I made a passing reference in a post below to the Pope’s message to the Bishops of England and Wales at their Ad Limina meeting this week. There are a couple of points that need to be “headlined” other than his warning against so-called “equality laws”.
1) Make use of the “gifts of the lay faithful”
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.
Significant here is that the laity’s mission is seen not just as “ad extra” (into the world) but also “ad intra” (within the Church herself). Important here is that the Pope sees the lay faithful as having a crucial role in the catechising mission of the Church. Note the words in bold! (Anima Education, for whom I work in my “night job” – see the side bar advertisement- makes this goal of its mission. Just a quick plug: layman Mark Shea will be speaking at Cardinal Knox Centre tonight at 7:30pm on the topic “Mary: Mother of the Son”).
2) The Appeal for Unity at ALL levels of the Church against Dissent
The next point follows directly from the first:
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.
I think the Holy Father had England’s equivalent of Brian Coyne and the Catholica folk in mind here…
3) Newman’s personal sacrifice
In light of our previous discussion on this blog re Cardinal Newman:
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.
We are ready here to make Cardinal Newman the patron saint of this blog upon his beatification.
4) Anglicanorum Coetibus not opposed to the Church’s Ecumenical and Interreligious vision
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. I am convinced that, if given a warm and open-hearted welcome, such groups will be a blessing for the entire Church.