PROGRESS IN MANY AREAS OF ANGLICAN-CATHOLIC DIALOGUE VATICAN CITY, 17 SEP 2010 (VIS report) - At 3.40 p.m. today the Holy Father travelled by car to Lambeth Palace in London, the official residence of the archbishop of Canterbury. The palace library, one of the oldest in the country, contains more than 120,000 books concerning the political, social and economic history of English-speaking countries. It also houses the archives of the archbishops of Canterbury from the thirteenth century to the present, and the archives of the Church of England. The Church of England, a national Church which broke away from the Catholic Church in 1533 when King Henry VIII passed the Act of Supremacy, is made up of the ecclesiastical provinces of Canterbury and York which comprise the forty-three dioceses of the United Kingdom. The Church of England has twenty-five million faithful, forty-three percent of the country's population; Queen Elizabeth is its supreme governor while its spiritual head is the archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England. The archbishops who preside over the two provinces and twenty-four other bishops sit by right in the House of Lords. The Anglican Communion has some eighty million faithful in thirty-eight autonomous provinces in 164 countries. Arriving at Lambeth Palace the Holy Father was welcomed into the library by Rowan Williams, the current archbishop of Canterbury. Also present at the meeting were the archbishop of York, the primate of Scotland, and the bishops of London and Winchester. The Holy Father visited an exhibition currently being held in the library commemorating the 400th anniversary of its foundation. Then, following a brief prayer and some remarks from Archbishop Williams, he delivered an address to those present. Recalling how Archbishop Williams had mentioned the historic meeting thirty years ago between Pope John Paul II and Robert Runcie, then archbishop of Canterbury, Benedict XVI noted that, despite "the difficulties that the ecumenical path has encountered and continues to encounter", in the forty years since the inception of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission there has been "remarkable progress ... in so many areas of dialogue". "The context in which dialogue takes place between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church has evolved in dramatic ways since the private meeting between Pope John XXIII and Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher in 1960", said Pope Benedict. "On the one hand, the surrounding culture is growing ever more distant from its Christian roots, despite a deep and widespread hunger for spiritual nourishment. On the other hand, the increasingly multicultural dimension of society, particularly marked in this country, brings with it the opportunity to encounter other religions. For us Christians this opens up the possibility of exploring, together with members of other religious traditions, ways of bearing witness to the transcendent dimension of the human person and the universal call to holiness. ... Ecumenical co-operation in this task remains essential, and will surely bear fruit in promoting peace and harmony in a world that so often seems at risk of fragmentation. "At the same time", he added, "we Christians must never hesitate to proclaim our faith in the uniqueness of the salvation won for us by Christ, and to explore together a deeper understanding of the means He has placed at our disposal for attaining that salvation. God 'wants all to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth', and that truth is nothing other than Jesus Christ. ... In fidelity to the Lord's will, ... we recognise that the Church is called to be inclusive, yet never at the expense of Christian truth. Herein lies the dilemma facing all who are genuinely committed to the ecumenical journey". In this context, the Pope mentioned Cardinal John Henry Newman, "whose ecclesial vision was nurtured by his Anglican background and matured during his many years of ordained ministry in the Church of England. He can teach us the virtues that ecumenism demands: on the one hand, he was moved to follow his conscience, even at great personal cost; and on the other hand, the warmth of his continued friendship with his former colleagues, led him to explore with them ... the questions on which they differed, driven by a deep longing for unity in faith". "In that same spirit of friendship", Pope Benedict concluded, "let us renew our determination to pursue the goal of unity in faith, hope, and love, in accordance with the will of our one Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ". After his meeting with the archbishop of Canterbury, Benedict XVI travelled by popemobile to Westminster Hall.PV-UNITED KINGDOM/ VIS 20100918 (760)
COMMUNIQUE ON POPE'S MEETING WITH ANGLICAN PRIMATE VATICAN CITY, 17 SEP 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a joint English-language communique concerning this evening's meeting in Lambeth Palace between Benedict XVI and Archbishop Rowan William of Canterbury. "Fifty years after the first meeting of a Pope and an Archbishop of Canterbury in modern times - that of Pope John XXIII and Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher, in December 1960 - Pope Benedict XVI paid a fraternal visit to Archbishop Rowan Williams. "In the first part of their meeting they both addressed the Anglican and Roman Catholic diocesan bishops of England, Scotland and Wales, in the Great Hall of the archbishop's library, before moving to a private meeting. "In the course of their private conversation, they addressed many of the issues of mutual concern to Anglicans and Roman Catholics. They affirmed the need to proclaim the Gospel message of salvation in Jesus Christ, both in a reasoned and convincing way in the contemporary context of profound cultural and social transformation, and in lives of holiness and transparency to God. They agreed on the importance of improving ecumenical relations and continuing theological dialogue in the face of new challenges to unity from within the Christian community and beyond it. "The Holy Father and the Archbishop reaffirmed the importance of continuing theological dialogue on the notion of the Church as communion, local and universal, and the implications of this concept for the discernment of ethical teaching. "They reflected together on the serious and difficult situation of Christians in the Middle East, and called upon all Christians to pray for their brothers and sisters and support their continued peaceful witness in the Holy Land. In the light of their recent public interventions, they also discussed the need to promote a courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace, especially the needs of the poor, urging international leadership to fight hunger and disease. "Following their meeting they travelled together to the Palace of Westminster and to evening prayer at Westminster Abbey".PV-UNITED KINGDOM/ VIS 20100918 (350)
PROPER PLACE OF RELIGIOUS BELIEF IN THE POLITICAL PROCESS VATICAN CITY, 17 SEP 2010 (VIS) - At 5.15 p.m. today the Holy Father met with representatives from British civil society, and from the worlds of culture, academe and business, as well as the diplomatic corps and religious leaders. The meeting took place in Westminster Hall which, built in 1099, is the oldest part of Westminster Palace and is used for events of national and international significance. The Pope began his address by recalling "the countless men and women down the centuries who have played their part in the momentous events that have taken place within these walls and have shaped the lives of many generations of Britons, and others besides. "In particular", he added, "I recall the figure of St. Thomas More, the great English scholar and statesman, who is admired by believers and non-believers alike for the integrity with which he followed his conscience, even at the cost of displeasing the sovereign whose 'good servant' he was, because he chose to serve God first. The dilemma which faced More in those difficult times, the perennial question of the relationship between what is owed to Caesar and what is owed to God, allows me the opportunity to reflect with you briefly on the proper place of religious belief within the political process". "The fundamental questions at stake in Thomas More's trial continue to present themselves in ever-changing terms as new social conditions emerge. Each generation, as it seeks to advance the common good, must ask anew: what are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon citizens, and how far do they extend? By appeal to what authority can moral dilemmas be resolved? These questions take us directly to the ethical foundations of civil discourse. If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident - herein lies the real challenge for democracy". The Holy Father continued his remarks: "The inadequacy of pragmatic, short-term solutions to complex social and ethical problems has been illustrated all too clearly by the recent global financial crisis. There is widespread agreement that the lack of a solid ethical foundation for economic activity has contributed to the grave difficulties now being experienced by millions of people throughout the world. Just as 'every economic decision has a moral consequence', so too in the political field, the ethical dimension of policy has far-reaching consequences that no government can afford to ignore". "The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found? The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is ... to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles". Without the "corrective" role of religion, the Pope explained, "reason too can fall prey to distortions, as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied in a partial way that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. Such misuse of reason, after all, was what gave rise to the slave trade in the first place and to many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century. This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith - the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief - need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilisation. "Religion, in other words, is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation. In this light, I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalisation of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance. There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere. There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none. And there are those who argue - paradoxically with the intention of eliminating discrimination - that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience. These are worrying signs of a failure to appreciate not only the rights of believers to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, but also the legitimate role of religion in the public square. I would invite all of you, therefore, within your respective spheres of influence, to seek ways of promoting and encouraging dialogue between faith and reason at every level of national life". After then highlighting how the British government co-operates with the Holy See in such areas as peace, human rights and development, the Holy Father noted how "the Holy See also looks forward to exploring with the United Kingdom new ways to promote environmental responsibility, to the benefit of all". "In recent years it has been encouraging to witness the positive signs of a worldwide growth in solidarity towards the poor. But to turn this solidarity into effective action calls for fresh thinking that will improve life conditions in many important areas, such as food production, clean water, job creation, education, support to families, especially migrants, and basic healthcare. Where human lives are concerned, time is always short, yet the world has witnessed the vast resources that governments can draw upon to rescue financial institutions deemed 'too big to fail'. Surely the integral human development of the world's peoples is no less important: here is an enterprise, worthy of the world's attention, that is truly 'too big to fail'". The Holy Father expressed his joy at progress in co-operation between the United Kingdom and the Holy See "in the years that have passed since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations, in promoting throughout the world the many core values that we share". In this context he also voiced the hope "that this relationship will continue to bear fruit, and that it will be mirrored in a growing acceptance of the need for dialogue and respect at every level of society between the world of reason and the world of faith. I am convinced that, within this country too, there are many areas in which the Church and the public authorities can work together for the good of citizens". "For such co-operation to be possible", he concluded, "religious bodies - including institutions linked to the Catholic Church - need to be free to act in accordance with their own principles and specific convictions based upon the faith and the official teaching of the Church. In this way, such basic rights as religious freedom, freedom of conscience and freedom of association are guaranteed".PV-UNITED KINGDOM/ VIS 20100918 (1180)
ECUMENICAL VESPERS IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY VATICAN CITY, 17 SEP 2010 (VIS) - At 7 p.m. today the Pope arrived at Westminster Abbey in London where he participated in an ecumenical celebration of Vespers. Since 1066, the abbey has been the traditional site of the coronation and burial of British monarchs. The abbey, the full name of which is the Collegiate Church of St. Peter at Westminster, was probably built in the eighth century. In 960 it became a Benedictine monastery. It grew thanks to the patronage of King Edgar and especially of King Edward the Confessor, and continued to flourish until 1534 when, with the Act of Supremacy, King Henry VIII sanctioned the separation of the Church of England from the Catholic Church , dissolving the Catholic monasteries and confiscating their property. The abbey became the Anglican cathedral of the diocese of Westminster and later the second cathedral of the diocese of London, but to this day it remains under the direct jurisdiction of the British monarch. Along the sides of the transept, to the right and left of the main altar, are the graves of various illustrious historical figures, some of them saints. Poet's Corner contains the tombs and memorial plaques of great English literary figures while behind the main altar are the royal chapels containing around a hundred tombs, many of British monarchs. Benedict XVI, accompanied by Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, and Catholic Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, was received by John Hall, dean of the abbey, who introduced him to the chapter. Together they visited the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and pronounced a brief prayer for peace to mark the seventieth anniversary of the Battle of Britain. The Pope was then introduced to a number of religious leaders in the abbey's St. George's Chapel. The Holy Father, accompanied by the archbishop of Canterbury, then made his way to the altar of the coronation where, having listened to the greetings of the archbishop and the dean, he pronounced some brief words. "I thank you for your gracious welcome", he said. "This noble edifice evokes England's long history, so deeply marked by the preaching of the Gospel and the Christian culture to which it gave birth. I come here today as a pilgrim from Rome, to pray before the tomb of St. Edward the Confessor and to join you in imploring the gift of Christian unity. May these moments of prayer and friendship confirm us in love for Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, and in common witness to the enduring power of the Gospel to illumine the future of this great nation". After praying Vespers, Benedict XVI delivered his address. "I thank the Lord for this opportunity to join you, the representatives of the Christian confessions present in Great Britain, in this magnificent abbey church dedicated to St. Peter, whose architecture and history speak so eloquently of our common heritage of faith. Here we cannot help but be reminded of how greatly the Christian faith shaped the unity and culture of Europe and the heart and spirit of the English people. Here too, we are forcibly reminded that what we share, in Christ, is greater than what continues to divide us". The Holy Father recalled how this year marks the centenary of the modern ecumenical movement which "began with the Edinburgh Conference's appeal for Christian unity as the prerequisite for a credible and convincing witness to the Gospel in our time. In commemorating this anniversary, we must give thanks for the remarkable progress made towards this noble goal through the efforts of committed Christians of every denomination. At the same time, however, we remain conscious of how much yet remains to be done. In a world marked by growing interdependence and solidarity, we are challenged to proclaim with renewed conviction the reality of our reconciliation and liberation in Christ, and to propose the truth of the Gospel as the key to authentic and integral human development". "Our commitment to Christian unity is born of nothing less than our faith in Christ. ... It is the reality of Christ's person, His saving work and above all the historical fact of His resurrection, which is the content of the apostolic 'kerygma' and those credal formulas which, beginning in the New Testament itself, have guaranteed the integrity of its transmission. The Church's unity, in a word, can never be other than a unity in the apostolic faith, in the faith entrusted to each new member of the Body of Christ during the rite of Baptism. It is this faith which unites us to the Lord". The Holy Father continued his observations: "We are all aware of the challenges, the blessings, the disappointments and the signs of hope which have marked our ecumenical journey. ... We know that the friendships we have forged, the dialogue which we have begun and the hope which guides us will provide strength and direction as we persevere on our common journey. At the same time, with evangelical realism, we must also recognise the challenges which confront us, not only along the path of Christian unity, but also in our task of proclaiming Christ in our day. Fidelity to the Word of God, precisely because it is a true Word, demands of us an obedience which leads us together to a deeper understanding of the Lord's will, an obedience which must be free of intellectual conformism or facile accommodation to the spirit of the age". "Gathered in this ancient monastic church, we can recall the example of a great Englishman and churchman whom we honour in common: St. Bede the Venerable. At the dawn of a new age in the life of society and of the Church, Bede understood both the importance of fidelity to the word of God as transmitted by the apostolic tradition, and the need for creative openness to new developments and to the demands of a sound implantation of the Gospel in contemporary language and culture". "May St. Bede's example inspire the Christians of these lands to rediscover their shared legacy, to strengthen what they have in common, and to continue their efforts to grow in friendship. May the Risen Lord strengthen our efforts to mend the ruptures of the past and to meet the challenges of the present with hope in the future". After the ceremony, the Pope travelled back to the apostolic nunciature by car.PV-UNITED KINGDOM/ VIS 20100918 (1070)
SHARED COMMITMENTS OF HOLY SEE AND BRITISH GOVERNMENT VATICAN CITY, 17 SEP 2010 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a joint communique released following a working dinner held this evening at Lancaster House between British government representatives and the Holy See delegation. "Her Majesty's Government hosted a dinner on 17 September for the Holy See delegation accompanying Pope Benedict XVI on his official visit to the UK, headed by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone. The UK side was headed by William Hague, the Foreign Secretary. Those present included a number of senior British government ministers and senior officials from the Holy See. The discussion covered a range of areas of shared interest between the UK government and the Holy See. "Her Majesty's Government and the Holy See share a commitment to bringing an end to poverty and underdevelopment. On the eve of a summit in New York to review progress towards implementing the Millennium Development Goals, they share the conviction that more needs to be done to address the unnecessary suffering caused by hunger, diseases and illiteracy. Strong political leadership and respect for the ethos of local communities are necessary in the promotion of the right to life, food, health and development for all. "The British Government and the Holy See share a conviction of the urgent need for action to address the challenge of climate change. Action is needed at every level from the governmental to the individual if we are to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to set in motion the transition to a global low-carbon economy, and to assist poor and vulnerable countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change that are already inevitable. "We had a good exchange of views on a variety of social and economic issues, recognising the essential role played by faith in the lives of individuals and as part of the fabric of a strong, generous, tolerant society. "The visit of Pope Benedict XVI provided the opportunity to develop a deeper exchange of views between the Holy See and the UK Government. Tonight's discussion provided a useful basis for both sides to continue to pursue initiatives and discussions on areas of common interest to the UK and the Holy See".PV-UNITED KINGDOM/ VIS 20100918 (380)
DEEP SORROW FOR INNOCENT VICTIMS OF CHILD ABUSE VATICAN CITY, 18 SEP 2010 (VIS) - In the archbishop of Westminster's palace this morning, before today's Eucharistic celebration in Westminster Cathedral, the Holy Father met with David Cameron, prime minister of the United Kingdom, Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister, and Harriet Harman, acting leader of the opposition. Westminster Cathedral is the main place of worship of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, seat of the archbishop of Westminster, an office currently held my Msgr. Vincent Nichols. John Paul II celebrated Mass in the cathedral in 1982 and Queen Elizabeth II - at the invitation of the then archbishop, Cardinal Basil Hume - participated in an ecumenical celebration there in 1995, marking the first time a British monarch had entered a Catholic church since the time of the Reformation. In his homily during the votive Mass for the Most Precious Blood of Christ, to which the cathedral is dedicated, the Holy Father remarked that "the visitor to this cathedral cannot fail to be struck by the great crucifix dominating the nave, which portrays Christ's body, crushed by suffering, overwhelmed by sorrow, the Innocent Victim whose death has reconciled us with the Father and given us a share in the very life of God". "The Eucharistic sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ embraces in turn the mystery of our Lord's continuing passion in the members of His Mystical Body, the Church in every age". Benedict XVI highlighted how "we see this aspect of the mystery of Christ's Precious Blood represented, most eloquently, by the martyrs of every age. ... It is also reflected in our brothers and sisters throughout the world who even now are suffering discrimination and persecution for their Christian faith. Yet it is also present, often hidden in the suffering of all those individual Christians who daily unite their sacrifices to those of the Lord for the sanctification of the Church and the redemption of the world. My thoughts go in a special way to all those who are spiritually united with this Eucharistic celebration, and in particular the sick, the elderly, the handicapped and those who suffer mentally and spiritually. "Here too", he added, "I think of the immense suffering caused by the abuse of children, especially within the Church and by her ministers. Above all, I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes, along with my hope that the power of Christ's grace, His sacrifice of reconciliation, will bring deep healing and peace to their lives. I also acknowledge, with you, the shame and humiliation which all of us have suffered because of these sins; and I invite you to offer it to the Lord with trust that this chastisement will contribute to the healing of the victims, the purification of the Church and the renewal of her age-old commitment to the education and care of young people. I express my gratitude for the efforts being made to address this problem responsibly, and I ask all of you to show your concern for the victims and solidarity with your priests". After then recalling how Vatican Council II had spoken "eloquently of the indispensable role of the laity in carrying forward the Church's mission", the Holy Father noted that "the Council's appeal to the lay faithful to take up their baptismal sharing in Christ's mission echoed the insights and teachings of John Henry Newman. May the profound ideas of this great Englishman continue to inspire all Christ's followers in this land to conform their every thought, word and action to Christ, and to work strenuously to defend those unchanging moral truths which, taken up, illuminated and confirmed by the Gospel, stand at the foundation of a truly humane, just and free society". "How much contemporary society needs this witness!", the Pope exclaimed. "How much we need, in the Church and in society, witnesses of the beauty of holiness, witnesses of the splendour of truth, witnesses of the joy and freedom born of a living relationship with Christ! One of the greatest challenges facing us today is how to speak convincingly of the wisdom and liberating power of God's Word to a world which all too often sees the Gospel as a constriction of human freedom, instead of the truth which liberates our minds and enlightens our efforts to live wisely and well, both as individuals and as members of society. "Let us pray, then, that the Catholics of this land will become ever more conscious of their dignity as a priestly people, called to consecrate the world to God through lives of faith and holiness. And may this increase of apostolic zeal be accompanied by an outpouring of prayer for vocations to the ordained priesthood. ... May many young men in this land find the strength to answer the Master's call to the ministerial priesthood, devoting their lives, their energy and their talents to God, thus building up His people in unity and fidelity to the Gospel, especially through the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice". At the end of Mass, the Pope went out to greet young people gathered in front of the cathedral. Recalling the theme of his trip to the United Kingdom (Heart speaks unto heart - cor ad cor loquitur) he reminded them that "we were made to give love, to make it the inspiration for all we do and the most enduring thing in our lives. At times this seems so natural, especially when we feel the exhilaration of love, when our hearts brim over with generosity, idealism, the desire to help others, to build a better world. But at other times we realise that it is difficult to love; our hearts can easily be hardened by selfishness, envy and pride". "Every day we have to choose to love", Benedict XVI insisted, "and this requires help, the help that comes from Christ, from prayer and from the wisdom found in His Word, and from the grace which He bestows on us in the Sacraments of His Church. This is the message I want to share with you today. I ask you to look into your hearts each day to find the source of all true love. Jesus ... is calling you to spend time with Him in prayer. But this kind of prayer, real prayer, requires discipline; it requires making time for moments of silence every day, ... because it is in silence that we find God, and in silence that we discover our true self. And in discovering our true self, we discover the particular vocation which God has given us for the building up of His Church and the redemption of our world". The Pope then unveiled and blessed a mosaic of St. David, patron of Wales, and lit a candle before an image of Our Lady of Cardigan who is venerated at a shrine in that country. Before returning to the apostolic nunciature, the Holy Father again met briefly with the archbishop of Canterbury, who was present at the Eucharistic celebration.