Pope Benedict revises his assessment of the state of faith in English society

Pope Benedict’s address to seminarians at the English college reveals that over the two years since his state visit to the UK the Holy Father has revised his assessment of the state of faith in our society.

In 2010 Pope Benedict said in his address to the Queen:

‘The Christian message has been an integral part of the language, thought and culture of the peoples of these islands for more than a thousand years. Your forefathers’ respect for truth and justice, for mercy and charity come to you from a faith that remains a mighty force for good in your kingdom, to the great benefit of Christians and non-Christians alike.’

Yesterday in his address to English college seminarians the Holy Father gave a much more realistic assessment of the position of faith in our society:

‘You have heard much talk about the new evangelization, the proclamation of Christ in those parts of the world where the Gospel has already been preached, but where to a greater or lesser degree the embers of faith have grown cold and now need to be fanned once more into a flame. … Fire in sacred Scripture frequently serves to indicate the divine presence. … Just as a small fire can set a whole forest ablaze, so the faithful testimony of a few can release the purifying and transforming power of God’s love so that it spreads like wildfire throughout a community or a nation”.

Protect the Pope comment: What has changed in the past two years that has enabled Pope Benedict to get the true measure of faith in our secular atheistic society? Whatever has changed the Holy Father has abandoned the rosy, unrealistic assessment during his state visit and is now more accurately informed about the state of things facing Catholics in this country. This is heartening in itself, knowing that the Holy Father is aware of what we are facing.



13 comments to Pope Benedict revises his assessment of the state of faith in English society

  • Perhaps the change in Nuncio…

    • Mark Thorne


      I was about to make the same suggestion; reading between the lines, one can sense that it is His Most Reverend Excellency Antonio Mennini who is encouraging the Bishops of England and Wales to be a little more outspoken in their opposition to the unnatural marriage proposals, etc., and maybe to manifest their presence a little more forcefully, as has been exemplified recently by the Bishops in France. Also, perhaps Pope Benedict has in mind the tribulations of our separated brethren at the moment. I shall certainly continue to pray for all the Bishops and the Nuncio in their collective mission; but I agree that it is reassuring that His Holiness seems to have acquired a more accurate picture of the state of the Faith in Britain.

  • rifleman819

    I personally don’t think that the Holy Father was ever deceived in the first place-he is far too shrewd for that.

    The Soho Masses, the Cardinal Vaughan debacle and the general lack of grip at episcopal level cannot have impressed.

    MacMcLernon I think is correct.

    A new Nuncio who reports to Rome rather than anywhere else is the key to the future.In the next few months and years a number of Sees will fall vacant. Those who occupy the vacancies will form a discernible pattern ,I’m sure.

    BXV1 must compare and contrast leadership and courage in Scotland with uninspirational, matt grey emulsion south of the border.

    Interesting times.

    • Eric

      “I personally don’t think that the Holy Father was ever deceived in the first place-he is far too shrewd for that”

      I agree with that. I suspect the more positive comment when he visited was partly down to having the sense to know that it is bad manners to turn up as an honoured guest and then slag off your host. Now in more normal circumstances he can speak more freely.

  • Karla

    I suspect the gay ‘marriage’ push and increasing religious freedom concerns contributed to his revised assessment

    • Eric

      nothing in his comment to suggest that gay marriage or threats to religious freedom or heretical thinking inform this particular comment.

      Isn’t he just saying that the problem is simply that there are fewer people who believe than there used to be?

      Only ten days left to the census results to be published, when we will see how bad a state belief in the Uk really is.

  • Damian

    For too many the embers of faith have been doused by dissent

  • Fr Francis

    Mac – you beat me to it!

  • rifleman819

    Deacon Nick and everyone,

    And of course watch for the coordinated media campaign from this dissident group-usual suspects …Sunday programme,other BBC slanted pieces, the Guardian…..and of course The Bitter Pill.

    A re-run of the agitation and propaganda in advance of the Papal visit …just when you expected the Holy Father to be given an ASBO as soon as he landed….and London would be teeming with protesters.

    But it didn’t quite turn out like that, did it?

    But one thing will probably be the same….. the courageous hand-wringing from the majority of our Bishops.
    For those who prefer dissent ……a simple solution.Thousands have and will swim the Tiber…….perhaps they might want to swim the Thames to Lambeth Palace?

    • I would agree with rifleman819. There was much agitation in the media on the run-up to the papal visit and even some silly ideas were floating round about a possible arrest of the Pope as soon as he landed. So he must have had low expectations prior to his visit and therefore it was a bit of a relief for him to see that everything went down well in the end, and that there were even positive reports in the media about his visit. This is why, I think, he was optimistic on leaving the country. However, with time he came to make a reassessment of the situation.

  • Genty

    I second Mac’s assessment.

  • Robin Leslie

    Well Cardinal O’Brien and Bishop Egan have entered the public domain, and after all that is where the Church is. It has been a pure fantasy to foster the illusion that the Church or religion can
    be restricted to the private domain. Christianity is about ‘the other’ about ‘alterity’ (otherness) and that is intrinsically public
    whilst having roots in the deeply personal, the two are not mutually exclusive but mutually inclusive, there is no separation.
    Can all Christians now stand up please, be in the other, and be counted?

  • Robin Leslie

    The British are a pagan tribe! Enough said! (see LASH (N): A Theology for Pilgrims on
    market Capitalism as a pagan narrative)

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