Norman Hamilton, Presbyterian Moderator, has claimed his decision not to meet Joseph Ratzinger, Bishop of Rome, was due to “troubling issues” which needed to be addressed.
However, the moderator said he had declined the opportunity to be presented to the Pope or to shake his hand after the service because there were a number of issues which needed “substantive discussion back in Ireland”.
“There appear to be troubling differences between us on how we deal with the past,” he said.
“Colleagues of mine are picking up pastoral issues within the Catholic Church, where Catholic families are coming to them asking for pastoral help, sometimes in the most difficult of circumstances, because they do not want Catholic clergy to deal with them in light of the abuse scandals.”
He doesn’t always have a closed hand and no interaction policy to people involved with “troubling issues” which need to be addressed.
In June, just weeks after the murder of Bobby Moffat, Hamilton stated he was open to direct talks with the UVF:
When asked by UTV if he would talk to the UVF, Dr Hamilton replied: “I certainly would”.