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Aid to the Church in Need .... a Catholic charity dependent on the Holy See, providing pastoral relief to needy and oppressed Churches
DEEPLY saddened by the crisis engulfing Christianity in the Middle
East, Pope Benedict XVI has asked the Catholic charity Aid to the
Church in Need (ACN) to provide urgent help.
In many parts of the land Our Lord Jesus Christ knew so well,
the faithful now live in fear as increasing poverty and growing
extremism threaten the survival of these
A mass exodus of Christians from the
Middle East is now taking place. For
some it is a question of escaping bloody
persecution. In the Holy Land for
example, the proportion of Christians
has plummeted from 20% to as little as
1.4% in the last 40 years.
ACN is helping to keep faith and hope alive
throughout the region by providing urgent aid to priests,
religious and lay people, offering subsistence help to refugees
and building and repairing Churches and convents. Please help
us strengthen and rebuild the Church in the land of Christ's birth.
A beautiful, olive wood crucifix, handcrafted in Bethlehem,
will be sent to all those who give a donation of $15.00 or more
to help this campaign.
Please tick the box in the response coupon if you like to receive the
little olive wood crucifix*.
Made of olive wood from the
Holy Land, this small cruci-
fix is powerfully evocative of
Christ's passion and death.
The crucifixes are lovingly
handcrafted by poverty strick-
en families in Bethlehem and
your donation helps them
survive. Comes in a display
box with accompanying
religious image. (Size 12cm x 7cm)
Help keep Christianity alive
in the Holy Land and Middle East I/We enclose $.................. to help keep Christianity
alive in the Middle East.
o *Yes please send me the little olive wood crucifix
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teaches, and lives, is a refreshing dose
of realism - a way off the treadmill of
artificially stimulated needs and desires."
He has resolute views on the impact of
the consumer society, and the consumer
religion offered by some American style
churches: "Jesus will fix everything for you.
Buy Jesus! It's Jesus as wrinkle cream!"
There is also, however, a sense that there's
a change coming: "If you believe the
retailers, Gen Y is just not prepared to go
out and shop till they drop!"
Father Bill believes that there are stages
or experiences in life that can bring people
to churches -- the recognition that you have
it all and it's still not enough, or conversely,
the loss of someone dear. When this
happens, the Church must always be the
Church. "It's very ill conceived for us to
compete with L'Oréal of Paris on their
terms. We stick to our guns -- our great
strength is the simple fundamental gospel
message about what's decent in human
life and what the world under God is."
Father Bill has had little opportunity
to get up to speed on the direction
the diocese has taken under Bishop
Michael Malone, other than to say, "The
principles of collaborative decision making
and co-responsibility sit comfortably -
implementation can be tricky! A large part
of the early agenda is just to get around,
meet people and see the places." He
does feel strongly that "Bishops can't
take refuge in co-responsibility either...
somebody's got to own the decision. The
alternative: responsibility is so diffuse you
don't know how it happened."
In terms of what he might ask of his
people, he is clear: "I would ask our
communities to eschew the allure of
Catholic fundamentalism. There seems
to be, among Catholics in the pews, a
tendency to want simple and absolute
answers; 'I know we're right because God
said or because Pope so-and-so said.'
These are just our versions of biblical
fundamentalism and though it's attractive
in a complicated world, I hope that people
might not be tempted!
"I would like to see much more evidence
of a church of ideas, so that at the heart
of things, there are some very strong
Christian religious ideas, instead of rote
practices or 'emotional devotionals'. We
believe that human reason can attain to
truth, so I would like to see in Catholicism
a church that really valued the intelligence
and rationality of its people, that engaged
with questions and sensible answers.
Intelligent participation in public affairs,
and life, is hard work; you can't just say,
'There it is, take it or leave it. If you don't
believe that you're not a good Catholic.'"
Father Bill feels that the media tend to
hang their collective Catholic hat on certain
predictable hooks and this is far from
helpful. "We're a faith more than an ethic,
we're a faith more than a morality. I would
like to be within a religious community that
can tolerate some different conclusions
about precisely those questions that the
journos all ask first -- sexual and bioethical
matters. They're not the prime markers.
The litmus tests of faithful 'Catholic-ness'
shouldn't turn around issues of medical
technologies. Many of these are arguable
between people of good will and between
people of deep faith."
This diocese has waited a long time for
its eighth bishop. Was the appointment
a difficult one for Father Bill to accept?
Surprisingly, no: "The fact that people
ask you, given some of the attendant
circumstances, is one of the reasons you
might take it, frankly. There's a feeling
that you might be the sort of person
who's appropriate. Unless you've got fairly
positive reasons for believing they've got it
wrong, I think you do what you're asked."
A final word on his episcopate which begins
officially at his ordination and installation
on 15 June: "I hope it's not a complete
mess! I'm with Thomas More, who prayed,
'Let me not be too concerned about this
troublesome thing I call myself.'
"The litmus tests of faithful
Catholic-ness shouldn t turn around
issues of medical technologies.
Many of these are arguable between
people of good will and between
people of deep faith."
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