In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI gave us "a mandate" to "go forth and be witnesses of God's mercy, a source of hope for every person and for the whole world."
Pope in England: Cameron Takes Up the Challenge
By David Came (Sep 22, 2010)
On occasion, it's good to let secular leaders do the talking, especially after the Pope has been speaking and they appear to have been listening carefully.
Take Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, for example.
When he bid Pope Benedict XVI farewell on Sept. 19, Cameron summed up well the significance of the Holy Father's state visit to the U.K. Sept. 16-19. He also indicated that a plea for mercy and compassion, especially for the poor, was an important part of the Pope's message that would have an impact on the U.K. for years to come. He even hailed the native-born Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890), whom the Pope beatified on Sept. 19, as, in effect, an apostle of mercy toward the poor and sick.
Of the overall significance of the Pope's visit, Prime Minister Cameron said:
Your Holiness, on this truly historic state visit to Britain you have spoken to a nation of 6 million Catholics, but you have been heard by a nation of more than 60 million citizens and by many millions more around the world.
For you have offered a message not just to the Catholic Church but to each and everyone of us of every faith and of none. ...
You have really challenged the whole country to sit up and think, and that can only be a good thing. ... I believe we can all share in your message of working for the common good and that we all have a social obligation to each other, to our families, and our communities. And, of course, our obligations to each other — and our care for each other — must extend beyond these shores too.
Cameron himself had clearly heard the Pope's challenge "to sit up and think" regarding the care of the world's "poorest:
I passionately believe that we must continue to help the poorest, even in difficult economic times. A yawning gap between the rich and the poor will be more dangerous and less secure for all of us.
So this country will keep its promises on aid. We will work to hold other countries to their promises too. ... And I am delighted that the Holy See will be working so actively with us to do all we can to achieve this.
Concerning the newly Blessed John Henry Newman's concern for the poor and sick, Cameron told the Pope:
As we stand here in Birmingham to bid you farewell, let me return to the words of Cardinal Newman. The Cardinal is greatly remembered here in Birmingham for his care for its people. During a cholera outbreak in the city, he worked tirelessly among the poor and sick. And when he himself died, the poor of the city turned out in their thousands to line the streets. Inscribed on the pall of his coffin was his motto "Heart speaks unto heart." That has been the theme of this most special visit.
Through the intercession of Blessed John Henry Newman, let's pray that Prime Minister Cameron and the British people keep listening to Benedict XVI, our Mercy Pope. May heart speak unto heart and foster the renewal that is so needed in largely secular Britain.
David Came is executive editor of Marian Helper magazine, the flagship publication of the Association of Marian Helpers, which is headquartered in Stockbridge, Mass. He is the author of Pope Benedict's Divine Mercy Mandate.