‘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.
12th August 2021
In recent weeks we’ve been raising awareness of a long-running Anglophone conflict in Cameroon that has seen almost a million people displaced. Tragically, many thousands have suffered brutal atrocities – perpetrated by both sides – and at least 3,500 people have been killed. As if this wasn’t enough, a million children have been unable to attend school for four years due to an enforced boycott on education.
Fr Anthony Chantry, National Director of Missio for England and Wales, told us the Church “happily” stands in the middle, bringing people together and providing the consolation of Christ when all seems lost.
Now it’s time for us to listen to the voice of a missionary priest who knows exactly what it’s like on the ground right now.
Father Richard Njoroge is a Mill Hill Missionary based in Anglophone Cameroon.
He serves the innocents stuck in the middle of this conflict – the women, men and children literally caught in the crossfire.
“The only thing people hold on at this time is their faith because it seems everything else has fallen by. Even though there’s a higher sense of insecurity, the churches are still full on Sunday and people will defy all odds to go and pray because they feel their faith still gives them hope.”
The people aren’t easy to reach. Many have fled to the bush to escape the state forces on one side and the Amba Boys on the other.
“I was shocked that a huge population is living in the bush with no shelter – children and women all just lying in the open – it’s a sorry scene… but we go to the bush and gather the Christians together and celebrate the Eucharist there. The Church will go to where the people are.”
Listen to our full interview with Fr Richard Njoroge to learn more about the devastating impact of Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis and how your prayers and support are vital at this time.
4th August 2021
The Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon is taking a toll on the country and its people. It’s a long-running conflict, with its roots in colonial times, that is often overlooked by the rest of the world. There’s no real end in sight and the human cost is severe. Almost one million people have been internally displaced, there are frequent reports of atrocities such as kidnappings and use of torture and more than 3,000 have been killed.
On this ‘Catholic News’ podcast we’re speaking to Father Anthony Chantry, Director of Missio, the Church’s overseas mission charity.
Fr Chantry has been visiting the country in the west of central Africa for more than two decades – most recently in 2018.
“I think the big tragedy is that very few people have been unaffected by this. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. I’ve met them. Some have actually moved to places like Douala, which is in the Francophone area, because it was no longer safe just to live their normal daily lives in the villages, because of the conflict between the military and the Amba Boys.”
The Catholic Church stands happily in the middle of the conflict. Happily as the ‘middle’ is the place from which it’s possible to bring people together.
“The Church’s general message to the population is that the way it’s being handled at the moment – by both sides – is not going to achieve anything except more violence, more deaths, more suffering.
“The people trust the Church and trust what the Church is saying. They don’t trust the government and they probably don’t trust their own leaders up to a point, but they do trust the voice of the Church and will listen to it.”
7th July 2021
Pope Francis has given us a new annual day to raise up grandparents and the elderly that will be celebrated, this year, on Sunday 25 July.
So, naturally, the focus of this ‘Catholic News’ podcast falls on the older generation – the “Intensive Prayer Units” of the Church as our guest Bishop David Oakley puts it! Bishop Oakley is the chair of the Bishops’ Committee for Marriage and Family Life.
We’re talking about the value of the elderly and how they play a huge role within the Body of Christ through their prayerful intercession.
25th June 2021
Our focus falls on the Holy Land and particularly Gaza for this podcast as we reflect on the 11-day conflict in May 2021 that had such a devastating impact on the region – particularly on the people of Gaza.
Just weeks after a rather fragile ceasefire, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa visited the small strip of Palestinian land from 14 – 17 June.
On this ‘Catholic News’ podcast we cross to Jerusalem to talk to Sami El-Yousef, Chief Executive Officer of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Sami was part of the delegation to Gaza and shares his reflections.
13th May 2021
The tension in the Holy Land between Israel and Palestine has escalated alarmingly with the tangible fear of all-out war and death and destruction already in the air.
The Gaza Strip – that beleaguered Palestinian territory on the east coast of the Mediterranean bordering Israel and Egypt – is bearing the brunt of the conflict.
Gaza is suffering daily and nightly bombings, rockets are also being launched into Israel. As usual it is the people caught in the middle – men, women and children – who are suffering.
This morning we spoke to the Parish Priest of the Holy Family Parish in Gaza, Father Gabriel Romanelli. His community is very small, 133 people, but very active and they extend their support beyond the Christian Arab community to their Muslim neighbours.
The tension is palpable and the parish compound stands ready to offer refuge to those who might find themselves in need.
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.