08 January 2024, The Tablet

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

News Briefing: Britain and Ireland

File pic of flooded Tewkesbury.


Canon Nick Davies of Tewkesbury Abbey has warned that serious flooding is the UK’s climate crisis “wake-up call”. As the landmark Norman abbey remained one of the few buildings in the area not to be flooded by the overflowing Severn and Avon rivers, he said: “Tewksbury has been flooded since Roman times, but these extreme weather events are becoming more frequent.” In Derbyshire, All Saints’ in South Wingfield was flooded again last week after being shut since October following damage by Storm Babet. New water damage could set them back up to £20,000. 

The Archbishop of Cardiff and Bishop of Menevia is inviting Welsh Catholics to join a series of “open listening sessions” to discuss the proposed union of both dioceses. Archbishop Mark O’Toole said the amalgamation could enable the Church to evangelise more audaciously. In a letter exploring the proposal he wrote: “By sharing resources and supporting one another, I believe we can give a more credible witness to Jesus Christ in our society.” However, he emphasised that no final decision had been made. The outcome of the consultation will depend on Pope Francis. 

Peace Sunday on 14 January in England and Wales offers an annual opportunity for reviewing commitment to work for peace and justice in our world, according to Archbishop of Liverpool Malcolm McMahon, national president of Pax Christi England and Wales. Andrew Jackson, chief executive of Pax Christi, is due to speak at the annual meeting of Liverpool Justice and Peace on the theme, “The challenges of being nonviolent in a violent world”. Ann Dodd, a former chair of the international Catholic peace movement in the UK, will speak in Abingdon’s Catholic parish, appealing for donations and highlighting Pope Francis’ message of 1 January on artificial intelligence and peace. The Pope urged the adoption of a binding international treaty that regulates the development and use of AI, particularly the development of autonomous weapons systems.  Last year, the dioceses of Arundel and Brighton, Birmingham, Brentwood and Westminster supported Pax Christi with more than £10,000 each. Pax Christi is a membership organisation and depends on members to help raise awareness on issues such as the Global Arms trade, Nuclear Weapons and the on-going conflict in Palestine and Israel.  

A 10-day climate vigil, “No Faith in Fossil Fuels”, has been organised for Lent 2024 by Green Christian, Cafod, Christian Aid, Tearfund, A Rocha, the Salvation Army and Christian Climate Action. From Ash Wednesday, the round-the-clock vigil will take place outside Parliament, with the aim being to lobby the government to undertake bolder climate initiatives such as making the UK’s biggest polluters pay for climate action, banning new UK-based fossil fuel projects, delivering and building on the UK’s international climate finance pledges and paying into the UN’s Loss and Damage fund?? 

Housing Justice launched the London Rough Sleeping Charter at St John’s Waterloo last week in conjunction with London Councils, the Mayor of London and other homelessness sector partners. These include the Connection at St Martin’s and the Passage. The charter is a public commitment for Londoners to tackle rough sleeping in the capital. Six principles for signatories to uphold include accepting that while people sleeping rough may have problems, they are not problem people; recognising that there should be meaningful options for all, regardless of immigration status; and ensuring that people sleeping rough are safe from violence, abuse, theft and discrimination, with full protection of the law.

A Birmingham priest has launched a new series of video reflections for the 2024 Year of Prayer. Fr Toby Duckworth will broadcast monthly episodes of Pause for Prayer alongside Paul Northam, diocesan co-ordinator for the Jubilee Year 2025 and James Trewby, Columban Justice and Peace education worker. Each episode will focus on the basics of prayer and feature testimonies and prayer intentions. PACT (Prison Advice & Care Trust) is also launching online workshops exploring Scripture, Catholic social teaching, and tradition through the lens of people affected by incarceration. The next JustPeople workshop will take place on zoom on Wednesday, 10 January (9am-1pm). https://www.prisonadvice.org.uk/Event/justpeople-online-workshop-jan10

On January 27, Charles Whitehead KSG, ex-president of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Council will address a half-day zoom retreat on the Holy Spirit. To register for Chosen to be holy – transformation by the Holy Spirit (10am-1pm) please visit: bit.ly/ADOREJAN2024 

A one-day conference is being held on February 17 at Leeds Trinity University. Reawakening the Catholic Vision (9.30am -5pm) will explore how the Church can evangelise in, respond to, and understand the post-Christian era. Speakers include the Archbishop of Cardiff, Mark O’Toole, Monsignor James Shea, president of the University of Mary in North Dakota and Dr Hannah Vaughan-Spruce from Divine Renovation UK. For tickets, please contact www.trinityconference.co.uk

Popular broadcaster Fr Brian D’Arcy has cautioned the Irish government against legalising drugs. Speaking to the Irish Independent, the Passionist priest said that failure to cope with the abuse of drugs was a false argument for justifying the legalisation of drugs. He also questioned whether the misuse of drugs could be “a major reason for much of the mental ill health” today including suicides and contributing to unsocial behaviour. “Some of the people who are buying illegal drugs would be the harshest critics of drug dealers. They are feeding [those] who are making fortunes off the misery of the poor,” he said.  

Archbishop of Tuam Francis ordained Rev Mark Quinn to the diaconate in Westport, Co Mayo on the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. The former chef is from Castlebar, Co Mayo and spent time volunteering in Africa before beginning his seminary studies. He is due to be ordained priesthood within the next year, as will Rev Jordan MacGabhann who was ordained to the diaconate at the end of November by Bishop Martin Hayes of Kilmore in the Cathedral of St Patrick and St Felim, Cavan Town. In December, six seminarians in Maynooth were admitted to candidacy for the diaconate and priesthood.

Archbishop of Glasgow William Nolan, in a letter read out or distributed at Masses last weekend, said: “May Jesus the Prince of Peace inspire us to work for justice and so establish a peaceful world.” In his role as bishop president of Justice and Peace Scotland, he said: “Countries grow wealthy, keeping for themselves the riches of theeEarth and see no obligation to share with the poor. We are a long way from living in a world where all benefit from the gift of creation given by God to all.” He defended the right of migrants and refugees to move to a new country seeking a better life.

The Dominicans in Ireland are celebrating 800 years since their arrival in 1224, just eight years after the Order of Preachers was founded by St Dominic. Pope Honorius III approved the Order as a body of Canons Regular in 1216. The first Irish foundation was in Dublin. The community was composed of English-born Dominicans. Other houses followed quickly with Anglo-Irish and then Irish-born friars. The Irish Province was established in 1536. In September 2022 the Dominicans announced the closure of their friary in Waterford city after 796 years. It followed the closure of houses in Limerick, Athy, Drogheda, Ballybeg and Ranelagh in Dublin.

The leader of the Irish Church has paid tribute to Bishop William Lee, the retired bishop of Waterford and Lismore, who has died at the age of 82. Born in 1941, Bishop Lee was ordained to the priesthood in 1966, and later served as President of St Patrick’s College, Thurles, before he was appointed as Bishop of Waterford and Lismore by Pope John Paul II in 1993. “His calm and faithful presence as Episcopal Secretary to the Conference, for 15 years [1998-2013], was especially valued and appreciated by his brother bishops,” Archbishop Martin said.  



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