Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor gives today’s Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 2’s Chris Evans Breakfast Show. His focus falls on having pride in your birthplace, family and local community.
“I was dining with a few people the other day and a man asked me where I was born and brought up. I said, ‘Reading’. And he said, ‘Oh’ as if Reading was not very important and rather boring and insignificant.
“I pointed out to him that wherever you are born and brought up is not insignificant but is very important. Of course, I was able to say that Reading had two rivers, the Kennet and the Thames; it had a university and an ancient abbey. I am proud of Reading. Then it occurred to me that all of us should be proud of the contribution we make to wherever we were born and brought up but especially to where we live now.
“When I was Archbishop of Westminster, every year I used to have a service to which immigrant people of London were invited. They came from every country you could think of. Westminster Cathedral was always absolutely packed. During my sermon I used to thank them for coming and say we shared a common faith. But I also said that there was one other thing that we shared, that we had all come to London from elsewhere. I had come from a different county, but they had come to London from different parts of the world.
“Now, I said, we are all Londoners. You maybe can’t think of yourselves immediately as British or English, but you can think of yourselves as people who have a stake in this great city. You can be proud and happy to be here. The same could be said of all of you to whom I am speaking today. You may be, I don’t know, from Manchester, Glasgow, Belfast, Cardiff, Birmingham or the smallest village in the country.
“My thought today is that wherever you are, realise you have a stake, not only in the place where you were born and brought up, but where you live now, with your family, with your colleagues at work, with your community.
“Society begins with the family. And what is that stake? The stake is the sense in which you have something to give, some way in which you can provide for the growth of your community, the way you bring up your family; the way you care for others.
“All of you, all of us, have a part to play and for those of you listening from Reading, warmest greetings, and – I should have added earlier – you have a good football team.”
BBC Radio 2’s Chris Evans Breakfast Show