Here’s the latest statement on the unfolding crisis by Vincent Card. Nichols.
Click the link below for the loyal address from the Catholic community of England and Wales to Her Majesty the Queen, given on this day upon which she becomes the longest reigning Monarch in British History.
In Sunday morning’s homily, Fr Liam demonstrated how three images have defined a moment of crisis. However, when our future-selves look back on this moment, we will not be defined by an image, but by our response. The time will come when we in Haverfordwest will have to act and do our part to help.
Well, since that homily, just a few hours later at his Angelus blessing in Rome, the Pope asked that every monastery, convent, religious house and parish in Europe should take in and support a refugee family.
Pope Francis said (6th September 2015):
“Dear brothers and sisters,
God’s mercy is made visible to the word through our works, as can be witnessed by the life of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, whose anniversary of death we celebrated yesterday.
In view of the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees fleeing from death by war and hunger, and who are on a journey in the hope of life, the Gospel call us to be close to them who are vulnerable and abandoned.
We have to give them real hope. It is not enough to say “Take courage, have patience!” Christian hope is forceful and has tenacity for those who want to come to safety.
As such, as we come to the Jubilee of Mercy, I appeal to the parishes, religious communities, monasteries and shrines throughout Europe to express the reality of the Gospel and to accommodate a family of refugees. This is a concrete gesture in preparation for the Holy Year of Mercy. May every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every shrine of Europe accommodate a family, starting from my own diocese of Rome.
I turn to my brother Bishops of Europe, true shepherds, to remember that because Mercy is the second name of Love, that their dioceses may support this appeal of mine for “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40).
As such, the two parishes in the Vatican will at this time welcome two families of refugees.”
(a non-official translation by Fr Liam because the English has not yet been published – forgive any errors I have put on the lips of our Holy Father).
To this the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, issued his own reply stating that “Guidance will follow shortly on how the Catholic community in England and Wales can practically respond to this refugee crisis.”
The Cardinal’s full words are (7th September 2015):
“The Catholic Church in England and Wales will respond to Pope Francis’ challenge to be generous in supporting people who have been forced to flee their homes.
We urge government to respond positively to this crisis and to provide the necessary resources and funding to ensure the effective reception and long-term resettlement of these desperate people. We will work with both government and other responsible authorities to meet this grave challenge.
We invite all Catholics to respond in prayer and in real, practical action. It is my hope to join the prayer vigil which is taking place outside Westminster Cathedral tomorrow night (8 September 2015).
Guidance will follow shortly on how the Catholic community in England and Wales can practically respond to this refugee crisis.”
Before rushing in and acting foolishly, our Church leaders need to meet with national and local government to work together formulating a prudent response which can be as full and effective as possible. This response will allow us to demontrate our pastoral charity in the fullest way possible, so that we can answer the demands our faith makes, that whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Mt 25:40.
Here is a video clip of a press conference at which Cardinal Nichols spoke. (The first question is in Italian, but after that English is used).
Here is the video of the interview Cardinal Nichols gave to the press as he prepares to travel to Rome for the Extraordinary Meeting of Bishops for the Synod on the Family.
The Catholic Education Service has announced the launch of a new document, revised and approved by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, celebrating the important impact that Catholic education has on our communities.
The document, which was approved at the Bishops’ Conference Plenary meeting in May, outlines the distinctive nature of Catholic education, which is currently responsible for almost 800,000 pupils in England and Wales.
It also explains the way in which Catholic schools work in partnership with the Government to provide outstanding academic standards, a diverse education and a cohesive and welcoming environment for all.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, said:
“I welcome this document which highlights the distinctive nature of Catholic education to make Christ known, to assist parents in their role as primary educators of their children and to be of service to society. The high demand for places at Catholic schools is testament to the high regard of parents for the distinctive nature of Catholic schools and also the high standards achieved.
“I commend the staff, pupils and parents across all Catholic schools and offer my prayers for their continued endeavours.”
Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP, Chairman of the CES, said:
“Supporting the education of our young people is not just a responsibility for the Church, but also a privilege. This new document outlines the fantastic contribution of Catholic education to our communities across England and Wales and I hope that it encourages people to celebrate and support the work of our Catholic schools and colleges.”
The Catholic Church is responsible for 10% of the total maintained education sector in England and Wales. It employs over 48,000 teachers and 38,000 education support staff.
Rt Hon Stephen Crabb MP
Sir, over the past few days I have watched with horror at the events unfolding in Iraq. Only this morning I saw a video from the Iraqi parliament of a Yazidi MP making an impassioned plea for help for her community (link below).
The Yazidi and Christian populations, among others, are facing slaughter by IS (formerly ISIS).
Recently the Papal Nuncio issued a letter to Cardinal Vincent Nichols asking for him to offer assistance in spreading a request from Pope Francis that initiatives be undertaken to highlight the plight of these people, and to offer them help and support.
Mr Crabb, please, I urge you, speak out on their behalf in our parliament, that something may be done to rescue, protect or offer humanitarian support to these most vulnerable people.
Many of my parishioners are also duly concerned, and I am sure would welcome a statement from you on this matter.
I look forward to your reply and I offer you my prayers and support for your ministry of service.
I am, yours faithfully,
Fr Liam Bradley.
And here’s the reply:
Dear Father Liam,
Thank you for your recent email regarding the current situation in Iraq.
I too am appalled by the persecution of minority groups in the country and the desperate situation many of them face. The Prime Minister has strongly condemned the treatment of the minority Yazidi community who have been trapped on Mount Sinjar. The brutal events we have seen just in the last 48 hours underline again what an abhorrent force is at work in Iraq.
You may be aware that we are already providing humanitarian aid to the region. UK advisers have also been sent to cities under threat of occupation. We fully support the decision of the United States to agree to the Iraqi Government’s request for help in the form of targeted airstrikes. They have already destroyed some arms and equipment belonging to Islamic State, and have provided supplies to Kurdish forces who are opening a road for trapped Yazidis. While we are not joining the United States in a military capacity, we will be providing logistical support in terms of refuelling and surveillance.
Please be assured that my Ministerial colleagues will be monitoring the developing situation in Iraq very closely.
Thank you again for your email. If you would like to discuss this important matter further, please get in touch.