The Bishops’ Conference Plenary Session in Leeds

Dear Friends in Christ,

Welcome to this week’s reflection to the Bishop’s Blog!

Bishops' Plenary - Nov 2017

This past week the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales met in Leeds for their twice yearly conference.  These are always fruitful but demanding days, with a quite remarkably intense and open level of discussion on issues currently facing the Church and society as a whole. They also provide the opportunity for the bishops to meet and enjoy one another’s company at a social level, something not often possible in view of the geographical spread of England and Wales.

Many topics were touched upon, for example the Bishops joined our voice to all those calling for greater protection for children from the harmful materials accessible to all on the internet.

Next year’s Roman Synod in October on the vocation of young people, and Adoremus – the two-day Eucharistic Congress which takes place in mid-September in Liverpool. The Bishops fervently hope that the latter Congress will be a time of great grace for the Church and nurture in no small way devotion to Our Blessed Lord in the Eucharist.

We had reports on the extreme difficulties facing the Church in both North and South Sudan, with the overall situation there being described by one bishop who had recently visited as being ‘dire’.  As with Christians in the Holy Land, our interest and friendship are greatly appreciated by these churches, even if we may not be able to contribute greatly to the relief of their difficulties and suffering.

Another country brought to our attention was Yemen, and the Conference sent a special message to the Bishops of Zimbabwe as news of an uneasy political situation began to emerge.  There is an admirable sense of solidarity on our part with these and other Bishops’ Conferences who face their own particular challenges.

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We also had reports on the various ecumenical dialogues in which our Conference is engaged, Catholic-Anglican, Catholic-Methodist, to name but two.

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The recent Motu Proprio of Pope Francis, Magnum Principium, on the translation of liturgical texts and the increased role of Bishops’ Conferences in this regard were the subject of a lengthy reflection. As the particular resolution, which was voted on and passed, the work of ICEL, the International Conference/Body for English in the Liturgy, was commended.

At one session concern was raised and fears expressed by the Bishops about the possibility of a ‘cap’ being placed on the number of Catholic children who could be admitted to any new Catholic School. Such a move, it was felt, would place in jeopardy the long-standing and historical relationship between successive governments and the Catholic Church in England and Wales.Education Cap - Banner

As Bishops, we took careful note of the gender issues now much discussed and debated in the public forum.  Since this particular debate will be a long-running one, the Bishops stressed at this stage the primacy of respect and reverence for the dignity of the human person which must pervade every phase and action of a highly sensitive subject.

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The above gives a sample of the range of topics which occupied us as bishops and teachers of the faith in our complex and ever-changing society. The Audio recording of the official Press Conference is here. I’m sure we gave the agenda the attention and seriousness which they demanded, and left Leeds tired but satisfied!

Until next week – May God bless you all,

As ever in Christ,

+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster