The following sermon was given by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, during the annual Easter Bank Holiday Monday "Men's Mass" yesterday at St Chad's Cathedral in Birmingham. Archbishop Nichols said: "The Resurrection of Christ shows us that our destiny is not death, even though that certainly faces us. Rather, we are programmed for life, for eternal life; a life which lies beyond the boundary of death. "There are two characteristics of Catholic faith in this country. Both have been fashioned in persecution; both endure and mark our faith today. "The first is our devotion to the Mass and our faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. It is this faith that lies at the origin of the tradition of this Easter Monday Men's Mass and I thank you for your presence and the witness to your faith that you give today. "The Blessed Sacrament is the gift of Christ's abiding love for us. That love has been fashioned in the suffering of the Cross. It is his act of giving himself entirely and totally to us. This gift of Christ is celebrated at every Mass and continually present in the Blessed Sacrament. He is with us in every moment, in every time and place. "May I ask you today to do all you can to encourage and show increasing reverence for the Blessed Sacrament and to give a good example of prayer before Him, in every one of our churches. "The second characteristic of our faith is our devotion and loyalty to the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St Peter who has been given such an important role in the Church by Christ himself. He is the rock of our faith, our touchstone. "Today we pray for Pope John Paul II with all our hearts. "Even hardened newscasters were clearly moved yesterday by the silent yet eloquent witness that he gave in his appearance at the window of his study. He witnessed to the lasting value of suffering accepted in faith; to a determination to serve the Church and his Lord. He gave an enduring witness to the respect due to life at all its stages. " A clear message of Pope John Paul has always been this: as long as a person has life, that life is to be respected, that person has a right to life. "As we pray for Pope John Paul let us also pray for Terri Schiavo, as she is slowly starved to death in, of all places, a hospital that should be dedicated to life. "The Resurrection of Christ which we celebrate today shows us the full meaning of our lives. The Resurrection shows us that our destiny is not death, even though that certainly faces us. Rather, we are programmed for life, for eternal life; a life which lies beyond the boundary of death. "This true life casts its light on every moment of each day: on our living and on our dying. This life show us the beauty and dignity of every life from its beginning to its natural end. "This life shows up the awfulness and callousness of the destruction of life, especially innocent and vulnerable life, in its first beginnings and in its last stages. Our Easter faith that reinforces our desire to be champions of life today. "So I ask you, in your conversations and chat, especially in the run-up to the forthcoming General Election, to keep these issues very alive. "We should be absolutely clear that it is our politicians who take decisions about how life is to be respected, or not, in our laws. It is politicians who have enacted the series of abortion laws leading to the dreadful situation we have today. "It is politicians who are shaping the Mental Capacity Bill. It is politicians who propose how we should view these crucial issues. "Just a few days ago, the Common Scientific Select Committee proposed that parents using IVF treatment should be able to select the sex of their baby, thereby giving them the right to kill those that are not wanted. They also stated that they had no objections to human/animal hybrids. "These are profoundly moral issues that touch on our most fundamental religious beliefs, and our politicians must be asked to account for their actions which they claim to make on our behalf. "The protest that religion is to be kept out of politics is already rejected by the actions of our politicians themselves. "Be strong in your faith and in your readiness to engage in honest and respectful debate. Remember the conviction of Pope John Paul II: it is our way of life that will shape our politics, not our politics that should shape our way of life. "Let us be courageous builders of a culture of life, by the way we care lovingly for our elderly, respect and nurture our children, put the family at the heart of our efforts and speak constantly of the values of every human life. Then we will give strong witness to our living and risen Lord."
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