Christmas 2018

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“Unleash the Gospel” is the title chosen for the renewal programme of the Archdiocese of Detroit, in the United States of America. The vision which underlines the programme was set out on Pentecost Sunday in 2017 and I have read of it many times since. The mental image it conjures up is of the Gospel on a leash, held in check, and straining to be free. And, of course, at the centre of it all is Jesus Christ, Son of God and son of Mary.

Christ at the centre of all of life, and of my life in particular is an on-going challenge. There are many things clamouring for attention in our world and in daily life, important things, essential things and others of lesser importance. Christmas time and all that goes with the preparation and the celebration of this holy season is an invitation to focus our attention on Jesus Christ, on Jesus at the centre of all of creation. In these days we will celebrate the birth of Jesus in time and in space, so that we might “attend to the birth of Christ within us” each day, a phrase I heard prayed this Advent which has stayed with me. Christmas is a time to savour that life of Jesus Christ within us, which is born, and reborn, and which can be unleashed or held in check. To savour this life of Jesus Christ with us, with family, with friends, with community, and with the community of faith, again and again until we are eternally in God.

This has been an eventful year in the life of the Church in Ireland and the visit of Pope Francis for the World Meeting of Families was a highpoint. His presence, his care and concern, his words spoken formally and informally, all pointed to  his faith in Jesus Christ, present and active in the Church and in society. The visit gave me new hope, and as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote in Spe Salvi 31 “we need the greater and lesser hopes that keep us going day by day.” Perhaps the visit of Pope Francis was one of the ‘greater or lesser hopes’ for us, “but these are not enough without the great hope … this great hope can only be God …God is the foundation of hope: not any god, but the God who has a human face and who has loved us to the end, each one of us and humanity in its entirety.” (Spe salvi 31).

Jesus, the ‘God with us’ has a human face, born of Mary, shared our human existence, and is born within each of us, we welcome him anew this Christmas and pray that his presence be “unleashed”.

A very happy and holy Christmas season to all who log in to our Province website.

Derry Murphy, SAC.

Provincial.

Abortion Cannot Be Supported – Catholic Bishops of Ireland

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Following their Winter General Meeting in Maynooth, the Irish Catholic Bishops’ have published the following statement:

“We are dismayed that, for the most part, the voices of those who voted against abortion in May’s referendum have been ignored. Even what many people would have deemed to have be very reasonable legislative amendments seeking to provide women with information and to prohibit abortion on the grounds of sex, race or disability, have been rejected.

“As we stated after our Autumn Meeting, Irish society must have respect for the right of conscientious objection for all healthcare professionals and pharmacists. They cannot be forced either to participate in abortion or to refer patients to others for abortion.

“Every one of us has a right to life. It is not given to us by the Constitution of Ireland or by any law. We have it ‘as of right’, whether we are wealthy or poor, healthy or sick. All human beings have it. The direct and intentional taking of human life at any stage is gravely wrong and can never be justified.

“Women’s lives, and the lives of their unborn children, are precious, valued and always deserving of protection. Any law which suggests otherwise would have no moral force. In good conscience it cannot be supported and would have to be resisted.

“We offer our prayerful solidarity with everyone dedicated to the sanctity and protection of human life at all stages. We ask everyone of goodwill – whether at home, in parish, in school or at work – to continue to choose and to celebrate the preciousness of life.”

During their meeting a delegation of bishops met with individuals representing various pro-life groups from across Ireland, north and south. The aim of the gathering was to acknowledge their on-going commitment to upholding the dignity of unborn human life and to consult on the setting up of a new Council for Life under the aegis of the Bishops’ Conference which will operate from March 2019.

ENDS

For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long +353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm +353 (0) 87 310 4444