scmo_banner_news.jpg


Archbishop O'Brien's Pastoral Visit to Romania  
31 August ­ 4 September 2003  

A full report of this visit follows below, photographs of the openingmass and the state orphanage are available in JPEG format from the Catholic Media Office  

Archbishop O'Brien returned from his pastoral visit having experienced at first hand just a little of the hardships of life for the people of Romania.  

His visit began with Mass last Sunday in the Sacred Heart Church in Darmanesti, near Bacau in central Romania. He spoke of the welcome he was given by the parish priest Fr Eugen, the sisters and the young people who had visited his home last month; he recognised the crucifix on the wall of their new Church - it was a gift from St Patrick's Parish Kilsyth, in his own Archdiocese. One of many tangible links between Scotland and Romania.  

In his sermon he told the people how pleased he was at last to visit their country and wanted them to know how grateful we are to them for keeping the faith and growing in love of God and one another. He said;  

"You have experienced many years of suffering and hardship under a cruel regime. You have witnessed in a very real way to the suffering Christ. Now you are experiencing the resurrection of your nation. I urge you to beware of being tempted to settle for less than the best. There are many false gods in the western world."  

Addressing the young people he added;  
" Please treasure the heritage given to you. It has been hard won. Many people have suffered great hardship to allow you to have the freedom to worship God. Do not settle only for material values that do not last. Help your country to grow once again into the great nation it once was and to play its full part in the growth and development of Europe and the world."  

The Archbishop was greeted with a standing ovation, many of the people visibly moved with his words. After Mass he greeted each person at the door of the new Church.  

He then travelled north to Siret in northern Romania, a town two kilometres from the border with Ukraine In the local Church he conducted a simple service with young abandoned people living in the local state orphanage and in homes built thanks to the fundraising efforts of the singer Daniel O'Donnell. The service was an occasion of great joy for the orphans and for the many townspeople who joined them. The archbishop established an instant rapport with the help of his translator Marinella and soon had them all singing and praying. The youngsters from the orphanage were allowed at least for a while to forget the harsh realities of their lives.  

From there he went to visit the state "orphanage." Where 150 young people aged 18 and over live in conditions that can only be described as "shocking". The first thing he noticed was the cages, which are visible from the street. The young people are imprisoned in this institution. Commenting on his impressions of the State orphanage the Archbishop said,  

"Like many people I have seen reports and documentaries on television about conditions in these institutions but nothing could prepare me for the reality. The smell was unbelievable. Other than the youngsters who had been allowed out to the Church service, the residents were half dressed and dirty. We took buns in with us and it was quite apparent that the poor souls were very hungry, fighting one another to get to the food first. It was a very difficult visit but I am glad that I have seen for myself these appalling conditions. Something must be done to improve their circumstances. The Challenge Charity has done great work here but it is really for the Romanian authorities to sort this matter out and do so as a matter of urgency. I have visited very poor people in Africa and in Central America but I never expected to see so many young people consigned to a life of total poverty and squalor in State run institutions in a European country."  

Visiting homes build by Daniel O'Donnell's fundraising campaign, the Archbishop saw young people being cared for in clean and comfortable conditions. He said,  

"The contrast between the state institution and these homes is enormous. Here the young people are treated as individuals and given the respect they are due as human beings. It is also evident that they are responding to their new surroundings by learning to become more independent and taking responsibility for the homes and the grounds." He went on "Daniel O'Donnell and the fans who support him have a lot to be proud of in the provision of these beautiful homes for abandoned young people. I feel privileged to be associated with the great work going on here. It is a real expression of the Gospel in action"  

The following day the Archbishop returned to Darmanesti for the solemn Dedication of the new Church. The celebration began at the train station where Cardinal Meisner from Cologne joined Archbishop O'Brien and the local Bishop Petru Gerghil on an open horse-drawn carriage. Accompanied by twelve outriders bearing standards: the papal colours, the Romanian National flag and a Marian standard: the procession wound its way along the rough track to the new Church. The street was thronged with people being kept in line by a police guard of honour. The children all carried flowers, which they raised in greeting to the prelates. On arrival at the Church there was a formal greeting by the Parish Priest Fr Eugen. He welcomed the visiting church and civic dignitaries. After the prayer of blessing, the three prelates walked around the outside of the building sprinkling it with holy water.  

An estimated congregation of 2500 people filled the church and the piazza all the way down to the street. In an impressive ceremony the altar and the church walls were anointed with oil as the people sang in wonderful harmony.  

At the end of the Mass of dedication everyone was invited to the party. Romanian Challenge workers had come down from Siret and alongside parishioners had prepared a banquet for everyone. Archbishop O'Brien said,  

"When I learned some weeks ago that Father Eugen's dream would be to host a reception for everyone, not just visiting dignitaries, I offered to help realise his dream. The ordinary people of this parish have been hands-on building this beautiful new church building. It has taken eleven years. This is a day for them more than anyone to celebrate. I was only too happy to help make that possible. I am very proud of the parishes and individuals back home who have helped make this day possible through their fundraising and support."  

The following morning the Archbishop joined Father Eugen in a visitation of some of the housebound parishioners who had been unable to attend the ceremony of dedication. The elderly people were visibly moved as he prayed with them. One old man said,  

"This is the best day of my whole life. Never did I think I would have an Archbishop in my home. Only last year our home was burned to the ground and we lost everything. We now have a new home thanks to the generosity of the  
people of Scotland. We can never thank them enough Never did I imagine I  
would have a new home and a visit from an Archbishop. My life is now complete. I am happy to die because nothing greater can happen to me now in this life."  

Later in the day the Archbishop drove south to Bucharest where he met up again with Cardinal Meisner, as well as Metropolitan Archbishop Robu and the papal Nuncio. On the way there, the car he was travelling in was broken into while he was visiting a famous Church in the city of Brasov. The thieves took passports, credit cards, mobile telephone, various documents as well as his vestments and the pectoral cross he was given by the Holy Father at the last Synod of Bishops. Speaking of the incident he said,  

"It was in hindsight obviously careless to leave our documents in the car.  
In all my travels I have never done so. In mitigation I can only say that  
we have felt so secure since we arrived that we were caught unawares. Everywhere we have gone we have felt protected and welcome. It is a hard lesson but one that will be remembered." The archbishop refused to allow the incident to colour his experience in Romania. He said, "This pastoral visit has been a time of great joy for me. To see the obvious deep faith of people who have had such great difficulty in holding on to their faith against the odds has been a great privilege. I have also been very impressed with the dedication and commitment of very many people from our country in working to alleviate the suffering and poverty of the abandoned thousands in so many institutions here."  

The archbishop was less positive about the role played by the British authorities in resolving the matter of stolen passports. He said,  

"When we arrived at the Consulate in Bucharest on Wednesday morning we were shepherded to a building where hundreds of Romanians were waiting for UK visas. We were told we were wasting our time trying to get replacement passports. Eventually we were given emergency passports. At the airport that afternoon however, Romanian Immigration guards would not allow us to travel  
- it seemed we needed an exit visa stamped on our passports- no one in the embassy had told us this. With the help of Archbishop Robu's of Bucharest and his secretary, Father Ionut we succeeded after 24 hours of queuing, pleading and phoning with consular staff in the British Embassy, to obtain the necessary documentation. No apology for the dismal failure of the Consulate to provide any support or help during our difficulties was received. This is especially galling since the Consul James Cameron is a Scot from Glasgow as are one of the vice consuls Stuart Lochrie and a senior official Bob Napier. In short, the Consulate gave us little or no support. I was amazed therefore to read a statement from the Foreign Office dated 9 September, stating; "We have apologised to the Archbishop for the oversight which led to his difficulties on this occasion. When this error came to light, our consular team provided all the assistance they could, including accompanying the Archbishop to the Romanian Visa Department to ensure that he obtained the correct exit visa." This is entirely untrue. No apology was given nor did a member of the Consular team accompany us to the Romanian Visa Office. Thankfully the very positive experience of this pastoral visit where he witnessed the marvellous results of the fruitful partnership between the Scottish and Romanian Church far outweighed the miserable performance of the British Embassy. At the very least the Consular Office even at this late stage should be honest, admit their shortcomings, and issue a public apology."  

Archbishop O'Brien and Father Fallon both expressed very great admiration for everyone involved in the great apostolate of support for the abandoned young people and they look forward to welcoming Father Eugen to Scotland next month and hope to repay the wonderful hospitality extended by him and his people.  

As Archbishop O'Brien said in his opening sermon in Romania,  

"It has been a privilege for the people of Scotland to continue to share in the resurrection of the people of Romania."  

ENDS  

Peter Kearney  
Director  
Catholic Media Office  
5 St. Vincent Place  
Glasgow  
G1 2DH  
0141 221 1168  
pk@scmo.org  
www.scmo.org  

Subscribe to Updates

Subscribe to:
Like   Back to Top   Seen 119 times   Liked 0 times

Subscribe to Updates

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to free email updates ?

Subscribe to News updates

Enter your email address to be notified of new posts:

Subscribe to:

Alternatively, you can subscribe via RSS

‹ Return to News

We never share or sell your email address to anyone.

I've already subscribed / don't show me this again

Recent Posts

MERCY BUS IS BACK ON THE ROAD

| 27th July 2018 | Blogging

The Friends of Divine Mercy Scotland are taking the Mercy Bus back out on the road this summer to spread the joy of the Gospel from a double-decker bus.   Fr Joe Burke will open the tour in Johnstone Square, Renfrewshire on Monday 30 July 2018 at 11 a.m.   Last year, over 200 people boarded the Bus and more than 1,000 Miraculous Medals and Divine Mercy Chaplets were given out on the streets of Scotland.   Organiser Helen Border said:   “Everyone is welcome to come along and visit our ‘church on wheels!’ Today, people find forgiveness hard to accept and sometimes even harder to give. Taking the church to the people shows that the Lord loves and cares for them and wants them to return to him.”   “There will be priests hearing confessions on the top deck of the ‘Mercy Bus’ with literature, tea, coffee and home baking available downstairs.”   The bus will visit: Johnstone, Coatbridge, Greenock, Cumbernauld, Glasgow and Paisley. Holy Mass will be celebrated by Father Stephen Baillie, Parish Priest of St Joseph’s in the Diocese of Paisley on board the bus at 2 p.m. on Saturday 4 August 2018 at Paisley town centre.   Commenting on the initiative, Bishop John Keenan, Bishop of Paisley said:     “Up and down the UK the Mercy Bus has been a great initiative of the New Evangelisation Pope John Paul II hoped for.  Its presence in the heart of town centres is welcomed by shoppers and workers of all faiths and none, as a joyful and hopeful presence of God in their midst. They see the Church coming to be among them with the Good News of God’s mercy very close at hand so they can reach out and touch it, or simply rejoice in its nearness.  The Mercy Bus works because so many lay men and women reach out to shoppers in the environment of the Bus and invite them to go in to chat with the priests inside or receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. So the Mercy Bus is a sign of the essence of the Church where lay faithful go out to their peers to welcome into the pastoral care of priests who teach and heal.”   ENDS   Notes to editors:   1. For further information please contact Helen Border on 07786097147.   2. You are invited to send a reporter/photographer/camera crew to Houston Square, Johnstone at 11.a.m. on Monday 30 July 2018 when the bus will be blessed by Fr Joe Burke and begin its journey.   3. The bus is a Stagecoach Dennis Alexander Trident, fleet number 18334, of Kilmarnock depot and is 55 registered. Sir Brian Souter has donated it for a week’s use with a driver. It’s been branded with the Mercy logo.   4. Image of the bus can be downloaded here: https://www.rcdop.org.uk/events/friends-of-divine-mercy-scotland-with-the-mercy-bus   5. DATES, TIMES AND VENUES Monday 30 July 2018 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Houston Square, Johnstone, Renfrewshire Tuesday 31 July 2018 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Quadrant Shopping Centre, 126 Main Street, Coatbridge Wednesday 01 August 2018 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Cathcart Square, Greenock town centre, Greenock Thursday 02 August 2018 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Antonine Centre, Tryst Road, Cumbernauld Friday 03 August 2018 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Buchanan Street, outside the Concert Hall, Glasgow Saturday 04 August 2018 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Paisley High Street, Paisley where Fr Stephen Baillie will be celebrating Holy mass at 2 p.m....

Bishop calls on UK Government to sign and ratify Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

| 25th May 2018 | Blogging

25 May 2018   Bishop William Nolan, Bishop of Galloway and President of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Bishops Conference of Scotland, will tomorrow (Saturday 26 May) at 12 noon join other Church leaders and campaigners in calling for the Secretary of State to sign and ratify the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.   Taking part in the Pentecost Witness at Faslane Naval Base alongside representatives of the Church of Scotland and Scottish Episcopal Church, Bishop Nolan will call on the Secretary of State to urgently develop and publish a transition plan so that the UK is ready to sign and ratify the Treaty.   Commenting ahead of the event tomorrow, Bishop Nolan said:   “We believe in the dignity and right to life of every human being. The threat of nuclear arms poisons the soul of humanity, and their use by any state or leader would be an immoral act against humanity and against God’s creation.”   The Treaty opened for signature at the United Nations on 20 September 2017. Once ratified, it will make the possession, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons illegal under international law.   ENDS   Peter Kearney  Director  Catholic Media Office  5 St. Vincent Place  Glasgow  G1 2DH  0141 221 1168 07968 122291  pk@scmo.org www.scmo.org Notes to Editors: 1. Full text of the letter sent to the Secretary of State is copied below 2. An image of Bishop Nolan is available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/139632090@N07/25508101134/in/album- 72157666531058155/ Full text of Letter Dear Secretary of State, As you are aware, the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons opened for signature at the UN on 20 September 2017. Once ratified, this treaty will make the possession use and threat of use of nuclear weapons illegal under international law. We believe in the dignity and right to life of every human being and that nuclear weapons violate that dignity and threaten that life. It is evident that the use of nuclear weapons would have indiscriminate and devastating humanitarian consequences that would extend beyond the borders of any single nation state. The World Council of Churches has stated ‘that as long as such weapons exist, they pose a threat to humanity and to creation’. Pope Francis has condemned not just the threat of use, but the possession of nuclear arms as they serve to create a culture of fear for all humankind and consume vast amounts of human and financial resources that could be better used for human development. The threat of nuclear arms poisons the soul of humanity, and their use by any state or leader would be an immoral act against humanity and against creation. Those signing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons agreed not to develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess, stockpile, transfer or receive nuclear weapons. The 122 governments so far who have signed the Treaty recognise along with countless numbers of people throughout the world that we have lived with these weapons for far too long and that they must now be outlawed and eliminated. Successive governments of both major parties have affirmed their commitment to multilateral disarmament for the last 50 years, however the decision by Parliament to spend billions of pounds renewing the UK’s arsenal of mass destruction in times of austerity is not a commitment to peacebuilding and is contrary to our commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The British Government, by signing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, would be taking a positive step towards fulfilling those commitments. We, the undersigned, ask you to urgently develop and publish a transition plan so that the UK is ready to sign and ratify the treaty at the earliest opportunity. We pledge to continue to do our part to realise a world without nuclear weapons. Bishop William Nolan President of the Scottish Catholic Bishops’ Justice and ...

New Safeguarding Manual comes into force

| 21st May 2018 | Blogging

In a letter sent to all Catholic parishes over the weekend, Bishop Joseph Toal, who is responsible for Safeguarding on behalf of the Bishops ofScotland,has marked the publication of new national Safeguarding standards which come into force on Monday 21stMay.   In his letter, Bishop Toal commends the publication of ‘In God’s Image’, a new and extensive manual which offers comprehensive guidance and instruction on every aspect of Safeguarding in the Catholic Church.   On behalf of all the Bishops of Scotland, he writes:   “Your Bishops want you to know that we aspire to the highest standards of care and protection of all, and we are committed to rebuilding trust and confidence in the ways in which we ensure that children, young people and vulnerable adults are kept safe.”   The publication of these new materials marks the end of a period in which the Church has been implementing the recommendations of the McLellan Commission that reported in 2015, with rigorous oversight by an Independent Review Group chaired by Baroness Helen Liddell.   Bishop Toal states that engagement with survivors will continue to be an important task for the Church:   “For some years now, each Bishop has been meeting with survivors and will continue to do so. Given the profound and sensitive nature of this issue, such encounters take place discreetly, at times and paces suited to the needs of survivors.”   Adding:   “Through the protection and care we show to all, and through the compassion, healing and justice we offer to those who have survived abuse, we must continue to renew, rebuild and restore faith and hope in the church by offering faith and hope to one another. “   ENDS   Peter Kearney  Director  Catholic Media Office  5 St. Vincent Place  Glasgow  G1 2DH  0141 221 1168 07968 122291  pk@scmo.org  www.scmo.org     Notes to Editors:   The new manual can be viewed here:    https://ingodsimage.bcos.org.uk/      Full text of the letter sent to parishes is copied below.   Pastoral Letter for distribution to Congregations on Pentecost Sunday 2018   My Dear People,   I write, on behalf of all the Bishops of Scotland, to draw your attention to the publication of our Church’s new Safeguarding materials which come into force on 21stMay 2018.  These include ‘In God’s Image’, the document which offerscomprehensive guidance and instruction on every aspect of Safeguarding, including compliance with new Safeguarding standards.  This hasbeen shaped by the recent experience and developing expertise of those involved in the front line of Safeguarding in the Church, both in Scotland and internationally.In ratifying this publication, the Bishops have taken the opportunity to repeat and renew apologies made to those who have suffered any form of abuse, at any time, by anyone representing the Church.     Your Bishops want you to know that we aspire to the highest standards of care and protection of all, and we are committed to rebuilding trust and confidence in the ways in which we ensure that children, young people and vulnerable adults are kept safe.  We are most grateful to the teams of Safeguarding personnel in all Dioceses and to over 9,000 trained volunteers who support the work of parishes and religious congregations across Scotland.     The publication of these materials marks the end of a period in which the Church has been working quietly, but tirelessly, to implement the recommendations of the McLellan Commission that reported in August 2015.     Since 2013 we have published annual audits of allegations reported to us each year. Last month, we also published a historical review of non-recent cases of abuse, covering the period 1943–2005. The publication of our annual audits, the historical review and our new Safeguarding materials demonstrate our ongoing commitment to openness and transparency.     We recognise, however, that pu...

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia backs ‘journalism of moral integrity’

| 10th May 2018 | Blogging

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, President of the Communications Commission of the Bishops Conference of Scotland, has written to all 500 Catholic parishes this weekend (12/13 May) to mark World Communications Day.     This year, Pope Francis has chosen ‘Truth’ as the theme of his Communications Day message and bemoaned the persistent spread of “fake news”. In his letter, based on the Pope’s theme, Archbishop Tartaglia writes:     “Pope Francis reminds us that Communication is part of God’s plan for us, allowing us to express and share all that is true, good and beautiful.”     Pope Francis has urged Catholics to:     “…contribute to our shared commitment to stemming the spread of fake news and of rediscovering the dignity of journalism and the personal responsibility of journalists to communicate the truth.”     Calling on Catholics to be partners in this quest for truth Archbishop Tartaglia says: “Truth is not just a conceptual reality that regards how we judge things, defining them as true or false. Rather truth involves our whole life…it carries with it the sense of support, solidarity and trust. Journalists are called to be protectors of news and to promote the truth”     ENDS     Peter Kearney  Director  Catholic Media Office  5 St. Vincent Place  Glasgow  G1 2DH  0141 221 1168 07968 122291  pk@scmo.org  www.scmo.org Notes to Editors 1. Full text of Archbishop Targtaglia Letter is copied below. 2. Full text of Pope Francis message for World Communications Day is copied below. My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ In his message for Communications Sunday this year, Pope Francis reminds us that Communication is part of God’s plan for us, allowing us to express and share all that is true, good, and beautiful. But he warns us, that when we yield to our own pride and selfishness, we can distort our ability to communicate. The capacity to twist the truth is a human failing. Today we are witnessing the spread of what has come to be known as “fake news”. This has caused the Pope to make truth the theme of this year’s communications message, when he urges us to: “contribute to our shared commitment to stemming the spread of fake news and to rediscovering the dignity of journalism and the personal responsibility of journalists to communicate the truth.” The term “fake news” refers to the spreading of disinformation online or in the traditional media based on non-existent or distorted data designed to deceive and manipulate the reader by mimicking real news. Social networks can allow untrue stories to spread so quickly that even authoritative denials fail to contain the damage. Such disinformation can discredit and demonise while fomenting conflict and spreading arrogance and hatred. Preventing and identifying the way disinformation works calls for a profound and careful process of discernment. So how do we defend ourselves? The most radical antidote to the virus of falsehood is purification by the truth. In Christianity, truth is not just a conceptual reality that regards how we judge things, defining them as true or false. Rather, truth involves our whole life. In the Bible, it carries with it the sense of support, solidity, and trust. We discover and rediscover the truth when we experience it within ourselves in the loyalty and trustworthiness of the One who loves us. This alone can liberate us, as in the words of the Gospel according to John: "The truth will set you free". To discern the truth, we need to discern everything that encourages communion and promotes goodness. I would like to quote at length from the Pope’s message and urge you to read his text in full which is available on the website of the Catholic Media Office at www.scmo.org. The Pope says; 'The best antidotes to falsehoods are not strategies, but people: people who are not greedy but ready to listen, people...