Benedict XVI’s talk with the bishops of England and Wales

Bishop of England and WalesFirst… read this:

In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free.

On 1 Feb, today, Pope Benedict had a little chat with bishops of England and Wales, in Rome for their ad limina.

My emphases and comments

[...]

Your country is well known for its firm commitment to equality of opportunity for all members of society. Yet as you have rightly pointed out, the effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs. In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed. [Here goes...] I urge you as Pastors to ensure that the Church’s moral teaching be always presented in its entirety and convincingly defended. Fidelity to the Gospel in no way restricts the freedom of others – on the contrary, it serves their freedom by offering them the truth. Continue to insist upon your right to participate in national debate through respectful dialogue with other elements in society. In doing so, you are not only maintaining long-standing British traditions of freedom of expression and honest exchange of opinion, but you are actually giving voice to the convictions of many people who lack the means to express them: when so many of the population claim to be Christian, how could anyone dispute the Gospel’s right to be heard?  [Note the connection between the clear teaching of faith and the need to have an impact in the public square?  The connecting term is our Catholic identity.  If we don't have a strong identity, we have nothing of interest to offer in the public square.  This is what I have been hammering at for years regarding Pope Benedict's plan,"Marshall Plan", for the Church.  He is trying to rebuild, revitalize our devastated Catholic identity.]

If the full saving message of Christ is to be presented effectively and convincingly to the world, the Catholic community in your country needs to speak with a united voice. This requires not only you, the Bishops, but also priests, teachers, catechists, writers – in short all who are engaged in the task of communicating the Gospel – to be attentive to the promptings of the Spirit, who guides the whole Church into the truth, gathers her into unity and inspires her with missionary zeal. [The only way to speak with a united voice is for everyone to be faithful to the Church's cult, code and creed.]

Make it your concern, then, to draw on the considerable gifts of the lay faithful in England and Wales and see that they are equipped to hand on the faith to new generations comprehensively, accurately, and with a keen awareness that in so doing they are playing their part in the Church’s mission. [In other words, teach and be sure that catechesis and preaching are sound.] In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, [Here is comes...] it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. [SKADOOSH!] It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition [!] and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium [!] that sets us free. Cardinal Newman realized this, and he left us an outstanding example of faithfulness to revealed truth by following that "kindly light" wherever it led him, even at considerable personal cost. Great writers and communicators of his stature and integrity are needed in the Church today, and it is my hope that devotion to him will inspire many to follow in his footsteps.

Much attention has rightly been given to Newman’s scholarship and to his extensive writings, but it is important to remember that he saw himself first and foremost as a priest. In this Annus Sacerdotalis, I urge you to hold up to your priests his example of dedication to prayer, pastoral sensitivity towards the needs of his flock, and passion for preaching the Gospel. You yourselves should set a similar example. Be close to your priests, and rekindle their sense of the enormous privilege and joy of standing among the people of God as alter Christus. In Newman’s words, "Christ’s priests have no priesthood but His … what they do, He does; when they baptize, He is baptizing; when they bless, He is blessing" (Parochial and Plain Sermons, VI 242). Indeed, since the priest plays an irreplaceable role in the life of the Church, spare no effort in encouraging priestly vocations and emphasizing to the faithful the true meaning and necessity of the priesthood. Encourage the lay faithful to express their appreciation of the priests who serve them, and to recognize the difficulties they sometimes face on account of their declining numbers and increasing pressures. The support and understanding of the faithful is particularly necessary when parishes have to be merged or Mass times adjusted. Help them to avoid any temptation to view the clergy as mere functionaries but rather to rejoice in the gift of priestly ministry, a gift that can never be taken for granted.

Ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue assume great importance in England and Wales, given the varied demographic profile of the population. As well as encouraging you in your important work in these areas, I would ask you to be generous in implementing the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, so as to assist those groups of Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. [And they are traditional Anglicans.] I am convinced that, if given a warm and open-hearted welcome, such groups will be a blessing for the entire Church.

[...]

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcyzQxYuEx0]

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA, The Drill and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Benedict XVI’s talk with the bishops of England and Wales

  1. Jayna says:

    “In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate.”

    BOOM!

    Sorry I don’t have anything more intelligent to say. I’m just pumped about the smackdown.

  2. TNCath says:

    Did you see the looks on those bishops’ faces? Their pained expressions said it all. They looked like kids who had been naughty on the playground and had been caught by their teacher.

    My favorite part: “It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free. Cardinal Newman realized this, and he left us an outstanding example of faithfulness to revealed truth by following that “kindly light” wherever it led him, even at considerable personal cost.

    In other words, that purple and red on your cassocks mean something more than just decoration!

    This was definitely a “trip to the woodshed.” I think this is just Part I of II. Part II will be his address to the Irish bishops in a couple of weeks.

    I can’t wait for the ad limina visits of the U.S. Bishops!

  3. gloriainexcelsis says:

    How I love this Pope. God bless and give him many more years. And yes, TNCath, I can’t wait for the ad limina visits of the U.S. Bishops, as well.

  4. Hans says:

    I’m beginning to think that this Papacy isn’t merely “Reform of the Reform”;
    this is Renaissance.

    Ad multos annos, Papa Benedictus!

  5. Central Valley says:

    Taken to the wood shed by the Holy Father. How blessed we are with Benedict XVI.

  6. Mariana says:

    “…it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate.”

    Brilliant!

    “It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition…”

    Brilliant!

    “…and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free.”

    Brilliant!

  7. Annie says:

    I can’t stop smiling!

  8. John Fannon says:

    What strikes me is how gentle the Pope’s voice is, but how clear and logical and firm his direction.

    A loving father.

    God Bless him and give him many more years.

  9. Sixupman says:

    The UK Government is made up of ex Communists and ‘fellow travellers’, gaining power under the guise of moderate Socialism. They have pulled the UK apart, with consequences yet to be fully understood. The alternatives are no better.

    The BBC, their mouthpiece, has yesterday orchestrated a polemic on euthanasia and to-day an attack on BXVI. Prominent homosexuals are given free rein within the organisation.

    Some years ago at a Catholic Conference, I opined the view that the European Union was anti-Catholic and so it has turned out. An organisation ruled by faceless bureaucrats responsible only to themselves and self-perpetuating.

    Take it from me, Vatican II Catholicism [as created and executed by the hierarchies] is acceptable to the governments, but one whiff of ‘real’ Catholicism and the knives come out. We are in for a very rough ride indeed. Mother Church has suffered since Her clerics have sought not to be hated and look where that has got us.

  10. Ogard says:

    Fascinating! Those of good will and bright enough will take it in; but still, they are facing the problem of passing it on to many who are not of good will or not bright enough, or both, and yet had to be cared for rather than written off.

  11. MrsHall says:

    “In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate.”

    Do we recognize what a _gift_ Pope Benedict is to the Church?! Wow!

  12. StMalachy says:

    The bishop of our diocese (who shall go nameless) looks like he is fast asleep. No doubt he is and dreaming of “stewardship” and “active participation by the laity” and a resurrection of the glory days of the “magic circle”.

    Come in number 73, your time is nearly up.

  13. uptoncp says:

    The BBC has the usual suspects lined up to comment: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8493280.stm

    The one that surprises me, though, is:

    Robert Mickens, Rome correspondent at the Catholic newspaper The Tablet, said the Pope’s position was “nothing really new – this is part of the classic Catholic teaching on human sexuality”.

    “What the Pope is doing is trying to encourage the bishops to keep their resolve in very fluctuating morals in cultures and societies today.”

  14. Sedgwick says:

    …long-standing British traditions of freedom of expression and honest exchange of opinion…

    Really?? You mean, like suppressing the Catholic faith and slaughtering its clergy? A bit too optimistic for me, Holy Father. On the other hand, thank you for your blunt assessment of dissent. Can’t wait to see what you have to say to the Scottish bishops! (Hint: the faithful in Scotland have never even heard of Summorum Pontificum.)

  15. Well, that BBC article was interesting for its honesty. One minute, the coverage is all “oh, this Equality Bill is for women”. But now, it’s all magically revealed to be about men carrying on openly with other men, or at a pinch, people who’ve had transsexual operations. They barely even bother to mention women.

    Yep… when male homosexuality activism enters the room, feminism must bow and cringe out of the way. All that work on feminism, and they throw it away to acknowledge men as their leftish lords and masters. No wonder feminism can’t unify to fight the injustices of sharia.

  16. asperges says:

    The Pope’s comments were headline news this morning on BBC news – unheard of. See The Times report http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article7011906.ece (if it works outside UK)

  17. irishgirl says:

    Hmmm-do I sense a subtle ‘smackdown’ of the English and Welsh Bishops?

    How I love this Holy Father-may Our Lord give him many more years!

  18. TJerome says:

    His Holiness has a wonderful way with words. Such lucid thinking, which the bishops are probably not accustomed to if the bishops are reading the Tablet. Tom

  19. puma19 says:

    The talk given to the bishops of England and Wales has caused an outcry of protest….wowoow, did we expect less when the Pope speaks on matters of faith and morals.
    But let’s get it clear – the main anger in the media is from non-catholic media types, the loud gay people who are always angry at the Church and especially this pope. The media have a field day here in Britian.
    But…..history tells us, does it no, that this IS WHAT TO EXPECT. The Gospel is one of contradiction, it leads always to the Cross and what that means. Christ was pilloried, scourged, whipped and then crucified. Should Popes expect less when speaking out.
    Look at previous popes and martyrs.
    Thomas a’Beckett was the leading martyr here as archbishop. Thomas More was beheaded for opposing the King creator of the Church of England.
    Yes indeed, persecution, strong differences of opinion will be there well into the future and Britain which is very much a secular-pagan land is at the front of a non-moral agenda. The govt here is filled with atheists, all trendy as well as gay guys and a few believers. Brown never goes to Church and you would be searching for a needle in the haystack to find more than a single cabinet minister who regularly worships.
    So, let’s hope the bishops of England and Wales will now preach what the pope has demanded and expect to be persecuted…because it never happens the the Anglicans – this is the time for a faith stand…at last.

  20. boko fittleworth says:

    The pull-quote is very powerful. It shows the pope knows darn well what’s going on. But these are all JPII bishops, maybe a couple BXVI ones, right? If our popes selected the right men to be bishops, the strong words wouldn’t be necessary. And with the wrong men, the strong words will have little to no effect.

  21. thereseb says:

    Interestingly – there are a significant number of comments on all the newspaper blogs saying ‘I’m not a Catholic, but I agree’. It has also provoked discussions about the ‘Natural Law’. Evangelisation?

  22. Ceile De says:

    All I noticed was Archbishop Nichols’ very anodyne statements in the English press that His Holiness was entitled to air his views, without unambiguously saying he, and the English Church, supported them.

  23. chloesmom says:

    Bravo, Holy Father! I pray that they will listen and follow the teachings of Holy Mother Church.

  24. Hans says:

    While I think that Pope Benedict is playing his role in strengthening his brother bishops, I suspect that his primary audience was outside the room:

    February 3, 2010
    Harriet Harman backs down over employment equality for churches
    .

  25. Hans says:

    Oh, and asperges, the link worked fine here.

  26. DarkKnight says:

    Gee, the bishops didn’t even have a group photo taken with Papa? Then there were the rumors of their missing vespers.

    Wonder if they were sent to their beds without supper, too.

  27. uptoncp says:

    Hans – to be fair, I think the defeat in the Lords (largely orchestrated by the CofE bishops) played at least as big a part in the government’s decision.

  28. Hans says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised. I just said that, “I suspect that his primary audience was outside the room”. I didn’t say he would be listened to; it’s hard enough to get Catholics to do that.