Archbishop Nichols encourages Catholics to celebrate their difference

 The Archbishop of Birmingham has encouraged Catholics to celebrate their difference in the face of trends in society that tend towards individualism and self.

In a challenging sermon at the city's Rite of Election Service on Sunday, Archbishop Vincent Nichols declared that we must work together and realise our interdependence, which would then leave room for God

"To an increasing extent, our gift of faith puts us at odds with some strong tendencies in our world today.

"For many generations, our society, in its public expressions, has been based on the lingering effects of the vision of Christian faith, experience and conviction. But, in more recent years, it is systematically reconstructing itself around the assumption that there is no God, no transcendent perspective from which the light of truth comes," he went on.

"Fundamental to the current effort at the reconstruction of our society is a working assumption that, ultimately, we are self-sufficient: everything depends on us and ends when our life ends.

"This self-sufficiency implies that we have a mastery of all that surrounds us, even our very nature as expressed both in the
human person and in the created world. We assume, in practice, that all this is ours to explore, manipulate and use to our best

Referring to other aspects of society's development over the the past 20­30 years, the Archbishop pointed to areas such as human sexuality, of marriage and parenting and the production of human life in a laboratory as areas where changes were fundamental and carried consequences with which we now all have to deal.

"Yet, in truth, our human nature is not so self-sufficient, nor closed. We cannot recreate ourselves in the image and likeness that we might choose. We are subject to our deeper selves, and that deeper self opens up to the transcendent, to God.

"Faith teaches us that we owe a profound duty to each other, in our creation of wealth and in its distribution. This is the unmistakeable truth, in contrast to the motive of total profit for some," he told a packed congregation.

"All of us form one body and as parts of it belong to each other. Self-sufficiency and individualism will not do. They are not the truth of who we are. Our efforts must be aimed not at our own benefit, but at the common good. We are not masters, but servants of each other.

"On this basis, Catholics do not mind being different! We have received a great gift, which we will not relinquish, but rather, in humility and deference, seek to share with others for the good of all," concluded Archbishop Nichols.

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