The Catholic bishop who is responsible for the support of Home Mission in England and Wales has affirmed the right of people to openly share their beliefs.
Bishop Kieran Conry, is Chair of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. His comments come in advance of the Pope’s Visit to the UK and ahead of Home Mission Sunday which falls on 19th September. He said: ‘I would hope the practical legacy of this Home Mission Sunday and the Pope’s visit will be renewal of ourselves, a finding of our confidence as Catholics, our trust in ourselves, our belief in ourselves, and our belief in our capacity and our right to stand up and say, “I believe,” even though many people in our society will say, “Keep quiet about that”. No, I have a right to stand up and say, “I do believe” and I hope that is the legacy… The confidence that we belong to a Church which is vibrant, strong and alive.’
Home Mission Sunday is celebrated annually to invite members of the Catholic community to pray for the spread of the Gospel in England and Wales, and provide an opportunity for them to reflect on their part in it. Materials for the Sunday have been created by the Bishops’ Conference Home Mission Desk which works closely with the Catholic Communications Network (CCN).
Speaking in a pre-Sunday video message, Bishop Conry added: ‘On Home Mission Sunday I’d suggest that we reflect first of all on the nature of mission, how we understand it, because in the past mission meant that we send people abroad, we sent them out to countries where we thought there wasn’t enough faith and we tried to spread it there. But Home Mission Sunday says the first missionary activity must be around myself. We are missioners to one another, that’s the Church’s job… The Church’s job is mission. It’s got to start at home and there are lots of people around us who need mission. We need to be sent out and speak to them and say, “Look. This is what I believe, Can I share it with you?”… We don’t have to say it like that, but somehow that message has got to come across. “This is what I believe, let me share it.”’
The beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman will take place on the same day as Home Mission Sunday 2010. Newman had a profound understanding that his life had a purpose and a mission and he firmly believed that all who are baptised are called to ‘radiate the presence of Christ’. It is therefore particularly pertinent that his beatification is taking place on the same day as this annual day of prayer.
Bishop Kieran added, reflecting on the possible effects of the Papal Visit: ‘I hope that will be a moment of great pastoral renewal giving us new confidence, making us happy and proud to be Catholics and giving us a new sense of enthusiasm for what we believe in. The theme of the visit – Heart speaks to heart – is about the way we experience faith. We don’t experience faith in our heads, we experience it most in our hearts and if we can communicate the intensity of that feeling… whether it is intense or not… communicate the reality of that feeling, I think the notion of heart speaking to heart is a crucial thing for the spread of the faith that we have.’
Home Mission Desk