Newsletter 14 & 21 October 2018
Statement from the Bishops of England and Wales
Rome, Saturday 29th September 2018
<p "="">As we end our visit, ‘ad limina Apostolorum’, we offer these reflections on our days together in Rome.<span "=""> We were immensely privileged to share conversation with Pope Francis for over two hours.<span "=""> <p "=""> <p "="">We asked the Holy Father for a message which we could bring back to our priests and people.<span "=""> His message was simple: we are to live the gift of our faith with joy.<span "=""> He explained that this joy is rooted firmly in our relationship with Jesus.<span "=""> It is a joy of knowing that he is with us; of knowing the presence of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives, drawing and guiding us towards the will of God; a joy of knowing our Heavenly Father is waiting for us, longing to hold us in his embrace of loving mercy.<span "=""> <p "=""> <p "="">As we spoke with Pope Francis, we realised, more and more, that he radiates this joy and peace.<span "=""> Even in this time of turmoil, the Holy Father is so clearly rooted in God and blessed by God.<span "=""> His peace is secure, his life is serene.<span "=""> We affirmed our deep communion with him and promised him our love, support and prayers.<span "=""> We expressed confidently these sentiments on behalf of all the faithful Catholics of England and Wales. <p "=""> <p "="">We spoke about the difficulties of fulfilling our role as bishops and he reflected on the importance of prayer and preaching in our lives, and of paternal closeness to our priests and people, with care and with firm justice.<span "=""> He spoke of the encouragement he wishes to give to priests today, who can sometimes feel vulnerable in the face of difficult circumstances.<span "=""> He spoke movingly of the wounds inflicted by abuse and neglect, wounds that wreak such harm in the lives of its victims and the Church.<span "=""> He encouraged us, in our pastoral work, never to neglect even the tiny flames of faith that exist in so many communities and people. <p "=""> <p "="">In the officials of the Holy See we have found a spirit of true co-operation and have been encouraged and given helpful advice.<span "=""> We saw clear evidence that the life of the Catholic communities of England and Wales is generally well respected and even admired here in Rome.<span "=""> Our reports of the Eucharistic Congress ‘Adoremus’ have been well received, as has the strength of our compassionate outreach to those in need.<span "=""> In encouraging this work of outreach, Pope Francis urged us always to walk with those engaged in its projects so as to draw them nearer to the Lord.<span "=""> <span "=""> <p "=""> <p "="">Our ‘ad limina’ visit is now completed.<span "=""> We have celebrated Mass together in the four great Roman basilicas, at the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul.<span "=""> We have been embraced by the Successor of Peter, Pope Francis.<span "=""> Our pilgrimage has been richly blessed and we are glad to share this sense of the deep encouragement and powerful grace we have received. <p "=""> <p "="">Pope Francis commended us to our Blessed Lady, Mary our Mother, reflecting beautifully on her role as the ‘untier of knots’, a deep devotion in his own life.<span "=""> May she always be at our side. <p "=""> <p "="">We pray that God bless and strengthen our Holy Father, Pope Francis.<span "=""> May God guide us in all our ways that we may share the joy of our faith and the ways of peace.<span "=""> Amen.