The Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz, has been ill in recent months. The following address from him was read to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales yesterday.
“Dear Archbishop and brother Bishops. Thank you for listening to me. I do not have speech to read to you. This is not a lack of respect, but this year there have been two great events which make this address unnecessary: the Ad Limina and the recent visit of the Holy Father to this country. Through these two events you have learned and received more than I could offer over two or three years. The Ad Limina was very successful as was evident by the way you were received by the Dicasteries and the Holy Father.
“I was very glad to be present for such events of great importance. The Pope’s humility, his message and his gentle presence made it so successful. You will understand that I do not need to make the same points on social teaching and the life of the Church in this country.
“On the question of my health, I have not been here for the past six months and I must thank Mgr Brian Udaigwe and Mgr Vincent Brady for their efficiency in ensuring all of the necessary work has continued. My illness is very serious and so this is my last meeting with you. The chemotherapy continues and does not allow me to continue my mission here. It has been agreed that I will leave the country on 5 December. I do not know when my successor will come; all I can tell you is that he is not from Spain…
“I must also tell you how happy I am to hear you talking about the Holy Father’s visit. When I arrived five and a half years ago, I took my mission from Cardinal Casiroli’s words to me: To make visible the pastoral heart of the Holy Father. I have always tried to have good contact with all of you and I know that you are very good Bishops and as the Papal Visit showed the Catholic Church in this country is strong. I can assure you that the Catholic community of the UK will always be in my heart. Thank you to every one of you.”