From B. A. Harrington
A HOWLING gale blowing A cold North sea winds on a traversty of a summer's day across the heights upon which St. Hilda built her abbey did not deter more than 4,000 men, women and children of the North from turning out to fill the abbey for Sunday's 13th centenary celebrations.
Top coats. scarves and gloves replaced summer clothes for the huge congregation which filled the ruined abbey church as it has never been filled before.
Scouts from Marist Colleges in Hull and Middlesbrough formed a Guard of Honour for the Apostolic Delegate who presided at Pontifical High Mass celebrated by Bishop Brunner of Middlesbrough. Monks of Ampleforth formed the choir.
The Synod was an essential in unifying the Church In Britain and on Sunday the theme, again, quite topically, was unity. "How remote all this seems from the Synod and what was discussed there", said Bishop Dwyer in his sermon, "We cannot imagine today anger over the date of Easter. Yet it is well to draw attention to the way in which that debate was conducted and to contrast it with the way St. Bede wrote it 50 years later. St. Wilfrid, a man full of experience, full of Rome. was furious. Bishop Coleman remonstrated gently. What St. Wilfrid said was true but he said it in a hectoring, bullying way. There is a better way of arguing and we see it clearly in St. Bede who never had a hard word to say against those on the opposite side."
This, and the example of the way Our Lord settled the argument at the l.ast Supper about who should be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. illustrates how best the fierce dispute between Catholics today should be conducted, as well as discussions between Catholics and other Christians. said Bishop Dwyer.
Commending to all the patience and charity of St. Bede, Bishop Dwyer commented that today in our relations with non-Catholics essentials were different, but he was not without hope that the next 1,300 years might well see those differences completely disappear.
The Apostolic Delegate. Archbishop Cardinale. after praising the people for their steadfastness in the face of wintry conditions, read a special message from Pope indul gence who granted a plenary to all present. Pope Paul wrote of "the renowned Synod which confirmed the loyalty of the British Church to the Apostolic See of Rome". The faithfulness asserted and strengthened at Whitby, he said, "has made religious life in Britain most fruitful, producing saints and scholars, noble institutions and admirable organisations.
"We invoke the intercession of the English Martyrs, especially Ss. John Fisher and Thomas More. who gave their lives in defence of unity with the Chair of Peter, as We pray that continued brotherly fidelity in the tradition of Whitby may bring abundant blessings of progress, peace and saintliness upon the Church of Britain."