“The four days of the Papal Visit brought the Catholic Church in England and Wales to a different and new place, emphasising and enhancing the opportunity we have to live and proclaim our faith in public,” said Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham during his homily at a special Mass on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin (8 December).
“The Holy Father has given us fresh courage to witness to the truth of the Gospel and to speak out against all that demeans human beings within our society,” emphasised the Archbishop in the Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica of St Chad, Birmingham.
“Pope Benedict has also given us Blessed John Henry Newman as someone to whom we can relate as we look for the kindly light of faith to help us negotiate our way through the complexities of contemporary life. Cardinal Newman reflected on the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of our Lady in the context of his own journey of faith in becoming a Catholic,” added Archbishop Longley.
His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Emeritus Archbishop of Westminster, who Presided at the Mass, reminded the congregation that he was present exactly one year earlier at the Installation of Archbishop Longley. “Now a year later I am back to see how he is getting on and he is doing very well,” said the Cardinal.
Father Longley was Ordained to the Sacred Priesthood by the then Bishop Murphy-O’Connor of Arundel and Brighton on 16 December 1980, as a priest of that diocese. His Episcopal Ordination by Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor took place in Westminster Cathedral on 24 January 2003 – following the announcement that Pope John Paul II had appointed him an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Westminster.
It was a bitterly cold morning outside St Chad’s Cathedral. Inside a crescendo of sound filled this great Pugin architectural jewel, situated near Birmingham city centre, as everyone joined in singing Blessed John Henry Newman’s famous hymn ‘Praise to the Holiest in the Height’, from his poem ‘The Dream of Gerontius’, set to music by Sir Edward Elgar.
It brought back vivid memories of the Papal Mass and Cardinal Newman’s beatification ceremony by Pope Benedict XVI at Cofton Park in Birmingham less then 12 weeks earlier on Sunday 19 September.
At the start of Mass Archbishop Bernard Longley installed Father Gerry Breen, the Cathedral Dean, as a Canon of the Metropolitan Chapter of St Chad’s Cathedral.