THE CATHOLIC HERALD DECEMBER 13 2013
Baroness asks faithful to be more vocal online
BY ED WEST
THE GOVERNMENT’S minister for faith has called on religious groups to be more vocal on social media and to make the case for religion in public life.
Baroness Warsi, the Muslim cabinet minister who is Minister of State for Faith and Communities, told an audience in London last week that “one of the things I get called on Twitter is ‘minister for fairies, goblins and imaginary friends’”.
After delivering the second Benedict XVI lecture at the University of Notre Dame, during a questions and answers session, said: “You guys who actually believe in the power of faith being the driver for good also need to be more vocal, things like social networking... Facebook and Twitter, faith communities are not particularly vocal.
“When you watch those kind of media, you would actually think 90 per cent of the population is anti-faith. It’s not. People of faith, if they feel strongly enough about it, have to be prepared, like politicians, to put their head above the parapet.”
She said that while it was “not fashionable to do God”, the new Government was more conscious of religion’s role in public life. She said that religion was now a matter that affected all government departments, rather than just the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Jack Valero, director of Catholic Voices, said that: “In our work have found that there is a lot of interest in religion when one of the ‘neuralgic issues’ comes up in the news, where society and the Church seem to be at odds. People are then genuinely interested in knowing what we think and why. At that point, if we manage to connect with the positive intention behind any criticism they may have of the Church, people will be much more open to listening to what we have to say.”
During her speech Lady Warsi, whose family originally came from Pakistan, where the worst church massacre of recent times took place in September, said that in particular Muslims and Christians in Britain needed to talk about “the persecution of
Baroness Warsi said on Twitter she had been called the ‘minister for fairies, goblins and imaginary friends’ Diocese of Westminster
Christians and religious minorities abroad”. He said: “In various parts of the world people are being discriminated against, driven out, or even murdered, simply because of their faith. Like other minorities which have been persecuted for years, they need protection from the states, from militant groups, the individuals, which single them out.
“We need an international response to what I believe has become a global crisis. But this requires not only Christians speaking up for Christians, Muslims for Muslims, or any faith for its co-religionists.”
Meanwhile, a Foreign Office Minister said that the Government would not make defending Christians their policy, while citing Lady Warsi’s speech to Georgetown University, where she spoke up about Christian persecution, as proof that the Government took the issue seriously.
Facing questions from backbench MPs, Mark Simmonds said: “There is a risk of isolating them (Christians) from the wider populations, identifying them as something of a fifth column and even exacerbating the persecution.”
Lady Warsi said that she sent her Muslim daughter to a convent school and that she thought that Pope Benedict’s visit to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul in 2006 was such a symbolic moment.
Lady Warsi was the second speaker to give the annual lecture, the first being former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, which she said was fitting, because: “For me, it is my belief that we will only be able to confront the biggest challenges we face today if all faiths come together. Interfaith can no longer be about a cup of tea and a samosa between the local vicar and local imam.
“We need to move from the niceities to the necessities to turn the common word between faiths into united action.”
She also said: “Meeting the Holy Father is a once-in-alifetime experience, and I’ve had that once-in-a-lifetime experience twice.”
Ireland may re-open its embassy to the Holy See
BY ED WEST
THE IRISH government has said that it may re-open its embassy to the Holy See in the New Year, less than three years after closing it.
Foreign minister Eamon Gilmore said last week that he was in favour of having a “two ambassadors, one building model”, similar to the one used by Britain, where the ambassadors to Italy and the Holy See use the same building.
A spokesman for the Labour Party leader said: “If the Vatican is willing to accept the arrangement of two ambassadors, one building, we would look at it positively.”
Ireland is one of the few European countries that does not have a resident ambassador to the Holy See.
The decision to close the embassy in Rome in 2011 was met with opposition from TDs who thought it was part of an ideological mission to downplay the country’s Catholicism. In July that year Taoiseach Enda Kenny launched a scathing attack on the Vatican in the Dail, arguing the Cloyne Report into clerical sex abuse had exposed “an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic... as little as three years ago, not three decades ago”.
Now officials in the department of foreign affairs are expected to draw up a proposal that will see the embassy reopened on the site of the Villa Spada, now home to the Irish embassy to Italy.
Pat Breen, the chairman of the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs, said he was hopeful that Mr Gilmore would be making an announcement shortly about reopening the Vatican embassy.
Read a bit of Francis’s exhortation every day, says bishop
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
THE BISHOP OF PORTSMOUTH has urged Catholics to read an extract from Pope Francis’s first apostolic exhortation every day.
In a pastoral letter to his diocese, Bishop Philip Egan said: “Evangelii Gaudium is a long document. Yet it is easy to follow, and its central message, about how a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in His Body the Church naturally drives us out joyfully to evangelise others, is direct. It is a classic expression of Pope Francis’ thought, style and preaching.”
He continued: “I encourage everyone in our diocese to read it and study it, perhaps a few paragraphs a day, over the coming months. It is a perfect accompaniment to the ‘Year of Faith in Action’ that I recently announced for the Diocese as a follow-up to the Year of Faith.”
Bishop Egan: Evangelii Gaudium is ‘challenging’ and a ‘document to savour and return to’
Bishop Egan welcomed the “courageous” document saying: “I wish publicly to thank the Holy Father for his deep and meaningful teaching. Because in this exhortation the Pope freely develops the discussions of the Synod and adds so much of his own thought and reflection.”
Bishop Egan said that Evangelii Gaudium was “challenging” and at times “the Holy Father adopts a style of ‘prophetic denunciation’, reminiscent of liberation theology, although without the undercurrent of Marxist ideology”.
He continued: “It is a document to savour and return to, and a stimulus and call to put faith into action. In the Diocese of Portsmouth, as a follow-on from the Year of Faith, we have announced a ‘Year of Faith in Action’ and during this Year we will be establishing our new diocesan agency, Caritas Portsmouth. This is exactly in line with the Holy Father’s message.”
The bishop said: “Consequently, I wish to urge the clergy and people of our parishes and pastoral areas to study this apostolic exhortation. Ask yourselves: Who are the poor in your neighbourhood?”
Pop song released to help aid effort
BY MADELEINE TEAHAN
BRITISH POP band ooberfuse has teamed up with survivors of Typhoon Haiyan to release a charity version of the Christmas carol “O Holy Night”. The song blends
Filipino-born band member’s Cherrie’s vocals with five child survivors from the Philippines. She said: “I was born in Tacloban City, the ground zero of the Haiyan Typhoon disaster, and I still have family [there]. What remains of my auntie’s house is being used as an evacuation centre... My mother counsels children who are so traumatised by the event they speak only of the waves that came and took their mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers away.”
University suspends Catholic group
BY STAFF REPORTER
THE National University of Ireland in Galway has suspended the Legion of Mary as a college society after it distributed posters with the headline: “I’m a child of God. Don’t call me gay.” Up to 70 complaints were made against the Courage Community, a Legion of Mary linked-group responsible for the posters pasted up in the university’s library.
The posters invited people of “same sex attractions” to “develop an interior life of chastity ... to move beyond the confines of the homosexual label to a more complete identity in Christ”.
The Legion of Mary has since apologised for any hurt caused.
EVANGELII GAUDIUM FRANCIS
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In his first Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis sets down his views and hopes for the future of the Church. Essential reading for every member of the Catholic Church.
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PHILIPPINES TYPHOON HAIYAN APPEAL
The typhoon that hit the Philippines has devastated the lives of more than 11 million people. Many have been left with nothing and are now facing a desperate situation.
CAFOD urgently needs your support. Please make a donation today. Our local church partners have been delivering food, shelter and emergency supplies to thousands of survivors. But there are many more who we can still help with your support. “The Church is a beacon amongst the broken ruins of our homes. You are all far away in the UK, yet you are close to us, giving us courage, inspiration and hope.” Fr Alex Opiniano, Tacloban City Please give to the Philippines Typhoon Haiyan appeal today.
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