At the Foot of the Cross

‘At the Foot of the Cross’ is a monthly podcast from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales bringing you the latest news, project updates, events, prayer and more. We discuss our workstreams, from pro-life issues, Catholic life and worship and social action, to heritage and patrimony, environmental concerns and international aid and development.

Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving | Episode 20

16th February 2024

At the Foot of the Cross
At the Foot of the Cross
Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving | Episode 20
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It’s an early Lent this year and as such, the focus of February’s At the Foot of the Cross is very much on the three pillars of the season – prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Canon Christopher Thomas, our General Secretary, joins us to talk about what’s crossing his desk at the Secretariat of the Bishops’ Conference. Firstly, we talk about Cardinal Vincent Nichols’ statement on the war in the Holy Land echoing Pope Francis’s call for a lasting ceasefire, the release of all hostages, for humanitarian aid to be allowed through to help those most in need in Gaza, and for hospitals, schools and places of worship to be protected.

We also talk about a day of prayer for peace in the Holy Land that will be marked on Friday, 8 March.

Another topic for discussion is Deliver Us From Evil – a new booklet by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales offering a treasury of prayers drawn from Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition that can be used by Catholics to protect themselves from the powers of darkness.

Canon Chris offers a Lenten Scripture reflection, looking at the Ash Wednesday readings and also those of the previous Sunday when Jesus heals the man with leprosy.

There are two other important contributions to this podcast. We hear from Fr Jan Nowotnik, our Director of Mission, who speaks to Fionn Shiner about the forthcoming Jubilee year and also the Year of Prayer we are currently celebrating. The five-week resource on the Lord’s Prayer, We Dare To Say, is the main topic for discussion.

Finally, we conclude with a poignant reflection from Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski, who looks after the UK’s Ukrainian Catholic Community, explaining how we can mark the two-year anniversary of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine whilst keeping the suffering people at the forefront of our minds.

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Christian Unity | Episode 19

24th January 2024

At the Foot of the Cross
At the Foot of the Cross
Christian Unity | Episode 19
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The first At the Foot of the Cross podcast of 2024 has a very ecumenical flavour to it. That is a word that can confuse rather than clarify so what we’re discussing today is dialogue and Christian unity.

There are many reasons for this. Firstly we have the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, from 18-25 January, then, following hard on its heels, the Bishops of the Church of England and our Catholic Bishops will have their biannual joint meeting in Norwich on 30-31 January. They will explore a diverse range of subjects and discuss areas of common interest. They will also reflect on two great saints – Julian of Norwich and John Henry Newman – as well as share their experiences of synods and the Coronation of King Charles III.

Our regular studio guest Canon Christopher Thomas, General Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference secretariat, discusses this important meeting, the nature of our unity with other Christian confessions and his own experiences of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

You can also listen to our Scripture reflection and, as we push into February, look ahead to the World Day for Consecrated Life on 2 February and a very early Lent with Ash Wednesday falling this year on St Valentine’s Day, 14 February.

Please accept a humble mea culpa for the lack of a December podcast as 2023 drew to an end.

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You can subscribe to our At the Foot of the Cross podcasts using your podcasting platform of choice. Subscribe using Apple PodcastsSpotifyAmazonStitcher and TuneIn.
Feed: cbcew.org.uk/feed/podcast/at-the-foot-of-the-cross

Christ the King | Episode 18

30th November 2023

At the Foot of the Cross
At the Foot of the Cross
Christ the King | Episode 18
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The November 2023 episode of At the Foot of the Cross has crept in on the very last day of the month. The task set for our General Secretary, Canon Chris Thomas, is to bridge the gap from the Feast of Christ the King to the wonderful season of Advent – that sacred time before Christmas we use to prepare ourselves to celebrate the Lord’s coming into the world as the incarnate God of love.

Before Canon Thomas’s Scripture reflection on this very subject we discuss the conflict in the Holy Land, the need to pray for peace, and the Bishops’ desire to see our latest English saint elevated to the status of ‘Doctor of the Church’ – St John Henry Newman.

November is, of course, a ‘plenary month’ that sees the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales gather at Hinsley Hall in Leeds to discuss the issues of the day and how they impact on the Church and the faithful. Our podcast concludes with Canon Thomas and Director of Mission, Fr Jan Nowotnik, in conversation about the four-day meeting and its resolutions.

Rest assured December’s podcast will arrive in the middle of the month rather than at the end.

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You can subscribe to our At the Foot of the Cross podcasts using your podcasting platform of choice. Subscribe using Apple PodcastsSpotifyAmazonStitcher and TuneIn.
Feed: cbcew.org.uk/feed/podcast/at-the-foot-of-the-cross

The Holy Souls | Episode 17

26th October 2023

At the Foot of the Cross
At the Foot of the Cross
The Holy Souls | Episode 17
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October’s At the Foot of the Cross comes out as we approach the end of the month so we felt it appropriate to look ahead to November and the month of the Holy Souls when we pray for and remember our loved ones and friends who have died.

Canon Christopher Thomas, General Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference, joins us to talk about how our parishes mark this important month – starting with the Feast of All Saints on 1 November. As a priest, he shares his parish experiences of praying for the Holy Souls and gives us two poignant personal analogies to help illustrate his reflections.

We also hear from two guest contributors. Firstly we catch up with Fr Jan Nowotnik in Rome, a non-bishop voting member of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. Participants have been discussing the mission of the Church in the 21st Century for almost a month now. Fr Jan, an expert on ‘synodality’, shares his experiences.

We conclude by talking to economist Philip Booth, our Director of Policy and Research, about a new cost of living statement from the Department for Social Justice of the Bishops’ Conference.

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Feed: cbcew.org.uk/feed/podcast/at-the-foot-of-the-cross

Good Custodians | Episode 16

28th September 2023

At the Foot of the Cross
At the Foot of the Cross
Good Custodians | Episode 16
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Mission and good custodianship are the order of the day for this ‘At the Foot of the Cross’ – the first after the summer break.

Canon Christopher Thomas, our General Secretary, rather skilfully threads the ‘mission’ topics of the day through this podcast. We talk about two forthcoming documents from Pope Francis. An Exhortation on environmental issues, updating his 2015 encyclical Laudato si’. That’s due for release on 4 October – the Feast of St Francis of Assisi. Bishop John Arnold, Lead Bishop for Environmental Issues, joins us to talk about why now is the time for action.

On 15 October, we look forward to an Apostolic Letter on St Thérèse of Lisieux – Co-Patroness of the Missions alongside St Francis Xavier. Many of us will remember with affection, the visit of the relics of St Thérèse to England and Wales in 2009 – a real time of grace.

Finally, how can we forget the Synod on the mission of the Church in the 21st century taking place in Rome throughout October? We join Fr Jan Nowotnik, our Director of Mission who will attend as a non-bishop voting member, to preview the synod with theologian Professor Anna Rowlands.

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You can subscribe to our At the Foot of the Cross podcasts using your podcasting platform of choice. Subscribe using Apple PodcastsSpotifyAmazonStitcher and TuneIn.
Feed: cbcew.org.uk/feed/podcast/at-the-foot-of-the-cross

Pathways to God | Episode 15

1st August 2023

At the Foot of the Cross
At the Foot of the Cross
Pathways to God | Episode 15
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Our summer ‘At the Foot of the Cross’ is very much a pilgrimage podcast. So whether you’re staying at home or travelling abroad, there’s always time to walk with the Lord and deepen your faith.

Canon Chris Thomas, General Secretary here at the Bishops’ Conference, joins us to welcome a newly-installed Bishop for Hexham and Newcastle and to discuss his recent pilgrimage to Lourdes with the Diocese of Nottingham. He also gives us an apt Scripture reflection from Luke 6:43-49. It’s the Gospel that relates to the pastoral theme for pilgrimages to Lourdes in 2023. The words that Mary, the Mother of God, entrusted to Bernadette Soubirous on 2 March 1858 were: “Go and tell the priests that a chapel be built here and that people should come here in procession.”

We’re also joined by Fr Jan Nowotnik who, in an historic move, is travelling to Rome for the Synod in October as a non-bishop with full voting rights. This, too, should be looked at as a journey of faith for the global Church. Fr Jan gives us an update.

We then have a short preview of World Youth Day – a pilgrimage to Portugal’s capital Lisbon for hundreds of thousands of young people who will share their Catholic faith and celebrate being in the presence of Pope Francis. Luegi Lopes, our digital officer, is in Lisbon and is looking forward to this global Catholic mega event.

Finally, we celebrate those marvellous pilgrimages that can be embarked on in our own lands. These rich, walkable ‘Pilgrim Ways’ can be explored in every diocese of England and Wales. Philip McCarthy tells us why these routes – some ancient, some modern – can awaken our ‘Hearts in Search of God’.

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Feed: cbcew.org.uk/feed/podcast/at-the-foot-of-the-cross

Accompaniment and Encounter | Episode 14

29th June 2023

At the Foot of the Cross
At the Foot of the Cross
Accompaniment and Encounter | Episode 14
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June’s At the Foot of the Cross podcast is just creeping in at the end of the month. It’s a ‘mea culpa’ from the presenter who has been away for a few weeks.

This is very much a programme of accompaniment and encounter – very apt words for the synodal pathway we find ourselves treading.

Resident studio guest Canon Christopher Thomas, General Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference, joins us to discuss the working document for the first Synod meeting in Rome taking place in October. In the interests of managing expectations, this is an initial glance at the Instrumentum laboris. We will explore it further in the podcasts to come.

We also welcome the appointment of a new bishop for Hexham and Newcastle, the Right Reverend Stephen Wright, and preview an evangelisation conference taking place in Liverpool from 30 June to 2 July.

Plus we have an eye on Lisbon as the countdown begins to World Youth Day when the Pope Francis will join thousands of young people in Portugal’s capital.

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Feed: cbcew.org.uk/feed/podcast/at-the-foot-of-the-cross

Good News | Episode 13

19th May 2023

At the Foot of the Cross
At the Foot of the Cross
Good News | Episode 13
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The mission of the Church, how we share our faith with others and the need to communicate clearly and truthfully from the heart – these are the over-arching themes of our At the Foot of the Cross podcast.

Know who you’re speaking to, be human, be relational – all aspects of good communication modelled by the Apostles who set out to build the early Church and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Our General Secretary, Canon Christopher Thomas, joins us to give us a spring update on the work of the Secretariat of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

We’re also joined by the Church’s Lead Bishop for Communications, Bishop John Arnold. With Artificial Intelligence, especially chatbots, dominating news headlines in recent times, we spoke about the need to embrace emerging technologies with an ethical mind, to ensure human beings don’t suffer on the path to ‘progress’.

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Feed: cbcew.org.uk/feed/podcast/at-the-foot-of-the-cross

Holy Week | Episode 12

31st March 2023

At the Foot of the Cross
At the Foot of the Cross
Holy Week | Episode 12
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Holy Week is a very sacred time for us as we follow Christ from his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem to the foot of the Cross – the name of this very podcast – as sorrowful bystanders to His Passion. On Easter Sunday, we roll back the stone of the empty tomb and share in the joy of the Resurrection.

Our regular guest, Canon Christopher Thomas, General Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference, takes us day-by-day through Holy Week and encourages us to play a full part in the Chrism Mass and Sacred Triduum.

We pay tribute to the much-loved retired auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, David McGough, who died recently at his home in Tean, Staffordshire, aged 78.

We also wish a happy retirement to Bishop Tom Williams, an auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Liverpool, safe in the knowledge that he’ll still be very present and active in the city of his birth and ministry.

There’s a word on the Coronation of King Charles III and, of course, we keep the Holy Father, Pope Francis, in our prayers as he continues to recover from bronchitis.

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You can subscribe to our At the Foot of the Cross podcasts using your podcasting platform of choice. Subscribe using Apple PodcastsSpotifyAmazonStitcher and TuneIn.
Feed: cbcew.org.uk/feed/podcast/at-the-foot-of-the-cross

Synod, Lent and Ukraine | Episode 11

25th February 2023

At the Foot of the Cross
At the Foot of the Cross
Synod, Lent and Ukraine | Episode 11
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We’ve held our February podcast back a week so we can justly and solemnly mark the tragedy of the one-year anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine.

Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski, the Eparchial Bishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the UK gives us an extended interview as we remember all those who have died and pray for peace and the laying down of arms.

You can listen to this piece at the end of our podcast.

Episode 11 begins with a review of the Synod’s European Continental Assembly that took place in Prague from 5-12 February. Our Director of Mission, Fr Jan Nowotnik, was part of a four-person team that travelled to the Czech Republic, led by Bishop Nicholas Hudson, to participate in this important phase.

Lent has started and, as such, we continue to look more deeply at John’s Gospel with Canon Christopher Thomas, General Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference. We immerse ourselves in those three great catechetical gospels.

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Feed: cbcew.org.uk/feed/podcast/at-the-foot-of-the-cross

Benedict XVI Rest in Peace | Episode 10

27th January 2023

At the Foot of the Cross
At the Foot of the Cross
Benedict XVI Rest in Peace | Episode 10
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A new year, a new ‘At the Foot of the Cross’ podcast. Much has happened since we were last with you. A prayerful focus on the last days of Advent and the O Antiphons was followed by the joy of the Word Made Flesh – the coming of Christ at Christmas. That, in turn, was followed by some very sad news.

On 31 December, our Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died, aged 95, in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican. He had received the last rites a few days before so we knew to prepare ourselves for what was to follow. He is now with the Lord and we continue to pray for the repose of his soul.

Canon Christopher Thomas, our General Secretary, joins us in the studio to offer his personal reflections on Pope Benedict as well as to give a moving description of the Lying in State and Requiem Mass in Rome. We hear, too, from Cardinal Vincent Nichols.

On to Sacred Scripture and as Lent fast approaches, we’re preparing to conclude our audio Bible series by ‘Reading John in Lent’. The Gospel According to St John is our final installment and will be read from start to finish each weekday of the season. Canon Chris gives over a section of this podcast for a thought-provoking introduction to John’s Gospel.

We conclude by hearing from one of our bishops, as we always do. January sees bishops from around the world join together for the Holy Land Co-ordination – an annual meeting of the Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land. It focuses on the three Ps: Prayer, Pilgrimage and Persuasion and was based this year in Amman, Jordan, from 14-19 January.

Bishop Nicholas Hudson, Chairing his first Holy Land Co-ordination, spoke to us on the eve of his return home from Amman.

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Feed: cbcew.org.uk/feed/podcast/at-the-foot-of-the-cross

The Wondrous Gift | Episode 9

21st December 2022

At the Foot of the Cross
At the Foot of the Cross
The Wondrous Gift | Episode 9
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Our final ‘At the Foot of the Cross’ podcast of the year features a whistle-stop review of the year with our General Secretary, Canon Christopher Thomas.

As we move prayerfully through the final octave of Advent, and with our O Antiphons audio series live and online, in this podcast, we look towards Christmas and the coming of the Word made Flesh.

Canon Chris discusses some of the events that have framed our year – the tragedy of the war in Ukraine, the Bishops’ first plenary meeting in Wales for 18 years, the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the visit of the relics of St Bernadette. He concludes with a final reflection for Advent, encouraging us all to pray at the crib this year – particularly for peace in troubled times.

Finally, it’s over to Bishop Peter Brignall, the Bishop of Wrexham for a wonderful five-minute Christmas message.

All this and more on December’s ‘At the Foot of the Cross’.

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You can subscribe to our At the Foot of the Cross podcasts using your podcasting platform of choice. Subscribe using Apple PodcastsSpotifyAmazonStitcher and TuneIn.
Feed: cbcew.org.uk/feed/podcast/at-the-foot-of-the-cross

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