By Linda Bordoni
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, says there is a “penitential heart” to the bishops current ‘ad Limina’ visit.
Speaking to Linda Bordoni, Cardinal Nichols revealed that when the bishops meet with Pope Francis on Friday, they will be bringing to him “the love, the affection, the prayers and the support of the Catholic community in England and Wales and of his bishops” as they seek to review the Church's safeguarding structures.
Saying that these are “not the easiest days in the history of the Church”, Cardinal Nichols speaks of how important it is for the bishops to let the Pope know that he is their pastor who has their love and support as the successor of Peter, and that “we look to him to confirm us in our faith as we want to be with him in his ministry to the Apostolic See”.
Cardinal Nichols also speaks of a statement put out by the Conference as the bishops prepared for their visit revealing that “in it we said a number of things”:
“One was that as bishops and in solidarity and collegiality with bishops around the world, there is a penitential heart to our ad Limina visit” he said.
This, he explains, is because an ‘ad Limina’ visit is essentially a pilgrimage to the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul and to the successor of Peter.
“So the heart of our pilgrimage is to seek the Lord’s forgiveness for the failings in responsibility, in prudence of bishops, who are our brothers” he said.
National Catholic Safeguarding Commission
The second thing, the Cardinal continues, is to say that we are now asking our National Catholic Safeguarding Commission, which is an independent body established some time ago “to really have an external review of all the ways in which the Dioceses and the Parishes and the Religious Orders respond, and understand their responsibilities.”
Voices of victims and survivors
The last thing highlighted in that statement, he said, is that each bishop must take care to make time available for us “to listen to those who are victims and survivors, and indeed in this review we want the voice of victims and survivors to be well heard”.
Cardinal Nichols concluded reflecting on the positive fact that in England and Wales there is a formal forum for those victims and survivors – to let their voices be heard – and to help shape the review of the Catholic Church’s structures.