The Right Reverend, Thomas Williams, Auxiliary Bishop of Liverpool was the chief celebrant at the funeral Mass for Cilla Black earlier this week, a much loved singer and entertainer and daughter of Liverpool who died aged 72 years on 1st August after a fall.
I thought it was wonderful when the Bishop told Paul O’Grady to say “Three Hail Mary’s” after he gave the eulogy for Cilla in which he said that they had been “hell-raising for the past twenty years”
The “Three Hail Mary’s” is a fairly standard “penance” that priest gives to a penitent after they have attended confession. These prayers are said in silence after leaving the confessional in front of the altar in the presence of God.
His wry comment drew a round of applause from the family and celebrity friends of Cilla Black, many of whom are not Catholic, but some of them Catholics who no longer practice their faith by formal attendance at Mass on a regular basis.
His comments and the reaction to them gave me a feeling of hope that my church, which I love, is beginning to shed itself of the harsher side to its doctrines which I firmly believe in and may be drawing some of these people back. I hope so.
The UK Conservative Party was for many years known as the nasty party, but it took steps to embrace a much broader “church” without giving up its core policies and principles – Bishop Williams comments made me feel that the Catholic Church is going to be able to do the same and has started the journey to do so.
I would love to think that all Catholics regardless of their sexual orientation would feel comfortable attending Mass and indeed confession in a church that recognises that we are born as individuals in the image and likeness of God.
Thank you Bishop Thomas, well done Paul O’Grady (amazing eulogy) and Rest In Peace dear Cilla Black
My next blog will be: Alvor (on 30 August) (Adeus!)