Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Papal anniversary

Today is the sixth anniversary of the election of the Pope.


For me it will remain as a vivid memory, and an event for which I am profoundly grateful to God.

The Pope has brought immense gifts to the task and imparted imense blessings on the Church, not only in specific acts, such as Summorum Pontificum and Anglicanorum Coetibus, nor just by his encyclicals, nor just by pursuing a very considerable number of pastoral visits worldwide for a man of his age, but in addition to all that by renewing the sense of holiness and prayerful study and thought at the heart of the Church, and in the lives of communities and individuals. He has also addressed painful and difficult issues which were festering and causing harm both practically and spiritually.

This has not always been easy, and not always received the support he deserves, as is pointed out in these posts from Fr Blake Reigning but not ruling and Fr Finigan The Youcat fiasco: Raffaella says "Give us a break....

Nonetheless he continues to combine wisdom and charm, intelligence and a great ability to communicate the truths of the Faith with clarity which make him a truly remarkable shepherd of the flock. Here in Britain we had the great privilege of seeing that in person last September on his state and pastoral visit. The humble worker in the vineyard is performing an heroic task.

Although I am wary of identifying one's membership of the Church with one particular Pope - the "I'm a John Paul II Catholic" approach we used to hear quite often - by dint of circumstance I am a Benedict XVI Catholic in so far as I was received just two days before the death of his predecessor and the Conclave and election coincided with my first weeks in full peace and communion. Long before that, along with other friends who were to engage on the same spiritual journey, we had looked to Cardinal Ratzinger as the Church leader we most admired and hope to see occupy the Papal throne. That, in God's merciful providence, came to pass.

I believe we are extraordinarily fortunate (no pun intended, but it is perhaps apposite as a phrase) to have Benedict XVI as Pope, and I continue to pray for his ministry as Vicar of Christ and Successor of St Peter to continue for many years to come.

Ad multos annos

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