|Meeting with Bishops of England, Wales and Scotland
Vatican Information Service
September 20, 2010
VATICAN CITY, 19 SEP 2010 (VIS) - Today at 4.45 p.m. the Holy Father met with the Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland in the chapel of Oscott College in Birmingham.
In his address to the group the Pope recalled how, during the recent "ad limina" visit of their respective episcopal conferences, particular attention had been given to "the urgent need to proclaim the Gospel afresh in a highly secularised environment. In the course of my visit it has become clear to me how deep a thirst there is among the British people for the Good News of Jesus Christ", he said. "You have been chosen by God to offer them the living water of the Gospel, encouraging them to place their hopes, not in the vain enticements of this world, but in the firm assurances of the next.
"As you proclaim the coming of the Kingdom, with its promise of hope for the poor and the needy, the sick and the elderly, the unborn and the neglected", he added, "be sure to present in its fullness the life-giving message of the Gospel, including those elements which call into question the widespread assumptions of today's culture". In this context he encouraged the prelates to avail themselves of the recently-established Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation of countries of long-standing Christian tradition.
Turning his attention then to the financial crisis, Benedict XVI expressed the certainty that the bishops would call on British Catholics to show their "characteristic generosity" towards people in need. "Today's circumstances", he said, "provide a good opportunity to reinforce that message, and indeed to encourage people to aspire to higher moral values in every area of their lives, against a background of growing cynicism regarding even the possibility of virtuous living".
The Holy Father went on: "Another matter which has received much attention in recent months, and which seriously undermines the moral credibility of Church leaders, is the shameful abuse of children and young people by priests and religious. ... I know that you have taken serious steps to remedy this situation, to ensure that children are effectively protected from harm and to deal properly and transparently with allegations as they arise. You have publicly acknowledged your deep regret over what has happened, and the often inadequate ways it was addressed in the past. Your growing awareness of the extent of child abuse in society, its devastating effects, and the need to provide proper victim support should serve as an incentive to share the lessons you have learned with the wider community. Indeed, what better way could there be of making reparation for these sins than by reaching out, in a humble spirit of compassion, towards children who continue to suffer abuse elsewhere? Our duty of care towards the young demands nothing less".
"If we are to be effective Christian leaders, we must live lives of the utmost integrity, humility and holiness", said the Pope. "I pray that among the graces of this visit will be a renewed dedication on the part of Christian leaders to the prophetic vocation they have received, and a new appreciation on the part of the people for the great gift of the ordained ministry. Prayer for vocations will then arise spontaneously, and we may be confident that the Lord will respond by sending labourers to bring in the plentiful harvest that He has prepared throughout the United Kingdom".
The Holy Father concluded by referring to "two specific matters that affect your episcopal ministry at this time. One is the imminent publication of the new translation of the Roman Missal. ... I encourage you now to seize the opportunity that the new translation offers for in-depth catechesis on the Eucharist and renewed devotion in the manner of its celebration".
The second matter to which the Pope referred concerned generosity "in implementing the Apostolic Constitution 'Anglicanorum Coetibus'. This should be seen as a prophetic gesture that can contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics", he said. "It helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion in the context of which the mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as an enrichment to us all.
"Let us continue to pray and work unceasingly in order to hasten the joyful day when that goal can be accomplished".
Before leaving Oscott College for Birmingham airport, the Holy Father greeted and blessed 130 British seminarians who were gathered there to see him.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.