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Friday, 17 September 2010

Ecumenical Significance of Pope Benedict's Visit to the UK

In his first homily on Thursday 16th September during his visit to the UK, Pope Benedict XVI has underlined the importance of ecumenical relations. At the mass in Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, the Pope mentioned the trust and friendship between the Roman Catholic Church and the [Presbyterian] Church of Scotland and the Scottish Episcopal Church, which is, of course, the branch of the Anglican Communion in Scotland. "Let us give thanks to God for the promise which ecumenical understanding and cooperation represents for a united witness to the saving truth of God's word in today's rapidly changing society", said the Pope in his sermon.

On Friday 17th, the Pope visits the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace and later will pray with Archbishop Rowan at the shrine of St Edward the Confessor in Westminster Abbey, in the context of an ecumenical evensong. This will be a strong sign of the common Christian faith shared by Roman Catholics and Anglicans. The papal visit is not without some controversy, and there has been criticism of the visit by individuals and groups. Nevertheless, Christian witness to the Gospel in our complex society will be strengthened when Anglicans and Roman Catholics can speak and act together.

The ecumenical significance of the visit is attracting some widespread attention. Already today I have given two interviews to international media sources: one in French to CBC Radio Canada, and one in Spanish to RTVE, the Spanish National Public Radio.

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