NEWS of the beatification of 85 English Catholic martyrs on November 22 has been greeted by Dr Runcie, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The beatification, which was announced by Cardinal Hume last week, "will celebrate heroic people who for the sake of conscience and religious faith laid down their lives at a time of intense religious conflict."
The cardinal also drew attention to the 1970 beatification by Paul VI of a further 40 martyrs and recalled the papal prayer that the "blood of these martyrs would be able to heal the great wound inflicted upon God's Church," by the separation of the Anglicans from the Catholics.
The cardinal further stressed the importance of unity between the churches by stressing that "we shall not forget all who in those troubled times from both, sides of the religious divide laid down their lives because of a total commitment to their beliefs."
Dr Runcie gave a "warm welcome" to the ecumenical tone of the cardinal's statement. He said that "group rivalries die hard, but it is important to understand with sympathy the history of the recusant community that remained faithful to Rome at the time of the Reformation."
The New Martyrs, page seven He also shared Cardinal Hume's wish that the beatification of the martyrs would prompt Christians "to pursue the path of reconciliation with greater understanding and effectiveness."
Beatification is the second of the three stages towards canonisation as a saint. The martyrs will be called "Blessed" and public devotion and Masses in their honour will be permissible.