One Country, Two religions…

In the Daily Mail:

  • Two photos show Sunday morning services in churches in East London
  • The third shows worshippers gathered for  Friday midday prayers outside a nearby mosque
  • The difference in numbers could hardly be  more dramatic…

St Mary's, Cable Street


Rest (and the other photo) here.




The Vatican Will Not Be Publishing the Full Texts of Pope Francis’s Daily Homilies


The very great interest aroused by the Pope’s brief homilies in the course of the Masses celebrated every  morning in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta, poses and continues to pose  often the question  from different parts  on the possibility to access such celebrations or such homilies fully and not through the syntheses published every day by Vatican Radio and L’Osservatore Romano.

The question is understandable and has been taken several times into consideration and made the object of profound reflection, and merits a clear answer. First of all, it is necessary to keep in mind the character that the Holy Father himself attributes to the morning celebration of the Mass at Saint Martha’s.

It is a Mass with the presence of not a small group of faithful (generally more than 50 people) but whose character of familiarity the Pope intends to preserve. Because of this, despite the requests received, he has asked explicitly that it not be transmitted live on video or audio.

As regards to the homilies, they are not given on the basis of a written text, but spontaneously, in Italian, a language the Pope knows very well, but it isn’t his mother tongue. Hence, an “integral” publication would necessarily entail a transcription and a rewriting of the text on several points, given that the written form is different from the oral, which in this case is the original form chosen intentionally by the Holy Father. In short, there would have to be a revision by the Holy Father himself, but the result would be clearly “something else,” which is not what the Holy Father intends to do every morning.

After careful reflection, therefore, it was decided that the best way to make the richness of the Pope’s homilies accessible to a wider public, without altering their nature, is to publish an ample synthesis, rich also in original quoted phrases that reflect the genuine flavor of the Pope’s expressions. It is what L’Osservatore Romano is committed to doing every day, whereas Vatican Radio, on the basis of its characteristic nature, offers a briefer synthesis, but accompanied also with some passages of the original recorded audio, as well as CTV which offers a  video-clip corresponding to one of the inserted audios published by Vatican Radio.

It is necessary to insist on the fact that, in the whole of the Pope’s activity, the difference is carefully preserved between the various situations and celebrations, as well as the different levels of commitment of his pronouncements. Thus, on the occasion of public celebrations or activities of the Pope, broadcast live on television or radio, the homilies or addresses are transcribed and published in full. On the occasion of more familiar and private celebrations, the specific character of the situation is respected, of the spontaneity and familiarity of the Holy Father’s expressions. Hence the chosen solution respects first of all the will of the Pope and the nature of the morning celebration and at the same time it enables a wide public to access the principal messages that the Holy Father offers the faithful also in this circumstance.

He is preaching extemporaneously.



Each Year the Church of England Sells Off Around 20 Churches

… to use the Church of England’s lingo, they are both “redundant.

The Huffington Post:

In nearly every case the reason for closure is the same: dwindling congregations that cannot afford to look after ancient buildings despite often valiant attempts. There is some help for repairs from local and national bodies, particularly the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Churches Trust and the Church of England itself. A lucky few are kept open by trusts or charities, including the exemplary Churches Conservation Trust.

This story is partly about the decline of religion but it is also about a waning appreciation for those parts of our history unconnected with the rich and famous. Churches are not only of interest to worshippers, just as Titian is not only of interest to lovers of Greek mythology. They are the physical expression, in stone and mortar, of Britain’s communal past, built not only by the wealthy but also by ordinary local people. In most cases, they are still used today roughly as they were centuries ago. This can be said of almost no other building. They are not ours to sell…

There is hope, however. Without increased public funding, any solution will have to find a way to appeal to tourists and locals with and without a faith. But why should a family looking for a day out not as easily choose an ancient church, or three, as an expensive trip to a country house?

The success of the National Trust should point the way forward, a way led by bodies like the Churches Tourism Association. This means keeping churches unlocked, well signed from major roads and searchable on Google Maps. It also means improving their web presence with easy to use websites illustrating their history and working with other churches to put together trails for walkers, cyclists or beer drinkers. Churches, like National Trust houses, need to explain their history and architecture with innovative and interesting church guides, on paper and online, intelligible to those with little or no experience.

Churches often claim that: “We are a not a museum”. But it is time to throw out the idea that churches must choose between celebrating their heritage and being a living community – they can do both.

What a sad state of affairs…