by Christopher Howse POPE JOHN Paul was recalling to our minds the very things that Christ would want us to reflect on at Christmas time during his visit to Britain, Cardinal Hume has said in a national radio broadcast.
The Cardinal gave his Christmas ideas in Radio Four's Thought for the Day yesterday. He took his cue from the response he received after the Pope had toured Britain in May and June.
He remembered particularly one woman's letter which said: "When this visit is over and the theologians get together, perhaps they will remember that we are hungry and don't want the stones of doctrinal differences. We want and need what that man was giving out all the time — the love of Christ".
The Pope, Cardinal Hume said, "Spoke repeatedly about peace. He said: 'People everywhere long for peace. Men and women of goodwill desire to make common cause in their search for a worldwide community of brotherhood and understanding.'
"People say to me: That's all very well, but what can I do about it? My message is this: Build peace where you are. Peace in society and between nations begins with peace in the hearts of people. It involves forgiveness, understanding and selflessness. It begins from the individual and spreads to others.
"The Pope spoke to us also about Christian unity, which is a different aspect of peace. He said: 'Beloved brethren in Christ, for the future, can we not make that pilgrimage together, hand in hand'. Again, people wonder what they can do. I make the same reply: 'Build unity where you are. The work of reconciliation begins with us and is built up in countless small ways.'
"Why not make a start yourself this Christmas? Find a crib or a picture of the stable at Bethlehem, kneel before it, begin to pray and try to sense deep within you the wonder that is represented there: the love of God for us which brought His Son into our world: Jesus, our peace and the source of our unity."
Many of the English bishops are visiting prisons over Christmas. Archbishop Maurice Couve de Murville of Birmingham, who was appointed this year, is to say Mass on Christmas Day at Winson Green Prison.
Archbishop Bowen of Southwark says Mass at Wandsworth Prison; Bishop Alexander of Clifton at Horsfield Prison, Bristol; Bishop Brewer, Auxiliary of Shrewsbury at Styal Prison; Bishop Emery of Portsmouth at Kingston Prison; Bishop Foley of Lancaster at Lancaster and Preston Prisons; Bishop Jukes, Auxiliary of Southwark at Canterbury Prison; Bishop MurphyO'Connor of Arundel and Brighton at Lewes Prison; Bishop Rawsthorne, Auxiliary of Liverpool at Risley Remand Centre; Bishop Swindlehurst, Auxiliary of Hexham and Newcastle, at Durham Prison; Bishop Tripp, Auxiliary of Southwark at Brixton Prison.
British troops still stationed in the Falklands will hear their Catholic chaplains speak on the Christmas ideals of family life, in a pastoral letter from Bishop Francis Walmsley, Bishop in Ordinary to the Forces.
"I ask you especially to think of your children in the Pope's words, they are 'the hope of tomorrow.'
"Pass on to them also the abiding values of the Gospel. Cultivate in them a love of the Church and her worship, particularly of the Mass and the sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance. These things will survive and overcome the hostile forces which conspire to destroy family life."