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The Dean’s Weekly Message – 12th March 2023 Posted on Saturday 11 March 2023

Third Sunday of Lent

This week the church celebrates the tenth anniversary of the pontificate of Pope Francis. At his election he became the first non-European Pope since the 8th Century and he was also the first to choose the name Francis after St Francis of Assisi. In all his words, his writings and papal visits he has consistently alerted the world to the plight of the poor and the need for compassion for migrants. He has written prophetically on the care of creation and the environment and he has travelled to conflict zones and spoken out for peace and justice at times being joined by other religious leaders. He has also called for renewal in the life of the church reforming the Vatican administration and called for a greater sharing of involvement and responsibility in the life of the church. The Vatican Synod on ‘Synodality’ later in the year could well be a watershed moment in the papacy of Pope Francis with many factions and groups in the church having different expectations or concerns regarding what may come out of this. The Holy Year in 2015-16, the year of mercy, had a real impact within our Diocese with many parish and deanery groups coming on pilgrimage to the Cathedral throughout that year. Please keep Pope Francis in your prayers as he celebrates ten years in the Chair of St Peter with all the weight of responsibility that he has to shoulder.

Following the end of all the restrictions that kept people away from live attendance at Mass Pope Francis in 2022 in a document entitled with the words of the Lord ‘I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you’ wrote these words. “For us a vague memory of the Last Supper would do no good. We need to be present at that Supper, to be able to hear his voice, to eat his Body and to drink his Blood. We need Him. In the Eucharist and in all the sacraments we are guaranteed the possibility of encountering the Lord Jesus and of having the power of his Paschal Mystery reach us. The salvific power of the sacrifice of Jesus, his every word, his every gesture, glance, and feeling reaches us through the celebration of the sacraments. I am Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman at the well, the man possessed by demons at Capernaum, the paralytic in the house of Peter, the sinful woman pardoned, the woman afflicted by haemorrhages, the daughter of Jairus, the blind man of Jericho, Zacchaeus, Lazarus, the thief and Peter both pardoned. The Lord Jesus who dies no more, who lives forever with the signs of his Passion, continues to pardon us, to heal us, to save us with the power of the sacraments. It is the concrete way, by means of his incarnation, that he loves us. It is the way in which he satisfies his own thirst for us that he had declared from the cross.’

Canon Anthony O’Brien
Cathedral Dean