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Pope’s visit made Britain more open to spiritual life

By on Friday, 26 November 2010

Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols watches as Pope Benedict XVI leads a prayer vigil at Hyde Park (Fiona Hanson/PA Wire)

Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols watches as Pope Benedict XVI leads a prayer vigil at Hyde Park (Fiona Hanson/PA Wire)

The papal visit made Britain more open to the spiritual life, the Archbishop of Westminster has said.

Speaking in an interview with the news agency Zenit, Archbishop Vincent Nichols said that the Pope’s visit to Britain led to “a more ready recognition of the spiritual dimension to human life”.

The archbishop said that Pope Benedict’s trip to Britain in September gave British Catholics a renewed sense of identity and also allowed British society as a whole to recognise the value of relationships and communities.

He said: “I think what people saw was that despite the apparent anonymity of so much of British society, here was a community that expressed itself strongly with bonds of friendship and acceptance, and that has awakened in people the desire to work a little bit more on their families, on their quality of relationship.”

Archbishop Nichols said that Pope Benedict had also laid the framework for a dialogue between society and “faith communities”.

The Prime Minister David Cameron said that the Government’s role was to create “a culture of greater social responsibility and that the faith communities were the architects of that culture”, the archbishop said.

He said “I think there is in Britain today a new openness to the role that communities of faith can make to the common good.”

Pope Benedict, he said, shared a love for the Church and the search for truth with Blessed John Henry Newman. He said both Blessed John Henry and the Pope had a “similar openess of mind towards how to approach other people and speak to them”.

Asked how Blessed John Henry could be a model for British Catholics today, the archbishop quoted Pope Benedict speaking about Blessed John Henry on the papal plane, saying that two of the Pope’s phrases had stayed in his mind.

He said: “He said, first of all, Newman is a man of modernity. Now by that he means Newman is a man who lived within sight of the circumstances in which atheism would be a real possibility and in which agnosticism had begun to be experienced. So Newman is a man who struggled with a setting for Christianity which we are all very familiar with. He foresaw it and struggled with it in his time.”

Archbishop Nichols also said that Blessed John Henry was “a man for whom the formulas of the past were not sufficient”. He said Blessed John Henry did not represent a return to the past but an exploration “in utter fidelity to the past, an expression and an experience of faith which is attractive and open to the minds of today”.

  • paulpriest

    In one word ?
    ADAMUS!

  • http://twitter.com/RCYouthWorker Jack Regan

    Brilliant stuff, thank you.

    I have to be honest and say that a good few months before the visit I wasn't really up for it. I thought that it would just be a great big slanging match: the athiests would protest and cause trouble, the Catholic left likewise, the Catholic right would enjoy telling us all that the Pope had come over here to give us all a good telling off, and the media would wait until the eve of the visit to break major scandals and show documentaries about how the Church was riddled with paedophiles, was secretly in league with [insert shadowy organisation here] and was oblivious to the fact that recently discovered modern scholarship exposed the whole Jesus thing as being a load of rubbish anyway.

    I was happy to be proved wrong however. I mean, that stuff all happened to varying degrees, but somehow it just didn't seem to matter. There was a palpable joy which seemed to consume everything; a surprising sense that there is still a Christian heart to this country.

    I would agree that the visit made Britain more open to spiritual life, but perhaps one of the ways it did this was by reminding us all that we were never as closed off to it as we might have thought. Depending on which estimates you go with, between fifty and a hundred times as many people turned out to support the Pope than turned out to protest him. It showed us all – myself included, to my joy – that there is still a longing in this country for the transcendent and the spiritual. It showed us too, that maybe we can be a bit more bold in taking that and doing something with it.

  • aisake040188camaibau

    Britian citizen you are so blessed in the sense the Holy Father has visited you but for us Fijian in the Fiji Islands we are longing that one Day the Holy Father will visit us.When he visit Australia in 2008 for the World Youth Day we so lucky to see him but to come and set foot on our land is what we dream of that one day he will do so

  • aisake

    Please do pray for our priest especially our Pope, Benedict 16th so that the Lord may guide them and may all his minioster may serve him with Reverence and Love

  • Mybrotherscrazy

    go banana

  • Mybrotherscrazy

    go banana

  • The_smex

    Pope sucks, I hate him.

  • The_smex

    Pope sucks, I hate him.

  • serenaappleby

    no

  • serenaappleby

    no

  • The_smex

    *dislike* :) xox

  • Mybrotherscrazy

    i’m sorry sum1 took over my pc, i meant to say go grapefruit

  • The_smex

    HELLZ YEAH!!!!