It is vital that we counteract misunderstandings about religious faith, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, stressed during a special Men's Mass at St Osburg's, in Coventry yesterday. The Archbishop of Birmingham said: "We must untangle the lethal mix of nationalism and religious belief, for true believing leads us to see that we are all brothers and sisters. "We must keep every exercise of ruthless power far apart from religious belief, for belief teaches us that our highest calling is that of service, especially to the most needy, and can never countenance the deliberate destruction of an innocent person." Archbishop Nichols said: "We must separate personal preference or convenience from true religious observance, for faith always opens new horizons which disturb our preferences and prejudices. "We must be prepared for a renewed debate about the morality and legality of abortion. In this debate we need clear and firm principles about the value of human life from its first moments, as well as compassion, understanding and help for those in great difficulty." He added: "Today we rejoice in our Catholic faith, in its history and heritage, in its strength and gentleness, in its principle and compassion. This faith comes to us from the Apostles, those first witnesses to the Risen Christ. The annual Easter Monday Men's Mass is a well-established custom for the Catholic community in the Archdiocese of Birmingham. During his homily Archbishop Nichols quoted from an account of the bombing of St Osburg's Church on the night of 14-15 November 1940, which left the church considerably damaged. He said: "The contemporary account tells of what happened the next morning: About 8.30am the parish priest returned to St Osburg's, gathered together some stalwart young Irishmen and set about the task of reaching the Tabernacle. With nothing but their bare hands these men tore away and heaved aside great massive stones until the priest was able to open the Tabernacle door. The Blessed Sacrament was found intact. Not a single Host had been disturbed. "Then came the saddest moment of all. Our Lord must leave His Temple in which for nearly 100 years He had been adored and where He had fed with His own Body and Blood the souls of countless men. Did the thousands of Faithful Departed who once worshipped here, the good priests of days gone by witness this departure? One imagined all of them uttering the lamentation of Magdalen of old: They have taken my Lord away and hope that their prayers would help to bring Him back again. St Osburg s became empty on November 15, 1940." Archbishop Nichols spoke of the survival of the Catholic community, with help from the nearby Church of England parish of St John's, and of its return to a restored St Osburg's and Easter Day, 1944. Source: Archdiocese of Birmingham
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