The Bishops of England and Wales met in Leeds last week for the first time since the election of Pope Benedict.
Hinsley Hall was the setting of their November Conference. After prayer and a reading from the scripture the meeting was opened by a report from the Synod in Rome.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, Bishops Brian Noble of Shrewsbury and Arthur Roche of Leeds represented the Bishops of England and Wales at the synod.
They told the conference that it had offered an interesting insight into the approach of the new papacy and the Cardinal informed the Bishops that he had been elected to the Commission that will work with the Holy Father on drafting the response to the Synod.
Also present in Leeds was the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Faustino Sainz Munoz, who thanked the conference for making him so welcome.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor and Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool respectively were re-elected as president and vice-president of the Bishops Conference.
A range of subjects were discussed during the first session including the Cause for the Beatification and Canonisation of Cardinal John Henry Newman. Father Paul Chavasse from Birmingham gave a presentation to the Bishops on the present status of the cause.
An update was given to the Conference on the Gift of Scripture, (which was formally launched at the British Library in London on Friday 18 November 2005) So far more than 30,000 copies of the teaching document have been sold.
Bishop Terrence Brain of Salford informed the Bishops that ‘A Place of Redemption’ will have a second print run next year with a new introduction.
The session ended with Evening Prayer in the Chapel.
On Tuesday, Departmental meetings were held during the day and in the evening a lecture was given by Father James Hanvey on the challenges to communicating the Christian message in a post modern world. The lecture was based on the CES document ‘On the Way to Life’ which has been written by Father James Hanvey and his colleagues at The Heythrop Institute.
In session on Wednesday, proposals agreed included support for the Department for Dialogue and Unity to produce a document on Inter religious dialogue for its spring meeting in 2007.
A discussion was held reflecting on the success of World Youth day this year and plans for the next World Youth day in Sydney .
The Conference agreed that the Day for Life would be held on July 2006 and that it would focus on the theme of disability.
The Bishops offered compassionate solidarity with the victims of the Pakistan earthquake and called for greater support of the relief work.
Prayers were also offered for the recent victims of the hurricane in Central America and for the ongoing problems in the Sudan .
The day was concluded with evening prayer and a formal dinner at which the Cardinal thanked the staff of Hinsley Hall for making the Bishops so welcome.