Once the minutes of the Leadership Team meeting (Jan 28th) have been circulated, I will write a report outlining the contents and the way ahead for ACTA. As there was a full day of discussion, this will take the secretary a little while to complete.
One of the items discussed was a vote of thanks to John Wilkins who has stepped down as ACTA media secretary. It is difficult in these formal statements to convey the genuine gratitude we feel in black and white: the phrases are inevitably well-used and it is difficult to walk the line between cliche and 'gushing'.
John had said that the 2017 Conference would be his 'swan song'. His very significant contribution to securing and preparing Werner Jeanrond and Tina Beattie was a very impressive bow out.
However, when we met in Birmingham, we were disappointed in two ways.
Firstly, because of the practicalites of the preparations for the Conference and the need to catch trains afterwards, we didn't have the opportunity to give John a fitting 'thank you'.
It is fortuitous, therefore, that Pope Francis has just announced the review and re-evaluation of the Mass translation, (see the artice below). John was one of the chief architects in sending the ACTA letter to Pope Francis, and in it arriving to him in person, asking for him to look seriously at the new Translation and the way in which it had been imposed. John was also able to ensure that the letter arrived on the Pope's desk.
Whilst John's humility would not allow him to claim credit for the hopeful development which has come from Pope Francis, nor would ACTA like to make claims about how much we were responsible, we certainly do want to celebrate the Pope's initiative, as it is so close to the wishes and concerns expressed in the letter. (see below)
To that extent, I would like to suggest that whatever influence ACTA had which led to this announcement, John's contribution to the letter was significant in that influence. It is fitting that we heard the news as we were meeting without John.
John left a significant gap in the team, not just because of the wisdom and experience he always brough to proceedings, but also his presence as a true scholar and gentleman, (and yes, I'm aware that is a well worn phrase, but John is certainly someone who has earned the description.).
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to John for the enormous generosity and patience with which he has supported and guided me 'behind the scenes.' He has taught me much about the art of dialogue - there are numerous occasions, (ACTA related and elsewhere) when I say, not 'What would John say ?' But 'How would John say this and when would he say it?'
We have been blessed by John's presence and contribution to ACTA since it was founded. We as a movement, and many of us individually, owe much to John, and we offer our sincere thanks. We are fortunate that John's commitment to ACTA remains undiminished and that we will still be able to use his experience and knowledge.
Martin Bennett (Chair)