Forgiveness – by the Archbishop of Canterbury

Happy to share this homily on forgiveness with you, which I preached informally during a carol service for guests that we held this week at Lambeth Palace. May you experience a rebirth this Christmas.


One of things Christmas always makes me think about is forgiveness – why Jesus is so essential in helping us forgive others, and be forgiven ourselves. True forgiveness is very difficult: it can feel almost impossible – and on our own, it is.

How can there be forgiveness for what’s happening in Aleppo? How can there be forgiveness for many of the other things that are happening around the world? What does it take? Can a human being create that forgiveness?

It is only something that comes from God. Nothing less than God makes that kind of forgiveness possible.

The extraordinary claim of Christianity – which would be ridiculous if it weren’t true – is that this child who comes so unnoticeably, so hidden, is essential to forgiveness, because he is God himself.

Here are three ways that Jesus is essential to forgiveness:

First, he loves us and he is with us. This is not about God “for us” – or God “to us”, and pointing his finger at us. This is about God “with us” – taking on the burden of everything we are not, and everything this world has going wrong in it. (Lord Byron said if God is not like Jesus, he ought to be.) When we need forgiveness, we fear that what we’ve done has changed something in us – and those we’ve harmed – so that we can never be forgiven. How can we be loved in the light of what we’ve done? We all feel that at some time. I’m not talking about when you say something stupid… I’m talking about those things many of us will have kept deeply to ourselves. Those things we know deep down have broken a relationship, or damaged someone.

Secondly Jesus is also essential because he bears the weight of our wrong. What we’ve done needs to go somewhere. Where there’s been crime, great sin, great cruelty, it needs to go somewhere – that’s what justice is. Justice says there must be a cost to wrongdoing. Jesus is the place it all goes.

Finally, Jesus is essential to forgiveness because he remakes us. This birth we remember at Christmas contains the possibility of our own birth – our recreation. Just as in Jesus’ death there is our death to all that is wrong, in his birth is our birth – a new start that’s possible because of him. That is something that is true for every single person. May you discover that new start, that new birth, this Christmas.

From his FaceBook page . . .

Our Lady of Guadelupe presentations: 17 and 18 May 2014

Please see the poster below for details (click on the link to load the file):

Poster on OL of Guadelupe 17 May 14

Mass with the Papal Nuncio

Papal Nuncio
We are invited to join

His Excellency
Archbishop Antonio Meninni

7pm Mass
& Reception

Tuesday 29th October
Holy Ghost Church
33 Westbourne Road,

It would be good to show a St Peter’s presence there that evening.


Message from Fr Tad – Russia!

Assignment: Russia

On October 6, 2010, I arrived in St. Petersburg. In Russia. A country apparently well known, right? Not necessarily. A newcomer is likely to meet with numerous surprises here, even in that second largest city of Russia, and its “cultural capital”, as it is called due to its significant historical heritage, and, definitely, “the most western” Russian city, as far as its character is concerned. St. Petersburg is located at the mouth of the Neva River to the Gulf of Finland. The city is relatively young, it was founded in the beginning of the 18th century, when Tsar Peter I, called Peter the Great later, defeated the Swedes in the 12-year-war, and in the captured territory on the Baltic coast built a stronghold first, and then a city, which was later to become the country’s capital. The only Catholic major priestly seminary has its residence here, as well as the management of the SVD Ural Region, which includes Russia and Belarus. There are 11 confreres in St. Petersburg SVD community. The other SVDs are working in such Russian towns and cities as Gvardejsk near Kaliningrad, Moscow, Volgograd, Tambov, Irkutsk and Blagoveshtshensk, and Baranovitchi in Belarus. The area is huge and merely 40 SVDs are working there. What are their tasks? To minister to the Catholic population, which counts approximately about 1 million people, and to help realise various social projects connected with the upkeep of poor families and disabled persons, as well as immigrants whose number in Russia is steadily growing, especially in the areas bordering on Asian countries (among them the former Soviet republics) and in big cities, like Moscow and St. Petersburg. The native population keeps decreasing, which may be the result of a faulty family policy of the present government, as well as of the “sovietisation” of the country in the proceeding time of the country’s history. Most Russians declare that they belong to the Orthodox Church, even though there are quite few truly practicing- hence an expression used to refer to such lukewarm or seeming Christians: “Orthodox atheists”. The Roman Catholic Church in Russia is represented by the SVDs, Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits and Salesians. They came to Russia soon after the split of The Soviet Union and its fall in the nineties, in result of the so-called political and religious “meltdown”. Nowadays, a kind of stiffening of the authorities’ attitude toward the religious and clergy can be noticed, especially those coming from abroad, by introducing all kinds of administrative procedures and limitations visa and stay refusals, as well as not allowing the Church administration to be established in the country. There are not enough native Russians in the Church hierarchy, most of the leading posts are held by foreigners, for example the Archbishop of Moscow and St. Petersburg is an Italian, Rev. Paolo Pezzi. We have been facing all kinds of difficulties attempting to legally regaining the ownership of the church property, nationalized after the October Revolution, which is a condition to start the renovation of the BV Mary Visitation Parish Church (see: ). The SVD Ural Region is the only unit of the Society in Europe that has to be subsidized by the SVD General Management. What is more, the Orthodox Church has rather an ill-willing attitude toward Catholic missionaries. The Orthodox Church leaders view them as a kind of threat to the integrity of their Church, willing to take over members of their denomination. It is, in fact, not true, yet the Orthodox leaders keep exerting a kind of moral pressure on Russia’s authorities to force them make the situation of the Roman Catholic Church uncertain and difficult. On the other hand, the presence of Catholic missionaries constitutes a challenge to the Orthodox Church, letting them introduce practices rather not known or at least uncommon, like teaching religion to their young believers, which has always been strength of our Church. We do believe that even this is a positive aspect of our presence in Russia. Divine Word missionaries work in the seminary, they are also active in the local diocesan Church carrying out works connected with our charisma, like taking care of national minorities and the disabled or addicts.
Fr. Tadeusz Panek svd


Apostleship of the Sea

Apostleship of the Sea collection raised nearly £350 for this very important charity that supports all foreign people working on merchant ships to make contact with their family and loved ones back home and ensures that fair and decent working conditions are maintained. Considering that 95% of all British trade is carried by sea the physical and spiritual needs of the seafarers is paramount; thank you for your contribution.

Farewell Fr Tad

Thanks to Fr Tad for again visiting us and giving us a different view of the world and of witness from a different perspective. Fr Tad left a couple of documents on the Parish noticeboard, documents relating his work in Russia. He sent them to me a few days ago to put on the website and this seemed to be the best place for them.

I hope that you enjoy reading them, but let me know if the format is difficult, or if the documents won't open on your computer.

God bless


Brief history of Russia – Fr Tad

Fr Tad's memories

Tsunami and nuclear worries

I reckon that there are a load of people in Japan who need our prayers; just a thought . . .


James Day represented our parish, as one of the approximately 2500 young pilgrims attending the Pope’s recent visit to London - here’s his report of the day…

Several young people from different parishes in the Northampton Diocese met at Toddington Services on the M1 in the early hours of Saturday morning, before boarding the diocesean coach to London. The coach had started form Northampton Cathedral an hour or so earlier and had already picked up others at a couple of stops before this. Next stop was Edgware station and a train through to Victoria, where we walked around to Westminster Cathedral and joined up with the rest of the young pilgrims (one from each parish in country) in Westminster Cathedral’s piazza.

Although we were outside we could fully participate in the Mass and Holy Communion was brought out to us, shielded by umbrellas in the papal colours of yellow and white.

The highlight of the service was when the Holy Father came out on the steps of the Cathedral. He spoke directly to us and give us his blessing. I waved the papal flag that Canon Michael had kindly given along side hundreds of others and the colourful banners from various pilgrim groups.

The Mass finished around noon and we processed in our diocesan groups, each with different coloured t-shirts, to Hyde Park for lunch and an afternoon of entertainment and preparation for the Vigil that evening.

We had a super position at the evening vigil. We were in the Golden Circle immediately in front of the Sanctuary.

One of the most amazing things during the service was that with 80,000 people there were several minutes of absolute silence during the Benediction. The vigil ended at about 8:15, and the Pope was driven off for a good night’s sleep before the Beatification of John Henry Newman in Cofton Park the next day.

We made our way back to Edgware station to meet our coach only to find it had gone to Edgware Road! It arrived eventually and we got back to Toddington just before midnight. I got home tired but very happy having had a super day to remember for the rest of my life.

Press the play button to see photos from the day - be sure to lookout for the bottle green shirts of the Northampton diocese youth:

James Day


This email has arrived from our CAFOD representative



Following my email of 6 August I have today sent another email to all Parish Priests.

Since that first email the situation in Pakistan has continued to get worse. In what has been described as a "slow motion tsunami" by the UN, the people of Pakistan are facing a disaster like few the world has ever seen. The devastating floods that now stretch for more than 600 miles have killed at least 1,600 people and left up to 20 million in need of emergency help. Your prayers are urgently needed.

People have lost homes, crops and livestock, and are now at risk from deadly water-borne diseases such as cholera. Because the need is so urgent and the scale of the crisis so great, if they have not done so already, we are asking parishes to consider holding a special collection on the weekend of 28/29 August for the CAFOD Pakistan Floods appeal.

Many parishes have already held collections, for which many thanks, and many of you have been influential in ensuring the funds have come to us swiftly. However, with funds coming in every day, I have decided to send this same email to all parishes.  I hope you will excuse me! CAFOD has already committed £750,000 but our partners have indicated that they will need over £2.5M to meet the needs they have already identified!

To help your collection run more smoothly:
1. Order gift aid envelopes for your parish collection by calling 020 7095 5682 or email
2. If time is short, download a gift aid declaration form at
3. Print off this reply coupon, to send with your donation, at
The links to these are both in the first section of the page where you will also find a link to a bidding prayer and a PowerPoint presentation.

Our partners have so far reached 23,000 people - but so many more need our help now and to recover in the long term. With your support, our partners can provide:

* Emergency kits including plastic sheeting, blankets, water purification tablets and soap
* Temporary latrines to improve sanitation and prevent disease from spreading
* Life-saving medicines and emergency health care

Colette Fearon, our head of Asia programmes says: "We are very concerned by reports of cholera, because we know it can spread quickly in cramped conditions. Our partners have experience of providing relief to people in disasters, so we are confident that we can get help to those that need it most and help them recover in the coming months and years."

We know that you will be planning second collections to support other causes in early autumn, as well as supporting us on Harvest Fast Day. But we hope that you will understand the people of Pakistan need our help urgently. Because it is vital for us to continue our long-term development work around the world, we are not asking you to divert your Harvest collection to Pakistan.

We greatly appreciate your continued support and ask you to keep those affected by this disaster in your prayers. Below is a bidding prayer for the people of Pakistan to use in your parish:

We pray for the people of Pakistan who have been bereaved or lost their homes and possessions in the recent floods: that they may know that they are not forgotten and may find hope of rebuilding their lives.
Lord, in your mercy....

Download this and an individual prayer for the people of Pakistan at

Find out more about our response at

CAFOD is raising money for the DEC Pakistan Floods appeal - 13 aid agencies working together at times of disasters and emergencies.

If you have any questions, please visit the website, or call me on the number below.

Many thanks,

Frank Sudlow
CAFOD Diocesan Office
St Gregory's Catholic Primary School
Grange Road
Tel: 01604 785 254
"The efforts of aid agencies is not sufficient, nor is government assistance.  The world economic and financial systems must be so adapted as to see that developing countries receive social justice" - Charles Grant, Bishop of Northampton, speaking at Vatican II

There’s a FAB day (Fairtrade Association Biggleswade) next Saturday, 7 March at the Baptist Church in Biggleswade. It’s a day to raise awareness of the things that you buy every day for yourself or your family. There are loads of interesting events (see the poster below) so it should be a great day to enjoy as well as supporting Fairtrade around the world.

The organisation’s website is

Fairtrade Poster

Happy New Year to all readers of the Parish Blog. I promise to write entries more often this year, but I hope all parishioners will use the website more. Do let me know if there is anything that you think should be on the website. You can email me by clickiing on the Chris Barker link at the bottom of each page on the website.

God Bless

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