Last week, from Sunday to Friday, I took part in the Bishops’ Conference, which was held in Cardiff: the picture is of the statue of Our Lady of the Taper from the National Shrine of Wales in Cardigan. We arrived on Sunday evening and began next morning with an hour of Eucharistic Adoration in St. David’s Cathedral in the city centre, followed by Morning Prayer. Each day began this way. Our meetings, lunch and dinner, took place opposite in the cathedral’s Cornerstone Centre, a converted evangelical church now a splendidly equipped conference centre. Mass was in the Cathedral at 1245: for the regulars, it must have been a surprise to have over 30 bishops concelebrating each day! After a late lunch, we had 45 minutes’ free time before resuming business until Evening Prayer and supper at 7.30 pm. The conference continued until Friday morning. Wednesday was different as we had an afternoon visit to the Welsh Senedd in Cardiff Bay followed by a reception at Cardiff Castle, where we met Mark Dreyford, the First Minister, and members of the Senedd. We also said prayers in the room in the castle grounds where the Cardiff Martyrs, Frs. John Lloyd and Philip Evans SJ, were held prior to their execution in 1679.
It was the first time in 14 years that the Bishops’ Conference had been held in Cardiff. There was a sense of change and expectancy as Archbishop Stack retires and Bishop Mark O’Toole becomes next month the new Archbishop of Cardiff and Bishop of Menevia. On Monday morning, the papal Nuncio, Archbishop Gugerotti spoke extensively about the tragic situation in Ukraine. Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski, the Ukrainian Eparch, added much to this discussion, thanking everyone for the practical relief efforts being made. We had a long discussion about the Synod and the process of discernment now needed in preparation for the national submission to be made in July. An important decision was the restoration of the Sunday Mass Obligation to become effective at Pentecost. Final preparations are underway for the publication of the new Lectionary, due to come into use in Advent 2023. Other matters covered were the ministry of catechist and what is envisaged, preparations for the visit of the relics of St. Bernadette, the RE Curriculum Directory and the Prayer and Liturgy Directory for use in Catholic schools, and an agreed statement from the Bishops on immigration policy. There were also presentations made to the Conference from Fr. Tony Chantry of Missio, Tim Foley of Stella Maris and Nazir Azfal and members of the safeguarding regulatory body (CSSA). There were also the usual round-ups from the CBCEW departments for social justice, international affairs, Christian life and worship, education, dialogue and unity and evangelisation.