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Cardinal O'Brien's WYD lectures.  

Attending last week's World Youth day events in Cologne, Cardinal Keith O'Brien delivered two catechesis sessions on 18 and 19 August. In the first, the Cardinal spoke on the topic; "MEETING CHRIST IN THE EUCHARIST" describing the Eucharist as;  

"a help for our journey through life, a help for our journey into eternity, that bond which unites us with the whole Church in Heaven, on Earth and in Purgatory, and which hopefully one day will be our ˜Viaticum , our final ˜way to Almighty God."  

Cardinal O'Brien recounted several masses he had celebrated throughout his life as a priest, bishop and cardinal, the last mentioned being the mass concelebrated earlier this year by all the cardinals who had participated in the conclave, together with Pope Benedict XVI. Cardinal O'Brien describing this occasion said;  

"sustaining me and my brother Cardinals as it sustained the new Pope was the thought that Christ was with us in that Sistine Chapel as he had been in the upper room with his first Apostles and Peter to whom he had given the power of binding and loosing, the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. The words of Jesus re-echoed in our midst: Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church ¦..  

The Cardinal's second talk was titled; LIVING IN THE WORLD AS TRUE WORSHIPERS OF GOD . He addressed the need for all those present to work for greater unity among Christians, saying;  

"One thing, of course, which we can do, is to continue our work and prayer for Christian Unity “ following the prayer of Jesus Christ himself at that Last Supper and following the teachings of the Second Vatican Council."  

The full text of both lectures is shown below.  

ENDS  

Peter Kearney  
Director  
Catholic Media Office  
5 St. Vincent Place  
Glasgow  
G1 2DH  
0141 221 1168  
pk@scmo.org  
www.scmo.org  


Notes to Editors:  

Photographs of Cardinal O'Brien in Cologne are available from Paul McSherry 07770393960  

Cardinal O'Brien has attended six World Youth Days: Czestochowa in Poland; Manila in the Philippines; Paris in France; Rome in Italy; Toronto in Canada; and Cologne in Germany.  



WORLD YOUTH DAY CATECHESIS  

CATECHESIS LED BY CARDINAL KEITH PATRICK O BRIEN  

THURSDAY 18TH AUGUST 2005  

MEETING CHRIST IN THE EUCHARIST  



INTRODUCTION:  

It is indeed a very great privilege for me being here with you today to lead you in this Catechesis. As you know not only young people but priests, bishops and cardinals have come from all over the world to be here at this tremendous gathering with St Benedict XVI.  

With regard to my own history I myself have already been at six World Youth Days: Czestochowa in Poland; Manila in the Philippines; Paris in France; Rome in Italy; Toronto in Canada; and now here in Cologne in Germany.  

What a wealth of experiences I have had; and what a great number of young people I have met who are now continuing on their journeys through life.  

Today as you know our theme is; Meeting Christ in the Eucharist . And we are reminded to think of those very beautiful words from St Matthew s Gospel; They saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him .  

That text is the one we are asked to think about in reference to the Eucharist “ so perhaps we could think of those words addressed to us as: You see Jesus in the Eucharist day by day and falling down you worship him !  

I begin my words to you this morning with some words from Pope John Paul II in his Encyclical letter: The Church is formed from the Eucharist ; And I conclude with some words from that same Pope in his Encyclical letter from the Year of the Eucharist entitled Stay with us Lord .  

In between I share some of my own experiences of Priesthood and of the Eucharist.  

THE CHURCH IS FORMED FROM THE EUCHARIST: ECCLESIA DE EUCHARISTIA  

In his Encyclical letter published on Holy Thursday 2003 the Pope writes on the Eucharist as The mystery of faith and of how the Holy Eucharist forms the Church.  

However I wish to read to you one of the passages which struck me in a particular way “ the passage when the late Pope writes of different experiences he had in celebrating the Eucharist. He states:  



When I think of the Eucharist, and look at my life as a Priest, as a Bishop, and as a successor of Peter, I naturally recall the many times and places in which I was able to celebrate it. I remember the parish church of Niegowic where I had my first pastoral assignment, the collegiate church of St Florian in Krakow, Wawel Cathedral, St Peter s Basilica and so many basilicas and churches in Rome and throughout the world. I have been able to celebrate Holy Mass in chapels built along mountain paths, on lake shores and sea coasts; I have celebrated on altars built in stadiums and in city squares ¦..this  
varied scenario of celebrations of the Eucharist has given me a powerful experience of its universal and, so to speak, cosmic character. Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on a humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in someway celebrated on the altar of the world. It unites Heaven and Earth. It embraces and permeates all creation .  

In the way the Pope is emphasizing how important the Eucharist is not only for the individual priest and the congregation who may be with him at a particular time but how important the Eucharist is for the whole of creation “ uniting, as he says, Heaven and Earth it embraces and permeates all creation .  

Consequently like the Pope I think of my own priestly ministry and of Masses which I have celebrated as Priest, Bishop and Cardinal.  

MASS CELEBRATED AS A RECENTLY ORDAINED PRIEST:  

When I look back over my 40 years of priestly ministry one thing which has been important to me each day is the celebration of Mass. I might say whether in parish churches or in school chapels, whether in homes of parishioners or in classrooms where I had previously been preaching, whether alone or with a great congregation “ the Mass has always been central to my priestly ministry, realising that I am not only building up a local congregation, but affecting the whole world in offering ˜all glory and honour to Our Father in Heaven in sharing in the Sacrament of Christ.  

On this occasion I would single out the value to me of house Masses which I celebrated. One in particular comes to mind “ when I was an assistant priest in Bathgate. The mother of a young family had recently died of cancer. I had frequently visited her home and got to know her husband and her children “ when again tragedy struck and the eldest son was discovered to have a brain tumour. Having cared for his mother I continued my care for the son bringing him communion whenever I could.  

I remember one of the last occasions shortly before he died when having celebrated Mass and given him communion I asked him if he was fearful at the thought of death. He looked at me in a rather quizzical way and then simply said: No, Father, I am on my way to meet my mum!  

This summed up so much of what the Eucharist is about for me “ the Eucharist a help for our journey through life, the Eucharist a help for our journey into eternity, the Eucharist that bond which unites us with the whole Church in Heaven, on Earth and in Purgatory, and which hopefully one day will be our ˜Viaticum , our final ˜way to Almighty God.  



THE EUCHARIST ON THE MISSIONS:  

I was ordained as a Bishop in 1985 by my beloved predecessor the late Cardinal Gordon Joseph Gray again here in this Cathedral.  

Following on my ordination as a Bishop I was able to visit the Mission territory which he and the Archdiocese had adopted in Bauchi in Northern Nigeria. I continued my travels as a Bishop being with our priests in El Salvador, in Chiapas in Mexico and in Central America including Guatemala. Again the Eucharist was always part of my missionary journeys “ whether in small mission stations or in magnificent cathedrals, whether with a few retired missioners in their retirement home or with the Bishop of other national hierarchies.  

One memory has and will remain with me “ a Mass which I celebrated in El Salvador. On a previous visit I had been with the people of a small township called El Higueral. They had been scattered from their town land by government forces and were living in exile. On my first visit to them they asked me to pray for their safe and speedy return to their homeland. On my second visit to El Salvador I was again approached by them and the request was made that I would pray with them before their return. This I did early in the morning and then continued with my own missionary journeys while they prepared to walk to their homeland “ some ten days walk away. I joined them at the end of their journey and then by jeep, by mule and on foot reached their isolated homeland on a rough hillside. Everything seemed quite desolate with only the ruins of chapel, school and homes remaining. However the leader of the community said to me with a certain pride: Look “ this is beautiful “ this is home!  

I thought the community would immediately make supper or at least have coffee after what had been quite an arduous journey. However, they said to me those simple words: Will you please say Mass! This I did with Mass being celebrated on some sacks of corn which they had carried with them and by the light of the moon. Christ in the Eucharist came into the midst of that little community; and I am sure that Christ in the Eucharist continues to stay in that community right down to this present time. The spiritual must come before the material; spiritual food before material food “ what a lesson in that war-torn country!  

EUCHARIST AS A CARDINAL:  

And now I am able to think back over the past two years of celebrations of the Eucharist since my creation as a Cardinal by the late Pope John Paul II “ again celebrations here in our Cathedral and in churches and chapels throughout the Archdiocese; Celebrations of the Eucharist at home and abroad; And celebrations of the Eucharist in a special way in the City of Rome.  

Remaining in my memory are the thoughts of the Eucharist celebrated for the dying and dead Pope John Paul II; And those masses at the Inauguration of the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI.  

The memory of one Mass again remains with me “ the Mass concelebrated in the Sistine Chapel with our new Pope, Pope Benedict XVI.  



The recent Conclave was as you know a short one “ just four ballots were needed before the election of our new Pope. And after the announcement of who was to be the next Pope, the Pope himself spoke to the assembled Cardinals and asked that they remain on for a meal with him before celebrating Mass with him in the Sistine Chapel the next morning.  

As always a reminder was given of the Mass as a meal, but also the Mass as a reminder of Calvary, of the Cross of Christ, which Pope Benedict XVI would be carrying in a special way as our Supreme Pontiff.  

The Sistine Chapel looked exactly the same as the days before when the Cardinals had entered it in Conclave “ apart from the fact that the desks had been cleared of all papers and those papers burnt in the stove which had conveyed the message to the world that a new Pope had been elected. It was indeed a quiet and prayerful Mass in which I personally was aware of all that had happened in the previous two days, aware of the fact that I had taken part in a historic event, an event that would go down in the history of our Church.  

However sustaining me and my brother Cardinals as it sustained the new Pope was the thought that Christ was with us in that Sistine Chapel as he had been in the upper room with his first Apostles and Peter to whom he had given the power of binding and loosing, the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. The words of Jesus re-echoed in our midst: Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church ¦..  

REMAIN WITH US LORD:  

Mane Nobiscum Domine  

I conclude with some words from the apostolic letter of Pope John Paul II for the Year of the Eucharist, this year which we are presently celebrating.  

I remind you that in that apostolic letter the Pope sums up so much of the Church s teaching on the Eucharist describing it in turn as a mystery of life , The source and manifestation of Communion ; And, the principle and plan of mission .  

The Pope mentions the importance of our weekly Eucharist when he states: It is necessary to stress particularly the Sunday Eucharist and Sunday itself, experienced as a special day of faith, the day of the Risen Lord and of the gift of the Spirit, the truly weekly Easter .  

And the Pope also reminds us that it must not be forgotten that the Eucharistic meal also has a profoundly and primarily sacrificial meaning. In the Eucharist, Christ makes present to us anew the sacrifice offered once for all on Golgotha. Present in the Eucharist as the Risen Lord, he nonetheless bears the marks of his passion of which every Mass is a memorial .  

And at the same time the Eucharist also impels us towards the future, when Christ will come again at the end of history .  

The Eucharist is indeed our great mystery of faith . The Eucharist is our food for our journey, the Eucharist is the re-enactment of Calvary, and it is the Eucharist which will guide us on our way through life towards eventual union with our Father in Heaven.  

May we all value that great gift “ and may it help us on our journey towards eternal life.  

WORLD YOUTH DAY CATECHESIS  

CATECHESIS LED BY CARDINAL KEITH PATRICK O BRIEN  

FRIDAY 19TH AUGUST 2005  

LIVING IN THE WORLD AS TRUE WORSHIPERS OF GOD  

INTRODUCTION:  

It is indeed a very great privilege for me being here with you today to lead you in this Catechesis. As you know not only young people but priests, bishops and cardinals have come from all over the world to be here at this tremendous gathering with Pope Benedict XVI.  

With regard to my own history I myself have already been at six World Youth Days: Czestochowa in Poland; Manila in the Philippines; Paris in France; Rome in Italy; Toronto in Canada; and now here in Cologne in Germany.  

What a wealth of experiences I have had; and what a great number of young people I have met who are now continuing on their journeys through life.  

Today as you know our theme is: Meeting Christ in the Eucharist . And we are reminded to think of those very beautiful words from St Matthew s Gospel; They saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him .  

That text is the one we are asked to think about in reference to the Eucharist “ so perhaps we could think of those words addressed to us as: You see Jesus in the Eucharist day by day and falling down you worship him !  

History of the Eucharist:  

I would ask you to think of me first of all of the accounts which we have in Sacred Scripture of the Institution of the Eucharist.  

St Matthew, St Mark and St Luke in their Gospels have something of the same account. They describe the simple actions of Jesus and recount those beautiful words of the Institution of the Sacrament.  

Then he took some bread and when he had given thanks, broke it and gave it to them saying: This is my body which will be given for you; do this as a memorial of me . He did the same with the cup after supper and said: This cup is the new covenant in my blood which will be poured out for you ,  
]  
And St Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians beautifully describes the Eucharist when he writes:  

This is what I received from the Lord and in turn passed on to you: That on the same night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said: This is my body which is for you; do this as a memorial of me . In the same  


way he took the cup after supper and said: This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me . Until the Lord comes therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death, and so anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be behaving unworthily towards the body and blood of the Lord .  

Having listened to the words of Sacred Scripture I always find it very moving to read an account of the Eucharist as celebrated in the early Church. This account is repeated year by year in the Breviary which priests and religious read “ and was written by St Justin Martyr in defence of the Christians.  

St Justin writes:  

On Sundays there is an assembly of all who live in towns or in the country, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read for as long as time allows.  

Then the reading is brought to an end, and the president delivers an address which he admonishes and encourages us to imitate in our own lives the beautiful lessons we have heard read.  

Then we all stand up and pray together. When we have finished the prayer, as I have said, bread and wine and water are brought up; the president offers prayers and thanksgiving as best he can, and the people say Amen as an expression of their agreement. Then follows the distribution of the food over which the prayer of thanksgiving has been recited; all present receive some of it, and the deacons carry some to those who are absent. Those who are well provided for, if they wish to do so, contribute what each thinks fit; this is collected and left with the president, so that he can help the orphans and the widows and the sick, and all who are in need for any other reason, such as prisoners and visitors from abroad; in short he provides for all who are in want.  

So on Sunday we all come together. This is the first day, on which God transformed darkness from matter and made the world; the day on which Jesus Christ our savior rose from the dead. For on the day before Saturday he was crucified, and on the day after Saturday, that is Sunday, he appeared to his apostles and disciples and taught them the truths which we have put before you for your consideration .  

And now I ask you to think of our Mass today. What do we do other than to gather to listen to the readings from scripture; the priest takes bread and wine, offers it to God and then says the great prayer of the Eucharist with the people all answering Amen. The consecrated food is then distributed and some are brought by ministers of the Eucharist to those who are absent. A collection takes place to help those who are in need. And we ourselves stress the importance of our Sunday worship “ our worship on that first day following on the crucifixion of Our Lord to commemorate the day of resurrection.  



WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  

One question which faced the disciples of Our Lord after his resurrection and ascension into Heaven was quite simply what they were going to do after all they had witnessed and after the call which they had received aware of the presence of Christ still with them in the Eucharist.  

I think we should meditate first now on just what is being asked of us and what call we have received.  

A famous philosopher and theologian called Teilhard de Chardin wrote in a book called Hymn of the Universe the following:  

When Christ comes to one of his faithful it is not simply in order to commune with him as an individual; when, through the mouth of the priest, he says This is my Body these words extend beyond the morsel of bread over which they are said: They give birth to the whole mystical Body of Christ. The effect of the priestly act extends beyond the consecrated host to the cosmos itself: The entire realm of matter is slowly but irresistibly affected by this great Consecration .  

We are reminded by that great philosopher that each one of us is affected by each Mass which is celebrated. As we commemorate the passion, death and resurrection of Our Lord in the Mass so too we must realise that we are the Body of the Lord; we are Christ living and acting in the world; we are the ones who are to bring Christ to others.  

Those thoughts bring me back to the fourth evangelist, the beloved disciple St John. It is interesting to realise that while the other three evangelists wrote of the words and actions of Christ with regard to the bread and wine, St John the beloved disciple rather described what Jesus did at the last supper. John speaks of his words and his actions with regards to the washing of the feet of his disciples. He took off his outer garments; he tied the towel round himself; he took a basin and a jug of water; and humbly washed the feet of those followers of his. And of course we know that he also gave them this command that what he has done to them they were to do to others. I think that action at the Last Supper and considering those words of the philosopher we realise something of what we have to do “ strengthened by the power and presence of Christ in the Eucharist we are to bring him to others.  

One thing, of course, which we can do, is to continue our work and prayer for Christian Unity “ following the prayer of Jesus Christ himself at that Last Supper and following the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. I myself was asked to address the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland shortly after my creation as Cardinal. It is always quite difficult to decide what to speak about “ and I decided to bring three visual aids, using them as starting off points for my talk.  

The first visual aid was a little compass made of Iona Silver “ and on the inscription on the compass given to me by a former Moderator of the General Assembly and his wife, was written: May the points on this compass direct us back to our Christian roots and may the cardinal points lead us on the way ahead . The second visual aid was a little towel and I indicated that I would rather have had with me a jug and basin and been able to proceed to  


wash the feet of the Moderator. However, I indicated that there were practical difficulties and this little towel simply reminded me of the service which should be provided by each member of the Church to every other member. And the last visual aid was a little wooden Rosary Bead “ using which I had the opportunity to teach on prayer, especially the prayer of the Rosary.  

Our awareness of the Eucharist should lead us into greater service of others.  

WE ARE THE CHURCH “ LET US ACT AS SUCH:  

In that beautiful letter concerning the Eucharist we are taught by Pope John Paul II in the following way:  

There is one other point which I would like to emphasis, since it significantly affects the authenticity of our communal sharing in the Eucharist. It is the impulse which the Eucharist gives to the community for a practical commitment to building a more just and fraternal society. In the Eucharist our God has shown his love in the extreme, overturning all those criterion of power which too often govern human relations and radically affirming the criterion of service: If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all . It is not by chance that the Gospel of St John contains no account of the Institution of the Eucharist, but instead relates the washing of feet: By bending down to wash the feet of his disciples, Jesus explains the meaning of the Eucharist unequivocally. St Paul vigorously reaffirms the impropriety of a Eucharistic celebration lacking charity expressed by practical sharing with the poor .  

And then the Pope goes on to ask:  

Can we not make this year of the Eucharist an occasion for diocesan and parish communities to commit themselves in the particular way to responding to fraternal solicitude to one of the many forms of poverty at present in our world? I think for example of the tragedy of hunger which plagues hundreds of millions of human beings, the diseases which afflict developing countries, the loneliness of the elderly, the hardship faced by the unemployed, the struggles of immigrants. These are evils which are present, although to a different degree, even in areas of immense wealth. We cannot delude ourselves: By our mutual love and, in particular, by our concern for those in need we will be recognized as true followers in Christ. This will be the criterion by which the authenticity of our Eucharistic celebrations is judged .  

The Pope has given us a very high standard “ and I am delighted to think just how many young people at this present time respond to that call of our former Pope to translate Eucharistic sharing into Eucharistic love for others in the world particularly those who are less able.  

I think of the tremendous number of young people who fruitfully spend gap years in underdeveloped countries “ sometimes time at school or from school; sometimes after school and before following a career; sometimes before or after university studies. There are very many young people and I am sure many of you here present who have and are giving of your time to those abroad.  


I think also of those in many of our different organisations dedicated to helping those in need particularly those who help to give voice to the voiceless.  

Just a few months ago in Edinburgh almost a quarter of a million people gathered to take part in the Make Poverty History Campaign. They came from all over Scotland, all over Britain and for many of them from distant parts of the world. They did not come for their own sake they came quite simply to give voice to the voiceless.  

Perhaps two of the most moving Masses which I have celebrated were at the beginning and the end of that great rally. I began my day with Mass in my Cathedral inspiring those who had gathered there to concentrate on the Eucharist and to bring the Eucharist with them in their bodies, in their thoughts and in their every action to the gathering which was soon to take place.  

At the end of the day again at Mass I stated that we had taken part in a wonderful occasion; there had been outstanding people present; and we had indeed given voice to the voiceless in crying out to the G8 Leaders further north in Scotland to Make Poverty History. That our words were not heeded in exactly the ways in which we would have wished is of no consequence “ although we thought we had deserved better. We know that our voices were heard; and we are aware that our voices will have an affect in those corridors of power.  

CONCLUSION:  

And that is what we must think of today: We are the Church and we must act like the living body of Jesus Christ .  

You, yourself know of the occasions when you can and you must speak out; you yourself know of the occasions when you must not stand by but you must move into action! And your every action must be inspired by the love of Christ in the Eucharist, that Eucharist which you share with your sisters and brothers in your communities each Sunday morning. Obviously there are many other opportunities for us receiving the Eucharist day by day if at all possible. But Pope John Paul 11 frequently emphasised the value of the day of the Lord “ that day which we must reverence in a special way and give to Our Lord Jesus Christ who will inspire us not only week by week but day by day in our thoughts, words and deeds as Christians.  

May we all benefit from our time here at this World Youth Day. And may we in a special way realise the love of that Sacred Heart of Jesus which we must bear within us and share from our own hearts so that, that love of Christ will radiate throughout the world.  

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Elect individuals who reflect your beliefs Catholic voters told

| 19th November 2019 | Blogging

Tuesday 19 November 2019   In a pastoral letter which will be read at all 500 Catholic churches in Scotland this weekend (23/24 November) Scotland's Catholic Bishops, will urge parishioners to participate in the 2019 General Election and to “elect an individual representative who reflects as closely as possible our beliefs”. Scotland’s Catholic Bishops warn that “a creeping intolerance towards religious belief” has become “a part of life”.   The letter goes on to reflect on a range of issues and urges catholic voters to raise them with their candidates. Among the subjects highlighted are:   Human Life - Voters are reminded that abortion, assisted suicide and euthanasia are, as the Church has consistently taught, always morally unacceptable. The letter describes the funding of abortion programmes in developing countries as “ideological colonisation.”   Marriage and the Family – candidates are urged to support policies that create economic and fiscal support for married couples and families with children.   Poverty - Reliance on food banks, particularly for families, is described as “a telling criticism of a society that has forgotten its poor people in its midst.”   Freedom of Religion and Conscience – Potential MPs are urged to legislate for a liberal and tolerant society that is truly welcoming to all faiths and none, the next UK Government should campaign against religious persecution and intolerance around the world.   Nuclear Weapons and the Arms Trade - The use of weapons of mass destruction is viewed as “a serious offence against God and against humanity.” Excessive accumulation of weaponry is described as “a considerable threat to stability and freedom as well as a misuse of public funds that could serve to address the needs of the disadvantaged.” The next UK Government is asked to work actively and seriously towards elimination of the UK’s nuclear arsenal.   ENDS   Peter Kearney  Director  Catholic Media Office  5 St. Vincent Place  Glasgow  G1 2DH  Tel:    0141 221 1168 Mob:  07968 122291 ISDN: 0141 204 4956  pk@scmo.org  www.scmo.org   Note to Editors   The full text of the letter is shown below:   General Election 2019 A letter from the Catholic Bishops of Scotland   This General Election presents us with an opportunity to elect an individual representative who reflects as closely as possible our beliefs. It allows us to revisit Catholic Social Teaching and to connect our voting to our Catholic faith. It can be a chance to proclaim the inherent dignity and value of every human being, made in the image and likeness of God, and to promote the common good.    In recent times, politics has become divisive, principally, though not exclusively, as a result of the EU referendum. Vigorous debate has sometimes spilled over into personal attacks and even acts of violence which are never acceptable.   Uncertain times ought to make us stop and reflect on the One who is Truth Himself. Turning to God in these difficult times is our only hope for true peace. During elections, a range of issues compete for our attention; we highlight some of them here so that we may reflect on them and raise them with parliamentary candidates.   Human Life   It is the duty of all of us to uphold the most basic and fundamental human right – the right to life. We should urge candidates to recognise human life from the moment of conception until natural death and to legislate for its protection at every stage, including protecting the unborn child, ensuring that both mother and child are accepted and loved.   We should remind our politicians that abortion, assisted suicide and euthanasia are, as the Church has consistently taught, always morally unacceptable. Decriminalisation of abortion unhappily paves the way towards a legal basis for abortion on demand, for any reason, up to birth and politicians should be urged to resist it.   ...

Bishop expresses concern for the situation at the UK border

| 25th October 2019 | Blogging

25 October 2019   Bishop William Nolan of Galloway, President of the Catholic Church’s Justice and Peace Commission, has called on the UK Government to make “safe and legal routes” available for refugees attempting to come to the UK. Bishop Nolan expressed his concerns ahead of the three-year anniversary of the refugee camp known as ‘the jungle’ in Calais being demolished, he said:   “Three years ago, the French and UK governments demolished the refugee camp known as ‘the jungle’. Many thousands of people were dispersed across France, and the infrastructure of support and solidarity provided by so many volunteers was destroyed. Three years on, the situation in Calais, Dunkirk and other areas is more desperate than ever. The policies of attrition - wearing down refugees through harsh treatment, including eviction from places of shelter; confiscation of possessions; assault and use of pepper spray - are forcing already vulnerable people to increasingly desperate measures, pushing them into the arms of people smugglers and human traffickers.”   Bishop Nolan added;   When I visited Calais in 2017, just over one year after the jungle had been demolished, I witnessed the situation of many young refugees sleeping rough. The statement we issued at the time called on the authorities ‘to recognise that these are our fellow human beings, regardless of their [immigration] status, and that their intrinsic dignity must be upheld.’ Now, three years since the jungle was destroyed, and with no progress being made, I once again join the calls made on our government that safe and legal routes must be established, and that an infrastructure which allows for dignified living for those in Calais must be a priority”.   Bishop Nolan’s remarks come after Amnesty International has reported on the “unprecedented restrictions, including threats and violence, denunciation in public discourse, and criminalization” being faced by volunteers and staff in northern France. Their report ‘Targeting Solidarity’ documents the increasingly hostile tactics being used against volunteers from a range of organisations in France who are filling the gap left by the state for providing food, clothing and medical care. Amnesty International makes the point that the ‘work of human rights defenders in the area is inextricably linked to the treatment of people on the move. It is therefore paramount to end the human rights violations faced by this group’ and to repeat the calls made by NGOs and Bishop Nolan which requires that France ensures its asylum and reception system is fit for purpose and that the UK increases the number of refugees and asylum-seekers it currently accepts by providing safe and legal routes.   Following the bishop’s visit in 2017, Justice and Peace Scotland has continued to highlight the situation in Calais.  In early 2019 as part of a project called ‘Encounter: Calais’, two groups of volunteers travelled down to Calais with Care4Calais, one of the volunteer aid organisations, and met the community at Maria Skobtsova Catholic Worker House.   As part of highlighting the anniversary of the jungle’s demolition and the ongoing situation, Justice and Peace Scotland have compiled a list of resources, bringing together news articles, reports, and videos which capture some of the history and the issues around the jungle in recent years.   The resource sheet is available on Justice and Peace Scotland’s website www.justiceandpeacescotland.org.uk   ENDS   Note to Editors:   For further information, contact: Danny Sweeney, Co-ordinator, Justice & Peace Scotland on 07891 579831   Peter Kearney  Director  Catholic Media Office  5 St. Vincent Place  Glasgow  G1 2DH  Tel:    0141 221 1168 Mob:  07968 122291 ISDN: 0141 204 4956  pk@scmo.org  www.scmo.org    ...