|‘Holy Innocents’ can’t be the same – Dec 22|
To the clergy and faithful of the Archdiocese and to all persons of goodwill who love our children:
Coming towards the end of the year, the horrific murders of three children in one week, in a total of 28 so far this year, have left us all stunned, bewildered and even angry.
Some have asked, “How can we celebrate Holy Innocents this year in the same way as previous years, blessing toys and singing Little Drummer Boy?” Not even the most horrible of incidents must allow us to deprive our children of their joys and their blessings. The children of Syria and the Central African Republic must not be deprived of childhood joys, of food and games, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Yet all of us in Trinidad and Tobago must not allow ourselves to forget the children here and elsewhere who are victims, in varying ways, of our adult sins, which Pope Francis refers to as our self-absorption, greed and concupiscence (cf. EG263).
This year the Feasts of Holy Innocents and of the Holy Family fall together in one weekend, Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th December 2013. Let us use this opportunity to pray deeply about our children and families in distress and to heighten our awareness of this tragedy unfolding before our eyes for several years now.
I am therefore asking that:
On the Feast of Holy Innocents this year, Saturday 28th December 2013, church bells will toll for one minute to remember all the children who have died. This should be the single funeral toll. It may be done:
Just before the start of the Holy Innocents morning service in the parish
At 3 p.m. to link our present tragedy to the moment when the most innocent of us all met his death.
At 6 p.m. – after the Angelus and just before the parish evening Mass. Where possible, when children are gathered in church or family at these moments, the children should be told why we are doing this and the names of the victims may be read out.
At Masses on Saturday and Sunday, children should be asked to light candles in an appropriate place to remember the 10 children under the age of 16 who have been murdered this year. Those who wish to do so may also be invited to light a candle for children who have died tragically on our roads or as the victim of terminal illness, e.g. paediatric cancer.
Both the homily and the prayers of the faithful on this weekend ensure references to the vulnerability of our children and our responsibility to care for and protect them.
This Christmas at least half of the collection throughout the diocese, normally directed towards the upkeep of our clergy, be directed towards a programme to deepen our valuing and protection of our children in our schools and our parishes. The actual project will be decided after studying the recommendations of the recently appointed Children’s Task Force.
A number of other suggestions have come to me which require longer-term action. We need to begin from a reality check as to how many of the victims and perpetrators are products of our Catholic families and our schools. The image of an accused person wearing a rosary round his neck must disturb any right-thinking Catholic. We must also work more firmly with parents who choose to send their children to Catholic schools. These suggestions will be followed through in consultation with the relevant Church commissions.
The Church has always, in following its Lord and Master, cared for all our children. We have failed them in the past. Let us seize this opportunity to deepen their care and protection now.
+Joseph E Harris
Archbishop of Port of Spain
|Last Updated on Saturday, 18 January 2014 21:43|