The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have written to Pope John Paul II, on the occasion of his 80th birthday, 18 May 2000. The letter, signed by all the Bishops at their meeting last week, follows: Dear Holy Father We, the Bishops of England and Wales, wish to express our loyal, fraternal and affectionate greetings to you on the occasion of your eightieth birthday. At the same time, we wish to take this opportunity, during the course of the Great Jubilee, to thank you for your constant and courageous guidance and your support and encouragement to the entire Church. We believe that much of what you have accomplished in your own special ministry as Successor to Peter has not only given us a shining example of what it is to be a Bishop in this rapidly changing world, but has also freed us to be ever more confident in the exercise of our ministry, and faithful to the precious inheritance which, as successors of the Apostles, has been placed in our care. On the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the Restoration of the Hierarchy in our lands, we were greatly honoured by your fatherly concern in sending Cardinal Danneels, as your Special Envoy to our celebrations, and by your timely message to our Churches which is a great joy to us. We were deeply touched that, following the example of your illustrious predecessor Pope Saint Gregory the Great who gave a copy of the Gospels to Saint Augustine of Canterbury, you have, in like manner, sent to each of us a copy of the Sacred Scriptures with the renewed mission to preach the Gospel in an age when new demands on evangelisation are made, and at a time of social and cultural transformation. Finally, Holy Father, we pray that your ministry among us, so clearly characterised by youthfulness of spirit, imaginative pastoral care and profound depth of humanity, may continue. Ad multos annos!
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