‘Catholic News’ is a podcast carrying interviews with a diverse range of people – lay people, religious and clergy – involved on the front line of the Catholic Church’s work in England and Wales.
3rd March 2021
Today sees us bring forth the final interview of our four-podcast series looking forward to the historic visit of Pope Francis to Iraq – the first of any pope to the country.
Our guest is the Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Hadiab-Erbil – Archbishop Nizar Semaan.
Archbishop Nizar was ordained Archbishop in his home city of Qaraqosh in the Church of the Immaculate Conception in 2019.
The church, the biggest in the Nineveh Plain, was severely damaged by Islamic State fighters six years ago but, now, in 2021, it returns to the wider world’s gaze for the right reasons.
Pope Francis will pray the Angelus in the Church of the Immaculate Conception now crowned with a new statue of Mary placed on the reconstructed bell tower, which had been demolished by the terrorists.
So much to talk to Archbishop Nizar about.
1st March 2021
In just a week’s time, Pope Francis will touch down in Baghdad for his historic visit to Iraq – the first of any Pope to the country.
The Holy Father has a busy schedule and will travel the length of Iraq to stand in solidarity with the country’s Christians and, under the theme of the visit ‘You are all brothers’, all Iraqis.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols visited Erbil in the north in April 2015 – less than a year after ISIS insurgents swept through the region taking Iraq’s second city Mosul, wreaking havoc and killing and displacing thousands.
On this Catholic News podcast, Cardinal Nichols speaks to us about his strong memories from the visit – not to mention the people he met and the church-run projects he witnessed in action.
The country and its people are still firmly in his heart.
24th February 2021
Our ‘Catholic News’ podcast episodes are coming thick and fast from COVID-19 lockdown and today we’re carrying on from where we left off last time. Our focus remains on Pope Francis and his historic visit to the Iraq – the first by any pope to the country.
Last time we looked to the capital Baghdad and the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Cardinal Louis Sako. For this podcast, we head north to Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Our guest is an ebullient and purposeful Chaldean leader – Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda – a man well known to us in the UK as he has visited many times drawing our attention to the plight of Christians in the country.
In this interview we learn more about the preparations for the Papal Visit – particularly in light of COVID-19 – the realities facing the Christians in the north and his oh-so-realistic hopes for the future.
16th February 2021
Pope Francis will travel to the Middle East for his first oversees trip since the outbreak of Covid-19.
The Holy Father will make an historic journey to Iraq, the first ever Papal Visit to the country, from 5 – 8 March 2021.
The Pope will travel the country, south to north, visiting a people who have suffered greatly in recent decades. It’s a visit for the Christians, certainly, but it’s also a visit for all Iraqis.
Our guest for today’s ‘Catholic News’ podcast will greet the Pope when he touches down in Baghdad.
His Beatitude Cardinal Louis Sako is Archbishop of Baghdad and Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans.
With just a few weeks to go, we find out how the preparations are going and learn about the plight of the Christians in Iraq, the history of Christianity in the country and how and its people are recovering from decades of war and persecution.
1st February 2021
Bishop William Kenney is one of the longest-serving bishop delegates of the Holy Land Co-ordination – an annual pilgrimage of Bishops to the lands of Christ.
As such, he’s able to give us a brief history lesson at the start of our ‘Catholic News’ podcast and points out that he’s only missed one year in the past 17 – including the turbulent years of the Second Palestinian Intifada.
Bishop Kenney talks about the people of the region, the prospect of peace and the role the Catholic Church plays in supporting the wider community in the Holy Land – not just the Christians.
The mission of the Church has always been to help people in need – not just the Christian community:
“The point you take here is ‘need’ – not whether you’re Muslim, Christian, a non-believer. The same is true of our schooling. Our schools in the Holy Land are open to many other children – mainly Muslim children but there’d be no problem with Jewish children coming as well within the area of Israel.
“Always, as we do in this country, we offer schooling first of all to Catholics but then the places are open to others – it’s not discriminatory. The Catholic church has always invited everybody to come.
“I always used to say, when I was leading Caritas in Europe, in the instructions we had, it said we were to help people in need. And then there was a very important full stop. There was no other qualification other than ‘need’ when it comes to helping people. That’s still the case. The Church is still carrying that mission out – and I’m proud of it.”
29th January 2021
Having taken part in this year’s virtual ‘Holy Land Co-ordination’ pilgrimage, Bishop William Nolan, the Catholic Bishop of Galloway in Scotland, reflects that he is “sad but hopeful” after five days of remote meetings.
A regular on the annual pilgrimage of Bishops to the Holy Land, a group that represents the Church in standing with the Christian community of the lands of Christ, Bishop Nolan laments the social problems and lack of justice facing the people of the region – aggravated this year by the Covid pandemic.
But he is inspired by the Christians of the Holy Land and feels they provide, in their witness, much that is needed for peace. They are good people who are just trying to live as best they can without resentment or bitterness.
29th January 2021
This excellent reflection from Bishop Nicholas Hudson, looking back on this year’s Holy Land Co-ordination, gives his thoughts on the virtual pilgrimage of bishops from around the world to the lands of Christ.
The Holy Land Co-ordination is an annual pilgrimage to support the Christians and people of the region but this year was a remote gathering due to travel restrictions needed to combat the spread of Covid-19.
Bishop Hudson is an auxiliary Bishop for the Diocese of Westminster and was representing England and Wales as well as COMECE – the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the EU.
25th January 2021
Archbishop Patrick Kelly, retired Archbishop of Liverpool and former Chair of the Holy Land Co-ordination, is our guest for this ‘Catholic News’ podcast.
He joins us to talk about his many pilgrimages to the lands of Christ and his ‘hope’ for peace in the Holy Land – something that, he believes, demands resurrection not resuscitation.
Archbishop Patrick took part in a virtual 2021 Holy Land Co-ordination from 16-21 January – COVID restrictions rightly preventing the group from travelling.
The Holy Land Co-ordination is a prayerful annual pilgrimage of bishops from around the world to the region to stand in solidarity with the two peoples of three religions – particularly the Christians, the ‘Living Stones’.
Things are currently bleak. Pilgrims would normally inject some much-needed cash into the local economies of towns in the West Bank but there are no visitors walking the streets, praying at the key sites and buying goods. There’s also a question mark surrounding the COVID vaccination and Palestinians having the required access to get inoculated.
Archbishop Patrick is not optimistic, but he is hope-filled. He says the challenge is hold a “dream beyond possibilities”.
Listen to our podcast for more.
22nd January 2021
On today’s ‘Catholic News’ podcast we’re joined by the long-term chair of what’s called the Holy Land Co-ordination – a prayerful annual pilgrimage of bishops from around the world to the land of Christ’s life and ministry.
Bishop Declan Lang, Catholic Bishop of Clifton, like his fellow delegates, had to engage in this year’s pilgrimage remotely due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. The bishops met from 16 – 21 January online.
They heard time and again, particularly when discussing the current realities in Gaza, how Church-run organisations like hospitals, schools and charities, are punching well above their weight serving the wider community beyond the church walls. In Gaza, for example, the Catholic organisation Caritas facilitates 61% of all healthcare home visits in this Palestinian territory of 2m people. There are only 1,077 Christians in that number – of which 132 are Latin Catholics.
“It’s the model of the church as servant, as a servant to people in need,” syas Bishop Declan. “This love of neighbour is a very practical form of Christianity. Perhaps that’s what we need in the Church in Western Europe – to become a ‘servant church’ – a church that is there to serve the wider community and its needs.”
Bishop Declan Lang also talks about the prospect of peace in the region and where, despite the bleak outlook, we can find hope for the future.
16th December 2020
It’s winter and Christmas season is almost upon us. But the anticipation of the Coming of Christ – not to mention the festive cheer – is set, this year, to a backdrop of COVID-19 with many of us separated and isolated.
So it’ll be a different Christmas in households across England and Wales but let’s not forget it’s always a hard time of year for those without the warmth and shelter of a home.
The St Vincent de Paul Society – the SVP as it’s known – has addressed some of these acute needs by producing 11,500 life-saving packs of useful items for the homeless.
Vinnie Packs, as they’re called, provide cold weather essentials for people sleeping rough on our streets.
The packs are distributed by the charity’s volunteers but some of our Catholic schools have joined in to do their bit to help the homeless.
One such school is St Paul’s Catholic Primary and Nursery School in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire.
6th November 2020
This ‘Catholic News’ podcast on food poverty was recorded just before the second national lockdown in England to tackle the spread of COVID-19.
Food poverty is a real issue just now – especially as many have lost their jobs, the economy is stretched and job security is a major cause of anxiety. An increasing number of people rely on food banks to feed their families.
Catholic charities, parishes and volunteers have a big role to play. They also work closely with other organisations whose mission it is to feed the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.
In this podcast we look at two North London food banks that are making a real difference to their local communities.
16th April 2020
Catholic Social Teaching is often described as the ‘jewel in the crown’ for Catholics. At this time when communities are coming together to act in solidarity to battle the spread of COVID-19, Catholic Social Teaching is more relevant than ever.
Churches are closed, friends are separated, the elderly and vulnerable are self-isolating – some away from their families – and the rest of us are on lockdown to protect the herculean efforts of the NHS as the virus reaches its peak in the UK.
Professor Jim McManus is Director of Public Health for Hertfordshire and has been helping guide the Catholic Church’s response to COVID-19.
He talks to us about the vital guiding principles of solidarity, subsidiarity and upholding the common good to protect the most vulnerable in our society.
“We often neglect what’s called ‘horizontal subsidiarity’ – the skills of good citizenship. The skills we learn of participating, of helping one another out, of good behaviour, of pro-social behaviour. This is the time when these networks of skills and goodwill are most needed.
“The ‘soft skills’ we need as a society are the things we need to practice. So ‘horizontal subsidiarity’ absolutely comes in. It is derived, theologically, from a duty we owe one another in justice – as fellow creatures – and we should follow that.”