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Debate: Six months on, what is the lasting legacy of the Pope’s visit to Britain?

Are Catholics still energised and renewed by the trip or has the momentum already been lost?

By on Friday, 11 March 2011

Paschal Uche, left, smiles after addressing the Pope outside Westminster Cathedral (CNS photo/Alessia Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

Paschal Uche, left, smiles after addressing the Pope outside Westminster Cathedral (CNS photo/Alessia Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

Benedict XVI’s visit last September gave renewed energy to the Church in Britain. Even before the Pope left, Cardinal Keith O’Brien was talking about the “Benedict bounce”. In this week’s Catholic Herald, Paschal Uche, who addressed the Pope on behalf of young people outside Westminster Cathedral, says the visit continues to inspire him “on a daily basis”.

On the other hand, little has been done to harness this legacy on a national level. A papal visit legacy programme was released in January, but it doesn’t ask Catholics to do much – apart from share a “resource” or send in a “faith testimony” to the home mission desk of the bishops’ conference – until June, when it suggests Blessed Sacrament processions as close as possible to the feast of Corpus Christi.

Individual bishops, however, seem to be energised, especially in urging Catholics to return to traditional practices such as Confession and the Friday Fast.

And anyway, the laity don’t need to wait for the bishops. Paschal Uche cites Youth 2000, which promotes Eucharistic Adoration, as a way to live out the fruits of the visit.

So, six months on, has the momentum generated by the Pope’s visit been lost? Or has it left a lasting legacy?

  • ukyoungcatholic

    It has been encouraging to see a new confidence among the Bishops. In particular, they have given clear support for the New Translation of the Roman Missal and demonstrated generosity in their implementation of the Ordinariate.

    On the former, we have started to see evidence of the “in-depth catechesis on the Eucharist”, as the Holy Father asked, and in time I hope we will see the Bishops seize the opportunity to promote “renewed devotion in the manner of its celebration”. This has the potential to become a lasting legacy of the Papal Visit at the level of each and every parish, but we must accept it will take time and there will be much opposition.

    Separately, I hope that another fruit of the Papal Visit has been a change in the perception of the Holy Father amongst lay Catholics in England & Wales. He proved not to be the rottweiler that many had sought to portray him as, but rather a gentle, articulate, intelligent and holy man, who has much to teach us. I hope and pray that those who found a new affinity with the Holy Father during his visit now delve deeper into his homilies, speeches and writings with an open heart and mind.

  • PhilipH

    I still feel encouraged by Benedict’s visit – it did so much to give us confidence and courage at a time when the church was viciously under attack. And the visit gave to many outside the Catholic Church a glimpse of real Catholicism, all ages, joyful and united in belief – so different to the media’s usual distorted picture.

    I think we can build on it, both to re-enthuse Catholics and also to evangelize and outreach to those outside the faith. Much will depend on what happens at a local level, but we foot-soldiers have been given a boost.

  • Paul

    Let’s all organize Corpus christi processions. It would be great if there was one in every parish.

  • usnotsoyoungcatholic

    Well said UK Young Catholic! Reading the words of our gifted pope have greatly deepened my spiritual life.