England, Ireland, Spain

England: a handbook on the Pope’s visit One million copies of the handbook titled “Magnificat – liturgies and events of the Apostolic Visitation of Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom, September 16-19, 2010″ will be distributed in parishes across England, Scotland and Wales”. The handbook – produced by the Bishops’ Conference of the U.K. – contains the texts for the times of public prayer that the Holy Father will participate in along with a series of brief articles illustrating the significance and importance of the Visit. In a press release issued today the Bishops’ Conference informs that the publication comes in a pocket-size format that makes it easy to carry around and ‘pray as you go’ and take to Papal liturgies. Papal Visit co-ordinator, Monsignor Andrew Summersgill, said: “Although (a million copies) isn’t enough for everybody who regularly attends Mass, it is enough for each household, certainly, to have a copy. And also of course for those people who are going either to Bellahouston, to Hyde Park, or to Cofton Park. It will also be helpful for those who will be following the Pope from home, or from gatherings in their own parish”.Ireland: the bishops on the “Claudy bombing” “The Catholic Church was constant in its condemnation of the evil of violence. It is therefore shocking that a priest should be suspected of involvement in such violence”. In a joint statement Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh, and Bishop Séamus Hegarty, Bishop of Derry, thus commented on the Public Statement of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland of August 24 on the alleged involvement of a Catholic priest, Father James Chesney, in the massacre of July 21 1972 in Claudy, in the Londonderry County. “The bombing in Claudy, on 31 July 1972, was an appalling crime”, the bishops wrote. “In reading the Public Statement of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, published today, we can never lose sight of the terrible human cost of this atrocity. Nine people died, including children. Many were injured. The entire community of a small rural town was traumatised by a horrific attack on innocent people”. “On a day such as this, it is important to recall the pain suffered by thousands of people through bereavement, loss and trauma”, continue the bishops. “We realise that the publication of the Ombudsman’s Statement today will bring back many painful memories for them and we want to assure them of our prayers and concern at this time”. Some time after the bombing Father Chesney was questioned by the then bishop of Derry Neil Farren and later again by his successor Msgr. Edward Daly about his alleged activities, which he denied on both occasions. Cardinal William Conway, the then archbishop of Armagh, was equally informed on the case. In 1978 Chesney was transferred to a parish in County Donegal, where he died in 1980. In the statement the two Irish bishops point out that “All known material in the possession of the Catholic Church has been made available to the Ombudsman”. “This case should have been properly investigated and resolved during Father Chesney’s lifetime. If there was sufficient evidence to link him to criminal activity, he should have been arrested and questioned at the earliest opportunity, like anyone else. We agree with the Police Ombudsman that the fact this did not happen failed those who were murdered, injured and bereaved in the bombings”. In their Note the bishops assure that “the Catholic Church did not engage in a cover-up of this matter” and that “the actions of Cardinal Conway or any other Church authority did not prevent the possibility of future arrest and questioning of Fr. Chesney”. Spain: bereavement for the soldiers killed in Afghanistan The Spanish Bishops’ Conference sent a letter of condolences to Spain’s Home Secretary Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, and to military archbishop Msgr. Juan del Rio Martin, for the murder of two members of the Guardia Civil serving in Afghanistan and of an interpreter of Spanish nationality that was at their service. In the letter – released August 26 – Spanish bishops ask to convey the condolences of the Spanish Episcopate to the family and companions of the dead soldiers. “Faith helps us believe in the God of life, especially in our hardest moments. They fell whilst exercising the responsibilities of the service that had been entrusted to them. This must be acknowledged with gratitude”. The Talibans claimed responsibility of the assassination. According to the latest news, crossfire broke out in Qala-i-Now, the capital of the province of Badghis. Indeed, for some time army officials have been voicing their concern over the infiltration of Talibans in the Afghan police forces.

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