Bishop Mark O’Toole of Plymouth has said that bishops and priests must pray every day to be rid of cynicism.
The bishop said it was a “particular fault” of clergy and was a “manifestation of a practical form of atheism”, before suggesting that priests “ask the Holy Spirit to rid us of it daily.”
Bishop O’Toole was speaking at St Patrick’s, Soho, to the Guild of Our Lady and St Joseph, a group associated with the School of the Annunciation at Buckfast Abbey, Devon.
The speech, marking the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, called on Catholics to recognise that “every moment of catechesis” is also a “moment for evangelisation”.
“I believe that we have not taken this to heart in this country,” he said.
He suggested that the Catechism was initially misunderstood as the “imposition of a set of factual rules”, akin to the philosophy of Charles Dickens’s character Mr Gradgrind, who in the novel Hard Times called for the teaching only of facts.
Bishop O’Toole argued that the Catechism was an invitation to “always wonder” and to “see the sheer beauty and wonder of our faith”.
The Catechism, Bishop O’Toole said, emerged in 1992 against an “impoverished intellectual milieu”. The years leading up to it were a “time of confusion and conflict” when “almost everything in faith seemed ‘up for grabs’.”
He remembered the excitement he felt reading the original French text. “I have always loved the Catechism’s clarity, its structure – particularly the four pillars – and its accessibility.” Its four sections – on what we believe, how we practise it, how we live it and prayer – were “at the heart of our evangelisation”, he said.
Oxford students bar Christian Union from college fair
Students at an Oxford college have protested after their representatives tried to ban the Christian Union (CU) from a freshers’ fair.
Balliol College’s Junior Common Room (JCR), which represents undergraduates, refused the CU a stall, according to student newspaper Cherwell. The JCR reportedly feared a Christian stall would be “harmful” to students because of Christianity’s links with “neo-colonialism” and “homophobia”.
But students proposed a motion that condemned the JCR leadership for “barring the participation of specific faith-based organisations” and committing “a violation of free speech [and] a violation of religious freedom”. The motion was passed unanimously.
JCR president Hubert Au wrote on Facebook that the JCR later modified its policy, allowing a stall at which several religious societies could be represented. He wrote: “Ultimately, it was reached to have a multifaith stall rather than a CU stall specifically.”
He added: “We didn’t want to monopolise the presence of any individual faith/belief society.”
The Christian Union, a mainly Evangelical group, has representatives at all of Oxford’s colleges.
Princess Anne mourns cardinal
Princess Anne was among several members of the Royal Family who attended a memorial Mass for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor at Westminster Cathedral last week.
At the Mass, Cardinal Vincent Nichols recalled his predecessor’s “delight” at preaching to the Queen at Sandringham and singing songs with the Queen Mother.