12 July 2018
News Briefing: from Britain and Ireland
Pope Francis sent a message of support ahead of an interfaith cricket match in London.
A combined team of the Vatican and Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI went on to defeat an interfaith team of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Sikhs by 189 runs to 135 in a Twenty20 game at Lord’s Nursery ground on Friday 6 July.
The Pope’s message quoted from a 2013 address he made to the European Olympic Committee: “Because the language of sports is universal; it extends across borders, language, race, religion, and ideology; it has the capacity to unite people by fostering dialogue and acceptance.”
St Peter’s, the Vatican Cricket Team, opened their two-week “Light of Faith Tour” of England with a spectacular victory against Stonyhurst Gentlemen’s XI (pictured) on 4 July at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire.
Welcome for Lord Ahmad
The Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has welcomed the appointment of British Muslim peer, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad, as the UK’s first special envoy of Freedom of Religion or Belief.
A spokesman for the charity, which helps those persecuted for their Christian faith, told The Tablet that the move was a “definite step in the right direction, as Christians and other minority faith communities face discrimination, intolerance and persecution in so many countries around the world”.
He continued: “ACN is delighted that Lord Ahmad, who has always displayed his personal concern for religious minorities, has been appointed to this new role.” Lord Ahmad, who is also minister of state for the Commonwealth and the UN at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said: “In too many parts of the world, religious minorities are persecuted, discriminated against and treated as second-class citizens. As a man of faith, I feel this very keenly.”
Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth has warned Catholics to be alert to the possible deliberate killing of seriously ill patients in NHS hospitals. His comments came in a pastoral message issued after the publication of a report, which concluded that 650 people died in the Gosport War Memorial Hospital in the Portsmouth diocese after they were given large doses of painkillers without medical justification. The bishop warned in his letter issued last week that gravely ill patients continued to face threats within the NHS. He said that over-sedation and dehydration were so commonplace in hospitals that people were often safer receiving care at home. “The NHS is a huge blessing, but we must ever be vigilant to the policies, values, priorities and procedures that operate within it,” Bishop Egan said. “If you or a loved one is terminally ill, consider whether it might be practicable to die at home.
“Ask whether it is possible for drugs to be used that do not totally withdraw consciousness and a chance to pray and commune with family and friends,” he continued. “As next of kin, gently insist on being involved in decisions.” Bishop Egan called for a review of geriatric and end-of-life care “in relation to fundamental moral principles”, adding that it was “not morally permissible until the very last to withdraw feeding and hydration”.
The lead bishop for migration and asylum has written to the government urging it “in the strongest possible terms” to waive proposed registration fees for European Union citizens who will struggle to pay.
The government has proposed that all EU adults in the UK will have to pay £65, and £32.50 for children, to register under the EU Settlement Scheme, to be brought in as part of the UK’s decision to leave the EU. The government’s stated intention is to ensure anyone eligible for settled status can apply.
Bishop Paul McAleenan wrote to the minister of state for immigration, Caroline Nokes, requesting “a fee-waiver for larger families, people in particularly vulnerable positions or those facing economic hardship”.
He claimed that the majority of EU citizens in the UK are Catholic and safeguarding their rights was a priority for the Catholic Church. Through discussions with Catholic parishes and charities, he wrote, it has become clear that the proposed registration fee was likely to present a significant barrier for some people who wished to continue living in the UK. “The impact is likely to be particularly severe for larger families on low incomes, many of whom are already unable to afford basic outgoings and may now need to spend several hundred pounds on applications under the EU Settlement Scheme,” he said.
Forces bishop appointed
Pope Francis on 9 July appointed Bishop Paul Mason, formerly of the Archdiocese of Southwark, as the eighth Bishop of the Forces, which has been awaiting the appointment of a bishop for three years.
“Supporting the men and women of the British Armed Forces, and their families, is a very important apostolate in the life of the Church and one in which I will be doing my best to pass muster,” Bishop Mason said. Archbishop Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark, said: “The men and women of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces will gain the blessing of a truly committed and dedicated bishop. Their gain is our loss, a loss that will be greatly felt in the diocese especially by the Catholics in Kent.”
The Catholic Bishopric of the Forces encompasses anywhere in the world that UK military personnel are serving.
Papal Mass tickets snapped up
Half a million tickets for the papal Mass to conclude the World Meeting of Families 2018 (WMOF2018) in Dublin on 26 August have been taken up less than two weeks after they were released. WMOF2018 general secretary, Fr Timothy Bartlett, admitted he was “a little surprised” that every part of WMOF2018 is booked out six weeks in advance, including the Mass in Phoenix Park, but was “not surprised at all by the incredibly high levels of interest. Family is important to all of us. People like what Pope Francis is saying about family and the Church.”
Acknowledging that many will be disappointed not to have tickets for the papal visit to Knock, Phoenix Park and the Festival of Families in Croke Park, he explained that limits on attendance were set by statutory health and safety agencies. All events will be broadcast live on national television. Separately, a series of stamps is to be issued by the postal service, An Post, to mark WMOF2018 and the papal visit.
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