The Most Reverend Peter Smith, formerly Archbishop of Cardiff, has been installed as the Archbishop of Southwark. The Mass and Installation took place at St George’s Cathedral, Southwark on 10 June 2010. The Installation marks a return home for Archbishop Peter, who was born in Battersea and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese in1972. He succeeds the Archbishop Emeritus of Southwark, the Most Reverend Kevin McDonald.
In his homily at the Installation Mass, Archbishop Peter Smith spoke about:
The role of faith in society: “The historic, present, and future value of religion to the secular and spiritual life of the country has come under increasing criticism, and is often summarily dismissed as irrelevant and even dangerous…However, the reality is that the Church is not a threat to the legitimate independence and proper role of the secular State.”
The ambition of the Church: “The ambition of the Church is to see every person flourish and achieve his or her full potential, irrespective of race, religion, colour or creed. And, in the light of the Gospel, she has a clear vision of what religion and faith can offer to a confused and fragmented society and world.”
The Church’s mission: “That mission is to shed the light of Christ in the world of our times and to bring people to the knowledge of the truth – the truth of what it means to be human, the truth about the purpose of human life, the truth of God’s unconditional love for everyone without exception.”
The light of Christ being dimmed: “Sadly, for many people today that light of Christ which should shine out so clearly in the Church has been dimmed, particularly by the revelation of the terrible wrong which has been done by priests who have abused innocent children, and who have felt a deep-rooted sense of betrayal and violation by priests whom they trusted. The humiliation and shame of this wicked and scandalous behaviour has touched every member of Christ’s body, the Church; the innocent as well as the guilty.”
The Church of saints and sinners: “These revelations are a stark reminder of the truth that the Church is a Church of saints and sinners, constantly in need of redemption and reformation. Yet we know it is also true that in spite of the weakness and failures of individuals, and at times the institution of the Church, it is within the Church that the risen Christ continues his redeeming work through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.”
The faith of the Church is alive and active today: “It is being fulfilled day by day in the work of our Catholic schools and colleges, organisations such as CAFOD, the Justice and Peace Networks, the groups and agencies which support marriage and family life, and the different caring agencies and individuals in our dioceses who serve the poor, prisoners, refugees and asylum seekers and who care for the elderly and the sick.”
There is much work to do, but “Be of good heart”: “So I simply want to say to you today, ‘Be of good heart!’ Never forget the words of the Lord, ‘I am with you until the end of time.’ I suggest to you that our prayer each day should be, ‘Open my ears that I may hear. Open my eyes that I may see. Open my heart to receive your transforming and purifying Spirit.’ The fruit of that co-operation with the Spirit, and with one another, will be that we are gradually transformed into the ‘light of the world’, ‘the salt of the earth.’”
The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said:“I am delighted at the appointment of Archbishop Peter Smith as Archbishop of Southwark, while at the same time sympathising with the priests, religious and people of Cardiff. Archbishop Peter is an outstanding and experienced leader. He will be warmly welcomed back to his home diocese, just as he will be sorely missed in Cardiff. I can assure him of the prayers and good wishes of us all.”
Archbishop Peter Smith was born in Battersea on 21 October 1943, ordained priest on 15 July 1972, ordained Bishop of East Anglia on 27 May 1995, transferred to Cardiff on 26 October 2001, installed as Archbishop of Southwark on 10 June 2010.
Archdiocese of Southwark: www.rcsouthwark.co.uk
Photos See photos of the Installation Mass on this Flickr page: www.flickr.com/photos/catholicism
Biography Click here for Archbishop Peter Smith’s biography