.- The Holy Father met with the bishops of Scotland, Wales and England at Oscott College in Birmingham on Sunday before concluding his papal visit to the United Kingdom. During his remarks to the prelates, Pope Benedict touched on the “deep thirst” that people within the U.K. have for Christianity, urging the episcopal leaders to “offer them the living water of the Gospel.”
Recalling the influence of Cardinal John Henry Newman in giving "voice to the new confidence and vitality of the Catholic community" over a century earlier, the Pope said that his beatification on Sunday was "a reminder of the continuing action in calling forth gifts of holiness from among the people of Great Britain."
The Holy father focused on the importance of living and transmitting the Gospel message within society throughout the address insisting on the "urgent need to proclaim the Gospel afresh in a highly secularized environment."
Noting the "deep a thirst" the people of the U.K. have for the Christian message, he told the bishops that they are chosen by God "to offer them the living water of the Gospel, encouraging them to place their hopes, not in the vain enticements of this world, but in the firm assurances of the next."
Pope Benedict then invited them to work together with the newly formed Pontifical Council for New Evangelization, also employing Church movements with a charism for evangelization to develop an approach to spreading the Word while being "sure to present in its fulness the life-giving message of the Gospel."
He also highlighted the necessity for "the prophetic voice of Christians" to help those in need, stressing that today's world provides "a good opportunity to reinforce that message, and indeed to encourage people to aspire to higher moral values in every area of their lives, against a background of growing cynicism regarding even the possibility of virtuous living."
Referring to "shameful" abuse of young people in the Church for the second time in as many days, he asked them to reach out to children who suffer abuse elsewhere "in a humble spirit of compassion."
"Our duty of care towards the young demands nothing less," he said.
"As we reflect on the human frailty that these tragic events so starkly reveal, we are reminded that, if we are to be effective Christian leaders, we must live lives of the utmost integrity, humility and holiness."
Before closing his remarks, the Holy Father spoke on the upcoming publication of the new translation of the Roman Missal, thanking the bishops for their “painstaking care” in contributing to and reviewing the texts.
The Pontiff also addressed a “matter I touched upon in February with the Bishops of England and Wales, when I asked you to be generous in implementing the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus.”
“This should be seen,” he explained, “as a prophetic gesture that can contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics. It helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion in the context of which the
mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as an enrichment to us
“Let us continue to pray and work unceasingly in order to hasten the joyful day when that goal can be accomplished,” the Pope underscored.
“With these sentiments, I thank you warmly for your hospitality over the past four days,” the Holy Father concluded, adding “I am pleased to impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to all the clergy, religious and lay faithful of England, Scotland and Wales.”