'˜ I am heartened too by the efforts of generous individuals and charitable organisations to help the homeless of Portsmouth''¦Â a Christmas message from the Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Philip EganÂ
I wish all readers and everyone in this great city of Portsmouth a very HappyÂ Christmas and a Blessed New Year 2019!
Christmas is a time to take stock, grateful for all the good things we enjoy.
Living here at St. John's Cathedral, I am amazed at the economic vitality of our city,Â with all the cranes and tall buildings going up around us. Soon our cathedral will beÂ like St. Patrick's in New York, a gothic pile dwarfed by skyscrapers! The new buildingsÂ are mostly student accommodation. Let's hope and pray that all these youngstersÂ will bring much needed youth and vitality to the city centre in the times ahead.
Christmas is a time to take stock, when we also become aware of those lessÂ fortunate than ourselves. I am especially struck in Portsmouth by the number ofÂ homeless people and others sleeping rough, although I am heartened too by the efforts of generous individuals and charitable organisations to help.
Thinking of the less fortunate prompts me to make a special request of you.
Our Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth has been twinned for over forty years with theÂ Diocese of Bamenda in Cameroon. We often enjoy exchanges. For instance, earlierÂ this year, I went over to visit the archbishop whilst early next year, auxiliary BishopÂ Michael Bibi will be coming over to visit me. We have at the moment four priestsÂ from Bamenda working in parishes of our Diocese: in Basingstoke, Southampton,
Bournemouth and the New Forest.
Sadly, Cameroon these days is spiralling into tension and violence and theÂ situation is beginning to unravel. For months now, the military and the police, in anÂ effort to exert control, can shoot at crowds randomly. Last month, we were sorry to learn that a young seminarian, 18 years old, an only child, was shot dead.
So this Christmas, please would you say a prayer for a special intention: forÂ he peoples of Cameroon? Please pray that God will grant them a new and peacefulÂ way forward.
Meanwhile, as you look at the Child Jesus, lying sweetly in the manger, I pray that you will be filled with happiness, joy and peace.