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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Saturday, September 11, 2010
Next Sunday Pope Benedict will beatify John Henry Cardinal Newman in Birmingham. A unique and significant moment for the Church in these islands as the authority of Peter is invoked to proclaim the heroic virtue of a truly great Englishman and the fruitfulness of devotion to him.

That evening the Pope will have his parting words with the Bishops of England and Wales in the chapel at Oscott College. This is where over 150 years ago Newman celebrated the re-establishment of the Catholic hierarchy in this country with his famous "Second Spring" sermon. The image and hope of a “Second Spring” for the British Church was though not just an image of joyful return, but also a premonition that it might be an

"... English Spring, an uncertain, anxious time of hope and fear, of joy and suffering, - of bright promise and budding hopes, yet withal, of keen blasts, and cold showers, and sudden storms."

He warned that
"... in proportion to God's grace is the fury of His enemies ... [but] the more the enemy rages against us, so much the more will the Saints in Heaven plead for us."

He would have understood from his deep knowledge of history that the most painful persecutions of the Church come from failures and betrayals within, as Pope Benedict pointedly observed in Fatima recently. Newman would also have understood how eagerly the enemies of truth seize on the sins of Christians and use them as a stick to beat the poor Body of Christ. The precise form of attack is different in every generation however, so we are ever unprepared for the dismay & heart-ache caused. Yet the grace given to meet each crisis is equally unexpected & even more powerful.

Let us pray with confidence for great gifts for our own community through the Papal Visit and, not least for humility, wisdom and courage in healing those effected by sins of people in the Church and defending Christ in the Church against the “rages” that are coming our way.

One helpful response to Channel 4 documentary (“The Trouble with the Pope”) by Peter Tatchell (who campaigns against any fixed age of consent) is on the internet here:

Watch this space for further responses to further attacks –e.g. the BBC’s upcoming Panorama – as well as to other upcoming documentaries: the BBC's Trials of a pope (BBC2) & ITV1’s Tonight: Keeping the Faith? Questions can also be asked through websites such as Catholic Answers or

posted by Sinead Reekie at 9:40 am