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Murdered missionary mourned by Church
BY ED WEST
IRELAND’S religious and political leaders have spoken of their horror at the murder of an Irish missionary in Kenya.
Fr Jeremiah Roche was stabbed in the throat by robbers who stole his blood-stained clothes, a CD player and two mobile phones close to Kericho, the centre of the country’s tea industry, which last year saw serious post-election violence between ethnic groups.
Fr Roche was alone in the parish house and his body was found on Friday morning when a house assistant arrived, concerned he had not turned up for Mass. There he discovered a scene of “carnage”. Fr Roche’s bloodstained clothes were later found half a mile from his residence.
Samuel Njora, Kericho District Commissioner, said the hunt was underway for the two killers.
The 68-year-old, who was known as Jerry to friends, had planned to retire to his home parish in Athea, Co Limerick, next year. Relatives were informed of his death by the Wicklow-based Kiltegan Fathers, Fr Roche’s order for 40 years. The popular priest had served as Keongo parish priest for two years and had served in Kenya for 41 years.
Irish President Mary McAleese expressed her “deepest sympathy” to his family and to the Kiltegan Fathers. “Our thoughts and prayers are especially with the Roche family as they face this sad loss and tragic news,” she said.
On Sunday Pope Benedict XVI offered prayers for Fr Roche and three other missionaries killed in Africa – Mgr Daniel Cizimya, who was killed in his presbytery in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on December 5; Sister Denise Kahambo Maharirwa, shot dead by gunmen in the same region on December 7; and Fr Louis Blondel, shot on December 9 in his rectory during a burglary in a South African shantytown.
Bishop Emmanuel Okombo of Kericho in western Kenya said he was shocked to learn of the missionary’s death.
“How can they eliminate the priest?” Bishop Okombo said. “It is sad indeed that murderers can target God’s servants.”
Cardinal Seán Brady of Armagh, president of the Irish bishops’ conference, said the murder had “shocked all those who loved and admired him in his parish in Kericho and in his home parish of Athea, County Limerick, where he planned to retire next year”.
Fr Tom Kiggins, a spokesman for the Kiltegan Fathers, said they were shocked by the terrible way Fr Roche had died.
He added: “We’re shocked that such a vibrant and energetic man is gone. He spent most of his life in Africa. The missionaries had got through all the problems in that region, all those clashes, and people respected them. They wouldn’t have been in fear of anything as it is not a dangerous place.”
Fr Kiggins said: “He was a great believer in the Church’s role in promoting justice and he did his best to speak up for the oppressed and to encourage his parishioners to do the same. Fr Gerry was interested in the Irish language and was quite proficient in it. While travelling by car with any other Irish person he would often say the rosary in Irish. He also liked to sing and dance and play the accordion.”
Editorial Comment: Page 13
www.catholicherald.co.uk December 18 2009 £1.20 (Republic of Ireland €1.70)
It is useless to condemn and complain, says Pope
Benedict XVI, pictured on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, said it was ‘better to respond to evil with good’ Photo: CNS
BY CINDY WOODEN IN ROME
THE STATUES, paintings and mosaics of Mary found not only in the churches of Rome but also in its public squares and on streetcorner shrines should help the city’s visitors and residents treat each other with more respect, Pope Benedict XVI has said.
Marking the feast of the Immaculate Conception last week, Pope Benedict rode in the popemobile from the Vatican to the heart of Rome’s tourist and shopping district to pay homage to Mary at a statue erected near the Spanish Steps.
“The mother of God teaches us to open ourselves to the action of God, to see others as he sees them – starting from the heart. And to look upon them with mercy, with love [and] with infinite tenderness, especially those who are most alone, despised and exploited,” the Pope said.
Rome, like any big city, is filled with people who are invisible until some scandal lands them on the front page of the newspaper or the television news where they are “exploited to the very end, as long as the news and images attract attention”, the Pope said.
“It is a perverse mechanism, which unfortunately is hard to resist,” he said. “The city first hides people, then exposes them to the public – without piety, or with false piety.”
But within each person, the Pope said, there lies a strong desire “to be accepted as a person and considered a sacred reality because every human story is a sacred story and requires the utmost respect”.
Pope Benedict said that with so many stories of evil and scandal filling the news, it is easy for people to think those things only happen to others. But the little good or little evil that everyone does has an influence on others and contributes to the overall tenor of society, he said.
“Often we lament the pollution of the air, which in certain parts of the city is impossible to breathe. It’s true, the commitment of everyone is necessary to make the city cleaner,” he said.
“But there is another kind of pollution, less perceptible to the senses, but just as dangerous. It is the pollution of the spirit; it makes our faces less smiling, darker, and stops us from greeting each other and looking each other in the eyes,” Pope Benedict said.
The Pope said that on the day dedicated to remembering how Mary was preserved from sin he wanted to honour the many citizens “who have understood that it is useless to condemn, complain and recriminate, but better to respond to evil with good”.
“This changes things; or better, it changes people and, consequently, improves society,” he said. Earlier the Pope recited the Angelus with visitors gathered in St Peter’s Square for the feast, a major public holiday in Italy.
He said all Christians should rejoice in having Mary as their mother.
“Every time we experience our fragility and temptation, we can turn to her and our hearts will receive light and comfort. Even in the midst of the trials of life, in the storms that shake our faith and hope, we remember that we are her children,” he said.
“The Church itself, even if it is exposed to the negative influences of the world, always finds in her the star which will lead her to follow the route indicated by Christ,” he said.
At the end of the Angelus, the Pope greeted 85-year-old Polish Cardinal Andrzej Deskur, president of the Pontifical Academy of the Immaculate, which promotes academic studies of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and pastoral initiatives in favour of Marian devotion.
The cardinal, seated in a wheelchair, and other members of the academy were in St Peter’s Square for the midday prayer.
Archbishop Longley His work begins in Birmingham P11
Alan Caine applauds the V&Aʼs dramatic new wing P16
Fr Ernesto Cardenal We catch up with the Nicaraguan priest-poet P7
FEATURES 7-9 COMMENT 12-13 CHARTERHOUSE 20
Immigration changing the nature of British Christianity, says study
BY ED WEST
CHRISTIANITY in Britain is becoming more charismatic, new research suggests.
A report by the Institute for Public Policy Research found that 4.5 million of Britain’s foreign-born population claim a religious affiliation, and that over half are Christians.
But alongside 600,000 Catholics from eastern Europe Britain has also seen a massive rise in Evangelical and fundamentalist Christians from Africa and Latin America. “Migration has caused an increase in the proportions of the population affiliated to non-Christian faiths,” the report concludes.
“Perhaps the most significant change has been the growth of Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity within migrant populations, particularly those from Africa and Latin America.
“In Lewisham, there are 65 Pentecostal churches serving the Nigerian community, and others serving the Congolese, Ghanaian and Ivorian communities.”
Britain’s mainstream churches have all witnessed declines in attendance in the past few decades, with only 6.3 per cent of the population attending on Sunday in 2007, compared to 7.8 per cent a decade earlier. Every week 1,000 people start attending church and another 2,500 stop, according to a Daily Telegraph report. The largest drop in the past two decades has been among Catholics. But an increasingly secular country is being transformed by immigration, the report said.
Prof Mike Kenny of the IPPR said: “The research shows that recent waves of inward migration have given a boost to some of the UK’s established faith communities at a time when Britain’s society and culture are generally more secular, and smaller numbers of the indigenous population are regularly attending churches.”
Cardinal pokes fun at ‘Green extremists’
Pullman film trilogy ‘halted by Church’
BY ANNA ARCO
CARDINAL George Pell has criticised “extremist Greens” who he claims are more concerned with “turtles who breathe out of their bottoms” than human beings.
The Archbishop of Sydney, a global-warming sceptic, said even moderate Greens “can argue that large projects with consequences for the wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of people can be prohibited because of the bad effects on some animals, such as turtles who breathe through their bottoms”. His comments came as world leaders met at a climate change summit in Copenhagen.
He said: “Political correctness warps traditional human understandings and damages our sense of perspective.”
Humans, he said, were the centrepiece of “imperfect creation” and animals could and should be used for the welfare of people, including as food.
Editorial Comment: Page 13
BY BRIGITTE ISTIM
ACTOR Sam Elliot has accused the Catholic Church of de-railing plans for sequels to the 2007 film The Golden Compass.
Based on the first volume of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, the film revolves around the Magisterium,
a powerful, shadowy organisation that has been compared to the Catholic Church.
According to Mr Elliot
(pictured with his daughter), who played aeronaut Lee Scoresby, the
Catholic Church “lambasted” the film, leading production company New Line to back away from making the sequels. In the US the film was boycotted.
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