Pontiff Not Concerned by Pre-Trip Polemics

Notes Point of Union for Anglicans and Catholics

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ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE, SEPT. 16, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI told a group of journalists that he was headed to the United Kingdom today with «great courage and joy,» unworried about controversies talked up before the trip.

The Pope affirmed this on board the papal plane that took him to Scotland today for the first leg of his four-day journey. As is customary, he gave a press conference to a group of journalists on the flight with him.

The first question dealt precisely with opposition to the trip from some quarters. «Are you worried about how you will be received?» he was asked.

But the Holy Father answered with confidence: «I must say that I’m not worried because when I was in France it was said that it was the most anti-clerical country, with strong anti-clerical currents and with a minimum number of faithful. When I went to the Czech Republic it was said that it was the most anti-religious country of Europe and also the most anti-clerical. In this way, all the Western countries, each according to their history and their own style, have many anti-clerical and anti-Catholic currents, but they have also always had a strong presence of faith.»

He noted that on previous trips, he’s had a warm welcome from the believing community, while those who are searching have also given him attention. The group that could be classified as anti-Catholic has shown respect, he explained. And Great Britain, the Pope affirmed, has «a history of tolerance,» so he expressed his expectations for a similarly warm welcome.

Shared journey

Asked if there was a way to make the Church «more credible and attractive for all,» Benedict XVI pointed to what should be a point of union for Catholics and Anglicans.

«I would say that a church that seeks above all to be attractive is already on the wrong path,» he stated.

And the Pope went on to explain how the Church doesn’t work for itself or its own power, but rather exists «at the service of Another.»

The Church exists to make Christ’s proclamation accessible, he said. «In this sense the Church does not seek her own attractiveness but must be transparent so that Jesus Christ shines through. And in the measure that she is not for herself, like a strong and powerful body in the world, but makes herself simply the voice of Another, she really becomes transparency for the great figure of Christ and the great truths that he has brought to humanity, the strength of love. If she is like this, then she is listened to and accepted.»

It is in this context that Anglicans and Catholics have the same task, the Pontiff proposed.

«If Anglicans and Catholics both see that they do not serve themselves but are instruments for Christ, friend of the Bridegroom, as St. John says, if both follow the priority of Christ and not of themselves, they go forward together,» he said. They are not competitors but rather are «joined in the commitment to the truth of Christ in this world, and thus they find themselves mutually in a true and fruitful ecumenism.»

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-30372?l=english

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