08 April 2020, The Tablet

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

Online Mass at Westminster Cathedral
Screenshot by the Catholic Church of England and Wales

Fr David Sanders OP, of Blackfriars in Oxford, died last week aged 81. The former editor of the journal Priests and People, a Prior of Blackfriars in Cambridge, had incurable cancer and contracted coronavirus. Preaching at his Requiem Mass last week Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP, who joined the Dominican Order on the same day as Fr Sanders, recalled their long friendship in a moving homily about God’s particular and joyful friendship with us. 

The Archdiocese of Liverpool has donated £20,000 to the NHS to help pay for Personal Protective Equipment for medical staff fighting the coronavirus. In a video message Archbishop Malcom McMahon recalled the priests in Liverpool who stayed to minister in the city during the cholera epidemic. “One of the charitable objectives of our own Archdiocese is ‘the cure or alleviation of sickness or disease’,” he said. “A way we can make a significant contribution to the effort to fight this virus is to support the medical staff who are, with bravery and selflessness, on the frontline for all of us. At this time, I believe they are truly the hands of Christ.” The donation was given through the Masks4NHSHeroes campaign.

The aid agency Cafod has called on governments to tackle the climate crisis after it was announced that the COP26 climate talks will be postponed because of the pandemic. Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy, said: “We need to use the additional time to ensure the COP is a forum for making decisions which will rebuild our economies in a way that protects the world’s poorest people.”

Father Dan Mason, National Catholic Chaplain for Gypsies, Roma and Travellers, has warned that these communities will be badly impacted by coronavirus. “Insecure accommodation and employment will leave many people particularly vulnerable,” he said.

Grieving families in Ireland face “heart-breaking farewells” because of the pandemic, Bishop Brendan Leahy said at the end of his Mass for Palm Sunday. Speaking over the internet from St John’s Cathedral in Limerick Bishop Leahy said the crisis had imposed “an extra layer of suffering” on the bereaved and on those accompanying the seriously ill. “Not least in that it will not be possible for some of the close relatives to be by their loved ones’ side to accompany them in their final moments. Not being able to hug them afterwards,” he said.

Celebrations to mark the centenary of the arrival of the Benedictine Community at Kylemore Abbey in Connemara have been postponed. Work had been underway since October 2019 on a new Monastery and Retreat Centre for the Benedictine nuns. The project was to be a highlight of the centenary year. However, construction of the new centre, which was due to be finished in time to mark the anniversary of the nuns’ arrival in Kylemore on 4 December 1920, has now been paused and may not be completed on target. 

The UK’s Network of Christian Peace Organisations, which includes Pax Christi and Christian CND, has called for Trident to be scrapped and the money to be diverted to “fighting real threats, such as pandemics”. They point out that funding for nuclear weapons has vastly outstripped funding given to preparing for a pandemic. It supported the call of United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, for a global ceasefire to ensure global efforts are put into tackling the coronavirus. 

A sister of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity died in Swansea on 1 April after being admitted to hospital with COVID-19. Sr Sienna, a 73-year-old from Jharkhand in India, was the first of her order to die from the coronavirus. She served at a hostel for the homeless in Swansea, Menevia Diocese. Based in Wales for the past three years, she was involved with a busy soup kitchen and distributing food parcels to the poor, including some affected by thecoronavirus. A number of sisters at her convent are also ill, some seriously.

The Catholic Herald is to publish monthly instead of weekly from now on. Dan Hitchens, who recently took over as editor, said that the decision would allow the journal, which started in 1888, to increase its range of articles, and deliver more online content.

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