The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales met for the first of their bi-annual plenary meetings of 2019 at the Royal English College at Valladolid this week. They have issued the following statements and resolutions.
At the end of our meeting in Valladolid, we thank Baroness Sheila Hollins and her team for their leadership of our days of safeguarding training. We thank especially the people who spoke to us of their experiences as victims and survivors of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.
We have been strengthened greatly by the prayers of so many, including seven Carmelite Monasteries, we thank them too. These have been days which have touched every bishop very deeply. We have listened to the deep and lasting confusion, pain and despair, inflicted by the people who abused them. We have listened with horror to the ways in which precious gifts of our faith have been used to groom and dominate both children and vulnerable adults in crimes of abuse. We humbly ask forgiveness of all who carry this pain, for our slowness and defensiveness and for our neglect of both preventative and restorative actions.
For us bishops, these days are a watershed. Now we accept with renewed vigour the challenges that lie ahead. We welcome warmly the Motu Proprio “Vos estis lux mundi” which Pope Francis has issued today, the last day of our conference, and its new provisions and requirements.
Statement from Baroness Sheila Hollins
Baroness Hollins, speaking on behalf of the training team, said that they had felt privileged to be part of the Church’s mission of healing and to witness such a ‘conversion of heart’.
The majority of the team were victims/ survivors of abuse in the Church, and together with the professional members, they helped the Bishops to learn to listen more deeply to people who have been hurt. ‘We wanted them to understand more clearly the importance of listening to and accompanying people who have been abused and those close to them, and to recognise the long-term effects of abuse.’
A key part of the conference was to move from words to actions and to try to ensure the abuses of the past are never repeated, and that the Church becomes a safe place for all its members. A place where everyone belongs and will always feel that they belong. It was a profoundly validating experience for all of us. One survivor said: ‘I felt hugely encouraged by their sincere desire to bring about healing and their genuine sorrow at the harm inflicted by some of their brothers, on so many.’
The Stewardship of God’s Creation
In the light of Pope Francis’ teaching in Laudato Si and reaffirming our commitment to the principles outlined in our 2002 document “The Call of Creation”, the Bishops’ Conference recognises that humanity is in an unprecedented ecological crisis. There is a moral duty to act with urgency and enable the faithful to make informed decisions that care for creation and will assist in repairing the damage.
We therefore urge the Church at all levels to continue to develop initiatives that care for our common home, and to identify individuals and groups to be advocates for this journey. To this end, a position paper has been prepared and further development in its themes is now being undertaken with a view to its approval by the summer 2019.
The Bishops Conference of England and Wales resolves to place the Holy Father’s Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Christus Vivit (Christ is Alive), at the heart of its ministry with and to young people. The Conference will build on the work undertaken by the National Office for Vocation and the Catholic Youth Ministry Federation (CYMFed), Synod Fruits and others. Through its newly formed Youth Committee, the Department of Evangelisation and Catechesis encourages Dioceses to use Christus Vivit to give new energy and focus to initiatives with young people in their local situations, so that:
- there is a fresh invitation to young people to encounter Jesus as their ‘best friend’, the one who gives meaning and purpose to our individual lives;
- young people can live the core kerygma of our faith, which the Holy Father identifies – “God loves you”, “Jesus is Saviour”, “He is Alive and at your side through the Holy Spirit”;
- young people believe more fully that they are protagonists in the mission of the Church and they have the confidence to go outside of themselves in the service of others;
- we build a culture of vocation in which the call to discipleship has a central place, so that each person can discover the path of holiness that Jesus desires them to walk.
Liturgical Celebration for Bl. John Henry Newman
The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales agrees to the raising of Bl. John Henry Newman to the rank of Feast on 9th October, subsequent to his canonisation, in the National Calendar for England and the National Calendar for Wales. It requests the optional memorials of St Denis and Companions and St John Leonardi be transferred to 10th October.
The Bishops’ Conference thanks all who worked for the successful Adoremus Eucharistic Congress and Pilgrimage. It asks the Bishops’ Working Group to continue meeting with Diocesan Representatives to foster increased adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the communities of England and Wales and further supports the ongoing efforts of the Bishops’ Working Group of Adoremus towards the promotion of future Eucharistic Congresses.
http://catholicnews.org.uk/plenary-may-2019 – entire section