‘Love the Stranger’
This Sunday hear the Gospel account of the appearance of the Risen Lord to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Like these disciples we can often meet Christ in situations along the road of our daily lives, we may not recognise this at the time and it is when we come together to meet and receive the Lord in the Breaking of Bread that we receive that assurance and promise that he is truly Risen and are offered nourishment and life.
Next Sunday afternoon we welcome Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski who will be celebrating a Ukrainian Rite Catholic Solemn Eucharist at 3pm for the Ukrainian Community in the North West. In advance of the Eurovision Song Contest, it will be an occasion to celebrate Mass in the Byzantine Tradition to pray for peace and an end to the invasion of Ukraine as well as the success of the Eurovision Events. It is normally a longer sung liturgy than our normal Catholic rite of Mass with the presiding priest or bishop facing ‘Ad Orientem’ (to the East) for most of the celebration. Although this is a different Eucharistic rite to our own they are in full communion with the Catholic Church and parishioners are welcome to attend and receive Holy Communion at this celebration if you wish.
The Bishops of England and Wales have recently produced a Document entitled ‘Love the Stranger’ regarding important principles in the treatment of Refugees and Migrants, which has been and is a very topical issue of concern in recent years. This can be accessed online on the Bishops Conference website and below are some excerpts from the introduction.
This document outlines Catholic social teaching on migrants and refugees. It then draws upon that teaching to highlight some specific principles that the Church in England and Wales can apply when engaging with the contemporary political and social context. It is intended to complement the documents produced by the Vatican Migrants and Refugees Section for use by the Universal Church, including the pastoral action points on responding to migrants and refugees, as well as the pastoral orientations on refugees and forcibly displaced persons, human trafficking, internally displaced people, climate displaced people, and intercultural migrant ministry. Throughout, the document is rooted in our calling to uphold the sanctity of life and human dignity. This was reflected by the Bishops of England and Wales in our resolution on migrants and refugees in May 2022, which emphasised the “fundamental principle of the dignity of every person, created in the image and likeness of God.”
We are publishing Love the Stranger at a time when these issues are once again being discussed widely in the political sphere and in the media. It offers a framework which we hope will help those involved in politics, including voters, as they consider public policy. Of course, our response to migrants and refugees is not solely a question of policy. It is incumbent on all individuals and institutions to welcome those who come to our country. Because of our particular history, the Catholic Church in England and Wales has been greatly enriched by those migrating from other countries throughout the ages, and it is a blessing that this process of enrichment has continued in recent years. It is intended that this document will assist our local churches in the process of walking together as one, therefore adding to the significance of our participation in the Universal Church’s synodal process.
Canon Anthony O’Brien