Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton has said there is a “50 per cent increase in favourability towards the Pope” following his visit to Britain last year.
Speaking to the Zenit news agency in Rome, he said that nearly six months after the papal visit “people within our parishes are still talking about it and the outpouring of grace that was witnessed”.
The bishop, who is chairman of the bishops’ conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, said the visit renewed the “joy and confidence” of Catholics and also “reawakened spirituality in many people’s lives, whatever their creed or background”.
More than one in three people, he said, expressed the belief that the Pope’s visit was “good for Britain”.
“The papal visit provided us with an unprecedented opportunity to present to everyone the face of contemporary Catholicism in England and Wales, and it was in the main very positively received,” the bishop said.
He also talked about the setting up of the Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation, which underlines “the importance of communicating with [British] culture”.
“We are challenged to engage afresh with a country which has an ancient Christian culture,” Bishop Conry said. ”In recent years this culture has faded significantly. Cardinal Godfried Danneels expressed it, in relation to Europe as a whole, as ‘a deforestation of the Christian memory.’ It’s our task to re-seed this fertile soil.”
The bishop’s comments follow the launch of a papal visit legacy initiative by the Home Mission Desk of the bishops’ conference.
The initiative, called “Some Definite Purpose”, sets out a timeline of events to make the most of Benedict XVI’s visit.
It suggests that Eucharistic processions could be held as near to the feast of Corpus Christi as possible, and that parishes celebrate a “Little Way week” in October, following the footsteps of St Thérèse of Lisieux.