Every parish in England and Wales has been sent a resource to support them in celebration and faith witness during the Papal Visit. The Parish Resources booklet has been created, with partners, by the Home Mission Desk of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. The resource aims to encourage people to consider how they can witness to their faith during Pope Benedict’s visit.
Rt Rev Kieran Conry (Arundel and Brighton) is Chair of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis and writes on page one of the resource:
‘Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the UK, at the invitation of Her Majesty’s government, will receive extensive media attention and it will give the Catholic community an opportunity to experience their Catholic identity in a particular way. This, after all, is the one person who binds the Catholic community together throughout the world.
‘The visit will also be an opportunity for everyone in society to reflect on what Pope Benedict has to say to all of us irrespective of belief, and the need to focus on the common good, a dimension of society that has perhaps been partially lost in the recent past. We have become a selfish society in many ways, and the message of the Pope will be a reminder of where true happiness is to be found.
‘Many of our parishes are experiencing upheaval and anxiety, and the visit of Pope Benedict is a chance to renew ourselves as parish communities. Because you will be able to watch the visit in full on the official website thepapalvisit.org.uk, and the principal celebrations televised live, this will be an invitation to parishes to come together and celebrate those moments, and to consider whether they might also offer the chance to celebrate them ecumenically.
‘This booklet is offered as a help to preparations for local initiatives; they don’t have to be on a great scale, but in the same way that the visit of Pope John Paul II stayed in the mind of those who experienced it, there are things that can be done on a smaller, local scale that can make the visit in September a really memorable moment of renewal. The theme of the visit is the phrase “Heart speaks unto heart”, and the gift that the Catholic community can offer the rest of our society today is this invitation to engage again in a dialogue of love and care for one another.’
The resource proposes seven pathways that parishes might take in their Papal Visit preparations which are: Prayer, Formation, Promotion, Local Events, Journey of Faith Witness, Service and Daily Life. Home Mission guidelines are also offered for parish event organisers.