"Are you perhaps still standing idle in the market place because, no one has called you to work? The vineyard of Christian charity is short of workers. The Church is calling you to it," Pope John Paul told the world in his Lenten message.
Christians should not wait until it is too late to help Christ in prison or without clothing, Christ persecuted or a refugee, Christ who is hungry or without a roof, he said. "Help our brothers and sisters who lack the bare necessities to escape from inhuman conditions and to reach true human advancement."
Christians must also show the world that Lent means something, that "the whole people of God, because it is made up of sinners, is preparing in penance to re-live liturgically Christ's passion, death and resurrection," said the Pope.
Going without things in Lent does not consist only of giving away what we do not nee-1, sometimes it also consists of giving away what we do need, he said. "Going without things is to free oneself from slaveries of a civilisation that is always urging people on to greater comfort and consumption, without a thought even for the preservation of our environment, which is the common heritage of humanity."
Reports in Rome indicate that the Pope may well hold a consistory later this month at which he will name at least 10 new cardinals, one of whom is almost certain to be Archbishop Tomas 0 Fiaich of Armagh.
The first papal encyclical is now also said to be ready and seems likely to be published on March 25, the Annunciation. The encyclical is believed to be at least 52 pages long and amounts to a pontifical programme dealing with the spiritual nature of man.
Early in November Pope John Paul will receive Rev Bill Gowland. the Presidentdesignate of the British Methodist Conference. Mr Gowland will be accompanied on his four day visit to Rome by Fr Paul Moxon, a worker priest from Bradford.
Mr Gowland said last week that he had been very impressed by the Pope: "He is tough and compassionate and that's just what we need," he said.
Lent as a time not only of selfdenial and penance but also of renewal and christian action was a scheme taken up by several English bishops in their Lenten pastorals.
Bishop Pearson, Bishop in Cumbria suggested that "doing can be as important as doing without" and could include doing jobs for the elderly or housebound, silent or group prayer, sponsored events, painting. music or sport.
Bishop Harris of Middlesbrough urged people to rethink and reflect on the Christian life to which they were called by their baptism.
Charity was Archbishop Dwyer's main theme with a
request for everyone honestly to answer the question "do we love our neighbour" not only in or hearts but in practical ways in the family and at work.
Bishop Mervyn Alexander of Clifton described Lent as a time "of activity and patience" and took the opportunity to remind the diocese of the valuable work some of their own priests and others are doing in the missions.
Church in Uganda centenary
Cardinal James Knox, Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Sacraments and Divine Worship, is to represent the Pope at the centenary celebrations of the Church in Uganda, it was announced this week.
In a special message to Ugandan Catholics Pope John Paul urged that they should "remain faithful to the gift of faith and to give it a new impulse so that the Ugandan Church, founded by missionaries, may itself become missionary."