What was it? Abortion - a veritable holocaust in the UK, the abortion capital of the world. Maybe the Holy Father had some private words about these matters and wanted to keep the public statements cordial.
There can be no doubt that, from all the teachings the Holy Father gave while in the UK, one can very clearly discern his insistance on preaching the fullness of the truth for which the human heart and mind is made. Indeed, in his address to the bishops today, he said:
As you proclaim the coming of the Kingdom, with its promise of hope for the poor and the needy, the sick and the elderly, the unborn and the neglected, be sure to present in its fullness the life-giving message of the Gospel, including those elements which call into question the widespeard assumptions of today’s culture.He is therefore inviting the Bishops - and all of us - to be bold in going against the relativistic environment in which we live and to proclaim the absolute sanctity of every human being.
In his address to parliamentarians and people of influence at Westminster Hall, Pope Benedict posed a key question when he said:
And yet the fundamental questions at stake in Thomas More’s trial continue to present themselves in ever-changing terms as new social conditions emerge. Each generation, as it seeks to advance the common good, must ask anew: what are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon citizens, and how far do they extend? By appeal to what authority can moral dilemmas be resolved? These questions take us directly to the ethical foundations of civil discourse. If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident - herein lies the real challenge for democracy.
Throughout his visit, the Pope clearly had in mind the wider audience of the British people, trying to show them that the Church - and religion more widely - can point to the higher and eternal values that should direct us and in which each human being will find his/her true fulfilment. He always spoke in such a loving, understated, disarming and appealing manner. Whereas the Pope endeared people by his love and wisdom, the hateful protestors appeared vile and repulsive.
Yet those who labour in the pro-life movement, many of them surrounded by great forces of evil and darkness, might have been much encouraged had there been some more explicit reference to this most fundamental of issues. It is clear that in this, as in so many areas, Christians cannot continue with business as usual as the Pope said so eloquently yesterday in Hyde Park.
In that same address the Holy Father told the gathered assembly:
Each of us has a mission, each of us is called to change the world, to work for a culture of life, a culture forged by love and respect for the dignity of each human person.
Pro-lifers would be so much encouraged if they knew that their Pastors considered their work to be at the heart of the work of bringing the kindly light of Christ into the doom that encircles us.
In speaking to the bishops before his departure, the Holy Father encouraged them to make use of the services of the recently established Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation of countries of long-standing Christian tradition. It is somewhat unfortunate that the President of this Council, formerly President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, is an Archbishop who considers abortion to be a valid moral option in certain circumstances (see here, here) and who so effectively undermined the local Archbishop who upheld the Church's teaching and discipline on this matter.
Just some thoughts about an otherwise wonderful Papal Visit.