Invoking Gregory and Bede
Today was a historic day. Not only did Pope Benedict address Members of Parliament and civic and cultural leaders in the very hall where Thomas More’s trial took place, he also celebrated Vespers with the Archbishop of Canterbury in Westminster Abbey. Those who were able to watch both events saw the magnificence of the settings.
In his address at the Vespers Service, Archbishop Williams invoked Pope Saint Gregory the Great. He said in part:
For Christians of all traditions and confessions, St Gregory is a figure of compelling attractiveness and spiritual authority – pastor and leader, scholar and exegete and spiritual guide. The fact that the first preaching of the Gospel to the English peoples in the sixth and seventh centuries has its origins in his vision creates a special connection for us with the See of the Apostles Peter and Paul; and Gregory’s witness and legacy remain an immensely fruitful source of inspiration for our own mission in these dramatically different times.
The rest of his reflection is here.
Pope Benedict concluded his own remarks by invoking the great English saint and scholar, Bede the Venerable:
Gathered in this ancient monastic church, we can recall the example of a great Englishman and churchman whom we honour in common: Saint Bede the Venerable. At the dawn of a new age in the life of society and of the Church, Bede understood both the importance of fidelity to the word of God as transmitted by the apostolic tradition, and the need for creative openness to new developments and to the demands of a sound implantation of the Gospel in contemporary language and culture.
This nation, and the Europe which Bede and his contemporaries helped to build, once again stands at the threshold of a new age. May Saint Bede’s example inspire the Christians of these lands to rediscover their shared legacy, to strengthen what they have in common, and to continue their efforts to grow in friendship. May the Risen Lord strengthen our efforts to mend the ruptures of the past and to meet the challenges of the present with hope in the future which, in his providence, he holds out to us and to our world. Amen.
The Pope’s full text is here.