Archbishop Nichols commends 'beautiful and humble' letter of Pope Benedict

 Archbishop Vincent Nichols has commended to all the priests, deacons, religious and laity of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, the letter of Pope Benedict XVI to the Bishops of the Catholic Church, concerning the remission of the excommunication of the four Bishops consecrated by Bishop Lefebvre, issued today, 12 March.

The Archbishop of Birmingham described it as: "A beautiful letter, characterised by openness, by a deep desire to overcome bitterness and division and by the spirit of humble service."

In his letter Pope Benedict explained the real meaning of the lifting of the excommunication of the four Bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre.

Archbishop Nichols emphasised: "Pope Benedict clearly acknowledges the confusion and hurt that this move caused and in particular he regrets the 'open hostility' expressed by some Catholics 'who, after all, might have had a better understanding of the knowledge of the situation'.

"The Pope warmly thanks 'our Jewish friends, who quickly helped to clear up the misunderstanding and restore the atmosphere of friendship and trust'.
The Archbishop of Birmingham stressed: "I echo these sentiments and offer my gratitude to the Jewish communities in Birmingham for their caring desire to understand the action of the Pope and their measured response to it. Here too we enjoy friendship and trust."

Archbishop Nichols said: "In the letter Pope Benedict XVI reinforces the main priority in his Pontificate as that of leading men and women to God. He says: 'Not just any god, but the God who spoke on Sinai; the God whose face we recognise in a love which presses to the end - in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.'

"Pope Benedict goes on to say: 'The real problem at this moment of our history is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects.'

"The Pope stresses that in giving hope and witness to the world today it is vital to seek reconciliation with those who otherwise might be deliberately isolated and held as an object of easy attack and hate.

"Speaking of his own action the Pope asks: 'Was it, and is it, truly wrong in this case to meet half-way the brother who has something against you and to seek reconciliation?'"

Archbishop Vincent Nichols added: "This letter teaches us so much - the need for all people to look carefully at those whom they hold to be so different
from themselves and to avoid intolerance and hostility; to seek with them to open bigger and broader horizons within which we can live and work together.

"This letter of Pope Benedict is also a witness to the importance of a spirit of humility in this work of serving the common good."

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