Fr John’s Weekly

  • Christ’s Sufferings – Catholic Church Child Sex Abuse

    Thank you for your comments on the homily of last week and your expressions of sympathy for the many thousands of children abused over the years and the terrible hurts they have carried into their adult lives.

    Our professor of Church history advised us we have to know the worst because those who detest the Church do and we have to be ready to acknowledge the truth they know before we try to ...

  • Roman Persecutions of Christians

    On 7th August at Mass, we remembered Pope Sixtus II and his companions who were martyred whilst celebrating Mass during the persecution of the Emperor Valerian, AD 258. On the 10th we remembered Lawrence, martyred a few days later – his is one of the famous deaths, roasted over a fire.

    Sad to recall those Roman persecutions but also an invitation to move from imagination to reality. There were four main persecutions – Nero, ...

  • Death Penalty

    What a shock on Thursday to learn from the BBC that the Catholic Church has changed its teaching on the death penalty.

    In Paragraph 2266 of the Catechism we read that the death penalty is justified in very serious cases. The Catechism was published in 1994. Thirty-five years later, on such an important issue, the Church has changed its teaching.

    Will you accept the change or do you still believe that in extreme circumstances the ...

  • Your Conscience

    Around the world are men and women willing to obey the orders of their governments or states to launch nuclear missiles.

    At the last count I know one missile per day could be exploded for 96 years – imagine the horror locked up in that number. Those who would launch them know that millions of innocent helpless people would be killed or maimed, but still they are willing to do it. Would you obey ...

  • Learning And Wisdom

    I have just re-read 1 out of 10*, a fascinating book about politics and education. Do borrow it (public library) or buy it (bookshop or online) and you will enjoy it.

    The author is Peter Hyman, a journalist who found a place in Tony Blair’s No.10 Downing Street, as part of the advisory group, as a speechwriter, and part of the New Labour under Tony Blair and Gordon Browne that proved, ...

  • The Immigrant Apostles’ Creed

    This week I was given the following prayer, written by Rev. José Luis Casal, an immigrant from Cuba, whilst he was serving as General Missioner of Tres Rios Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (USA).


    I believe in Almighty God, who guided the people in exile and in exodus, the God of Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon, ...

  • Alive But Not Yet Born

    It was hard to take in the result of the Irish referendum on abortion. A huge majority of Catholic Ireland (66%-34%) voted to change the Constitution which formerly gave full protection to the child in the womb.

    Where is God in this thinking? We say we believe God gives life – how deeply do we believe? If babies in the womb are accidents or incidents and not persons we are denying or devaluing ...

  • Abortion

    Ginny’s second pregnancy was difficult. The doctors early on advised a termination, but she refused. She wanted to give her baby the chance to live. The difficulties and pain increased. The doctors felt certain they could not save the baby and thought she was taking too big a risk on herself. Ginny pleaded for more time, until the doctors were adamant: the baby could not be saved and in a little while, it would ...

  • God’s Chosen

    Some of the famous people in the Bible seem unlikely choices to do God’s work – but they were chosen! If they were, why not you and me?

    Noah was a drunk, Abraham too old, Isaac was a daydreamer, Jacob was a liar, Joseph was abused, Moses had a stutter, Samson had long hair and was a womaniser, Jeremiah was too young, King David was an adulterer and a murderer, Elijah was suicidal, ...

  • My Voice

    In our British democracy, we have a vote. If we were members of political parties we would also have a vote and be able to influence policies in two main ways: oppose what we dislike, support what we approve. Shall we, as a parish?

    The members of our two main political parties are overwhelmingly white and very largely middle class. Members of the black and ethnic minority communities make up around 13% of our ...

  • What Every Woman Wants in a Husband

    I chuckled as I read the title of the book in the small library: “What Every Woman Wants in a Husband.” I thought I would like to know. I wanted to understand a little of the woman’s way of looking at life. I know all women are different, as are all men, but I guess she would have insights and opinions that many women would agree with.

    The book was fascinating. Not very long ...

  • Suffering

    Dear Fr John,

    I find it disappointing to have you raise that question yet again “Why does God allow suffering?” All my life I’ve heard people grumble like that – and now you.

    Isn’t it obvious that it isn’t God? Most of the suffering you can point at is caused by people – wars, revolutions, dictators, greed, lust for power, ambitions, terrible accidents, strikes and tensions, spite, jealousy, envy, gossip. Blame the people, not God.

    Sickness ...