Dear fellow Parishioners
Last Sunday Pope Francis spoke of Iraq:
“The news coming from Iraq leaves us in disbelief and dismay: thousands of people, including many Christians, brutally driven from their homes; children dead from thirst and hunger during the escape; women who are abducted; people slaughtered; violence of every kind; destruction everywhere, destruction of homes, destruction of religious, historical and cultural patrimonies. All this greatly offends God and greatly offends humanity. You cannot bring hatred in the name of God. You cannot make war in the name of God! All of us thinking on this situation, on these people, let us make a moment of silence and pray. I thank those who, with courage, are bringing relief to these brothers and sisters, and I hope that an effective political solution on an international and local level can stop these crimes and restore the law. To better assure my closeness to these dear people, I have nominated Cardinal Fernando Filoni as my personal envoy to Iraq.”
Pope Francis also entrusted Cardinal Filoni with an undisclosed amount of money for the relief of the refugees.
Now, to a matter nearer to home. The NHS is consulting on its proposal to reorganise hospital chaplains by creating a generic chaplaincy service. In practice this means that chaplains regardless of their religion or denomination will be appointed to specific wards or numbers of beds regardless of the patients’ religions and differing spiritual needs. At first glance this reorganisation of chaplaincy services may appear to be an efficient use of chaplains but it totally ignores the specific needs of faith communities like ours, and those of Jews, Sikhs or Muslims, all of whom have rites which only chaplains of their own faith can administer. So, a Catholic in hospital would want a priest to anoint them, or hear confession or a priest or lay minister to bring them Holy Communion that was consecrated at Mass in a Catholic church. A chaplain of another religion or denomination is not able to do this. So it is simplistic to think that a chaplain can be a one size fits all!
At the present the NHS constitution guarantees the right to a chaplain of one’s own denomination but now this is under threat. Please consider writing a simple letter to Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health, Department of Health, Richmond House, 79 Whitehall, London SW1A, stating that it is your right as a Roman Catholic to have the services of a Roman Catholic chaplain when a patient in a NHS hospital and this right should not be withdrawn. Also send a copy of your letter to Simon Stevens, Chief Executive, NHS England, PO Box 16738, Redditch, B97 9PTOr email England.firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
The collection for the material spiritual relief of Iraqi refugees will remain open for the next two weeks.