Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Statements from our Cardinal for reflection by all

Our bishop, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, today released statements on three important topical issues. He has commended these to the reflection of all Catholics in our Archdiocese of Westminster

1. On the Holy Father's recent Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist

Comment from Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor on Sacramentum

Returning to London this weekend from retreat, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster welcomed the publication of the Post Synodal Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis. The Cardinal, who was a member of the Post-Synodal Commission and was therefore closely involved at the drafting stage of Sacramentum Caritatis, said

“I am full of admiration for the subtle way in which Pope Benedict has woven throughout Sacramentum Caritatis an appreciation of the Synod reflections with the themes he considered in Deus Caritas Est. Like me, I am sure that the Bishops who attended the Synod will find echoes of our discussions throughout the whole document. Referring in every part of the exhortation to the propositions of the Synod the Pope links together in a beautiful way his own reflections on the traditional teaching of the Church on the Holy Eucharist.

Pope Benedict recognises the human thirst for God even if this seems so often to be eclipsed by modern life. He writes “The Lord Jesus speaks to our thirsting pilgrim hearts, our hearts thirsting for the source of life”.(SC 2). In the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist Jesus reveals the love which is the very essence of God. This is the reason why the Church finds in the Eucharist the very centre of her life.

I know that my fellow bishops in England and Wales will use Sacramentum Caritatis in helping their priests and people to deepen their love of the Holy Eucharist. I have already asked in the Diocese of Westminster, that the Holy Eucharist form one of the key priorities in these next few years. As Pope Benedict says, “What the world needs is God’s love, it needs to encounter Christ and to believe in Him. The Eucharist is thus the source and summit not only of the Church’s life but also of her Mission….truly nothing is more beautiful than to know Christ and to make him known to others.”(SC 84).

I commend Sacramentum Caritatis to everyone and ask them to understand how “this most Holy Mystery needs to be firmly believed, devoutly celebrated and intensely lived in the Church” (SC 94).

Sacramentum Caritatis will be published shortly by the Catholic Truth Society.
The full text is available at
An introduction is available at


2. On the impending legislation regarding gay couples and adoption


Noting the fact that the Sexual Orientation Regulations are being voted on in the House of Commons today (Monday 19th March, 2007), I again express our concern at their impact, not only on adoption services, but on cooperation between faith based voluntary agencies and public authorities in public funded services.

It is, surely, an abuse of Parliamentary democracy that these Regulations are being considered by Parliament only through a hurriedly arranged and very brief meeting of 16 appointed MPs, and a short debate in the House of Lords. During the House of Commons Committee meeting opportunity for serious debate was denied.

Profound public concern about aspects of these Regulations has not been heard. The debate on Wednesday in the House of Lords, although important in itself, will hardly compensate for the lack of a full debate in the House of Commons.

Our society’s understanding of the pattern of family life and of the role of conscience and religious belief in public life remains a very important part of the political agenda.


3. On the anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade

Comment from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster re Anniversary of Slave Trade Act.

Next Tuesday, 27th March I shall be joining with fellow Christians and people of other faiths in the National Commemoration in Westminster Abbey of the 200th anniversary of the passage of the Slave Trade Act. This Act outlawed the slave trade throughout the British Empire and made it illegal for British ships to be involved in the trade, marking the beginning of the end for the transatlantic traffic in human beings. This is a deeply humbling occasion when we recall the great suffering of the many millions of people who were enslaved and forcibly taken from their homes in Africa. I am conscious that the consequences of slavery have affected many people in my Diocese and that in our parishes there are many descendents of former slaves. I want to assure them of my thoughts and prayer on the occasion of this poignant anniversary. I also ask everyone to reflect on the determination of many Christians in the 19th Century to outlaw the evil of slavery.

I am also conscious that although today slavery is illegal in every country of the world, as Christians we need to be aware of the assaults on human dignity through contemporary forms of slavery. These include those forced into bonded labour, the exploitation of child labour and, evident in our own city, the evils of people trafficking.

I commend to the parishes of the Diocese an Intercession which should be included in the Celebration of Mass this weekend:

“As we recall the anniversary of the passage of the Slave Trade Act, we remember those who died and whose freedom was extinguished by slavery. In the words of William Wilberforce: We pray to Thee for all the dark corners of the earth, for all who are suffering under the evils of slavery, or from injustice or cruelty of any kind….Lord in Your Mercy….”

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