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APRIL 6 2012 THE CATHOLIC HERALD
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Embassy in Rome marks 30 years of full relations
BY ED WEST
THE BRITISH Embassy to the Holy See has celebrated 30 years of full diplomatic relations between Britain and the Vatican.
The colloquium day of discussion was held last Friday in celebration of the upgrading of diplomatic relations between Britain and the Holy See at ambassadorial level in 1982, as well as the 30th anniversary of Blessed Pope John Paul II’s pastoral visit to Britain, which took place from May 30 to June 2 that year.
Addressing the gathering, Nigel Baker, the British Ambassador to the Holy See explained why 1982 was so important and historic. He said it “left a legacy that was fundamental to the striking and substantial strengthening of the relationship between Britain and the Holy See in recent years”.
That year the Government and Holy See established full ambassadorial level relations after 68 years of formal but lower level relations. Mr Baker said: “And [it was] 423 years since the Reformation break with Rome had left my poor predecessor of the time high and dry in the city. I visited his tomb the other day at San Gregorio al Celio to remind myself what can happen to a diplomat who fails to keep up with the times.”
The first English ambassador to the Holy See was John Shirwood, appointed by Edward IV in 1479, but relations came to an end soon after Elizabeth I’s accession in 1558. Ambassador Sir Edward Came chose to remain in Rome and died there in 1561, and is buried in the Church of San Gregorio al Celio on the Caelian Hill. Unofficial ties began to be established during the 19th century, with Lord Odo Russell (the cousin of Bertrand Russell) being Britain’s unofficial Minister to the Holy See from 1858 to 1870.
Formal diplomatic relations were established in 1914 under Benedict XV, and the Holy See sent an apostolic delegate to London in 1938. Sir Mark Heath presented his credentials on April 1 1982, having served for two years as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary.
Mr Baker, who took up the appointment in September 2011, said that the events of the past 30 years paved the way for the successful state visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Britain in 2010, highlights of which included the meeting with the Queen at the Palace of Holyrood House in
Edinburgh. Mr Baker said: “Someone asked me recently, why 1982, when we should be concentrating on 2010 and Pope Benedict XVI’s state visit to the United Kingdom? Well, my answer is that one could not have happened without the other.”
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster spoke about the state visit, and talked about the difficulties of the earlier stages in its planning.
Last Friday’s event was hosted by Mgr Nicholas Hudson, rector of the Venerable English College, which is this year celebrating 650 years as a royal foundation as a hospice.
The day was attended by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow and Bishop Edwin Regan of Wrexham, as well as several representatives from the Church of England.
Mgr Mark Langham, of the Pontifical Council of Christian Unity, gave a speech on the ecumenical dimension of the bilateral relationship.
Other speakers included the Rt Rev Christopher Hill, Anglican Bishop of Guildford, Professor Norman Tanner, SJ, Mark Pellew, British Ambassador to the Holy See from 1998 to 2002, and Professor Eamon Duffy of Cambridge University.
Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor was the celebrant at Vespers held in the College Chapel, and Bishop Christopher Hill preached the sermon.
Foreign Secretary William Hague sent a message to the colloquium. It said: “Through the Catholic Church, the Holy See is at the centre of a worldwide network of over one billion people, or 17.5 per cent of the world’s population... it is an important opinion-former at the heart of global affairs. We discuss global issues such as conflict prevention, disarmament, human rights, inter-religious dialogue, climate change and international development. And so I send my congratulations to those gathering at the English College today, aware too that the College celebrates its own anniversary in 2012 – 650 years – and is therefore among Britain’s oldest overseas institutions.”
To mark the anniversary the British Embassy has launched an essay competition on the theme: “The relationship between the British Isles (the United Kingdom and Ireland) and the Holy See”. The deadline is October 26. For details, visit Ukinholysee.fco.gov.uk.
A page from the graphic novel Please God, Find Me A Husband! by Simone Lia
Graphic novelist tells story of her ‘adventure with God’ BY ED WEST
A NEW graphic novel features Adoration, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and even God the father.
Please God, Find Me A Husband!, published by Jonathan Cape, is an autobiographical story by Catholic artist Simone Lia, that chronicles her search for a husband . In the book she stays with nuns, meets Jesus and prays before the Blessed Sacrament.
The story begins with Miss Lia wandering around central London having just been dumped by her boyfriend, via email. She has an epiphany in which she cries out: “To cut to the chase, God, I’m going to be 34 in two weeks’ time and if you want me to marry someone you’re going to need to get a bit of a move on.”
In her quest for a man she looks at aspects of her faith, stays with nuns in Wales, and meets a Carmelite hermit, before heading off to Australia where she meets a horseriding instructor.
Simone Lia said: “It’s autobiographical and embarrassing, but if you change your name it loses its weight. I also drew myself in a silly way, to make it unflattering.”
A graduate of the University of Brighton, Miss Lia began drawing at the age of 13 and has had artwork in the Tate Britain, as well as writing the highly acclaimed graphic novel Fluffy.
Her latest book came about after she was “suddenly inspired” three years after her last graphic novel. She said: “It was just a moment in prayer when you just think, I need to go on an adventure with God, I saw all the pages flicking before me.”
Graphic novels with such an explicit religious theme are very unusual and the author said she had concerns about how it might be treated.
“I thought it’s taking a big risk because I know people are quite anti-Catholic. It’s a cultural thing that goes far back,” she said.
“But it’s also fashionable to be an atheist, especially in the comics industry, which is aimed at a young, metropolitan demographic, and rarely touches on religion in a positive way.
“I think by accident I’ve done something quite rebellious.”
A review in the Guardian has called the book “inquiring and funny, but never hectoring” and “heart-stoppingly neat and expressive”.
The review said the author managed to present the story of a Catholic looking for love without looking “repulsively pious”. The book features a scene over several pages in which Miss Lia prays in church and says “Adoration was my favourite time – kneeling or sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament, talking and listening to God.”
Miss Lia said her publisher had told her the original idea had no commercial potential when she told them she was going to stay in a convent for a couple of weeks but once presented with the finished product they said they loved it.
“Maybe other people can relate to it, and not just single Christian women. I really hope that people who don’t have faith will read it and enjoy it.
“It isn’t about finding a husband but about doing God’s will. I’m not married and I haven’t met anyone but I have freedom now. That’s where my happiness is.”
The book features several Catholic characters, such as Sister Mary Trinity, a trusted friend who has had many near-death experiences, a hermit called Fr Paul, Zacchaeus the tax collector and Jesus and God the Father, with whom Simone has a very personal relationship in the book.
The author said her depiction of God the Father is probably based on her granddad. “He was always there, always loving,” she said.
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Liverpool to repeat Lent drive next year Heart of St Vianney to stop off at Manchester
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
A LENTEN evangelisation drive in the Archdiocese of Liverpool is likely to be a template for the future years, a spokesman has said.
The pilot scheme, launched by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation across 12 metropolitan dioceses in Europe, is known as Missio Metropolis and was launched in 2010.
In Liverpool archdiocese this Lent parishes held talks, reflections, services and devotions, including early morning Masses at least once a week.
The Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King promoted the Sacrament of Reconciliation, with extra times of Eucharistic Adoration between 4pm and 5pm on Saturday afternoons.
Based on the success of the scheme a spokesman for Liverpool archdiocese said it was likely that the initiative would become part of the pattern for Lent in future years.
He said: “Those who took part either in opportunities already part of our Lenten form of prayer or in the new initiatives without exception greatly appreciated what was offered to them.”
Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool said that during Lent the Word was “scattered into all sorts of soil”.
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE BRITISH tour of the heart of St John Vianney has been further extended as the relic will now visit Wythenshawe in Manchester.
The Church of St Anthony will host the relic during the late afternoon and early evening of Thursday July 5 when priests of the diocese will gather to celebrate a Mass in thanksgiving for the “gift of the sacred priesthood”.
The public will also be able to venerate the relic. There will be Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and the opportunity to make Confessions.
The heart will go to Wythenshawe on the first stop of the first ever British tour of the major relic of the 19th-century French saint between July 5 and July 8.
The visit of the relic of the patron saint of priests was organised by Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury.
The relic will also visit Birmingham, Liverpool, the Wirral and the Cheshire.
Bishop Davies said: “The visit of the relics of St John Vianney will likewise be a moment for many to reflect on what should be at the heart of parish life, the heart of the priesthood – the same call to holiness and witness to the Gospel which was seen in the life of this great parish priest.”
Bishop Davies: the Church needs priests urgently
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE BISHOP of Shrewsbury has spoken of the great need for faithful priests if the Church is to succeed in her mission of consecrating the world to God.
During a homily Bishop Mark Davies reiterated the words of Pope Benedict XVI during his state visit to Britain when he said that the more the apostolate of the laity grows “the more urgently the need for priests is felt”.
Speaking at the Mass of the Sacred Chrism in the Cathedral Church of Our Lady Help of Christians and St Peter of Alcantara, Shrewsbury, Bishop Davies said: “The more lay people become aware of the greatness of their calling, the more deeply they become aware of their need of priests.
“In years gone by we heard it suggested that fewer priests would by their absence enable lay people to come into their own. Yet almost everywhere I go today I hear an appeal for priests so that the very life and apostolate of lay people can continue and grow, as the Pope and the Vatican Council have taught.”
He added: “May the reduced number of priests we face in the diocese today lead both clergy and people to value the ordained priesthood ever more deeply. May it lead us to pray for a new generation of priests from our own parishes and families. Indeed, as the liturgy directs us on this day let us always pray for each other that we may all be faithful to our calling and that the Lord will lead us together to eternal life.”
The bishop said that the laity had an enormous task of transforming a society which has lost sight of moral truth.
He said: “The proposal to redefine marriage is the latest example of what Pope Benedict calls ‘a dictatorship of relativism’ which regards every individual belief or moral choice as being equally true.
“We see then even more clearly the priestly mission of all the lay faithful in the strength of their anointing in Baptism and Confirmation to ‘consecrate the world to God’ nothing less. All honest work, every apostolic undertaking, married and family life, every healthy leisure pursuit and even hardship and suffering become those spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God which are united in the offering of the Mass.”
The bishop also emphasised that the priest’s role was one of service.
He said: “A priest truly belongs to the people he serves. For in the words of the Curé of Ars: ‘A priest is not a priest for himself, he is a priest for you.’”
NEWSBULLETIN Archbishop Nichols gives ʻloyal addressʼ to Queen ARCHBISHOP Vincent Nichols of Westminster said in a speech to the Queen last week that Catholics felt “great loyalty and gratitude” for her unstinting service to Britain.
Jubilee. He thanked her for the “generous welcome” she gave to Benedict XVI in 2010 and for affirming Britain’s Christian heritage.
He was among 37 public figures, including London mayor Boris Johnson, to give a “loyal address” to the Queen to mark her Diamond
He said: “Our hope is that our society ... will always maintain respect for our Christian heritage and the sure foundations it gives for a flourishing of true human fulfilment.”
Mancini travels to Medjugorje MANCHESTER CITY manager Roberto Mancini has visited the village of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina as the Premiership title race reaches its climax.
The devout Catholic, whose side trail Manchester United by three points, said he “feels peace” in the town, where six locals are said to have seen the Virgin Mary in 1981. Mr Mancini, who used to be an altar boy in his home town of Ancona, Italy, said: “I’ve been waiting to come here for a long time. I feel great here. But this is a private visit and I do not want to talk about football here.”
Over the past 30 years millions of Catholics have visited the site, but the apparitions have not yet been declared “worthy of belief” by Rome. According to an Italian news agency, a Vatican commission on Medjugorje is expected to present its findings later this year.
Priest returns to his parish A PRIEST has been welcomed back to his parish in Co Tipperary, Ireland, after agreeing to step down almost a year ago while a complaint was investigated.
Archbishop Dermot Clifford of Cashel and Emly said that Fr Tadgh Furlong, who has returned to his parish in Cappawhite, was a priest of “unblemished character” who had endured his ordeal with courage.
Nun dies at the age of 103 SISTER Ursula Murphy, of the Little Sisters of the Assumption, has died at the age of 103.
Sister Ursula, born in December 1908, entered the convent in the 1920s to help in nursing and supporting the poor. She came from a family of 13 children, 10 of whom survived infancy. Her funeral took place on Monday at the chapel of the Little Sisters, Old Oscott Hill, Birmingham.
Competition winners announced THE WINNERS of our CTS New Daily Missal competition are E Banigan, Fiona Holloway, Marie McClelland, K Metson and Valerie O’Sullivan. They will each receive a free copy, courtesy of the Catholic Truth Society.
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Archbishop asked Hague to lobby Israel over wall BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE ARCHBISHOP of Westminster lobbied the Foreign Secretary to address the “tragic situation” faced by Christians in the West Bank last November, it has emerged.
Information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act showed that Archbishop Vincent Nichols wrote to William Hague about the displacement of Palestinians due to the construction of the Israeli security wall in Beit Jala, Bethlehem.
In a letter to the Foreign Secretary, Archbishop Nichols referred to the “catastrophic impact” on the village following the “expropriation” of land by Israel.
In his letter the archbishop described his pilgrimage to the Middle East. He spent eight days in
Israel and the Palestinian territories. He wrote: “While we were there, we visited the parish of the Annunciation in Beit Jala. There we learned of the crisis that has engulfed the parish, due to a recent announcement of annexations of land for the building of a further section of the ‘separation/security wall’ by the Israeli authorities,” he wrote.
“It is my understanding that in the past few weeks, expropriation orders have been handed to 57 families in Beit Jala, removing from them their land, their means of livelihood and, in many cases, their family homes.”
He went on: “This step is a continuation of a long process of expropriation of land by Israel, going far beyond the 1967 border and damaging the very viability of the two-state solution. I will be raising this matter directly with the Israeli ambassador but I do hope that you might be able to consider using British influence to try and persuade the Israeli authorities to reverse their declared decision in this regard. It is precisely this kind of case that will provide a basis for either a just peace or continued conflict.”
The disclosure give a fresh significance to the archbishop’s homily at Midnight Mass in Westminster Cathedral last year, during which he offered prayers for Christians in Bethlehem who he said risked losing their homes.
During his sermon he referred to “shadows” which disfigure our world. He said: “That shadow falls particularly heavily on the town of Bethlehem tonight. At this moment the people of the parish of Beit Jala prepare for their legal battle to protect their land and homes from further expropriation by Israel.
“Over 50 families face losing their land and their homes as action is taken to complete the separation/security wall across the district of Bethlehem. We pray for them tonight.”
The controversial barrier, which runs for 470 miles along the West Bank, was built to prevent suicide bombers from attacking Israel, but locals have argued that the barrier is damaging the economy as well as displacing Palestinians.
Beit Jala is home to several Orthodox and Catholic churches and seminaries.
In Bethlehem, the barrier runs past private homes, including the house belonging to a Catholic family known as the Anastases. Their house faces the 30ft high wall on three sides.
Mr Hague replied to the letter, saying that he was continuing to make representations to the Israeli government to “argue for a just outcome for all the people affected by illegal settlement construction and the confiscation of land due to the separation barrier”.
He also said that the Department for International Development and the British Consulate General were helping Palestinian legal teams to redirect the barrier away from the village.
Following the archbishop’s comments at Midnight Mass last year, an Israeli embassy spokesman wrote to The Catholic Herald to raise concerns about the homily. The spokesman said: “Nobody in the parish of Bet Jala will be evicted or have their homes demolished. Any attempt to claim or to hint otherwise is simply untrue to say the least.
He added: “I would also like to take this opportunity to remind your readers that there are over 150,000 Christians currently living in Israel, achieving across all walks of Israeli society, at all stages of life. To look at just two of the most important, education and work. Christian Arabs have had the highest rates of success in the matriculation examinations, both in comparison to the Muslims, the Druze or the Jewish students. The percentage of unemployment among Christians is 4.9 per cent. In comparison, the rate of unemployment among Jews is 6.5 per cent.
“Since Israel reunited Jerusalem in 1967, religious freedom once more became a given. The state does not intervene in the activities of the churches and the institutions that are dependent on them.
“In a world in which the basic Christian way of life is being threatened in Egypt and Nigeria to name but two states, and despite Israel itself being threatened by our neighbours, we remain an island of tolerance and freedom where religion is and always will be protected by the state,” the spokesman wrote.
“We are also in no doubt that the archbishop, in next year’s homily for Midnight Mass, will fully sympathise with the people in Jerusalem being under constant threats from Beit Jala, a situation that has improved no end since the Israeli security measures have been introduced.”
NHS trust drops its threat to sack pro-life nurse
BY SIMON CALDWELL
A CATHOLIC nurse threatened with the sack for refusing to work on an abortion ward has won her case without going to court.
The staff nurse, who does not wish to be named, persuaded the NHS trust that employs her that her right to conscientious objection was protected by Section 4 of the 1967 Abortion Act and that she should not be forced to work in a Termination of Pregnancy clinic attached to the hospital.
Neil Addison of the Thomas More Legal Centre, the barrister who represented the nurse, also informed the trust in a letter that her conviction that human life began from conception was a “philosophical” and religious belief protected by the 2010 Equality Act and also by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
He warned the trust that any attempt to pressure the nurse to change her mind or to suggest to her that her career prospects might suffer would breach laws against harassment and discrimination.
After taking legal advice, the trust, which is in the Midlands, has now dropped its threat of dismissal and assigned the nurse to alternative duties.
The nurse, a married mother-of-two who is in her early 40s, said her ordeal began when she doubled the work she undertook at the hospital from 15 to 30 hours after her three-year-old son began at nursery.
She said she was not informed when she agreed to extra hours that she would be required to fill in at the hospital’s abortion clinic. Within two months, however, her name was added to the rota and she complained that she could not work in the clinic in good conscience.
Although she was raised a Catholic, she said the sight of an unborn child aborted at 23 weeks when she was working in a hospital in 1999 had also left her convinced that abortion was wrong.
“It is a form of killing, to be honest,” she said. “That’s how I view it. I’m not being judgmental about people. I know there are cases of rape and all sorts of reasons why people do it to end the life of their child, because some way or another they are in a predicament and they see no way out, I suppose, but I just don’t want to participate in it.”
She said that it was pointed out to her that she would not be required to perform the act of abortion but only to prepare women for the procedure.
But she said that in her view that would make her culpable in an act she objected to on grounds of conscience.
The nurse also said that it was put to her by colleagues that other Catholics worked on the abortion ward, one of whom also served as Eucharistic minister in her local church.
“I said: ‘I can’t be responsible for other people’s beliefs. I can only speak for myself’,” the nurse explained.
Mr Addison said that in his opinion the nurse was clearly protected by the conscientious objection clause of the 1967 Act.
He said it was right for nurses to provide medical care on general NHS wards for women who had undergone abortions. But he said to prepare a woman for an abortion would be actively participating in the procedure.
This particular nurse, he said, was being asked to work “unambiguously in the Termination of Pregnancy clinic”.
“It has got to be protected by the [Abortion] Act,” Mr Addison said.
Church appeals for £24,000 to save murals by French filmmaker
NOTRE DAME de France church in central London is appealing for funds to restore murals created by the renowned artist Jean Cocteau.
The murals were created in 1960 when the Leicester Square church was rebuilt following the
Second World War. But the murals are now in need of urgent restoration and the church has commissioned a team of specialist restorers who have worked on other chapels that Cocteau decorated in France. The total cost is thought to be around £24,000.
The church has already raised £10,500. Donations can be made at Bmycharity.com/ refurbishcocteau.
The murals depict the Annunciation and the Crucifixion, and were conceived by Mgr René Varin, the cultural adviser in
London, and the French ambassador invited Cocteau, artist, writer, filmmaker and poet, to draw them. He then spent eight days in November 1959 drawing the scenes, beginning the day by lighting a candle before the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Ordinariate priest featured in anti-apartheid musical
BY MARK GREAVES
A FORMER Anglican bishop ordained a Catholic priest is one of the stars of an antiapartheid musical in South Africa, it has emerged.
Fr Robert Mercer, 77, was deported from South Africa in 1970 for his stand against apartheid, along with several other Anglican priests.
He and other members of the Anglican Community of the Resurrection defied segregation laws by running a multi-racial parish.
They were, says Fr Mercer, “deemed to be a corrupting influence on students” at Stellenbosch University, where they worked as chaplains. One of the Anglican priests was jailed.
Their stand has been dramatised in a multimedia pop musical called Brothers, which ran for five nights at Stellenbosch University, the country’s top Africaans university.
The musical was performed in September 2010 in a mix of Africaans and English and was directed by Peter Krummeck.
Fr Mercer, who grew up in Zimbabwe, went on to become Bishop of Matabeleland, Zimbabwe, in the Anglican Province of Central Africa, in the midst of a civil war.
He was bishop for 11 years before leaving the Anglican Communion to join the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, part of the worldwide Traditional Anglican
From left: Mgr Newton, Fr Mercer and Bishop Hopes
Communion (TAC). He served as metropolitan bishop from 1988 to 2005, when he retired to England.
Fr Mercer was received in January and was ordained a priest for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham on Monday.
He said that Pope Benedict XVI’s offer of an ordinariate to Anglicans in 2009 was “an answer to our prayers, to our dreams”.
He said he had been longing for Christian unity since the early 1980s, when Pope John Paul II and Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury, issued a declaration thanking God for “the progress that has been made in the work of reconciliation”.
He and his clergy in Zimbabwe began working through ARCIC documents and even met Vatican officials in Rome.
In 1985 Fr Mercer met Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger,
then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to talk about the prospect of Anglicans being reconciled with Rome.
Fr Mercer said the future Pope was “the humblest, gentlest, most sympathetic person I think I’ve ever met”.
He said: “I came away thinking if ever I had done wrong and wanted to tell someone about it, it would be him I’d want to tell.”
Three years later he joined the TAC, an umbrella group of breakaway Anglicans, serving as a bishop in Canada.
In 2007 Fr Mercer was one of about 30 leaders of the TAC who signed a letter to Rome asking to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church. Weeks ago, however, many of the TAC’s bishops announced that they would not be joining a personal ordinariate and would be staying “fully Anglican”.
In parts of Europe God is unmissed, say bishops
BY SARAH MACDONALD
EUROPE today is a culture in which God appears to be “silent and unmissed in the lives of many”, the Irish bishops have said in a pastoral letter.
The 12-page document, “Repent and Believe the Good News”, deals with the importance of repentance for the Irish Catholic Church.
In their discussion of the Ireland’s context in Europe, the bishops said that today there were “many spheres of life in which even believers rarely recognise the relevance of the Gospel”.
They reiterated Pope Benedict XVI’s question of whether the West, “the heartlands of Christianity”, is tired of its faith, bored by its history and culture, and no longer wishes to know faith in Jesus Christ.
Explaining their reason for promoting repentance, they said the reflection builds on the summons to renewal made by Pope Benedict to the Catholics of Ireland in his 2010 pastoral letter. It is also a motif emphasized in the summary of the findings of the apostolic visitation in Ireland. That summary was released in mid-March.
“None of us remains unaffected by our culture,” the pastoral reflection says, adding that it “takes a real effort in a busy and noisy world to ask the fundamental questions about what our lives mean and where they are leading”.
This Lent, countless parishioners across England and Wales, both young and old, gave something up and donated the money they saved to CAFOD. These efforts were matched pound-for-pound by the government.
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