose early time in office has been marked by a deep commitment to the poor and a desire to renounce the more elaborate trappings of his office


It’s rare to read of someone who recognizes their mistakes, learns from them and changes in such a significant way. In his own story, Pope Francis seems to model the Gospel message of God’s grace and mercy by which he wishes to untie the knots in which we so easily tie ourselves

I recommend the book to you and Pope Francis to your prayers