EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ARCHBISHOP NICHOLS THE ARCHBISHOP ON HOLY DAYS , AMBITION AND PRAYING FOR HIS ENEMIES PAGES 8-9
July 24 2009 £1.20 (Republic of Ireland €1.70)
Parents’ faith can lead children back to the Church, says Archbishop
BY MARK GREAVES
THE BEST THING that parents can do if their children have lapsed is to remain faithful themselves, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster has said.
The Archbishop said the steady faith of parents had a profound influence on children once they had grown up and could often encourage a return to the Church.
He made the comments in an interview with The Catholic Herald – his most candid since becoming Archbishop of Westminster.
In the interview he also criticised traditionalists who reject the ordinary form of the Mass, saying they were “inexorably distancing themselves from the Church”, and defended the bishops’ decision to move three Holy Days of Obligation to a Sunday.
The Archbishop said that many students he knew as a sixth-form chaplain in the 1970s returned to their faith when they were older – “maybe when they intend to marry, maybe when they have children, maybe when their parents die”.
He said that even though teenage years were a time of “testing boundaries, seeing what you can get away with”, the “backcloth” of their parents’ faith stayed with them.
“That steady backcloth and foundation of faith is often a real summons later in life,” he said. “So I would say to parents: don’t panic, read the parable of the Prodigal Son and see that it is actually a parable about a loving father.
“So be a loving father, be a loving mother. Be patient. But don’t waver in your own living of the faith and cherishing of it. And that will pay dividends.”
The Archbishop said the “heartache” of parents seeing their children leave the Church
was not new. The task of preparing young people for adult Catholic life, he said, was “jolly difficult”.
“I’m not sure if we’ve ever had it that right,” he said.
In the interview Archbishop Nichols also defended the decision to transfer three Holy Days of Obligation – Epiphany, Ascension and Corpus Christi – to the nearest Sunday, saying that in the long run it could “enhance” their celebration.
Asked if the change had upset Catholics’ liturgical rhythm, the Archbishop said it did “a bit, but not a lot. I mean, it goes from Thursday to Sunday. It’s probably less of a change to the body clock than the change of the hours for the spring and the winter.”
He said schools could prepare children for the feast days earlier in the week by holding processions and talking about their meaning at assemblies and in Religious Education.
But the parish, he said, “should be the central place where the mysteries of the faith are celebrated. There’s no doubt that more people are able to go to Mass on a Sunday than on a working Thursday.”
On the subject of liturgy, the Archbishop stressed that traditionalists had to accept the authority of their bishop.
He said “one of the troubling things at the moment” was that some people were trying to create tension between the ordinary and extraordinary form of the Mass.
The Archbishop said: “Most troubling of all to my mind is the mindset that somebody might get caught into, because perhaps they don’t like some aspect of how the Mass is being celebrated or the music that’s been chosen or something, that they begin to turn their back on the Church’s ordinary pattern of prayer, the ordinary form of the Mass and say: ‘I
can’t accept that.’ That’s really quite serious, because if they can’t accept that then they are inexorably distancing themselves from the Church.”
The Archbishop said it was impossible to separate the gift of Holy Communion from the authority of the bishop. He said: “The gift is one, whole and entire: sacred orders, the Eucharist and the authority of the Church.”
In the interview, Archbishop Nichols spoke revealingly about a number of personal subjects, admitting that he once almost lost his vocation and that he sometimes struggled when people bore him ill-will “not to let a kind of resentment gain a foothold in me”.
The Archbishop recalled a moment in seminary when he had “more or less made up my mind that I wasn’t going to be able to go through with all of this. I think I was quite confused. And I remember receiving a letter. It was from a priest in Japan and China. I had no idea who this man was. But this letter arrived and it said: ‘I understand that you’re in some confusion within yourself at this time. And I just want to assure you that you should trust in the Lord and not be hesitant. Have the courage to go on’.”
He said he believed the letter was a way for God to guide him to “stay faithful to what seems deep down to be the most important thing”. When asked if he, like St Thomas More, prayed for his enemies, Archbishop Nichols said: “I’d like to think I don’t have too many enemies. But I think that’s probably a bit naïve. I think I do annoy people at times and I must irritate them and get them upset. There are clearly one or two
Continued on Page 2
Interview: Pages 8 and 9 Editorial comment: Page 13
The Pope takes a stroll in Les Combes days after fracturing his wrist in a fall
Pope gives thanks as he recovers from fall
BY STAFF REPORTER
POPE BENEDICT XVI has thanked the doctors who treated his broken wrist and everyone who prayed and expressed their concern for him.
Before reciting the Angelus prayer in the town of Romano Canavese in northern Italy, the Pope greeted thousands gathered outside the town’s parish church, waving enthusiastically even though his right arm was encased in a plaster cast. “As you can see, because of an accident, my mobility is a bit limited, but my heart is fully present,” he assured the crowd.
The Pope travelled 50 miles by helicopter and car from Les Combes, where he has been vacationing, to Romano Canavese, the home town of his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
“I offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone – and there are many of you – who have demonstrated your closeness, your sympathy and your affection for me and who have prayed for me,” he said. “I especially want to thank the doctors and the medical staff who treated me with such diligence, compassion and friendship. As you can see, they were successful... we hope they were successful.”
The Pope fractured his right wrist after he accidentally fell on Thursday night in the residence where he has been on holiday since Monday.
Using local anaesthesia, doctors at the nearby hospital in Aosta performed minor surgery to stabilise and join the ends of the dislocated broken bones with wires. Doctors said the Pope was in good condition and that he would probably have to wear the cast for a month. He was released a few hours later.
During his first public appearance after his accident the Pope, 82, used his right arm to wave and even wiggled his still slightly swollen fingers. The swelling has gone down enough to allow him to put the papal fisherman’s ring back on his right hand. He shook hands with well-wishers with his left hand. Cardinal Bertone said the broken wrist would make it difficult for the Pope to use his Alpine vacation to continue work on the second volume of his book about Jesus.
Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said in a written statement that the Pope was “learning how to live with the right wrist in a cast”.
Vatican Notebook: Page 4
Newman to be beatified next May in Birmingham Oratory ceremony
BY SIMON CALDWELL
CARDINAL John Henry Newman will be beatified next spring in the Birmingham Oratory, it emerged this week.
The ceremony to declare Cardinal Newman as Blessed will be held on Sunday May 2 if proposals advanced by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints are accepted by the bishops of England and Wales.
The decision to hold the event in England is bound to
increase speculation that Pope Benedict XVI will accept Gordon Brown’s offer of visiting Britain.
But sources close to the Vatican say the Pope will not come to England so close to a general election in case the trip is exploited for political purposes.
Instead, the Pontiff will send a delegate to preside over the beatification – probably Archbishop Angelo Amato, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
The Pope announced the beatification of Newman earlier this month after Vatican medics and theologians approved the inexplicable healing of Jack Sullivan, an American “bent double” by a severe spinal condition, as a miracle as a result of praying to the Victorian cleric. A second miracle will be needed to recognise Newman as a saint.
Many Catholics had hoped that the beatification would take place in St Peter’s Square, Rome, because of Newman’s
international significance as a modern theologian. But the Vatican has insisted on following the Pope’s revised rule that beatifications are carried out in the diocese where the candidate died – and in Newman’s case this is the Archdiocese of Birmingham.
May 2 is seen as a favourable date because it is the feast of St Athanasius, the “champion of orthodoxy” so admired by Newman.
Letters: Page 13
Police catch Sisters speeding at 130mph
‘I might have been a priest,’ says Rooney
BY JONATHAN STOGDON
ITALIAN police pulled over a car hurtling along at more than 100mph last week – only to find it was full of nuns anxious to see the Pope.
Three Salesian Sisters were stopped at Quincinetto, near Turin, for travelling at 130mph, exceeding the Italian speed limit of 50mph.
A Turin police spokesman said: “The officers involved
were amazed to see three nuns in the Ford Fiesta when it stopped.”
The Sisters excused their speeding, saying: “We had heard how the Pope had fallen over and we were on our way to make sure he was OK.”
The spokesman said he hoped that the nun who was driving “will be making sure she confesses her bad driving” the next time she received the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
“But in the meantime, she will have to pay the €375 [£320] fine,” he added.
BY JONATHAN STOGDON
WAYNE ROONEY has said that if it was not for his football success he might have become a priest.
The 23-year-old England player said he was only ever good at religion and football.
In response to a question about what he would have done if he had not become a Premier League footballer, Rooney said: “I always enjoyed RE, so maybe a priest.”
The Manchester United striker added: “I haven’t a clue what else I would have done. I wasn’t really the best in school.”
Both Rooney and his wife, Coleen, are from Irish Catholic families and at
tended Catholic schools in
They married in a Catholic ceremony in a converted monastery near Genoa, Italy, and are expecting their
first child later this year, reportedly in October.
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