Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Bishop Kieran on Child Abuse in the Church

Over the last couple of weeks the Bishop of this diocese, Kieran Conry has spoken extensively about the issue of Child Abuse and the Church. As well as various radio and TV interviews he has written articles. At all times he has spoken gently and with humility about the Church and Child Abuse.

You can read an article by him in Newsweek.

You can also hear an interview with World at One on BBC iplayer but only for the next couple of days.

Finally you can see below on YouTube an earlier video interview with Bishop Kieran:

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Pope's Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland

Unfortunately I was on holiday when this all happened but thought it nevertheless important still to carry this on the blog. Below is a summary of the letter he wrote to Irish Catholics the weekend before last together with Archbishop Nichols comment on it. The complete letter can be found here on the Irish Bishops' website.

The Pope has written a Pastoral Letter to all the Catholics of Ireland, expressing his dismay at the sexual abuse of young people by Church representatives and the way this was addressed by local bishops and religious superiors. He asks that the Letter be read with attention and in its entirety. The Holy Father speaks of his closeness in prayer to the whole Irish Catholic community at this painful time and he proposes a path of healing, renewal and reparation.

He calls on them to remember the rock from which they were hewn, particularly the fine contribution made by Irish missionaries to European civilisation, and to the spread of Christianity in every continent. Recent years have seen many challenges to the faith in Ireland, in the wake of fast-paced social change and a decline in adherence to traditional devotional and sacramental practices. This is the context in which the Church's handling of the problem of child sexual abuse has to be understood.

Many factors have given rise to the problem: insufficient moral and spiritual formation in seminaries and novitiates, a tendency in society to favour the clergy and other authority figures, and a misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal, resulting in failure to apply existing canonical penalties when needed. Only by careful examination of the many elements that gave rise to the crisis can its causes be properly diagnosed and effective remedies be found.

During their "ad limina" visit to Rome in 2006, the Pope urged the Irish bishops to "establish the truth of what happened in the past, to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from occurring again, to ensure that the principles of justice are fully respected, and above all, to bring healing to the victims and to all those affected by these egregious crimes." Since that time he himself has met victims on more than one occasion, listening to their stories, praying with them and for them, and he is ready to do so again in the future. In February 2010 he called the Irish bishops to Rome to discuss with them the steps they are taking to remedy the problem, with particular reference to the procedures and protocols now in place to ensure the safety of children in church environments and to respond swiftly and justly to allegations of abuse. In this Pastoral Letter, he speaks directly to a series of different groups within the Irish Catholic community, in the light of the situation that has arisen.

Addressing the victims of abuse first of all, he acknowledges the grievous betrayal they have suffered and he tells them how sorry he is over what they have endured. He recognises that, in many cases, no one would listen when they found the courage to speak of what happened. He understands how those in residential institutions must have felt, with no way of escape from their sufferings. While recognising how hard it must be for many of them to forgive or be reconciled with the Church, he urges them not to lose hope. Jesus Christ, Himself a victim of unjust sufferings, understands the depths of their pain and its enduring effect upon their lives and relationships. Yet His wounds, transformed by His redemptive sufferings, are the very means by which the power of evil is broken and we are reborn to life and hope. The Pope urges victims to seek in the Church the opportunity to encounter Jesus Christ and to find healing and reconciliation by rediscovering the infinite love that Christ has for each one of them.

In his words to priests and religious who have abused young people, the Pope calls upon them to answer before God and before properly constituted tribunals for the sinful and criminal actions they have committed. They have betrayed a sacred trust and brought shame and dishonour upon their confreres. Great harm has been done, not only to the victims, but also to the public perception of the priesthood and religious life in Ireland. While summoning them to submit to the demands of justice, he reminds them that they should not despair of God's mercy, which is freely offered to even the greatest of sinners, if they repent of their actions, do penance, and humbly pray for forgiveness.

The Pope encourages parents to persevere in the demanding task of bringing up children to know that they are loved and cherished, and to develop a healthy self-esteem. Parents have the primary responsibility for educating new generations in the moral principles that are essential for a civilised society. The Pope invites children and young people to find in the Church an opportunity for a life-giving encounter with Christ, and not to be deterred by the failings of some priests and religious. He looks to the younger generation to contribute to the renewal of the Church. He also urges priests and religious not to be discouraged, but rather to dedicate themselves anew to their respective apostolates, working in harmony with their superiors so as to offer new life and vitality to the Church in Ireland through their living witness to the Lord's redeeming work.

Addressing himself to the Irish bishops, the Pope notes the grave errors of judgement and failure of leadership on the part of many, because they did not correctly apply canonical procedures when responding to allegations of abuse. While it was often hard to know how to address complex situations, the fact remains that serious mistakes were made, and they have lost credibility as a result. The Pope urges them to continue their determined efforts to remedy past mistakes and to prevent any recurrence by fully implementing canon law and co-operating with civil authorities in their areas of competence. He calls upon the bishops, moreover, to rededicate themselves to the pursuit of holiness, setting an example themselves, and encouraging the priests and the lay faithful to play their part in the life and mission of the Church.

Finally, the Pope proposes some specific steps to foster the renewal of the Church in Ireland. He asks all to offer up their Friday penances, for a period of one year, in reparation for the sins of abuse that have occurred. He recommends frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the practice of Eucharistic adoration. He announces his intention to hold an Apostolic Visitation of certain dioceses, religious congregations and seminaries, with the involvement of the Roman Curia, and he proposes a nationwide Mission for bishops, priests and religious in Ireland. This being the international Year for Priests, he holds up the figure of St. John Vianney as a model and intercessor for a revitalised priestly ministry in Ireland. After thanking all who have worked so hard to deal decisively with the problem, he concludes by proposing a Prayer for the Church in Ireland, to be used by all the faithful to invoke the grace of healing and renewal at this difficult time.

Here is Archbishop Vincent's comment:
I welcome the strong leadership of the Holy Father in issuing this letter.

From our experience in England and Wales, we have learnt that the most important thing is to recognise and take to heart the profound damage done to children who have been abused. Putting the safeguarding of children and all vulnerable people at the centre of the Church’s efforts is essential.

Robust procedures are necessary to ensure all allegations are dealt with swiftly and appropriately in full co-operation with the relevant authorities. These procedures need also to be just if they are to make a lasting difference and ensure the support of all.

The work undertaken in England and Wales to build a robust system to safeguard children and all vulnerable people has been difficult and demanding, but it is a road that has to be travelled.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

St Wilfrid - The Apostle of Sussex

Mary's Dowry Productions presents a new film telling the life and missions of Saint Wilfrid: The Apostle of Sussex.

A fascinating and absorbing story set in Saxon England, Saint Wilfrid's life was one of devotion, courage and determination. Adviser to Kings and friend of Saints, this intriguing Saxon Bishop tells his story with a beautiful blend of Sacred Art, historic imagery, original footage, careful editing, original music and beautiful narrative. Great Saxon King Halls, Sussex shores, magnificent abbeys, Saxon peasants, baptisms, fishing, bringing reliquaries from Rome, suffering banishment from court, the planning and building of churches, preaching to the peoples of the Isle of Wight, and converting great rulers with the Gospel.

Saint Wilfrid: The Apostle of Sussex is an enjoyable and informative encounter with a Saint and Bishop from England's Catholic past. Let Saint Wilfrid tell you his story.

View more information, screenshots and a trailer just launched at this link

Please note this will be the last blog on this site until 30 March due to holidays - well deserved of course!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Papal Visit Officially Confirmed

News Release:

UK Government and Catholic Bishops welcome state visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom
The UK Government and the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Scotland, England and Wales today welcomed the forthcoming visit to the United Kingdom of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. At a joint press conference, they said that the Papal Visit represents an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen ties between the UK and the Holy See on global initiatives, as well as the important role of faith in creating strong communities.

Her Majesty The Queen announced earlier today that the visit will take place from 16-19 September. It will be the first ever official Papal Visit to the UK – the visit by Pope John Paul II in 1982 was a pastoral visit only.

The Pope will be received at the Palace of Holyroodhouse by Her Majesty The Queen. His Holiness will give a major speech to British civil society at Westminster Hall. He will also visit the West Midlands to beatify the nineteenth century theologian and educationalist Cardinal John Henry Newman at a public mass in Coventry.

Other key elements of the visit will include a public mass in Glasgow, a prayer vigil in London and an event focusing on education. Relations between the Christian Churches will be a theme of the visit as will the relations between the major faiths. The Pope will visit the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace and pray with other Church leaders at Westminster Abbey.

Full details of the Pope’s itinerary will be announced nearer the time.

Rt Hon Jim Murphy MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, is the Government Minister leading the preparations for the visit. He said:
“This is an historic visit at an important time. The Pope will receive a very warm welcome from Catholics and people of all faiths.
“As well as providing spiritual leadership to over a billion Catholics around the world, including six million in the UK, the Pope and the Holy See have great influence on global policy in areas such as international development, sustainability and the relationships between religions.
“The Papal visit represents an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen ties between the UK and the Holy See on action to tackle poverty and climate change as well as the important role of faith in creating strong and cohesive communities. We aim to build further on the positive relationship we have developed in recent years.”

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh and President of the Catholics Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, said:
"I am thrilled that the Pope has accepted the UK Government's gracious invitation and I am sure he will receive a heartfelt welcome from Catholics as well as members of other faiths and people of goodwill.
“A defining feature of Pope Benedict's teaching has been to remind Europe of its Christian roots and culture and to give us guidance on the great moral issues of our day and it is my hope that we all open our hearts to his words.”

The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholics Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said:
“As Catholics we are delighted to welcome Pope Benedict. We thank Her Majesty The Queen and her government for extending this historic invitation to His Holiness.
“We are confident that the presence and message of Pope Benedict will encourage everyone to aspire again to a vision of life in our society marked by mutual trust, compassion and truth. The great Christian tradition of faith and life, which has so shaped our culture, has so much more to offer. This gentle yet profound teacher of his faith will encourage and strengthen all who receive his words.”

Notes to Editors

1. Pope John Paul II visited the UK in 1982, coinciding with the reestablishment of full diplomatic relations between the UK and the Holy See. However, this was not an official Papal Visit. The visit in September 2010 will be a Papal Visit, with the status of a State Visit. As such, the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Scotland, England and Wales will contribute to the organisation and costs of the visit.

2. The Holy See has taken a great interest in many of the same foreign policy priorities as the UK. As well as backing the UN Millennium Development Goals for aid to the developing world, Vatican City was also the world’s first state to become carbon neutral. In 2006 the Pope bought the world’s first International Finance Facility bond on immunisation, a UK initiative to raise over $1bn to immunise people in 70 of the poorest countries of the world against diseases such as yellow fever, polio, measles and tetanus (see for more information). The Pope has supported the actions of the UK government to encourage reform of the international financial institutions and establishment of an arms trade treaty, while the UK government supports and encourages the Catholic Church’s proactive stance on climate change.

3. The Catholic Bishops’ Conferences have set up the official website with more information on the Pope’s visit to United Kingdom:

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

New Romero Website on 30th Anniversary of his Death

Archbishop Romero 30th Anniversary March 24
As well as a new website there are a number of events to mark the 30th anniversary of the martydom of Archbishop Romero across the country and in this diocese:

Arundel & Brighton Diocese
Crawley, Redhill and Shoreham
Wednesday 24th March, 9.00am Adoration with prayers for Justice and peace at St Joseph’s church, Ladbroke Road, Redhill, RH1 1LF followed by Mass at 10am.

Wednesday 24th March, 6.45pm Romero Stations of the Cross at St Peter’s Church, West St, Shoreham-by-Sea, BN43 5DL

Wednesday 24th March, 7.30pm Mass at St Bernadette's Church, Tillgate, Crawley RH10 5BS


London - Wednesday 24th March. There will be Mass at St. George's Cathedral- Southwark- 12.30pm.
Westminster Cathedral- 5.30pm- Mass Archbishop Vincent Nichols will be the celebrant and preacher.

Sunday 28th March - Palm Sunday. A special Evening Service in Westminster Abbey 6.30pm at which Archbishop Rowan Williams will preach. He will be joined by fellow Romero Trust Patron, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, Archbishop Vincent Nichols and the Superintendent Minister of Wesley's Chapel, Revd the Lord Leslie Griffiths. All are welcome.

For more information

Friday, 5 March 2010

Development Day for Lourdes Leaders

An exciting opportunity for those who have been helpers in Lourdes a few times and fancy reflecting on their journey…

Who is it for?
Helpers, nurses, or doctors who have been to Lourdes at least 2 times

What is the aim?
To help those who would like to deepen their experience of Lourdes.

What will happen?
The day will involve exploring prayer and spirituality, teamwork and group dynamics. It will also give a chance to look at ways of living faith the other 51 weeks of the year.

£10 (to pay for meals, room hire and other incidental expenses)

Date/time: 13th March 2010, from 10am to 4pm

DABCEC, 4 Southgate Drive, Crawley, Surrey, RH10 6RP

The format of the day:

A. Introduction/keynote – [TBC]

B. 2 workshops on Prayer and spirituality
1. Prayer – leading prayer times and encouraging others to do the same. Resources for times and places of prayer: Jack Regan, Chaplain of St Wilfrid’s and Redshirt leader
2. Faith sharing – Scripture, reflections, story-telling. Recognise and use opportunities to share your faith, your story, listen to others’ story and to God’s story Lizzie Wakeling, teacher, redshirt leader, helper

C. Lunch

D. Faith into action – introducing people to activities which are going on in the Diocese and where people could get involved
1. The Youth Ministry including Youth camp August 2010 and World Youth Day 2011 and other diocesan activities – Ray Mooney
2. TBC

E. Closing prayer/liturgy

To book – or for more information – please E-mail and mark your message for the attention of Adam Simon.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Fr David Sutcliffe & Fr Ken Freeman RIP

We are sad to report the death of both Fr David Sutcliffe on Saturday 27 February in Uckfield and Fr Ken Freeman on Tuesday 2 March in Guildford.

Fr David Sutcliffe (pictured right), who was parish priest in Uckfield, East Sussex for more than ten years died on Saturday aged 77. He had retired four years ago.

Fr David's body will be received into the Church of Our Lady Immaculate and St Philip Neri at 6.15pm on Sunday and then there will be a Requiem Mass at 6.30pm.The Funeral Mass will take place on Monday 8 March at 11am at Our Lady's and St Philip's. Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton will preside at the Mass. Any priests concelebrating are asked to bring diocesan vestments or alb and white stole. After the funeral, on Monday, he will be buried in the Snatts Road cemetery, Uckfield.

Fr Ken Freeman, who was parish priest in Cranleigh and Bramley, Surrey for more than 10 years died on Tuesday 2 March aged 57.

We do not currently havc any funeral details for Fr Ken.

Please pray for both of them that they may rest in peace.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Please pray for Christians in Iraq as They March for Peace

Independent Catholic News reports on Iraq:
More than 1,000 Christians, lead by priests and nuns, walked through the town of Hamdaniya, 40 km (25 miles) east of Mosul, on Sunday in an appeal to the government to protect them. Many of the silent protestors were praying and carrying olive branches. Marches were planned in a dozen other cities. One banner in Hamdaniya read: "The blood of the innocents screams for an end to the violence."

More than eight Christians have been killed in the last two weeks in Mosul. Those remaining live in fear of their lives. A UN report on Sunday said that 683 Christian families, or 4,098 people, fled Mosul between February 20 and 27 following the attacks. Iraqi Christians are among the oldest Christian communities in the world. Since the war, many thousands have been forced to leave.

The recent spate of killings have come murders just weeks before Iraq's 7 March parliamentary election. Archbishop Georges Casmoussa, Syrian-Catholic Archbishop of Mosul said before the march: "The community is shocked and wants to draw the attention of the authorities who so far have done nothing to stop this killing. The march has no political or electoral motives, only religious ones. The Christians want to stay in Iraq and live their faith in peace."

The date of 28 February was particularly poignant, as it also marked the second anniversary of the kidnapping of Archbishop Faraj Rahho, the Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul who was abducted and killed and who will be remembered as a martyr of faith and dialogue. There would be no Mass in Mosul on Sunday morning. Archbishop Casmoussa explained that the time would be "entirely devoted to an act of protest and silent prayer." He said: "The Eucharist will be celebrated in churches in the afternoon. We will be fasting and praying for peace and for the survival of Christians."

The Council of the Bishops of Nineveh published a document that was read in every church in Iraq, explaining the reasons for the protest. "In this season of Lent, the people pray, fast, and celebrate the Way of the Cross with faith, imploring the protection of the Most High,” the Prelate said.

Addressing pilgrims in St Peter's Square on last Sunday, Pope Benedict appealed to the civil authorities in Iraq to protect the Christian population there. Pax Christi International has also produced a report on the situation of Christians and other minorities in Iraq which can be read at