In my last Pastoral Letter, I spoke about the Future of the Church in our Diocese and promised to return to this topic in the next Letter. And so, on Fourth Sunday of Advent, I will be writing to you again following on from last time. One of the key tasks of any Bishop, and one that I personally consider to be central to my own ministry, is to teach the Faith. Apostolorum Successores, the Directory on the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops, highlights the importance of the Bishop sending out from time to time a Pastoral Letter to the clergy and faithful of the diocese to be read at Mass: “On special occasions in the life of the diocese, the Bishop should also propose doctrine by means of pastoral letters and messages, addressed to the whole Christian community. These may appropriately be read out in Churches and oratories and also distributed in printed form among the faithful (122).”
Since becoming the Bishop of Portsmouth, I have issued over thirty Pastoral Letters covering the Church’s teaching in the Creed, on the three Divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity, on Our Lady and St. Joseph, on mission and evangelisation, the Christian view of the human person, moral theology and the Church’s social teaching. I have also reflected one by one on the seven Sacraments. The next Pastoral Letter is due for release on 18th December (the Fourth Sunday of Advent) and will be sent out in written form, and also as a podcast and a video. I intend the Letters to have ‘plenty of meat’ in them so as to lead to further prayer, study and reflection, which is why I always ask parishes to make available copies for people to read as it is being read and to take away afterwards. You can see the list of Pastoral Letters here.