Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster received one of the final messages from Benedict XVI as Pope: a letter written on the Holy Father’s behalf by an official from the Secretariat of State, assuring that Benedict would remember the United Kingdom in prayer.
The papal message, signed by Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, the “Substitute” for General Affairs to the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, was dated Feb. 20. It thanked Archbishop Nichols for his assurance of prayers during the time of the papal resignation.
“[The Pope] appreciates the sentiments that you expressed and he is grateful for the support of your prayers,” the message says. “He recalls with gratitude the welcome extended to him on his historic visit to your country in September 2010, and he continues to give thanks to God for the many graces received during those four days.
“His Holiness promises to pray for all of you and for the people entrusted to your pastoral care, and he willingly imparts his Apostolic Blessing.”
One of the addresses given by Benedict XVI during that September 2010 state visit to the United Kingdom has been classified as a masterpiece of the Holy Father’s eight-year pontificate. In it, the Pope discussed the interplay of religion and society.
Among his observations was this: “The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found? The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers – still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion – but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles. This “corrective” role of religion vis-à-vis reason is not always welcomed, though, partly because distorted forms of religion, such as sectarianism and fundamentalism, can be seen to create serious social problems themselves. And in their turn, these distortions of religion arise when insufficient attention is given to the purifying and structuring role of reason within religion. It is a two-way process. Without the corrective supplied by religion, though, reason too can fall prey to distortions, as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied in a partial way that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. Such misuse of reason, after all, was what gave rise to the slave trade in the first place and to many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century. This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith – the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief – need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization.”
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On the Net:
Full text of Sept. 17, 2010, address:
Note from Archbishop Becciu: www.catholic-ew.org.uk/Home/News-Releases/Pope-s-Letter