Benedict XVI Looks Ahead to UK Visit

Highlights Priestly Example of Cardinal Newman

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 1, 2010 ( Benedict XVI is acknowledging the signs of faith in the United Kingdom, and looking ahead with anticipation to his upcoming visit there.

The Pope affirmed this today in an audience with the bishops of England and Wales who are in Rome on their five-yearly «ad limina» visit.

«Even amid the pressures of a secular age,» he said, «there are many signs of living faith and devotion among the Catholics of England and Wales.»

The Pontiff mentioned in particular «the enthusiasm generated by the visit of the relics of St. Thérèse, the interest aroused by the prospect of Cardinal Newman’s beatification, and the eagerness of young people to take part in pilgrimages and World Youth Days.»

«On the occasion of my forthcoming Apostolic Visit to Great Britain, I shall be able to witness that faith for myself and, as Successor of Peter, to strengthen and confirm it,» he said.

The Pope plans to visit the United Kingdom in September.

The Holy Father urged the bishops to, «during the months of preparation that lie ahead, be sure to encourage the Catholics of England and Wales in their devotion, and assure them that the Pope constantly remembers them in his prayers and holds them in his heart.»

He exhorted the prelates to «ensure that the Church’s moral teaching be always presented in its entirety and convincingly defended.»

«Continue to insist upon your right to participate in national debate through respectful dialogue with other elements in society,» Benedict XVI added.

New generations

He also encouraged the bishops to «draw on the considerable gifts of the lay faithful» so 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 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,» the Pope pointed out.

He highlighted Cardinal John Henry Newman’s example, in his «an outstanding example of faithfulness to revealed truth.»

The Pontiff continued, «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 Year for Priests, he said, «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.»

The Holy Father encouraged the bishops to help lay people 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.»

He underlined the important work of the prelates in the area of interreligious dialogue, and encouraged them to continue in this effort, especially by assisting «those groups of Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.»

Benedict XVI stated, «I am convinced that, if given a warm and open-hearted welcome, such groups will be a blessing for the entire Church.»

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