THE PASTORAL VISIT OF POPE JOHN PAUL II TO BRITAIN FRIDAY 28 MAY TO WEDNESDAY 3 JUNE 1982 By Peter Jennings, Author, THE POPE IN BRITAIN, the Official Record of the Pastoral Visit of Pope John Paul ll to Great Britain in 1982 The historic six-day Pastoral Visit of Pope John Paul II to Great Britain, from Friday 28 May to Wednesday 2 June 1982, made an indelible impact on the huge crowds privileged to be present at the great open-air Masses and other events, and the millions more who followed every step of the historic pilgrimage on television and radio. Cardinal Basil Hume OSB, Archbishop of Westminster, in his Foreword to The Pope in Britain, published only three weeks after Pope John Paul II returned to Rome, wrote: "The near-fatal assassination attempt on the Pope in May 1981 caused widespread shock and dismay; it left us for a long time doubtful whether the planned visit could ever take place. "As the story unfolded, the major obstacle to the pastoral visit came from an unexpected quarter. It is now public knowledge that the conflict in the South Atlantic nearly caused the cancellation of the visit. "Pope John Paul was impressed by the long spiritual preparation within the Catholic community, by the profoundly pastoral nature of the visit and by its ecumenical importance to relationships between the Churches in Britain. The six days spent by Pope John Paul in Britain are sure to find a permanent place in the history and folk-memory of the people of England, Scotland and Wales. They would have been remembered - if for nothing else - by the mere fact that the pastoral visit of a Pope took place at all. But this visit merits far more than such formal recognition. "It was for the Roman Catholic community a celebration and confirmation of the Faith. The Holy Father prayed with his people, celebrated Mass with them, administered the sacraments to them and pointed the way forward on their pilgrimage. He came to help them renew their commitment to Christ and to his teaching. He brought them to the wellsprings of the Christian life." Cardinal Hume added: "It is too early to assess how the long-term effects of this quite remarkable visit will manifest themselves: sufficient for the present that we accept the whole experience with thanksgiving, humility and joy." DAY ONE - FRIDAY 28 MAY 1982 POPE JOHN PAUL LANDS AT GATWICK AIRPORT Pope John Paul II landed at Gatwick Airport shortly after 8am on a bright May morning at the start of his thirteenth Pastoral Visit, since his election as Bishop of Rome, on Monday, 16 October 1978. Pope John Paul kissed the ground before being welcome by Cardinal Basil Hume, and the Duke of Norfolk, on behalf of The Queen. During his reply the Pope said: "My visit is taking place at a time of tension and anxiety, a time when the attention of the world has been focused on the delicate situation of the conflict in the South Atlantic. "At this moment of history, we stand in urgent need of reconciliation: reconciliation between nations and between peoples of different races and cultures; reconciliation of man within himself and with nature; reconciliation among people of different social conditions and beliefs, reconciliation among Christians. "So I begin my pastoral visit to Britain with the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ: 'Peace be with you'. May the God of peace and reconciliation be with you all. May he bless your families and homes with his deep and abiding peace." MASS AND BAPTISMS IN WESTMINSTER CATHEDRAL Pope John Paul travelled by special train from Gatwick Airport to Victoria Station, London. Where he celebrated Mass in Westminster Cathedral and administered the Sacrament of Baptism to four adults. During his homily the Pope said: "Today, for the first time in history, a Bishop of Rome sets foot on English soil. I am deeply moved at this thought. This fair land, once a distant outpost of the pagan world, has become, through the preaching of the Gospel, a beloved and gifted portion of Christ's vineyard. "Christians down the ages often travelled to that city where the Apostles Peter and Paul had died in witness to their faith and were buried. But, during four hundred years, the steady flow of English pilgrims to the tombs of the Apostles shrank to a trickle. Rome and your country were estranged. Now the Bishop of Rome comes to you. I truly come at the service of unity in love, but I come as a friend, too." At the end of Mass Pope John Paul went to the Cathedral balcony and blessed the crowds in the piazza below. MEETING WITH THE QUEEN AT BUCKINGHAM PLACE After lunch at Archbishop's House, Westminster, Pope John Paul left for Buckingham Palace and a private meeting with the Queen. VISIT TO ST GEORGE'S CATHEDRAL, SOUTHWARK - SERVICE FOR THE ANOINTING OF THE SICK Pope John Paul travelled by motorcade past the Houses of Parliament and across Westminster Bridge to St George's Cathedral, Southwark where he took part in a simple, but deeply moving, service for the anointing of the sick. The cathedral had been emptied of its pews and transformed into a huge hospital ward. Those on stretchers were accommodated, with their helpers, in the nave, and those in wheelchairs in the aisles. Before the service, the Pope walked slowly among the sick, elderly, handicapped and terminally ill people gathered to receive his blessing. During his address, delivered from a specially constructed enclosure outside the cathedral, Pope John Paul said: "I want you to know how I have looked forward to this meeting with you, especially with those of you who are sick, disabled or infirm. I myself have had a share in suffering and I have known the physical weakness that comes with injury and sickness. "Dear friends, there is no force or power that can block God's love for you. Sickness and suffering seem to contradict all that is worthy, all that is desired by man. And yet no disease, no injury, no infirmity can >ever deprive you of your dignity as children of God, as brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ." MEETING WITH THE BISHOP'S OF ENGLAND AND WALES Pope John Paul returned to Archbishop's House, Westminster, where he addressed a private meeting of Bishops of England and Wales. During his address he said: "In the past weeks the Pope has been close to you, as he has been close to your Argentine brothers in the Episcopate, in the great pastoral need that has been experienced by both your peoples as the result of armed conflict in the South Atlantic. "At the same time, you and the Bishops of Argentina have been assured of the prayers and fraternal support of your brother Bishops throughout the world. The concelebrated Mass in Saint Peter's Basilica on 22 May was, among other aspects, an example of the powerful collegiality that transcends natural boundaries, languages, cultures and even generations. The appeal for peace made at that time was a collegial act in favour of the whole Church and all humanity. The Episcopal College stands by its individual members. The problems of individual Bishops and Conferences are, as you have experienced, the concern of the whole body. You are not alone." At the end of the meeting Pope John Paul travelled to the Apostolic Nunciature in Wimbledon, South London, where he spent two nights as the guest of the Nuncio, Archbishop Bruno Heim. DAY TWO - SATURDAY 29 MAY 1982 MEETING WITH RELIGIOUS AT DIGBY STUART COLLEGE, ROEHAMPTON Pope John Pope addressed more than 4,500 religious at Digby Stuart Training College, Roehampton, in South London, before they renewed their vows. These present included contemplatives who had not been out of their enclosures for many years. During his address the Pope said: "People of all ages and conditions benefit directly from your many different services to ecclesial and civil society. You teach; you care for the sick; you look after the poor, the old, the handicapped; you bring the word of God to those near and far; you lead the young to human and Christian maturity." Pope John Paul left by helicopter for Canterbury where he had an informal meeting with Prince Charles in the Deanery before taking part in a "Celebration of Faith" in the Cathedral Church of Christ, Canterbury. A "CELEBRATION OF FAITH" IN CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL A spontaneous bust of applause greeted Pope John Paul II and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Robert Runcie, as side by side, they entered through the great West Door of Canterbury Cathedral, Mother Church of the World-Wide Anglican Communion, of more than 75 million members. On reaching the Nave Altar they knelt together in silent prayer before greeting each other with a kiss of peace. Dr Robert Runcie, Primate of the World-Wide Anglican Communion, welcomed Pope John Paul on his pilgrimage to Canterbury, during which he said: "In the year 597, in the words of the English historian, the Venerable Bede, Your Holiness's great predecessor Gregory, 'prompted by divine inspiration, sent a servant of God named Augustine and several more God- fearing monks with him to preach the word of God to the English race.' "Augustine became the first Archbishop of Canterbury, and I rejoice that the successors of Gregory and Augustine stand here today in the church which is built on their partnership in the Gospel. We shall trace and celebrate our beginnings in this service by reaffirming our baptismal vows made at the font at the beginning of Christian life and by saying together the creed, an expression of the heart of our common Christian faith, composed in the era before our unhappy division." Pope John Paul and the Archbishop of Canterbury moved to the High Altar. Here they kissed the Canterbury Gospels, a gift from Pope St Gregory the Great to St Augustine, which were placed symbolically on the throne of St Augustine. During address Pope John Paul II said: "In a few moments we shall renew our baptismal vows together. We intend to perform this ritual, which we share in common as Anglicans and Catholics, as a clear testimony to the one sacrament of Baptism by which we have been joined to Christ. At the same time we are humbly mindful that the faith of the Church to which we appeal is not without the marks of our separation. "Beneath this roof Saint Thomas Becket suffered martyrdom. Here too we recall Augustine and Dunstan and Anselm and all those monks who gave such diligent service in this church. The great events of salvation history are retold in the ancient stained glass windows above us. And we have venerated here the manuscript of the Gospels sent from Rome to Canterbury thirteen hundred years ago. "Encouraged by the witness of so many who have professed their faith in Jesus Christ through the centuries - often at the cost of their own lives - I appeal to you in this holy place, all my fellow Christians, and especially the members of the Church of England and the members of the Anglican Communion throughout the world, to accept the commitment to which Archbishop Runcie and I pledge ourselves anew before you today. "This commitment is that of praying and working for reconciliation and ecclesial unity according to the mind and heart of our Saviour Jesus Christ. On this first visit of a Pope to Canterbury Archbishop Runcie will join me in signing a Common Declaration, in which we give recognition to the steps we have already taken along the path of unity, and state the plans we propose and the hopes we entertain for the next stage of our common pilgrimage." Pope John Paul II and Dr Robert Runcie gave the blessing together before kneeling in silent prayer at the site of the martyrdom of St Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury murdered by knights of King Henry II on 29 December 1170. CONVERSATION WITH CHURCH LEADERS AT CANTERBURY After the service Paul John Paul II went to the home of the home of the Dean of Canterbury where he had a conversation with a dozen leaders from the British Council of Churches, drawn from England, Scotland and Wales. During his address the Pope said: "You have spoken to me frankly of your hopes and of your problems. Clearly in a short and informal meeting like this we cannot discuss everything. It is my hope, and I am sure it is also yours, that our meeting this morning will not be the end of this fruitful exchange but rather a beginning." Pope John Paul II and the Archbishop of Canterbury sat together a table in the Deanery Garden, where they signed the Common Declaration. It was quintessential English setting in the bright sunshine of a memorable late May Saturday morning. After lunch the Pope left Canterbury by helicopter for Wembley. THE FIRST MASS OF PENTECOST AT WEMBLEY STADIUM RENEWAL OF BAPTISMAL PROMISES Pope John Paul II celebrated the first Mass of Pentecost in Wembley Stadium, described by Cardinal Basil Hume, as having been turned into a parish church for the occasion. "Come Holy Ghost, Creator, Come", sang more than 80,000 people as the Pope entered the stadium. During his homily Pope John Paul said: "As I look at this great assembly I am full of respect for each of you. You are God's sons and daughters; he loves you. I believe in you. I believe in all mankind. I believe in the unique dignity of every human being. I believe that each individual has a value that can never be ignored or taken away. "Yet I also know that often, too often, human dignity and human rights are not respected. Man is set against man, class against class, in useless conflicts. Immigrants, people of a different colour, religion or culture suffer discrimination and hostility. The heart of man is restless and troubled. Man conquers space but is unsure about himself; he is confused about the direction in which he is heading. "Let us learn this from Mary our Mother. In England, 'the Dowry of Mary', the faithful, for centuries have made pilgrimage to her shrine at Walsingham. Today Walsingham comes to Wembley, and the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham, present here, lifts our minds to meditate on our Mother."
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