Benedict XVI addresses the Bishops of the UK

Oscott CollegeFrom Oscott College the Holy Father’s address to Bishops of England, Scotland and Wales:

Note the repetition of the word "prophetic".

Note especially the Successor of Peter’s comments about Anglicanorum coetibus.


My dear Brother Bishops,

This has been a day of great joy for the Catholic community in these islands. Blessed John Henry Newman, as we may now call him, has been raised to the altars as an example of heroic faithfulness to the Gospel and an intercessor for the Church in this land that he loved and served so well. Here in this very chapel in 1852, he gave voice to the new confidence and vitality of the Catholic community in England and Wales after the restoration of the hierarchy, and his words could be applied equally to Scotland a quarter of a century later. His beatification today is a reminder of the Holy Spirit’s continuing action in calling forth gifts of holiness from among the people of Great Britain, so that from east to west and from north to south, a perfect offering of praise and thanksgiving may be made to the glory of God’s name.

I thank Cardinal O’Brien and Archbishop Nichols for their words, and in so doing, I am reminded how recently I was able to welcome all of you to Rome for the Ad Limina visits of your respective Episcopal Conferences. [Let's us not forget to go back and reread them!  The address to the conference of England and Wales is here.  Scotland here.] We spoke then about some of the challenges you face as you lead your people in faith, particularly regarding the urgent need to proclaim the Gospel afresh in a highly secularized environment. [Benedict's constant theme of not letting our Catholic voice be driven from the public square.]  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[And, if they would admit it, even among the British Humanist Association.] 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, be sure to present in its fulness the life-giving message of the Gospel, including those elements which call into question the widespread assumptions of today’s culture. [Don't water it down.] As you know, a Pontifical Council has recently been established for the New Evangelization of countries of long-standing Christian tradition, [I was wondering if he would get around to this.  But this is with the bishops, so he will mention curial offices they have to deal with.] and I would encourage you to avail yourselves of its services in addressing the task before you. Moreover, many of the new ecclesial movements have a particular charism for evangelization, and I know that you will continue to explore appropriate and effective ways of involving them in the mission of the Church.

Since your visit to Rome, political changes in the United Kingdom have focused attention on the consequences of the financial crisis, which has caused so much hardship to countless individuals and families. The spectre of unemployment is casting its shadow over many people’s lives, and the long-term cost of the ill-advised investment practices of recent times is becoming all too evident. In these circumstances, there will be additional calls on the characteristic generosity of British Catholics, and I know that you will take a lead in calling for solidarity with those in need. The prophetic voice of Christians has an important role in highlighting the needs of the poor and disadvantaged, who can so easily be overlooked in the allocation of limited resources. In their teaching document Choosing the Common Good, the Bishops of England and Wales underlined the importance of the practice of virtue in public life. Today’s circumstances 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. [As economic times get harder, people will need spiritual support and also concrete works of charity.]

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. [He has been pounding this, necessarily.] I have spoken on many occasions of the deep wounds that such behaviour causes, in the victims first and foremost, but also in the relationships of trust that should exist between priests and people, between priests and their bishops, and between the Church authorities and the public. 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. [NB] 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.

As we reflect on the human frailty [I hope that eventually it will be possible to point out that this is really not a Catholic problem or issue.  It is a human problem, a result of sin.] that these tragic events so starkly reveal, we are reminded that, if we are to be effective Christian leaders, we must live lives of the utmost integrity, humility and holiness. As Blessed John Henry Newman once wrote, "O that God would grant the clergy to feel their weakness as sinful men, and the people to sympathize with them and love them and pray for their increase in all good gifts of grace" (Sermon, 22 March 1829). 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 (cf. Mt 9:37-38). In this regard, I am glad that I will shortly have the opportunity to meet the seminarians of England, Scotland and Wales, and to assure them of my prayers as they prepare to play their part in bringing in that harvest.

Finally, I should like to speak to you about two specific matters that affect your episcopal ministry at this time. One is the imminent publication of the new translation of the Roman Missal. [Of great interest to WDTPRSers.] I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for the contribution you have made, with such painstaking care, to the collegial exercise of reviewing and approving the texts. This has provided an immense service to Catholics throughout the English-speaking world. 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 more lively the eucharistic faith of the people of God, the deeper is its sharing in ecclesial life in steadfast commitment to the mission entrusted by Christ to his disciples" (Sacramentum Caritatis, 6). The other matter I touched upon in February with the Bishops of England and Wales, when I asked you to be generous in implementing the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. [Which when dealing with the Anglicans was left very much in the background.  However, in my comments at the beginning of this Visit, I mentioned that this document made up part of the backdrop.  It will loom larger in the wake of the Pope's Visit.] This should be seen as a prophetic gesture [there's that "prophetic" again.] that can contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics. 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.

With these sentiments, I thank you warmly for your hospitality over the past four days. Commending all of you and the people you serve to the intercession of Saint Andrew, Saint David and Saint George, I am pleased to impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to all the clergy, religious and lay faithful of England, Scotland and Wales.

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27 Responses to Benedict XVI addresses the Bishops of the UK

  1. thereseb says:

    Absolutely amazing address by David Cameron…. even the Pope looks amazed at the contents (good).

  2. Ben Trovato says:

    The Holy Father’s visit here has been a huge success. He has won over the hostile press, who were pre-disposed to see him as a German authoritarian, and has put new heart into the huge numbers of the faithful who turned out to see – and above all HEAR him. Our second daughter, Bernie, travelled to London to be with him at Westminster Cathedral and Hyde Park (despite the considerable organisational difficulties of the trip, involving two overnight coach trips). She has come back thoroughly enthused, and reports that the same is true of all the other pilgrims. Even we who couldn’t get to any of the events in person have benefitted hugely from his visit. Ad multos annos!

  3. Stephen Morgan says:

    I was staggered by David Cameron’s address. I was at the State Dinner for the Papal Government and Seguito on Friday (no Pope – he doesn’t do State Dinners, sadly, and we had the same from the Foreign Secretary and many other members of the cabinet. They really do get it. Thanks be to God, to Our Lady of Cardigan, Walsingham and Carfin, and to the intercession of Bl. John henry Newman.

  4. dspecht says:

    I did not know that these bishoply dressed lay-persons (“bishops”) are now bishops.

  5. irishgirl says:

    I’m so happy that the trip has been such a ‘smash success’!

    Pretty cool ‘group shot’ there….

  6. Geoffrey says:

    I know the new translation of the Roman Missal is supposed to come into effect the First Sunday of Advent 2011, but does anyone know when will other English-speaking countries adopt it, such as the UK, Canada, Australia, etc.?

  7. asperges says:

    The visit has been a great success and left many of the Pope’s critics disarmed. Even the appalling liberal Guardian newspaper has had some positive things to say.

    I am particularly pleased that the Pope has been able to imprint his own special charm, rather than constantly live in the shadow of his predecessor’s predisposition to playing the crowds. One often felt that with the circus surrounding the former, the message was lost in the hysteria; with a quieter approach, much of what this Pope said has been reflected thoughtfully and much better absorbed and listened to.

    Thank God for such a marvellous few days in his presence. We were truly honoured by it.

  8. MikeM says:

    Um, dspecht, these are the real bishops.

  9. dspecht says:

    Sorry, my comment above was foolish. Better to take time and read carefully, I was in too great hurry. I apologize. Please ignore my dumb resp. hastily half-cocked comment above!! Sry…

  10. doanli says:

    Praying for many blessings and graces on the UK as a result of this visit! What a wonderful, humble, good man is our Holy Father. Thank you Lord and Blessed Mother for keeping him safe and for the outpouring of love to him. I just want to hug him sometimes because of the abuse he has had to take.

    And I bet he is one tired pontiff right now!

  11. jfk03 says:

    Pope Benedict’s words are prophetic because, through the grace of God, he sees the big picture — what is happening in the world and, especially, in the European countries. He is the Pope of Christian Unity because he dares to take bold initiatives, and to think the unthinkable. True Christian unity is possible because with God all things are possible.

  12. terryprest says:

    In his writing and in his preaching Pope Benedict`s warm, loving and lovable character comes through and shines.

    The visit has done a lot to dispel in Britain the superficial caricature of the Pope portrayed by the media

    Unfortunately until now this media caricature has hidden what he has had to say and blinded people from his wise teaching.

  13. Magpie says:

    The visit has been a tremendous success and the Holy Father has shattered the picture the media painted for him. Hopefully some of what some on SKY News called the ‘Benedict Bounce’, will affect Ireland.

  14. Emilio III says:

    Why is St George ranked with St Andrew and St David? Surely it should be St Edward that belongs with them? St George was never the patron saint of England until Henry VIII decided that it was dangerous to have a deposed king as patron saint. Am I wrong?

  15. Noooo, St. George was England’s patron from the thirteenth century on, though St. Edward maintained his national importance. Blame the Plantagenets, not the Tudors!

    But really, St. Ed just isn’t a battle saint. Lots of Saxon kings were, but not him. So as England moved back onto the international stage as a force and went on crusade, it’s not surprising that they’d adopt a more martial saint.

  16. As someone who has ancestry from all the Isles of Great Britain, Ireland, included, I am so very happy, so proud, so absolutely edified by all that has happened these last four days. The Catholic heritage of my ancestors, marred by history and horrible persecution, yet identified and emphasized by our Holy Father these days has been an incredible spiritual experience for me.
    My maternal ancestors, going back to England, were Anglican pastors, many of them; but going back further to the 1500′s there are records of ancestors buried at St. Alban’s. I have been so very proud and edified by the emphasis upon the Catholic heritage in England, especially.
    What a profound tribute. I am just speechless!
    And reading in “Inside the Vatican”, a George Gilbert, a recusant, who hid and helped priests, has the same surname. That is my father’s lineage; I pray I am somehow related to him!

  17. Tradster says:

    “…I asked you to be generous in implementing the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus.”
    Would that he had added “and the Summorum Pontificum”. Pity.

    Slightly off-topic: does Pope Benedict write his speeches by himself? It’s incredible how many long, brilliant speeches are produced.

  18. Emilio III says:

    Are you sure? I find no reference for it before the Tudors. (I’m asking for information and would appreciate any reference, not arguing for argument’s sake.)

  19. It’s gonna happen…both SP and AC…despite the English/Welsh/Scots Bishops.
    It’s gonna happen!

  20. Catholic Encyclopedia says in its article:

    “The large red St. George’s cross on a white ground remains still the “white ensign” of the British Navy and it is also one of the elements which go to make up the Union Jack. Anyway, in the fourteenth century, “St. George’s arms” became a sort of uniform for English soldiers and sailors. We find, for example, in the wardrobe accounts of 1345-49, at the time of the battle of Crecy, that a charge is made for 86 penoncells of the arms of St. George intended for the king’s ship, and for 800 others for the men-at-arms (Archaeologia, XXXI, 119). A little later, in the Ordinances of Richard II to the English army invading Scotland, every man is ordered to wear “a signe of the arms of St. George” both before and behind, while the pain of death is threatened against any of the enemy’s soldiers “who do bear the same crosse or token of Saint George, even if they be prisoners”. Somewhat earlier than this Edward III had founded (c. 1347) the Order of the Garter, an order of knighthood of which St. George was the principal patron. The chapel dedicated to St. George in Windsor Caste was built to be the official sanctuary of the order, and a badge or jewel of St. George slaying the dragon was adopted as part of the insignia…

    “In 1415, the Constitution of Archbishop Chichele raised St. George’s Day to the rank of one of the greatest feasts and ordered it to be observed like Christmas Day.”

  21. TNCath says:

    During this visit, the Holy Father’s homilies and other talks have been among his best ever. It will be interesting to see what the “bounce” will be like following the Pope’s visit. Will the bishops of the UK heed the Holy Father’s words, or will this be yet another instruction from the Holy Father ignored once again?

  22. This probably goes under “Pope Benedict’s homily at the Vigil at Hyde Park” but I have to make this one comment;
    I googled “hung, drawn, and quartered”, both info and videos.
    I am gagging and heartsick at what I have read and seen.
    What these martyrs endured just minutes away from the Pope’s prayer vigil is just absolutely overwhelming.
    If you have the stomach, do it.
    How, in the name of all that is good, holy and true, could a Catholic (Christian) nation commit such absolute barbarity?? Even in the name of “high treason”?
    It’s not just be-heading, folks (the French revolution for all its demonic insidious nature, at least gave the executed a humane death)…this is just out of the realms of human consciousness.
    I won’t describe it here; but these Martyrs were truly heroic, absolute witnesses to Truth, the Catholic Faith and all that is Good and Holy. How this could happen in England is just beyond me; even in the 1500′s.
    It mirrors the atrocities committed in the first four centuries against Christians by the Roman Emporers; we listen to it each morning in the “Roman Martyrology”…(not too long ago we heard about a martyr (St. Gorgonius?) who was split open, had salt and vinegar applied to him, before roasting him and then beheading him!!) believe me, I’m ready to wretch about every other morning listening to these tortures and executions…but it’s the “patrimony” and “seed of the Church”…I gots to get over this somehow!!

  23. asperges says:

    @Nazareth Priest: All this seems to come to you as a surprise, but to English Catholics (at least those of us of a certain age and background: the young are taught very little about it), we have lived with this all our lives. Ecumenism in its proper sense (as this Pope understands it) is fine and good relations with those outside the Church is a must. But the false “we’re all the same now” attitude of the 70s was a very bitter pill for us in the light of the Reformation and the fate of the Faith and persecutions under Henry, Elizabeth and Edward as you describe.

    BTW Cardinal Heenan obtained an indult for England and Wales (not Scotland) in the 70s from Paul VI to allow the old rite of Mass precisely in the light of the “spirit of the martyrs.” We were the only country in the world to have such an indult. Bugnini was furious and attached all kinds of silly rules to discourage it. Some Bishops refused to give any permissioms.

    Also one needs to recognise that the 16th century was still a very barbarous time. As to how “Catholics could do this,” well it was sparked off first by a tyrant (Henry VIII) and later by all the Reformation stood for: look what Luther sparked off on the Continent. It was far from just conflicting ideology.

  24. S. Murphy says:

    Nazareth Priest –
    I like to tell neo-pagan new-agey friends that no, medieval Europeans wouldn’t have been NICE without that nasty ‘Xtianity,’ — they would’ve eaten each other.
    It’s taken a long time for ‘love your neighbor’ to start to sink in. To the extent that it has, these barbaric practices have been rightly deplored – and replaced by abortion. If I love my neighbor, I’m supposed to accept that she disagrees with me, and drive her to the clinic. Riiiight.
    It’s equally disturbing that baptized Christians participated in the Nazi atrocities – much as I’d like to slap people who go around saying ‘Hitler was Catholic,’* he had the grace of baptism. But then, our first parents had the grace of not needing baptism, and they still screwed up.
    It just shows how desperately we need Christ.

    *(Any other apostate is allowed to say they’re no longer Catholic, but Hitler alone is always Catholic, even while creating his own political quasi-religion, dabbling in the occult, etc. Why is that?)

  25. Genna says:

    Emilio III,
    St. Edward the Confessor was the last Saxon king of England. He was not deposed and he died a king in 1066. He married but took a vow of celibacy and had no children to succeed him. That led to the invasion by William of Normandy – the Norman Conquest – who succeeded Edward as king, having despatched the claimant, Harold, at the Battle of Hastings.
    Edward established the Abbey at Westminster, Anglican since the Reformation, where Benedict XVI attended a service, the first pope to do so.

  26. AnAmericanMother says:

    Nazareth Priest,

    The barbaric practice of hanging, drawing & quartering goes back a long way (at least as far as the execution of William Wallace), and was not exclusive to England.

    From the 14th c. forward was a pretty brutal time all the way around. I first encountered the sheer barbarity of it in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s historical novels — The White Company and Sir Nigel expecially. Good reads if you’re looking for something adventurous, well-written, and reasonably accurate historically.

  27. Gail F says:

    Nazareth Priest:

    Yes, it was truly horrific. The history of humanity is full of truly horrific ways to kill other people, and the Reformation had some really disgusting examples. And remember, they were ALL claiming to be the “real” Christians when they were doing this to each other. As Chesterton said, original sin is the only doctrine you don’t have to prove — just look around and you see it everywhere.

    You must remember that Catholics were not the only people who suffered then. The Catholics and the Protestants took turns massacring and executing each other. Protestants who look into the time period are equally appalled at what happened to them under the Catholics. I am always telling my Protestant friends who get mad at the Catholics when they study the time period that brutal executions were par for the course for EVERYONE at the time. To make a judgment about who was right and who was wrong, you have to look at the big picture and not at the brutal customs of the age.