Friday, 17 November 2017

World Day of the Poor - 19 November - Tent Hospital opens in the Vatican



World Day of the Poor, an initiative launched by Pope Francis, will be celebrated this Sunday, November 19.

To celebrate, doctors, nurses, soldiers and volunteers have been taking care of the homeless of Rome in this tent in St. Peter's Square for the last few days.

Once they arrive and have filled out a questionnaire, they are directed to the medical unit most suited for their needs.

DR. LUCA CIPRIANO
Gynecologist
“From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., we are ready to tend to all of the poor pilgrims who need a visit.”

Doctor Luca Cipriano assures homeless people sometimes don't ask for help out of fear of being judged.

This project hopes to challenge indifference. Pope Francis has spoken on many occasions about the culture of dismissal, and that's why he wants this hospital to encourage a culture of encounter.

MSGR. RINO FISICHELLA
President, Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization
“If you look at the logo, there are two hands, but you can't tell which one is the rich and which one is the poor, if it is inviting to leave or to enter. You can't tell, and that was done on purpose. To remind us that we need each other and that each one of us has riches and poverties; also, that poor people have great riches to offer us.”

The less fortunate have their own World Day for the first time, and not just this year, but every year from now on.

More than four thousand homeless people are expected to attend the World Day celebration this Sunday in St. Peter's Basilica. After, Pope Francis will have lunch with 1,500 of the poor in the Paul VI Audience Hall. There will also be lunch for the most needy in different parts of Rome.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Statement on Abortion from Catholic Bishops of England & Wales, and Scotland

(c) Marzur/catholicchurch.org.uk
Executive Summary
This statement, published by the Catholic Bishops of England, Wales and Scotland, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 UK Abortion Act, is addressed not only to Catholics of our countries, but more broadly to all people who seek to uphold the dignity of human life and protect the unborn child. Over the last fifty years, the bishops of our countries, along with many other people, have spoken consistently in favour of the intrinsic value of human life and both the good of the child in the womb and the good of the mother. This anniversary provides an opportunity to lament the loss of life due to abortion and seek a change of minds and hearts about the good of the child in the womb and the care of mothers who are pregnant.

Fifty years ago, few envisaged the possibility of that there would be almost 200,000 abortions in Great Britain in 2015. Every abortion is a tragedy and few consider that abortion is the desirable or best solution to a pregnancy, which may be challenging on account of many different factors. The complex set of conditions in which a woman finds herself pregnant and may consider having an abortion may limit the exercise of freedom and diminish moral culpability. When abortion is the choice made by a woman, the unfailing mercy of God and the promise of forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation are always available. There is always a way home to a deeper relationship with God and the Church, as recent Popes have emphasised, which can heal and bring peace.

Today the language of ‘choice’ dominates discourse about marriage, gender, family and abortion. This needs further exploration. Choice has come to mean doing whatever I feel to be right for me - a very subjective view of the good - rather than taking into account a wider set of fundamental values. This is a very inadequate understanding of free choice, which requires an education in important truths about what is truly good and the possibility of other options. In this case, these must include the good of the unborn child, care and support for pregnant mothers, and the responsibility of the father.

This statement presents a number of different challenges for the future: a new understanding of the intrinsic value and worth of every human life in the womb, a better protection of unborn children diagnosed with a disability, a great need for education in moral responsibility about human sexuality and the meaning of sexual expression within marriage. Many professionals face the challenge that respect for conscientious objection against abortion has been eroded. Personal conscience is inviolable and nobody should be forced to act against his or her properly informed conscience on these matters. We encourage greater debate about this right and these challenges in our society.

Finally we thank many people, of religious faith and none, who have sought to protect unborn life and the life of the mother over the last fifty years; mothers who have continued their pregnancies in difficult circumstances, politicians who have sought to reform the legislation to better protect unborn life, those people whose prayers have been offered for greater respect to be shown to the wonder of the life in the womb, for mothers and those whose lives are cut short by abortion. Together let us better cherish life.

Statement on Abortion

This statement, published by the Catholic Bishops of England, Wales and Scotland is addressed primarily to the Catholics of our countries, but more broadly to all people who seek to uphold the dignity of human life and protect the unborn child. The anniversary of the 1967 UK Abortion Act provides an opportunity to reflect on abortion through the experiences of women and families over the past 50 years,[1] in light of medical and social advances and the ethical issues involved.

1. The 50th Anniversary of the Abortion Act

The Abortion Act was passed fifty years ago, in part to address the problem of illegal abortions. In 2015 alone, in England and Wales, 185,824 abortions took place. In Scotland, in the same year, there were 12,134.[2] Even despite the concerns raised at the time, it would, perhaps, have been difficult to predict that the number of abortions in our countries would have increased to such an alarming level. With this, there has also been a significant broadening and interpretation of the grounds on which abortions can be carried out. In spite of these statistics, few truly consider that abortion is desirable or the best solution to a pregnancy which may be challenging on account of many different possible factors. Indeed, there is widespread unease among many people who recognise that a woman’s decision to have an abortion carries with it tragic consequences. At the same time, there are strong voices that advocate a woman’s choice. Together, these different views express something of the complexity and dilemmas surrounding abortion and its legislation.

2. What does it mean to choose?

Over these last fifty years, we, the Catholic Bishops of Scotland, England and Wales, have spoken consistently in favour of the intrinsic value of human life and of the good of the child in the womb and the good of the mother.[3] The lives of both are precious, valued and to be protected. This position differs considerably from that of those who hold that the freedom to choose in the question of abortion must focus on the good of one of these lives alone.

During these fifty years, the appeal to freedom of choice in our society has become increasingly centred on the resolution of dilemmas and difficulties according to their emotional impact and our immediate desires. This is a very narrow understanding of choice which ignores any reference to more fundamental values. In this, a subjective desire is often claimed to be a rightful choice. This inadequate interpretation has become a dominant factor which shapes our society's conversation about marriage, gender, family and indeed abortion. Following slogans is never a firm basis for good decisions. Rather, we hold that such decisions require a grounding in good formation and sound perspectives which both adhere and aspire to important truths about what is genuinely good.

In making choices, we should always seek to do that which upholds human dignity in the service of human life. Our choices should be the fruit of mature consideration, fully informed of the consequences and implications of our action. We have the gift of free will and also the capacity and responsibility to exercise it well, unless something inhibits our freedom. Good decisions and choices are difficult to make if we are under pressure, frightened, alone, and deeply unsure about what to do.

Each individual’s choice must take into account the wider ramifications of their decisions which, inevitably, have a profound effect beyond the person making them. In the case of abortion, decisions and choices need to acknowledge the duty to cherish human life and to foster its flourishing beyond the circumstances of any one person, however challenging these may be.

3. Recognising the difficulty of decisions
Deciding to have an abortion is a grave decision. The process of decision making occurs in diverse circumstances and is influenced by different considerations: a perceived threat to mental or physical health; not knowing how to cope with the situation of being pregnant; being alone or pressurised; not knowing where your support will come from; the diagnosis of disability for the child in the womb; knowing that a child will bring extra financial burden on already stretched means. The issue of abortion not only has consequences for mothers, but also affects fathers, both in terms of taking responsibility to protect and care for the children they have conceived and in coping with the impact of abortion. In such situations, the capacity to exercise choice can be compromised with a consequent limitation on a person’s moral culpability.

Echoing the teaching of Pope St John Paul II, in his letter The Gospel of Life, paragraph 99, Pope Francis has written of those who have had an abortion:

“I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonising and painful decision. What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope.” (Letter to Archbishop Fisichella for the Year of Mercy, 1 September 2015)

Both Popes, however, recognise the burden of guilt that often accompanies the decision to destroy a human life in the womb. Both speak insistently of the unfailing mercy of God for all who turn to Him in repentance and with a desire for forgiveness. As Pope St John Paul II said:

“If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child.” (The Gospel of Life, paragraph 99)

4. The Intrinsic Value and Worth of Every Human Life

The 50th anniversary of the Abortion Act also gives us an opportunity to reflect on the truth about the dignity of human life and the vitality and potentiality of the child in the womb. The Church’s consistent affirmation that human life begins at conception emphasises this unique beginning of human existence. The challenge that faces our society today is to recover an understanding of the immeasurable good of each unborn child and to value his or her life with even greater respect.

A particular contradiction occurs in relation to the legislation permitting the abortion of an unborn child diagnosed with a disability. The law of the United Kingdom permits the abortion of a child with disability up to birth and stands in stark contrast to the protection and respect shown to people who experience disabilities after they are born. The past fifty years have witnessed a deepening of society’s respect and understanding for people with disability, and legislation has helped disabled people achieve fulfilling lives. The witness of those who compete in the Paralympic games shines out as a way in which people with disability excel and compete, using their gifts to the full. We hope that greater reflection and consistency in the approach to unborn children with disabilities will lead to a change in understanding, with greater protection provided through new legislation.

In comparison with 1967, the prenatal care of unborn children has improved remarkably. Indeed, the survival and healthcare of premature babies has seen significant medical breakthrough and advances. We hold in high esteem all those who dedicate their lives to serving in antenatal and special care baby units for their commitment to nurturing human life in its early stages.

The 50th anniversary of the Abortion Act invites further reflection on how women are supported and helped during pregnancy. In comparison with fifty years ago, our society and Church have a much greater acceptance of single mothers, and often provide assistance for those who need it. Much more, however, needs to be done.

We recognize that there has also been an erosion of respect for those with conscientious objections against abortion. This has affected members of the medical and healthcare professions who face increasing difficulty in being able to combine their dedicated professional work with their personal conviction. So much talent is being lost to important professional areas. Personal conscience is inviolable and no-one should be forced to act against their properly formed conscience in these matters. This is something which needs greater debate in our society. Most recently we have witnessed the possibility of pharmacists losing their right not to dispense abortifacients if it is against their conscience or religion.

5. Learning to respect life

Parents and educators in schools have a particular duty to help shape the values and attitudes of children and young people. Against the dominant cultural trend that often sees abortion as being about “the right to an obvious and free choice,” there is an urgent need to teach about the inviolability of human life, from conception to its natural end, and to help everyone appreciate the value of every human life, without exception.

We thank those generous young people who strive to promote pro-life values. They are a real encouragement and inspiration, in the Church and in society. It is vitally important for young people to gain a deep understanding of the meaning of human sexuality and the place of the sexual relationship as an expression of love within marriage. We know that formation in chastity helps young people to flourish in a mature and genuine way. The Church’s continuing work in developing programmes of Love and Relationships Education will help young people to appreciate the beauty of a sexual relationship in the context of marriage, and the gift of parenthood as a vocation in the Lord.

6. Giving thanks and looking ahead

We have the highest regard for every woman who, in difficult and adverse conditions, has made the courageous decision to continue her pregnancy and give birth to her child. We thank the charities, and those who donate to them, for their solidarity and support.

It is our desire and aim that those who face agonising decisions surrounding pregnancy should be fully informed of both the positive alternatives which would enable them to keep their child and the tragic consequences of abortion.

We are grateful to all those who work through our political system to protect human life from the moment of conception. We urge those who seek to reform the current abortion legislation to continue their good work.

We are aware that people of all faiths, and of many different convictions, uphold the duty to protect the unborn child. This 50th anniversary needs to bring about a new debate to change attitudes towards human life in the womb, to promote what it means to make good and authentic choices, and to protect and care for mothers and their children.

As Catholics, we urge that, throughout our countries, prayer and fasting be used for the protection of human life, especially for life within the womb, for all expectant mothers, for fathers and families. We ask the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St Raymund Nonnatus, the patron saint of childbirth, midwives, children, pregnant women.

Let the final word come from Pope Francis, preaching in 2005 on the Feast of St Raymund, when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires:

“All of us must care for life, cherish life, with tenderness, warmth…to give life is to open our heart, and to care for life is to give oneself in tenderness and warmth for others, to have concern in my heart for others. Caring for life from the beginning to the end. What a simple thing, what a beautiful thing…So, go forth and don’t be discouraged. Care for life. It’s worth it.”






http://catholicnews.org.uk/abortion-act-joint-stmt-231017

[1] The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales commissioned focus group research across the country between 4-11 July 2016 to look at attitudes to abortion among UK adults.
[2] There were 7,851,143 legal abortions in England and Wales between 1968 and 2014.
There were 483,871 legal abortions in Scotland between 1968 and 2015
[3] The Common Good (1996) para 66; Cherishing Life (2004) para 173-176; previous pre-General Election statements.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Norfolk convent welcomes “party girls” for new TV documentary

The sisters with the five girls

During their stay, the five girls gave up their smartphones, alcohol and make-up and helped the Sisters with their community outreach duties.

Sr Francis Ridler from the Convent, who is also headteacher at the associated Sacred Heart School, said: “It is all about five girls who are not satisfied with their lifestyle, drinking, spending too much money on make-up and the good life as it were.

“They were told they were going on a spiritual journey, but not told where. They were brought to Swaffham one by one. When they found out it was a convent they were very surprised.

“We tried to involve them in the life of the convent, in our prayers and community activities. It is a very down-to-earth film and although there were some scary moments, we feel it is an honest portrayal and good for the church.

“When one of them went out and brought a bottle of vodka back – we told them it not appropriate and after discussing it with us they took the vodka and poured it down the sink. I was as concerned about the waste as about them bringing the vodka back, which surprised the girls.”

“I am happy with the film as entertainment and we think it will bring the lives of the Sisters into people’s homes and help them to understand better what we do and are all about. I think that the producers edited it for an audience that is not used to religion and spirituality,” said Sr Francis.

“I can honestly say we felt we made a difference to their lives.”

Series producer Elaine Hackett said: "It is a real privilege to be granted access to a convent and to nuns who were willing to share their world.

Channel 5 factual commissioning editor Guy Davies said: “It's not a finger wagging exercise at young millennial women. Bad Habits is a really popular and entertaining way of asking some serious questions about how we live our lives.”

Bad Habits, Holy Orders starts on Thursday October 19, 10pm on Channel 5.

You can see the Sisters talk about the programme on the One Show on BBC1 at 6.15pm on Wednesday October 18 and on This Morning on ITV at 10am on Thursday October 19.

There are also plans for the Sisters to run a free pop-up restaurant in Shoreditch in London on October 18 and 19. It will be called Nundos.

http://fdc-sisters.org.uk/about-us/

Pictures from Channel 5.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Pray for the Repose of the Soul of Canon Gerald Coates RIP

Canon Gerald Coates RIP
Please pray for the repose to the soul of Canon Gerald Coates, priest of the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton who died peacefully in the early morning of Tuesday 10th October in Holy Cross Care Home, Cross in Hand, Heathfield, East Sussex.

Details of his funeral will follow.

May he rest in peace

Monday, 9 October 2017

Jon Harman Takes Next Step to Diaconate Ordination

Bishop Richard Moth with Jon, his wife Nicki and two of his children
On Friday 6th October Jon Harman from Chichester and Wittering parish was instituted as an acolyte by Bishop Richard Moth at St Richard's, Chichester. The ministry of acolyte is the final step before ordination to the diaconate and involves service at the altar including distribution of the Eucharist.

Jon as well as training for the diaconate is also the Director of St Cuthman's, the Diocesan Retreat Centre www.stcuthmans.org

Please pray for him and his family as he continues his formation before ordination next year.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Requiem Mass for Cardinal Cormac at Arundel Cathedral

Cardinal Cormac at the Grotto in Lourdes with the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton pilgrimage
On Sunday 1st October Bishop Richard Moth of the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton celebrated a Requiem Mass at Arundel Cathedral for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor who died on 1st September 2017 and was buried in Westminster Cathedral on 13th September 2017.

Cardinal Cormac was Bishop of Arundel & Brighton from 1977-2000 and left an incredible legacy in the Diocese before his move to become Archbishop of Westminster and a Cardinal. As bishop of the diocese he early on engaged in a round of parish and school visitations, opening up his large house at Storrington for special events and adopting the American ‘RENEW’ programme. This was inspired by his belief that the Church should be ‘experienced not as a faceless institution but as a community, a family, to whose life all its members contribute’ and involved the creation of ‘small communities’ in parishes.

This sense of family was reflected in those who attended the Mass. Not only were there members of his actual family, but also a Cathedral full of priests, deacons and lay people from all over Surrey and Sussex and beyond who all brought with them fond memories of their friendship with the Cardinal when he was bishop in the diocese.

In his homily, Provost of Arundel Cathedral Chapter, Mgr John Hull who had worked closely with the Cardinal in the diocese reflected that the main memory all of us had of the Cardinal, as well as that great sense of family, was joy. The word joy was contained in the Cardinal’s coat of arms, but it was also to be seen in the many pictures on the back of the Mass booklet of a joyful Cardinal Cormac.

A spokesperson for the diocese said: “In celebrating this Mass as well as praying for the repose of his soul it was also a wonderful opportunity to remember with love the joy and hope that Cardinal Cormac brought to all he met and to share these memories with each other.”

He continued: “In the Mass we were able to offer the greatest prayer of all for him, a great final ‘Thanksgiving’ for his faithful service to the Church at large but to this particular Church in Surrey and Sussex.”


Photos: Provost Mgr John Hull (higher resolution picture available) Photo © Diocese of Arundel & Brighton

More Pictures available at Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/arunelandbrigtondiocese/albums/72157687415147714 Photos © Diocese of Arundel & Brighton

Monday, 18 September 2017

We Press on – together- In Hope: Support Pact this Prisoners’ Sunday

Prisoners' Sunday 8th October
“My upbringing was very dysfunctional; at the age of ten I found drink and drugs. I’m a person who has spent nineteen years of my life in prison and Pact support gave me hope, not only to stay out of prison but to help me find meaning in my life. It helped me when I had no food, no travel, and no job. The mentoring service has built my self-confidence, has given me a life worth leading and given me a future.”  David, User of Pact services

At the age of 45, David had spent almost half of his life in prison. With no support network David was anxious of falling back into old habits. He met with a Pact Worker whilst in prison who set him up with a group of volunteer mentors, motivated by their faith, who could offer him practical and emotional support for the first crucial months after release. This gave David immense hope, helped him find his feet, resettle back into the community and build a life. Thousands of men like David leave prison every day, many of whom are homeless with no support network. They are often some of the most marginalised people in society; and yet most in need of hope for a fresh start. Without support, men like David may not have the chance to get back on the right road.

On October 8th this year we mark Prisoners’ Sunday, the national day of prayer and action for prisoners and their dependants. Our theme, ‘We Press on –together- in Hope’, recognises the vital role we all play in coming together, as a Catholic community working to bring light and a fresh start to people affected by imprisonment. We ask you to put your faith into action and help us to support more people like David.

A resource pack will be sent to every Parish Priest across England and Wales with more information. Please encourage your relevant celebrant to make use of the resources to mark the day. Additional resources such as children’s activities & liturgy and discussion group topics are available on Pact’s website from early September. If you would like to get involved or host a talk on Pact’s work in your community please get in touch with Naomi on the details below.

www.prisonadvice.org.uk

Parish.Action@prisonadvice.org.uk