I hadn't really intended blogging about the Pope's statement on Scottish Independence. It struck me as relatively anodyne, a sort of Argentinian version of Father Dougal's, 'Careful now'. But a few conversations recently have convinced me that at least some Nationalists (and doubtless Unionists) have interpreted the statement as an addition to the List of Prominent People Who Have Spoken Out Against Independence. Before this enters too far into the status of urban myth, I should probably try to correct the picture.
Another urban myth: if you say, 'Papa Francesco' in front of your computer screen three times, he'll Skype you.
The full interview can be found here in Spanish. A fullish English summary can be found here.
The main thing to note about this is that Pope Francis is simply repeating Catholic social teaching. As I've blogged before, the principles of subsidiarity (ie authority descending to the lowest unit of society) and nationality (ie the normal condition of one people constituting one nation) do stack up heavily on the Nationalist side. But equally there is the principle of solidarity:
The commitment to this goal is translated into the positive contribution of seeing that nothing is lacking in the common cause and also of seeking points of possible agreement where attitudes of separation and fragmentation prevail. [From the Compendium: para 194.]
Above all, political authority exists for the promotion of felicitas, of the good life:
Political authority is an instrument of co-ordination and direction by means of which the many individuals and intermediate bodies must move towards an order in which relationships , institutions and procedures are put at the service of integral human growth. 
Given the complex web of principles and the variety of concrete circumstances, making a decision in this area requires the exercise of the virtue of practical wisdom (prudentia):
the virtue that makes it possible to discern the true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means for achieving it. Thanks to this virtue, moral principles are applied correctly to particular cases. We can identify three distinct moments as prudence is exercised to clarify and evaluate situations, to inspire decisions and to prompt action. The first moment is seen in the reflection and consultation by which the question is studied and the necessary opinions sought. The second moment is that of evaluation, as the reality is analyzed and judged in the light of God's plan. The third moment, that of decision, is based on the preceding steps and makes it possible to choose between the different actions that may be taken.
On the basis of Catholic social teaching, therefore, one would expect a Pope in such circumstances as the current Scottish Independence campaign to point out a few principles, and to advise voters to think very carefully about their decision in the light of these principles and the concrete circumstances in which they find themselves. And that is precisely what he's done.
So why the brouhaha? (If there is brouhaha. I may simply be coming across a few individuals more given to the practice of brouhahing than normal.) Here's some suggestions:
1) Some Nationalists think the answer to the referendum is so obvious that even asking for thought smacks of opposition. Clearly nuts. It's an important decision made with a lot of uncertainties. For some, there is a tendency towards a 'Sod it' decision: why not give it a go? (Tom Gallagher has suggested that the referendum may be decided by 'volatile and emotional' men with too much time on their hands.) Anyway, a non starter. Think hard about this decision: it matters. A lot. (For balance, I should add that there is a corresponding Unionist version of this category: again, a non-starter.)
2) The Pope talked about division and was against it. So he must be against the dissolution of the UK. Context matters here. The question posed was: "¿Le preocupa el conflicto entre Catalunya y España?" (Does the conflict between Catalonia and Spain worry you?) It was in reply to this that the Pope said: 'Toda división me preocupa.' (Any division worries me.) It is fair to say, I think, that the struggle between Catalan Nationalism and the Spanish government can legitimately be described as a conflict, with severe disagreement about how (and indeed whether) a question about independence can be posed democratically. In comparison, there is no conflict in the UK on this issue: the constitutional process is relatively clear. The 'divisio' referred to here relates more to the bitterness than to the possibility of peaceful, constitutional separation.
3) The Pope put Scottish Independence in the 'doubtful' class rather than the class of obviously attaining freedom. The Pope distinguished between two types of independence: that by emancipation and that by secession. The first case is that of Imperial conquest and the liberation from that. [Las independencias por emancipación, por ejemplo, son las americanas, que se emanciparon de los estados europeos.] Scotland, pace extreme Nationalists, isn't really a case of that. That leaves the second case, where, in essence, we are dealing with some cases where it's a good idea (or at least inevitable -Yugoslavia) and some where it isn't. To decide which case Scotland falls into requires deliberation 'con muchas pinzas' which the BBC has as 'with a lot of grains of salt' but which (admittedly with my minimal Spanish) I take to be better translated as 'with a great deal of care'. So back to prudentia: take the decision seriously and think about it with great care.
It really isn't much more than, 'Careful now!', is it?