With an open heart

Msgr. Andrew Faley on the ecumenical aspects of the visit

For Msgr. Faley the motto of the Papal Visit to England, “Heart speaks unto Heart”, exemplifies Benedict XVI’s openness towards skeptics. The visit will have a strong ecumenical impact, highlighted by the encounter with Archbishop Wiliams at Lambeth Palace and the vespers celebrated in Westminster Abbey. The media and the web provide everyone with the possibility of listening to the words of Benedict XVI, unlike John Paul II’s visit in 1982. The beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman entails the acknowledgement – on the part of the Catholic Church – of the important contribution of the Anglican Church where Newman was formed and which embraced him for many years. Msgr. Andrew Faley, assistant general secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, explained the ecumenical import of the visit of Benedict XVI to SIR Europe.The Visit’s motto is “Heart speaks unto heart”. How do you interpret it? “This phrase will be understood in different ways. It implies the underlying harmony linking all Christian traditions and religious faiths and it means that the Holy Father will seek to reach out to all of them. I also believe that with this phrase Benedict XVI intends that in his heart he is open to speak to atheists and to adamant non-believers. The Pope is an excellent listener. Experiencing this trait of his will be one of the fruits borne by the visit”.The Pontifical Council for Christian Unity underlined the visit’s major contribution to ecumenism. What contribution, in particular? “There are two high points. The Pope will be received by Archbishop Williams and his family in Lambeth Palace; he will then meet with the Anglican bishops in the Great Hall. Benedict XVI will enter the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury for private talks on the state of the Anglican Communion and on the Anglicanorum Coetibus Constitution, which offers Anglicans the possibility to enter the Catholic Church whilst preserving elements of their liturgical patrimony. The Holy Father will celebrate the vespers at Westminster Abbey with the Dean, Rev. John Hall and Archbishop Williams. These events testify to the solid relations between the Anglican and Catholic Churches, a sign that we are proceeding together towards Church unity. Significantly, the Pope said ‘I want to be received as a pilgrim’, to proclaim the truth of Christian faith alongside with all Christian denominations”.Will there be a joint statement, as was the case of John Paul II’s visit in 1982, which opened a new phase in the dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church? “There won’t be a joint statement. At local level the relationship between the Anglican and Catholic parishes is very good, and so is the dialogue between the two hierarchies. In 2011 there the bishops of the two traditions will meet to reflect on mutual support for Gospel proclamation in England and Wales. A lot of work still needs to be done to achieve stronger consensus on the Church, notably on the themes of priesthood and baptism. These ought to be expounded. In all likelihood this work will be done by ARCIC 3, the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission”.What is the significance of Newman’s beatification for the Anglican faithful? “I believe that Anglicans are yearning to celebrate the life and the wonderful wisdom which Newman brought to Church tradition. Indeed, Newman passed half of his life serving the Anglican Church. With his beatification we acknowledge the richness of this period of his life along with the importance of the Church that formed him, and to which Newman was grateful”. At the end of his “Apology” Cardinal Newman claims that Catholics must provide “assistance and support” to the Church of England, working together to announce “Christian principles and doctrines”… “I think it is just and important for Catholics to act in this way, although I also think it is increasingly difficult, while Anglicans seek to reach an agreement on the understanding of their own Church”.

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