The Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Philip Egan says that young people should be central to our thoughts at this time of the year

Saturday, 23rd December 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Saturday, 23rd December 2017, 11:07 am
Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth, Bishop Philip Egan

Only the other day, I was at a carol concert where we sang one of my old favourites Away in a Manger.

Yes, this is that magical time of the year when we recall the touching scene of baby Jesus lying in a manger, with Mary His Mother and Joseph his Guardian looking on with love and adoration. For me, as for all Christians, we believe that this baby Jesus is God the Son, born in human flesh, born in time and born as a child. He has come to set us free, to save us from sin, suffering and death.

This is amazing good news for everyone on earth!

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Children are rarely if ever out of our minds! Nor, for that matter are they rarely out of the news, although it’s not always good news. In fact, hardly a day goes by without some sad and terrible story coming to light of a child being abused. The scars of child-abuse can last a life-time, and few totally recover.

Two years ago, I instituted in our diocese a special day of prayer for children during the Christmas season. It is a day of prayer for the protection and safety of children and prayer for all those who work to keep them safe. I wanted us to pray for those who work in safeguarding and thereby to show our support for the wonderful work they do as they seek to protect children and vulnerable adults in our society and its institutions.

This year the day of prayer falls on Sunday, December 31, which, besides being the last day of the year, is for Catholics the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

So this Christmas, please honour and pray for these good workers.

Indeed, as you look at the Child Jesus, lying sweetly in the manger, please say a prayer too for all our children and young people.