Newsletter 14 & 21 October 2018
Statement from the
Bishops of England and Wales
Rome, Saturday 29th September 2018
As we end our visit, ‘ad limina Apostolorum’, we
offer these reflections on our days together in Rome. We were immensely privileged to share
conversation with Pope Francis for over two hours.
We asked the Holy Father for a message which we
could bring back to our priests and people.
His message was simple: we are to live the gift of our faith with
joy. He explained that this joy is
rooted firmly in our relationship with Jesus.
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.
As we spoke with Pope Francis, we realised, more and
more, that he radiates this joy and peace.
Even in this time of turmoil, the Holy Father is so clearly rooted in
God and blessed by God. His peace is
secure, his life is serene. We affirmed
our deep communion with him and promised him our love, support and
prayers. We expressed confidently these
sentiments on behalf of all the faithful Catholics of England and Wales.
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. He spoke of the
encouragement he wishes to give to priests today, who can sometimes feel
vulnerable in the face of difficult circumstances. 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. He encouraged us, in our
pastoral work, never to neglect even the tiny flames of faith that exist in so
many communities and people.
In the officials of the Holy See we have found a
spirit of true co-operation and have been encouraged and given helpful
advice. 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.
Our reports of the Eucharistic Congress ‘Adoremus’ have been well
received, as has the strength of our compassionate outreach to those in
need. 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.
Our ‘ad limina’ visit is now completed. We have celebrated Mass together in the four
great Roman basilicas, at the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul. We have been embraced by the Successor of
Peter, Pope Francis. Our pilgrimage has
been richly blessed and we are glad to share this sense of the deep
encouragement and powerful grace we have received.
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. May she always
be at our side.
We pray that God bless and strengthen our Holy
Father, Pope Francis. May God guide us
in all our ways that we may share the joy of our faith and the ways of peace. Amen.