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London cardinal calls detonation on train ‘another cowardly attack’

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LONDON — Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster described the attempted bombing of a rush hour Tube train in London as “yet another cowardly attack” and said he was praying for the 22 people being treated for burns and other injuries.

The device detonated Sept. 15 on a London Underground train but failed to explode as intended.

An injured woman is led away following a blast caused by an improvised explosive device on a London Underground train Sept. 15. The blast injured more than a dozen people and is being treated as terrorism by police investigators. (CNS photo/Luke MacGregor, Reuters)

It nevertheless shot a “wall of fire” through carriages, injuring passengers, including a 10-year-old boy. No one was killed.

Cardinal Nichols later issued a statement to express his horror at the fifth terrorist attack in the U.K. this year.

“I am dismayed at yet another cowardly attack on innocent people, including young children, as they were commuting to work and school this morning,” said Cardinal Nichols, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

“I pray for all who were injured in the blast and in the ensuing stampede, and for all who were affected by the incident,” he said. “May God grant them and all Londoners peace and strengthen our resolve to stand against such evil acts.”

The cardinal, whose diocese covers the Parsons Green station where the attack took place, also praised the emergency services who tended to the victims as well as the residents and workers in the area who offered them safety and comfort.

Cardinal Nichols said: “The generous actions of those who rushed to tend to the wounded and those who were in shock demonstrate all that is good in humanity as a small number seek to divide our society. We should all be alert, but remain calm.”

The bomb, placed inside a builder’s bucket and covered by a shopping bag, was described as an “improvised explosive device” by police.

It included a timer, indicating that the bomber left the device on the train before it was meant to explode.

Detectives say they have identified the bomber using CCTV images but have so far declined to name him publicly.

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Pope Francis decries ‘barbaric attack’ on concertgoers in Manchester – updated

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Catholic News Service

MANCHESTER, England — Pope Francis decried the “barbaric attack” on concertgoers in Manchester, adding his voice to Catholic leaders dismayed at what British officials said was the deadliest case of terrorism since 2005.

In a telegram sent to English church officials on Pope Francis’ behalf, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said the pope “was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and tragic loss of life” after a suicide bomb killed at least 22 people and injured another 59 at Manchester Arena May 22. Many concertgoers at the Ariana Grande concert were teenagers, young adults and families.

Two women wrapped in thermal blankets stand near Manchester Arena in England where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing May 22. At least 22 people, including children, were killed and dozens wounded after an explosion at the concert venue. Authorities said it was Britain's deadliest case of terrorism since 2005. (CNS photo/Jon Super, Reuters)

Two women wrapped in thermal blankets stand near Manchester Arena in England where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing May 22. At least 22 people, including children, were killed and dozens wounded after an explosion at the concert venue. Authorities said it was Britain’s deadliest case of terrorism since 2005. (CNS photo/Jon Super, Reuters)

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack.

The pope “expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this senseless act of violence,” the telegram said, as “he commends the generous efforts of the emergency and security personnel and offers the assurance of his prayers for the injured, and for all who have died.”

“Mindful in a particular way of those children and young people who have lost their lives, and of their grieving families, Pope Francis invokes God’s blessings of peace, healing and strength upon the nation.”

In Britain, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, and other Catholic leaders offered prayers for the victims of the attacks and their families.

“My shock and dismay at the horrendous killing of young and innocent people in the Manchester Arena last night is, I know, shared by all people of goodwill,” Cardinal Nichols said in a May 23 statement posted on the Westminster archdiocesan website. “I know, too, that Catholics and many others will be praying earnestly for those who have been killed, for the bereaved and for grieving loved ones.

“We pray in support of all those working so hard in response to this tragedy: the police and security forces, hospital staff, neighbors and friends and for all the people of Manchester. May God, in his mercy, strengthen and sustain us and keep us firmly united in the face of all evil.”

The terrorist attack took place within the Diocese of Salford, which incorporates most of Manchester and much of northwest England.

Bishop John Arnold of Salford offered a lunchtime Mass May 23 at St. Mary’s, a popular city-center church close to Manchester Arena.

In a statement the same day, he said: “The citizens of Manchester and the members of the Catholic community are united in condemning the attack on the crowds at the Manchester Arena.

“Such an attack can have no justification. I thank the emergency services for their prompt and speedy response which saved lives,” he continued. “We join in prayer for all those who have died and for the injured and their families and all affected by this tragedy. We must all commit ourselves to working together, in every way, to help the victims and their families and to build and strengthen our community solidarity.”

Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury, whose diocese covers southern parts of Manchester, wrote to his clergy, urging them to pray for the victims and their families.

“Let us also keep in our prayer the police and emergency services, together with all hospital staff and chaplains,” he said in his letter.

The bishop added: “Together with church and religious leaders in Greater Manchester, I ask the prayers of your parishioners for peace and solidarity in all our communities that the hate which inspires such indiscriminate violence may be overcome by that love which faith and prayer inspires in our hearts. I hope the days ahead, overshadowed by this atrocity, will lead us all to such prayer and active charity.”

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote Bishop Arnold to assure him of the prayers of Catholics in the United States.

“Words are not enough to convey the deep shock and sadness with which Catholics and all people of goodwill in the United States learned of the horrible attack which took place yesterday at England’s Manchester Arena,” said his letter, released May 23 in Washington. He mentioned “the unspeakable loss of life, terrible injuries, and untold trauma to families — especially to children.”

“Evil, as dense and dark as it is, never has the last word,” Cardinal DiNardo wrote. “As we prepare to celebrate the new dawn of Pentecost again, may the Easter words of the risen Christ, ‘Peace be with you,’ settle deep into the hearts of the citizens of your great country.”

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London cardinal call for prayers for victims of Westminster attack

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LONDON — Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, whose cathedral is just a short walk from the scene of the London terrorist attack, called for prayers for the dead and wounded.

“Yesterday’s attacks in Westminster have shocked us all,” he said in a March 23 statement. “The kind of violence we have seen all too often in other places has again brought horror and killing to this city.” Read more »

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English cardinal apologizes for past practice of coercing unmarried mothers to give up babies

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Catholic News Service

MANCHESTER, England — An English cardinal has apologized for the “hurt caused” to young unmarried mothers pressured by church agencies in the mid-20th century to surrender their children for adoption.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster expressed regret for the actions of the church in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s when about 500,000 British women were encouraged to give up their babies for adoption.

“The practices of all adoption agencies reflected the social values at that time and were sometimes lacking in care and sensitivity,” Cardinal Nichols said.

He added: “We apologize for the hurt caused by agencies acting in the name of the Catholic Church.”

The statement from Cardinal Nichols comes at the conclusion of an ITV documentary, scheduled to be broadcast in the U.K. Nov. 9.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England, is seen at the Vatican in this 2014 file photo. In a program to be aired on ITV, he apologized to unmarried women pressured by the church to hand over their children for adoption. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England, is seen at the Vatican in this 2014 file photo. In a program to be aired on ITV, he apologized to unmarried women pressured by the church to hand over their children for adoption. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The film, “Britain’s Adoption Scandal: Breaking The Silence,” examines the experiences of women who were urged to give up their babies because they were unmarried.

According to ITV, some women were told that if they truly loved their children, they should hand them to the care of married couples.

Most of the adoption agencies involved were overseen by the Catholic Church and Church of England while the Salvation Army, a Christian charity, ran hostels for mothers and babies.

Lawyers acting for some of the mothers are calling upon the government to investigate the practice of adoption in the 30-year postwar period.

Carolynn Gallwey of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors told ITV: “These women were told not to speak about what had happened to them.

“But now they’re entitled to have their experiences recognized, and the only way to do that is through a public inquiry,” she said.

Adoption in the U.K. reached a peak in 1968 when 16,000 babies born to unmarried mothers were sent to new families.

The 1967 Abortion Act came into force that same year, and the rates of adoption declined sharply in subsequent years as abortion became more prevalent.

From March 2014 to March 2015, 430 children under the age of 12 months were adopted in the U.K.

The role of the church in adoptions in the 1950s was examined in the 2013 movie “Philomena,” which tells the true story of the search by Philomena Lee for her son some 50 years after nuns in Ireland persuaded her to give him up for adoption.

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English bishops condemn rise in attacks on foreigners after Brexit vote

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Catholic News Service

MANCHESTER, England — Catholic bishops condemned a sharp rise in xenophobic and racist attacks following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster said the “upsurge of racism, of hatred toward others is something we must not tolerate.”

“We have to say this is simply not acceptable in a humane society, and it should never be provoked or promoted,” he said.

Monika Cyrek, a Polish national who works in a grocery store that sells mostly Polish products, poses for a photograph June 18 in Walton-on-Thames, England. "If we're not wanted here, probably a lot of people will leave and try other places," said Cyrek. (CNS photo/Peter Nicholls, Reuters)

Monika Cyrek, a Polish national who works in a grocery store that sells mostly Polish products, poses for a photograph June 18 in Walton-on-Thames, England. “If we’re not wanted here, probably a lot of people will leave and try other places,” said Cyrek. (CNS photo/Peter Nicholls, Reuters)

The June 28 statement from Cardinal Nichols, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, came a day after the National Police Chiefs’ Council revealed that of 85 complaints of hate crime were received between June 23, the day of the referendum on United Kingdom membership in the EU, and June 26.

The figure represented a 57 percent increase in such offenses in a similar period just a month earlier.

Xenophobic incidents included the vandalism of the buildings of a Polish social and cultural association in London and the verbal abuse of foreigners on a tram in Manchester, a film of which was sent to Channel 4 News June 28.

Far-right nationalists at a rally in Newcastle June 25 unfurled a banner that demanded: “Stop Immigration, Start Repatriation” and, on June 28, a German woman who has lived in Britain since the 1970s wept as she told LBC London radio that she was too scared to leave her house three days after dog excrement was thrown at her windows.

She said: “My neighbors told me that they don’t want me living in this road and that they are not friends with foreigners.”

“My friend … has a grandson who is 7 and who was beaten up because he has a foreign grandmother,” she added.

Britain has been a primary destination for many citizens of poorer EU countries, with annual net migration reaching 330,000 people a year. Many of the migrants to the U.K. are Catholics from Central Europe, Asia and Africa.

Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth said in a June 28 telephone interview that, in his diocese, there were “huge numbers of immigrants from Poland, Kerala (India), the Philippines and Nigeria.”

“I am extremely sad to think of violence against foreign people who are living here,” he said. “There is no justification whatsoever for that.

“Many of these immigrants are already beloved members of our communities. They have contributed to local life and organizations,” he said.

“Britain has always, through the centuries, been a country which has assimilated people from abroad, and they have taken on our values, and also they have made us proud because they have made a great success of it,” Bishop Egan said.

“Both materially and spiritually, the vast majority of people who are working here and in our diocese are making a wonderful contribution,” he added. “To think of violence against them is self-destructive. It is self-harm. We are harming ourselves as much as we are inflicting division and suffering on others.”

Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton, the diocese based in Bristol, also issued a statement telling Catholics that it was important “to work for the common good and not create barriers of division and prejudice.”

“We should have a profound respect for one another, and this should be reflected in the way we speak and behave,” said the statement posted on the diocesan website June 27.

“We need to keep in mind the needs of all citizens, particularly those who may feel marginalized at this present moment, and continue to be a tolerant society, free of racial and religious prejudice,” he said.

Concerns over the phenomenon of mass migration, and the apparent inability of the U.K. to control its borders, had helped to fuel efforts to take Britain out of the EU in a referendum won by the “Leave” campaigners, with the public voting 52-48 percent to withdraw from the bloc.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who had fought for the U.K. to remain inside the EU, announced his resignation June 24.

In the weeks before the referendum, national newspapers such as the Mail on Sunday had exposed how far-right nationalists, including neo-Nazis, had been actively campaigning on the Leave side.

Witold Sobkow, Poland’s ambassador to the U.K., expressed shock at the surge in xenophobic abuse.

Cameron told the House of Commons June 27 that such crimes must be stamped out. “We will not stand for hate crime or these kinds of attacks,” he said.

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English Cardinal welcomes Britain’s U-turn on resettling child refugees

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Catholic News Service

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster has welcomed a U-turn by the British government over the resettlement of child refugees. Read more »

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British cardinal expects generous response to EU’s migrant crisis

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LONDON — Images of drowned refugees are causing the British people to cry out for a more generous response to the migrant crisis engulfing Europe, said an English cardinal.

Syrian refugees jump off a boat as they arrive on the Greek island of Lesbos Sept. 3. The International Organization for Migration says 1,500-2,000 refugees are taking the route through Greece, Macedonia and Serbia to Hungary every day and that there is "a real possibility" the flow could rise to 3,000 daily. (CNS photo/Dimitris Michalakis, Reuters)

Syrian refugees jump off a boat as they arrive on the Greek island of Lesbos Sept. 3. The International Organization for Migration says 1,500-2,000 refugees are taking the route through Greece, Macedonia and Serbia to Hungary every day and that there is “a real possibility” the flow could rise to 3,000 daily. (CNS photo/Dimitris Michalakis, Reuters)

Speaking to ITV News Sept. 2, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster said shocking images of bodies washed up on beaches in the Mediterranean, including one of a drowned Syrian boy lying face down, are revealing “the human face of this suffering.”

The British government has refused to accept migrants fleeing wars and dire poverty in the Middle East and Africa at a time when hundreds of thousands of them are risking their lives to enter Western Europe.

But Cardinal Nichols said images of some of the people who have died trying to reach the European Union are upsetting the British people. He said the British people were not “mean-spirited” and that, on the whole, he believed they were generous.

“The spirit of people in this country will respond,” said Cardinal Nichols, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

“The letters I get and the voices I am hearing are all saying this is a disgrace that we were letting people die and seeing dead bodies on the beaches when, together, Europe is such a wealthy place that we should be able to fashion a short-term response as well as long-term tackling of these really intricate problems,” he said.

“If we take 10,000, it’s a fraction of the whole problem,” he continued. “What is coming through, screaming through at this moment, is the human tragedy of this moment to which we can be more generous.”

“It’s no longer an abstract problem of people who are on the scrounge, it’s not,” the cardinal added. “It’s people who are desperate for the sake of their families, their elderly, their youngsters, their children — and the more we see that I think the more the opportunity for a political response that’s a bit more generous is growing.”

 

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London cardinal calls U.K’s welfare reforms ‘a disgrace’

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LONDON — Welfare reforms in the United Kingdom are leaving people hungry and destitute, said Cardinal-designate Vincent Nichols of Westminster.

He called the harm caused by government austerity policies to the poor “a disgrace” in an interview with the London-based Daily Telegraph newspaper. The interview appeared Feb. 15, one week before he was to be elevated to cardinal during a ceremony in Rome.

“People do understand that we do need to tighten our belts and be much more responsible and careful in public expenditure,” said Cardinal-designate Nichols.

“But I think what is happening is two things, one is that the basic safety net that was there to guarantee that people would not be left in hunger or in destitution has actually been torn apart,” he said. “It no longer exists and that is a real, real dramatic crisis.

“And the second is that, in this context, the administration of social assistance, I am told, has become more and more punitive,” he continued. “So if applicants don’t get it right, then they have to wait for 10 days, for two weeks with nothing, with nothing.”

He added: “For a country of our affluence that, quite frankly, is a disgrace.”

The government’s welfare reforms are aimed at forcing millions of people who are capable of work, but who are living off unemployment benefits payments, back into the workplace.

The measures have been accompanied, however, by a proliferation of more than 400 food banks to answer a demand for food and other necessities, often from people whose welfare payments have stopped but who have not yet received payment for work.

In response to the comments by Cardinal-designate Nichols, the government’s Department for Work and Pensions issued a statement saying that the welfare system was in dire need of reform because it was “trapping the very people it was designed to help, with around 5 million on out-of-work benefits and millions of children growing up in workless households.”

“Our welfare reforms will transform the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities … making 3 million households better off and lifting hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty,” said the statement.

It added: “It’s wrong to talk of removing a safety net when we’re spending 94 billion pounds a year on working-age benefits and the welfare system supports millions of people who are on low incomes or unemployed so they can meet their basic needs.”

 

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