Doors of Mercy open throughout the diocese

On Sunday 13th December (Gaudete Sunday) the diocese was invited to enter into the joy of God’s presence with the start of the Jubilee Year of Mercy within the diocese.  Archbishop George opened the Door of Mercy at St. David’s Cathedral, whilst Abbot Paul Stoneham opened the Door of Mercy at Belmont Abbey.

Doors of Mercy were also opened at St. Mary’s Bridgend, St. Mary’s Merthyr Tydfil and St. Mary’s Newport following the Holy Father’s desire to make pilgrimage to a Holy Door more accessible and Holy Doors pop up outside of Rome for the first time in the history of Holy Years.

The year provides an extra opportunity of grace for the church both universal and local.  May we all take advantage of the great grace made available to us all y our heavenly Father.

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.

Extraordinary Year of Mercy begins with a ray of light

by Fr. Michael Doyle

On a cold and wet morning here in Rome, thousands of people converged on St. Peter’s Square to celebrate Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Whilst it is good and right that we celebrate such a great gift of Mercy from God, most of us actually converged to witness a rare event in the life of the Church. Today the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy begins in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council.

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Jubilee Years, also known as ‘Holy Years’, usually happen every 25 years. This is a tradition of the Church that started in the year 1300 by Pope Boniface VIII. Anyone who is good at maths knows that 2015/2016 are not divisible by 25, which makes this an Extraordinary Jubilee Year. The last Extraordinary Jubilee was in 1983 called by Pope St. John Paul II – the Jubilee Year of Redemption, marking 1950th anniversary of our Redemption. So this Jubilee truly is Extraordinary!

Having gathered in the square, the Mass began with the procession of bishops and cardinals. When the Holy Father eventually appeared he seemed physically tired … it is no mean feat getting a Holy Year together!

A time of grace and renewal to be grasped with both hands

The extraordinary period of grace that this Holy Year brings should not be underestimated. This Holy Year is an opportunity for all people of goodwill to reconnect with, and enter into a deeper encounter with the infinite love and mercy of God. As Pope Francis said during his homily:

“This Extraordinary Year is itself a gift of grace. To pass through the Holy Door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them. It is he who seeks us! It is he who comes to encounter us! This will be a year in which we grow ever more convinced of God’s mercy. How much wrong we do to God and his grace when we speak of sins being punished by his judgment before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy (cf. Saint Augustine, De Praedestinatione Sanctorum, 12, 24)! But that is the truth. We have to put mercy before judgment, and in any event God’s judgement will always be in the light of his mercy. In passing through the Holy Door, then, may we feel that we ourselves are part of this mystery of love, of tenderness. Let us set aside all fear and dread, for these do not befit men and women who are loved. Instead, let us experience the joy of encountering that grace which transforms all things”.

A ray of hope in the cold, wet winter

At the end of the Mass a great procession made up of deacons, priests, bishops and cardinals formed, and made its way to the Holy Door. At this point St. Peter’s square was filled with pilgrims joining the singing of Psalm 121 ‘I lift up my eyes to the hills from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth’ and Psalm 122 ‘I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”’

When Pope Francis reached the Holy Door he greet the Pope emeritus Benedict XVI to a round of applause from the people in the square. Then, just as if heaven was smiling down on us, as the Holy Father recited the words of the Holy Door prayer and called that the door may be open to us, the clouds broke and a ray of sun came down on St. Peter’s basilica leaving the rest of the square untouched. It lifted the spirits even if the square remained in the rain!

Having finished the invocation, the Holy Door was opened and the morning concluded with a prayer at the tomb of St. Peter and the singing of the ‘Salve Regina’. The Jubilee of Mercy had officially begun and the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of Mercy celebrated. Although it was wet and cold, the emotion and joy was tangible in St Peter’s Square as we begged the Father to let his grace pour out upon us!

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Jubilee of Mercy in the Diocese of Cardiff

This is just the beginning of an immense year of opportunity and grace for the Church; both universally and locally. We have started the Jubilee Year within the diocese on a strong footing. Our churches and schools are ringing out the message “No one can be excluded from God’s Mercy” with banners visible to all who pass by. Inside our churches and high schools we have the constant invitation to be merciful like the Father presented in the Holy Year logo. Our Primary Schools are asking the question “How can you show mercy?” Five of our churches are preparing to open a ‘Holy Door’ this coming weekend and become sites of pilgrimage and welcome for anyone who wishes to “rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father”.

Over the course of the year our parishes and the diocese will be holding events related to the Jubilee Year. I am beginning to hear of many fine ways in which parishes are taking up the challenge to be merciful by adopting projects relating to the works of mercy. If your parish hasn’t already done this, please do consider it.

With the opening of our Holy Doors we are launching a Jubilee Trail to encourage people to make pilgrimage throughout the diocese in this extraordinary year and visit all five Holy Doors. At each door you will have the opportunity of collecting a card with short reflections on the theme of God’s Mercy; five cards for five doors, each to be found in their designated locations. With the turn of the calendar year, we will be looking to extend the trail to incorporate sites of historic significance to Catholicism within our diocese, making the trail a double jubilee trail; one for this Holy Year and one for the centenary of our diocese.

When we journey to our Holy Doors let us remember the call of Pope Francis to invite someone through the door with us. Maybe you know someone who has stopped practicing the faith for some reason; or someone who may be searching for meaning in life at the moment. God’s love and mercy are abiding and open to all who seek him with a sincere heart. He doesn’t hold himself back from anyone; all are welcome. That will be the message at our Holy Doors.

Please know that I have prayed for the diocese, it’s people, clergy and religious on this wonderful moment of grace. I have prayed that this Holy Year will be a time of growth and extraordinary grace for our small part of the world.

Welcome to the Jubilee Year of Mercy … let us journey together through this year and make it a good one for the Cardiff Archdiocese.

Keeping up to date on the Jubilee in our diocese

Visit http://www.rcadc.org and visit the ‘Year of Mercy’ menu items.
Via Facebook https://www.facebook.com/JubileeCardiff/

A comment on the new law on organ transplantation in Wales

by Prof David Albert Jones
Director, Anscombe Bioethics Centre

  
The ethics of donating organs after you die
In the words of Pope John Paul II, ‘We should rejoice that medicine, in its service of life, has found in organ transplantation a new way of serving the human family.’ The Catholic Church is clear that in itself, if certain conditions are met, it is a good and meritorious thing to donate our organs after we are dead. Even while we are alive, actions such as giving blood can be a powerful expression of human solidarity and of Christian charity. Such actions can help build a culture of life, a culture in which life is cherished.
At the same time, organ transplantation involves a complex set of practices. These raise ethical questions that require careful thought. The Catechism teaches that organ transplantation ‘is not morally acceptable if the donor or his proxy has not given explicit consent. Moreover, it is not morally admissible to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of other persons.’ This leads us to ask how death can be diagnosed with sufficient confidence to allow the removal of vital organs and, more deeply, what we mean by human death. When can we say with moral certainty that the soul has departed, that the person is no more, and what remains is no longer a living human body?
The Church is a sure guide on matters of faith and morals, but to apply this faith in practice we also need knowledge of the world. On some questions relating to organ transplantation, including the key issue of how death is diagnosed, Catholics in good standing who are experts in their fields have taken different views. Not everyone believes that ‘brainstem death’, as it is diagnosed in the United Kingdom, is equivalent to the death of the human being. Without a universal consensus among doctors and philosophers, and without definitive teaching from the Church on these matters, it is necessary for people to consider such questions seriously for themselves and then to follow their own honest and informed judgement.
For guidance on some of the key ethical issues involved in organ transplantation see On the Ethics of Organ Transplantation: A Catholic Perspective, available from the Anscombe Bioethics Centre either online or as a printed book. http://www.bioethics.org.uk/detail/resources/publications

A new and inhumane law

On 1 December 2015 the Human Transplantation (Wales) Act 2013 will come into effect. This law will in principle allow doctors to take organs from people who die in Wales even if they have never expressed any wish to donate and even if their families strongly object to this. We would urge all healthcare professionals in Wales to respect the families of those who have died and have not made any clear statement about organ donation, notwithstanding the powers given by the new and inhumane law. In the words of Pope John Paul II, ‘Above all, this form of treatment is inseparable from a human act of donation. In effect, transplantation presupposes a prior, explicit, free and conscious decision on the part of the donor or of someone who legitimately represents the donor, generally the closest relatives.’ Were this context not respected and were it to be replaced by a materialistic or instrumental use of the body, then the practice ‘would no longer correspond to an act of donation but would amount to the dispossession or plundering of a body’

Anyone currently in living Wales, who has lived in Wales for twelve months or more and is deemed to be ‘ordinarily resident’ in Wales (which could apply, for example, to a student) will be bound by this legistlation. If you are living in Wales and have any hesitations about donating your organs after you die then it is possible to ‘opt out’. This can be done through the website here. https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-to-donate/refuse-to-donate/

It is possible to revise your opinion at any time and opting out now will not prevent you from joining the organ donation register later should you so decide. You can always revise your record https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-to-donate/amend-your-details-on-the-register/

It is also possible to become a potential donor but to offer to donate only some of your organs. This can also be done via the website. https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-to-donate/

In 2010 it was revealed that a system error in the Organ Donation Register had led to 800,000 people having their wishes recorded inaccurately. In more than twenty cases, organs had been taken and used for transplantation despite the explicit refusal in advance by the patient. The source of that mistake has been corrected but in addition to relying on electronic records, whether ‘opting in’ or ‘opting out’, it is wise also to talk about your views with those who are close to you, preferably before registering your wishes. This is a positive thing to do in any case.

Probably the best option if you are living in Wales permanently is to nominate someone who knows you well as your representative. If you nominate a representative then you can be reassured that doctors will not override their views. Unfortunately this option is also the most complicated. It requires printing out a form, obtaining details and signatures and returning the form to NHS Blood and Transplant. However the extra effort may be worth it for peace of mind.

https://nhsbtdbe.blob.core.windows.net/umbraco-assets/1050/appointing-a-representative.pdf

Special Report: Proclaim ’15 in Cardiff

Report by Fr. Gareth Leyshon

On October 10th, 120 delegates from across the Archdiocese of Cardiff together with a few guests from Menevia, gathered at St David’s Sixth Form College for “Proclaim’15 Cardiff”. This was our local follow-up to the National Proclaim’15 event in Birmingham earlier this year.

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The day began with a welcome from Archbishop George Stack followed by a stirring opening liturgy based on the hymn ‘The Summons’. This set the tone for the Keynote Addresses and Workshops. Hannah Vaughan-Spruce (Portsmouth Diocese) opened with her talk on discipleship, which she delivered very enthusiastically and sincerely, demonstrating how Christ calls us to a relationship which is not a contract but a covenant. In the afternoon, Irish missionary Revd Pat Collins spoke very powerfully on Building a Missionary Diocese. The workshops all focussed on different ways of sharing the Good News about Jesus, through social outreach, through healing, reaching non-churchgoing Catholics, kindling faith in youth and building missionary parishes.

Recurring themes throughout the day were the need to move from being merely a member of the Church to being a disciple, for parishes to move from being maintenance parishes to missionary ones, the need for us all to be outward-looking and missionary, and to engage in evangelisation in our daily lives. Delegates filled in a questionnaire in which they were asked to indicate how they could be involved in proclaiming the Good News, what training they might need and their availability. At the end of the Conference, all the delegates were asked to come forward and place their completed questionnaires in a basket as an outward sign of the commitment to evangelisation they were making. The delegates were then commissioned by Archbishop George with a prayer and a blessing, and the day ended with the heartfelt singing of Go, tell everyone.

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In the light of the Questionnaires completed by delegates, we are launching a new programme in January, “Keep FIT For Mission – Fellowship, Intercession and Training”. Now that we have a network of more than 100 Catholics who are keen to proclaim the Gospel at parish, cluster and deanery level, we want to offer a monthly opportunity for people to come together to receive training and to share prayer and good ideas. As a PILOT, this programme will run for three months at St Philip Evans Parish in Cardiff, but a permanent time and venue will be announced for meetings from April onwards. For the pilot, each session will run at 1.30 p.m. and be repeated at 7.30 p.m. on the first Monday of each month.

January 4th – “How to share the Gospel Message”. Revd Dr Gareth Leyshon presents the same workshop he delivered to a national audience in Birmingham

February 1st – “Making the Most of the Year of Mercy”. How do you invite your local community to go through the Holy Door with you?

March 7th – “Intercession and Open Forum”. 45 minutes of prayer for the work of evangelisation, followed by an opportunity to share ideas which are working in your area.

If you would like to be involved in the “Keep FIT” programme but the time or the venue is not possible for you, we are considering options of

  • The evening session being moved to the Cathedral on Mondays, or being run after the 7pm Mass on Wednesdays at St. Philip Evans
  • The afternoon session being run after the 12.45pm Mass on Mondays or Thursdays at St. David’s Cathedral
  • The afternoon session being run at a different time on Mondays or Thursdays.

Suggestions are welcome.

The monthly Keep FIT meetings will be at a Cardiff city location because this is a central gathering place for the diocese, but we will respond to requests from other parishes wishing to have a particular training session repeated elsewhere in the diocese. You can contact Revd Gareth Leyshon at leyshon.gareth@rcadc.org or 029 2073 1061.

Never underestimate the power of the Rosary

by Fr. Michael Doyle – All Saints, Newport

During the Rite of Ordination of a Deacon, the bishop hands the Book of the Gospels to the newly ordained Deacon and exhorts him to “… practice what you preach”.  The parishioners of All Saints in Newport will no doubt have counted the number of times I have preached about getting to the very heart (the core) of the matter in prayer and the purity of intention that is asked of us all.  At those moments I often leave the Lectern thinking “practice what you preach Doyle”.

In the past 24 hours I have had yet another reminder how being sincere in prayer, opening our hearts to the Lord with the innocence of a child, has some rather awesome effects.  And it is something I would like to share.

I look after two of the four primary schools within the All Saints parish.  I try to visit them regularly and support them as best I can.  So October being the month of the Holy Rosary I wanted to do something special.  I had flown to Rome for the first anniversary of my priesthood ordination and was determined to bring back rosaries for all the children in both schools.  ‘Mission Impossible’ you say? Not really.  Thanks to the generosity of the All Saints Praesidium and Cardiff Curia of the Legion of Mary, I had enough money to buy not only the 400 rosaries I needed, but also 400 leaflets on how to pray the rosary – for children! October came, I delivered the gifts to the schools, we blessed them during assembly and that was it as far as I was concerned … it was now down to the teachers.

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Roll forward to 16th November.  I am on the telephone with the head of one of the schools.  During the conversation she says “Oh Father, by the way, I just wanted say how much the children enjoyed the rosary during October.  In fact, a parent approached me and told me a story ….”.  I was blown away by the story, so I have to share it with you; it goes something like this:

During the recent half term break, one boy was with his family and his mother noticed that he kept his back to his parents, as he did not want them to see what he was up to. When challenged, he turned around and his mother saw the child was holding a set of beads. When she asked him what it was and where he got it from, he told his mother it was a rosary and that he got it ‘in school’. She immediately thought he had taken it from another child, but he explained “No … Fr Mike gave everyone in the school one”. She was surprised and he went back to praying on the beads.

On his return to school, his mother verified the story with the headteacher.  She then went on to tell the school that the family had been going through a rough time. She hadn’t understood how he had been staying so strong through it all; but now she believes it was all down to the power of the rosary, and she is grateful he has something to turn to for support.

Moral of the story?

Don’t underestimate the power of the rosary!  And always remember the words of Jesus when you approach prayer Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:2-4).  Purity of intention … there is so much we can learn from our children!

Announcement: Ordination Rev. Deacon Michael Randell

Michael Randell

Rev. Deacon Michael Randell was ordained by Archbishop George  to the Permanent Diaconate on 28 October the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude. The ordination was held at St. peter’s Church and was followed by a Reception in St. Peter’s parish hall.  The new Deacon is pictured being congratulated by Archbishop George following the ceremony.

Photograph courtesy of Patrick So