- Reform, rebuild and renew
On Thursday Pope Francis will have completed a year as Bishop of Rome, a year in which he has begun to transform the Church. But be in no doubt, argues our Rome correspondent, of just how wide and how deep go his aims for change
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Ann Widdecombe eloquently described the plight of modern-day lepers (“Despised and rejected still”, The Tablet, 11 January). I was moved by her courage in visiting the slums and conveying to us the disgraceful condition under which some sufferers eke out their miserable lives. There is hope, however, in the form of the work of the Leprosy Mission, of which Ann is a vice-president, and many readers will have immediately reached for their cheque books.
When I saw the title “Despised and rejected”, I instantly thought that Ann Widdecombe was going to write about the stigma associated with mental illness in the West. In my experience any illness relating to the brain is met with rejection, ignorance and discrimination, both inside and outside the Church.
Would Francis bearing the lamb around his shoulders, and rejoicing at the symbolism of the Good Shepherd who goes to extraordinary lengths to rescue this creature approve of this treatment? Pastors, not princes, are what we need!
When will we ever learn?
Name and address withheld
St Francis Leprosy Guild welcomes Ann Widdecombe's graphic report on present-day leprosy in Ethiopia. Like the Leprosy Mission we are supporting leprosy work in Ethiopia. Help is needed around the world for the cure and welfare of people with the disease and water supplies, housing and education.
The article comes at a particularly relevant time – World Leprosy Day falls on 26 January. We hope that many will remember these unfortunate people, in prayer and if possible with material support.
Gwen Sankey, President, St Francis Leprosy Guild, London