A wonderful thing happened in Liverpool in 1982 when Pope St John Paul II walked with Archbishop Derek Worlock, Bishop David Shepherd and Rev Dr John Newton along Hope Street from the Anglican Cathedral to the Metropolitan Cathedral.
This was a sign of Christian unity that broke with past division and bigotry, and that set Christians throughout England and Wales on a new path towards real and visible unity. So you can imagine the responsibility I felt on my shoulders during the recent Eucharistic Congress. One false move and years of building positive friendships and working relationships with fellow Christian leaders on Merseyside could have been wiped out.
As it turned out, Christian leaders both national and local attended Adoremus and contributed by listening and by prayer. In a spirit of receptive ecumenism they listened to our Catholic tradition, and in debate and discussion we heard how Anglicans, Methodists and the reformed churches understand Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. It was a mutually enriching aspect of the Eucharistic Congress which brought joy to my heart, even though it was tinged with the pain of separation.
The highlight of the Congress for me was to walk shoulder to shoulder with my fellow Christian leaders in the Blessed Sacrament procession through the streets of Liverpool. This wasn’t triumphalist but a pilgrimage of penance. There were no protests from extreme groups; together we were simply humble pilgrims taking faltering steps on the path to unity. And we got soaked to the skin as God blessed us with a terrific downpour. Rorate caeli!