Pope makes unity pledge
Stars and Stripes May 30, 1982
LONDON — Pope John Paul II, on the second day of his historic trip to Britain, took a giant stride toward Christian unity and spoke to the country's Catholics in the manner of a parish priest.
His actions and words Saturday thus reaffirmed the twin themes of his visit to Britain — an effort to heal the 448-year-old split between Britain and Rome and to minister pastorally to the needs of the country's nearly 5 million Catholics.
The onetime Polish quarryman helicoptered from outlying Wimbledon to the ancient pilgrimage town of Canterbury early Saturday morning and there was welcomed by 600,000 people and by the Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie. Together, beneath the cathedral roof where St. Thomas Becket was martyred, they read a common declaration.
They agreed that, with important preliminary work toward unification of the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches having already been accomplished, it is now time to set up a new international commission.
Its task, they said, will be to continue the work already begun and to examine "the outstanding doctrinal differences which still separate us, with a view towards their eventual resolution; to study all that hinders the mutual recognition of the ministries of our Communions, and to recommend what practical steps will be necessary when, on the basis of our unity in faith, we are able to proceed to the restoration of full communion."
The bishop of Rome and archbishop of Canterbury further declared that, while this work of theological clarification continues, it must be accompanied by work and prayer by both Roman Catholics and Anglicans throughout the world.
They called upon the bishops, clergy and faithful on both sides of the schism "to adopt every possible means of furthering it (unity) through their collaboration."
"Only by such collaboration and prayer can the memory of the past enmities be healed and our past antagonisms overcome," they stateed.
Speaking alone in the cathedral during the ecumenical service on the day before Pentecost, the pope called the occasion a "historic day which centuries and generations have awaited" and said he had confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit "to heal the divisions introduced into the church in the course of the centuries since that first Pentecost day."
The pope then addressed members of the Anglican community, reminding them that the cathedral itself stands "as an eloquent witness both to our long years of common inheritance and to the sad years of division that followed."
"I appeal to you in this holy place, all my fellow Christians, and especially "the members of the Church of England ... to accept the commitment to which Archbishop Runcie and I pledge ourselves anew today. This commitment is that of praying and working for reconciliation and ecclesiastical unity according to the mind and heart of our savior, Jesus Christ."
After the ceremony in the cathedral the pope met for 45 minutes with church leaders from the British Council of Churches and told them that he "longs for the day when, in fulfillment of Christ's will, we shall all be one ... and that day may not be long delayed."
Earlier in the day the pope had a brief meeting in the cathedral with Prince Charles and Runcie.
The pastoral part of the pope's day took place in late afternoon at the huge Wembley Stadium here. The pope came to Wembley via helicopter, landing at a pad about a half mile away from the site that is known to soccer fans the world over as "the holy ground."
While tens of thousands lined the route to the stadium, 74,000 people, 2,500 of them priests, waited inside the stadium for the pope to arrive and another 37,000 people were said to be on hand in the stadium's sprawling parking lots.
Ticket scalpers reportedly had been cashing in on the pope's Wembley Mass charging prices of up to 150 pounds each for tickets which were distributed free to Roman Catholic churches.
The stadium crowd, which had been waiting for hours in the hot sunny weather, was somewhat subdued as the pope made his entrance to the stadium in the "popemobile" — a vehicle that provides a combination of maximum visibility and maximum security.
No pope in recent memory exudes greater warmth than this "people's pope;" and his tour around the stadium's track — used for greyhound racing — soon had the overwhelmingly Catholic crowd wide-eyed and wet-eyed with joy and adulation.
The pope's brilliant ability to make crowds respond came forth again as he waved to them for minutes on end and his famous, mischievously knowing smile further brightened an already sparkling day.
A non-Catholic in the press box said he found himself being trawled into the net by this fisherman's powerful personality.
However, the pope is certainly not the same robust character who made such a successful visit to the Irish Republic in 1979 before narrowly escaping death last year at the hands of a Turkish assassin. Now, his steps are slow and give away his age, but his voice was strong at Wembley as he spoke to the faithful for 40 minutes during the Mass that lasted nearly three hours. It took 30 minutes took to distribute 118,000 Holy Communion hosts.
"Unfortunately not all of the Lord's disciples are fully united in faith and charity. This is one of the reasons why I have come to Britain, and why I have made a pilgrimage today to the cathedral of Canterbury," the pope told the congregation.
"But I have come above all to make a pastoral visit to the Catholic community: to visit the church that is in England and Wales" he said.
He told them that he believed in them and in mankind and in the dignity of every human being.
"I believe that each of you has a value that can never be ignored or taken away," he said. "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." Here, the congregation interrupted him with applause.
"Immigrants, people of a different color, religion or culture suffer discrimination and hostility," he said. "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. It is tragic that our technological mastery is greater than our wisdom about ourselves. All this must be changed. Let this be our plea. May we be renewed in the depths of our hearts in the power of the Holy Spirit."
The pope reiterated a familiar theme, saying: "The world has largely lost respect for human life from the moment of conception. It is weak in upholding the indissoluble unity of marriage. It fails to support the stability and holiness of family life. There is a crisis of truth and responsibility in human relationships. Selfishness abounds. Sexual permissiveness and drug addiction ruin the lives of millions of human beings. International relations are fraught with tensions, often because of excessive inequalities and unjust economic, social, cultural and political structures and because of slowness in applying the needed remedies. Underlying all of this, there is often a false concept of man and his unique dignity, and a thirst for power rather than a desire to serve."
He called upon Christians to renounce such a state of affairs and "consider what God has done for you in baptism, and lift up your eyes and see the final glory that awaits."
That was the message the pope left them with and they seemed happy to hear, it as they sang and clapped and cheered at the conclusion of the Mass as he left to tour among the waiting faithful outside the stadium.
Sunday is expected to be another long and arduous day for the 62-year-old pontiff. However, long days seem not to tire but to exhilarate the man.
He is scheduled to fly from Wimbledon by helicopter to London's Crystal Palace stadium to address 24,000 members of the Britain's Polish community. Following that, he is expected to celebrate an open-air Mass at Coventry in England's Midlands.
During mid-afternoon, he will travel from Coventry to Liverpool's Speke Airport. After addressing the crowd, expected to number 300,000, he is to ride by motorcade along an 11-mile route to the center of Liverpool. The planned route passes through the trouble-torn Toxteth area, where rioting erupted last summer.
The pontiff is expected to make a brief stop at the Anglican cathedral, before being driven to the city's Roman Catholic cathedral where he is to celebrate Mass. He is to stay overnight there at the home of Archbishop Derek Worlock.
Monday the pontiff is scheduled to celebrate an open-air Mass at Heaton Park, Manchester. After lunch at a convent, he is to address another large crowd York's Knavesmire race course.
Later Monday afternoon, the pope is expected to fly from RAF Looming to Turnhouse Airport, Edinburgh, to begin his visit to Scotland. He is scheduled to attend a national youth festival at nearby Murrayfield Park, tour by a motorcade through Edinburgh and celebrate Mass with Scottish bishops in the capital's cathedral. He is expected to dine and spend Monday night at the residence of Cardinal Gray.
Tuesday's schedule will see the pope continue his pastoral visit to Scotland before going to Cardiff on Wednesday for an open-air service before flying back to Rome in early evening.