His Most Reverend Excellency, Antonio Mennini speaks about his special audience with the Queen:
“First of all, I passed on the Holy Father’s warm greetings and told her that His Holiness often remembers his visit to the United Kingdom and has enormous gratitude for the kind welcome he received.
“I told the Queen that the aim of my mission is to strengthen the already existing good relations between the United Kingdom and the Holy See and to strengthen the good fraternal relations with the Anglican Church in order to give a common witness to the values of the Gospel.
“The Queen said that she believed all Christians should work together to achieve this goal. She underlined the fact that the Holy Father’s visit was a big success and allowed both the United Kingdom and the Holy See, not only to highlight the areas of current joint working, but to look into new areas of effective co-operation for the well-being of the entire human family.
“I told the Queen that I was very happy that the Holy Father had appointed me to be the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain – a nation whose culture I appreciate very much. I also recalled some of the Holy Father’s words from his speech at Westminster Hall when he underlined the role that the democratic institutions of Great Britain play – not only in Great Britain – but across many countries all over the world.
“She asked me about the state of Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz’s health and sent on her kindest wishes. She also asked me to tell the Holy Father that she often remembers his visit with fondness and with thanks. She said that the visit could constitute a blueprint, not only for relations between the Holy See and the UK, but for many countries.
“Coming towards the end of the audience, the Queen asked me about my background. I said that I came from central Italy; that I had entered seminary after some years at university, spent time working as an assistant priest in Rome and then served in Uganda; then in Russia. She also asked whether I intended to travel within the UK. I said that I was looking forward to getting to know the country; the culture, the Catholic Church in Britain, other communities and churches.
“She concluded by saying that my work will be challenging, but very important and very interesting.”
The new Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain was taken by horse-drawn carriage from Archbishop’s House, Westminster to Buckingham Palace around lunchtime on Wednesday 2 March 2011. He presented his Letter of Credence to the Queen and his predecessor’s Letter of Recall.