Friday, 28 May 2010

Cannes Film Festival Prize Winning Film 'Of Gods and Men'

Claire Bergin reports from the Cannes Film Festival about the film 'Of Gods and Men' - a drama about Catholic Cisterian monks caught up in Algeria’s Islamist violence, directed by French film-maker Xavier Beauvois. It has won the Grand Prix award at the Cannes Film Festival. The film has also received the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury.

The film was acclaimed by critics and had audiences in tears. Starring Lambert Wilson and Michael Lonsdale, it tells the true story of a monastery in Algeria which after years of caring for local Muslims was threatened by war between militants and the army in the 1990s. Seven Trappist monks in Tibiherine, northern Algeria, were beheaded in 1996, during Algeria’s eight-year civil war between government forces and Islamists.

It also touches on the sensitive issue of France’s history in north Africa, with one Algerian character explicitly blaming colonialists for the social problems which he says gave rise to Islamic extremism in the country. The drama in 'Of Gods And Men' centres on the monks’ painful moral choice of whether to flee as danger threatens, or stay to support the local people.

"It is rare these days in our selfish society that there are people who care for others, who pay attention to the religion of others," Xavier Beauvois told journalists. He praised the "faith and rigour" of the religious. "If society had just five percent of people like them, things would be better."

The picture above shows Lambert Wilson in a scene from Of Gods and Men

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Pilgrimage to Fatima for the Feast Day with the Pope

Led by Fr Stephen Hardaker (pictured right) and Fr Terry Martin (picuted centre) a pilgrimage group from the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton went this year to Spain and Portugal.

They started there pilgrimage in Avila, the home of that great Carmelite saint, Teresa of Avila.  They next travelled to Fatima via Salamanca, a university town with as ancient a history as Oxford & Cambridge. In Fatima that evening, after Mass they were able to join in with the International Rosary and Candlelight Procession. The following day they had a comprehensive tour of Fatima including the new Holy Trinity church with a capacity of 9,000 seated!

In the afternoon they went to Aljustrel the home of the three little shepherds who had the vision of Mary. They were then present in Fatima for the International Rosary that night led by The Holy Father. Amongst 650,000 all jostling for space, it was a very special moment that all the pilgrims will always remember.

The next day they made the long journey to Santiago de Compostela via Combria for Mass in the Convent of St Theresa, where Sister Lucy, one of the visionaries used to live. In Santiago they were able to pray at the shrine of St James.

It proved to be all in all a long but enjoyable journey, a pilgrimage with a real difference - a visit from the Pope! The group with grateful for the patience, inspirational sermons and wonderful spiritual guidance from Fr. Stephen and Fr. Terry. In additon Deacon Ian Wells (pictured left above), who travelled with us a pilgrim, but whose help to the priests was invaluable.

A fuller version of this story should appear in a future addition of A&B News

111 days to go until Pope Benedict XVI visits England and Scotland

Catholic Communications Network inform me that:
"The third weekly audio update from the desk of the Papal Visit Co-ordinator, Mgr Andrew Summersgill, looks at Pope Benedict XVI’s address to British society at Westminster Hall.

You can listen to the audio by clicking on the MP3 player below:

What can you update us on this week?
Mgr Andrew Summersgill: This week, my thoughts centred on what the Pope's going to do in Westminster Hall actually.

When I was driving around London on Saturday (21 May), I noticed that some of the roads were closed around Parliament - that's because they were rehearsing for the State Opening of Parliament which takes place tomorrow (25 May). And it just crossed my mind that it's the same group of people - the same team - organising the State Opening of Parliament who will oversee the preparations for Pope Benedict's address in Westminster Hall.

I've got to know them a little bit through some of the initial discussions we've been having and they're very much focussed first on preparing for the State Opening of Parliament and all that goes with it. But once that is completed they'll be focussed fully on Pope Benedict's address in Westminster Hall.

That's going to be quite a splendid occasion really as it will be a gathering of people from across Britain representing all the different strands of British society who will be brought together in order to listen to what Pope Benedict has to say to contemporary society.

So although it's in Westminster Hall, it's not addressed solely and exclusively to parliamentarians - in fact, properly, it's not - it's the whole of British society coming together.

One of the more significant occasions similar to this, was when Nelson Mandela came and gave a similar address - although I think on that occasion it was to parliamentarians and not the broad breadth of society that will be the case this time.

When will the minute-by-minute, line-by-line version of the itinerary be made available?
Mgr AS: All being well, somewhere between six to eight weeks before Pope Benedict arrives. The Holy See's normal way of doing these things is to publish, on its own website, the line-by-line itinerary. If people want to go to the Vatican's website and look at previous Apostolic Journeys -, you can see lists of where the Pope has been and the itineraries he has followed and they're quite detailed. They talk about his arrival times at places, how he moves around, the time he spends at places and they're quite interesting. We would expect to have that detail available somewhere between six and eight weeks before Pope Benedict gets here.

Picture credit CCN/Mazur

Friday, 21 May 2010

Papal Nuncio a few days before his stroke

I was interested, following the recent blog on the Papal Nuncio's stroke, to hear from the Notre Dame School in Cobham, Surrey that the Papal Nuncio recently visited them to celebrate the feast of St Jeanne de Lestonnac.

His Excellency Archbishop Faustino Sainz Munoz, the Papal Nuncio visited on 14th May to celebrate The Feast of St Jeanne de Lestonnac. Sisters of the Company of Mary Our Lady, parish priests and nearly 1000 parents, pupils and staff were present for a beautiful celebration of Mass followed by BBQ in the grounds.

The School is aware of the Nuncio' stroke and is praying for his full recovery.

The full story will appear in a future issue of the A&B News

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Less than 120 Days till Papal Visit

Alongside the collection which is to take place this weekend in parishes in Arundel & Brighton Diocese to help pay for the Papal visit there is further information on the visit from the Bishops' Conference with  a second audio update from the Co-ordinator for the Papal Visit, Mgr Andrew Summersgill.
This week Mgr Summersgill talks about the finalised plans for the Papal Visit missal.

You can listen to the audio by clicking on the MP3 player on the link below:

Father Andrew what can you tell us this week, what's new?
Mgr Andrew Summersgill: What's new? Well, certainly one new thing is that we have now finalised the plans for the missal for the Papal Visit. Our intention all the way along has been to provide a missal which people could use to accompany the Visit. Either those who will be following it at home on television or being streamed on the Internet on the website, or those who are able to attend the Papal events during the Visit and who receive an invitation to do so. This is all part of us trying to make Pope Benedict’s presence here in the United Kingdom as available as possible to many people. So we've been working and discussing with three Catholic publishers. That would be Magnificat, Gabriel Communications and CTS, the Catholic Truth Society, and we’re in a position now to go ahead to produce the missal. And it will include prayer, it will include the Liturgy of the Hours and the Liturgy for the Eucharist leading up to the Visit and the week after the Visit. And then, during the Pope's Visit itself, it will include the Liturgies that the Holy Father will celebrate and some information and details about what the Pope is doing and why he is where he is. Just to try to bring everybody together with the Pope for the time that he is here.

Do we have a publication date for that?
Mgr AS: We don't have a firm publication date yet, but the plan would be that copies of the missal would be distributed around the parishes around about two weeks before Pope Benedict arrives, so that people have them in time for the week before the Visit. That's what we’re working on at the minute. It's quite a detailed logistical operation to be able to produce enough copies for the majority of people who will be going to Papal gatherings, but also so that there is one around for every family so that it can be followed. So it’s quite a detailed and complex operation.

Any update on the 'Virtual Visit'? You've just talked about sharing the experience.
Mgr AS: Yes there is. We’re looking quite closely now at the mechanisms and the apparatus for streaming Pope Benedict’s Visit while he is here on the website. I have to confess I don't understand this at all but I have seen what is possible and it looks very good to me, so I'm really hopeful that we’re going in the right direction with that now as well.

Papal Nuncio Suffers Stroke

The Pope's ambassador to Britain, Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz, suffered a mild stroke yesterday. Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster said today: “I am very sorry to inform you that the Apostolic Nuncio, His Excellency the Most Reverend Faustino Sainz Muñoz, has suffered a stroke and is at present receiving medical care in hospital. Please do keep him in your prayers.”

Cardinal Keith O'Brien has sent his best wishes to Archbishop Sainz Muñoz. Cardinal O’Brien said: "I have advised the members of our Conference letting them know of the Nuncio's illness and also asking for their prayers."

The Cardinal added: "The Nuncio has been a great friend to us all here in Scotland, we have always welcomed his presence among us, most recently at the Mass in Glasgow on 21 March 2010 to mark the 5th anniversary of the Election of Pope Benedict XVI. On behalf of the Catholics of Scotland, I offer him the promise of our prayers for a steady recovery."John Paul II appointed Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz, 67, as apostolic nuncio to Great Britain.

Archbishop Faustino, 72, was born in Almaden, Spain. He was ordained a priest in December 1964 and has held a number of posts in the diplomatic service of the Holy See since 1970. He was appointed Papal Nuncio to Britian in 2004, replacing Archbishop Pablo Puente, who retired in October, 2003.

All in Arundel & Brighton Diocese wish and pray for a speedy recovery.

Source: Scottish Catholic Media Office/ICN

Monday, 17 May 2010

Just over 120 days to go until Pope Benedict XVI visits England and Scotland

Tune in for a weekly audio update with the Co-ordinator for the Papal Visit, Mgr Andrew Summersgill about all the preparations..

Welcome to the first of our weekly audio updates from the desk of the Papal Visit Co-ordinator, Mgr Andrew Summersgill. This week we discuss a key subject - invitations to papal events in September.

You can listen to the audio by clicking on the MP3 player on the link below:


The Church is responsible for three main gatherings with Pope Benedict:

- The Mass in Glasgow (Thursday, 16 September)

- The Mass of Beatification in the Midlands (Sunday, 19 September)

- The evening Prayer Vigil in London (Saturday, 18 September)

Have invitations been allocated to the dioceses of Scotland, England and Wales for the large events?

Mgr Andrew Summersgill: At the moment, we not yet fully certain of the exact numbers we can accommodate. This is because there are health and safety issues, security considerations and comfort requirements. Once the number of attendees at each venue has been decided upon invitations will be allocated to the dioceses for each of these large events.

How will invitations be allocated?

Mgr AS: At this stage, it will probably be done in terms of the relative size of the diocese. Another factor will be the geographic proximity of the diocese to a particular gathering. Decisions will be made with a view to making sure as many people as feasibly possible can be with Pope Benedict.

Transport to and from venues

Mgr AS: We are working with a limited number of transport providers. Why a limited number? It is quite complex, logistically, to bring a large number of people to one place and then safely back again. Discussions are ongoing. Once transport information is available, it will be sent to the dioceses of Scotland, England and Wales.

Diocesan Co-ordinators

Mgr AS: To pass on important information and updates to parishes, each diocese in Scotland, England and Wales will appoint a diocesan coordinator for the papal visit. It is intended the dioceses will appoint coordinators by the start of June 2010. Everything will be focussed into the dioceses. Each diocese receives an allocation of places. The diocese will then assess how best, for each local area, to distribute those invitations.

Can I just turn up at a Papal Visit venue?

Mgr AS: I'm really sorry to say that's just not possible today [unlike when Pope John Paul II visited the UK in 1982]. There are particularly stringent health and safety requirements, there are security concerns, and so we are working hard with police, local authorities and the relevant government offices to maximise the number of people we can comfortably, safely and securely accommodate with Pope Benedict.

Forming groups to attend papal events

Mgr AS: It's important to stress that coming to these large gatherings is going to have to be within groups. Why is this? Logistics - safe and comfortable transport to and from venues but also for important security reasons. We are working closely with the police so people can travel together and be cleared through security together.

The Virtual Visit

Mgr AS: Not everyone who would like to go to a venue to see Pope Benedict will be able to do so. For this reason, a lot of work is going on with broadcasters and web partners to ensure that as much of Pope Benedict's time in the UK as possible will be broadcast live on TV and online here on This means many more people will be able to be part of the Virtual Visit online - even when it isn't physically possible to be present with him.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Papal Address on the Media and the Internet

Zenit has provided a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday in an audience in Paul VI Hall with participants in a national conference on "Digital Witnesses: Faces and Languages in the Cross-Media Age," an initiative promoted by the Italian bishops' conference.

* * *
"Without Fear We Want to Set Out Upon the Digital Sea"

Eminence, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, Dear Friends,

I am happy for this opportunity to meet with you and to conclude your gathering, which has had as its quite evocative theme, "Digital Witnesses: Faces and Languages in the Cross-Media Age." I thank the president of the Italian bishops' conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, for the cordial words of welcome with which, once again, he desired to express the affection and the nearness of the Church in Italy to my apostolic service. In his words the cardinal reflects the faithful adhesion to Peter of all the Catholics of this beloved nation and the esteem of so many men and women animated by the desire to seek the truth.

The time in which we live is experiencing an enormous expansion of the frontiers of communication, realizing an untold convergence between different media and making interaction possible. Thus the Internet manifests an open vocation, with an egalitarian and pluralistic tendency, but at the same time it has dug a moat about itself: One speaks, in fact, of the "digital divide." It separates the included from the excluded and adds to the other discrepancies that separate nations from each other and divide them internally. The dangers of homogenization and control, of intellectual and moral relativism, already quite evident in the bent of the critical spirit, in truth reduced to the play of opinions, in the multiple forms of the degradation and humiliation of the human person in his intimate dimension. One witnesses, then, a "polluting of the spirit, which makes us smile less, makes our faces gloomier, less likely to greet each other or look each other in the eye..." ("Speech in the Piazza di Spagna, December 8, 2009"). But this meeting points to recognizing faces and so to overcoming those collective dynamics that can make us lose the perception of the depth of persons and remain at the surface: When that happens, they are bodies without souls, objects of trade and consumption.

How is it possible today to return to faces? I tried to show the road in my third encyclical. It passes through that "caritas in veritate" that shines upon the face of Christ. Love in truth constitutes a "great challenge for the Church in a world that is becoming progressively and pervasively globalized" ("Caritas in Veritate," no. 9). The media can become a factor in humanization "not only when, thanks to technological development, they increase the possibilities of communicating information, but above all when they are geared towards a vision of the person and the common good that reflects truly universal values" (no. 73). This demands that they "focus on promoting the dignity of persons and peoples, they need to be clearly inspired by charity and placed at the service of truth, of the good, and of natural and supernatural fraternity" (ibid.). Only under those conditions can the epochal journey that we are undertaking become something rich and fertile with new opportunities. Without fear we want to set out upon the digital sea embracing the unrestricted navigation with the same passion that for 2,000 years has steered the barque of the Church. More than with technical resources, although necessary, we want to qualify ourselves dwelling in this universe too with a believing heart, that contributes to giving a soul to the uninterrupted communicational flow of the Internet.

This is our mission, the Church's mission that she cannot renounce: The task of every believer who works in the media is that of "opening the door to new forms of encounter, maintaining the quality of human interaction, and showing concern for individuals and their genuine spiritual needs. They can thus help the men and women of our digital age to sense the Lord's presence" ("Message for the 44th World Communications Day, May 10, 2010"). Dear Friends, you are called to take on the role of "animators of the community" on the Internet too, attentive to "prepare the ways that lead to the Word of God," and to express a particular sensitivity to "the disheartened and those who have a deep, unarticulated desire for enduring truth and the absolute" (ibid.). The Internet could in this way become a kind of "Court of the Gentiles," where "there is also a space for those who have not yet come to know God" (ibid.).

As animators of culture and communication, you are a living sign of how much "Church communities have always used the modern media for fostering communication, engagement with society, and, increasingly, for encouraging dialogue at a wider level" (ibid.). In this field voices are not lacking in Italy: We need only to point to "Avvenire," TV2000, the inBlu radio network and the SIR press agency, along with Catholic periodicals, the network of weekly diocesan papers and the now numerous Catholic Web sites. I exhort all media professionals not to tire of nourishing in their heart that passion for man that draws ever closer to the languages he speaks and to his true face. You will be helped in this by a solid theological formation and above all a deep and joyful passion for God, fed by a constant dialogue with the Lord. The particular Churches and religious institutes, for their part should not hesitate to value the formation courses offered by the Pontifical universities, by the University of the Sacred Heart and the other Catholic and ecclesiastical universities, providing persons with foresight and resources. The media world should be a part of pastoral planning.

As I thank you for the service you give to the Church and therefore to the cause of man, I exhort you to walk the roads of the digital continent, animated by the courage of the Holy Spirit. Our confidence is not uncritically placed in any instrument of technology. Our strength lies in being Church, believing community, able to bear witness to all the perennial newness of the Risen One, with a life that blooms in fullness in the measure that it opens up, enters into relation, gives itself gratuitously.

I entrust you to the protection of Mary Most Holy and the great saints of communication and bless you from my heart.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Cardinal Cormac to receive two honorary doctoral degrees

Catholic Communications Network reports that "Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor is travelling to America this week to receive two honorary doctoral degrees.
The national Catholic University of Notre Dame, Indiana (rated as one of the top 25 institutions of higher learning in the US News and World Report survey of America’s best colleges) wishes to formally recognise the Cardinal’s “life-long devotion to the unity of the Church and to ecumenism, your witness to the Gospel, and most recently to the problems caused by the movement of peoples. So many of your accomplishments reflect what we hold out to our students as ideals for Catholic Christians.” His Eminence, Cardinal Sean O’Malley will be honoured at the same ceremony for his work in Boston.

One of the oldest Jesuit Catholic universities in the United States, Boston College (Massachusetts) also wishes to recognise the Cardinal’s “powerful example of faith, pastoral care, and commitment to Roman Catholicism. As Archbishop of Westminster and head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, you have provided spiritual leadership for millions of Catholics for decades. Your more than 50 years as a priest and your work on behalf of the disenfranchised, undocumented workers, and migrants have made a difference in the lives of so many, especially the less fortunate.”

The University of Notre Dame degree ceremony will take place on Sunday May 16; Boston College’s ceremony will take place on Monday May 24"

Many congratulations Cardinal Cormac from all in Arundel & Brighton

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Prayers on Election Day

Prayer for the Election

Be close to us during this time of discernment,
Lord God of steadfast truth.
Grant us patience in listening,
wisdom in speaking,
and courage to seek the common good.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen

© Liturgy Office/Home Mission Desk

Prayer for the Nation

God our Father,
you guide everything in wisdom and love.
Accept the prayers we offer for our nation;
for the wisdom and integrity of those called to leadership,
so that harmony and justice may be secured
and there may be lasting prosperity and peace.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever. Amen

© Roman Missal

Source: BCEW