Bishop John Sherrington celebrated the annual Red Mass at Westminster Cathedral on the first day of the legal year, 1 October 2018.
Bishop John began his homily by outlining three modern day challenges to the dignity of the human person: the Nuremberg trials, the plight of the Rohingya people, and the treatment of asylum seekers in the UK.
These challenges, he reflected, have no easy solution. Speaking directly to the legal professionals in the congregation Bishop John told them that their contribution was ‘the establishment of justice founded in the dignity of the human person’. In our society ‘it is easy to lose sight of the dignity of each woman and man’ but every ‘every citizen must take responsibility to speak the truth and act in justice.’
Noting with particular regard to the legal profession, ‘your vocation is to examine each case and take steps to serve justice so that the dignity of the person is protected and fostered’. To be able to do this we must rely on the gift of the Holy Spirit, as Pope Francis explains: ‘To judge wisely [you] will need a deep motivation, an expression of a hidden wisdom, God’s wisdom; which can be received through the Holy Spirit.’
The intention of Red Mass is to call upon the Holy Spirit to guide the work of the judiciary and legal profession in the coming year. Over 120 legal professionals were in the congregation, including high court judges. Also in attendance at the Mass were representatives from the Anglican Church.