If anyone still needs proof that there is a ruler of another nation (other than the president of the USA) who is actively seeking to control the political processes of the British nation, then surely this will convince them. And he is well-equipped to take over. My country is now run by politicians who use spin, newspeak and clever sounding words that don't actually mean anything to keep us passive and uninformed. And this bloke is the greatest practitioner of this disingenuous art that has ever lived.

Dear Brother Bishops,

I welcome all of you on your ad Limina visit to Rome, where you have come to venerate the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul. I thank you for the kind words that Archbishop Vincent Nichols has addressed to me on your behalf, and I offer you my warmest good wishes and prayers for yourselves and all the faithful of England and Wales entrusted to your pastoral care. Your visit to Rome strengthens the bonds of communion between the Catholic community in your country and the Apostolic See, a communion that sustained your people’s faith for centuries, and today provides fresh energies for renewal and evangelization. Even amid the pressures of a secular age, there are many signs of living faith and devotion among the Catholics of England and Wales. I am thinking, for example, of the enthusiasm generated by the visit of the relics of Saint Thérèse, the interest aroused by the prospect of Cardinal Newman’s beatification, and the eagerness of young people to take part in pilgrimages and World Youth Days. On the occasion of my forthcoming Apostolic Visit to Great Britain, I shall be able to witness that faith for myself and, as Successor of Peter, to strengthen and confirm it. During the months of preparation that lie ahead, be sure to encourage the Catholics of England and Wales in their devotion, and assure them that the Pope constantly remembers them in his prayers and holds them in his heart.

Your country is well known for its firm commitment to equality of opportunity for all members of society. Yet as you have rightly pointed out, the effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs. In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed. I urge you as Pastors to ensure that the Church’s moral teaching be always presented in its entirety and convincingly defended. Fidelity to the Gospel in no way restricts the freedom of others – on the contrary, it serves their freedom by offering them the truth. Continue to insist upon your right to participate in national debate through respectful dialogue with other elements in society. In doing so, you are not only maintaining long-standing British traditions of freedom of expression and honest exchange of opinion, but you are actually giving voice to the convictions of many people who lack the means to express them: when so many of the population claim to be Christian, how could anyone dispute the Gospel’s right to be heard?

If the full saving message of Christ is to be presented effectively and convincingly to the world, the Catholic community in your country needs to speak with a united voice. This requires not only you, the Bishops, but also priests, teachers, catechists, writers – in short all who are engaged in the task of communicating the Gospel – to be attentive to the promptings of the Spirit, who guides the whole Church into the truth, gathers her into unity and inspires her with missionary zeal.

Make it your concern, then, to draw on the considerable gifts of the lay faithful in England and Wales and see that they are equipped to hand on the faith to new generations comprehensively, accurately, and with a keen awareness that in so doing they are playing their part in the Church’s mission. In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free. Cardinal Newman realized this, and he left us an outstanding example of faithfulness to revealed truth by following that "kindly light" wherever it led him, even at considerable personal cost. Great writers and communicators of his stature and integrity are needed in the Church today, and it is my hope that devotion to him will inspire many to follow in his footsteps.

Much attention has rightly been given to Newman’s scholarship and to his extensive writings, but it is important to remember that he saw himself first and foremost as a priest. In this Annus Sacerdotalis [Year for Priests], I urge you to hold up to your priests his example of dedication to prayer, pastoral sensitivity towards the needs of his flock, and passion for preaching the Gospel. You yourselves should set a similar example. Be close to your priests, and rekindle their sense of the enormous privilege and joy of standing among the people of God as alter Christus. In Newman’s words, "Christ’s priests have no priesthood but His … what they do, He does; when they baptize, He is baptizing; when they bless, He is blessing" (Parochial and Plain Sermons, VI 242). Indeed, since the priest plays an irreplaceable role in the life of the Church, spare no effort in encouraging priestly vocations and emphasizing to the faithful the true meaning and necessity of the priesthood. Encourage the lay faithful to express their appreciation of the priests who serve them, and to recognize the difficulties they sometimes face on account of their declining numbers and increasing pressures. The support and understanding of the faithful is particularly necessary when parishes have to be merged or Mass times adjusted. Help them to avoid any temptation to view the clergy as mere functionaries but rather to rejoice in the gift of priestly ministry, a gift that can never be taken for granted.

Ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue assume great importance in England and Wales, given the varied demographic profile of the population. As well as encouraging you in your important work in these areas, I would ask you to be generous in implementing the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, so as to assist those groups of Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. I am convinced that, if given a warm and open-hearted welcome, such groups will be a blessing for the entire Church.

With these thoughts, I commend your apostolic ministry to the intercession of Saint David, Saint George and all the saints and martyrs of England and Wales. May Our Lady of Walsingham guide and protect you always. To all of you, and to the priests, religious and lay faithful of your country, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace and joy in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanks to Whiteycat for sending this in
to MadPriest Towers, hot off the press.



  1. I hope you are right, Penwatch. Personally, I see Princess Diana style hysteria stirred up by the media and politicians trying to gain popularity by clinging on to his robe tails.

  2. The nicest thing I can say about Papa-Ratzi . . . is that he’s impolite (not to mention impolitic).

  3. Fidelity to the Gospel in no way restricts the freedom of others – on the contrary, it serves their freedom by offering them the truth.

    Ah yes: it’s the old “We’re burning you at the stake FOR YOUR OWN GOOD. Truth!” defense.

    Well, Orwell (i.e., “Big Brother”) would be proud…

  4. the media don’t cling on to the Pope’s robe tails!! Except in the sense of reporting what he says when he says it (maybe that’s what you mean, MP?). The Guardian f***in’ hates the Pope. Every time he does anything someone at the G writes or posts a story saying he’s an idiot.

  5. Fidelity to the Gospel? Benny? With all the medieval additions, inventions, and interpretations, how would they know what is IN the Gospel? There is some really nice, interesting stuff on Episcopal Cafe concerning going in the other direction – food for thought.

  6. No. The politicians will cling to his robe tails. The media (excluding The Guardian and Morning Star) may decide to go for the hysterical angle and whip it up.

  7. “it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate.”

    Geez. This bloke would be handy in Northj Korea.

  8. In fact, the Pope is right on one point. It is important to recognize dissent for what it is. Unfortunately for him, it is a mature contribution to a “balanced and wide-ranging” debate.

  9. This is odious doublespeak – taking advantage of the ideals of individual rights and free speech, while seeking to take those things away from others. It reminds me of how the anti-gay “National Organization for Marriage” plays the religious freedom card here in the US.

  10. Fortunately, the current Pope exudes tedium through every pore. I’d think people would be following football (yours, not ours) or EuroPop competition or just about anything else.

  11. “Continue to insist upon your right to participate in national debate”? Wha–?

    Are you Limeys putting a gag rule on Papist officials so they can’t talk about political issues? Is that what he’s complaining about? For shame!

    Hey, maybe you can tell them it will be ok so long as they present their positions purely as hypothesis, never arguing for them as being true. That would be respectful, being an approach the Vartican invented. And it worked great in that little Galileo thing. Didn’t it? I forget.

    Still sounds like a good idea to me, though.