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In response to a number of articles and letters questioning the fidelity of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales to magisterial teaching following recent statements by the Catholic aid agency CAFOD, a letter has been sent today to one of those publications by Mgr Andrew Summersgill, General Secretary of the Bishops' Conference, on behalf of its President, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor. The letter reads in part:

The [bishops'] conference's position [has] been made clear in its 2004 teaching document, Cherishing Life, Section 170, which deals specifically with the question of Aids, and concludes that 'the only assured way to prevent passing on [sexually-transmitted diseases] is to express love in ways other than through sexual intercourse.'

In order to clarify any possible misunderstanding, the Cardinal would like to make clear:

- The Bishops oppose artificial contraception and do not advocate the promotion of condoms as a means of combating Aids. The way to combat Aids is through the Catholic sexual ethic of monogamy, fidelity and abstinence.
- The magisterium of the church always maintains the objectivity of the moral law, whilst also recognising the particular circumstances in which individuals endeavour to live her teaching.

It is therefore quite misleading to seek to portray the position of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales as being at variance with magisterial teaching on this question.

Finally, with reference to CAFOD, it is the development agency of the Bishops' Conference and cares devotedly for the poorest people in the world and does so in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church.
06 December 2004

The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, has reacted to the news of the death of John Monckton.

'I am horrified at the news of the murder of an exceptional and faithful man. My heart goes out to his wife Homeyra and the whole family - they are assured of my thoughts and prayers.'

Canon Michael Brockie, parish priest of Our Most Holy Redeemer and Thomas More on Cheyne Row, said he had known the family for three years. He said he was in 'deep shock'.

'John was a very faithful and committed Catholic and a wonderful father and husband. His death is a great personal loss both to me and to the parish.'

John Monckton was a weekly Massgoer at the parish church, where he gave out Communion at the 10 am Mass there. He also served on the finance committee of its parish council.

Mr Monckton was also active in the Knights of Malta, a Catholic charity which helps the poor.

Canon Brockie said:. They are a very close-knit family, extraordinarily devoted to one another. And very private.'

He said this was the third incident of its kind in Chelsea in last 6 weeks.

A sacristan at the church, Robin McCarthy, was bludgeoned almost to death in the sacristy of the church in January 2003. Mr McCarthy was left brain- damaged and is now in care.

'Chelsea has become very dangerous. Many people are hiring night watchmen. The police have put more community support officers on the streets - but they can't be everywhere at once.'
30 November 2004

Cardinal plays guitar and sings to young people at a celebration for the Feast of Christ the King

When the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster began strumming on an acoustic guitar last Saturday night before an audience of 400 young adults, it looked for a moment as if he might be challenging Bono to the title of Christian king of rock.

But then it became clear that he was playing his one and only gospel song composition, the prize-winning 'Come ye blessed of my Father'. The song, with words from Matthew 25, later featured on an LP and in a hymnal, earning the future Cardinal a few hundred pounds in royalties.

Last Saturday - a celebration for the Feast of Christ the King organised by the At Your Word, Lord diocesan renewal programme - was the first time in many years that the song had been aired.
22 November 2004

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and Archbishop of Westminster has spoken of his 'sadness and horror' at the execution of the captive aid worker, Margaret Hassan.

Shortly after he heard the news, the Cardinal called her sister, Deirdre Manchanda, who is a parishioner living in the Archdiocese of Westminster.

'I can't tell you how sad I feel for you and your family,' he told her. 'Margaret is a martyr for goodness, truth and generosity. She dedicated her life to others; she will always be remembered for this.'

Describing the killing as 'a violation of the most basic value of Muslim mercy', he called for her body to be returned to her husband.

Last week the Cardinal appealed to Margaret Hassan's captors for mercy.

Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool, Vice-president of the Bishops' Conference and a leading member of its International Affairs Department, said: 'The people of Liverpool will be holding Margaret and all those to whom she is dear in their prayers.'

Both the Cardinal and the Archbishop were speaking in Cardiff, where the bishops of England and Wales are meeting this week.
16 November 2004

Speaking on Saturday at the Churches Together in England forum at Stoke Rochford Hall, near Grantham in Lincolnshire, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor pleaded with the captors of Margaret Hassan to set her free.

He said:
'I would like us to remember, at this point, Margaret Hassan, the charity worker who gave up her life in the service of the needy in Iraq, and whose fate at the hands of violent men remains today in the balance. I would like to add my voice and yours in an appeal to her captors to allow themselves to feel what she and her family must be now feeling, and practise the great Islamic virtue of mercy by setting her free.'

Prayers were said for Margaret Hassan at Masses throughout Westminster diocese last Sunday.

The director of CARE International in Iraq, Hassan, 59, was kidnapped on 19 October as she drove to work in Baghdad. Videos of Hassan in captivity have been released, but no group has claimed responsibility for her abduction. In two of the videos, Hassan pleads for her life, saying she fears she will be beheaded.
08 November 2004

In a speech setting out the challenges facing the next Pope and the future of Ecumenism, the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, has told Christian leaders that they must not ignore the hunger for religious truth in the hearts of their contemporaries.
08 November 2004

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster has told the Principal of the Muslim College and that he wants to offer the assistance of the Catholic community to the Muslim community 'in any way that is open to us'.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor made the remarks on 3 November as he welcomed Sheikh Badawi and five senior British Muslims leaders to Archbishop's House for the first formal meeting of its kind since he became Archbishop of Westminster.

He told Dr Badawi he wanted to deepen mutual understanding between the two faiths in Britain and to co-operate in areas of common interest.
03 November 2004

The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, last week embraced 'Jodie', the conjoined twin who survived a dramatic operation in November 2000 to separate her from her sister 'Mary'. The operation caused the death of the weaker twin.

Doctors at the Manchester hospital where the six-week-old girls had been born argued that without the operation both twins would die. The twins' parents, Michaelangelo and Rina Attard, Catholics from the Maltese island of Gozo, opposed the operation, arguing that God's will should take its course. After the High Court found in the doctors' favour, the parents appealed.
26 October 2004

Between 2,500 and 3,000 people thronged the National Shrine at Walsingham for the Annual Dowry Pilgrimage in honour of Our Lady on Sunday, 12th September. Joining Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor in the celebration of Mass were the local Ordinary, Bishop Michael Evans of East Anglia, Bishop Tom Burns, the Ordinary to the Forces, and Bishop Alan Hopes, Auxiliary Bishop in the Diocese of Westminster. In his homily the Cardinal recalled his first visit 51 years ago when, with fellow seminarians, he walked the Holy Mile barefoot praying the rosary for the conversion of England and for the spread of the Gospel.

The Cardinal also recounted the first national pilgrimage to the Shrine of Walsingham 70 years ago and the comment made in The Times which was, at that time, amazed at the crowds of people who came: To such Shrines as that of Walsingham, people brought the intenseness of their grief and their gladness, the bitterest of their repentance and the purest of their endeavour. Such ground cannot but be holy; and it is good to think that the holiness of the holy land of Walsingham is once more recognised and honoured. 'Today' the Cardinal said, 'we pray, too, for our Dioceses, caught up as each Diocese is in the new struggles, new efforts, for creativity, for new life, for new ways of living at a deeper level the Gospel of Jesus Christ.. The Church in our country has many challenges, but I am confident that if we face them together - bishops, priests, religious, lay people - then we need have no fear. Why do I say that? Because, the Lord is with you; the Lord is with us. It is not our work; it is His work and it is His path. It is His strength that we need in order to fulfil in our own discipleship the command of Jesus to follow Him, to follow His ways, to be open to His truths and to receive His life.'
14 September 2004

This week (25-31 July) Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, accompanied by his four auxiliary bishops, will lead over 1,000 pilgrims on the Westminster Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes. Travelling by coach, train and plane, the pilgrims will converge on Lourdes for a week of prayer and retreat. Many of those travelling are invalids who come to Lourdes to pray especially for healing of body and mind. They will be accompanied by special carers to assist them during their visit to the Grotto of Our Lady as well as partaking in the many processions and Masses throughout the week.

26 July 2004

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