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Saturday, October 29, 2016
Tributes to 'the people's bishop'
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 "Bishop Victor was a great friend of St Joseph's for many years. He visited us often and always brought cheer and happiness to the sick." Sr Teresa Clarke, head of St Joseph's Hospice, Mare Street, E8 " We appreciated his willingness to do the right thing, and to 'stick his neck out' when necessary. He showed his moral courage on the issue of war, nuclear weapons, and the need sometimes for conscientious non-violent civil disobedience. He was especially vocal during the Falklands War, when he called on Mrs Thatcher to withdraw the Task Force, and led appeals for reconciliation with the Argentinians He had an easy rapport in international groups, helped by his ability with foreign languages, and his relaxed manner with young people. All of this made him ideally suited for Pax Christi's international events, celebrating multi-lingual Mass in our youth hostel and participating in international meetings." Valerie Flessati, General Secretary of Pax Christi for many years during Bishop Victor's Presidency (1976-2001) "Bishop Victor confirmed both my sons, John and Paul and we met a few times. He was the sort of person who put everyone at ease. He always had time for people and was genuinely interested in you. He was also very light-hearted. In Lourdes once he had dinner at our table and made us all laugh." Mrs Julia Forsythe, parishioner, Kentish Town It is significant that only a few days after Bishop Victor's passing we celebrated a Mass of Anointing, for people living with HIV/AIDS. Bishop Victor, as Area Bishop in East London, was the first Catholic Bishop in England and Wales to have publicly celebrated such a liturgy; it was not his last. On that occasion, in St Aloysius Church, Euston, he was typically spontaneous in his pastoral concern. After the Penitential Rite, he announced that he would impart a General Absolution for all present. He was moved to tears after the Mass, when two gay men, both living with HIV and partners for some 20 years, approached him to thank him for enabling them to receive Communion, as well as the Sacrament of Anointing, for the first time in all those years. Bishop Victor was no great theological theorist. His commitment to a 'small and beautiful' model of Church sprang from a firm belief that the seed of the ecclesial community was where a small number are 'gathered in the Lord's name.' At the same time he combined his biblical reflection with a real commitment to read the 'signs of the times', and this is what inspired him, and those of us who worked with him across East London, in an attempt to make the Church in this part of London a 'communion of communities' as the 1980 Liverpool National Pastoral Congress was to describe the Church. This was to be a Church that held a precious place for the poor and marginalised, whether in Church or society. In the 1980s I was privileged to visit Brazil with him, to spend nearly three weeks with basic ecclesial communities in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo and Recife. His face lit up as he finally saw in reality the kind of community he had dreamed of as embodying the vision of the 2nd Vatican Council. The people's faces also lit up when this Bishop from Inner London was able to celebrate and reflect with them in their own Portuguese language. So it was that a few years later he would invite the team led by Father Jose Marins, with Sr Carolee and Sr Teolide to facilitate workshops on building basic ecclesial communities in East London as part of our area pastoral plan. Martin Pendergast "Victor was a very kind and honest man for whom justice for all was central to the meaning of Jesus Christ. "He wasn't a radical, he was a conservative, and always remained completely loyal to the teachings of the church, which made his stand on so many issues so effective." Bruce Kent
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