25 April 2019, The Tablet

News Briefing: from Britain and Ireland

Cardinal Vincent Nichols contrasted the light of the risen Christ to the hurt, betrayal, anger and aggression of contemporary society in his homily for Easter. Speaking at Westminster Cathedral during the Easter vigil Cardinal Nichols prayed that “the power of Christ may burn out of us all evil, that he alone may be the guiding light of our lives”.

He went on: “Today we are living through times that are deeply distressing: anger and aggression not far from the surface; conflict between peoples over power and wealth; distress and hunger around us; hurt and betrayal marking our homes, including the home of our Church. What are we to do? Turn to the risen Christ.”

In his Easter letter Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said that the world needs the hope that Christianity has to offer. “Creation suffers from the effects of human neglect and selfishness; people continue to suffer as a result of war and terror; political and economic systems creak under the twin threats of extremism and apathy,” he wrote.

In Shrewsbury Bishop Mark Davies said that a “bitter and intolerant” Britain was in danger of losing its national character, once grounded in “gentle tolerance”, amid a climate of “anger, enmity, no-platforming, and even threats of violence and death”. “It is not the place of a bishop to make judgements on passing political questions. It is entirely healthy that Christians should reach differing opinions on complex political choices,” Bishop Davies said. “Yet, deepening bitterness and intolerance in British society must be a concern for us all … How did a people, once known for its civility and tolerance, come to such a sorry state of affairs?” Instead of constructing political policy on the shifting sands of changing consensus, the bishop said, governments should look to Christ, in whom “we find the enduring truth about the human person which has long formed the basis of our civility, our understanding of human rights and of a rule of law worth defending.”

Leader’s first Easter message
Politicians across the UK marked Easter with messages that paid tribute to Christian social values. In Scotland the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon (pictured), gave her first Easter message, having been criticised in the past for marking Jewish and Muslim festivals but not Christian ones. In a message sent to the Scottish Catholic Observer the first minister praised the contribution churches made in Scotland and around the world.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in his Easter message praised Christian values, in particular a concern for migrants and refugees that he said was rooted in Jesus’ own identity as an outsider. Jesus, Mr Corbyn noted, was himself a refugee, driven from his home by a dictator’s campaign of terror.

Research by The Times has found that a number of Catholic priests have been refused visas to live in the UK. According to the newspaper, 10 dioceses in England and Wales have encountered 45 visa refusals in the past five years, for reasons that included failing to pass an English language test.

The bishop for migrants, Paul McAleenan, warned that some entry clearance officers lacked the religious literacy to make decisions when it came to admitting priests, who may stay in the UK under a Tier 5 temporary religious worker visa or a Tier 2 minister of religion visa. The Home Office said: “We … have dedicated immigration routes both for clergy and religious workers … Each application is considered on its individual merits and in line with the immigration rules.”

Williams backs climate protest
Lord [Rowan] Williams of Oystermouth, master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, has lent support to the Extinction Rebellion protests that brought parts of London to a standstill. He joined Canon Giles Goddard, vicar of St John’s, Waterloo, at an event to support the climate protest at St Paul’s Cathedral. Protesters in London were addressed this week by Greta Ernman Thunberg (pictured), a Swedish schoolgirl, who met Pope Francis after a General Audience in Rome this month. According to Vatican Media, Francis told the 16-year-old to “continue” and “go ahead” with her activism.

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