Friday 29 March 2024

Archbishop urges priests to tend to ‘those in need’ this Easter

The Archbishop of Westminster has thanked priests and called on them to remind people of “their union with Christ when a time of suffering is upon them”.

At Chrism Mass at Westminster Cathedral, Cardinal Vincent Nichols told priests to “encourage people in practical service of others, especially those in need”.

He described the act of service as a vocation of “fulfilled sacrifice” and asked the laity to pray for priests to “renew the promises first made on the day of our ordination, so today that grace may be renewed in each one of us”. He said that the chrism draws each person into a “deeper sense of the particular purpose for which we have been made”.

Speaking about his time witnessing the devastation and poverty in Gaza City in 2014, he described the “unimaginable” agony of the families of those kidnapped and the toll on innocent lives which he described as “overwhelming and devastating”.

He said that his priority on the visit was to “express support and admiration for the parish community” which he did by visiting the people of the Holy Family Church, the only Catholic church in Gaza.

He said that despite the devastation, the present parish priest, Fr Gabriel Romanello said that there is still a “longing to get back into Gaza City, to be with the people still hanging on to life inside his parish compound”.

The cardinal spoke about Jesus’ deep experience of abandonment on the cross, relating it to those in the conflict such as babies, the elderly and abandoned children. He encouraged the congregation to look upon Jesus who “holds out to us the light and pathway of reconciliation, offering a security that no military power can match”.

Cardinal Nichols appealed for hope and warned not to “allow that hope to be extinguished”. Speaking about issues of resentment that come after warfare, he said that rebuilding a society in the aftermath of a war “will not only be in concrete and steel, but in hearts and minds”.