2010 ~ Anglican-Roman Catholic news & opinion
Address to the Archbishop of Canterbury and Anglican bishops, Lambeth Palace Your Grace, It is a pleasure for me to be able to return the courtesy of the visits you have made to me in Rome by a fraternal visit to you here in your official residence. I thank you for your invitation and for […]
Pope Benedict XVI and Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury knelt together before the tomb of an 11th-century Christian king after affirming the need for Catholics and Anglicans to give a united witness to society. St. Edward the Confessor, who is buried in the Anglicans’ Westminster Abbey, reigned five centuries before English Christians became divided. The pope and the primate of the Church of England paid homage together to the Christian king Sept. 17 at the end of an afternoon that included public speeches, a 30-minute private meeting and a joint ecumenical prayer service in Westminster Abbey. Archbishop Williams welcomed Pope Benedict as the first pope ever to visit Westminster Abbey, which was home to a community of Catholic Benedictine monks until 1540 when King Henry VIII dissolved the monastic community. Beginning in the afternoon with a visit to Lambeth Palace, the archbishop’s residence, the pope told Anglican and Catholic bishops that he did not intend to discuss the difficulties the two communities have encountered on the path toward full unity, but rather to recognize the progress made in ecumenical relations and to encourage closer cooperation for the good of British society.
Of the fifty or so English cardinals, only one was a martyr: St. John Fisher. I am honored to be invited to give this St. John Fisher Visitor Lecture to this assembly sponsored by Newman House at Queen’s University in Kingston. I am reminded of the prayer with which our Holy Father imposed the cardinal’s biretta or hat on my and some four years ago this month: “Receive this red biretta as a sign of the dignity of the Cardinalate, by which you must be strong—even to the shedding of your blood—in working for the increase of the Christian faith, for the peace and tranquility of the People of God, and for the freedom and progress of the Holy Roman Church.”
As a way of celebrating these 500 years since the time of St. John Fisher’s saintly and intrepid life, which brought him the martyr’s crown, and of celebrating as well this year’s promised beatification of the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, whose search for the fullness of truth led him to Rome without requiring that he abandon the spiritual heritage that had nurtured him in the Anglican Communion, I entitled my presentation today “500 Years After St. John Fisher: Pope Benedict’s Initiatives Regarding the Anglican Communion.”