THE CATHOLIC HERALD SEPTEMBER 23 2011
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Church marks one year since papal visit
BY DAVID V BARRETT
POPE BENEDICT XVI called us to be the saints of the age, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster has told Catholics at a Mass of Thanksgiving marking the Pope’s visit to Britain a year ago.
The anniversary was also marked by local celebrations, by the reintroduction of Friday abstinence and by a statement from the Bishops of England and Wales on the mission of the Church.
Archbishop Nichols, the principal celebrant at the Mass at Westminster Cathedral, spoke of “the gift and challenge” of the Christian life.
“Yes, we are to be effective witnesses in our society; and we can only be so if we are close to the Lord, strengthened by him in holiness of life,” the archbishop said.
He quoted Pope Benedict: “Those who change the world for the better are holy, they transform it permanently,
instilling in it the energies that only love, inspired by the Gospel, can elicit. The saints are humanity’s great benefactors.”
Three phrases sum up the message of Pope Benedict to us all, the archbishop said.
“The witness we are to give, he said, is to the beauty of holiness, to the splendour of the truth and to the joy and freedom born of a relationship with Jesus Christ.”
He continued: “Being a Catholic is a way of life, not a set of membership duties. Being a Catholic is expressed in everyday actions, the habits of a maturing faith, actions of devotion, kindness and, indeed, self-denial, actions which are willing expressions of our love of the Lord who alone is the source of our joy and freedom.”
In his own message, written by Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Pope Benedict expressed his “appreciation to all those who
Archbishop Nichols said at the Mass of Thanksgiving at Westminster Cathedral that being a Catholic ‘is a way of life’ Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk contributed to the happy outcome of his visit”.
Cardinal Bertone said: “He trusts that this moment of thanksgiving will serve as a renewed summons to take up the challenge which he issued a year ago in this very place: to bear joyful witness to the truth of the Gospel ‘which liberates our minds and enlightens our efforts to live wisely and well, both as individuals and as members of society’.” In his anniversary message Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said he looked back on the visit of Pope Benedict with gratitude.
“The visit was a great gift for all the Christian communities of the United Kingdom, affirming their role in society and strengthening their resolve to serve the communities of this country,” he said.
“But perhaps most importantly of all, those days last September visibly reminded the public at large that Christian discipleship is not the concern of some tiny ageing minority but a reality enthusiastically embraced by millions of all ages and races. Pope Benedict showed us all something of what the particular vocation of the See of Rome means in practice – a witness to the universal scope of the Gospel.”
He added: “We who belong to other Christian families gladly acknowledge the importance of this witness and join with our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters in thanking God for the inspiration and challenge of Pope Benedict’s visit, in the hope that we can go on working together for the sake of Christ’s Good News here in the United Kingdom.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said the message the Pope brought a year ago is “just as relevant today”.
“One year ago, the landmark visit of Pope Benedict gave millions of British Catholic an opportunity to celebrate their faith, while sharing a powerful message with everyone in our country about the importance of compassion, tolerance and justice,” he said.
“The shocking riots in Britain underline that we need more than ever to build a culture of social responsibility and develop strong and powerful communities as we deal with tough economic challenges.”
He said he looked forward to close cooperation between Britain and the Holy See.
Continued from Page 1: Over the past year, we the Bishops of England and Wales have reflected together on the Holy Father’s “pilgrimage to the heart of the British people” and the vision he presented. We have considered the challenge he issued to the Church to proclaim the Gospel, “which liberates our minds and enlightens our efforts to live wisely and well, both as individuals and as members of society”. Together with the Church throughout the world, we are determining the demands of the New Evangelisation. We have begun to formulate how the mission, teaching and witness that we must give will be expressed strategically in the priorities, aims and objectives for our work as a bishops’ confer
Bishops: Let us be confident and courageous in our faith MESSAGE EXTRACT BY THE BISHOPS OF ENGLAND AND WALES
ence over the next three to five years. These priorities will shape our work as a bishops’ conference, determining our use of scarce resources and offered in support of the mission of every diocese in England and Wales.
Integral to this work is recognising the importance of being confident, faithful and courageous in our mission, teaching and witness. Following the wonderful example Pope Benedict has given us, in our mission we must be gentle but also confident in manifesting the “beauty of holiness”, a beauty which can lead the heart of every person to an intimate knowledge of Christ. In our teaching, we must be courteous but also faithful in proclaiming the “splendour of truth” through “the witness of lives lived in integrity, fidelity and holiness”. In our witness, we must be humble and open-hearted but also courageous in testifying to
“the joy and freedom born of a living relationship with Christ”.
In respect of our mission, our first priority area of work will be: “To proclaim the universal call to holiness in Christ – by promoting a culture of vocation within the corporate identity of the Catholic Church, marked by a confident Catholic faith”; in relation to “teaching”, the second priority area of work will be: “To proclaim Christ and his Gospel as saving truth – by fostering and encouraging a culture of dialogue and solidarity” and in terms of witness, our third priority area of work will be: “To proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God – by serving and witnessing to the whole community, especially by supporting marginalised and vulnerable people.” Within these priority areas we have already identified a number of aims and objectives: We have re-established Friday abstinence as a common act of witness and of solidarity with those who are in need or suffer and as an expression of our vocation to follow Christ who sacrificed his life for the good of all humanity. We are actively encouraging lay Catholics to witness publicly to their faith with renewed confidence and to communicate a culture of vocation to a wide audience. We are creating a national vocations framework, offering discernment opportunities to all, not only to ecclesial vocations but also to marriage and other forms of lay witness. We will continue to encourage the programme we have begun of “deepening social engagement” to bring greater coherence, support and visibility to the Church’s evangelising witness through the development of Caritas within England and Wales. We will foster opportunities to “build bridges of friendship to other religions, to heal past wrongs and to foster trust between individuals and communities” by building on the unique and inspirational encounter between people of faith and representatives of other religions which took place during the Holy Father’s visit. We will work with other Christians and people of other religions to identify the areas of greatest need, at home and abroad, so that we can come “together in concrete forms of collaboration, as we apply our religious insights to the task of promoting integral human development, working for peace, justice and the stewardship of creation” and to work “together for the good of the community at large”. We will strengthen our communication of the work of the Church through the use of new technology and build partnerships with appropriate media outlets to build on the vision of the New Evangelisation for the transmission of the Christian faith.
In coming to Britain, the Holy Father “wanted first and foremost to support the Catholic community, encouraging it to work strenuously to defend the immutable moral truths which, taken up, illuminated and strengthened by the Gospel, are at the root of a truly human, just and free society”. He also wished “to speak to the hearts of all the inhabitants of the United Kingdom, excluding no one, of the true reality of man, of his deepest needs, of his ultimate destiny”. We believe that the “beauty of holiness”, the “splendour of truth” and the “joy and freedom born of a living relationship with Christ” can still speak powerfully to the hearts of the people of our country. This is the inspiration for our work ahead.
On this Home Mission Sunday, the anniversary of the Holy Father’s visit to our country, we renew our faith in the power of God to lead us all through the difficult times faced by our nation and by our world. Confidently Catholic, we look forward then not anxiously or fearfully but with renewed hope and courage. We invoke God’s blessing on our country and on our world.
HELP RESTORE FAITH
TO THOUSANDS OF TRAUMATISED PEOPLE
IN SIERRA LEONE
Sierra Leone is a country recovering slowly from ten years of brutal civil war. Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary are working in one of the dioceses most badly hit during the war. They are helping people who have been cruelly abused, who have seen their families and friends killed. Sister Anthonia writes to THE LITTLE WAY ASSOCIATION: “Not surprisingly, there is a total breakdown of values in society. There is a loss of direction for families and institutions. One of the tragic results of the conflict is a great shortage of priests and trained catechists, so many Catholics do not have access to the sacraments and are not able to get to holy Mass.” With the help of The Little Way, Sister Anthonia has set up a training programme for catechists but funds are still needed to enable 44 trainees to complete the course and help restore the Faith to thousands of traumatised people. Can you help the people of Sierra Leone in this crisis? The sum of £165 will provide training
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