It can happen to the best of us

5-year-old Bristol boy runs up £1,300 iTunes bill

Full story in The Post and on here the direct link

I heard this story last night while at a liturgy meeting with Sharon, and I was really interested to read this story in the papers this morning. Sharon is one of the best parents I know, always taking a leading role in their development at school and church. If she can get caught like this then anyone could.

For those of you that don’t have smart phone or tablets this is what’s happening. There are games written by development companies that are given away free. They are designed to be quite addictive and the player is encouraged to build things, towns, gardens, armies, etc. Everything in the game costs game money, and you get given an amount of money at the start of the game and you can earn more as you play, just like you would in the board game monopoly. The problem is that the really nice and fun items you want for your town, garden or army cost huge amounts of money that would take you days, weeks or months to earn while playing the game.

They therefore allow you to purchase in game money with real money. That’s one way they make a profit from the game. The problem is that while most games on iTunes cost small amounts £0.69 to £2.99 some of these in games charge huge amounts of up to £69.99. I can’t see anyone, who earns money and owns the credit card that is registered with iTunes, reasonable spending £70 quid on a game, so these games and purchases have to be aimed at children.

I have nothing against computer games, or against people and companies making a profit, but I do object to targeting children with such inflated prices. Apple is normally very good at protecting their users and it’s possible they just haven’t realised yet the way some of its partners on iTunes are taking advantage of families and children. If you would like to offer any feedback to Apple their feedback web page is here

Homily 4th Sunday of Lent Year C - Laetare

Homily (Sermon) - Laetare – Rejoice – Be Joyful – Laetare my brothers and sisters

The Readings for Sunday 9th March 2013 or Forth Sunday of Lent Year C:
Old Joshua 5:9-12

Psalm Psalm 33:2-7  Response v9
New 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Gospel Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

[These readings can be found at for the next few weeks.]

Laetare – Rejoice – Be Joyful – Laetare my brothers and sisters.

We are half way through the 40 days of Lent, over halfway in fact. We have only 18 more Lenten days before Easter, and today we look forward to the joy of Easter, the joy of our redemption, today we share in the constant joy of heaven. That's why today is Laetare Sunday, Laetare means “be joyful” or “rejoice”. And that's why today's readings are all about the joy of redemption.

In our first reading we hear about the Jewish nation, God's chosen people, as they ate their first meal in the promised land after 40 years of wandering. Our 40 days of Lenten prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial reflect the experiences they had in the wilderness. Can you imagine the joy they felt hearing the words God had spoken to their leader Joshua, “Today I have taken the shame of Egypt away from you.” The Lord had promised them a land and here they were eating the produce of that land in the presence of the Lord. Now imagine the joy we will feel in a few short weeks as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus, the Christ, on Easter Sunday, and know that through his death and resurrection we have been reconciled to God.

This joy is what Paul is writing to the Corinthians about, and the message Paul had for the Corinthians is also for us today. We have been redeemed, reconciled, saved, forgiven, washed clean. We, through the death of the sinless one for us, can sit down with God at the banquet in heaven. We know this, as the Corinthians knew this, but many in our world, as many in their world don't know this. Paul challenges us, he challenges you, he challenges me, to be ambassadors for Christ. An ambassador is someone who speaks for someone else, you now speak for Christ. It's a little scary isn't when you think about it. So maybe, a challenge for us all this week is to take this Sunday's message to the world, this week in whatever you do, Be Joyful. It may surprise you who notices, and if someone notices you may just have helped Jesus reconcile one more person, one more lost daughter or lost son returning to the father.

Which leads us to our gospel today, the parable of the prodigal son. I am sure we all know this one very well. The story of two sons and a father. The younger son takes his inheritance and leaves for a far a away land, there he has a really great time for a while, spends all his money, then falls on hard times. He falls so low that a pig is more respected than he is. At this point he realises his mistakes and is sorry. He returns home and is welcomed with open arms, not as a servant or slave which is all he feels he deserves but as a son, come back to life. What joy would he have felt as his father hugged him. That joy is ours as well, as we bring our less than perfect lives to this church, to the Eucharist we are about to share, we encounter our father. He is giving us a huge of hug, putting a robe about us and a ring on our finger.

But maybe like me you heard that parable today and thought, I always feel sorry for the older brother. He works hard for his father, always the good son, the younger brother gets a calf to celebrate his return the older brother gets nothing not even a small goat. But then we hear, as he angrily sulks, his father comes out to talk to him. “My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours.” In that moment he realises the love his father has for him and the love he has for his father. That joy too is ours, as Christians we work for our God, He is with us always, all He has is our. In fact He loves us so much He even gave us the life of his only son.

Now think of the Fathers story. You have two sons you love, one makes some mistakes with his life and is separated from you. You look for him every day and hope he will return. Then after a long time, far across the fields you see him returning. The joy of today is not just ours, it's a joy our God shares with us. And as Paul told us we are now ambassadors of that joy. It's time to take it out into the world.

Finally I want to talk about today's psalm. Father has often talked about the psalms and how wonderful they are and the value in reading them. He has often encouraged us to take the psalm home and read it each evening before we go to bed. Today's is a joyous psalm, a psalm of praise, so I have a different suggestion for you this week. Take the psalm home and read it each morning before you leave the house, let it fill you with joy, then take the joy of the prodigal son, the joy of his older brother, the joy of the people of Israel and the joy of your father out into the world.

Laetare – Rejoice – Be Joyful – Laetare my brothers and sisters.

Homily Index

Previous Papal Resignations

I am no expert on this and have quickly done some digging via Wikipedia and the BCC into previous papal resignations. These sources are by no means error free so apologies for an inaccuracy.

In 1294 Pope Celestine V issued a solemn decree declaring it permissible for a pope to resign. He then resigned after only 5 months as pope. Both the BBC and Wikipedia quote Canon Law, which I assume is based on this decree, as allowing a pope to resign and that to be valid the resignation must be made freely, which is the phrase Pope benedict used today,
“For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.”
Prior to Pope Celestine in 1294, there were also two resignations in 1045 and 1046. Pope Benedict IX, who was described as “a demon from hell in the disguise of a priest”, resigned for financial advantage at the pressure of his successor Pope Gregory VI. Pope Gregory VI in turn resigned, because he had effectively paid for the position of Pope, the sin of Simony (paying for sacraments see the story of Simon Acts 8:18-24). Pope Gregory was succeeded by Pope Clement II who dies in 1947, and he was replaced again by Pope Benedict IX who is the only man to have been Pope twice.

The last resignation of a pope was Pope Gregory XII in 1415. This was to help end the Western Schism. There were multiple and political claims to the papal chair. Pope Gregory stepped down and asked Council of Constance to elect the new pope. There were two other claimants, the antipope John XXIII, who also resigned, and the Avignon Pope Benedict XIII who was excommunicated by Pope Gregory XII before he resigned. The council then elected Pope Martin V.

So it is almost 600 years since a pope has resigned. This is a brave and courageous decision by Pope Benedict XVI, a decision he says he has only taken after “repeatedly examined my conscience before God”. Let us pray for Pope Benedict XVI, wisdom for the coming Conclave, and for all of Christ’s Church as we journey through this time of change.

Update: It seems lots of people are asking this question and it has been directly addressed on the Vatican News site here :

Pope Benedict Resigns - Statement from Archbishop Vincent Nichols

Statement from Archbishop Vincent Nichols
Pope Benedict’s announcement today has shocked and surprised everyone. Yet, on reflection, I am sure that many will recognise it to be a decision of great courage and characteristic clarity of mind and action.
The Holy Father recognises the challenges facing the Church and that “strength of mind and body are necessary” for his tasks of governing the Church and proclaiming the Gospel.
I salute his courage and his decision.
I ask people of faith to keep Pope Benedict in their prayers. We Catholics will do so, with great affection and the highest esteem for his ministry as our Holy Father remembering with joy his Visit to the United Kingdom in 2010. Pray, too, for the Church and all the steps that must take place in the next weeks. We entrust ourselves to the loving Providence of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols

Pope Benedict XVI Resigns

Pope Benedict XVI on Monday said he plans on resigning the papal office on February 28th. Below please find his announcement.

Full text of Pope's declaration

Dear Brothers,
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer. 
From the Vatican, 10 February 2013