Posted on the 5th May 2020 in the category Statements
Fourth Sunday of Easter 2020
As the Bishops of The Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, we are gravely concerned by the growing body of evidence that indicates that the COVID-19 Pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on the poor.
The parishes we serve are for the most part located in areas characterised by high levels of deprivation and every day we are hearing stories from our priests about the impact of the pandemic on those they serve. We thank these clergy and laypeople for the faithfulness and imagination with which, in desperate circumstances, they are serving some of the most deprived communities in the land. They report particular concerns about the negative effects of the current crisis on family life and the level of hunger they are finding amongst children. We are alarmed by data that suggests that those in our most deprived communities are twice as likely to die as those from wealthier areas.
To compound the situation, it is those same deprived communities who are worst impacted by other aspects of the pandemic including the spiralling rate of unemployment, the loss of fragile jobs, the chaos surrounding the distribution of free school meals vouchers and injustices and inefficiencies in the benefits systems. After years of austerity, our deprived communities have lost much of the infrastructure that could once have supported vulnerable people through a crisis such as this, and we are alarmed about the economic and social impact of pandemic upon those least able to bear it. Of equal concern to us is the disproportionate number of BAME people who are being impacted by the virus and we urge greater research into the reasons that lie behind this.
Whilst long-term restoration of the economy must remain a priority in resolving these issues, we call upon HM Government and the Church of England to take immediate and decisive action to bolster the resilience of our deprived communities.
We call upon HM Government to withdraw the two child limit on benefits, to review the benefits cap, to address at once inefficiencies in Universal Credit, to continue job furlough schemes for as long as necessary and to ensure that children who are entitled to free school meals have access to healthy food until such a time as schools are able to re-open. We support the Bishop of Durham, the Child Poverty Action Group and other organisations and individuals who are active in these areas.
We call upon the Church of England to commit itself anew to service and presence in our deprived communities, to strengthen its commitment to its poorer parishes as it emerges from crisis and to guarantee that central church funding streams dedicated to lower income communities reach the people for whom they are intended.
As we celebrate Easter with its themes of new creation and redemption, we pray that the whole Christian Church might faithfully and compellingly witness to the promise of the dignity of life in its fulness for every human person. Let us resist conformity to the inequalities of unregulated greed, and be transformed by the renewal of our minds, so that we might discern the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12.2).
Posted on the 4th May 2020 in the category News
Resources for Time of Pandemic
Available - here.
Resource for Day of Prayer, Fasting and Works of Charity - 14 May
Available - here.
Statement from the Bishops of The Society on the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Poor
Statement issued on 5 May 2020 - here.
Preparing for Holy Week
Pastoral message issued on 1 April 2020 - here.
Statement issued on 19 March 2020 - here.
The Forward in Faith Chaplain, Fr Peter Hudson SSC, is continuing the cycle of prayer for the work of Forward in Faith and of The Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda at this testing time. Fr Peter can be contacted on email via email@example.com
Posted on the 29th April 2020 in the category Announcements
The Society under the patronage of Saint Wilfrid and Saint Hilda is delighted to learn of the appointments of Fr Will Hazlewood SSC to be the next Bishop of Lewes and of the Revd Ruth Bushyager to be the next Bishop of Horsham. This is especially welcome news as it is five and a half years since the last announcement of a traditional Catholic priest to be appointed to a Church of England bishopric; at that time it was the appointment of Fr Philip North to be the Bishop of Burnley.
The Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Chairman of The Society's Council of Bishops, commented: "I am thrilled for Will and Ruth and wish them every success and happiness in their new roles. It is wonderful to see the Church of England's Five Guiding Principles being lived out in this way. We have been acutely conscious of the lapse in time since the last appointment of a traditional Catholic priest to the episcopate and so Will's appointment is both welcome and timely. We do of course hold Will and Ruth in our prayers, along with their families, and indeed the entire Diocese of Chichester under Bishop Martin."
Posted on the 17th April 2020 in the category Statements
As the three Society Bishops based in the Province of York, we welcome the Time to Sow in the North report produced by St John’s College, Nottingham.
As the Bishop of Burnley states in the report’s Foreword, “it is not hard to find Catholic parishes where Church life is vibrant and alive, and the identification of common features associated with such growth is important if parishes in this tradition are to grow in evangelistic confidence.”
We look forward to discussing how the Church’s resources can be targeted at our most deprived communities, where many such Catholic parishes are to be found and where additional resources will, among other factors, help to achieve a growth in Church life.
The Society’s mission strategy, ‘Forming Missionary Disciples’, will also play an integral role in achieving that growth.
We are grateful to St John’s College, Nottingham, especially Fr John Tomlinson, for producing the Time to Sow in the North report and we commend its contents to a wide readership.
Posted on the 1st April 2020 in the category Statements
At this time of national emergency, we remain acutely aware that the needs of those directly affected by the Coronavirus, and the necessity to limit the risk of infection, make a legitimate demand on our behaviour. As the nation suffers and grieves, let us be constant in prayer and in our public duty to stay home, protect the NHS, save lives.
The sense of loss we all feel from the necessary closure of our churches for public worship is heightened as we approach the most important week of the Church’s year, Holy Week. Nevertheless, there are spiritual benefits which can and will flow to us from a faithful observance of Holy Week in our homes. We should be diligent in our reading of scripture and in our recitation of the Church’s cycle of prayer. To supplement these activities, there is a growing body of liturgical resources available digitally.
For our own part, we shall be issuing a series of short videos to aid devotion and prayer at home during Holy Week. They have been professionally produced and, we hope, will be attractive to a wide audience. The videos will be made available at the following times here.
The first verse of Psalm 130 speaks to our current circumstances: “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord.” May we urge a prayerful keeping of Holy Week as we look with confidence to the joyful celebration of Easter in our homes.
The videos were recorded in the Diocese of London in accordance with the restrictions which were in place at that time.
Photo Credit: George Reynolds