Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bishops' Tales

Sometimes actions by Catholic Bishops or more likely their admin staff, are frustratingly opaque and not apparently geared to the needs of their faithful.
One such action that comes to mind at present is a decision by an English diocese
to oppose the use of the charitable "Justgiving" donations website,
on the grounds that it encourages charitable givers to use their
credit cards so risk increasing personal debt levels. This is
to some extent limiting my own small effort to raise cash for
the local parish by raising sponsorship for running in the Wimbledon
10k race on Sunday March 30th 2008. A silly restriction really
especially as local branches of Sainsbury's and Tescos will
no longer take cheques even for food purchases. A bit patronising too
in my humble opinion.

But it's easy to criticise yet there are also some huge
actions of, by or affecting, Bishops worth shouting their praises
about from the roof tops.

Take the following:

1. Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador:

...Was murdered on
24th March 1980. He witnessed violations of human rights and started a group which spoke out on behalf of the poor and victims of the country's civil war. Chosen as archbishop for his conservatism, once in office he embraced a nonviolent form of liberation theology, a position which led to comparisons with Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. In 1980, he was assassinated by El Salvadoran government troops as he held the consecrated host up during a Mass. This provoked international outcry for reform in El Salvador. (Wikepedia)

2.Archbishop of Mosul Iraq:

Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho's body (Iraq's kidnapped Chaldean Catholic Archbishop) has been found near the northern city of Mosul, prompting warnings of a mass exodus of Christians from Iraq.
Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho was abducted on February 29 2008 shortly after leaving Mass in Mosul, in what the Pope described as an "abominable" act. The three people who were with him were killed by the kidnappers. (Times)

3. Cardinal O'Brien of Glasgow:

"...The beliefs which we have previously held, and the standards by which we have lived throughout our lives and by which Christians have lived for the past 2,000 years, are being challenged at this present time in ways in which they have never been challenged before!

The norm has always been that children have been born as the result of the love of man and woman in the unity of a marriage.

That belief has, of course, long been challenged.

However I believe that a greater challenge than that even faces us - the possibility now facing our country is that animal-human embryos be produced with the excuse that perhaps certain diseases might find a cure from these resulting embryos.

'Hideous practices'

What I am speaking of is the process whereby scientists create an embryo containing a mixture of animal and human genetic material.

If I were preaching this homily in France, Germany, Italy, Canada or Australia I would be commending the government for rightly banning such grotesque procedures.

However here in Great Britain I am forced to condemn our government for not only permitting but encouraging such hideous practices.

Our Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has given the government's support to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

It is difficult to imagine a single piece of legislation which, more comprehensively, attacks the sanctity and dignity of human life than this particular bill.

With full might of government endorsement, Gordon Brown is promoting a bill that will allow the creation of animal-human hybrid embryos... " (Extract from Cardinal O'Brien's Easter 2008 sermon)

Our Bishops may not be perfect but their willingness to die or speak out
for their - our - Faith is a mark of the presence of the Holy Spirit imho.

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