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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Cornerstone project has been awarded a second round grant totaling £1,206,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) allowing it to continue with plans to restore and revive Ebeneser Chapel at the heart of Cardiff city centre.
Thanks to National Lottery funding, the now vacant Grade II listed building on Charles Street will be turned into a community meeting place which will be a hub for heritage learning and local community activity, providing conference and event facilities. The refurbished chapel will also house a café, creating six full time jobs, with the project’s partner organisation, RNIB Cymru providing employment and training opportunities for the blind.
Jennifer Stewart, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Wales, said: “This is a really exciting project that will bring an unused building not only back to life, but make it a central part of the local community. We’re thrilled to be able to award funding to a project with such a wide range of purposes and all thanks to players of the National Lottery. Without them, projects such as this just wouldn’t be possible. I can’t wait to see this chapel become an integral part of modern Cardiff just as it was in the past.”
Built in 1835, the chapel was originally named the Charles Street Congregational Church, but became known as Ebeneser in 1976 when a Welsh speaking congregation took on the building, playing a key part in Cardiff’s Welsh heritage. With the chapel once boasting a congregation of 250 Welsh speakers, this important part of its history will be captured in oral testimonies collected by students and volunteers. Once collected, the research findings will be displayed within the refurbished Cornerstone building, reflecting the building’s past within its new surroundings.
Representing early Gothic Revival, the chapel also has a rich architectural history. The exterior is built with stone work made from ballast carried on ships returning to Cardiff from the Middle East. There is also a stained glass window on the north wall which serves as a memorial to the fallen of the First World War.
Welcoming the grant announcement, Archbishop George Stack, said: “We are extremely grateful to the HLF for this significant grant and can’t wait to move ahead with the building restoration. Our hope is to bring this building back to life, creating a new community hub, whilst saving a prominent historic building at the heart of Cardiff, bringing its past and present together.”
The project expects to create a number of new jobs, providing a boost to the local economy, tieing it into the planned 2015/6 refurbishment of the Charles Street business zone. Cornerstone hopes to benefit from its close proximity to St David’s shopping centre, reaching a wider range of event organisers and visitors, including its partner organisations RNIB Cymru.
RNIB Cymru’s Director Ceri Jackson sees the project as an exciting opportunity, saying: “The chapel will provide a unique chance for people with sight loss to enjoy activities they are often excluded from. We are planning to build a sensory garden and work in partnership to offer apprenticeships and training on site.”
Plans for the Cornerstone include:
Restoration of the chapel’s historic fabric and sensitive conversion for community use. The lower ground floor of the building will be transformed into a café and kitchen with the upper ground level adapted for use as a conference/wedding facility. At the rear of the chapel is a substantial hall which will be retained for community use.
A commercial tenant will oversee the café and catering operation in conjunction with the RNIB Cymru and the intention is to create six full time jobs and twenty part time ones. The RNIB will also use the building to provide employment and training in the blind gardening facility planned and the proposed outside space for guide dogs.
Cardiff University wishes to utilise the cafe area as a dedicated meeting space for international students which should provide a new dynamic for the building.
A bilingual oral history project which aims to capture the recollections of those who attended the Ebeneser Chapel. The chapel once boasted a congregation of 250 Welsh speakers and applicant hopes to collect the oral testimonies related to these people. Students and volunteers are expected to compile these oral histories and the completed recording will be made available within the newly refurbished building as well as being available on the website and also stored on an open source platform.