What has occupied your mind most this past week – the Budget, the Church’s Synod, Climate Change? What do you think has pre-occupied our Prime Minister most – living his Catholic Faith, carefully considering his cabinet so that none of them become a threat, wondering how far he can go in breaking agreements made about ‘Brexit’. . . . What has pre-occupied Pope Francis – the ongoing terrible story of child abuse in the Church (see letter), care for Creation that has been a constant theme since he became Pope, or corruption in the Church that he inherited from Pope John Paul II and Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI and their words of 2005, written by a dying Pope John Paul II and cried out at the Stations of the Cross by his close friend “How much filth there is in the Church and even in the priesthood which ought to belong entirely to God.”
Pope Francis needs the Synod to be a success and has invited all of us to belong to its process of prayer and discussion; bishops have echoed that call and I hope you will answer the questions in last week’s newsletter. No replies yet; and Boris wants your vote for his Johnson party, and for whatever he says today in contradiction to what he seemed to say yesterday.
It was a Vatican spokesperson, Monsignor Vallainc, who gave a shocking answer to a press conference in 1966 about the Church’s teaching on birth control. It seemed probable a change would be made in that teaching, and did he have any comment to make? He told the press that if there were a change, the Church would simply move from one state of certainty to another. Whatever the Church said was true! That is power speaking to truth, and we see it in politics, church, big business. When power speaks to truth it will change the truth when it needs to.
How can we trust people or organisations that have no compass but power? What is, who is, your moral compass? God? You? Your Party? Your Church? I hope you have one in every aspect of your precious life in our could be wonderful world, in our not so United Kingdom, in our richer and poorer world. Just over 3% of the peoples of Africa have received even one dose of vaccine against Covid 19 – meaning nearly 97% have received none. People refuse vaccinations for various reasons – but for the whole continent of Africa there is the refusal to give them any! Who can believe in the United Nations? Pope Francis knows the world wants no mission from the Catholic Church. We are despised by the world for the abuse of our children and women and then for hiding and even denying or downplaying the abuse. The world hears the cries and will despise the Church until it brings justice to the poor ones, the many millions of them. He knows the church is seen as witnessing to nothing except its authority. Our poor parliament has a weak opposition, a weak government, an all-powerful prime minister. Democracy?
Bishop Patrick made clear his pastoral plans for the whole diocese a few years ago. I kept you informed of every development, and certainly for our part of Leicester where two priests would look after Sacred Heart, Our Lady’s in Rushey Mead and St Joseph’s. You were asked to think about the shared parish life this new cluster would need to plan – sacramental programmes, times of mass, new parish meetings. This would already have happened (as it had in most parts of the diocese) if the pandemic had not come. Some people had started to go to the other churches to begin to know the people there, and some were coming here. That is what we wanted! It is healthy. We are going to belong to all three by belonging to the one new parish cluster. That is the Bishop’s plan. Please accept the old ways are over, all parishes are in new groups, and think positively. Be involved in the process, Bishop Patrick is asking us. Be involved in the Synod, Pope Francis is asking us. “Listen to our cries,” ask the millions of abused children and women.
God bless us to think and pray with the Church, local, national, universal,
(31st October 2021)