Distinguish Secularism from Secularisation, says Archbishop

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Crossing the Threshold, Birmingham

By Peter Jennings

Archbishop Bernard Longley, a member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation, gave an insight into the International Synod of Bishop on the topical theme “The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith”, to be held in Rome during October 2012, during an address in Birmingham on Saturday, 4 February.

The Archbishop of Birmingham warmly welcomed more than 200 delegates from various dioceses in England and Wales including the Archdiocese of Birmingham and the dioceses of Shrewsbury and Nottingham. The conference had been well publicised in advance and there was an overwhelming demand for places and a long waiting list.

This was the second of five special days called “Crossing the Threshold”, a resource day about ministry and outreach to non-churchgoing Catholics, initiated by the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

The conference held in the Grimshaw Room, St Chad’s Cathedral, Cathedral House, was meticulously organised by the Home Mission Desk in partnership with a team from the Archdiocese of Birmingham. During his address Archbishop Bernard Longley said: “I see our gathering as an important part of our diocesan preparation for the forthcoming Year of Faith that Pope Benedict XVI will inaugurate in October the Synod of Bishops.

“The year itself will help us to recapture something of the richness of our faith as it is expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It should encourage us to re-equip ourselves to take the message and the example of faith to those whose faith has grown weaker or who have drifted away from the Church for whatever reason.”

Archbishop Longley emphasised: “The New Evangelisation in not only for Europe but is especially for places where secularisation has changed people’s experience and practice of faith.”

The Archbishop stressed: “We should be cautious not to adopt a wholly negative attitude towards secularism and we should distinguish it from secularisation. Secularism can certainly have some negative impacts but the phenomenon can also offer a new freedom for the Gospel to be proclaimed.”

Archbishop Bernard Longley concluded: “An important part of the preparation for our own Bishops’ Conference representatives to the Synod in Rome will be the feedback from these Crossing the Threshold days being organised in several locations across England and Wales.”

Bishop Edwin Regan, Bishop of Wrexham in North Wales, gave a challenging and thought-provoking keynote address which he delivered with great enthusiasm and a touch of Welsh humour.

Bishop Regan emphasised: “Only God can call people back to the practice of their faith, from whatever was dead in their past lives. Only God can forgive sins – but we can play our part, and be part of the invitation to cross the threshold, to unbind them and set them free.”

Bishop Edwin Regan concluded with some helpful practical points under various headings including: use modern communications; “Be yourself, be patient and witness to the love of Jesus in your own lives; remember it’s God’s work.”

Archbishop Bernard Longley celebrated Mass in the Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica of St Chad, situated next to Cathedral House. Bishop Edwin Regan concelebrated together with eight priests. Father David Oakley, Department for Parish and Family Catechesis, at the Maryvale Institute, gave the homily.

The packed day-conference programme included workshops, discussion and time for corporate and private prayer.

The next Crossing the Threshold conference on the tour will take place in Crawley on Saturday 3 March when Bishop Kieran Conry, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, will deliver the keynote address.

Full Text

Address: Archbishop Longley – Crossing the Threshold Feb 2012


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