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Bishop Conry says the sound of children at Mass is a ‘really good noise’

 No. 6677 September 19 2014 £1.50 (Republic of Ireland €1.80)

Let babies cry at Mass, urges bishop What should you do when a child starts crying at Mass?

AN ENGLISH bishop has said that noisy children should be welcome at Mass.

BY MADELEINE TEAHAN have made a tremendous effort to bring their children to Mass. When children cry in church I think of how the Crucifixion of Christ was accompanied by noise and weep- ing. It is that sacrifice of Calvary at which we are present when we participate at Mass.”

Presenting a report on what attracts people to the Catholic faith and how best to reach out to Catholics, Bishop Conry said: “What we’ve got to do is say to an older generation: ‘You were chil- dren once and it would be a very sad day if there isn’t the noise of children in church – it would be a very sad day.’

Bishop Kieran Conry, chairman of the bishops’ conference depart- ment of evangelisation and cate- chesis, said that priests should not criticise noisy children or ask their parents to take them out of church. Fr Stephen Langridge, vocations director for the Archdiocese of Southwark, said: “Whenever some- one complained to me about noisy children I used to suggest that if they had a formula for keeping them quiet we could bottle it and make a fortune! Parents often strug- gle to get to Mass and we should welcome them and their children. Obviously, children are expected to sit quietly at school, so a welcom- ing parish knows not just how to make stressed parents feel at home but also how to manage their expec- tations so that their children become less noisy as they grow in aware- ness of what is happening at Mass.”

“Church is not for my generation, it’s for all generations, and I would never comment on children’s noise in church and would discourage any priest to make any comment.

“It’s a really good noise to hear in church – kids present. For children who are allowed to make noise – in other words, they don’t associate church with discipline and fear of punishment – church is a nice place to be. They have got to grow up feeling that.”

Following Bishop Conry’s comments, clergy spoke out in support of welcoming noisy chil- dren at Mass.

“I’ve heard priests stopping the service and saying, in effect, remove that child. That’s a dreadful message to give out.” awful stories of But Joseph Shaw, chairman of the Latin Mass Society and a father of six, said it was important to consider the wider context of Bishop Conry’s comment. The Bishop of Arundel and Brighton continued: “Pope Fran- cis is saying that the family is at the heart of the Church. The family is children – that’s what families are for. He said: “Bishop Conry focuses on parents who go to Mass only occasionally. Their children are less likely to learn the subtle cues and expectations bound up with the Mass, in the way weekly Mass- goers will. It would be tragic to drive them out of church, but regu- lar Mass-goers can aim a little higher. With a little encouragement, children are quick to learn that certain kinds of behaviour are appropriate in certain social contexts, and a liturgy which is reverent and has periods of silence will encourage this far more than a liturgy in which children are encouraged – in a ‘children’s liturgy’, a ‘crying room’ or in Mass itself – to make as much noise as they like. Children who say family prayers will have extra opportuni- ties to learn the habit of quiet atten- tion.”

Fr Tim Finigan, parish priest of St Austin and St Gregory with St Anne in Margate, Kent, said: “Bishop Conry is right; it is disheartening for parents of young children to be criticised when they

Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith

Commentary they never come back to church. Besides which, the parents do not need to be told – they already know that the child’s behaviour is not good, and are already, probably, doing their best to keep the child quiet.

Bishop Conry said he had heard ‘awful stories’ of priests removing children during Mass CNS

WHAT should you do when a child starts crying in church during Mass? This is a question that often arises, and has been brought to the fore by the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton.

Children can make a lot of noise, and this question poses a challenge for three sets of people.

First, the clergy. It may be very distracting for the priest, when, halfway through the Eucharistic Prayer, a child starts to make a loud noise. Some older priests in particular might find this makes the saying of the prayer more or less impossible. This may be particularly so in some modern churches that have a terrible acoustic that magnifies every noise, particularly those that are high pitched. One feels for such clergy, at least some of the time, but what they must do is really simple: grin, bear it, and carry on. They must raise mind and heart to God, and pray the Mass as if they were in the most silent of convent chapels. After all, back in the day many priests celebrated Mass on battlefields with shells bursting around them. They too carried on and did not complain.

If the priest stops the Mass and demands the child be removed – and this does some- times happen, though rarely, it has to be said – this will effec- tively hold the parents up to public blame, and ensure that

What should parents do? They are the second group to be challenged. They are proba- bly doing all they can already – after all, they live with their child full time. They are the experts in child management. They could take the child out, if this can be done quietly and unobtrusively. The priest should make it clear to them, I think, that he really doesn’t mind. After all, a very quiet church would also be a dead church, if it were child-free.

This brings us on to the third set of people: the rest of the congregation. They might be tempted to feel smug about the mother and father trying to control two or three seemingly unmanageable toddlers, and think that their own children, now long grown-up, were much better behaved. But smugness is never attractive. The rest of the congregation needs to convey to the parents that they do not disapprove, that children are welcome, that they sympathise and that they are willing to give a hand.

This last is rather important. If a child breaks away from the family group and makes a dash to the votive candle stand, let us say, an adult standing by needs to intervene. We all need to help out and we all need to take responsibility. Welcoming people includes children too, and their parents.

Laura Perrins, a Catholic mother She said: “Priests put a lot of phere conducive to prayer. Chil- of two, said it was important to time into their sermons and are enti- dren should not be repeatedly ensure that priests could be heard tled to be heard. Older members running up and down the church and that churches were not play- of the congregation are entitled to and should be removed. It is not a grounds. hear the sermon and have an atmos- playground.” She added: “Children are welcome at most Masses. Many now have children’s rooms or a children’s liturgy. Families should not need ‘encouragement’ to attend regular services – it is the very essence of being Roman Catholic.”Editorialcomment: Page 13

St Vincent de Paul Society

Cardinal Nichols: some work in London today is akin to slavery


"An angel arrived at the bedside, [exuding] compassion, cheerfulness and ... a relaxe d air that produced a smile from the paen t and unclenched my fists. She was from t he Society of St Vincent de Paul – the SVP ." Damian Thompson - The Catholic Heral d. Could you spare an hour a month to sit a nd listen? Join your local SVP group and be an angel to the sick, the lonely, the housebou nd and the bereave d. Support the SVP by texng SVPG 11 followed by the donaon amou nt (e.g. SVPG11 £10) to 7007


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”. CARDINAL Vincent Nichols h as likened some of the worki ng conditions in Britain today to slaver

BY PAUL DONOV AN “It is right to struggle again st these outrageous condition s, just as it is right to seek to wo rk with those who share a desi re to develop a healthy ecology of enterprise in our society today .” was the last time that he le ft Archbishop’s Hous e. 125 years ago. Cardin al Manning had lamented wor k- ing conditions that led “to t he destruction of domestic life, to the neglect of children, to tur n- ing wives and mothers in to living machines, and of fathe rs and husbands into ... creatur es of burden y. Cardinal Nichols recall ed that Cardinal Manning h ad claimed that “a person’s wor k, their labour” were due t he same rights as those given to “a person’s property


. In a homily to mark t he 125th anniversary celebrati on of the resolution of the Gre at Dock Strike, Cardinal Nicho ls said: “We know that worki ng conditions exist today, in th is city, which are not far fr om effective slavery, as well as t he presence of extensive de fac to slavery to o. The cardinal was celebra t- ing Mass at St Mary and St Michael’s church in the Ea st End of London in commem o- ration of the Great Dock Stri ke of 1889, in which Cardin al Manning played a pivotal ro le in resolving the dispute. T he speech Cardinal Manni ng made on September 10 18




89 He also argued that it w as the duty of every employer to recognise the crucial impo r- tance of a worker’s family li fe and need for res t. Cardinal Nichols said t he strike helped to establish “th at recognition of this dignity w as shockingly lacking”. He sa id the workers’ dignity was on ly recognised by those who h ad organised the strik e. Cardinal Nichols recalled h is predecessor’s words as bei ng as relevant today as they we

BY DAVID V BARRETT in the west of India, he was a missionary in Ceylon. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1995. BY MADELEINE TEAHAN Miss Hayek is due to star next in the film adapta- tion of the bestselling



THE AWARD-WINNING actress Salma Hayek has said that she has “a lot of respect” for Pope Francis. book The Prophet. The 48-year-old was


Blessed Joseph Vaz may be canonised next January during the Pope’s visit to Sri Lanka, according to Vatican officials.

A RELATIVE of Labour MP Keith Vaz may soon be declared a saint, it emerged this week. Fr Eremita Rebello, vice- postulator for the Cause of Blessed Joseph Vaz, told the Times of India last week: “We know that the process of his canonisation has reached its final stage, though not fully complete, and we expect a decision to be taken shortly.”

Blessed Joseph Vaz (1651- 1711) is known as the Apostle of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). An Oratorian priest from Goa




Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said: “It’s possible that the decision of the congregation and that of the Pope might come rela- tively quickly, so that it will be possible to celebrate the canonisation during the Sri Lanka trip.”

“I was brought up a Catholic. And I have respect for it and I got a lot of good things out of it. I believe in values that are very similar to Catholics.



The Mexican-born star told the Guardian, “I have a lot of respect for the guy”, adding: born in Coatzacoal- cos, Veracruz, and


“I also like this Pope very much. I really like him!” Miss Hayek also campaigns to stop violence against women.


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