I too held the Pentecost Sunday collection but with very mixed feelings. Given that, probably, none of my parishioners will get the opportunity to see the Holy Father, I held it as a sign of solidarity with the Pope, and encouraged the people to be generous as an expression of their feelings of affective communion with him.
Last week I, along with other parish priests, received a letter from our Diocesan Youth Service informing us that it has been decided that one - yes, just one - young person from every parish in the country is invited to attend a special youth event with Pope Benedict. Parish priests are to submit the name of this lucky young person. Just one? Why are we not encouraging bus loads of faithful - young and old - to attend these events?
It would be impossible for me, I think, to select one young parishioner for this event. It would be far too daunting. But I'm pretty sure I could get a group of youngsters - all my servers, for instance, and those who have recently been confirmed - to go together.
Since the centrepiece of the Pope's visit will be the beatification of John Henry Newman, we should be producing easy-to-digest pamphlets/booklets about Newman's thought and spirituality, his conversion to the Church of Rome, etc. This is a real opportunity being missed. Is the Hierarchy embarassed by this visit?
I will be away in the US on sabbatical when His Holiness visits. I feel a bit guilty about not being in Britain to
- support the Holy Father and
- lead my parishioners in attending the various events.
Now I see that Damian Thompson has blogged about chaos behind the scenes as Church's costs 'double to £14 million' and about the hijacking of the visit for promoting the Blairite agenda of inter-faith dialogue, blah blah blah. I'm sure there are many who would rejoice at this visit being a failure. I hope the faithful will turn up to events, with our without tickets, and show their support and love for the Successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ. They did it for St Therese!