11 September 2023, The Tablet

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

Sir Mo Farah a four-time Olympic gold medallist, and six-time World Champion competing at the 2023 Great North Run for the last time.
Alan Keith Beastall / Alamy

St Ethelburga’s in the City of London is calling for individuals and faith communities to plant hedgerows over the coming months. Its Lifelines project brings UK farmers together with urban groups to plant thousands of metres of hedgerow and woodland to increase biodiversity. Volunteers are invited to spend a weekend working on a farm. Lifelines connects faith groups from all traditions with farmers, helping to plant a network of hedgerows and wildlife corridors across the country. The project also aims to “create carbon sinks, and reduce flood risk, while inspiring a love for the natural world”. Lifelines is described as a “spiritual ecology programme”.

St Joseph's Catholic Church near Islington is taking part in London’s Open House Festival, which allows the public to visit buildings which are not always open to visitors. Tucked away between Old Street and the Barbican, St Joseph’s is usually only open for Mass or prayer on Wednesdays, Fridays or Fridays. Built as a school chapel in 1901, the building has won awards for its Japanese style Quiet Garden, dedicated to Cardinal Basil Hume, the former Arcbishop of Westminster (1923 - 1999). The festival is open until September 16 from 10am - 5pm.

Masses and prayers were said in parishes on Education Sunday for all involved with education, many using resources from the Catholic Education Service. Salford, Plymouth, Leeds and Westminster were among the dioceses marking the day on their social media, looking forward to the year ahead and giving thanks for the good work in schools. Cafod’s prayer remembered “children and young people across the world who do not have access to education”. Staff at St Thomas Aquinas School in Birmingham visited parishes to speak about the school, as it prepares for its diamond jubilee. The Catholic Union advertised its campaign to “scrap the cap” on faith-based admissions to new free schools.

Cafod was among the charities to benefit from Sunday’s Great North Run. Fifteen runners  of “Team Cafod” joined around 60,000 who ran the 13.1 mile route from Newcastle to South Shields. The team included teachers and some Cafod staff members. Cafod posted on social media: “Our team aren’t just amazing athletes, they’re also incredible fundraisers who, by sharing on social media, telling their friends and family and fundraising in their workplaces and communities, made it their mission to raise vital funds and awareness to help fight global poverty and injustice. Participants had trouble making their way home after a deluge at the end of the run flooded roads and disrupted public transport. “Boiling at the start to a monsoon at the end,” one runner shared.

Marginalised Catholics are seeking to change how the forthcoming Synod on Synodality is reviewing their place in Church life, to achieve greater recognition of “spaces” they have already created. A Catholic LGBT+ meeting is planned for 16 September to consider the questions from the Synod Working Document concerning the group’s position in the Church. The document, published by the Vatican in June, has recommended that the Church takes on a more active role in accepting and reaching out to marginalised people.

The Passage, guided by Vincentian values to support street homeless in Central London, marked Suicide Prevention Day last Sunday by advertising mental health organisations in and around London. Its outreach team worked with Shelter and Network Rail to support those rough sleeping in and around Victoria Station. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for homeless people. Nearby, a non-denominational service for those affected by suicide took place on the Saturday at St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square. And the Connection at St Martin’s raised awareness with homeless around Charing Cross station. Busted Halo, a ministry of The Paulist Fathers, marked the day with a list of resources to offer consolation and guidance to anyone affected by suicide. It described suicide as “a major public health problem with far-reaching social, emotional and economic consequences”. 

The Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office has called on the country’s Catholics to lobby politicians as they consider a bill, expected to be published later this autumn, that would legalise assisted suicide. The director of CPO, Anthony Horan said “The Catholic community in Scotland was key to stopping assisted suicide in 2010 and 2015. We need them to step up once again”. On Monday, World Suicide Prevention Day, Mr Horan warned that assisted suicide is not easily controlled, but that any such legislation militated against further provision of high-quality palliative care. Also on World Suicide Prevention Day, the Anscombe Bioethics Centre highlighted a a paper published last year about the relationship between euthanasia and assisted suicide. The centre’s director, Professor David Albert Jones, a co-author on the paper, said:We all have times of great stress; hearing news we have dreaded hearing is one of these. But it is encouraging how many come through their challenges and find some way to make the best of the time they – and we each – have left. Even in the worst of times most people find a way through, and we need to find ways to support each person in achieving this. Where there is life there is hope.”

Eco theologian, Fr Sean McDonagh, has criticised the Environment Protection Agency in Ireland for capitulating to pressure from farming organisations over a message on social media urging people to eat less meat. In the message, the agency also called on people not to waste food, pointing out that 10 per cent of the meat that is bought is thrown out. The message was later deleted following criticism by the Irish Farmers’ Association and the Irish Cattle and Sheep and Farmers’ Association.

Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin has paid tribute to Trócaire describing the development agency’s outreach as “the work of Mercy; it is the work of God”. In an address in Belfast to mark its 50th anniversary, he in said Trócaire had established itself an essential arm of our Church’s life, witness, mission and hope.The agency was “not simply a fund, but is a family of carers – at home and abroad – who are the eyes, the ears, the hands, the feet, the heart of the people of Ireland”. President Michael D. Higgins recognised Trócaire’s work in alleviating global poverty and injustice.

As the economy in Ireland has developed a sense of dependence on God has “weakened” Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran said in Ireland at the ordination of two new priests for the diocese of Kumba in Cameroon. “Our idea of what constitutes a worthwhile life has changed and the things for which we are prepared to make sacrifices have also changed.” He added, “Our relative prosperity unfortunately has not made our society more just or more gentle. In some cases it has simply nourished an sense of entitlement.” Separately, Bishop Denis Nulty ordained three Dominicans, a former doctor and two former lawyers, to the diaconate in Dublin.








  Loading ...
Get Instant Access
Subscribe to The Tablet for just £7.99

Subscribe today to take advantage of our introductory offers and enjoy 30 days' access for just £7.99