Theologian Pablo Blanco of the University of Navarre in Spain commented this week that Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to the United Kingdom is a “courageous visit” in which the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman “could be a sign of unity between Anglicans and Catholics.”
Blanco noted that as a German, the Pope is “visiting a country that has fought two wars against Germany in the 20th century In addition, ambiguity about the papacy is part of the genetic makeup of this nation.”
“Neither can we forget the scandal of pedophile priests or the discomfort caused by some Anglicans who have voiced their desire to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. All of these factors make this a courageous visit,” he said.
Blanco recalled that the main purpose of the apostolic journey is the beatification of Cardinal Newman, an Anglican intellectual who converted to Catholicism. This event could be “a sign of unity between Anglicans and Catholics, as Newman is a giant for both churches,” he stated.
Benedict XVI has underscored “the great contribution of Cardinal Newman: the primacy he gives to conscience. For him, there was no contradiction between obedience to doctrine and following one’s conscience. Perhaps that is why he was so controversial in his time,” Blanco explained.
Regarding Christianity in the life of the United Kingdom, the Spanish theologian said a recent poll shows that “67 percent of adults think British society should preserve its Christian culture, and only eight percent oppose this idea. This means that both Anglicans and Catholics intensely desire that England, Scotland and Wales maintain the Christian identity they have always had.”
Blanco, who will soon publish a new book titled, “Benedict XVI, The German Pope,” added, “The prestige of Catholics has grown in recent times in the United Kingdom, and the visit could strengthen the stability,” as well as the “open and cooperative image that Catholics today present.”