The bishop of Leeds has announced that his diocese will be lowering the age at which youngsters receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.
In a pastoral letter, Bishop Marcus Stock said young people would now be invited to make their Confirmation in their last year of primary school when they are 11, as opposed to the current age of 14.
The bishop said that it was “a cause for concern” that many of those who are baptised are not confirmed. He said: “In the Diocese of Leeds a large proportion of those who are baptised into the Catholic Church (68 per cent) and make their first Holy Communion (58 per cent) do not receive also the Sacrament of Confirmation.”
The bishop said this meant the “diocesan family” was failing to initiate young people into the Catholic faith.
The bishop said this deprived people of the “objective grace of the Sacrament of Confirmation, the spiritual gift which provides the vital help they need in their young and adult lives.”
In 2011 Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool moved Confirmation ahead of First Holy Communion, which was the order of sacraments until 1910.
Bishop Stock explained that Confirmation in the last year of primary school would “focus on and provide a more integral preparation and celebration of the sacraments of initiation within the primary years of education.”
In secondary education, “the focus will be on how those who are joined to Christ in his Church live out their faith and give witness to their faith through vocation and service in the world around them.”
Football club ‘hit winning streak after priest lifted curse’
A gypsy curse on St Andrew’s football stadium in Birmingham has been lifted after the intervention of a Catholic priest, it has been claimed.
The curse has allegedly dogged Birmingham City FC for more than a century – ever since a group of travellers were turfed off the grounds when the stadium was first built.
But now businessman John Baines, who re-upholstered the stadium’s seats, claims a Catholic priest has lifted the curse.
John Baines told the Birmingham Mail: “On August 26 I picked up the special leatherette fabric, but an Irish priest stopped me in the street. He said the colour or the fabric was ‘St Catherine’s Blue’. I told him what the fabric was going to be used for and where it was going. He again brought up the old tale of the gypsy curse and I asked if there was anything he could do to remove it.
“So he went over to his car, brought out some holy water and sprinkled it over my fabric. Now I know this is a very strange story to tell. But just look what’s happened since.”
The club has since beaten Norwich 3-0, Fulham 1-0 and Sheffield Wednesday 2-1.
Abbey goes red for the persecuted
Westminster Abbey will be floodlit in red in November to highlight the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.
Both the Abbey and Westminster Cathedral will be lit up on the eve of November 23. The organisers, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), are urging other religious communities to light up their buildings in the same way. John Pontifex of ACN said this was a “very important step forward”.
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