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MARCH 14 2014 THE CATHOLIC HERALD
London sees rise in number of converts
BY ED WEST
MORE than 700 people are preparing to enter the Catholic Church in Westminster diocese this Easter, a modest increase on the year before.
The figure of 712, from 119 parishes, is an increase on last year’s figure of 675, although smaller than the recent peak of 891 in 2011, which was heavily affected by the arrival of the ordinariate.
At the services last weekend Cardinal Vincent Nichols welcomed the adults who had come together for the Rite of Election, the beginning of Lenten preparation for being received into the Church at Easter. Of those present 311 had no previous formal Christian commitment, and will be baptised, confirmed and receive the Eucharist when they are formally received. The other 401 have already received Christian baptism and will receive the sacraments of Confirmation and the Eucharist.
In a message Cardinal Nichols told them: “We give thanks to God for the ways in which our parishes and diocesan family will be enriched by you and we promise to continue to support you and your families with our prayers and the example of the Christian life that you experience in our parish communities.”
A spokesman for the Westminster diocese said: “With all the voices that speak of the 2010 papal visit and the ‘Francis effect’ as reasons for these slightly fluctuating numbers, there are so many unknowns as to why people feel called into full communion with the Catholic Church.
PHOTO: WESTMINSTER DIOCESE FLICKR PHOTOSTREAM
Bishop John Arnold stands outside Westminster Cathedral with candidates for reception into the Church
It would be better to look beneath popes, personalities and press assessments and see it within the light of a journey of faith through a personal encounter with Jesus Christ that reveals to them the beauty of Catholicism. As Pope Francis said in his recent interview with Corriere della Sera, he is just a normal person.”
Mary Crowley, the diocese’s catechetical adviser, called the RCIA an unhurried,
deliberate, personal process of growth and understanding. Typically, it takes about nine months to a year, but each individual takes it at their own pace.
In total more than 3,500 people came together in Catholic cathedrals for the Rite of Election over the weekend.
Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham welcomed over 200 candidates on Sunday at St Chad’s Cathedral, telling them: “The Catholic Church embraces you today and your lives are to reflect what it means to be Catholic. You will be part of a universal family of believers held together by Christ through the faith we proclaim, the sacraments we celebrate and the pastors we follow.”
In Shrewsbury the cathedral was packed to capacity as 20 catechumens and 50 candidates for reception attended with godparents and families.
Bishop Mark Davies told the congregation that the faith they were receiving was the one that had built not just Shrewsbury Cathedral but Shrewsbury Abbey, which dates to 1084. “In being baptised or being received into full communion with the Catholic Church at Easter you are in this way never to walk alone,” Bishop Davies said.
Secularism too flimsy a basis for society, says bishop
BY ED WEST
SECULARISM is too flimsy a basis for British culture, the Bishop of Portsmouth has said in a lecture.
Addressing an audience at King’s College London last week, Bishop Philip Egan said that secularism “cannot guarantee human flourishing nor sustain the advances the British people have achieved”.
It was, he said, too “fragile a basis for a free society”, whereas only the
Gospel can offer an “authentic humanism able to transform human living”.
Bishop Egan studied classics at King’s College in the 1970s, and returned there for the first time at the behest of Fr Joseph Evans, the Catholic chaplain. The lecture was entitled “Irrelevant? Should Christianity still have a voice in the public square?”
Bishop Egan said that Christianity had been in decline since the 1970s and that “secularism is producing a society without foundations, one that develops randomly on the hoof through pressure groups, legal precedent and political expediency”.
In an interview with The Catholic Herald last year Bishop Egan said that combating secularism required more creativity to meet the challenges of a post-modern secularised culture.
He told the audience in London that secularism “ring-fences religion to the private domain, thus dissolving the ground of public ethics and the basis of law in right reason. This is turn allows harmful ideologies to come in that victimise the weak, especially the unborn child, the elderly and the dying. Secularism is clearly unable to support stable marriages and family life.”
He said secularists were now beginning to place restrictions on religious freedom because their ideology had a natural “tendency towards greater surveillance and statecontrol”. In response the Church must offer Britain its message, of “an authentic humanism able to ground a free, democratic and pluralist society”.
This required, he said, “Catholic apologetics, able to rebut popular myths about science, so that schoolchildren can appreciate the interaction of faith and reason, the complementarity of religion and science, and the redemptive role of religion within human living.”
MP cuts out all food for a day Priest to give up house for flat
BY CAROLINE ZABOREK
CATHOLIC MP Sarah Teather has fasted for a day “in solidarity with the thousands of British people who go hungry”.
Miss Teather, the Liberal Democrat MP for Brent Central, took part in the End Hunger Fast relay last Saturday.
Fellow fasters included the Anglican Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev David Walker and the comedian Eddie Izzard.
Miss Teather said: “I wanted to take part in the End Hunger Fast out of solidarity for those in Britain who don’t have enough to eat.
“I am very conscious that I often waste food and have never known real hunger. It’s Lent and so I will offer this day as my own rather inadequate gesture for others who don’t choose their hunger.”
She said the day was “appropriately difficult”, adding: “I’ve had a few accidents before when I skipped meals, including a rather messy fainting on an escalator.”
BY ED WEST
A PRIEST in Manchester has handed over his large presbytery and moved into a small flat in imitation of Pope Francis.
Fr Andrew Stringfellow, from the Sacred Heart and St Francis parish in Gorton, said: “It doesn’t feel right that the priest should live in the biggest house in the parish so we have to look at how we can use this great asset better.”
The priest’s house was originally built for three priests and two housekeepers, and although previous occupants had let it out to lodgers and visitors, he said that “the time has now come to radically change the house so it can be used in a way that benefits the whole parish... It doesn’t feel right that the priest should live in the biggest house in the parish so we have to look at how we can use this great asset better.”
Transforming the presbytery will cost £47,000, and Fr Stringfellow said he welcomed contributions, which can be made through his website catholicgorton.org.
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Talk is disrupted by abortion activists
BY PAUL DONOVAN
PRO-ABORTION activists dressed as aeroplane cabin crew hijacked a London conference on faith addressed by the writer of the London Olympics opening ceremony Frank Cottrell Boyce last week.
Addressing a conference entitled “Dissonant Voices: Faith and the Irish Diaspora” at the London Irish Centre in Camden, Mr Cottrell Boyce was talking about inclusiveness when five representatives of IMELDA (Ireland Making England the Legal Destination for Abortion) walked in dressed in full red cabin crew attire, wheeling travel bags behind them and ringing bells. Each of the five then read out statements about what they said were the injustices of women having to come to
Protesters interrupted a talk by Frank Cottrell Boyce
England to procure abortions. The audience became restless, with one member walking out.
IMELDA is described as a feminist performance activist group set up following the death of Savita Halappanavar from pregnancy-related complications in Ireland in 2012. The group describes its mission as seeking “to develop discourse, debate and creative ways of countering draconian, patriarchal regimes that deny women bodily integrity”.
Mr Cottrell Boyce continued, telling of the trials and tribulations of the run-up to the opening ceremony of the London Olympics.
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Bishop Egan meets lobby group A Call to Action THE BISHOP of Portsmouth has met members of a group that campaigns for change in the Church.
who was installed in July 2012, agreed late last year to meet the group, who are accused by some of dissent from Church teaching.
A Call To Action was formed following a letter in the Tablet in June 2012 from seven priests who suggested bishops were not listening to people who live lives “so often at odds with the institutional teaching of the Church”.
Bishop Philip Egan,
Following his meeting the bishop said he told the group that all he did was “geared to an evangelisation new in its ardour, methods and expressions” and that he was committed to “full participation of the lay faithful” in this task.
Seminarian meets Pope Francis TWO student priests from England had the honour of serving Mass for Pope Francis in Rome last month.
John Waters and David Irwin were two of 15 student priests from the Venerable English College in Rome, which trains priests for the dioceses of England and Wales, who served at a Mass of thanksgiving in St Peter’s Basilica following the creation of cardinals. Mr Waters was chosen to carry Francis’s mitre, which involves staying close to the Pope throughout the Mass.
“I was never more than six or seven feet away from him, clinging on to his mitre for dear life just in case I dropped it,” he said.
Mr Waters said he met the Pope after the Mass, a meeting which he will “treasure... for the rest of my life”.
“I’ll never forget the way he gripped my hand tightly with both of his, looked straight into my eyes, smiled and said in Italian: ‘Good morning. Thank you’.”
Priest guilty of viewing images FR TIM GARDNER, a former religious education adviser to the Catholic Education Service (CES), has admitted to possession of 5,000 images of child pornography at Southwark Crown Court. Fr Gardner, a Dominican friar who has taught religious education at Maria Fidelis convent school in north London and also used to be communications director for his order, will be sentenced on March 31.
Jesuit deacons are ordained CARDINAL Vincent Nichols ordained nine Jesuits as deacons earlier this month.
The deacons, who come from four continents and eight Jesuit provinces, have been studying at Heythrop College, London, for three years. In his homily Cardinal Nichols urged the deacons to “know Christ”, quoting from St Paul: “All I want is to know Christ and the power of his Resurrection.”
Archbishop helps at soup kitchen ARCHBISHOP Bernard Longley of Birmingham helped to hand out hot drinks and sandwiches at a St Vincent de Paul soup kitchen last week. He said that the demand for such a service “highlights the scandal of poverty”.
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