Papal UK Visit Could Build Anglican-Catholic Bond

Newman Seen as Ecumenical Link

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ROME, SEPT. 15, 2010 ( Benedict XVI’s visit to the United Kingdom could be a means of building bridges and increasing understanding between Anglicans and Catholics, says the archbishop of Canterbury’s representative to the Holy See.

On the eve of the Pontiff’s visit, ZENIT spoke with Reverend Canon David Richardson, also the director of the Anglican Center in Rome, about the importance of the trip in terms of ecumenism.

Speaking about his experiences meeting the Pontiff on several occasions as part of his position, the envoy said, «He has always been warm and I admire him greatly as a theologian.»

He added, «To have in the present the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury two such towering theological figures means that this is a fascinating time to be in my appointment.»

Richardson spoke about Cardinal John Henry Newman, due to be beatified by the Holy Father on Sunday, who he said is «a somewhat ambiguous figure both within Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism.»

«As an Anglican he had something of the prophet’s mantle and called the Church of England, that part of Anglicanism which was his home, back to a vision of itself which it had lost or was in danger of losing,» the representative said.


«Prophets tend not to be honored among their own people and in their own time, though they will usually have an ardent group of disciples,» he added. «So it was with Newman.»

«When he became a Roman Catholic he was not always warmly embraced by his new co-religionists either,» Richardson observed, «and he changed very few of his writings which he had published as an Anglican.»

The envoy explained: «This suggests that he affirms in his being the possibility of being wholly Catholic and orthodox in theology as an Anglican.

«However for Newman to become a Roman Catholic seemed the necessary step.»

«Newman was formed as an Anglican and later, as a Roman Catholic he acknowledged, in his ‘Apologia,’ his debt to the Church that had formed him,» Richardson affirmed.

He noted that Newman «simply became a Roman Catholic and acknowledged the whole person that he was and had been, taking his Anglicanism into his Roman Catholicism.»

Affirmation for faith

When asked about the environment that will greet Benedict XVI upon his arrival to the United Kingdom, Richardson said, «I remember that when the Pope went to Australia for World Youth Day all sorts of dire predictions about protests were made.»

However, he continued, «in the event the people took him to their heart, both Roman Catholic and non-Roman Catholic.»

«There was a great wave of affirmation for the faith as people tell me,» Richardson said.

He concluded, «Perhaps if that can be true in Australia, a famously secular society, it will be also in the United Kingdom.

[Reporting by Serena Sartini]
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