The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster has celebrated Mass for the close of the Year for Priests and the Feast of the Sacred Heart at Westminster Cathedral on Friday 11 June 2010.
Reflecting on the events of the past year, Archbishop Nichols said: 'Rarely has such public attention been given to our failings – we priests and bishops - particularly our failures to ensure the safety of children in our care in past years. We acknowledge these failures, with realism, without exaggeration, and with recognition of the depth of damage done by, in Pope Benedict’s phrase, ‘the sin within the Church.’ We keep those who have suffered always in our hearts and prayers.'
Pope Benedict XVI
He then quoted from a Homily delivered by Pope Benedict XVI earlier today during a Mass celebrated in St Peter's Square to mark the conclusion of the Year for Priests:
“Had the Year for Priests been a glorification of our individual human performance, it would have been ruined by these events. But for us what has happened is precisely the opposite – we grow in gratitude for God’s gift, a gift concealed in ‘earthen vessels’. We look upon all that has happened as a summons to a purification, as a task which we bring to the future.”
In his Homily, Archbishop Nichols emphasised the importance of renewal and said that priests needed to live afresh the 'core values' of simplicity, honesty and joy. 'A true simplicity of heart a profound sense of relying on the Lord and on the goodness of the people, ' said Archbishop Nichols 'lies at the heart of priestly life and of discipleship.
Priestly ministry of prayer
He also thanked God for the privilege of the priestly ministry of prayer: 'For being given time and space to honour that central call of our vocation: to prayer for our people, for our world and for our Church. We treasure the daily rhythm of prayer and the Mass as we try to support in our prayers all who are going through real crises: the people of the villages of Cumbria where those dreadful killings took place; the people of Gaza who live in such confined and oppressed circumstances, that the progress of peace may free them from those restrictions.'
Looking ahead, Archbishop Nichols spoke about the forthcoming visit of Pope Benedict to the United Kingdom. 'Without a doubt, its climax will be the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman. What a moment that will be when we not only witness the first ever beatification to take place in this land, but rejoice in the fact that the one being beatified is an English parish priest, who served and loved his people in Birmingham for 30 years and who, like so many of us, was loved and supported in return in full measure.'