Saturday 29 November 2014

       St. Andrew’s RC Church
             Worswick Street Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE1 6UW
   Saturday 27th December 2014
Piano & Organ Recital
In Aid Of
Iraqi Christians in Need (ICIN)
supporting refugee families in Northern Iraq

played by Carl Bahoshy (UK-born pianist and organist of Iraqi Catholic heritage)


Works by
Bach, Boëllmann, Chopin, Debussy, Messiaen, Schubert, Vierne & Widor

ICIN, a UK-registered charity founded in 2007, was initially set up to provide medical care & primary & adult education to widows & other disadvantaged Christians displaced in Iraq, Syria & Jordan. Now, all help is directed towards supporting the 120,000 displaced Christians under the care of the Catholic Chaldean, Syriac and Orthodox churches in Erbil, northern Iraq, with all aid channelled through the Bishops of the local churches

Monday 24 November 2014


As I mentioned there was meant to be a meeting with Cardinal Sarah and the clery attending the Populus Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage but it was mysteriously cancelled. Now that Cardinal Sarah has been appointed Prefect of the CDW it`s easier to understand why he may have wanted to avoid the publicity of meeting with PSP given his soon-to-be-annouced role. However his appointment strikes me as good news considering he must be open to the PSP and Usus Antiquus.

Friday 21 November 2014

Spiritual Abuse

In our latest update from the Safeguarding Office we have been introduced to the concept of spiritual abuse as a category. This is not a particular thing of the Catholic Church but is to apply to all religious bodies. I quote:

Telling someone that God hates them or will punish them. Refusing them opportunities to worship- not allowing a partner to go to church, using faith as a weapon to control or terrorize a person for pleasure or gain; using religious teaching to justify abuse (wives submit to your husbands) or to compel forgiveness.

All people acting on behalf of the Church need to be sensitive in their pastoral care that they do not attempt to force religious values or beliefs upon another person especially if that person is deemed to be a child or adult at risk. Harm can be caused by the misuse of power in a pastoral relationship, inappropriate use of authority or leadership or oppressive teaching..

Possible indicators and signs of Spiritual abuse
  • A person is not allowed to exercise their own judgement or make decisions for themselves relating to their religious belief.
  • There is a closed and intolerant mind-set exhibited by the leaders in the Church which dictates how a person should conform in regard to their beliefs
  • A person is not allowed to read or study about their religion or explore other religions
  • The personal life of the individual is prescribed in regard to their lifestyle, occupation and marital choices
  • A person is not allowed to question the authority of the leader(s) of the Church and if they do so is ostracised or excluded  from taking a full part in the life of the community
  • The exclusiveness of cliques
  • When people are told that they are not praying hard enough and God does not favour them
  • Challenging the Church leader(s) is likened to challenging God
  • Any of the indicators of physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse are present and linked to the person`s membership of or receipt of pastoral care from the Church.

I`m trying to digest this. Canon law which is about protecting the rights and setting out the duties of the faithful has long made provision for recourse when a person considers their rights are not being respected by a superior but little use is made of its provisions. I was surprised that no mention of canon law is made here. However all kinds of scenarios could arise from this and it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Is excommunication not permitted any more? Would Tina Beattie have a case for being forbidden to speak in certain dioceses? Is a person spiritually abused when they prefer to kneel for communion or even just to receive on the tongue and the priest refuses to  allow it? If a person`s rights in regard to Summorum Pontificum are ignored can they claim spiritual abuse? Am I spiritually abused if a priest does not follow the rubrics for Mass or I`ve been made to sit through `liturgical` dance at Mass? The possibilities are endless. I hope good will come from it.

St Wilfrid`s reprieved, Longbenton to close

The latest threat to St Wilfrid`s came after an electrical inspection revealed the need  for  re-wiring of the church which would cost much more than we have in the bank. Parishioners were expecting the worst because the need to rewire can be fatal (as in the case of St Joseph`s, Benwell where the parish was told it would close with just four days notice after it failed its electrical inspection). However with the Forward in Hope programme coming into play the episcopal council decided St Wiilfrid`s should be assessed along with every other parish in terms of its viability and so it was agreed to lend the parish the funds to have the electrical repairs done. I think our community of Nigerian sisters (Daughters of Divine Love) may have had a part to play as they are remarkably good at getting their prayers answered. 

So St Wilfrid`s lives on once again. Not so fortunate is my former parish of SS Peter and Paul`s, Longbenton, which has been told it is to close. I hear the closing Mass will be on December 28th. 

Thursday 20 November 2014

A Victim of the Vikings

Today`s Feast:

Saint Edmund the Martyr
King and Martyr
        St. Edmund was elected king of the East Angles in 855 at the age of fourteen and began ruling Suffolk, England, the following year.
        In 869 or 870, the Vikings invaded Edmund's realm, and he was captured at Hone, in Suffolk. After extreme torture, Edmund was beheaded and died calling upon Jesus.
        According to Abbo of Fleury's vita "His severed head was thrown into the wood. Day and night as Edmund's followers went seeking, calling out "Where are you, friend?" the head answered, "Here, here, here," until at last, "a great wonder", they found Edmund's head in the possession of a grey wolf, clasped between its paws. "They were astonished at the wolf's guardianship".The wolf, sent by God to protect the head from the animals of the forest, was starving but did not eat the head for all the days it was lost. After recovering the head the villagers marched back to the kingdom, praising God and the wolf that served him. The wolf walked beside them as if tame all the way to the town, after which it turned around and vanished into the forest."
        His shrine brought about the town of Bury St. Edmund's.

Strange the people didn`t say in the midst of the crisis `Let`s then abandon our current religious  practices and start something unfamiliar`.

Tuesday 18 November 2014


Given the bleak but exciting scenario in the pastoral letter something has to be done one would think. Here`s an initiative of two young priests of our diocese which may be interesting. Not sure about Muslims and the extra-terrestrials but apologetics are what we need: to explain why being a Catholic matters.

The press release as found on the diocesan website says:

 Fathers Marc Lyden-Smith and Dan Fitzpatrick, who won BBC 1’s Pointless earlier in the year, are substituting the church for the pub to gather people for a different kind of spirit.
The clerical duo, who host their own online radio show called “The PodFr’s”, are starting a monthly event called “iThirst” in a Sunderland pub at 7.30pm on Sunday 30th November, so that people can have a pint and listen to popular guest speakers surrounded by the atmosphere of live music. 
There are five iThirst faith-based pub talks scheduled to take place at the Londonderry pub in Sunderland between November 2014 and April 2015. The events are attracting well known public figures, including Abbot Christopher Jameson who appeared on the BBC reality shows “The Monastery” and “The Big Silence’, and physicist Dr. David Wilkinson who will talk on the possible implications that extraterrestrial life could have on our worlds religions. 
The organisers Fathers Dan Fitzpatrick and Marc Lyden-Smith commented:
“We are excited to kick off the iThirst pub talks in a few days and have amazing guest speakers, who are experts in their chosen subjects. We have had a lot of interest, so we hope that everyone can fit in the pub!”

There is a Facebook page too.

Sunday 16 November 2014

Pastoral Letter for Hexham and Newcastle

Pastoral Letter to be read in all parishes on the Weekend of 15 / 16 November 2014

My Dear People
We are living at a very important and exciting time in the history of our Diocese. When I reflect on the visits I make throughout the Diocese I am heartened by the commitment of clergy and laity to prayer, to service and to the witness of the Gospel. This week we will be praying for prisoners and their families. Next weekend we will be aware of the great work being done by our Youth Ministry Team on what is Youth Sunday. Young people will play a vital part in the project I will outline in a moment.
Today I want to introduce you all to a new initiative which will help every one of us to examine our relationship with Jesus Christ and the way we support one another in our worshipping communities to worship God and be faithful to the Gospel. It will be known as Forward Together in Hope.
Many of us have been saying for years that we are reaching a crisis point in our Diocese. The numbers of priests serving our Diocese is decreasing; we now only have 5 under the age of 40. The number of worshipping parishioners has declined from around 100,000 in the 1980s to around 40,000 now. You will see these facts on a leaflet being distributed to every parishioner in the Diocese today. We could be very despondent about this, but I am not.
The leaflet you will receive today is an invitation to everyone in the Diocese to become fully involved in the development and renewal of our Diocese. It is simply the beginning of the process which will affect everyone in Hexham and Newcastle. You are invited on a journey to explore how we become active disciples of Jesus. The leaflet will be made available to as many people as possible in the Diocese, and you are all invited to make the prayer on it your own, perhaps making it part of your daily prayers. Those who bring Holy Communion to the sick and housebound could perhaps encourage them to pray along with us.
In the late spring of next year, every worshipping community will be given a thorough questionnaire to complete which will help to provide a realistic picture of how each community can flourish in the future. I hope that it will provide an opportunity for reflection and discernment about the future. It will be the same in every parish, except for the unique information held centrally which will be made available to each community. This questionnaire will reveal the viability of each community, how it is planning to look ahead to provide lay ministers and leaders. It will examine finances, buildings and its involvement with young people. It will further help everyone deepen their commitment to the Gospel through prayer and reflection, worship and continuing formation. You will have the opportunity to respond to it all in the weeks and months ahead.

Pope Francis is inviting all of us to become ‘missionary disciples’ taking the risk we need to become more involved in outreach to the poor around us and the opportunities there are to witness with our sisters and brothers of other faiths. We will also have to look at numbers in communities and the geographical proximity of other worshipping communities.
This whole initiative will be underpinned by prayer and a call to the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us. In time, there will be special liturgical resources made available to open our minds and hearts to the inspiration of the Spirit. I am very struck today by the fact that the man with the one talent simply buried his talent, and his head, in the sand. Today’s Gospel is striking in that most of the emphasis is on how the ‘one talent man’ said ‘No’ to risk, and ‘Yes’ to things staying the same. In this parable, Jesus is inviting his followers to say ‘Yes’ to risk, and ‘No’ to safety, to say ‘Yes’ to an active response to God and ‘No’ to the way things have always been.
The servant who hid his talent, did not commit a sin, he did not do something bad – he simply did nothing at all. Jesus did not see his followers as ‘pious observers’ of a religion, but as ‘bold believers’ prepared to see things in different ways. One implication of this parable is to appreciate that to conserve what we have, is to avoid the invitation of God to move on.
I will be leading some periods of prayer and reflection during Advent and invite you all to join me in St Mary’s Cathedral on Tuesday 2nd December at either 10.30 am or 6.30 pm, or alternatively at St Joseph’s, Hartlepool on Wednesday 10th December at 6.30pm.
We are privileged to belong to a Diocese with an immensely rich heritage which has thrived and flourished over hundreds of years despite many difficulties – including Vikings and Persecution. But we can no longer presume that what has served us in the past will work in the future. Please keep this initiative in your prayers in the coming weeks and months. I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit is with us, giving us the courage we need to move Forward Together in Hope.
With very best wishes
 Rt Rev Séamus Cunningham Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle

Thursday 13 November 2014

Today`s Times

The third leader from today:

Nunc est bibendum, nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus: lingua Latina non mortua est, sed immortalis. Heri homines Italici doctissimi librum primum cruciverborum Latinorum, Hebdomada Aenigmatum nomine, ediderunt.
The Times hoc valde probat. Tempora mutantur, ut dicitur, et nos mutamur in illis. Stat tamen lingua Latina ut monumentum aere perennius. Euge! Cur non eam pro lingua franca in Senatu Britannico et etiam in actis diurnis asciscamus?
Igitur, cari lectores, in huius incepti ingeniosissimi spiritu vobis ludum offerimus. Sententias quasdam ubique famosas e poematis fabulisque operibusque cinematicis carminibusque popularibus excerptas et in Latinum translatas infra videbis. Nomina Anglica horum operum quaerimus. Usus Translationis Googlensis severe interdicitur. Faveat Fortuna et palmam qui meruit ferat.
1 Unam rem a te ipso quaere: “Mene felicem aestimo?” Heia, aestimasne, sceleste? (5, 5)
2 Antichristus sum. Sum anarchiae fautor (7,2,3,2)
3 Venite, pyroboli benevoli, et in Slough incidite (6)
4 Verum omnibus agnoscitum est quod viro caelebi et locupleti opus est uxore (5,3,9)
5 Contra legem pugnavi. Vicit lex (1,6,3,3,3,3,3,3)
6 Optimum temporum erat, temporumque pessimum (1,4,2,3,6)
7 Fidibus canebat Ziggius, cum Inusitato Gillioque, Martis araneis, suaviter sonans (5,8)
8 Ex omnibus tabernis in omnibus oppidis totius orbis terrarum, in meam incedit (10)

Monday 10 November 2014

The Quality of Priests

Some papal advice today:

The Pope receives the bishops of Senegal, Mauritania, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau: focus on the quality rather than the quality of priests

Saturday 1 November 2014

All Souls

There will be a sung Mass for All Souls at St Joseph`s, Gateshead on Monday at 7pm. The Westland Singers will sing Faure`s Requiem. We had planned a Solemn High Mass but our subdeacon has had to cancel and no substitute is available.