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Sermon for 21 August 2011



My Dear People,

The Gospel today is one that is engraved upon my heart and memory. From my earliest years at Bishop Bilsborrow Memorial School (English Martyr's School really) I learnt this text from our good teachers: "THOU ART PETER AND UPON THIS ROCK I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH AND THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NEVER PREVAIL AGAINST IT. TO YOU I GIVE THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM. WHAT YOU BIND ON EARTH SHALL BE BOUND IN HEAVEN; WHAT YOU LOOSE ON EARTH SHALL BE LOOSED IN HEAVEN". Now - I know that off by heart. These words are in gold mosaic letters in Greek and Latin around the wall of St Peter's Basilica in Rome.

With these words to Simon Peter our Blessed Lord assigned a final and abiding Authority figure in his Church based up Peter's Faith. It was not "flesh and blood" that had revealed to Peter the true nature of Jesus Christ (Christ the Son of the Loving God) but as our Lord says - "My Father in Heaven". Now imagine that. Little old Peter - Simon to his friends - the fisherman - the widower the brother of Andrew - and our Lord tells him that "My Father has revealed this to you."

Yes it is true. Peter was chosen as the first Pope because the Father revealed him through his Profession of Faith. All the Pope’s I have known, Pope Pius XII, St John XX111, Pope Paul VI, John Paul 1 and Blessed John Paul II and now Pope Benedict XVI now on the Throne of St Peter have all been "Chosen by the Father". All of them have been giants of holiness and wisdom in their time.

This special grace is given to the Holy Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church. The Pope is a gift from the Lord's own heart. He knew would need a Supreme Vicar - representing Him to the whole of his Body on earth and to the wider world too of non believers. See how our nation melted in the presence of Pope Benedict last September. All the hostility and hostile questioning ceased and the nation listened to him and welcomed him with the most profound respect and even a sense of awe in his presence.

All institutions of men and women need a structure and a means of practising authority and discipline for the good of the community whether it is a trade union or a political party or a football club or a school. With weak leadership you are done for. A divided house cannot win our Lord said - indeed, it falls. Those who have split from the Catholic Unity with the Pope have ended up splitting and re-splitting because the divine sanction and authority has no real expression. Henry VIII made himself Supreme Head of the Church in England and so became his own Pope. Results - disaster. Without the true Pope people become their own Pope and what a mess that gets you in.

You are bound to believe that the Pope is preserved from misleading us in Faith and Morals when he speaks to the Universal Church in his position of Supreme Head of the Church on Earth on a matter grave enough to warrant such a pronouncement. The last time this was exercised was when Blessed John Paul stated that it was not the Lord's will or within the power of the Church to bestow Holy Orders on women.

Thank God for the gift of the Papacy. May we always show our love and esteem for the Holy Father given to us by God to care for us and watch over us and safeguard us from the wolves. Pray for "Peter" of our Day - Benedict XVI. May his meeting with the representatives of the Youth of the Church, this week in Madrid, bring great joy and love to all the Youth. We have three attending from our parishes: Paul Kelly Jamie Sadat and David Barlow with fifty others young people from our Diocese of Salford. Lorraine Leonard who the Youth officer for our diocese is with them with quite a few young clergy. The Pope arrived on Thursday.

Father Tom Connolly

Father Martin conducted his first English funeral at St Cuthberts on Monday. Well done Father. May he should be chaplain to the Argentina Footballers over here in Manchester.

50th INTERNATIONAL EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS - CROKE PARK, DUBLIN 10TH – 17TH JUNE 2012. The aim of the Congress, every four years is to promote the central place the Holy Eucharist has in the heart of the Church. The Pope has chosen Dublin to host it - guess why? The theme is EUCHARIST: COMMUNION WITH CHRIST AND WITH ONE ANOTHER. Fr Pat Deegan is our Delegate - we hope to have parishioners from our area going to Dublin for this great event. website . www.iec2012.ie

ORDINATIONS – Fr Paul Blackburn to Burnley as hospital chaplain and Fr Andrew Starkie to Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham (ex C of E) to Our Lady and St Pauls Heywood as chaplain at Fairfield Hospital and Bury and Tameside Hospital.

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