Reflecting on the Bishops’ Conference Plenary Meeting in Leeds

Dear Friends in Jesus Christ,

Welcome to the Bishop’s Blog for this week.

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The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales, in common with many other Episcopal Conferences around the world  i.e , the USCCB meets in plenary session twice each year.  The English & Welsh Conference had their autumn plenary meeting this past week in Hinsley Hall, Leeds pictured below.

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As Bishops, there are always routine Department reports presented for our reflection, such as Education and International Affairs among others. The latter Department, for example, works quietly but effectively on behalf of the Conference to assist and express solidarity with other Catholic communities suffering deprivation of any kind, both spiritual and material.

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The well-advertised plight of Catholics and Christians in the Middle East, parts of Africa and elsewhere, always feature in our discussions. The practical help and especially constant interest mean a great deal to these beleaguered brothers and sisters.

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The Bishops also issued a statement on the current mass influx of migrants, acknowledging what is already being done to ease their situation, and the need to monitor and be open to future migrant arrivals in Britain, always bearing in mind the Lord’s teaching in the gospel that he is present in the faces of the poor and outcast.

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The reality of the ‘unchurched’ or those who no longer practice the faith of their baptism, and how to address this perplexing situation, continues to preoccupy the Conference.

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A complete list of resolutions on which the Bishops voted can be found here on the Bishops’ Conference website, which I commend for a fuller picture of the range of topics debated and reflected on during this last week.

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The Conference gathering (a summary is here) also provides the opportunity for us Bishops to be together and enjoy each another’s company, in view of the fact that we are geographically dispersed for most of the year.

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We have our moments of relaxation as well as for sharing those challenges common to most of us.  The mutual support that we derive from the Conference week is invariably encouraging and heartening.  We also appreciate the unity and common mind which by and large pervades our discussions and exchanges, a gift indeed of the promised Holy Spirit.

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On the final day of the Conference we offered our concelebrated daily Mass for those deceased, injured and bereaved last Friday in Paris. This might be fittingly described as a liturgical gesture of solidarity of the Bishops of England & Wales to the Church in Paris.

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The Mass has its own power, and despite the awful atrocity of these outrages, I felt there was a quiet sense of peace and reassurance generated by our celebration, and that our offering in faith to almighty God would make a difference.

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As ever in Christ,

+Michael G Campbell OSA

Bishop of Lancaster

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