From shame to pride by Stephen Pittman

We’ve been battered by stories about abuse in the Catholic Church, then our Anglican friends went through the same thing. This latest report finds that child abuse has been widespread throughout many religious groups and denominations. The implication now is that churches, mosques and synagogues are not safe places for children and vulnerable young people. We were once thought of as good people. Nowadays, many distrust us simply because we go to church. The evidence suggests their fears are well founded and it will take many years for us to move past this.

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John Battle writes with passion. That passion was once heard in the House of Commons. These days it can be seen in his work with fellow parishioners for the St Vincent de Paul Society. But in his first piece for The Grapevine, you can hear that campaigning, political passion still. He is unequivocal: While poverty should not exist in our country, there is much we can do to alleviate it. He’s not trying to win votes – he’s asking the rest of us to join this great work.

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The novelist Dame Hilary Mantel wants to be European. More specifically, she wants to be Irish, reports the Belfast Telegraph. “My parents were both born in England, but the generation that shaped me was the one before that, and I was conscious of belonging to an Irish family,” she said. “We were northern, working-class and Catholic, and to me, Englishness was Protestant and southern, and owned by people with more money.” Back in 2012, Dame Hilary said Catholicism was “not for respectable people”.

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Some of us are old enough to remember the opening of a cathedral or two, several national gatherings and, of course, the first visit of a Pope to England & Wales. These were triumphant occasions. The Catholic Church was out of the shadows and we were more than a little proud. The latest biggie is an ecumenical project, The Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer. This involves Christians of all denominations sharing their faith in brick – literally. Let’s share the pride.

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Stephen P

There was great pride in Liverpool on Friday at the episcopal ordination of Thomas Neylon as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese. Tom is very much a local lad with an identifiable Lancashire accent. And that great congregation included many friends from his parishes in Wigan, Skelmersdale, St Helens and Widnes. Tom was ordained priest in by Pope John Paul II at Heaton Airport in1982. Ad multos annos, Bishop Tom.

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