Benedict understood the ‘Anglican soul’
Father David Palmer is also a member of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and serves the Diocese of Nottingham in the U.K. He was received into the Catholic Church during the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI.
He told CNA in a statement on Jan. 3 that Benedict XVI’s legacy in bringing Anglican patrimony into the Catholic Church was “inestimable” and that the late pope understood the “Anglican soul.”
“Benedict seemed to just ‘get’ the English tradition. His love for St. John Henry Newman is well known, but more than this he seemed to understand the English tradition. Witnessing him at Westminster Abbey for evensong and again at Westminster Hall during the 2010 Papal Visit to the U.K., it was clear for all to see that he understood and appreciated the Anglican ‘soul’ or perhaps, more accurately, the historic English religious soul,” Palmer said.
“He was able to recognize in the Anglican Church that which was beautiful, and indeed those bits that still reflected something of Catholic England,” he continued.
“In England there has often been peddled the idea that Catholicism is somehow ‘foreign’; Benedict reminded us that in reality England was a Catholic country, and even after the (so-called) Reformation, Anglicanism, at its best, remained shot through with Catholic sensibility,” Palmer noted.
“The Ordinariate, so close to Benedict’s heart, was a prophetic move, a realized ecumenism that says that those who become Catholic do not have to abandon all that went before, but rather all that is good and noble from their previous community can find its fulfillment in communion with the one holy Catholic and apostolic Church,” he said. “In other words, there is nothing ‘foreign’ about Catholicism.”
Reflecting further on the legacy of the late pope emeritus, Palmer said: “We no longer have Benedict alive on earth to be our ‘protector’ (as it were) but I have every confidence that he will be interceding for us in heaven, alongside St. John Henry Newman.
“We in the Ordinariate are deeply grateful for all that Benedict did to bring us home; we will miss him immensely — he was like a grandfather to us, and we entrust him to the maternal arms of Our Lady of Walsingham, and her Son, the only name under heaven by which we can be saved.”
Madeleine is the former associate editor of the Catholic Herald. She has contributed to Sky News, BBC News, Woman’s Hour, Beyond Belief and many other programmes. She is also a regular Pause For Thought contributor on BBC Radio 2.