Nation reflects on Baptism of Christ with broadcast from St. David’s Cathedral

St. David’s Cathedral was once more in the spotlight this morning with Mass of the Baptism of the Lord being broadcast on BBC Radio 4 ‘Sunday Worship’ programme.

The live broadcast meant it was an early start for the young choristers from St John’s College, who make up the Metropolitan Choir, and had followed a four-hour rehearsal the previous day.
Choir
Under conductor Dominic Neville, the choir gave a splendid performance and, according to one listener showed themselves to be one of the best cathedral choirs in the country, highlighted during the Mass by a most moving Communion Motet ‘Os Justi’ (Anton Bruckner).  They were accompanied on the organ by Dr. David Neville.
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The Dean of the Cathedral, Canon Peter Collins, introduced the broadcast and presided at the celebration of this great Feast.  Archbishop George Stack gave the homily focusing on the imposing character of St. John the Baptist and how the Baptism he imparted was more than a ritual cleansing.  It marked a change in the way of life of the one being baptised.  With John the last of the Old Testament prophets and Jesus the link who brings to fulfilment everything the Old Testament contains the Baptism we enter into within the Church marks a new way of life, through the action of the Holy Spirit, to a new life in Christ.
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The Sunday Worship programme is available for catch up on BBC iPlayer by clicking the icon below.
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Pope promotes two Welsh Knights

Knights
The Order of St Gregory the Great is one of the five Orders of Knighthood of the Holy See and on Sunday 22 November two  Welsh “greats” were promoted by the Pope to Knights Commander in that Order.
At St David’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Archbishop George Stack conferred the honour to Lord Paul Murphy (pictured left) and Mr John Reddy, both men having worked for decades for the Catholic Church and in public life.
Lord Murphy was ennobled in the recent  Dissolution Honours and as Paul Murphy was the former MP for Torfaen and former Cabinet Minister, holding the offices of Secretary of State for Wales and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
John Reddy is a prominent South Wales businessman and a former Mayor of the County Borough of Merthyr Tydfil.
Both men were honoured by Pope Francis for their decades of service to the Catholic Church in Wales.

Cardiff church celebrates 30 Years

by Stephen Bailey, Parishioner

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The parishioners of St. Philip Evans celebrated the 30th anniversary of the dedication of their church on Sunday 25th October.

Mass was celebrated by Archbishop George Stack and current parish priest Fr. Gareth Leyshon. The children’s choirs of St. Bernadette’s and St. Philip Evans primary schools sang at the Mass.

A collage banner was presented to the church which was made by the two primary schools depicting our “Parish Tree of Life” – the supporting structure being the Archbishop and Parish Priest, the leaves the parents and children of the parish, and the height of the tree, our connection between heaven and earth.

Monsignor John Maguire, who was the parish priest at the time of the Church’s dedication, also attended the service and gave an address in recognition of the celebration.

After Mass, celebrations continued in the church hall where both St. Bernadette’s and St. Philip Evans school choirs sang a number of songs, and members of the Deaf Association signed the song “One pair of hands”. Parishioners were asked to bring food for the buffet lunch which followed the entertainment.

Thanks go mainly to Elaine Payne who is the chair of the Parish Advisory Council who made this all possible.

Statement from Archbishop George Stack on the European Migrant Crisis

Who could fail but be moved by the image of a dead child washed up on a Turkish beach? It is a graphic description of the thousands who have suffered as they seek to escape war, oppression, hunger and homelessness in their homeland. This mass movement of suffering humanity is surely one of the most tragic events we have witnessed in Europe since the Second World War.

Of course it is true that the real solution to this problem is the creation of peace and stability in countries torn apart by civil war. Failure to create conditions of peace on the part of the West has resulted in thousands of migrants, young and old, seeing no alternative but to leave their homeland in the hope of finding a civilised life.

“If every city took 10 refugee families, if every London borough took 10 families, if every county council took 10 families, if Scotland, Wales and every English region played their part, then in a month we would have nearly 10.000 places for vulnerable refugees fleeing anger, seeking safety” (Yvette Cooper).

If these figures were projected throughout Europe proportionately, we would not just be scandalised by the death of innocent children and desperate adults. As a civilised society we would play our part in relieving the causes of that suffering in a dignified and humane way. Churches, chapels and voluntary organisations are in a unique position to contribute to a solution to these human tragedies.

I am grateful to one parish in the Archdiocese of Cardiff for providing accommodation for asylum seekers. There could be many more.

We as a ‘Catholic’ Church are also reaching out to these people through our Catholic International Aid body, Caritas Internationalis.  Caritas has been providing support to migrants in Calais, the Greek Islands and Syria.  They have established an Emergency Relief Fund, of which you can be a part, simply by clicking the Caritas logo below to donate.

Caritas Internationalis

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George Stack
Archbishop of Cardiff


Addendum (5th September 2015)

In response to the above statement I have received information on this excellent local initiative to collect clothes and other essentials for the refugees in Europe. These collections willtake place during the coming week. Obviously the deadline is demanding as you will see from the poster.  But so is the crisis.

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Collection Poster

Family Life: A time for reflection

This week all parishes within the diocese are being asked to reflect on the topic of Marriage and Family Life in preparation for the Synod to be held later this year in Rome.  The Bishops Conference of England and Wales recently published online materials to help Catholics in England and Wales reflect on the topic.  Entitled “The Call, The Journey and The Mission” we are invited to reflect upon a number of key questions and the ‘Credo’ of what we believe about Marriage and Family Life as a Church.

Card Cover

To aid this process Archbishop George in co-ordination with the diocesan Family Life Commission have produced a leaflet and prayer card that is being made available from this weekend and over the course of the next week.  The faithful are asked to take a leaflet and card each as part of their Lenten Reflections and make response to help formulate the Catholic Church of England and Wales response to be carried to Rome in time for the Synod.

The leaflet and card is to be made available to the wider Catholic family after half term within our Catholic Secondary Schools and Colleges to gauge as wide a response as possible.

Clicking this link to view online versions of the leaflet and card.

THE CALL, THE JOURNEY AND THE MISSION – Reflecting on the gift of marriage and family life.

by Archbishop George Stack

Synod

Pope Francis continues to challenge and teach both members of the Church and all people of goodwill as to the dignity of the human person. Amongst the many topics he has addressed during his Pontificate, the nature, purpose and value of human life, the meaning of sacrificial love and the internal and external threats to human development and holiness are the most significant. That is why he has summoned two synod meetings on the topic of Marriage and Family Life. The first synod took place last year and the second is scheduled for this coming October in Rome. Marriage and Family Life form the bedrock of society and of the Church.

The theme of this year’s synod meeting is ‘The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and in the Contemporary World’. The questionnaire and discussion document circulated worldwide last year was an invitation to the whole Church to reflect prayerfully on the joys and hopes as well as the challenges of being committed to another in the Sacramental Bond of Marriage. From the example of the self sacrificing love of Jesus we draw the lesson which lies at the heart of marriage. From that love comes the life and nurture of a new family. Little wonder one of the loveliest titles of the Family is the ‘Domestic Church’.

Take the two words of the title of October’s synod – ‘Family’ and ‘Contemporary’. Speaking of the Family Pope Francis says:

“The perfect family does not exist, nor is there a perfect husband or a perfect wife, and let’s not talk about the perfect mother in law! It’s just us sinners” A healthy family life requires frequent use of the three phrases:” May I? Thank you, and I’m sorry” and “never, never, never end the day without making peace”.

                                       (Meeting with engaged couples, February 2014)

Reflecting on Contemporary Society, the Pope said:

“Men and women are sacrificed to the idols of profit and consumption: it is the ‘culture of waste’. If a computer breaks it is a tragedy, but poverty, the needs and dramas of so many people end up being considered normal. When the stock market drops 10 points in some cities, it constitutes a tragedy. Someone who dies is not news, but lowering income by 10 points is a tragedy! In this way, people are thrown aside as if they were trash.

                                                                               (General Audience, June 2013)

The Holy Father has asked a time of “true spiritual discernment” during the months of preparation for the Synod in October. In order to help in this discernment, the Bishops of England and Wales have issued Reflection Documents for the clergy and for the laity of each Diocese, asking them to reflect on the teaching of the Church concerning Marriage and Family Life. The role of the clergy, the Diocesan Family Life Commission and Marriage Care in the work of preparing couples for marriage as well as the parenting programs run by the Diocese of Cardiff as well as engaging the wider parish are all ongoing and valuable means of contributing to this discernment. Questions and points for discussion in preparation for the synod will be distributed during Lent inviting both individuals and groups to make a contribution to the preparation for the synod.

The Bishops ask the clergy to consider:

  1. How important do we see good preparation for marriage today?
  2. How can couples meaningfully engage in preparation for the lifelong relationship, which is marriage?
  3. How to relate and guide couples seeking marriage who are already living together and may already have families?
  4. How to exercise pastoral care for those who are divorced and remarried, often with second families?

These are just some of the realities of the contemporary world, together with the major implications of family breakdown and the perplexing problems, which arise.

Writing in the encyclical Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth) Pope John Paul II said:

 “The church can never renounce the “principle of truth and consistency, whereby she does not agree to call good evil and evil good”; she must always be careful not to break the bruised reed or to quench the dimly burning wick. (95)

 Other topics are contained in the discussion document issued by the Bishops entitled “The Call, the Mission and the Journey”. The life journey of each person is reflected in that title, as is the nature and purpose of Marriage and Family Life. The life experience of each one contains a promise, hope and experience which can be of value to all. That is why during Lent this year the Diocesan Family Life Commission will circulate that document in parishes and schools with an invitation to reflect on it individually as well as in groups. The formal and informal responses to the discussion points, the scripture readings, Church teaching and personal experience will all be valuable in collating the Diocesan contribution to the agenda for the synod. Joining together and sharing in prayerful and practical ways will, in itself, help to build up a deeper understanding of vocation of Marriage and Family Life.

The “Credo” of Marriage and Family Life printed below will also be published during Lent as a single prayer card either for personal reflection or communal sharing. Each one of the statements contain the teaching of the different aspects of the Church’s teaching and understanding of the vocation of marriage. Although these may not be the words people use in living and understanding their commitment to marriage and family life, the fact that so many live out the ideals in practice is a reflection of the unconditional love which Jesus showed when he gave his life “…. that they might have life to the full”.(John 10:10)

Further information can be found on the following website:

www.catholicfamily.org.uk

Statement from Archbishop George Stack regarding recent events in France

France witness

Yesterday’s dignified march in Paris following the tragic terrorist attacks in that city last week have had a huge impact throughout the world.  Sadly, we have become desensitised to the violence of war owing to the conflicts in far away places being constantly reported by the media.  But there is something “domestic” about premeditated killings in the editorial room of a satirical magazine and a local grocery store. These events might have taken place in any street in any city of the world.

The fact that they are portrayed as having a religious motivation is a double tragedy.  Violence in the name of religion has no place in our world view.  Freedom of expression is one of the key elements of a civilised democratic society.  With that freedom must also come an acceptance of responsibilities.  Is it possible to have satire without denigrating and shocking the deeply held views and beliefs of others?  Part of the dignity of the human person is to respect the right of freedom of speech whilst always emphasising the responsibilities which it brings – even to institutions.

The Christian religion has had its fair share of satirical coverage in recent years, not least in our own country.  At times this has been shocking and outrageous, and at times quite unfair.  The way to deal with it is not violence or repression but honest argument and debate, with a shared desire for truth.The challenge facing all people, religious and non religious alike, is to create the environment and proper forums for such encounters.  The Inter-Faith dialogues which go on between the Churches and other Faiths are one example of such communication.  We need many more.

The thoughts and prayers of the people and clergy of the Archdiocese of Cardiff are with the victims of these attacks, their families, and the French people.