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Tuesday, March 28, 2017
New Year message from Bishop of Lancaster
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¬†As 2003 draws to a close, tragedy after tragedy seems to have been piled high on the shoulders of so many of the vulnerable in our world. My thoughts turn first to the brave people of Bam and those who are left of that community. The tragic death toll continues to mount and could reach 50,000. Communal life in that city is in tatters: no family has been spared. Crushed by a gigantic quake, overwhelmed in their bereavement and loss, they now have to face the harsh winter of homelessness, hunger and loneliness. I appeal to every family and parish to remember the Iranian people. Offer special prayers in the home and remember them in the New Year Masses and Services. Give generously to charities, such as CAFOD, so that they can respond with their usual promptness and generosity. Let us hope, too, that the international response continues into the future. As we approach the New Year our Catholic Calendar reminds us to work and pray for world peace. Can we hope for a peace in the coming year that has evaded us in the past ≠ a peace that breaks down the walls of strife, banishes divisions between rich and poor, and points to the way of justice and reconciliation? I pause to ponder the Holy Father Pope John Paul II's powerful words in his New Year message, when he challenges us to examine the root causes of the ills in our society. Likewise, let us look for a moment at why millions of people ≠ 37 million in fact ≠ are on the move in our world as refugees and asylum seekers. It is the task of the Church to be the "voice of the voiceless". I ask you to speak up on their behalf. Encourage our politicians to legislate with fairness, to acknowledge the giftedness of those peoples, and where possible to assist them in the rebuilding of their lives. It is most unfortunate when a small percentage come to our shores for sanctuary that we treat them with so much suspicion. From Bishop's Apartment, Cathedral House, Lancaster, 31 December 2003
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