Paralympic Mass in Southwark

Here are some pictures of the Paralympic Mass held at St. George's Cathedral, Southwark on Saturday 8th September.

My Bishop, Thomas McMahon, Bishop of Brentwood, con-celebrated Mass along with Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster. Archbishop of Southwark, Peter Smith presided. Between them the three bishops represent the Roman Catholic dioceses that cover Greater London.

In his homily Archbishop Smith praised the "inspiring" competitors at the games and the selfless volunteers who had made the event possible.
"Overall, my impression was that the games radiated generosity, goodness and achievement; a vision of the values and attitudes that can build up and renew society at large – a society in which everyone is welcome, everyone is respected whatever their abilities and disabilities and everybody has a real hope and aspiration of living a more fulfilled life," he said.
The Archbishop also paid tribute to the Dockhead Choir, made up of young people from churches in Bermondsey and Forest Hill, which came to national and international prominence for its part in the Opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.

Music at the Mass was directed by Canon Alan McLean, parish priest of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, Dockhead.

The congregation included representatives of several national Paralympic committees as well as Gamesmakers and others who have played a role in the summer's sporting events in London.

The full set of very beautiful pictures are available to view here and are well worth a look.

I have been struck by the reaction to the Paralympics this year. There is a clear contradiction in our society if it acknowledges the extraordinary achievement of human spirit over adversity that the Paralympics represents, whilst condoning the abortion of disabled children up to birth. This point has been made very eloquently by the excellent journalist Madeleine Teahan in the Catholic Herald where she demands to know how you can cheer for our Paralympians and support Britain’s abortion laws?

Madeleine draws our attention to the fact that:
Commentators this week have made grave pronouncements about the rights of the disabled, despite the celebratory atmosphere engulfing London as it hosts the 2012 Paralympics. Many have been swift to suggest that the Government’s support for Paralympians reeks of hypocrisy following cuts to disabled living allowances. One commentator suggested that the Prime Minister David Cameron should be met with cries of “shame” and another called for an “end to this disabled apartheid”. They are very keen to highlight the Government’s gushing duplicity. Yet when listing the forms of discrimination which the disabled face, aren’t they forgetting the most obvious?
Imagine this scenario. Tomorrow, a pregnant woman will be told, following a scan, that her child will be born without a right arm. What will the doctor advise? And how many cheerleaders for the Paralympics would agree that aborting the baby would be an act of kindness?
Let’s say that the doctor’s next patient is an excited expectant mother. The doctor has to tell her that he suspects her baby has a spinal condition and will be unable to walk. Again, what will the doctor recommend?

She concludes by asking an extremely pertinent question:
"...who is highlighting the discrimination that disabled people face at the most fundamental level? If a baby is disabled he or she can be aborted up to birth. But if a baby is healthy he or she cannot be aborted after 24 weeks."
Read her full article here.

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