Benedict XVI in the United Kingdom : The particular mission of the bishops

Source: FSSPX News

During his four-day visit to the United Kingdom (September 16-19), the statements made by Benedict XVI dealt more particularly with four topics: 1) the pedophile priest scandal; 2) the role of Catholics in a strongly secularized society—with a reminder about the mission of the bishops; 3) ecumenical dialogue with the Anglicans, and 4) the example given by Cardinal John Henry Newman, whom he was anxious to beatify personally. 

The particular mission of the bishops

On the last day of his trip to the United Kingdom, in the afternoon of September 19, 2010, Benedict XVI addressed the British bishops in a speech given at Oscott College of Birmingham, the headquarters of the diocesan seminary. He alluded to the “challenges” that are part of “the mission” of the bishops of England, Scotland and Wales, “particularly regarding the urgent need to proclaim the Gospel afresh in a highly secularized environment”. Convinced that there is a deep “thirst … among the British people for the Good News of Jesus Christ,” the Supreme Pontiff told the prelates: “You have been chosen by God to offer [your compatriots] 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.” He then exhorted them “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 carrying out their mission, moreover, the bishops must not hesitate, in the pope’s view, to have recourse to the “new ecclesial movements [which] have a particular charism for evangelization.” He assured the approximately fifty active or retired bishops in attendance: “I know that you will continue to explore appropriate and effective ways of involving them in the mission of the Church.”

Another part of this speech by Benedict XVI concerned the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, which since November 2009 allows Anglicans bewildered by the increasingly liberal positions taken by their denomination to enter the Catholic Church. He hoped that the publication of this document would be seen “as a prophetic gesture that can contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics.” In particular, the papal document helps Christians “to set [their] 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 [their] respective spiritual patrimonies” will benefit all.