Ross Douthat writes in the New York Times:
On Saturday, Benedict addressed Britain’s politicians in the very hall where Sir Thomas More, the great Catholic martyr, was condemned to death for opposing the reformation of Henry VIII. It was an extraordinary moment, and a reminder of the resilience of Catholicism, across a gulf of years that’s consumed thrones, nations, entire civilizations.
This, above all, is why the crowds cheered for the pope, in Edinburgh and London and Birmingham—because almost five centuries after the Catholic faith was apparently strangled in Britain, their church is still alive.
I think that’s absolutely right. And while grace will lead Britain home, the pope didn’t talk about the obligations of every vocation in life for his health. He was calling on the bishops and the priests and religious, yes, and the politicians, yes, to lead a revival in Britain. But every Catholic man and woman—the laity don’t get to rest on our kneelers—too.
As a priest friend summed up the visit this morning: Pope Benedict “built the foundation for something monumental, but whether it actually becomes monumental depends on what happens from here, whether it inspires Brits more than ephemerally to build on those foundations. I’m praying that it does.”
So am I. And that we learn here, too. When he addressed everyone, he was really addressing everyone.