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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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