My dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ,
Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog!
I join with other Faith and political leaders in condemning the tragic murders of three Catholic worshippers in Notre Dame, Nice, on Thursday morning. I also call on all Catholics in the Diocese of Lancaster to join me in offering prayers for the souls of those who died, for their grieving families, for the clergy, religious and faithful of Nice, and for the people of France who have been wounded and shaken by yet another act of terrorism.
We are appalled by any act of violence wherever it occurs, but this attack in Notre Dame, Nice, touches us more deeply: It happened to Catholic worshippers gathering for Mass in their church, a sacred place. Just one week ago a priest in our own Cathedral was violently attacked at the altar whilst conducting a funeral Liturgy. Although it appears the perpetrator on that occasion was suffering mental health issues, it brings home to us how vulnerable we are, even when so close to Our Lord.
As in all things, we turn to Christ to know how we should respond. He shows us that the way forward is not to seek revenge or retaliation. We should not close and lock our churches, turning them into fortresses where neither strangers nor parishioners are welcome. Rather, we deepen our trust in our loving Saviour who was himself the victim of violence, and yet died praying for his murderers.
We must also pray for peace, mutual respect and understanding between people of differing Faiths. I am glad to say we enjoy good relations with our Muslim brothers and sisters locally. More broadly, let us beware how we relate to others, particularly in situations involving potential conflict. The Gospel is not served by hot tempers, verbal aggression or attitudes inflamed by disrespect.
The demands made on us by the times we live in are great and appear to increasing. We may be tempted to despair, deciding that too much is being asked of us. In worldly terms that is understandable. But we look to Christ, and to His generosity, expressed most completely on the Cross. That is the measure of what we are asked to give in return. We will do it with generous and loving hearts because of what He has done for us. Without doubt, the prize will be worth the sacrifice.
With my prayers and blessing for each of you,
Bishop of Lancaster