27 August 2020, The Tablet

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

Santas at 'The Ministry of Fun' Santa School have their temperature taken this week by elves at Southwark Cathedral, London which aims to create COVID-safe Christmas grottos by teaching Father Christmases how to appear safely in person whilst maintaining the Christmas magic.
Aaron Chown/PA Wire/PA Images

Youth 2000, a Catholic charity that supports young people, celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this weekend. The Archbishop of Southwark, John Wilson, who recently became a patron, said: “I have witnessed, first-hand, the impact of its retreats and festivals on so many young people, drawing them closer to Christ through his Church.” The charity is asking those whose lives and faith have been affected by Youth 2000 to share their stories in an email to [email protected]

Priests and vicars who were arrested during last year’s Extinction Rebellion protest have vowed to take part in upcoming demonstrations. In a joint statement, four Church of England vicars and Fr Martin Newell, a Passionist priest, called on Christians to join in the protests scheduled for September in London, Manchester and Cardiff.

The Bishop for Migrants, Paul McAleenan, has called on Catholics to show solidarity with refugees and migrants who attempt to cross the English Channel in the hopes of being granted asylum in the UK. He reminded Christians that their place is “in the same boat” as the afflicted. Last week a 16-year- old Sudanese boy died while attempting to cross the Channel. Jesuit Refugee Service policy officer Sophie Cartwright commented: “We owe it to him to look, to really see him, and to confront what is broken here, to ask how we can fix this.”

A Welsh church at the centre of a long-running row has been put up for sale, eight years after it closed. Our Lady of the Angels and St Winefride, in the centre of Aberystwyth, was closed due to the cost of repairs. However, parishioners dispute the amount the Diocese of Menevia said was necessary for the work. The “for sale” advert, placed with John Francis estate agents, has asked for “offers in the region of £250,000” for the building, which it says has “enough room for up to 20 houses”. Local councillor Lucy Huws has called on the community to “buy back” the “unloved property”.

Catholic People’s Weeks, which runs holidays for Catholics, celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary with a week of Zoom events. Around 50-60 people joined each day and there was a parallel youth programme. Cardinal Vincent Nichols, a patron, sent a message of congratulations.

Bishop Donal McKeown has blessed a new mural in Derry commemorating Sr Clare Crockett who was killed four years ago in an earthquake in Ecuador. The 33-year-old nun died alongside five postulants of the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother. The mural was unveiled on Deanery Street in the Brandywell district, where Sr Clare grew up. In his homily at St Eugene’s Cathedral ahead of the blessing, Bishop McKeown said Sr Clare “had a remarkable story of teenage dreams of fame and fun.”

The National Board of Catholic Women has released a new booklet about domestic abuse in order to raise awareness within the Catholic community. It includes links and resources to help both those both suffering domestic abuse and survivors.

Low-income families have faced a significant deterioration in living standards and high stress levels because of Covid-19, according to a new report from Child Poverty Action Group and the Church of England. “Poverty in the pandemic” found that around 80 per cent of the 250 families polled reported being in a worse financial position than before the pandemic, and half were much worse off because their income had fallen.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has expressed concern over the challenges to people’s mental health and self-worth posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Calling on the Christian community to be generous in its solidarity with those who experience poverty, job loss and self-doubt, he said: “We are facing very difficult times in our world. The pandemic threatens relentlessly. Many may unexpectedly find themselves facing shattering change in their lives. Jobs will be lost, even among those who have never before experienced insecurity.”

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