Sunday, 19 September 2010

Pope Benedict

I admit to being somewhat indifferent to the Pope's visit in advance. I was wrong. From his landing in Scotland to the final blessing in Birmingham, it has been an amazing, encouraging and moving experience. As the Pope stood next to the Queen and the two national anthems played, I experienced a great feeling of pride: here were the Queen of my country and the leader of my Church. It defined for me what it is to be an English Roman Catholic. Over the next few days we witnessed the emergence of the "real" Benedict and not the malign caricature so often portrayed by the media and his enemies. He came across as a gentle and warm man and it seemed clear to me, that even many among the politicians and media presenters were touched by his personality. His visit has done a great deal to gently but firmly assert the value and importance of religion and the right of Roman Catholics to be and to be heard.Of course, there was opposition and controversy but it was not of his making and the pettiness and spite of it did nothing to diminish him, but spoke volumes about where the true spirit of love, mercy and justice is to be found.
He has energised and re-supplied a beleagured Church in this country with the spiritual and intellectual requirements to live in faith in a secular society, with pride and without apology for ones' belief or diffidence in expressing it.
So this great and holy Pope returns to Rome, but he leaves us in better heart and spirit, because of his apostolic visit. My hope and prayer now is that the Bishops clergy and laity build on what he has created and not simply revert to the old ways. He has given us a true spirit and the backbone that it needs. We are English. We are Roman Catholic. This is our home and we are going nowhere, least of all disappearing into the shadows of a "private" faith.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Aid to the Church in Need

Aid to the Church in Need is holding its annual Westminster Event soon. Here are the details.

Annual Mass and "Hope without fear" event
Westminster Cathedral and hall
Ambrosden Avenue
London SW1P 1QW
Saturday 16th October

Mass of Our Lady ( Feast of St Margaret Alacoque)

The day begins with Sung Latin Mass in Westminster Cathedral at 10.30am. Mass will be followed by an afternoon of talks in the cathedral hall. We're delighted to welcome some very special guests from the suffering Church in Sudan and Siberia.

Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio, South Sudan, is leading his people in South Sudan through a time of great uncertainty. Despite the country's fragile peace agreement, he has seen his people fall victim to atrocious attacks including crucifixion. Benefactors are helping to provide hope, funding Christian education at the Save the Saveables schools, training seminarians, Sisters and catechists, and helping priests reach Christian communities with new vehicles.

Father Michael Shields from Magadan , Siberia, is a long time friend of Aid to the Church in Need. An American from Alaska, he chose to serve in a former Communist gulag camp in Magadan, Siberia. Millions died here. Father works for those who survive, ensuring their stories are told and their suffering acknowledged by the authorities. He is the author of the Aid to the Church in Need publication Martyrs of Magadan - a book that tells the stories of 15 survivors of the gulags. Earlier this year, Aid to the Church in Need paid tribute to Father Michael's work by including him in the book Heroic Priests.

Neville-Kyrke Smith, UK Director, Aid to the Church in Need, Has travelled extensively in Eastern Europe and, this year, he will give an update on the help benefactors are giving to Christians in the Ukraine where he recently visited.

John Pontifex,UK Head of Press and Information Aid to the Church in Need,
will speak about suffering, faith and hope in Pakistan and how benefactors are helping to nurture this hope.

For more information please visit our Website: