The Church Speaks
The Church Speaks
stThis Family Fast Day on Friday 1st October, you can support people around the world who are dedicating their lives to protecting God’s creation - people like Ivanilde who are on the frontline of the climate crisis.
By donating to the Climate Crisis Appeal you can stand alongside communities like Ivanilde’s as they care for the earth.
Season of Creation
Cardinal Vincent Nicols speaks about the care of creation and the action they are taking in the Westminster Diocese. An example for us all?
Pope Francis, May 2021
Dear brothers and sisters,
With the encyclical Laudato Si’ issued in 2015, I invited all people of good will to take care of the Earth which is our common home. For some time now this home has been suffering the wounds we have caused due to a predatory attitude which makes us feel like masters of the planet and its resources, and authorises us to irresponsibly use the goods God has given us. Today, these wounds are manifesting themselves dramatically in an unprecedented ecological crisis affecting the soil, the air, the water and, in general, the ecosystem the human beings live in.
The current pandemic, then, has brought to light even more strongly the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor, who suffer the most from it, highlighting that everything is interconnected and interdependent and that our health is not separated from the health of the environment we live in. We therefore need a new ecological approach, which transforms our way of living in the world, our lifestyles, our relationship with the Earth’s resources and in general the way we look at people and live our life. An integral human ecology, which involves not only environmental issues but people as a whole becomes capable of listening to the cry of the poor and being a leaven for a new society.
We have a great responsibility, especially towards the future generations. What kind of world do we want to leave to our children and our young people? Our selfishness, our indifference and our irresponsible lifestyles are threatening the future of our children.
So, I renew my appeal: let’s talk care of our mother Earth. Let’s overcome the temptation of selfishness that makes us predators of resources. Let’s cultivate respect for the gifts of the Earth and creation. Let’s inaugurate a finally eco-sustainable lifestyle and society we have the opportunity to prepare a better tomorrow for all. From the hands of God we have received a garden, we cannot leave a desert to our children.
In such a context, on the 24th of May 2020 I announced the Laudato Si’ Year, the organization of which has been entrusted to the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. I thank those who have been celebrating this year with many initiatives. Today, I am pleased to announce that the Laudato Si’ Year will lead to a concrete action project, the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, a seven-year journey that will involve our communities in different ways, so that they can become totally sustainable, in the spirit of integral ecology. Thus, I would like to invite everyone to tackle this journey together. I’m addressing these seven realities in particular: families - parishes and dioceses - schools and universities – hospitals – businesses and farms – organisations, groups and movements – religious communities, working together. Only in this way will we be able to create the future we want. a more inclusive, fraternal, peaceful and sustainable world. On a journey lasting seven years we will let ourselves be guided by the seven Laudato Si’ Goals that will show us the direction as we pursue the vision of integral ecology: the response to the cry of the Earth, the response to the cry of the poor, the ecological economics, the adoption of a simple lifestyle, the ecological education, the ecological spirituality and the community commitment.
There is hope. We can all cooperate, each one with his/her own culture and experience, each one with his/her own initiatives and abilities, so that our mother Earth returns to its original beauty and creation returns to shine according to God’s plan. God bless each of you and bless our mission to rebuild our common home.
To support and mobilise all in the diocese to become true missionary disciples.
We are called to be a Catholic diocese which is:
faithful to the mission entrusted to us by Jesus Christ
full of missionary disciples who work together co-responsibly
in vibrant communities of faith,
joyful in their service of God and neighbour.
A Message from Archbishop Bernard Longley
We have a mandate given to us by Our Lord to spread the good news and serve and grow the faith for the coming decade and beyond.
Pope Francis is encouraging us to do something new to help us achieve this.
In Evangelii Gaudium he encourages us, the Christian faithful, “to embark upon a new chapter of evangelisation marked by this joy [of the Gospel] while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.”
Pope Francis urged the entire Church "to embark on a new chapter of evangelism". The Church must understand itself as a "community of missionary disciples", who are "permanently in a state of mission". He says that “’mere administration’ can no longer be enough.”
I have commissioned a number of groups who are looking at how we work in our parishes and in the Archdiocese to increase the opportunities that enable us to do God’s work and to fulfil the promises of our baptism.
I want us to look at how we will individually respond to God’s call to be missionary disciples in the Church and in our local communities, working joyfully together to spread the Word and the work of God. In essence, how will we unfold God’s plan for our diocesan church?
When I look ahead, I envisage a Catholic diocese which is:
· Faithful to the mission entrusted to us by Jesus Christ
· Full of intentional disciples in vibrant communities of faith, joyful in their service of God and others
· Where many more lay people are engaged in collaborative ministry
How can it happen and what will that look like given the challenges we face?
There are four areas I am asking us all to focus on:
Liturgy and Worship and
In our work on the four themes it is important that young people and families are a particular area of focus for all that we do. The universal call to holiness finds its first expression within families and its first recruits among young people. Catholic education and our diocesan youth services play an important role in serving families and young people. The links between the family, the parish and the school are vital to ensure that the faith is handed on.
I invite you to join me in looking with fresh eyes at our mission. We must take this opportunity to do all we can to make sure the Gospel is seen and heard through the example of our daily Christian lives.
With every blessing
Pastoral Letter 'Our Vision' - 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 12/13 June 2021
Diocesan Vision, Unfolding God's Plan | Birmingham Diocesan Trust (birminghamdiocese.org.uk)
Prayer for the Diocesan Vision
Written by the Liturgy and Worship group:
Spirit of God,
descend on me this day.
Grant me the Spirit of joy, to lift me,
the Spirit of hope to inspire me,
the Spirit of love to surround me and
the Spirit of truth to enlighten my path.
I pray for a new outpouring of your grace,
so that I may grow in worship of your name
in love of you in my prayer
and in my actions towards others.
Come Holy Spirit into my life to guide me.
Strengthen and defend me,
so that I may be drawn ever closer to you.
Help me this day and always
to be a channel of grace
in all I say and do
and invite others into relationship with you.
Pope Francis prayer intention for the month of June, invites everyone to pray for those preparing for marriage, which is “a vocation born from the heart.”
Pope Francis during the Sunday Angelus recalls the feast of the Most Holy Trinity which he said, “makes us contemplate this wonderful mystery of love and light from which we come and to which our earthly journey is guided.”
By Lydia O’Kane [Vatican News]
Pope Francis, during the Angelus from St Peter's Square recalled the feast of the Most Holy Trinity this Sunday, describing it as an immense mystery which “exceeds the capacity of our mind, but which speaks to our heart, because we find it enclosed in that expression of Saint John which sums up all of Revelation: "God is love."
He went on to says that, insofar as God is love, and the one and only one, there is also communion between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Bond of unity
Addressing the faithful, the Pope explained that “it is the Father who gives himself by generating the Son, who in turn gives himself to the Father, and their mutual love is the Holy Spirit, the bond of their unity.”
“This mystery of the Trinity has been revealed to us by Jesus himself,“ emphasized Pope Francis. “He showed us the face of God as the merciful Father; He presented Himself, true man, as the Son of God and the Word of the Father.”
The Pope continued by saying that Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son, the Spirit of Truth, the Paraclete Spirit, that is, our Consoler and Advocate.
Mystery of love and light
The feast of the Holy Trinity, said Pope Francis, “makes us contemplate this wonderful mystery of love and light from which we come and toward which our earthly journey is guided.”
“In the proclamation of the Gospel and in every form of the Christian mission,” Pope Francis underlined, we cannot disregard this unity invoked by Jesus; the beauty of the Gospel demands to be lived and witnessed in harmony among us, who are so different."
He continued by saying that this unity, "is essential to the Christian: it is not an attitude, an expression: no. It is essential, because unity is the only way of life. It is essential, because unity is born of love, of God's mercy, of the justification of Jesus Christ and of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts."
A Pastoral Letter on the environment, from the Bishops of England and Wales, for Pentecost Sunday, 23 May 2021:
The Solemnity of Pentecost reminds us that everything which exists, every person and the whole of creation, is a gift of “God the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.” God our loving Father creates and continues to give life to the world through His Word, Jesus Christ, in the power of His Holy Spirit. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church, which we celebrate at Pentecost, is not something separate from Creation. God’s revelation of himself in Creation is inseparable from the revelation of his love for us in Christ and in his desire to live in us through his Holy Spirit.
God’s revelation of himself in Creation
God’s Spirit is always and everywhere “the Lord, the Giver of Life”, and the voice of Pentecost is echoed in the voice of creation being transformed into the glorious liberty of God’s children.’ In this liberty, as God’s children, we call on the Spirit to ‘renew the face of the Earth’, and as his children, we are called, in turn, to use this liberty for the good of creation and for the good of all that brings life. Our world, God’s creation, is a precious gift to us. It is our common home entrusted to each generation. But how have we used that glorious liberty? How do we honour this precious gift? Are we really demonstrating love, care and respect for our common home?
Interconnected and interdependent
As we celebrate Pentecost this year, we are acutely aware of the damage that continues to be inflicted on the Earth, and the repercussions for the well-being of our brothers and sisters, both here in our own countries and, more especially, in the poorest countries of our world. Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have both taught us that everything is interconnected and interdependent. The way we live our everyday lives has an impact on everyone and on the earth.
The urgency of the situation, and the enormity of the challenges we face, have spurred us to speak out together this Pentecost Sunday, as bishops of England, Wales and Scotland, about the role that the Catholic Church and our faith must play in our shared care for God’s gift to us.
For all too long we have either been ignorant of, or ignored, the systematic exploitation of our planet and the unsustainable consumption of its resources. While accepting the crucial need and demand for energy for the benefit of the poorest of our brothers and sisters, the provision of our energy must, nonetheless, be by means which radically reduce the use of carbon-based fuels.
In our political thinking, there must be a new global understanding of our world, where nations recognise our common responsibility for the dignity of all people and their rights to sustainable livelihoods, in authentic freedom. Pope Francis speaks of a global politics that looks beyond our own needs to the needs of all, most especially the poor and the marginalised.
Restoring our common home
But we cannot leave the healing of our common home and the wellbeing and care of our brothers and sisters merely to a response from industry and governments. Our own local concern and action is necessary and has far-reaching consequences. We all have a part to play, each and every one of us, in the routines, choices and decisions of our everyday lives and our aspirations for the future. The actions of parishes, families, schools, and individuals will have a significant impact on our efforts to restore our common home. There are now many resources, freely available, to advise us on our choice of food, saving of water and electricity, suggestions about travel, waste, and re-use. These are measures that everyone can employ, in some degree, with minimal inconvenience and change. They are effective ways in which we can each reaffirm our personal vocation to be stewards of creation.
G7 and COP26
This Pentecost comes at a time of remarkable challenge and opportunity. We are gradually emerging from the tragedies and restrictions of the pandemic. We have the ability to make changes. Our countries are also hosting two most important meetings this year, the G7 in June and COP26 in November. These meetings will gather together men and women who have the power to make defining choices and policies which will help us build back better, provide for our brothers and sisters, and take care of our common home.
In all our human endeavours, we need the presence of the Holy Spirit, “the Lord, the Giver of Life”, whose gift to the Church and the world we celebrate again at Pentecost. Let us keep this Feast with that enduring hope that we can begin to repair the damage we have done and provide a healthy home for future generations. Our hope will be strengthened by our prayer. May our constant request be that the Holy Spirit guide us, strengthen our resolve and ‘renew the face of the earth’.
Saturday, 1 May 2021: 5pm and 6pm (UK time)
Pope Francis has invited Catholics and 30 Marian Shrines around the world, including the Shrine at Walsingham, to dedicate the month of May to a marathon of prayer for an end to the Covid-19 pandemic.
[The Catholic Bishops Conference]
The Catholic National Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham has been selected to start the month of prayer on Saturday 1 May.
In response to the Holy Father's heartfelt wish, the month of May will be dedicated to a "marathon" of prayer, to ask for the end of the pandemic, which has afflicted the world for more than a year now, and to ask for the resumption of social and work activities. Pope Francis wishes to involve all the Shrines around the world in this initiative, so that they may become vehicles of the prayer of the entire Church. The initiative is being conducted in the light of the biblical expression: "Prayer by the Church was fervently being made to God" (Acts 12:5).
'Risen Christ is hope that does not disappoint'
Pope Francis delivers his traditional Easter message “Urbi et Orbi” – to the city and the world – underscoring how today we celebrate the event that gives us the hope that does not disappoint: “Jesus who was crucified has risen”.
By Vatican News staff writer
Throughout the world, the Church proclaims the joyous news that “Jesus, who was crucified, has risen as He said. Alleluia!”, Pope Francis said at the start of his Easter message broadcast live around the world.
He delivered his Urbi et Orbi message inside St. Peter’s Basilica, just like last year, due to coronavirus safety measures.
He had just concluded presiding over the Easter Sunday Mass at the Altar of the Chair with a small congregation participating. The Basilica featured arrays of Avalanche roses given by Dutch florists who traditionally filled St. Peter’s Square with flowers on Easter every year, but had to stop temporarily due to the pandemic.
The Easter reality of the Resurrection offers concrete, tangible hope and consolation, the Pope noted, but its message does not offer us “a mirage or reveal a magic formula” we might wish as an escape exit to the world’s difficult realities.
Among them, the spread of the pandemic, social and economic crisis hitting the poor especially, but also, he noted the “scandalous” fact that “armed conflicts have not ended and military arsenals are being strengthened.”
Hope that does not disappoint
The Easter message of hope tells us concisely that “the crucified Jesus, none other, has risen from the dead”, Pope Francis said, adding that God the Father raised Jesus, who accomplished His saving will by taking upon Himself our weakness, infirmities, the weight of our sins, even our death. Because of this, the Pope said, “God the Father exalted Him and now Jesus Christ lives forever; He is the Lord.”
The wounds Jesus bears in His hands, feet and side are “the everlasting seal of His love for us”, the Pope noted, and all who experience trials in body or spirit can find refuge in them and “receive the grace of the hope that does not disappoint.”
Hope and solidarity in pandemic times
Pope Francis went on to say that the Risen Christ gives hope and comfort for those suffering from the pandemic, the sick and those who have lost a loved one. He also prayed that the Lord might “sustain the valiant efforts of doctors and nurses”.
He stressed that everyone, especially the vulnerable, needs assistance and has a right to care, and vaccines are essential. He appealed to the international community “to commit to overcoming delays in the distribution of vaccines and to facilitate their distribution, especially in the poorest countries.”
The Risen Lord is comfort for the unemployed and those suffering economic difficulties, the Pope said. He prayed that Christ might “inspire public authorities to act so that everyone, especially families in greatest need” can be provided with help in order to avoid sliding into poverty, a sad reality the pandemic has dramatically worsened.
The Pope referred also to the psychological weight of the pandemic on young people, who are often forced to stay at home without attending school or visiting friends in person. He expressed his “closeness to young people throughout the world”.
Hope that brings peace to our world
Quoting Saint John Paul II when visiting Haiti, “the poor of every kind must begin once more to hope”, he said as his thoughts also turned to the “beloved Haitian people”, urging them “to look to the future with confidence and hope", and not be overwhelmed by current difficulties. He underscored his closeness to them and that their problems may be definitively resolved.
Pope Francis prayed for the young people of Myanmar “committed to supporting democracy and making their voices heard peacefully,” so that “hatred can be dispelled only by love.”
He recalled migrants fleeing from war and extreme poverty and that the “light of the risen Jesus be a source of rebirth” for them, as we see in them the “marred and suffering face of the Lord” on the path to Calvary. This calls for concrete signs of solidarity and human fraternity” on the part of all, he noted, and he thanked nations receiving those who seek refuge, citing Lebanon and Jordan which have taken in so many refugees fleeing violence in neighboring Syria.
May the people of Lebanon, he prayed, “find support from the international community” in these tough times and persevere in being “a land of encounter, coexistence and pluralism.”
And “may Christ our peace” halt the clash of arms in “beloved and war-torn Syria”, the Pope underscored, where millions are suffering.
He also pointed out the “deafening and scandalous silence” regarding the suffering in Yemen.
Looking to the nation of Libya, he noted the hopes there are finally for an end to the decade of bloodshed and unrest. In all these lands, he encouraged all parties involved to “commit themselves” to end these conflicts and allow “war-weary peoples to live in peace” and rebuild their lives and communities.
Living as brothers and sisters
The Resurrection takes us to Jerusalem, the Pope went on to say, where “we ask the Lord to grant peace and security,” so it can “embrace its calling” to be a place where “all can see one another as brothers and sisters”. He encouraged Israelis and Palestinians to “rediscover the power of dialogue” so a solution can be found to “enable the two states to dwell side by side in peace and prosperity.”
Pope Francis also recalled his visit last month to Iraq, and prayed that the nation continues on the “path to peace” and “fulfil God’s dream for a human family hospitable and welcoming to all his children.”
Overcome the mindset of war
The Pope’s thoughts then turned to Africa, especially places suffering from internal violence and international terrorism in areas of the Sahel, Nigeria, Tigray and the Cabo Delgado region of Mozambique, and prayed the conflicts may be resolved peacefully through “dialogue in a spirit of reconciliation and true solidarity”.
Too many wars and too much violence plague our world, the Pope lamented. He prayed, “May the Lord, who is our peace, help us to overcome the mindset of war.”
May prisoners of conflicts be freed in eastern Ukraine and Nagorno-Karabakh, he added, and may the arms race be curbed. He recalled that Sunday, 4 April, marks the International Awareness Day against anti-personnel landmines, and said these “insidious and horrible devices” kill or maim many innocent people each year. He also stressed “how much better our world would be without these instruments of death!”
Healed by the wounds of Christ
In conclusion, Pope Francis recognized how in so many places Christians have celebrated Easter under severe restrictions, sometimes unable to attend liturgical celebrations. He prayed that these, and all restrictions on freedom of worship and religion worldwide, may be lifted so all are allowed to pray and praise God freely.
Amid these many hardships, the Pope said, we must always remember that “we have been healed by the wounds of Christ” and in light of the Risen Lord, “our sufferings are now transfigured…where there was death, now there is life”.
He concluded, saying: “We pray that the benefits of that healing will spread throughout the world. Happy Easter to all of you!”
The Pope's Prayer Intention for April
For Fundamental Rights
We pray for those who risk their lives while fighting for fundamental rights under dictatorships, authoritarian regimes and even in democracies in crisis.
FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS.
April, this year, is Resurrection Month. Everywhere, all the brothers and sisters of the human family, whether explicitly or not, are longing for new life, desperate for the deadly pandemic to end, for the fullness of life to free us from the terror of illness and death that has hung over us for over a year. We’ve seen so much selfless fraternity but we’ve also seen discord, violence and the spread of a harsh politics of hostility, even hate. It’s timely, then, that Pope Francis asks us, this month, to pray with him “for those who risk their lives while fighting for fundamental rights under dictatorship, authoritarian regimes and even in democracies in crisis”.
HUMAN PERSON, HUMAN DIGNITY
Praying with the Pope this month is associating ourselves with his frequent assertion that human rights cannot be ignored, because of the basic dignity of each human person. This month is not the first time he has raised this. When, in 2018, the world marked the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Francis recognised that, with this landmark document, “the family of Nations wanted to recognise the equal dignity of every human person”. Human rights, which he described as “universal, indivisible, interdependent and interconnected”, derive from the nature of the human person, an “inseparable unity of body and soul”. We need to be particularly vigilant about the poor and dispossessed because, when they are denied these rights, they “see their dignity ignored, despised or trampled on and their most basic rights ignored or violated.” That dignity is, of course, God-given.
POPE FRANCIS IN IRAQ
Recently, Pope Francis has given us another example of combatting the virus of authoritarianism that has become a pandemic, even in democracies. His risky visit to Iraq included a historic meeting with the most revered Islamic Shi’ite cleric, the 94 year-old Ali al-Sistani. Their significant encounter came just when xenophobic nationalism, ugly populism and dangerous fissures in even democratic political systems are eroding fundamental rights worldwide. The Pope had spent time and prayed in ruined Christian places of worship, in solidarity with all those who had suffered – and been killed – by the forces of intolerance and hate. Both religious leaders thus promoted the rights of all oppressed religious and ethnic groups. But hard-liners within their own religions, and populist, authoritarian politicians, have opposed their peacebuilding efforts.
ST.OSCAR AND FR.RUTILIO
Many of those who risk their lives under authoritarian dictatorships, for the sake of fundamental rights, are killed. They know the risks yet do not keep quiet. In our epoch, Oscar Romero is a notable example. We celebrated his feast-day as a Saint of the Church just last month, on the 24th, that being the date of his assassination, while celebrating Mass, in March 1980. We recalled how this rather shy and bookish archbishop of San Salvador had been seen by the ruling elite as no threat to their oppressive dominance. These few rich families had the government and army in their pocket and were sure they had the prelate there too. There was no risk that he would ally with those priests who stood up for the trampled rights of the poor. Many brave clergy and religious did speak out; contemporary eyewitnesses reported graffiti slogans appearing on city buildings, declaiming, “Be a patriot – kill a priest”.
ASSASSINATED FOR JUSTICE & HUMAN RIGHTS
Things changed suddenly. Fr.Rutilio Grande, his close Jesuit friend, was murdered by the state’s death-squads because of his advocacy for oppressed communities. Romero, seeing the bullet-ridden body of his best friend by the roadside later that same day (beside the murdered corpses of two parishioners) knew what he had to do. He began to denounce injustice and state violence. Poor and exploited people in villages across El Salvador tuned into his weekly radio homilies. Many called him the voice of the voiceless—and he encouraged others to become advocates too. This was too much for the powerful elites. Archbishop Romero was assassinated while celebrating Mass in the cancer hospital where he lived simply. He spoke out rather than remain silent, following the example of his great friend Rutilio three years earlier – and of his leader, Christ the King. St.Oscar and Rutilio ask us now if we really can remain spectators, not speaking out.
Reflection from https://www.praywiththepope.net/april-2021/
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Our Lady | Valley Rd, Lillington, Leamington Spa, CV32 7SJ
St Joseph | 47 Murcott Rd East, Whitnash, Leamington Spa, CV31 2JJ