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Scots Catholic Blog
|Posted on April 18, 2016 at 7:25 AM||comments ()|
Pope Francis welcomes some of the migrants to Rome
Pope Francis has once again thrust the Catholic Church into the spotlight; this time by bringing a group of twelve Syrian migrants from the island of Lesbos to live in Rome. The families travelled with the pope back to Italy after he made a visit to the small Greek island last weekend. It is understood the three families, all Muslim, were fully prepped for the move ahead of the pope’s visit.
The finer details of how all of this will pan out remain to be seen, but the gesture itself is one of great love and generosity on the part of Francis. It is dynamic, reactive, and challenging. In many respects it bears the hallmarks of Christ himself.
And while he had to leave huge numbers of migrants behind in Lesbos, Francis left them in no doubt that he loves each and every one of them as he told them: “you are not alone”. He later followed this up with a call to Western leaders to do more to accommodate the migrants.
Yet the challenge set down by the pope is not just for political leaders. Each one of us is called to rise to his challenge and to show similar love and compassion to the poor and needy in our communities. So before we criticise others for their failure to act, we need to think about what we ourselves are doing for the good of humanity. It might only be small gestures of love or kindness, but remember, each little gesture creates another building block for the Kingdom of God.
For all of the criticism Pope Francis attracts, particularly from his own household, he has the knack of showing great love to all people, especially to those in great need. In all honesty, I wish I could have even a tiny percentage of the compassion, mercy and humility that this man clearly has in abundance. He is, in many respects, a world leader in love. Isn’t that precisely what God’s representative on earth should be?
|Posted on February 9, 2016 at 6:41 AM||comments ()|
As we prepare to participate in 40 Days for Life for the first time here in Glasgow it is important to bear in mind a few home truths. Some sections of the media and other groups in favour of abortion have had their say on the event in recent days and, not surprisingly, their view on 40 Days for Life is extremely negative.
I would be careful not to take too much note of the negativity expressed by these groups and individuals. Remember that their interest in this matter is the polar opposite of ours. They believe that abortion should remain legal and that any individual or group claiming otherwise needs to be silenced. That has been their tactic for a long time and it continues to be their tactic. But we must not be put off and we must remember why we are doing this. We are doing this because we want to stop the killing of innocent, defenceless children and we want to help young women cope with the life changing reality of a new child.
And despite reports to the contrary we must be careful to remember that this will be a peaceful, prayerful vigil. It will not be a violent protest with hecklers screaming from the rooftops, shouting at young women as they enter hospital grounds. While it would be correct to say that there have been incidents involving over-zealous pro-life supporters in the United States, these reports have been significantly over inflated by those in favour of abortion. The idea is that pro-life supporters will be put off attending the event, preferring to steer clear of perceived fundamentalism. They want to paint a picture of nasty, violent religious fanatics who want to push their beliefs onto others. It is another classic tactic of the pro-choice lobby.
But there is hope! The lies are coming thick and fast and this can mean only one thing: the pro-choice lobby is worried. I have long wished for this day; the day that the abortion debate would really come to the fore in Scotland, propelling itself into the public square and the public mind. It's now happening and I pray fervently for the strength and the faith to persevere in what will be a tough debate. But we must never lose sight of who this is really for. The time for the little ones to have a fair hearing in our country has come.
And remember, you don't need to worry too much about changing the hearts and minds of the biased media and the vociferous pro-choice activists you may see at counter protests. Their minds will not be changed. But the minds of the huge silent majority can be changed. These are the people who don’t get involved in the public debate but who, from afar, can appreciate the need to protect all life and who can appreciate true equality. It is they who will be watching us as we pray in silence for the innocents, and for their mums, dads and grandparents. By our peaceful, prayerful actions we can be a witness to the indisputable beauty of life.
While millions of Scotland’s sons and daughters have perished through abortion since it was made legal in 1967, their deaths need not be in vain. Let their untimely and needless deaths be the catalyst for a new era of true equality of life for all in our country. If we desire to make Scotland a welcoming place for Syrian refugees, we can surely make Scotland a welcoming place for each and every one of her own precious children.
If you would like to know more about the 40 Days for Life event, which will run from 10 February until 20 March outside the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, click this link.
If you have been affected by abortion or know someone who has been affected by abortion please check out our abortion page which has a host of invaluable links to non-judgemental, caring and compassionate help
|Posted on September 24, 2015 at 11:37 AM||comments ()|
The pope received several standing ovations in Congress
Pope Francis, in his historic address to US Congress, has urged the world to follow Christ’s Commandment of love. The pope used the opportunity to tackle critical issues such as the dignity of human life, the death penalty and the refugee crisis. He also addressed recent attacks on marriage and family life, and his concerns that the very basis of the family and marriage is being called into question.
Here are the main quotes from the pope’s address to USC ongress this afternoon:
Pope Francis on the golden rule:
“Let us remember the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
On the dignity of human life:
We must “protect by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God in every human life.”
We must recognise the “transcendent dignity of the human being”.
“The golden rule [to do unto others as you would have done unto you] also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.”
On the family:
“The family should be a recurrent theme….how essential the family has been to the building of this country. I cannot hide my concern for the family which is threatened, perhaps as never before from within and without. The very basis of the family and marriage is being called into question.”
“I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.”
“I would like to call attention to those family members who are most vulnerable, the young. Their problems are our problems. Our young people are precious.”
“We live in a culture that threatens young people not to start a family.”
On the death penalty:
“Let’s abolish the death penalty here and everywhere. No punishment should exclude hope or the possibility of conversion.”
On politics and society:
“Preserve and defend the dignity of your fellow citizens in pursuit of the common good.”
“We are all worried by the disturbing social and political situation of the world today.”
“It can be no more us vs them. We must confront every kind of polarisation. Our response must be hope and healing, peace and justice.”
“Safeguard religious freedom, intellectual freedom, and individual freedom. We must be specially attentive to every type of fundamentalism.”
“Politics must be used to build the common good.”
“It’s my duty to build bridges and help all men and women to do the same.”
“We have to ask ourselves: why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society?”
“It is our duty to confront the problem and stop the arms trade.”
On the elderly:
The elderly are the “storehouse of wisdom”.
On the refugee crisis:
“We must view them as persons, seeing their faces, listening to their stories, and try to respond as best we can.”
“The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes.”
“Business is a noble vocation, especially in its creation of jobs to the common good.”
On the environment:
“I’m convinced that we can make a difference, I’m sure.”
“We have an obligation to our future generations. The time is now.”
|Posted on September 4, 2015 at 7:24 AM||comments ()|
Could this man help you find God?
Sunday’s Second Reading (James 2:1-5):
‘My brothers, do not try to combine faith in Jesus Christ, our glorified Lord, with the making of distinctions between classes of people. Now suppose a man comes into your synagogue, beautifully dressed and with a gold ring on, and at the same time a poor man comes in, in shabby clothes, and you take notice of the well-dressed man, and say, ‘Come this way to the best seats’; then you tell the poor man, ‘Stand over there’ or ‘You can sit on the floor by my foot-rest.’ Can’t you see that you have used two different standards in your mind, and turned yourselves into judges, and corrupt judges at that?
Listen, my dear brothers: it was those who are poor according to the world that God chose, to be rich in faith and to be the heirs to the kingdom which he promised to those who love him.’
It’s quite fitting that this scripture passage should come up following the events of the last week. The refugee crisis has now grabbed the attention of the world and many are doing remarkable things to help those in great need. It is a tale of sadness tinged with hope in the human race. But as we help those in need, be they refugees, the homeless or people simply living in poverty, are we missing something important with respect to our own salvation?
St James gets at a very important point in today’s reading. He suggests we give everyone a place in our lives. It doesn’t matter who they are, what they’re worth, how they look, or what their social status or class happens to be. We are called to love all people.
The most valuable thing anyone on earth can own is faith. Faith in God, granted with His grace, is the most beautiful, most perfect gift, yet it is not necessarily appreciated by everyone. So often people with wealth have so many material possessions and distractions that they forget about the real meaning of life and what really matters.
But for those facing the torment of continuous poverty, day after day, it is often a different story. Having spoken with a number of homeless in my own city I am often astonished by the strength and depth of their faith. Belief and trust in God is almost a given, despite having to beg and forage for food on a daily basis and having to set up camp in underpasses and bin sheds in order to get a night’s sleep. Their faith is as strong as anything I have witnessed and it comes not from being blessed with good fortune and material riches, but rather from accepting the poverty and deprivation God has handed them and trusting in His mercy to give them something greater in return.
We are called to do all we can to help the poorest in our world. We can give them comfort, food, and perhaps we can even give them a bed for the night. But maybe we need to stop for a minute and rather than focus on all the things we can do for them, think about what they can do for us. They are, in many respects, people of great faith. We can learn from them. We can learn how to love and trust God in even the most abject circumstances by speaking to those in poverty and affording them our ears for a few moments. Remember, they are the heirs to the kingdom of God, not us. So learn from them and don’t be afraid to let them take the lead in showing us the way to God.
|Posted on September 4, 2015 at 6:57 AM||comments ()|
It’s a fabulous thing that a number of people have decided to commit to helping the thousands of refugees seeking safety and security in the UK. Some people have even agreed to house some of the refugees until they get themselves on their feet and secure their own accommodation. It is a truly remarkable gesture and together with David Cameron’s promise to bring thousands more refugees to the UK, heralds a shift in both the perception of refugees and the way we are willing to treat them.
But I think it is also important not to lose sight of the impoverished of our own country as we seek to help those from overseas. As well as helping them we might also consider what more we can do for the countless homeless living on the dirty streets of our towns and cities. Can we make more space in both our hearts and homes for them?
|Posted on September 3, 2015 at 6:34 AM||comments ()|
A migrant crawls along a Spanish beach in front of holidaymakers
The most senior Catholic in England and Wales has urged the UK to be more “generous” in the way it deals with the current refugee crisis in Europe. Cardinal Vincent Nichols, speaking to ITV News said that the British public had told him “it was a disgrace that we were letting people die and seeing bodies on the beaches when together Europe is such a wealthy place.”
The Cardinal continued: "It's people who are desperate for the sake of their families, their elderly, their youngsters, their children, and the more we see that the more the opportunity for a political response that's a bit more generous is growing. What is screaming out is the human tragedy of this problem."
The Cardinal’s comments are most welcome and I completely agree with him that our response to this must be more generous. We are, in many respects, a wealthy country, and we are blessed by not having to cope with the fear of wars and widespread violence.
Our parish was blessed recently with the presence of a Nigerian priest who covered our parish while our own priest was on pilgrimage and on holiday. I recall that in one of his homilies he spoke about the great joy he and his people would feel when they woke up in the morning, simply because they were still alive. Their country is beset by violent clashes and the threat of Boko Haram is an ongoing fear for all, especially Christians.
In Syria and in North Africa there is the threat of ISIS who are persecuting Christians and driving people from their homes. And now, in Europe, we are starting to see the sad consequences of these wars as people arrive on our shores desperate for safety and to give their children a chance. And this, I feel, is the nub of it. Can we really deny people a place of safety? Can we really deny little children a chance to live?
The horrific reality of this crisis
Our own resources are finite and we must try to ensure our country remains financially stable. We get this. But greater than this, much greater than this, is our call to love our neighbour. Our brothers and sisters are in dire need of our comfort and love. They beg us to give them a place of safety. They are on their knees, in the frozen waters of our shores, desperately pleading to each and every one of us to give them even just a little of what we have.
I sincerely hope the words of Cardinal Nichols will be heard and taken seriously by our governors (both in the UK and across all of Europe) and indeed by each one of us. I hope we all find it in our hearts to be more generous and to give more people a chance. We have the power and we have the resources. Now all we need is the will.
Here are four ways we can help:
Please email your MP about this, encouraging our governors to be more ‘generous’ to those in need. You can find your MPs details by clicking this link and entering your postcode: http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/contacting-your-mp/
Consider signing the petition at the Refugee Action website here: http://www.refugee-action.org.uk/support_us/campaign/join_a_campaign/1542_lets_give_refugees_another_way_to_safety
Donate to Refugee Action and give a refugee an emergency care parcel, click here: http://www.refugee-action.org.uk/support_us/give
And of course, pray. Please pray for all refugees, perhaps by saying one Hail Mary and asking Our Blessed Mother to intercede with the Father on their behalf.